The NFL comes back for yet another week, featuring a great slate of games to cover. A lot of these matchups have severe playoff implications, making them even more exciting to watch and pick.
Teams on a bye week: Cleveland and Tennessee
Prediction standings: Daniel 6-7, Eddie 6-7
Note: The statistics in this article were provided byhttp://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/tot...
Thursday Night Football:
Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
Daniel: The battle of the best offensive line against one of the worst o-lines, can the purple men pull it together for coach Mike Zimmer, who had emergency eye surgery just yesterday? Or will the red hot Cowboys led by the league’s leading rusher with 1,199 yards, Zeke Elliot and rookie sensation Dak Prescott prevail? If the Vikings defense can come alive again, and Sam Bradford can get rid of the ball quickly, Minnesota has a chance to have that offense stay off the field. Prescott hasn’t made any bad decisions yet with only two interceptions and 18 touchdowns not only gives them the best opportunity to win, but with some help, they can clinch the division on this 11 game winning streak.
Vikings win close, but wouldn’t be surprised if Cowboys clinch division.
Eddie: Vikings will play close on Thursday night, after coach Zimmer’s surgery, but is that enough to stop this NFC East juggernaut also known as America’s team?Stefon Diggs, Minnesota’s star WR, is listed as likely to play and should see a healthy volume of targets from QB Sam Bradford. On the other side of the secondary, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes combine for 6 interceptions on the year and could potentially pose a threat to Dallas’ rookie sensation Dak Prescott.
Dallas continue their tour of pain, after running over Minnesota on the road.
Sunday NFL Action:
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
Daniel: The 7-4 Lions going to 5-6 New Orleans might prove to be a high scoring affair, with Matthew Stafford looking to get another W from their last minute magic they’ve been finding all season. The Saints, who have four games with 500+ total yards, lead the league in this category, showcasing how Drew Brees can still sling the rock with one of his most impressive offenses he has had for a while.
New Orleans at home uses its hometown voodoo to cool down Stafford and the lady luck Lions.
Eddie: Saints QB Drew Brees is enjoying an MVP-caliber season, commanding the NFL’s #1 ranked offense that scores 30.4 points per game, that is 5 more points than #2 (Washington). Rookie receiver, and Ohio State product Michael Thomas seems to be on the same page as Brees on almost every game, and should receive Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. No matter how clutch the Lions have been this season, New Orleans’ offense is one to fear, and Detroit’s defense seems ill-equipped.
New Orleans overpowers a Lions team that cannot play catch up.
L.A. Rams @ New England Patriots
Daniel: The Rams come into this game with a rush defense that is allowing 112.3 yards per game this season. This should be slight work for a Patriots rush offense that is averaging more yards per game than the Rams D allows at 115.8 yards per game. Look for Brady to take advantage of the play action pass in a rombing of the 4-7 Rams that will just add fuel to the impending firing of coach Jeff Fisher.
Patriots win easily.
Eddie: As we have seen in recent seasons, the Patriots have a couple of stretches of weakness during the season. However, and much to the dismay of this Rams team, that little period of mediocre football is over for the Patriots. Los Angeles’ defense only combines for 22 sacks (21st in the league), and the tape on QB Tom Brady suggests that pressure is the way to beat him. On the other side, New England Coach, Bill Belichick will look to neutralize a quiet Todd Gurley and dare rookie Jared Goff to test an astute secondary led by CB Malcolm Butler.
You are going to wish you went 7-9, Fisher. Patriots get right this week.
Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel: A game that can possibly have rookie QB Paxton Lynch make his second start of the season, while Trevor Siemian deals with an ankle injury that he suffered in overtime against the Chiefs. The struggling Denver offense will go up against a former Bronco in Malik Jackson, who contributed on the defense’s magical run last year. Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense will look to test the secondary, but can the corners of Denver prove to be the ‘No Fly Zone’ as advertised?
Denver wins but not pretty.
Eddie: Denver could benefit from this game on multiple levels. Aside from a lopsided matchup on defense, the option of playing Paxton Lynch against the #32 ranked defense in interceptions is a very promising one. Additionally, Denver’s two divisional rivals Kansas City and Oakland both have tough games against Atlanta and Buffalo respectively, so there is a chance for the Broncos to gain some ground in the playoff race this week.
Denver wins with defense and special teams, much like they have been doing this year.
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears
Daniel: Collin Kaepernick and the Chip Kelly offense has been one of many high scoring pleasures for fantasy owners as of late. Can he continue the streak against a questionable Bears team in Chicago? Both teams are struggling with a total of three wins combined.
San Francisco gets the W, Kap balls out again, getting another game with 100 yards rushing and decent air yardage.
Eddie: Two teams in rebuilding mode that will undoubtedly end up with a top 5 pick in next year’s draft square off at Soldier Field. 49ers QB, Colin Kaepernick has shown some semblance of offensive prowess in the past few weeks, and has kept San Francisco in games for stretches.
