It has been like night and day for Miami after changing coaches. Under Joe Philbin the Dolphins were lackluster and going through the motions, posting a record of 1-3. Since Dan Campbell took over the Dolphins have been on fire winning twice and getting back to .500 while playing at a high level worthy of a playoff contender, while playing with emotion and fire. This week they will have their work cut out for them as they go into Foxboro and face the unbeaten Patriots. The Dolphins will not win the game, but they will continue to play solid football and set themselves up to make a big run in the second half.
Two of the NFL most disappointing teams meet in London for another early morning breakfast with the NFL kickoff. Even with the extra hour from Daylight Savings Time coming to an end, you would be better of hitting the snooze bar than waking up early for this one. Despite their win last week, the Chiefs offense remains stuck in neutral, while the Lions defense has lacked claws. The Lions went into London last year and earned a win, while the Chiefs are making their first trip across the pond. The Lions are vulnerable to passing teams and the Chiefs just don’t move the ball down the field enough, this sets up good for the Lions to earn a second win.
After running out to a 4-0 start the Falcons have faltered in recent weeks. However at 6-1 the still remain in strong playoff position. I see them getting back on a roll as they face the soft defense of the Buccaneers. Tampa is coming off blowing a big lead in Washington, and have struggled against the Falcons in recent years, including allowing 56 points in their last visit to the Georgia Dome.
Another matchup of disappointing teams sees the Ravens and Chargers come in with the playoffs for both being a longshot at best. Defense has been the issue for both teams, as the Ravens have sorely missed Terrell Suggs, while the Chargers just can’t seem to put together a full 60 minute effort. The Chargers are in that trouble zone playing an early start across the country, while the Ravens are coming off a gut wrenching Monday Night loss. This one looks like it will be high scoring and the team that has the ball last will win the game. With the game in Baltimore I give a slight edge to the Ravens.
The Vikings used a strong second half last week to rally and beat the Lions on the road. Despite swallowing some tobacco, Adrian Peterson made the Lions feel queasy as Teddy Bridgewater continued to impress at quarterback. The Bears coming off a bye week remain one of the weaker teams in the NFL. I don’t see them having much chance in this game as the Vikings offense is just too versatile for the Bears to handle, and Jay Cutler just won’t be able to keep his team in the game.
Despite their 5-2 record the Cardinals have not been particularly sharp as of late, as they have had trouble finishing drives in the red zone. Last week in a Monday Night win over the Ravens it did not hurt them, though Baltimore down eight late had a chance to tie the game. Two weeks ago it was their undoing in Pittsburgh as a game they controlled most of the way slipped out of Arizona’s hands. The Browns are just your typical Browns, often finding ways to lose games they in creative ways. However, they are in most games as of late and with the early start a bounce here and there and this could be an upset.
The AFC South is a mess and these two teams are a prime example. The Titans were not expected to be very good behind rookie QB Marcus Mariota, but without the second overall pick their offense looks just down right pathetic. Meanwhile there are plenty of problems in Houston with Coach Bill O’Brien and GM fighting over the release of Ryan Mallett. Meanwhile J.J. Watt seen all over commercials will soon appear on a milk carton as the Texans defense has been awful with Watt having little impact. At home against a struggle Titans team with a backup quarterback, the Texans need a strong showing or the roof could cave in.
In their nearly 50 years in the NFL, this is the sixth time the Saints are playing on November 1st. It is the first time they are playing on the 1st of November since 1998 and the first game in the Superdome since 1992. After a slow start the Saints have played well lately and Drew Brees has looked strong. With a win on Sunday the Saints could get back to .500. The Giants have not played well in the New Orleans and their defense has taken on some injuries. That is why New Orleans will get a big win on All Saints Day to keep their playoff hopes alive, in the suddenly improved NFC South.
Ben Roethlisberger is back and not a moment too soon, as the Steelers host the Bengals in a must win game at Heinz Field. The Bengals have people standing up and taking notice as they come into the game with a record of 6-0. A loss here and the Steelers will be four games out and sitting at .500. The Bengals themselves will need to prove themselves in Pittsburgh as they have lost eight of their last ten games to the team in black and yellow. With the terrible towns spinning and Big Ben back the Steelers who have been in every game this year find a way to win with a late score.
Has anyone fallen from the NFL’s elite faster than Colin Kaepernick? Two years ago he was taking the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game, after leading them to a Super Bowl one year earlier. Now he is isolated in his locker and playing terrible football. If not for backup Blaine Gabbert being worse than Uncle Rico, Kaepernick would have already been benched. Going into St. Louis Kaepernick spends most of the game on the ground, as Todd Gurley runs wild to get the Rams back to .500.
The silver and black are coming back, as the Raiders are no longer an easy win on the schedule. With a home win over the Jets on Sunday the Raiders can go above .500. A key to the Raiders success has been Amari Cooper, who has been good as advertised, with QB Derek Carr showing that he can lead the team into the future. The Jets defense has been the reason for their success but after a tough loss in Foxboro, they have to handle Cooper and the rejuvenated Raiders in another tough game on the road. The Raiders speed will be the big factor as the Jets continue coming back to reality.
The Cowboys continue to limp along as their fans get a new appreciation for Tony Romo with each game he misses. The Seahawks meanwhile look like they got their defense going in the right direction, now need to get back to .500 to get their season back in the right direction. While Dallas hopes to get Dez Bryant back they will need a quarterback that is able to get the ball to him. Brandon Weeden failed and Matt Cassel did not look any better in his start against the Giants, until Romo comes back the smart money is to go the other way with the pick.
Some games are so good you just need to put the matchup on the screen and the records underneath. This is one of those games as both teams come in with record of 6-0 off a bye week, making both teams well rested and on an even keel. Peyton Manning may still be the headliner in Denver, but it is the Broncos defense that is driving the bus, making at least one big play in each game that either clinches a win or turns the game in their favor. The Packers offense has been a tad shaky as of late as Aaron Rodgers has had trouble replacing Jordy Nelson as his go to guy.
Things are not swell in Indianapolis, as the Colts are plodding along at 3-4 with rumors of the axe about to fall on Coach Chuck Pagano. Even in their wins the Colts have been less than impressive, with all three wins coming within the pathetic AFC South. Something is clearly wrong with Andrew Luck who has looked awful all season, with Matt Hasselbeck looking like the better option at quarterback in Indy. The Panthers meanwhile could not be any better, they sit 6-0 the defense is strong and Cam Newton is having a terrific year. Look for the Panthers to put up a big effort on Monday Night with Newton taking them up and down the field as the Colts are out Luck and soon will be out of Chuck.