This week’s Thursday Night game features two teams coming off dreadful performances on Sunday. These teams will meet in two of the next three weeks, and will decide the AFC South. With this game in Nashville it is ultra important for the Titans, but with QB Jake Locker lost for the season with a foot injury, the outlook is not too good. The Colts on the other hand still are a very young teams and should be able to shake off a bad loss faster as they all but lock up the division title with a win.
The Jets have yet to have a streak of any time this year as they have alternated wins and losses. As of right not it is good enough to have them in playoff position at 5-4. Will the bye week shake up this pattern as they face the Bills for the second time? Chances are the bye week will hurt the Jets more than it will help, as Rookie Quarterback Geno Smith has been the center of the inconsistency and for young players those first games after a bye are often tricky. The Bills are playing at home and should have a top effort against a division rival.
The Ravens got a season saving win last week against the Bengals, after nearly blowing a 17-0 lead. There are still many problems the defending champs will need to overcome just to make the playoffs, but in Chicago the situation is worse. Backup Quarterback Josh McCown has played well, but the losses on defense to Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs are of greater concern and open the door for the Ravens to get back to .500 with a road win. Look for Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith to take advantage of the Bears back ups and have another big day.
The battle of Ohio part deux sees the Bengals coming off two overtime losses on the road needing a win to get back on track and to keep their reigns on the AFC North. The Bengals dropped the first game in Cleveland, but at home they have been a different team. The Bengals have won all four games at Paul Brown Stadium and will enjoy the home cooking as they take out some frustration against the Browns, who enter the game with nothing but question marks at quarterback.
Houston has had nothing but problems since the start of the season, as they struggled to win their first two games and have not won since. Injuries, turnovers, frustration and blow leads have been the story as Coach Gary Kubiak looks to return two weeks after suffering a mild stroke. Perhaps the best cure for the Texans is a home game against a team that is worse off than they are. Enter the Oakland Raiders, who have a quarterback that seem is better at running the ball than throwing it and a defense that is struggling. Look for the Texans to end their losing streak.
The Jaguars finally broke through and earned their first win of the season last week, against the team they last beat nearly one year ago. Can the Jaguars get two straight as they face the Cardinals at home. The bad news is, the Jaguars have been even worse playing in their own backyard as they have yet to find the endzone at EverBank Field. The Cardinals have quietly formed a good defense and have entered the playoff race in the NFC. Look for their defense to continue their solid play as the Jaguars scoring problems continue with the Cardinals get a rare East Coast win.
Nick Foles might just be the hottest quarterback in the NFL after back to back stellar games on the road, but the big hurdle is this week as the Eagles try to end their ten game losing streak at home. The Eagles have already gone through the Redskins paper thin defense, Robert Griffin III has played well as of late, but the Redskins defense has been awful all season and with the Eagles due to win a game at home and Foles finding his groove it is hard to imagine the Eagles can’t light up the board enough to get the win.
Last week the Lions moved into first place in November for the first time in 20 years with a win over the Bears in Soldier Field. On the road again, the Lions will look to expand that lead against the Steelers. The Steelers despite their win last week have many problems as Ben Roethlisberger has asked for a trade. The Steelers defense has had problems all year stopping good passing teams and this should open the door for Calvin Johnson to have another big game to keep the Lions moving forward.
On Monday Night the Buccaneers finally broke through and earned their first win of the season. Despite losing their first eight games, the Buccaneers have had several games they could have won against solid teams like the Jets, Saints and Seahawks. The Falcons come in at 2-7 with all hope lost for a return to the playoffs. The injuries to the receiving core and the struggles of Running Back Stephen Jackson will continue as the Bucs make it two win a row with a strong defensive effort at home.
Last week the Dolphins managed to get just two rushing yards in a Monday Night loss to the Buccaneers. The Dolphins running game and pass protection was bad even before the Jonathan Martin bullying came to light. Now without two offensive line starters the Dphins have lost the right to even have the letters OL. Expect their offense to continue to go backwards as the Chargers helped by the later start get back to .500 and become serious playoff contenders.
The last time the 49ers visited the Superdome the lights went out as they lost Super Bowl XLVII. This time they need a win to keep their hopes of winning the NFC West alive. The big problem for the 49ers has been their passing game, which has been the worst in the NFL. Facing the Saints you need to score with them, because at home Drew Brees has been unstoppable. Even if the 49ers manage to hold the Saints offense under 30 points, can they get their own offense moving against the Saints improved defense to win the game, not likely.
Everyone was ready to throw dirt on the Giants after they lost their first six games, but after winning their last three games hope has returned to the Swamps of Jersey, even though most of the hope comes from the NFC East being a wasteland of mediocrity. The last two years the Giants have beaten the Packers twice with Aaron Rodgers. With Scott Tolzien getting the start this week and the Giants defense looking sharp, as Jason Pierre-Paul has begun to look like a top notch pass rusher again, I see win number four as Big Blue continues to make a second half run.
After looking shaky the previous two weeks, the Seahawks snapped back into the team to beat in the NFC with a big win in Atlanta last week. Coming home the Seahawks look to continue their dominance as they face a Vikings team dealing with an injury to QB Christian Ponder. No matter who they start under center this week they will have no match for the 12th man, and the Seahawks Legion of Boom Defense. Meanwhile on offense Percy Harvin could make his first impact with the Seahawks against his old team.
The Chiefs are the last team to remain unbeaten as they face the Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Even though the Broncos have one loss they clearly have the better BCS ranking as the Chiefs strength of schedule has failed to impress. Thus far none of the Chiefs first nine opponents have winning records. The only question for the Broncos is just how hurt is Peyton Manning? Unless he is unable to play the Broncos at are home and looking t make a big statement and they do it by taking the Chiefs to the woodshed.
The Panthers are playing their best football and years and have a chance to really make people notice if they can beat the Patriots on Monday Night. Cam Newton has not really excelled and he has not had to, as the Panthers have gotten a strong performance from their running game, as their defense has suddenly become the best in the league. In their last five games the Panthers defense has not allowed more than 15 points. Teams that can rush the passer are the ones that can beat Tom Brady and this trend will continue as the Panthers continue to roll.