On Sunday, the Ravens got back on track with an impressive win over the rival Steelers, ending a four-game losing streak. They have can get back over .500 if they can beat the lowly Browns on Thursday. When they faced the Browns in Week 2, Cleveland jumped out three touchdown lead, but when the extra point was blocked trying to make it 21-0 the Ravens returned it all the way and took off from there. Playing on the road at 0-9 in primetime does not bode well for Cleveland as they remain helpless, hopeless and winless.
After starting 1-5, the Panthers have come out strong after the bye week winning their last two games, despite Cam Newton continually getting battered. The Chiefs themselves come into Carolina banged up, as Alex Smith missed last week’s game win a suspected concussion. The Chiefs also shorthanded in the running and passing game, with Jeremy Macklin and Spencer Ware both listed as questionable. The Panthers will continue to claw their way back to playoff contention with a win on Sunday.
No team has been more disappointing than the Jaguars, who were expected to make some serious strides towards being a playoff contender. However, at 2-6 Jacksonville appears to have taken a big step backward as Blake Bortles as struggled immensely. The Texans meanwhile have thus far weathered the storm without J.J. Watt. While the Texans are 0-3 on the road, all three losses came against strong teams. The Jaguars are winless in Jacksonville and starting to take the look of a dead team walking.
The Broncos need a bye week badly as their defense especially their secondary has been decimated by injuries. The Raiders seemingly moved the ball at will and could have even scored more than the 30 points they put up. A healthy secondary would have problems going on to the fast surface at the Superdome against the Saints. Look for Drew Brees to have a big game as the Saints continue their march into playoff contention with an offensive explosion. The Broncos meanwhile continue the trend of losing games in pairs.
Despite their loss in Miami last week the Jets have played well in the last three weeks, as an off-sides on a kickoff may have been the difference between a win and a loss. The Rams meanwhile have played terrible football since starting 3-1, losing five straight. The Rams offense is a total fiasco and Case Keenum just is not a capable starting quarterback. Yet Jared Goff the number one pick, whom the Rams traded up to get sits and waits. It’s hard to understand what L.A. is waiting for Goff could not possibly be any worse.
If any game had the makings of an upset, it is this one. The Eagles have lost four of their last five games, while the Falcons have soared at 6-3. However, the Falcons are in a strange situation, coming off a Thursday Night blowout win in Tampa, the Falcons have a bye next week, meaning this is their only game in a 17-stretch, the hardest battle will be to stay focused, and at times that has been an issue for the dirty birds. The Eagles, meanwhile have had all their losses come on the road, and they have won all three games at Lincoln Financial Field.
Both these teams should be well rested after having extra time off. The Bears were on the bye last week, while the Buccaneers played on Thursday, though at times looked like they were on a bye themselves. In his last game, the Bears got a strong game from Jay Cutler while Jordan Howard had a breakout game, rushing for 153 yards. For the Bears the bye came at a bad time, the Bucs have their issues but at home should be able to stand their ground, as the Bears game against the Vikings was more like a mirage in an otherwise desert of despair.
At 4-4 the Green Bay Packers must be one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season. Even in their four wins the Packers have not looked sharp all season. The Titans are putting together a solid foundation and soon will be able to win such games, but the experience of Aaron Rodgers will help the Packers prevent falling behind .500. Look for the Pack to get back on track as Rodgers wins the game with a fourth quarter drive.
It seems like a different age since the Vikings were 5-0 and the NFL’s last unbeaten team heading into a bye week. The Cubs were still lost in the woods, and Donald Trump was all but counted out in the election. The Vikings are still stuck on five wins and the Cubs are world champs and President Elect Trump is measuring the drapes in the White House. Across town the Redskins have their own ups and downs, but coming off a tie and a bye are well rested as the Vikings offense has drifted far off course. Look for Sam Bradford to have another rough afternoon as the Redskins keep their playoff drive alive.
The Dolphins have been a team on the move, suddenly surging at 4-4 after starting 1-4 and looking like a dumpster fire, with Ryan Tannehill stumbling all over himself. A big key in the rise of the Dolphins is running back Jay Ajayi who had two straight 200 yard games, and was solid against last week against the Jets. However, with their next two games in Southern California the Dolphins will have their work cut out for them. If they can get a split, they will have a shot at the playoffs. This is the game that will be the hardest for Miami, as San Diego is also charging, though the defeat of their stadium bill could be a downer. It will be close but at the end it will Phillip Rivers who makes the difference.
The Browns may be winless, but at 1-7, the 49ers are the biggest mess. Fans are frustrated with the long drive from San Francisco to Santa Clara, Colin Kaepernick has become an albatross with his protests and poor play, and the Niners run defense has become a laughing stock. Since their season opening win, the Niners defense has been trampled every week with runners putting big number each week. The Cardinals coming off a bye need to come out strong to get back into the playoff picture. Look for David Johnson to be the latest to have a big game as the Cardinals win easily.
It’s been a rough month for the Steelers, who have lost three in a row and are scuffling at 4-4. The Cowboys, meanwhile are riding high at 7-1, as Ezekiel Elliott is having one of the greatest rookie seasons of all-time, while Dak Prescott has fans in Dallas dreaming of the Super Bowl. They are due for a slap of reality and the Steelers are due for a breakout performance. Ben Roethlisberger struggled for three quarters before nearly leading the Steelers back last week in his return from a knee injury. In his second game back look for Roethlisberger to put up big numbers as the Cowboys rookie stars struggle for the first time, while playing a tough road game at Heinz Field.
When last these two teams met, the Patriots won the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time as the Seahawks decision to throw on the goal line blew up in their face in Super Bowl XLIX. Both teams are in first place, but in different places. The Patriots by far look like he best team in the NFL as Tom Brady has been perfect since returning from his four-game suspension. The Seahawks meanwhile are barely hanging on as Russell Wilson is under assault with an awful offensive line. The Patriots have had a week to prepare with the bye while the Seahawks played Monday. This has all the makings of a Sunday Night snoozer as the Patriots win a laugher in Foxboro.
When the lights shine bright the Bengals are at their worst, a dirty and undisciplined team the Bengals seem to self-destruct whenever there is any pressure. At 3-4-1 after a tie and bye the Bengals need to start winning if they want to have their annual playoff loss. The Giants meanwhile are playing well, winning their last three games thanks to the resurgence of Odell Beckham Jr and the emergence of Landon Collins. With this one in the Meadowlands on Monday Night as Landon Collins continues his strong play with at least one interception.