Nothing better than the back end stretch of the NFL... This week we have some teams that could begin a surprise playoff push, some teams are looking to begin their lockdown of a division...
Chiefs at Chargers- Thursday Night Football
If you're familiar with the term "Norved" you know the first tenant of any team getting Norved is they have to be pretty good. There must be hope if hope is to be dashed. This is the game where the Chargers showcase WHY this season will be a giant disappointment because the Chiefs, despite moderate talent, are in complete disarray, Rivers will regain his control, Mathews will score at will. Chargers win by 2 tds.
Broncos at Bengals
I know everyone is chanting MVP for Manning and while his comeback is a great story for the NFL and the Broncos, I still see many of his throws coming out of his hand very loose. I don't see his trademark laser and subsequent accuracy. So this will be an issue as the Broncos progress and approach the post season, but I don't think it's enough to lose to the Bengals. I like AJ Green and Andy Dalton. While most of the attention goes to Cam Newton- Dalton has displayed why the Bengals chose him over Carson Palmer. Still Manning is 7-0 all time against the Bengals and while the Broncos are 1-2 on the road and I think they'll struggle a little bit, the Broncos win by 4.
Ravens at Browns
This seems like an easy game to pick, but it's not as simple as it seems. Trent Richardson is going have a huge game against the Ravens who are allowing an average of 110 rushing yards to the opposing starting running back the last 3 games. No team is run on more than the Ravens, and only the Buffalo Bills have allowed more rushing touchdowns this season. The Browns defense is better than the Ravens defense. Read that again... But I think the Ravens offense is far superior and should be up and running this weekend in Cleveland. Ravens win.
Cardinals at Packers
If you thought the Niners win over the Cardinals was bad. This could be much worse. The Cardinal defense, it's pass rush and linebacking corp is only as good as it's ability to tackle. Which was sorely lacking Monday night against the Niners. The only bright spot in this matchup is the Packers aren't playing with a full deck of cards. Not a fantasy darling this week, but Packers win.
Bills at Texans
Texans coming off a bye. Foster has fresh legs. Bills allow more rushing touchdowns than any other team in the NFL and it's not even close. Texans win. By 3 touchdowns.
Dolphins at Colts
Love this game. First, BOLD PREDICTION: the winner of this game WILL be an AFC wildcard. One of these two teams, offscouring of the NFL to start the season, both with rookie quarterbacks, new head coaches and in divisions with dominant teams, will make the playoffs. When you look at the Colts' remaining schedule, you'll find only 2 teams that have winning records waiting, the Patriots and Texans. The Colts play Houston twice in the final 3 weeks of the season. If the Texans have the #1 seed locked up by then, they'll likely rest their starters and that gives the Colts a chance to add some wins and earn a playoff berth. The Dolphins have a tougher schedule, featuring the Patriots twice, Bills twice and a trip to San Francisco. So it's tougher for the Phins, but I'm going on the record, if the Colts beat the Phins, they will be in the playoffs. Colts win.
Detroit at Jacksonville
If I'm Lions fan, I tell my cardiologist to be on-call every Sunday. The fact the Lions only trailed by 3 with a little over 5 minutes left at home against one of the NFC's stingier defenses was a gift for Detroit. They normally trail by 3 scores. 3 points was nothing. And they proved, once again, why they're a favorite team to watch. The fact Blaine Gabbert launched the ball 49 times against the Packers means the Jags' game plan didn't work and the team was in desperation mode. They'll be there again. Lions win.
Bears at Titans
I keep thinking the Bears will come back down to earth- read: Jay Cutler will implode. They almost did against the Panthers. Now on the road against a Titans team that is not good, having given up 30+ points in 6 of their 8 games and winning only 2 of those contest. BUT the Titans 3rd win of the season came against a Steeler team, at home. Makes you think anything is possible. Or makes you think Bears put up 35 points, and their defense scored 2 tds. Bears win.
Buccaneers at Raiders
Kinda pains me to say it, but I like the Raiders team when they don't beat themselves. Problem is, they do that a lot. The Bucs are coming to town after demolishing the Vikings, taking Minnesota out of it's game plan. Some would say the Vikings inexplicably gave that game away, and while there's a case to be made for that, I'd say the Bucs learned from their loss to the Saints and took it out on the Vikings. The Bucs offense has parts that make you drool and the Raiders, coming off a win over the Chiefs could regress. Bucs win.
Vikings at Seattle
If the Vikings were playing in Minnesota, this would be a tough game. But they aren't. This is an impossible game. Absolute lock. Seattle wins.
Steelers at Giants
Shockingly enough, two iconic franchises, 2 rings for each team in the last 7 years and the last time the Steelers were the guests of the Giants was before either other them won a Super Bowl in the last millennium, 12/18/04... In other news, thought the Steelers played the Redskins really well. But I also thought the Redskins were overrated and expected the Steelers to win. The Giants tried really hard to lose to the Cowboys, but Romo wouldn't let them. I think the Gmen are primed to rebound from a terrible game in Dallas. Giants win.
Cowboys at Falcons- Sunday Night Football
Many thought the Falcons would lose to the Eagles, they promptly eviscerated the Eagles' pride. Many think the Cowboys can beat the Falcons.... I thought the Cowboys defense played really well despite losing Sean Lee and going up against a potent Giants offense. IF, IF!, Jason Garrett actually learns to rely on a running attack, this could be the Falcons first loss. But if Romo throws the ball more than 35 times, the Cowboys lose. DeMarco Murray is still in question, and Felix Jones was a disaster on 13 carries against the Giants. But the Cowboys have to stick with the run, the Falcons achilles heel, only 6 teams in the NFL give up more rushing yards and touchdowns than Atlanta... Still, I don't think Jason Garrett will get it. Falcons win.
Eagles at Saints- Monday Night Football
Sorry Eagles fans, the Saints defense is studdly, stingy and formidable. Just kidding. It's terrible. Wet Kleenex watches in pride as the Saints prime-time schedule exposes their defensive futility for the world to see. They give up more than 30 points a game, 474 yards per game and just for context, the Buffalo Bills, the second worst defense in the league gives up 50 fewer yards per game. The Saints allow 6.7 yards a play. So if Philly doesn't win THIS game, they should add the Eagles to the Thanksgiving Turducken. Eagles win.