Last week: 9-5
Detroit Lions (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-5) (in London):
Although the Lions have been without a healthy Calvin Johnson for the past 5 games, they have remained 3 games over 500. Obviously, no one can replace Calvin Johnson, one of the best wide outs in history, but Golden Tate has been tremendous, Joique Bell has been impressive, and the defense has been one of the best in the game. While the Lions are streaking, the Falcons have been awful and are riding a three game losing streak into London. The Falcons cannot play defense nor protect Ryan, which leaves them in a predicament against the Lions’ great front seven.
Lions win 27-14
St. Louis Rams (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-3):
The Rams are coming off a victory over the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks, which has analysts believing in starting quarterback, Austin Davis. Davis has talent and good physical attributes, which has allowed him to throw 9 touchdowns compared to only 4 interceptions. Along with the emergence of Austin Davis, the Rams’ pass rush came alive last week, which gives hope that they can reproduce their results from last season. Along with the success of the Rams, the Chiefs have won 3 of their last 4 games. The combination of their aggressive defense and relentless running attack has allowed them to remodel their success from last year.
Chiefs win 24-17
Houston Texans (3-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-5):
The Texans are coming off of consecutive losses, which has their playoff hopes dwindling. The Texans should have won last week, if they did not lose the ball twice during the last 2 minutes before the half on their side of the field. The Texans will continue to rely on their running game with Arian Foster and hope that their defense, behind MVP candidate JJ Watt, will lead them to a victory on the road against a division foe. Along with the Texans, the Titans played a tight game, but narrowly lost to the Redskins and Colt McCoy. This week, Zach Mettenberger will be making his first career start. Although he will have troubles with Watt and potentially Clowney, he has a strong arm and a high football IQ.
Texans win 20-13
Minnesota Vikings (2-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5):
Last week, the Vikings lost a heartbreaker on the road at Ralph Wilson Stadium against the Bills. Outside of the Falcons’ game, Teddy Bridgewater has not looked like a franchise quarterback, but his wide receivers and running backs have not assisted his transition into the NFL. Although the offense has sputtered, the defense has surprised many analysts and has played incredibly well. While the Vikes are coming off of a close contest, the Bucs were embarrassed and lost by 31 for the second time this season. Before the game against the Ravens, the Bucs were playing well few with Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and starting quarterback Mike Glennon.
Buccaneers win 24-17
Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-3):
This is likely a make or break game for the Seahawks as they cannot afford to fall under 500 in a division with the 49ers and Cardinals. The Seahawks have been unable to stop opposing quarterbacks and they frequently are affected by penalties. On offense, the Seahawks cannot consistently run the ball, which puts a lot of pressure on Russell Wilson and the receivers. While the Seahawks’ defense has underperformed, the Carolina defense has been awful. Last week, they were embarrassed by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Cam Newton has taken steps forward as a leader and quarterback, but he does not have many weapons to help him on offense.
Seahawks win 21-17
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1):
Since their opening game against the Bengals, the Ravens have been 5-1 and look like the team that won the championship two years ago. Joe Flacco has been efficient and the offense is dynamic will Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce, Torrey Smith, and Steve Smith. Also, the defense has been steady and has held teams under 21 points since week 1. During the first three games of the season, the Bengals looked like the best team in the league with their ferocious defense, solid passing game, and constant offensive line. However, since week 3, they have been unable to pass the ball without AJ Green and the defense has lost their swagger.
Ravens win 27-17
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6):
Over the past three weeks, the Dolphins have reconstructed their season and are back in the playoff mix. After finishing toward the bottom of the league in rushes per game, the offensive line and Lamar Miller have significantly improved their running attack. Also, the defense continues to rush the passer and apply pressure on opposing quarterback. Like the Dolphins, the Jags were abel to win last week, first win of the season. Blake Bortles seems to be improving every week, although he does not have any solid receivers nor running game. The Jags may have garnered their first win, but it is unlikely that they will see more in the future.
Dolphins win 24-13
Chicago Bears (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2):
Although the Bears possess the best weapons in the NFL with Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Alshon Jeffrey, Jay Cutler has been unable to distribute the ball to his playmakers, which has frustrated many fans and the players. Although Bears will lose games due to their lack of defense, their offense cannot cost them any games if they want to compete with the Packers and Lions for the division crown. After hearing the critiques about Tom Brady, the Pats have simply put together a 3 game winning streak and find themselves atop the AFC East once again. The reemergence of Tom Brady and the defense make the Pats a dangerous team going forward.
Patriots win 31-24
Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (5-1):
After demolishing the Giants at home, the Eagles have been given an extra week to prepare for Carson Palmer and the stingy Cardinals defense. During their Sunday Night game, the Eagles were finally able to reestablish the running game, which has evaded them throughout the season. The addition of the running game will only amplify their great offense and assist their defense. The Cardinals continue to be one of the most underrated teams in the league. Although they do not play any one style of football, they find ways to win games, whether it is defense, offense, or special teams. Surprisingly, Palmer has played well at the quarterback position with Andre Ellington handling the ground game.
Cardinals win 31-28
Oakland Raiders (0-6) at Cleveland Browns (3-3):
The Raiders remain the only winless team in the NFL, but they have been playing better over the past few games. The combination of an improved running game has made life easier for Derek Carr, who is showing signs of becoming a future quarterback. While the Raiders’ season is over, the Browns are still alive for a wild card berth. Last week’s gam was a crushing loss on the road at Jacksonville, which has fans calling for Johnny Football. However, the Browns should continue with Hoyer because of the experience he proven ability to win NFL games.
Browns win 21-13
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3):
Since losing their first two games of the season to the Broncos and Eagles, the Colts have reeled off 5 straight wins and are my favorite to come out of the AFC. Along with Andrew Luck, the current MVP of the league, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson make up a reasonable running game. On defense, the team has been solid so far this season, especially against the pass. Like the Colts’ offense, the Steelers have a balanced offensive attack with Bell and Brown. If the offensive line can give Big Ben enough time in the pocket, the offensive becomes incredibly difficult to stop because of the weapons on the outside. However, the defense is playing through injuries, which has held it back from reaching its potential.
Colts win 27-24
Green Bay Packers (5-2) at New Orleans Saints (2-4):
Since Aaron Rodgers told the Packers’ faithful to relax, the Packers have been the offensive juggernaut that everyone expected, which has resulted in 4 straight wins. Along with Aaron Rodgers cementing himself in the MVP conversation, Jordy Nelson has played like one of the five best wide receivers in the league and Eddie Lacy has reestablished himself as a number one back. While the Packers seem to have turned their season around, the Saints are on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Although they still have a chance at winning the division, Drew Brees needs to start playing like the quarterback that will eventually lead him into Canton. Also, the defense must start playing better and forcing turnovers, like last season’s squad.
Packers win 34-27
Washington Redskins (2-5) at Dallas Cowboys (6-1):
The Redskins’ quarterback position has been a disaster the entire season. First, it was RG3, then it was Kirk Cousins, and now it is Colt McCoy. Although McCoy was one of the best college winners of all time, he is not a NFL starting quarterback. Although he may partially succeed due to his weapons, Jackson, Garcon, and Morris, it looks like the Redskins will need to draft another quarterback next May. While the Skins are having problems, everything seems to be going well in Jerry’s World. The Cowboys are playing like the best team in football and it seems impossible to stop this offense due to the best offensive line in the league, Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, Jason Written, Tony Romo, and DeMarco Murray. Even the defense, which was expected to cost these Cowboys numerous wins, has been solid.
Cowboys win 31-13