New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears: Saints won 26-18
New Orleans: The New Favorite in the NFC
After a disastrous year where they lost their coach for the season and finished 7-9 (started 0-4), the Saints look like one of the best teams in football and are one of the 3 teams who have yet to lose. The Saints offense has maintained its dominance during the first few weeks of the season. The Saints have averaged the fourth most points and the seventh most yards in the league. Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham is one of the best wide receiver-quarterback combinations in the NFL. However, the Saints biggest difference from last season is their defense. Last season, the Saints defense was horrible and that is an understatement. The Saints allowed the most yards in NFL history and the second most points per game in the league, last season. However, the addition of Rob Ryan has added swagger and confidence to the Saints’ defense. This year, they are top six in both yards and points per game. If the Saints can earn home field advantage in the playoffs, they will be the favorite to reach the Super Bowl, since the Seahawks are not the same team on the road.
Chicago: They need to run more often
Although the NFL’s rules favor the passing game, a quality running can be extremely effective. During the Bears’ victories, they have averaged about 28 rushes per game. However, they only rushed the ball about 16 times in their last two losses. When the Bears can run the ball effectively, Jay Cutler will not have to force passes, which frequently results in interceptions. Forte’s running helps the play action passing game, which allows Marshall and Jeffery to find seems in the defense. Also, the Bears are able to eat a lot of clock on offense. This enables the defense to remain fresh and record turnovers. Also, it reduces the amount of drives for the opposing offense. The Bears have one of the best rushers in the league, which improves their opportunity of succeeding and scoring points.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots: Bengals won 13-6
Cincinnati: The Bengals are becoming the old Ravens and Steelers
Unlike the Steelers and Ravens, the Bengals have developed their team around their defense. Even though the Bengals have played Super Bowl winning quarterbacks like Brady, Rodgers, and Roethlisberger, they are ranked 10th in points and 13th in yards allowed per game. The Bengals have the ability to put pressure on the quarterback and force turnovers. For the first time in 52 games, Tom Brady did not record a passing touchdown. The Bengals were able to stop Brady from succeeding because they sacked Brady four times and turned the Patriots over 2 times. Although the Bengals do not have a dynamic offense, they control the time of possession and play physical football. The Bengals looked primed to win the division and reach the playoffs.
New England: Brady desperately needs Rob Gronkowski
The Patriots wide receivers have been horrible this season. The Patriots have recorded only 250 passing yards per game, which is 16th in the league. Last season, the Patriots ranked first in yards per game and passing yards per game. The decrease in passing yards can be attributed to the loss of wide receivers. The Patriots no longer have Hernandez, Lloyd, and Welker. They have been replaced by rookies and unexperienced players, Kembrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, and Amendola. These players have been incredibly inconsistent, dropped a lot of balls, and completely frustrated Tom Brady. When Gronk returns, Brady will finally have a play maker that can win one on one matchups and score touchdowns. Gronk has been one of the best offensive players when he is on the field. Gronk and Brady can resemble the success that Brees and Graham have achieved during the first few weeks. Expect the Patriots to score more points, when Gronk finally returns from injury.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions: Packers won 22-9
Green Bay: They need to score touchdowns more frequently
After a disappointing game against the Bengals, the Packers rebounded with a big win against the Detroit Lions. However, the Packers kick 5 field goals and only one touchdown during their game. This trend of field goals instead of touchdowns has been happening for the last few games. In their game against the Bengals, the Packers scored three field goals and only two offensive touchdowns. In the future, the Packers must improve their red zone efficiency if they want to beat quality teams in the playoffs. Luckily they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league so I have faith that this will change for the Pack.
Detroit: Detroit’s offense desperately needs Johnson to return
Calvin Johnson is one of the best wide receivers in football because of his skill and size. Johnson has the ability to rack up major yardage and score touchdowns while drawing double teams. However, Johnson greatest ability is that he makes his fellow wide outs open and consistently bails out Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately for the Lions, the loss of Johnson negatively affected their whole offense. If the Lions are going to return to being dynamic, the Lions must put Johnson back on the field.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans: Chiefs won 26-17
Kansas City: The Chiefs look legit
Although the Chiefs did not play their best football, they found a way to win the game against a quality Titans team on the road. The Chiefs have a lot of skill and intelligence, which make the Chiefs a scary team to play. The Chiefs have a good offensive attack lead by Smith and Charles, while their defense is suffocating and frequently turnover their opponents. The Chiefs also have one of the best home field advantages in the league so they should go into their game against the Broncos at 10-0 or 9-1. Expect the Chiefs to make noise this year in the AFC and possibly win a playoff game, if they can achieve home field advantage.
Tennessee: Chris Johnson looks like a shell of his former self
This season, Johnson has been absolutely horrible and he is starting to lose playing time. A few years ago, Johnson was one of the most dynamic and effective players in the league as he rushed for over 2000 yards. This year, he has rushed for under 300 yards and has averaged 3.1 yards per carry, which is 1.5 yards less than his career average. Johnson’s carries have diminished during every game of the season because of the success of Jackie Battle. Without Locker, Johnson must step up and carry the offense on his back in order for them to score and win.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks: Colts won 34-28
Indianapolis: Will win the AFC South
Since their bad loss to the Dolphins at home in week 2, the Colts have looked like the best team in football. During this three game stretch, the Colts have defeated the 49ers, Jaguars, and the Seahawks. The Colts have been great over the last three games because they have played great defense and have not turned over the ball. With a dynamic offense, including Luck and Richardson, and a stud defense, the Colts should win the AFC South and at least one playoff game. Although Luck does not post gaudy numbers, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and continues to improve every week.
Seattle: They are not the same team on the road
After looking like the NFC favorite for the first four weeks, the Seahawks dropped their first game of the season. When the team plays on the road, their average win margin is only 4 points per game while at home they have won by a margin of 27 points. The Seahawks must achieve home field advantage if they are going to make the Super Bowl and meet their huge expectations that were laid out at the beginning of the season. Russell Wilson continues to improve, which will be pivotal when they face Brees and Rodgers.