Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta
An absolutely horrible week for Georgia sports was capped off by Falcons’ kicker, the usually reliable Matt Bryant, missing the PAT to tie late, sending the Falcons to 1 and 5. The offense is still high level, but they’re incredibly inconsistent drive to drive. The defense, however, is an abomination. Yes, Atlanta has suffered a host of injuries, but that is supposed to be Dan Quinn’s forte. It has never really showed through.
Meanwhile, the Rams were embarrassed at home by rival San Francisco. The defense showed up, but they amassed just 157 yards of total offense. They made the move of the week, mortgaging the future to acquire Jalen Ramsey. Too bad he can’t play tackle or guard, as the Rams offensive line, stellar the previous two years, has devolved into a mess of a unit. Coupled with whatever ails Todd Gurley, it has led to the collapse of the Rams’ offense. Yes, in other games they have put up yards and points, but it is nowhere near as efficient or imposing drive to drive. Facing a lame Falcons unit will be a good get right game, but there remain massive questions for the Rams the rest of the year.
Miami at Buffalo
Miami came oh-so-close to securing a victory, but the tank rolls on. Now they head up to Buffalo to take on the rested Bills. Josh Rosen was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, after head coach Brian Flores said it was his position for the rest of the year. No real rhyme or reason for anything in South Florida, aside from keeping the treads rolling. Still, mismanagement like that could have Flores canned after a year. The Dolphins will be utterly outmatched against the upstart Bills, who just need to do the bare minimum this week, and will look to put on a show for New Era Field.
Jacksonville at Cincinnati
Jacksonville has been competitive against two strong NFC South teams, but lost close games. They now get to head to Cincinnati to take on the winless Bengals. The Jaguars’ offense was entirely overmatched against the Saints’ defense, and now gets to face one of the worst units in the league. Leonard Fournette is primed for a huge day, and the Jags won’t need Gardner Minshew to be lights out.
Despite losing Jalen Ramsey, the Jags defense should be okay. He had basically refused to play for them since his trade request. The Bengals tend to pile up yards, but overall, the offense is lackluster. The Bengals should have Cordy Glenn back, but the rest of the offensive line is such a mess that the Jaguars front should hold them in check.
Minnesota at Detroit
An exciting matchup between two teams in what may be the strongest division in the league. The Lions head home from a brutal loss. The Vikings head out after a huge upset win where the offense finally clicked entirely for the first time this season – against the Eagles, no less. Can Kirk Cousins do it again?
The Lions offense has been extremely efficient, but in recent games has bogged down in the red zone. When Minnesota’s defense is on its game, it is one of the most imposing units in the league. Detroit is well coached, and players like Jarrad Davis and Trey Flowers fit perfectly. Damon Harrison is one of the best run defenders in the league. If the Vikings are unable to run the ball effectively again, will the deep shots still be available like last week? This will be one of the best games of the week and should come down to the wire.
Oakland at Green Bay
Oakland returns from their London bye and heads to Green Bay to take on the
refs Packers. The Packers literally were able to steal a win from Detroit last week after being outplayed most of the game. A litany of injuries to pass catchers has limited the offense, but Mike Pettine’s defense continues its strong season. The Raiders devastated the usually stout Bears defense, primarily on the ground. This is where the Packers have struggled to defend this year, and the Raiders should look to continue that plan. As long as Derek Carr does not give the Packers the ball in unfavorable situations, the Raiders will stay in this game.
Houston at Indianapolis
Houston secured one of the most impressive wins of the season last week, heading into Arrowhead and toppling the Chiefs. Deshaun Watson balled out, and Houston now heads to Indy to take on their rival – who also happen to be coming off a victory in Arrowhead. This is a huge divisional showdown, with these two units proving to be the class of the AFC South.
Houston’s defense stepped it up last week against the Chiefs, but will now have to deal with a road grading Colts offensive line. If Deshaun Watson can continue his electric play, he should be able to force the Colts to throw. If the Colts can play ball control like they did versus Kansas City, this one should be tight to the wire. Watson has been fantastic in recent weeks, and should be able to continue this. DeAndre Hopkins is overdue for a big game, and Watson may look to get him going early.
