The Vikings stubbed their toe last week, suffering a 38-7 loss at home to the Seahawks. The Cardinals could give the Vikings even more problems as they head for the desert on Thursday Night. The Cardinals at 9-2 are on track to get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Cardinals secondary is strong and their offense has fired on all cylinders all season. The Vikings are still a young team and for the first time for many of their top players including QB Teddy Bridgewater they are playing pressure games in December and have a lot to learn.
It has been a season to forget for the Ravens, as they have been besieged by injuries and sit at 4-8. Making things even more frustrating for Baltimore, is the fact that all 12 games have been decided by one score. The Seahawks meanwhile after a sluggish first half are just hitting their stride, coming off a 38-7 win over the Vikings. The Ravens are without their most important player at every position and the fact they have had a chance to win every game is a great testament to John Harbaugh. However, with the surging Seahawks I see a blowout this week.
What has happened to the Atlanta Falcons? At the start of the season the Falcons were running neck and neck with the unbeaten Panthers, winning their first five games. However, as the Panthers zoomed to 12-0 to win a third straight NFC South, the Falcons have lost six of seven and sit at 6-6. The only win the Falcons enjoyed over that period was a 10-7 win over the lowly Titans. The Falcons offense has been a big problem as it has been non-existent as they have scored 21 or less in every game. Hard to see that trend not continuing in Carolina.
The Redskins change to win the NFC Least may have come and gone on Monday Night as they gave a lackluster effort and lost to the Romo less Cowboys. The Redskins had played strong at home all year, winning five of six at FedEx before losing to Dallas, but on the road they are 0-for-5. The Redskins finish the year with three of their last four games starting Sunday on the road. The Bears are hard to peg down as they often alternate good and bad games, this week they are due for a good one, as the Redskins road woes continue.
This could be a game that will light up the scoreboard as both offensives have been playing at a high level over the last few weeks. Since their Monday Night letdown against the Texans, the Bengals offense has been unstoppable, scoring 99 points in their last three games. The Steelers have scored 105 points in the same period. With a win the Bengals will clinch the AFC North and will remain in control to get home field in the AFC. It is also a major test Andy Dalton who still needs to prove he can handle big situations like December and the playoffs.
Since Blane Gabbert took over for Colin Kaepernick at quarterback the 49ers have been much more competitive, including an upset win over the Bears on the road. Once again the Niners are going east to face the clown princes of the NFL. The Browns are back to Johnny Manzeil after Austin Davis showed his stunning lack of passing ability. This could be the last call for Johnny Football in Cleveland as the Browns are likely to start all over again for the tenth time with a quarterback likely a big target as they are heading for the number one pick.
The Jaguars have played much better as of late, with Blake Bortles coming off a five touchdown effort in a 42-39 loss in Tennessee. The Colts last week spend the entire night chasing down the Steelers, allowing 45 points at Heinz Field. However, what is more concerning is the play of Matt Hasselbeck who struggled all game and left in the fourth quarter with an injury. If Hasselbeck is unable to go the Colts will need to turn to Charlie Whitehurst as Andrew Luck is at least two weeks away.
Is there any team in the NFL that is hotter than the Kansas City Chiefs? Since starting 1-5 the Chiefs have won six in a row, with most coming in blowouts. The Chargers were already one of the Chiefs faceless victims suffering a 33-3 loss at home three week ago. The Chargers are not hot, losing all but one of their last eight games. With this game in Arrowhead, it is hard to see the Chargers not getting their doors blow off again.
After winning the battle for New York, the Jets in right in thick of the Wild Card hunt. Their defense has been strong all season, but in recent weeks it is their offense that has started to click, with Ryan Fitzpartrick to Brandon Marshall becoming the go to combination. Eric Decker has also played well as the Jets have two receivers that can top 1,000 yards. The Titans are Marcus Mariota and a bunch of mediocre guys. On the road against a potential playoff team it is hard to see Mariota, doing enough to get the Titans a win on Sunday.
At 5-7 the Eagles would be stuffed and mounted by now in most seasons, but with the entire NFC East playing terrible football they actually have the inside track to win the division coming off a 35-28 win in Foxboro last week. The win over the Patriots ended a three game losing streak for the Eagles, and saved their season. The Bills meanwhile have bopped along at .500 all ason. The Bills defense can do things and LaSean McCoy will certainly be hungry for revenge, but with a second chance at life the Eagles take advantage and get a big game from Sam Bradford to take over first place.
How do you recover from having your heart ripped out on National Television? That is the answer the Lions face this week after Aaron Rodgers performed the ceremony of Kali Ma from the Temple of Doom. The temple of doom has been the story of the Rams season as they come in with five straight losses as their handling of issues especially concussions have come under fire. This as the drumbeat of a move to Los Angeles gets louder. The Rams are due to get back in the win column, look for a big game from Todd Gurley.
Jameis Winston seems to get better every weeks as he has driven the Buccaneers into playoff contention. In Week 2 Winston earned his first career win against the Saints in the Superdome. Now he faces the Saints again, at home with a chance to go over .500. Defense has been a rumor all season for the Saints as teams have routinely gone up and down the field on them. The Saints defense has allowed 40 points three times already, and with Jameis Winston surging into the Rookie of the Year talk, I see it happening again.
After a solid start, the Raiders are back in their normal state playing meaningless December games, as they are one loss away from clinching 13 straight non-winning seasons. Still there have been flashes they can build off for the future. The Broncos meanwhile are looking for playoff position, while holding off the Chiefs. Defense has been the reason behind Denver’s success. Look for Denver to frustrate Denver all game and all but clinch the AFC North with a win at home as Brock Osweiler continues to play well in place of Peyton Manning.
The Packers had been playing lack luster football, losing four of five games as they fell behind the Lions last Thursday Night. The Packers still trailed even as time expired, but a controversial face mask call gave them an untimed down, which Aaron Rodgers used to throw a 61-yard Field Goal on the fly. The Cowboys won their last game without Tony Romo, but had help as Redskins mistakes opened the door. I don’t think the Cowboys will get those same chances at Lambeau Field as the new life the Packers grabbed on a Rodgers to Rodgers Hail Mary is take full advantage of.
The last time the Patriots suffered a three game losing streak, the Houston Texans were an expansion team taking baby steps in their first season. Injuries have been a big reason for the Patriots sudden struggles, as Tom Brady has been missing some of his favorite targets. The Texans defense could give Brady fits on Sunday Night, but the Texans offense is not good enough to get the job done. Look for the Patriots defense to win the day, possibly even getting a score themselves to get back on the winning track on the road in Houston.
How many bad losses can a team suffer before it gets so demoralized that they fall apart? The Giants could be reaching that point after blowing a ten-point lead late against the Jets in the battle of New York. The Giants have had at least four games that they blew in the final minutes through bad coaching decisions or bad plays. The Dolphins at 5-7 are just trying to get a strong finish. With the Giants offensive line banged up, look for Eli Manning to be on the run all game, as another four quarter lead vanishes on Monday Night in Miami.