Last Week: 9-5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-3):
The Bucs are an extremely up and down team, which can be attributed to their numerous injuries and lack of talent. This week, they were the most active team at the trade deadline by dealing two defensive players. Although Mark Glennon started well this season, he has cooled off thanks to poor play from Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin. Although many were calling for Johnny Football to become the starter in Cleveland, Hoyer maintained the starting quarterback position and led the team to a convincing win over the hapless Raiders. The Browns will continue to rely on Hoyer to make smart decisions and their good defense to win games.
Browns win 23-13
Arizona Cardinals (6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2):
Every week, I continue stating that the Cardinals are the least talked about team in football, yet they continue to win against quality opponents. Against the Eagles last week, Carson Palmer played pretty well and the defense was able to hold the explosive Eagles offense in check as time expired to secure the win. A lot of eyes will be on the game this week as they play “America’s Team” in a pivotal matchup. The Cowboys suffered an embarrassing defeat at home to the Redskins, which has many questioning their chances of becoming a championship team. Without Romo in the lineup, their losing streak could climb to two games.
Cardinals win 31-28
Philadelphia Ealges (5-2) at Houston Texans (4-4):
The Eagles few to the Cardinals on the road last week, but many still consider them as a team that can win the NFC East. Although Foles and McCoy are not having the same season in terms of efficiency, every defense fears the duo because of their explosiveness. Also, the defense and special teams have been solid and given the Eagles’ offense very good field position in every game. While the Eagles hope to reestablish their running game, Arian Foster has cemented himself once again has one of the top three backs in football. Houston’s offense seems to entirely revolve around Foster’s ability to run out of the backfield and catch the ball, but most teams still cannot stop him. However, against good teams, we need to see if Ryan Fitzpatrick can lead the Texans to a victory.
Eagles win 27-20
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1):
Everybody agrees that the Jags’ season is over, but it is very important that they find answers about Blake Bortles. Although Bortles has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, people feel that he has the attributes to become a quality quarterback as long as he has enough weapons around him. While the Jags continue to lose, the Bengals were able to turn around their season with an impressive win against the Ravens on a last second touchdown. Even if the Bengals are able to win big, critics will not take the Bengals seriously until they can beat a good team in a prime time game.
Bengals win 31-13
San Diego Chargers (5-3) at Miami Dolphins (4-3):
The Chargers have been on a slide lately as they have lost their last two games to division foes and nearly fell to the winless Raiders. However, the Chargers realize that they must redirect their season if they are going to claim a playoff spot. Philip Rivers continues to play at an incredibly high level, but they need their defense and running game to improve if they are going to beat a tough Dolphins team. Unlike the Chargers, the Dolphins have won two straight games and have climbed back into the playoff picture in the AFC. The Dolphins continue to rely on their new found running game with Lamar Miller and their incredible pass rush to cause havoc on defense.
Chargers win 27-24
Washington Redskins (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (3-5):
The Redskins came away with one of the best wins of the season on the road against the Cowboys. The Redskins were able to win with Colt McCoy, but have RG3 returning under center this weekend. Although RG3 has done nothing to have this job, Dan Snyder loves him. Along with the Redskins, the Vikings were able to come away with a win against the Bucs on the road. The Vikings’ defense has played very well lately, which helps Teddy Bridgewater grows as a quarterback. Along with Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon has been an adequate replacement for Adrian Peterson.
Vikings win 17-13
St. Louis Rams (2-5) at San Francisco 49ers (4-3):
After a huge win against the Seahawks, the Rams were embarrassed against the Kansas City Chiefs. The defense and pass rush that slowed the Seahawks’ offense was again non-existent last week. Along with a poor defense, Austin Davis only led the the Rams’ offense to 7 points. Without a running game or weapons on the offseason, the Rams will have a difficult time scoring against an improving 49ers defense. Before their matchup against the Broncos, the 49ers looked like the team that has made it to a Super Bowl and three straight NFC Championship Games. The 49ers will continue to rely on their running game and defense to control the time of possession battle.
49ers win 27-17
Denver Broncos (6-1) at New England Patriots (6-2):
After their impressive wins over the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers, the Broncos are once again the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning has been playing at an incredibly high level while the defense and running game have stepped up their performances from last season. Ronnie Hillman is incredibly quick and elusive while Sanders, Thomas, Thomas, and Welker have been the most productive wide outs in the league. Manning will remember his last outing in Foxborough when the Patriots rallied from a big deficit to win. It was only 5 weeks ago that a few critics were calling for Tom Brady’s head. However, the emergence of Gronk has enabled Tom to find his past form. Along with Brady playing at a high level, the defense has elevated to elite status which makes them realistic contenders to win the Super Bowl.
Broncos win 35-31
Oakland Raiders (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3):
The Raiders have been atrocious this season, which explains their winless record. The Raiders have very few building blocks on their roster, which will make the draft very interesting. The Raiders must decide if Derek Carr can be the answer at quarterback. Like many rookies, he has been up and down throughout the season. Along with Carr, the Raiders defense has been very impressive nor their passing game nor running game. The Seahawks are hoping that they can use this game to jump start their season. This season, Russell Wilson has been incredible, even though Marshawn Lynch has not been the same running back this season and Percy Harvin has departed to New York. Also, their defense has been surprisingly inconsistent, which has led to their three losses.
Seahawks win 27-13
Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3):
When the Ravens and Steelers hit the grid iron, it becomes must see TV. Besides their matchup earlier in the season, nearly every game comes down to the final drive of the game. Last week, the Ravens took a stumble on a last second touchdown against the Bengals. However, the Ravens have a very good team because they score 30 points per game and their defense has been borderline dominant before last week. While the Ravens lost a tough game against the Bengals, Ben Roethlisberger played one of the best games in NFL history as he threw for 522 yards and 6 touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts. The Steelers have incredible weapons with Bell, Brown, and Wheaton. The Steelers will need to score enough points because their defense has been great this season.
Steelers win 35-27
Indianapolis Colts (5-3) at New York Giants (3-4):
The Colts’ defense was absolutely abused last week by Big Ben, but hope that their fortunes will change in East Rutherford. The Colts’ defense does not face much pressure because their offense scores nearly 30 points per game. As many have mentioned before, Andrew Luck has taken the next step forward and is one of the three to five best quarterbacks in the league. The Colts’ defense should have an easier time stopping the Giants’ offense due to the losses of Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings. Although the Giants have lost players on offense, their defense has been horrible over the past two weeks. If the Giants are going to compete, Eli will need to have a monster game and JPP will need to disrupt Luck on defense.
Colts win 31-17