Last week: 9-2
Minnesota Vikings (4-5) at Chicago Bears (3-6):
The Vikings have quietly assembled a two game winning streak and will look to make it three in a row against the Bears this week. Although Bridgewater has not been great this season, more picks than touchdowns, he has taken better care of the ball over the past two weeks and has thrown for over 240 yards in each game. Along with their solid running game and aggressive defense, the Vikes are a surprisingly dangerous squad. Meanwhile, the Bears seem to be caught in a whirlwind of trouble as their offense is out of sync and their defense is down right awful. The last two weeks they have been absolutely humiliated because they cannot stop anyone from scoring.
Vikings win 27-21
Houston Texans (4-5) at Cleveland Browns (6-3):
After a loss against Philly and multiple weeks of uninspiring play, Bill O’Brien has decided to bench Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor for Ryan Mallet. However, this will be a difficult situation for Mallet since Arian Foster is likely to sit out this week and the Browns have a solid defense. Without a steady running game, Mallet will be forced to fit balls into tough windows in order to find top wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson. Even though the Browns have played the easiest schedule in the NFL, they have been taking care of their business while accumulating a few surprising wins on the way. Last week, the Browns put together their best effort, especially on defense, of the season as they beat the Bengals on the road.
Browns win 24-13
Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-3):
Since their disappointing loss at home against the Titans, the Chiefs have been one of the best teams in football, only losing on the road to the 49ers and Broncos. The Chiefs continue to rely on their great ground game with Jamaal Charles and their fabulous defense which is led by Justin Houston, sack leader. Although the Seahawks are said to boast the best homefield advantage in football, nobody can deny the sound that is made at Arrowhead when opposing offenses are on the field. Like the Chiefs, the Seahawks have turned around their season after a humiliating loss to the Rams. The Seahawks are very similar to the Chiefs because they use their running game to set up the pass and loss to cause pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Chiefs win 24-21
Atlanta Falcons (3-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-6-1):
The Falcons are coming off of a road win against the Bucs. Although Matt Ryan has had a successful season, twice as many touchdowns as interceptions, he has little to no help around him. Although last week, Steven Jackson was able to have a good game, the offensive line nor the running backs have been consistent, which has led to a one dimensional offense. Similar to the Falcons and pretty much every team in the NFC South, the Panthers have underperformed this season. The Panthers have not been able to run the ball effectively, which has limited Newton’s passing opportunities. In addition, the Panthers do not possess the same defense that was top three last season due to their horrendous secondary.
Falcons win 24-17
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-5):
The Bengals had been undefeated over the past year and a half at home until the Browns went into Paul Brown Stadium and recorded the win. Andy Dalton played one of the worst games in NFL history last week and has been underwhelming since the Patriots matchup. Although AJ Green is back, Andy and the entire defense does not seem very comfortable. Similar to the Bengals, the Saints were upset last week at home. However, the Saints are still one of the best home teams in the league because they can play at a high and fast level. In addition, the Saints play better defense because the crowd becomes incredibly loud and boisterous, which disrupts numerous offenses.
Saints win 31-21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) at Washington Redskins (3-6):
The Buccaneers continue to struggle as they rise on the draft order. Although they spent money on Vincent Jackson and Josh McCown and a high draft pick on Mike Evans, the Bucs offense has still been dreadful. The running game is not impressive and the offensive line has not given the quarterback enough time in the pocket. Also, the defense that was touted as one of the best in the league a few seasons ago has been whittled down to a porous and inefficient unit. Like the Bucs, the Redskins have trouble at quarterback. Although RG3 has great weapons with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Alfred Morris, the Redskins’ offense has not been impressive. However, the Redskins’ defense has overachieved and has been the reason why the team won three games.
Redskins win 17-13
Denver Broncos (7-2) at St. Louis Rams (3-6):
The Denver Broncos need to prove that they are still the best team in the AFC. Although no one would down play the Rams’ recent play, the Broncos will not be given credit for the win because they are playing in doors where Peyton plays his best game. Since Hillman will be out with an injury and possibly Montee Ball, CJ Anderson needs to prove that he can have a significant role in a top offense. While the Rams’ defense has underperformed throughout the season, they have recently improved because of the pass rush that they have been able to apply on quarterbacks. In addition, the Rams will be starting Shaun Hill at quarterback over Austin Davis because Davis has been inconsistent at the position. However, Hill will have difficulty succeeding because the Rams do not have any weapons and the offensive line has been decimated by injuries.
