It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the Jets and Bills are decked out head to toe in green and red. No truth that the Starbucks boycott will continue to Buffalo. This is just the latest NFL scheme to squeeze every buck they can called color rush and anybody wearing pink will be heavily fined. The time for selling pink has finished in Mr. Roger Goodell’s Neighborhood. The game is Rex’s return to New York and he has already poked his former team naming Ik Enemkpali a team captain. Rex knows the Jets weaknesses, the Bills are getting healthy and the Jets are still banged up. Add it together and Red Rex wins.
Not all 2-6 teams are equal. The Ravens have been close in every game, losing by no more than eight points, with four of six losses coming by four points or less. The Jaguars are fortunate just to have the two wins that they have. The Ravens coming off a bye week can make a late charge if they get a few bounces to go their way, unlike the way they went in the first eight games. The Jaguars meanwhile need to start re-evaluating their team again as it is becoming clear that Blake Bortles is not a NFL quarterback, at least they will get to pick in the top five again and can get a new one.
There is no place like home for the Packers, who Lambeau Field is a sight for sore eyes after two straight road losses to teams with unbeaten records. The Lions are also a welcome relief for the Packers who have struggled offensively in the last two games. The Lions defense does not measure up to the Broncos and Panthers, and the offense has struggled as well, with Matthew Stafford falling out of favor faster than a Ford Pinto. The Lions have not won in Green Bay since 1991, and at 1-7 with a lame duck coach and a team that is in full self-destruct mode it won’t happen this year. Look for a big game from Aaron Rodgers as the Lions crush the punch-less life-less Lions to get back on the winning track.
The Eagles won a gut check in Dallas and are now fully engulfed in the chase for first place in the NFC East. The Dolphins have showed that the magic of coach Dan Campbell was short lived losing two gut check games on the road. Finishing up three game road trip the Dolphins show they have no guts left and fold like a card table. The Eagles meanwhile should get a big day on the ground against the Dolphins awful run defense which allowed 151 yards on the ground last week. Ryan Tannehill meanwhile has taken a huge step backward as Miami now must focus on 2016 where to go from this disastrous season.
No player is more symbolic of his team than Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers quarterback when healthy is one of the best in the NFL. However, even when Big Ben is hurt he tries to gut it out the best he can to keep his team in the game and find a way to win. Despite missing a few games with a knee sprain and leaving last week with an injured foot he says he can play this week. Who is to doubt him. The Browns meanwhile are the exact opposite finding ways to lose each and every week. Johnny Manziel may start again and has proven to be a big bust. Luke McCown may return, but it won’t matter the Browns never win in Heinz Field and they will find a way to lose again.
Two teams that have been somewhat feast or famine all season. The Rams are coming off a tough overtime loss in Minnesota, while the Bears are coming of a comeback Monday Night win in San Diego. The battle of the Long brothers is an interesting side story as the Sons of Howie nearly came to blows the last time the Bears and Rams met two years ago. The Rams should have an edge playing at home with Todd Gurley leading the way. The Rams are able to get to Jay Cutler and when Cutler is getting hit he begins to play like…
There may be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Cowboys, as Tony Romo could return next week as they play back to back games in Florida. This week they will once again need to rely on Matt Cassel and I just cannot pick the Cowboys as long as Weeden and Cassel are under center. Both backups have been awful, and while Darren McFadden has begun to give Dallas the run game they desired, it seems that Cassel is good for one soul crushing interception each and every game. Meanwhile Jameis Winston midway through his rookie season is improving steadily and playing at home the Bucs will send the Boys to a seventh straight loss.
Marcus Mariota returned after missing two games and was flawless leading the Titans to a thrilling overtime win against the Saints on the road, giving Mike Mularkey a win in his first game as interim coach. This week they face a much tougher test in the unbeaten Panthers. Carolina though despite their 8-0 record has had its moments nearly blowing big leads in each of their last two games. This game in Nashville could be a trap game for the Panthers who have two games in four days next week. The Titans will certainly make things interesting, but in the end I see the Panthers pull another one out as Luke Kuechly picks off a Mariotta pass in the red zone with under one minute left.
One thing we have learned in the last few weeks, is that Drew Brees still has some magic in his right arm and the Saints defense is horrendous. One the road in Washington, Brees will need every bit of his magic as the Saints are good enough to at least give up 24 points. The trouble is games on grass have typically troublesome for Brees and the Saints even when they were at their best a few years ago. Kirk Cousins has played well at home, leading a big comeback in his last game at FedEx Field three weeks ago. With DeSean Jackson back in action and Cousins feeling no heat the Redskins will march and the Saints will retreat home with another defeat.
Despite a loss in Pittsburgh last week, the Raiders are right in thick of the playoff chase at 4-4. Back home they face a Vikings team that is also in a year of resurgence at 6-2. However, the leader of the Vikings comeback Teddy Bridgewater is doubtful to play after sustaining a concussion in last week’s win against the Rams. With this game in the black hole I see the Raiders having the edge even if Bridgewater were to pass all the concussion protocols and get cleared to play. Derek Carr is among the league top passers and will be the deciding factor as the Raiders move closer to the first winning season since 2002.
Sometimes the bye week helps and sometimes it hurts. For the Chiefs the bye could not have come at a worse time as they won two straight and were playing their best football of the season. Even with their loss last season the Broncos are playing fine at 7-1. The Broncos already handed the Chiefs a crushing loss in Arrowhead in Week 2. This game in Denver will be more of the same as the Chiefs have no answers for the Broncos defense, while Peyton Manning makes the big plays and becomes the NFL all-time passer.
Superman has kryptonite and the New England Patriots have the New York Giants. The Giants have beaten the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl and three straight times overall. The Giants defense could be vulnerable and will be ripped apart by Tom Brady and company, but the way Eli Manning has been playing they could match the Pats and get the win. The Patriots are somewhat worried about going unbeaten as nobody in New England dare use the word undefeated. A loss may actually boost their Super Bowl chances and take some pressure off, and what better team to do it than the one team that knows how to find a way to beat them.
This could be the biggest regular season game in the history of the Arizona Cardinals. At 6-2 they could take a stranglehold of the NFC West with a win in Seattle. The Cardinals did win in Seattle two years ago, but lost last year in a similar position. This time around the Cardinals are healthy and Carson Palmer is having a fine year. The Seahawks meanwhile have yet to look really good and are fortunate to be 4-4. Though off a bye Seattle could find itself and run the table the rest of the season. With this one on Sunday Night in front of the 12th man I think we see the Seahawks at their best.
The Bengals have been nearly flawless all season, with a strong defense and great offense as Andy Dalton has avoided making the killer mistake all season. The Bengals still though will need to prove it in January before anyone can take truly take them seriously. However, in primetime games they have been trying to show a preview of what they can do. The Texans at 3-5 have been bad all over, J.J. Watt has not had a dominant season and the Texans quarterback struggles are well documented. It is hard to see how Houston could even make this one all that close.