Arizona at New York Giants
The Daniel Jones hype has cooled a bit since his debut, but now the Giants get to face a weak Arizona defense and should have Saquon Barkley back. Despite the score, the Giants fought the Patriots admirably, despite being down Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.
Arizona is coming off a thrilling victory in the desert. The Kliff Kingsbury offense has improved weekly. While Arizona is not a contender this year, there are glimpses of hope. Kyler Murray has started running more, unlocking a new dimension of the offense. Neither of these defenses inspire much confidence. Both rookie QBs should have ample opportunity to sling the ball all over, and this should be an exciting high scoring matchup.
San Francisco at Washington
The upstarts of the season continue their tear through the league. San Fran has been one of the most impressive teams in the league thus far, the defense specifically. The Niners’ defensive front is incredible and loaded with young stars at each spot. Despite not having either of their starting tackles or fullback last week, the Niners’ offense was able to continue its efficient start. That’s all they needed as the defense snuffed the life from the Rams. Washington secured its first win of the year last week but is going to be utterly outmatched this week.
Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee
A matchup of two squads coming off of embarrassing losses. The final score of the Chargers’ game is not reflective of how outmatched they were. Adding insult to injury, the Chargers may as well have played on the road, with Dignity Health Sports Park (that’s really the name) looking like Heinz Field West. The score for Tennessee was not reflective of how much they were outplayed either.
The Titans have finally made the switch, benching Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. This will not magically cure the Titans offensive woes, but Tannehill is a better passer than Mariota, and that mere level of difference could improve the offense enough to make them competent. The Chargers may get left tackle Russell Okung back this week, but the rest of the line remains bad, and the skill positions are banged up. Philip Rivers has looked older this season and seems unable to carry the team like before. The Chargers defense is a mess as well and could get run over again like last week.
New Orleans at Chicago
If Chicago wants to show that they are still a great team, a win here is critical. New Orleans has been great with Teddy Bridgewater running the show, and won a defensive slugfest with Jacksonville last week. That said, the incredible Saints defense has been the most valuable group of this run. The Bears will be without Akiem Hicks, but they get Bilal Nichols back and have a week of rest. Playing at home helps as well. Further, the loss of Kyle Long is addition by subtraction, as he was one of the worst guards in the league this year.
New Orleans may be without Alvin Kamara, but Latavius Murray is a steady fill-in. Michael Thomas could give the Bears fits as well. Bridgewater has not faced a defense of this level, and this will be a real test for him. The biggest question for the Bears is how Mitchell Trubisky will look in his return. Matt Nagy said Trubisky refused to leave the facility in the off week. He has to be looking to prove doubters wrong. This one should look like the last Bears home game and will come down to who makes less mistakes.
Baltimore at Seattle
A fantastic late window, cross conference showdown. Both these teams kind of mirror each other, bird theme aside. That similarity is primarily seen in that they are carried by dynamic quarterback play. Russell Wilson is putting on an MVP campaign, and if the NFL had an MIP award, Lamar Jackson would be a frontrunner. Baltimore has run all over teams this season, but the defense has been highly suspect at times. Seattle is carried by Wilson, but his level of play elevates everyone around him, and makes the defense’s life easier.
A fascinating subplot of this game is going to be Bobby Wagner versus Lamar Jackson. Wagner is the best middle linebacker in the league, but he will have his hands full monitoring Jackson on the run. Seattle’s defense, despite its individual talent, is less than the sum of its parts so far this year. This will be one of the most hostile environments Jackson will have played in yet, and heading out West from the East is never easy. Expect Jackson and Wilson to put on a show.
Philadelphia at Dallas
A truly marquee matchup. Bitter NFC East rivals coming off confusing losses. Philly’s offense could not get anything going, and the secondary was picked apart by Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs. The Cowboys didn’t show up last week until the end, and a last gasp effort fell just short.
Both of these teams are banged up all over and now face a critical juncture. The Eagles, despite last week, are still stellar against the run. Amari Cooper looks like he’s going to play this week. He likely won’t be 100%, but the Eagles’ secondary has been so bad that it may not matter. The Cowboys have not looked anything like they did the first three weeks, but they always show up for the Eagles. Philly should be pissed after what happened last week. These games are always crazy and go until the very end.
- Los Angeles Rams
- San Francisco
- New Orleans