Carolina “at” Tampa Bay
The second of four NFL London games this year! This one starts much earlier, gifting us with football all day Sunday! Firstly, it seems as if Tampa did not learn from what happened to Chicago last week and got to London on Friday, when Carolina got there Wednesday. We’ll see how much that matters, but Chicago’s late departure undeniably played a role in their horrendous performance last Sunday.
Tampa is coming off a disheartening loss to New Orleans, where the offense could not get on track and the defense had another weak performance. They will need to be on their A-Game, facing a Panthers team that gained nearly 300 rushing yards last week. Christian McCaffery has entered the MVP discussion and has been a one-man machine carrying the offense, with Kyle Allen continuing his steady play. Carolina’s defense wasn’t lights out like they were against Houston, but have still been a solid unit. This one will come down to how the Bucs stop McCaffery, as they were the only team this year to make him look mortal in Week 2.
Cincinnati at Baltimore
A weak season for the Bengals slogs on, as they were unable to stop a last-minute drive by the Cardinals and dropped to 0 and 5. Baltimore has now looked iffy going on three weeks. The Steelers took them to the brink. Lamar Jackson threw three picks against Pittsburgh, but they were not entirely on him.
The Ravens will play the rest of the year without Tony Jefferson, hurting an already questionable defense. Cincinnati’s defense, however, has been worse than questionable and is one of the worst units in the league. Expect the Ravens to get somewhat back on track and put on a show, while the Bengals’ general ineptitude on offense should not be too much of a challenge for the Baltimore defense.
New Orleans at Jacksonville
The Saints continue their march without Drew Brees, now standing at 3-0 with Teddy Bridgewater starting. Bridgewater has been solid, but the Saint’s defense has really set the tone for them. They have kept them in every game and made things easier for the offense.
The Jags return home from a tough loss to Carolina, but are no pushover. Gardner Minshew continues his solid play, and the Jags offense has been a surprise. Leonard Fournette has gotten closer to the level of play from his rookie year. Jacksonville’s defense has proven highly volatile and now face a Saints crew in their groove. After getting ripped by Christian McCaffery, they face Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, the two main cogs for New Orleans. Those two are going to be a handful for the Jags, especially with Jalen Ramsey’s status still up in the air.
Houston at Kansas City
A battle of two good teams, but the quarterbacks are the headline-stealers here. This will be a face-off of the two best quarterbacks from the 2017 Draft. Houston went off last week, piling up points and yards with ease against the Falcons. That was the best the Texans offense has looked since Week 1 in New Orleans.
Kansas City has looked mortal for two weeks. They sustained some serious injuries Sunday night, losing guard Andrew Wylie and stud defensive lineman Chris Jones. The most serious injury, of course, was Pat Mahomes’ ankle getting banged up. After sustaining the injury in the second quarter and aggravating it later, the Chiefs offense was unable to do much. A hobbled Mahomes should still be able to hang points on a weak Texans secondary. But the Chiefs defense may be even worse and now faces Watson, who is one of the premier QBs at making everything out of nothing. This looks to be an explosive game, where the teams trade touchdowns back and forth. Whoever has the ball last wins!
Washington at Miami
Tank Bowl! A moment NFL fans have been waiting for all season! Washington fired head coach Jay Gruden, to the surprise of no one – and to the joy of Gruden. Miami was idle last week, and now faces a squad about as bad as them, who is doing this unintentionally. The Washington QB carousel continues, with Case Keenum slated to start. Keenum was the best of the Skins QBs so far this year. Their offense should be able to function like it did the first two weeks of the season. Miami put up a fight in their last two games.
The question here is, do either of these teams WANT to win? Miami clearly has a tank plan, but the Washington Daniel Snyders definitely don’t see themselves that way. Regardless, the players care. Brian Flores cannot want to be heading a winless squad. This should actually be an entertaining game, due to poor defense and general incompetence on both sides.
Philadelphia at Minnesota
The Eagles put on a defensive clinic against the Jets. They didn’t even need Carson Wentz and Co to show up, scoring 14 points on their own and amassing 10 (!!!) sacks against New York. Something that seems to have flown under the radar with the Eagles is their incredible run defense, allowing only 63 yards per game. This leads the league, even over teams like San Francisco who have played less games.
They are matched with a team that needs to run the ball to function properly. Coming off a loss against Chicago, the Vikings were able to get back on track against an overmatched Giants squad. Somehow, the Vikings are the favorite for this game. This makes no sense given these teams track record. If the Eagles take away Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins will have to beat the Eagles with his arm. Although Philly’s secondary is questionable, this is the type of challenge Cousins has wilted to.