The 49ers get their second win of the season in Chicago.
Houston Texans @ Green Bay Packers
Daniel: The Green Bay defense is getting healthy, snapping a 4-game streak of allowing 30+ points last week. The unit will look to dismantle the not so existent Texans offense. Brock Osweiler, who got paid the big bucks, has not played a game with a passer rating of over 100 this season. Aaron Rodgers will throw a couple tds to Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams while the Packers look to run the table in the NFC North division.
Green Bay wins.
Eddie: After an impressive, win over Philadelphia on Monday night, the Packers’ season and playoff hopes are looking more alive than ever. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has brought out the best of 3rd year wideout Davante Adams in recent weeks, so expect him to see a few more targets this week. As for Houston, Coach Bill O’Brien has refused to acknowledge the big problem in his offense called Brock Osweiler. Even after the offense was simplified so he could maximize the use of tight ends, Osweiler continues to struggle and show he is nothing but a mediocre backup in this league.
Packers shorten the gap on the Lions this week.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Atlanta Falcons
Daniel: Matty Ice Ryan holds the NFL record with 50 straight games with 200+ yards, and also carries a potent offense that will look to continue the offensive displays at home against a strong Chiefs D. The Chiefs offense doesn’t take any shots downfield, but they face an injury ridden defense. Interesting matchup for both teams heading into the playoffs, with a game that could serve as a momentum builder heading into the final stretch of the season. Atlanta’s offense gets hot and stays lit.
Atlanta in a high scoring affair.
Eddie: The #2 ranked defense in interceptions faces the #3 ranked offense in passing touchdowns, as Kansas City travels to the Georgia Dome. The most intriguing matchup here is Marcus Peters v Julio Jones, the former league leader in interceptions is enjoying a nice sophomore season, tied for 2nd with 5 picks on the year. Julio Jones has been a superstar this year, not only receiving, but also allowing for other offensive weapons like Hooper, Sanu, and Gabriel to torture opposing defenses.
Atlanta’s offense overcomes any type of Chief-imposed roadblock.
Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens
Daniel: Teams that came off big wins last week look to continue that success, but what it comes down to is the Miami’s playmaking wide receivers vs the Ravens secondary. Kenny Stills and Devante Parker have been delivering the explosive plays this season with Stills contributing with six TD of 50+ yards, and Parker bringing in 50+ reception yards to the table in the last three games. Meanwhile, Eric Weddle and the Ravens’ secondary will look to create havoc for his defense confusing a much improved Ryan Tannehill.
Baltimore wins by a Justin Tucker field goal.
Eddie: Interesting matchup in Baltimore, as the emerging Dolphins have demonstrated that they can win with more than just their dangerous rushing attack. Ryan Tannehill has proven that he can make the leap many analysts and coaches expected him to make; throwing under pressure, and being more accurate at extended ranges. However, this Baltimore defense has proven to be too much for similar quarterbacks, such as Andy Dalton last week. They can also neutralize the run game, and with their 3 best offensive linemen questionable to play; Albert, Tunsil, and Pouncey, the run game isn’t looking like a viable alternative for the ‘Fins this week.
Justin Tucker and the Baltimore defense will lift them past a fierce Dolphins squad this week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ CIncinnati Bengals
Daniel: The Eagles should be looking to run the ball against the 28th ranked rush defense in the league. Philadelphia average 114.9 rushing yards per game, and should focus on the run game easing off the pressure on Carson Wentz, who had a rough outing against the Packers.
Eagles take the win.
Eddie: Carson Wentz continues to improve week after week, and this game should be no different for him. The Cincinnati Bengals were bit hard by the injury bug this season and have been depleted on both sides of the ball. They currently find themselves out of contention, so in theory they should look for a high draft pick that helps them rebuild and prepare them for their next campaign.
I anticipate an Eagles skill-position player to show up big for them. Eagles win on the road.
Buffalo Bills @ Oakland Raiders
Daniel: Derek Carr, should be the leader in the MVP race. He is perfect in the fourth quarter, broken throwing hand or not. That should be a level of concern for a hungry Bills defense that seems to have gotten it together recently. Shady McCoy is the driving force of the offense, and will look to run on a Raiders defense lead by a surging Khalil Mack who has been playing lights out as of late. The linebacking core of the Raiders has been impressive too coming together in recent weeks; the combo attack of Bruce Irvin and Mack should be a factor in this game.
Biased pick, but Buffalo wins close.
Eddie: At this point of the season, the Oakland Raiders should be in the mix for a “best team in the league” award. Much like last year’s Panthers, the vibe emanating from this team and the swagger remind fans why sports are such a beautiful hobby to pursue. They play as a team, and the reports seem to indicate that they see each other as a family, and hold having fun with football as one of their main principles. Major kudos to coach Jack del Rio for unifying a franchise and turning the ship around in such short time span.