Broncos win 31-13
San Francisco 49ers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6):
The 49ers were able to garner a great win on the road against the Saints, which has not occurred in the past 4 years when Brees is at quarterback and Payton has been the coach. When the 49ers are able to win, they are able to run the ball effectively and play physical defense. This week, the 49ers should be given a boost since Aldon Smith will be returning from suspension. Smith is one of the best defenders in football, but frequently runs into trouble off the field. While the 49ers are fighting for their playoff lives, the GMen have been horrible lately. Although the Giants should be able to run the ball effectively with the return of Jennings, the offense has not been clicking and the defense is coming off a performance in which they allowed over 300 yards on the ground. The Giants should continue to play hard for Tom and their fans, but a win will be difficult.
49ers win 28-14
Oakland Raiders (0-9) at San Diego Chargers (5-4):
The Raiders have a legitimate chance to finish the season winless since they have no talent. Although they spent a lot of money in free agency, only Carr and Mack are players that should be on NFL rosters. The Chargers were able to start the season extremely fast, but have been horrible since their loss to the Broncos. Philip Rivers has not been the same MVP caliber quarterback and have now thrown plenty of turnovers, which has cost his team multiple games. However, they should be able to win at home against the worst team in the league, although they almost pulled off the upset earlier in the season.
Chargers win 27-7
Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) at Green Bay Packers (6-3):
The Eagles will continue to rely on Mark Sanchez to play well at quarterback. Although Sanchez did not play well the last two seasons with the Jets, we cannot forget that he led the Jets to two championship games and now has great weapons such as McCoy, Maclin, and Sproles. In addition, the Eagles’ defense has been able to turnover opponents and give the offense more positions and chances to score. The Eagles’ defense will need to play well because Aaron Rodgers has been on a role lately. Although last week was a fluke, the Packers’ offense is incredibly efficient and dynamic. The Packers’ offense has been able to take the next step forward because Eddie Lacy has improved his game and the offensive line gives Rodgers plenty of time to pass to Nelson and Cobb.
Packers win 34-31
Detroit Lions (7-2) at Arizona Cardinals (8-1):
The Detroit Lions have able to win games that they would have lost in the past under former coach Jim Schwartz. Matthew Stafford continues to thrive under the most pressure filled situations. Since Stafford plays with reckless abandon, it needs to be seen if he can continue his success. Luckily, Stafford has some of the best receivers and running backs in the league, which helps him succeed. Although the offense has been good, the defense has been one of the best in the league. They continue to play with aggression, which allows them to apply pressure on the quarterback. Similar to the Lions, the Cardinals have been able to win games in almost every way possible. However, they will have to win without Palmer at quarterback. Although Stanton has been able to defeat the 49ers, the Lions’ defense is a unit.
Lions win 21-20
New England Patriots (7-2) at Indianapolis Colts (6-3):
Even though the Patriots do not have the best record in the league, many prognosticators would consider them the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Since the reemergence of Gronk and Brady, the Patriots’ offense has been efficient yet explosive. In addition, the defense is finally playing as expected with their solid secondary. The secondary will need to play well against Luck because he is sure to throw the ball at least 40 times in the game. The Colts’ offense revolves totally on the performance of Andrew Luck. Last year during the playoff, Luck’s interceptions cost them the game and he will seek revenge. Although Indy has a better running attack this season, Luck will continue throwing the ball. Since they are playing on the fast turf, Hilton should be able to exploit matchups and have a big game. The big question will be if the Colts’ D can stop the Pats’ offense.
Patriots win 31-27
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-7):
The Steelers have already had two embarrassing losses this season and they cannot afford to make it three if they want to make the playoffs. Although Big Ben has not played well on the road, he will need to put the team on his back and find his playmakers, Brown, Bryant, and Bell. The Steelers cannot have another performance like last week, even though the Titans are horrible. The Titans have little talent, which accounts for their two wins. They will be in the market for a quarterback this draft and may start tanking to have a higher selection.
Steelers win 31-13