Seattle at Cleveland
This is a precarious point for the Browns. After thrashing rival Baltimore, they went to San Francisco and were annihilated on national television. It was an embarrassing performance, for Baker Mayfield in particular, who had worse stats than the likes of Luke Falk. Cleveland seems to be holding it together, but you have to wonder how long the personalities of Odell Beckham and Mayfield can keep it intact. Freddie Kitchens has looked overwhelmed all season.
They face a Seattle team coming off a huge home win. Pete Carroll did everything he could to hand the game to the Rams, but they pulled it off. Russell Wilson’s play this season has been incredible, and he is another early season dark horse MVP candidate. The Seahawks love the run game, and Cleveland was absolutely shredded by the Niners’ backs. Couple that with Wilson’s fantastic efficiency, and this one could get away from Cleveland fast.
Atlanta at Arizona
The nightmare continues for the Falcons, as their season continues to spiral. The offense showed up, but the defense was ripped for almost 600 yards. Deshaun Watson is a star, but that is unbelievable. The Texans moved the ball at will. Arizona’s offense hasn’t totally gotten on track yet, but they have a chance to here. Kyler Murray in space is a dangerous thing, and Atlanta struggled to contain Watson last week. Arizona’s defense remains a massive weakness, and they will likely be unable to contain Atlanta’s plethora of playmakers.
If Atlanta wants to save their season, this is their next chance. Each game is a one event microcosm of a season. Last week doesn’t matter. That’s the mentality Atlanta must have to avoid their season devolving into something truly awful. A loss in Arizona could take the Falcons out of the NFC South race and get Dan Quinn fired.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams
A brutal loss last Thursday for the Rams. They were able to fight back into the game and drive in position for the winning field goal, only to see it barely miss. The Rams have not looked as dominant as the past two years. San Francisco has charged out the gate this season and is undefeated. The Niners and Patriots remain the only two undefeated teams to this point.
This is the first true test for San Fran this year, after gorging on the dregs of the AFC North. Are they up for it? Their fierce defensive front could give Jared Goff fits. The Rams line has been brutal this season, which has made everything on offense harder for them. San Fran’s front is loaded with first rounders, who all complement each other and take pressure off of their secondary. If the Rams pass attack can push the Niners, San Francisco may be unable to lean on the run. Would Jimmy Garroppolo step up? He has been steady this year but has yet to have a truly stellar game.
Tennessee at Denver
Denver was able to pick up its first win of the season, holding the rival Chargers to just 6 points on offense. For an embattled crew losing hold of their season, that’s a huge win no matter what. Now they get to return home and face the constantly up and down Titans.
Tennessee was coming off a big win in Atlanta, and promptly returned home and laid an egg. Now they have to head to Mile High, a notoriously difficult environment to play in. Tennessee’s defense remains a strength, but they are dragged back by their offense. Denver’s running game has hit a stride, and they could wear the Titans down. Marcus Mariota has still avoided turnovers, so that’ll give at some point. If Denver can keep momentum from last week and run the ball, a win here is totally doable. This team isn’t as bad as its record shows, with two losses coming brutally at the buzzer.
Dallas at New York Jets
The Cowboys faced their first two real tests of the season, in front of huge audiences, and were shutdown. Now, they face a floundering Jets team, who will be getting Sam Darnold back. Upgrading from terrible to whatever Darnold may be is going to be a boost no matter what. There is a world here where Darnold instantly makes a huge difference and Le’Veon Bell can pull an Aaron Jones against the Cowboys. More likely is Dallas thriving against a not great defense, and the Jets offense will be unable to keep pace.
Pittsburgh at Los Angeles Chargers
Pittsburgh put up a strong effort against the Ravens, having to finish the game with undrafted Devlin “Duck” Hodges, after losing Mason Rudolph to a brutal hit. Rudolph is still in concussion protocol. He probably won’t play this week (and probably should not), but stranger things have happened. Such as the Chargers getting shut down at home by a winless Denver crew. The Chargers are one of the more confusing teams in the league. They have been decimated by injuries, and have now lost starting center Mike Pouncey for the season. Yet they seem to play down to competition and give the game away in stupid ways.
The Steelers defense has played pretty well given how they looked at the start of the year. Their front is extremely talented. Devin Bush has been extremely solid for a rookie and improves each week. The great unknown is Hodges. The Steelers liked Hodges enough to keep him on the practice squad. He’s unknown to the Chargers in particular. He could go out and play like a guy who was undrafted for a reason. Or he could join the list of backups who’ve gone out and held down the fort, ala Minshew and Allen.
- New Orleans
- San Francisco