Seattle at Atlanta
A shocking loss for Seattle last week. Not for the outcome itself, but how they were unable to get anything done on offense. Baltimore’s defense had not been a strong suit, but managed to pin the Seahawks. Two defensive TDs against does not help.
The Falcons are in full on crash-and-burn mode. They were decimated by the Rams last week, and are now going to be facing a Seattle team looking to get back on track. The horrid Falcons defense has not gotten a sack in four weeks and now faces the magician Wilson. The Seattle offense is going to run roughshod over this crew. The Falcons’ only hope is that Matt Ryan is healthy enough to attempt to keep pace with the points the Seahawks will put up.
Philadelphia at Buffalo
Buffalo came out of the gate slow against the Dolphins, but dominated the second half, moving to 5-1. The win is all that matters. They now face the slumping Eagles. Philly was bombed by Dallas last week in an uncompetitive Sunday Night game. The Eagles’ defense continued to be awful, and the offense could not gain any traction.
The Eagles have not looked like the preseason Super Bowl favorite everyone expected, but this is not a team that anyone should sleep on. This is still an extremely talented, well-coached team. This is a team that will figure it out. Maybe it’s not this week, but they will round into form. It was a similar situation last year as well. Buffalo would prove a lot with a win here, as their schedule has been generally unimpressive. Regardless, they feature an excellent defense and a dynamic, if not consistent, QB in Josh Allen.
New York Giants at Detroit
Detroit got into a shootout with the Vikings, and their usually competent defense was run off the field. The Lions made a confusing move midweek, shipping out team captain Quandre Diggs for a 5th rounder in the next draft. The Lions have dropped two tough games in a row to divisional rivals and the zebras, but catch a break this week, facing a weaker Giants crew.
“Danny Dimes” has looked mortal the last few weeks. That said, if the Giants can control the ball on offense, they have a chance. They could use a huge Saquon Barkley game. But that may be too much to ask, because of the horrendous Giants defense. Matthew Stafford carved up the Vikings last week, and that will continue. This is the game the Lions need to get back on track and stay on pace with the NFC North.
Tampa Bay at Tennessee
Ryan Tannehill breathed new life into the Titans. He gave the passing attack a spark and helped balance out the offense. Absolute insanity at the end of the game against the Chargers helped the Titans walk away with a win as well. Regardless, the QB change may be exactly what the Titans needed. Tannehill is no All Pro, but going from incompetence to average at QB is the biggest change a team can make. Tampa is a team that is floundering since blowing out the Rams. They’ve lost two divisional games, and have looked lackluster.
Reports have emerged that the Bucs will probably be moving on from Jameis Winston. With the way New Orleans and Carolina are playing, divisional hopes for the Bucs are quickly fading. Winging this one would going a long way toward curing that. Tampa features perhaps the most underrated run defense in the league, but the pass defense is terrible. If Tannehill can carry over his play from last week, the Titans could get ahead of the Bucs and force Winston into mistakes on defense. Winston is coming off a game where he threw 5 interceptions and kept his team out of the game.
Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago
Chicago stands at the brink. This could get bad really fast for them if something does not change. If the Raiders game wasn’t a wake-up call, last week sure was. Heading back to Solider Field from the bye, the Saints punched the Bears in the mouth, and they failed to respond. The score was not indicative of the game, and save for the Cordarelle Patterson kick return, the Bears would have been out of it earlier.
The Chargers are heavily trending downward, losing to a third string QB at home, and then heading to Tennessee and blowing the game multiple times on the goal line. This team is loaded with talent despite a myriad of injuries, but nothing ever seems to go their way.
Both of these teams were 12-4 last year, and two of the best in the league, but this season has not gone how either organization would have liked. They both desperately need this win. As bad as Chicago has looked, they still have talent at each level of the defense, and the offense cannot possibly continue this level of play. A team with the recent track record of the Chargers serves as the perfect kind of get-right game. Everyone is quick to bury Chicago, but losing to the Saints isn’t exactly losing to the Dolphins or something.
Denver at Indianapolis
A huge win for the Colts last week put them into first place in the AFC South. What this team has done to this point in the season is one of the most impressive jobs of any team. They lost their superstar starting QB just two weeks before the season, and yet they are in first in their division halfway through. There will still probably be some lapses, like against Oakland a few weeks ago. That said, Indy is one of the most well-coached teams in the NFL, and that gives them a chance every week.
Denver, on the other hand, is reeling. After getting a little momentum from an 0-4 start, they returned to Mile High and got punched in the mouth by the Chiefs. The Chiefs were without Patrick Mahomes for half the game, the Broncos were going up against what had been an awful defense. The Chiefs’ defense came alive and made Joe Flacco’s life hell. Heading on the road to take on a team firing on all cylinders is not the way to right the ship for Denver.
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams had the get-right game against the listless Falcons, and now they get to face what may be an even worse crew. Cincinnati continues trudging through the wild. While they are winless, they’re still somehow probably better than some teams that have wins. They were in it with the Jags until late in the game. That said, the talent and coaching of the Rams will be way too much to overcome, let alone heading west for an early game. The Rams have caught a break, facing two fading teams in a row, allowing them to stay in the race with two of the top teams in the league, who are in their division.
