This one has all the makings of a blowout, the Bears have been terrible at home and the Cowboys have won all five games on the road this year. The Bears have not beaten a team with a winning record, and have a soft defense. The Cowboys offensive line should have no problem dominating as the Cowboys put up big numbers, with DeMarco Murray bouncing back from his worst game of the season to get back on track for a 2,000 yards by running all over Soldier Field.
This game could go a long way in deciding the AFC North as the two teams will meet twice in the final four weeks. No team has been more Jekyll and Hyde than the Steelers, who obliterated the Colts and Ravens at home, while they suffered losses to the two win Jets and Buccaneers. The Bengals have been strong at home, but have had their own consistency issues, as Quarterback Andy Dalton has had incredible lapses in judgment. The Steelers have lost some key players and looked old last week losing to the struggling Saints.
The shadow of Johnny Manziel is growing, as Brian Hoyer has begun to slip in recent weeks. At 7-5 the Browns are still in the thick of the Wild Card hunt, likely causing reluctances for Coach Mike Pettine to make the switch. That being said a slow start against the Colts could bring a quick hook. The Colts defense is inconsistent but the offense is strong. Though Running Back Trent Richardson has failed to impress, he may have extra incentive against his former team, the Colts will win Johnny Football will again come on as midnight turns the Browns back into a pumpkin.
The Lions got back on track last week, with an impressive Thanksgiving win over the Bears. The Buccaneers are just a giant mess, they don’t really have a quarterback and they are always playing behind keeping any chance of a running game having a productive season. The Lions still have one of the best defenses in the NFL and Matthew Stafford should begin to find a rhythm as Calvin Johnson is getting back into his Megaton form.
Last week, while earning their second win of the season against the New York Giants, the Jaguars best offense was their defense as they had two touchdowns while overcoming a 21-0 deficit. The Texans defense is also good at putting up points, as J.J. Watt has been the most dominant defender in the league. Watt has even got involved in the offense with four touchdown receptions. Blake Bortles has been a turnover machine for the Jaguars and will likely have a nightmare on Sunday against J.J. Watt.
Both teams are part of a jumbled playoff picture in the AFC and are among six teams entering the week with a record of 7-5. The Dolphins won a sloppy game against the lowly Jets on the road, while the Ravens saw a ten point lead slip away in the final five minutes against the Chargers at home. A loss won’t eliminate either team, but a win would go a long way of them getting some space between the rest of the contenders. The Dolphins defense is the key if they are able to contain the Ravens, QB Ryan Tannehill should be able to just enough for a second straight win with a late Field Goal.
The bluster is gone and over the face of Jets Coach Rex Ryan is a look of hopeless realization that his tenure is nearing an end. Last week the Jets dominated the game against the Dolphins in the first half, running at will with an option style that saw them gain 210 yards. However, they only led 10-3, as the Dolphins adjusted and shut Gang Green down the rest of the way in a comeback win. Ryan simply looked like a beaten man and that spells an ugly loss for a team that is about to mail it in the rest of the way.
No team has been a bigger disappointment than the Carolina Panthers, who after winning the NFC South last year have struggled badly. After winning the first two games the Panthers defense has been terrible as they have clearly missed Greg Hardy, who was benched after his domestic violence case came to light. The Panthers have lost six straight, including a home loss to the Saints. The Saints have dropped their last three at the Superdome, but played perhaps their best game of the season in beating the Steelers in Heinz Field last week. I see a big day for Drew Brees as the Panthers slight playoff hopes are put to rest.
Both of these teams have been an unmitigated disaster. The Titans are 2-10 winning just once since starting the season with a win in Kansas City, the Giants have lost seven straight and are coming off blowing a 21-0 to the Jaguars. The Titans defense has been awful and they have gone through three quarterbacks. Zack Mettenberg was injured last week and has opened the door for Jake Locker to get one last chance to impress. The Giants should be able to get a lead and hold this time around.
The Rams have beaten the Seahawks, Broncos and 49ers. They are coming off a 52-0 win over the hapless Raiders. However, they have yet to win two straight as they are continuing the roller coaster ride from last season. The Redskins are given Colt McCoy a chance to prove he could be a starting quarterback in the league and despite a loss in Indianapolis McCoy was solid last week. Coming home I see Colt McCoy again playing strong football as the Rams inability to do it two weeks in a row continues.
Both teams are coming off back to back losses and need to get back on track desperately. The Cardinals losses are easily understandable as they have had issues with injury all season even while they were 9-1. Larry Fitzgerald’s absence has been huge. The Chiefs have also had some losses with Eric Berry likely facing a battle with cancer. The Cardinals should get an edge playing at home as the Chiefs inability to get production from their receiving corps will again be their undoing.
After hitting a rough patch in November, the Broncos offense appears to be finding a grove as it races to another division title. The Bills defense is solid, but is not the type that can shut down a top quarterback. The Bills offense is come and go and relies heavily on their defense to get good field position. With this game in Denver the Bills certainly have the odds stacked against them. I see a big win by the Broncos as they keep the pressure on the Patriots in the race from home field.
The Battle of the Bay takes on some extra drama this year, as rumors have the Raiders interested in luring Coach Jim Harbaugh to Oakland. The 49ers have let it known meanwhile they will be attempting to trade their coach. The Raiders at 1-11 are a flat out laughing stock coming off a 52-0 loss, the 49ers meanwhile are watching their playoff hopes slip away at 7-5. The 49ers can’t afford another loss and will win the game, but with Colin Kaepernick continuing to underwhelm it will be another tight one.
The last two weeks the Seahawks have begun to look like the team that won the Super Bowl last season, as their defense is getting healthy. The offense though continues to be a problem as each 19-3 win over the 49ers and Cardinals saw them settling for three points way too often. On the road against the high octane Eagles even last year would have given the Seahawks trouble. Mark Sanchez has look solid thanks to a big rushing attack. The Seahawks have trouble against balanced teams and will regret not being able to finish drives eventually as they lose a close one.
Even when things were not going well early in the season, the Patriots did not lose two games in a row. The Patriots always bring out their best on Sunday Night Football and their loss last week was against the only team that has been as hot as they were on the road. The Chargers did score a nice comeback win on the road last week, but they don’t have the defense capable of putting pressure on Tom Brady, and their offense is not sharp enough to keep pace either. This game has Brady blowout written all over it.
The Falcons have kept their playoff hopes afloat with wins in three of their last four games. The Packers have looked like a Super Bowl team scoring at will and even stopping the Patriots streak. The Falcons defense has left plenty to be desired, and the Packers have been unstoppable in primetime games at home. This game will be over before halftime as the Packers continuing to roll toward home field in the NFC with Aaron Rodgers adding to his MVP stats on Monday Night in Lambeau Field.