As bad as these teams have played they are both in position to take the lead in the AFC South, at the season’s midway point. The reason has to do more with how bad the rest of the division is. The Panthers coming off a gut wrenching loss to the Seahawks have more a stake with this game in Carolina. The Saints have solid at home, winning all three at the Superdome, and have most of the remaining games there after this a win here and the division will clearly be in their hands. However, as bad as the Saints have been on the road, the Panthers are the obvious choice here.
The Bengals stopped the bleeding last week and got back in the win column with a terrific comeback against the Ravens, completing a season sweep against a key division rival. The Jaguars have shown signs of life, but have a long way to go before they can be trusted on the road. Blake Bortles has a decent future ahead of him, but he must cut down on the interceptions, his habit of staring down receivers will not work in the NFL, corners are just too skilled.
The AFC North may be the best division top to bottom as all four teams have winning records, while the NFC South may be the worst as all four teams are below .500. The Browns after a hiccup in Jacksonville took care of business at home against the Raiders last week. The Buccaneers are not much better than the Raiders and some weeks don’t even bother to show up. The Buccaneers may come in flat this week after a pair of players were traded for draft picks, sending up another signal flag of surrender on the season.
Just like the Cowboys were due to hit wall, the Cardinals are due to suffer their second loss of the season. The Cowboys running game is able to play away from the Cardinals strong secondary and they should get benefit from the game being at home. The Cardinals have narrowly won for the most part, and are due to have a bounce go the other way. Look for another big game from DeMarco Murray as the Cowboys look to grind the Cardinals down to get back on track.
Coming off a tough loss in Arizona, the Eagles had south again this time to Houston. The Texans have yet to beat a team with a strong quarterback, though it is due to the struggles of Ryan Fitzpatrick as J.J. Watt has given them a fighting chance, but the Texans inability to get the big score when they held the ball has led to them settling for 4-4, rather than being a true contender.
It’s just going to get uglier from this point on for the Jets, who have lost seven straight after beating the winless Raiders in Week 1. Geno Smith has been benched for the love of all that is good, and for the sake of the sanity of all Jets fans. Michael Vick has not been much better, but getting time with the first team offense should help him improve. As for the Jets secondary there is no hope and they are only playing worse every time you turnaround. This one could be a blowout.
The Chargers after a 5-1 start are reeling with two straight division losses. Now they have an early start in Miami. Traditionally the Chargers have struggled in early games, but faced with the prospect of three losses in a row and having the benefit of a few extra day’s off after a Thursday Night Game, I see them bringing their A game to South Florida. The Dolphins are improving but I just don’t see them handing a top performance from San Diego.
Two teams coming off emotional overtime wins on the road meet with each hoping to get back in the playoff chase. If the Redskins can get after Teddy Bridgewater the way they did with Tony Romo they may just win this game. However, it is hard to imagine they can get three straight wins with Colt McCoy. Eventually Colt McCoy will revert to the real McCoy who was written off as NFL bust three years ago.
The 49ers face the Rams for the second time in three games with a bye week thrown in the middle. The Rams used a big second half to rally from an early deficit. The Rams who off an upset against the Seahawks suffered a series of setbacks last week in Kansas City with their offensive line being banged up. So at the trade deadline the Rams picked up a safety. The 49ers might be ready for a big run off their own bye week, look for them to win by two touchdowns.
The two best teams in the AFC last year are the two best teams in the AFC this year. The Broncos have lost just once so far and that was an overtime loss in Seattle, the Patriots have lost twice but are coming off their most impressive performance of the season. The Broncos dominated the Patriots in six of eight quarters last season, with the lone exception of a second half comeback in Foxboro. The Broncos defense is improved off last year and Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning. The game will be a shootout, and the Broncos will ride away with the clear title of team to beat.
It’s no secret the defending champion Seahawks have suffered from a major case of Super Bowl hangover. However, a big comeback in Carolina may get them right back on track. Coming home to face the winless, hopeless Raiders of the Lost Cause should give them a chance to take out the early season frustrations. This game has blowout written all over it. Look for breakout performances on both sides of the ball for Seattle as Marshawn Lynch goes beast mode, while the Seahawks defenses gets a hand full of turnovers.
Last week Ben Roethlisberger was so hot, he nearly melted the field at Heinz Field passing for 522 yards with six touchdowns. The Steelers now face their buddies from Baltimore for the second time in primetime. Their first meeting on Thursday Night in Week 2 was a rare blowout. This one will get back to the trend of games decided by three points, with the Steelers getting revenge also continuing the trend of the teams splitting in most seasons.
The Colts are coming off a brutal defense performance in which Ben Roethlisberger torched them all game. Of course Andrew Luck had his own big game, as the Colts offense continued to be explosive. The Giants have a slight advantage coming off a bye week and playing at home. However, I don’t think they have the offense to keep up with Luck, especially with their offensive line being inconsistent and lacking true reliable receiver without Victor Cruz.