Arizona at New Orleans
The Saints continued their unbelievable season start last week, trouncing the Bears in a game where the score does not reflect how the game actually was. The Saints’ defense continued its domination, and Teddy Bridgewater and the offense wore the Bears’ defense out. The Saints may get Drew Brees back for this one, but they absolutely do not need him. Their bye is next week, and Bridgewater has proved more than capable.
Arizona has improved each week, going from winless to an even record. Kyler Murray has been great, and Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme is so solid that the team did not miss a beat with Chase Edmonds filling in for David Johnson, thrashing the Giants on the ground. The Saints have not played an offense like the Cardinals yet, and Arizona is playing extremely well. The question for the Cardinals is the defense. If they can somewhat hold the Saints’ offense in check and give Murray and Co chances, this one could be closer than the spread indicates.
New York Jets at Jacksonville
An absolutely disastrous performance for the Jets on Monday Night Football. The Jets’ offense was erased from the game entirely. Sam Darnold played the worst game of his young career. This said, it was against a Patriots defense that is on a historical pace. The Jets are likely going to miss the playoffs, but they are not as bad as what they showed Monday.
The Jaguars played a close game with the Bengals until they were able to blow it open during the final frame. The Jags’ defense was able to come alive against a bad Cincinnati offense, and could do the same here. But there is no way that the Jets are that bad on offense again. The Patriots are not the barometer to use to measure your team’s capacity. The Jets have to be looking to prove people wrong and show they aren’t as bad as Monday. They played an excellent game against the Cowboys, who are better than Jacksonville. Look for the Jets to return to that form this week.
Carolina at San Francisco
This probably serves as the best game of the week. Carolina is coming off rest and a big win in London. The Niners played an ugly and awesome game in a monsoon against the Redskins last week. Neither offense in that game could do much of anything. Returning to sunny California should help the Niners. The Panthers are the first complete team the Niners are going to face this year. Yeah, they beat the Rams, but the Rams are clearly not at the level of years prior.
This will be a legitimate test for the vaunted Niners defense, as they will have to handle Christian McCaffery. The question is how Kyle Allen will hold up against the ferocious pass rush. If he can continue his steady play, the Panthers have a shot. The Panthers’ underrated defense is going to keep them in this one. The Niners’ ground game is fantastic, but Jimmy Garoppolo has yet to be tested or asked to do much. San Francisco has not been pushed yet this year, and Carolina will give them all they can handle.
Cleveland at New England
This is one of the most interesting matchups of the week. Cleveland is coming off a bye and (hopefully) a lot of self-reflection. New England, meanwhile, comes off a short week where they continued their path of destruction. Last we saw Cleveland, they blew a game in which they had a big lead to a top competitor. Now they face a team that, in the preseason, many held them to the same level of. Cleveland seems to raise its game to its competition, aside from the bombing it faced in San Francisico. So there’s a chance here that Cleveland is able to hold its own.
Myles Garret and Olivier Vernon could give the Pats problems up front, where the Pats’ offensive line is somewhat suspect. But there is a huge mismatch on the other side. Baker Mayfield has been turnover happy this year. Some of his picks have been brutal drops by receivers, but that is something Cleveland cannot afford against this team. The Patriots’ offense is the most suspect thing about them, but the system and players doing their job allows for them to put up points every week. Couple that with the fact Cleveland is one of the most penalized teams in the league, and there is a lot going against the Browns in this one.
Oakland at Houston
Houston, heading into a huge divisional game, reared its ugly inconsistent streak. Personally, it’s hard to take them seriously. Deshaun Watson is fantastic, but it ends there. Without him, this is a 6 win team. They have a chance to win any given game, but it’s just as likely they come out and embarrass themselves. This starts at the top, where there is still no GM. But even worse is Bill O’Brien. No coach has been bailed out by a player more than O’Brien has by Watson. Indianapolis is no joke, but that’s a game you have to win, especially after the Chiefs game the week prior.
The Raiders returned from their bye to get gashed by the Packers. They were in the game for a bit, but were unable to keep pace, due to the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers. Watson is near that level, but the rest of the Texans are so lackluster. This is one the Texans should easily win, and probably will. Watson should be able to put on a show similar to Rodgers. But, Jon Gruden is a far better coach than O’Brien. He builds a game plan and helps his players raise their level. That difference could lead to a closer game or an upset.
Green Bay at Kansas City
There seems to be a chance Patrick Mahomes is going to play in this game. Without any medical knowledge, that seems like a massive risk no matter what. Mahomes is absolutely the type of player who wants to be there for his team, the Chiefs are better with him, and they likely want him to play, but he just should not. It is not worth the risk. So more likely than not, he won’t play, leaving the Chiefs’ offense in the hands of Matt Moore. Moore is not a total bum, and the Chiefs’ offensive system and structure should help him elevate his play.
Regardless, the Chiefs are already playing from behind. The stalwart defensive performance last week was against the Broncos, and this is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are fresh off doing whatever they wanted against the Raiders. Getting Chris Jones back helps somewhat, but even with him the Chiefs’ defense was suspect at best. The Packers should again be able to move the ball with ease, and the Packers’ defense will make things difficult for Moore, leading to the Chiefs being unable to keep pace.
- Los Angeles Rams
- New Orleans
- New York Jets
- New England
- Green Bay