Last week in perhaps their final game in San Diego, the Chargers played their most complete game of the year beating the listless Dolphins. This week the Chargers face the Raiders who could be saying good bye to Oakland as both teams are rumored to be considering a move to Los Angeles. The Raiders slammed the Chargers earlier this year in San Diego and have played well for the most part. The Chargers expended a lot of emotion on Sunday and will be flat on Thursday leading to an easy Oakland win.
This game could decide the NFC least as the Redskins will clinch with a win. However, the Redskins have been terrible away from home all season, winning just one road game. The Eagles have been feast or famine all season, laying an egg last Sunday Night against the Cardinals but winning in Foxboro earlier to end a three game losing streak. The Eagles face a similar desperation this week and will bring forth a big effort to beat the Redskins on Saturday Night.
At one time both of these teams were unbeaten sitting at 5-0. The Panthers still are unbeaten as the Falcons have won just two of their last nine games. When these two teams met two weeks ago the Panthers could not be finer as they shutout Atlanta 38-0 in Carolina. It is hard to see the Panthers winning that easily again, but it’s also hard to imagine the Flacons playing well enough to get the upset. The Panthers will clinch everything and improve to 15-0.
The Steelers and Ravens have played many close games in their heated rivalry, including a 23-20 win by Baltimore in Pittsburgh earlier this year. That game should have gone to the Steelers but the inability to make a simple field goal by Josh Scobee kept the Ravens in the game. The Ravens are banged up and playing terrible football especially on defense. The Steelers are soaring, especially on offense. The Steelers seeing a wounded animal will show no mercy as they lay it on the Ravens in a big way.
Kellen Moore gets the start for the Cowboys as they play out the string against the Bills who have yet to make the playoffs this decade. The Bills can still make it to .500 if they manage to beat the Cowboys and Jets to end the season. Moore had his moments last week but showed he is not a NFL quarterback with three interceptions. The Bills defense plays well at home and will create havoc for Kellen Moore handing Dallas their 11th loss.
Both of these teams are dead and buried but trying to finish the season on a strong note. The 49ers suffered their tenth loss of the season last week at home against the Bengals. The Lions meanwhile avoided reaching ten losses with a strong offensive performance in New Orleans. The Lions will once again look strong coming home as the Niners playing the early start once again are competitive but fall short as Matthew Stafford hoping to finish strong has another big game against the Niners weak pass defense.
No team is hotter than the Chiefs, who can steal the AFC West if they finish running the table. Not too shabby for a team that was 1-5. With a win Sunday the Chiefs will get to ten wins and all but clinch a playoff berth. The Browns are only in the running for the number one pick and will be no match for the Chiefs at Arrowhead, as Kansas City is playing well on both sides of the football. The Browns meanwhile are just as bad on defense as they are on offense.
Perhaps no teams have been more disappointing than the Dolphins and Colts. Miami picked by many to challenge the Patriots crashed at the start leading to the firing of Coach Joe Philbin. Despite some initial success under Dan Campbell the Dolphins look to be mailing things in. Meanwhile the Colts forget to protect their MVP quarterback have been without Andrew Luck most of the season. The Colts can still slip in the playoffs with a win and with Chuck Pagano feeling the heat the Colts will keep their faints hope alive by winning by a late field goal in Miami.
The Patriots were anything but impressive in their win over the Titans last week in Foxboro. The Jets meanwhile just did enough to get a win in Dallas to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Jets will need to finish the season with two straight wins to make the playoffs and even with 11 wins may not get in. The Jets with more at stake will get to ten wins as the Patriots who all but have home field wrap up will be more concerned about getting into the postseason healthy.
The Bears after playing well for a stretch including a win in Lambeau Field have been horrendous in December, losing their last three games as they saw any hope for the playoffs fade away. The Buccaneers have also seen their playoff hopes fade as Jameis Winston ran into the rookie wall. Tampa still can finish a respectable 8-8 if they win their last two games. An 8-8 season would be quite an accomplishment for a team with a rookie single caller and something nice to build upon.
The Texans can inch closer to the division championship with a win on Sunday in Nashville. The Titans have had another difficult season and are right now in line for the number one pick. Marcus Mariotta who they chose with the number two pick has been the only bring spot all season. However, the talented rookie quarterback will miss the final two games with a sprained MCL, leaving Zach Mettenberger to get the start against J.J. Watt and the hungry Texans defense.
The Jaguars have shown flashes late in the season, despite heading for another ten loss season. The Saints meanwhile also on the verge of ten losses have just been terrible on defense right from the start. Making matters worse, the Saints may be without Drew Brees who injured his foot in Monday Night’s loss to the Lions. Without a healthy Brees it is hard to imagine the Saints offense can match the Jaguars, who have had some big games from Blake Bortles in the season’s second half including a 51-point game against the Colts two weeks ago.
The Cardinals have already had the best season in the history of their franchise and a win on Sunday will assure themselves of having a first round bye. The Cardinals with a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer will certainly benefit from a week of rest, especially with some recent injuries on their secondary. The Packers still have work to do to win the NFC North. The Packers have been rejuvenated by their dramatic win against the Lions three weeks ago, but going into the desert they will find tough sledding as the Cardinals just have more weapons.
The Seahawks after sleeping walking through the first half of the season, again look like a Super Bowl contender as the season comes to an end. While Seattle will not win the NFC West, they have secured a playoff spot and no team will be happy to see them coming in during the postseason. In their home finale the Seahawks will send a message to the Rams, who beat them in the season opener. Look for Russell Wilson to continue his strong play as the Seahawks run defense keeps Todd Gurley under wraps.
With a win in the final home game of the regular season at their temporary home on the campus of University of Minnesota, the Vikings can put themselves in position to win the NFC North next week when they take on the Packers. The Giants meanwhile need lots of help to win the NFC East as they have all but fumbled away the season. The antics of Odell Beckham Jr. last week were an embarrassment to the Giants organization and further demonstrated why Tom Coughlin needs to step down. Coughlin put integrity on the sideline and turned a blind eye to Beckham who if not ejected needed to be benched for his out of control play.
This will be a key game for both teams, as the Broncos still need to win the AFC West, while the winner will get a leg up on getting a crucial first round playoff bye. The Bengals played well last week with A.J. McCarron getting the win in San Francisco. However, winning in Denver is a much taller order. The Broncos coming off a stinging loss in Pittsburgh and two straight second half let downs need this one to hold off the hard charging Chiefs. This will be close, but the Broncos defense will take advantage of an inexperienced quarterback to get the win on Monday Night.