Derek Carr leads the Raiders to victory for the 10th time this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Diego Chargers
Daniel: Tampa shows up with a Mike Evans that is playing out of his mind right now, and will be going against Casey Hayward. Evans grabbed two Touchdowns against the legion of boom last week, proving that was all Tampa needed to win. The chargers and the leading candidate for defensive rookie of the year, Joey Bosa with 4.5 sacks, looks to stop Jameis Winston in his tracks in San Diego.
San Diego wins and stays classy.
Eddie: Tampa Bay’s front 7 was something out of a Tony Dungy fever dream last week. Defensive rookie of the month Noah Spence, Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, and Gerald McCoy all looked like superstars on the field last week in a home victory against the NFC’s number two seed, Seattle. To quote a proud HC Dirk Koetter after the game “It’s safe to say defense is back in Tampa!”
Jameis Winston proves why he is the best quarterback to have come out of the draft since Derek Carr with a win over San Diego this week.
New York Giants @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Daniel: Other than the matchup of Eli Manning versus Big Ben Roethlisberger you get an extremely good receiving battle with Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown. Who will be the most impactful player in this game? Both teams that have been streaking should give us a very exciting and high scoring game, Brown has 10 tds compared to Beckham’s eight touchdowns.
Big Ben and Antonio Brown at home.
Eddie: The Giants seem to be the talk of the town every week among sports writers. This is their week to prove their worth. The key players to watch during this game are Jason Pierre-Paul and Landon Collins, both tremendous players on defense for the Giants. Collins is tied for 2nd in interceptions this year with 5, but make no mistake about it, he can cover, blitz, and hit hard. Pierre-Paul is one of the most underrated pass rushers in this league, closing games for the Giants, just like he did last week against Cleveland.
The Giants are going to the playoffs, and they can deliver a statement on the road this week.
Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals
Daniel: Captain Kirk Cousins against Carson Palmer in Arizona, should be a fun game, with the Washington pass offense averaging 314.8 yards per game, and going against a defense that is allowing 195.1 pass yards per game. Both teams have elusive running backs with David Johnson for Arizona and Robert Kelly for the ‘Skins. Washington has better weapons around Cousins, and Arizona might look to apply their exotic blitzing scheme... just one thing, Cousins has a 110.5 QB rating vs the blitz this season.
Cardinals win a close one, Johnson looks to continue his stellar play this season.
Eddie: David Johnson is the best running back in football, right behind Ezekiel Elliott. However, this week they face a tough Redskins front that might not be as forgiving on a crummy offensive line such as Arizona’s. Carson Palmer doesn’t look like last year’s Carson Palmer, and no receiver aside from sure-fire hall of famer, Larry Fitzgerald has stepped up for the Cardinals.
Pay Kirk Cousins, Mr. Snyder! He might just take your team to the playoffs for two years straight.
Sunday Night Football:
Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
Daniel: In a NFC championship rematch from last year headlining a struggling Panthers team, and a Seahawks team who will try to overcome struggles showcased last week against the Buccaneers. The matchup of Richard Sherman against Kelvin Benjamin should be the key to the game. Sherman already talking smack to Cam Newton and the team should be narratives to watch during this Sunday night game. Seattle at home with the 12s in the “Clink” will look to make this game hostile for Newton and company. Can Superman Cam come out and give a MVP-game like last season? We shall see. Down to the wire game, who makes the big play in crunch time Russell Wilson or Cam Newton?
Seattle at home, Sherman makes up for his performance last week against Mike Evans.
Eddie: A year ago, this would have been a dream matchup, however, the Panthers lack any kind of swagger right now. I expect a vengeful Seattle side to exploit a weak secondary, and an inconsistent Cam Newton-lead offense to take the victory.
Seattle bounces back at the “Clink”
Monday Night Football:
Indianapolis Colts @ New York Jets
Daniel: Colts have a chance to make the playoffs in the AFC south, and will look to bounce back off a thanksgiving loss without quarterback Andrew Luck. Will T.Y. Hilton outrun Darrelle Revis on his retirement season? Or will the Revis of old come out for Monday Night? Frank Gore has been efficient for the Colts this season, he is on pace for a 1,000 yard season and will face off against the tough Jets run defense. Colts could gain ground on the division with Tennessee having the bye this week, should be a close race to the end.
Colts on Monday night.
Eddie: This looks like a trap game for the Colts, based on the fact that the Jets front 4 are way too disruptive and can take advantage of one of the worst offensive lines in football. The Jets could be looking at a win here, as long as they play carefully and take care of the football. Look for New York wideout Brandon Marshall to have a field day against a bad Indy secondary.
New York gets a win at home.