Two teams with solid defenses meet in a Thursday Night game of survival as the loser will all but be eliminated in the playoff chase. The Bills have dominated the Dolphins in the last two years, continually beating upon Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The last two games the Dolphins have managed just 10 total points, The Dolphins will be without a key member of their offensive line the remainder of the season, exposing Tannehill to another Buffalo beating as the Dolphins will struggle to even cross midfield and fall back to .500.
Just how bad is the AFC South? These two teams that have played awful football over the last six weeks are both alive and well with six losses. The Falcons ended their losing streak last week against the awful Bucs, while the Panthers were embarrassed on Monday Night Football. The Panthers defense has been terrible since Greg Hardy was suspended. However, the Falcons with a struggling offensive line and terrible play away from home could provide a remedy add a defense that has also struggled and we have the Panthers living to fight another week.
Not since the Rochester Jeffersons has a team moved the ball up and down the field with such ease as the Bears opponents the last two weeks. The Jeffersons in 1923 were the last team to allow 50 points in consecutive games as the Bears have in their last two games. Coming home will not be a comfort, as the Bears are winless at Soldier Field in 2014, and fingers are being pointed everywhere. Watching this team it is clear they have quit on their coach and hate their quarterback, who looks like he simply does not care how bad he plays, it can only get uglier from here.
Autumn leaves are starting to fade as the winter hawk begins to bring its icy claw to the fields of fall. The Cleveland Browns by now usually are planning for the draft but are now in first place; the Browns have gotten good enough play from Brian Hoyer a former Patriot back up. The Texans defense has been monstrous led by JJ Watt, but their QB play has been less than stellar. Now they turn to their own former Brady back up in Ryan Mallet. It’s hard to pick Mallet since nobody has seen him make a NFL start, he can’t be worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I think the Browns will get the win at home in a close defensive battle.
The Seahawks have won their last three games, but still have failed to look like the team that won the Super Bowl last season. Their defense has been beatable and Russell Wilson could be contained. The Chiefs have their own homefield advantage that can be just as loud as the 12th man in Seattle. The Chiefs also have a solid run game, which is part of the formula for beating the Seahawks, another part of the formula is a strong defense, which the Chiefs also poses. Even if the Sehawks raised their game back to its highest level they would have a hard time winning in Arrowhead.
The Saints are coming off their first loss at home in nearly two years. Despite being 4-5 they are in first place as they are in the worst division in the NFL. The Bengals are in the best division in the NFL and come in with an uneasy 5-3-1 record. On the road the Bengals have struggled this year, as have they against teams that can throw the ball down the field. The Saints can throw the ball down field, and will not lose two in a row at the Superdome, the only hope for the Bengals is for the erratic Andy Dalton to have a big game and match Drew Brees stats.
The 49ers are coming off their biggest win of the season, beating the Saints in overtime to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Giants are all but finished as the Big Blue Defense has turned into Swiss cheese, allowing 400 yards per game. Like the Seahawks the 49ers have a mobile quarterback and a strong running game, I see another afternoon of frustration for the Giants as Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick will both have big games, as the Niners finally solve the Giants and get back in the playoff picture with a win at the Meadowlands.
The Rams are a funny team, some weeks they look like a team that is just there to take its lumps and some weeks they actually look like a team that could give even the best teams a hard time. The Rams will need to get in Peyton Manning’s face early and often to have a chance of beating the other Super Bowl team like they did with the Seahawks. The problem is the Broncos may just have too many weapons and the Rams don’t have enough to get the upset.
This is the stinker of the week, as the Buccaneers come in at 1-8 and are already dreaming of Jameis Winston as Josh McCown and Mike Glennon have both proven that they are not the answer. The Redskins, meanwhile hope Robert Griffin III can finish the season strong. In his first start back RGIII played well despite a loss in Minnesota, now he needs to shine at home. The Buccaneers some weeks don’t even bother showing up and after two straight road games and a bye I see the Redskins coming out strong and getting the win at home.
Heading into their bye week the Chargers suffered their worst loss in nearly 20 years, as they have lost their last three games. The Raiders always give the Chargers a tough game and their first meeting was the closest they have come to winning so far this year. However, with rumors of a move to San Antonio in the air, things could get even bleaker for the Silver and Black as their last seven games are not easy and 0-16 is within reach. The Chargers should benefit from a week off and play a strong game to get back on track and drop the Raiders of the Lost Cause to 0-10.
Believe it or not these are the top two teams in the NFC, as the Cardinals come in at 8-1 while the Lions are 7-2. Many times they have met with pride on the line, the winner of this game will have a leg up on home field in the playoffs. The Lions have been the cardiac kids winning games late, while the Cardinals secondary has helped overcome injuries at the quarterback position. With Carson Palmer now out for the remainder of the season the Cardinals hopes rest in the hands of Drew Stanton, a former Lion who was a big part of their 0-16 season. This game will be close as the Cardiac Lions win another in the final seasons.
Both the teams look like they are getting set for a surge as they are coming off big wins in primetime. This has all the makings of a shootout, as neither team has a great defense, but can light up the scoreboard. Mark Sanchez has looked good since taking over for Nick Foles, but can he really match Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field? The Packers defense looked strong last week as Clay Matthews appears to be getting comfortable at middle Linebacker. Sanchez may help the Eagles win the NFC East, but he won’t win in Lambeau against a hot Packers team.
Both teams had a week to prepare for this Sunday Night showdown with huge playoff implications. The Patriots offense looks like a monster having destroyed the Broncos when we last saw them. The Colts offense is also strong as Andrew Luck has clearly established himself as the next superstar once Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are ready to step down. Brady is not ready to yield that spotlight just yet and Luck still has some more growing to do. The Colts defense also has been vulnerable to offenses that can move the ball through the air and with Rob Gronkowski back in pre-injury form it is hard to imagine the Colts can outgun the Patriots, especially with Bill Belichick having a week to study Luck’s tendencies.
The Steelers laid an egg last week, losing to the New York Jets who came in with eight straight losses. The Titans have been just as bad as Gang Green and have won just one of their last eight. The Steelers have played down to their opponents all season, also losing to the Buccaneers and nearly losing to the Jaguars. However, in primetime they always bring their A game, and the Titans cannot handle the Steelers A game. The Titans also have a quarterback in Zack Mettenberger who is just happy to be there taking selfies before every start, he knows NFL in his case means Not For Long as he will be long forgotten before the Titans are contenders again.