There has been a lot of hand wringing over NFL ratings in the early part of the schedule as games in primetime are significantly down. Games like this are a big reason, as neither team has been particularly good in recent years. Marcus Mariota has played well recently, while Blake Bortles has continued to struggle. With the game in Nashville and the quarterback play this game looks like a win for the Titans.
Fans in Cincinnati and Washington will be getting the early wakeup call as the Bengals and Redskins meet in third and final London game this season. The Redskins secondary is somewhat banged up, which could leave them vulnerable against the Bengals pass offense. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has been turnover prone. Not a good combo, if the Redskins are to win in this battle of team’s in the middle of the pack.
Last month the Bills beat the Patriots 16-0 in Foxboro it was just the fourth time the Bills beat the Patriots since Tom Brady took over as starter in 2001. Of course, Brady did not play in that game, the last of his four-game suspension. The Patriots had an injured Jacoby Brissett start that game. Now with Brady back the Patriots will bring some payback, because the Patriots are angry and Rex Ryan knows he don’t like the Patriots when they are angry. Can you Brady smash.
When last, the Cardinals went to Carolina, a trip to Super Bowl 50 was on the line, with the Panthers delivering a dominant 49-15 win. This season thus far has been a disappointment for both, as the Cardinals are 3-3-1 coming off an ugly tie against the Seahawks. The Panthers have been even worse as they sit at 1-5. A bye week that the Panthers had last week could be just what the doctor ordered as it allows Cam Newton a week to heal his bruises and the Panthers a week to heal their bruised ego. The Panthers can’t afford to lose this one, while the Cardinals have already laid an egg when kicking off an early eastern game.
If the Browns want to avoid being the second team to complete a winless 16-game season, this is the game they may have to win. The Jets have not been much better as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been turning the ball over at an alarming rate. The Browns meanwhile don’t have any idea who will play quarterback, with Cody Kessler banged up. This could mean Kevin Hogan will be starter #26 since 1999. Fitzpatrick has always shredded the Browns and motivated by his benching I expect him to be at his best as the Browns misery continues. At least Cleveland fans can enjoy the Indians playing a World Series game later that night.
After three straight wins at Ford Field, the Lions go back on the road where they have not fared as well. The Texans meanwhile are coming off an ugly Monday Night loss, with many fans now questioning the decision to sign Quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Lions secondary has played well and could give Osweiler some trouble, and turn the crowd against him in Houston. This game will go a long way in determining which of these 4-3 teams are a contender and which is a pretender.
Even with a win last week in Nashville, the Colts appear to have some issues on both sides of the ball. The offensive line has not done a great job protecting Andrew Luck, while their run game has been non-existent. The Chiefs appear to be just getting revved up. The Chiefs secondary is solid and could give Luck fits, especially if he does not have much time to find an open receiver. The Chiefs meanwhile should be able to run the ball and control the clock to get a nice win on the road.
The Seahawks offensive line has been an absolute train wreck as Russell Wilson has been bruised and battered. They must be considered fortunate to escape Arizona with a 6-6 tie last week. The Saints defense has been flat out terrible and could be the welcome relief for Wilson as they have not been able to get pressure on anybody. Add a motivated Jimmy Graham returning to the Superdome and this looks like a win for the Seahawks, who themselves have a terrific defense who should be able to slow down Drew Brees just enough at Superdome.
Through the first half of the season, the Oakland Raiders have played more games in the East than teams that are based in the east. The Raiders won all four previous games and appear to be gaining confidence on the road. The Buccaneers have had their ups and downs as often is the case with such a young quarterback. Look for the road Raiders to get another notch in their belt as they win a second straight in the State of Florida.
Two weeks ago, the Broncos were embarrassed by their effort against the Chargers as they were flat in a Thursday Night loss in San Diego. The Broncos bounced back with a nice effort on Monday while the Chargers got a big boost with a big comeback in Atlanta. The Chargers have not swept a season series against the Broncos since 2010. I see that trend continuing as they were without their coach Gary Kubiak when they played the first game. Look for the Denver defense to have another big game to lead the way.
The Falcons great start is just a memory as they blew a 17-point lead against the Chargers at home. The Packers meanwhile appeared to get their offense on track with a strong second half against the Bears. Look for Aaron Rodgers to exploit the same holes that Phillip Rivers found last week and lead the Packers to another win as Matt Ryan just won’t be able to match the scoring as the Packers are able to race up and down the Georgia Dome
Before their bye week, the Cowboys were marching along with five straight wins as Rookie Quarterback Dak Prescott was showing the poise of a veteran, while Rookie Running Back Ezekiel Elliott could approach 2,000 yards. The Eagles own rookie QB Carson Wentz was marching along the same path, but has struggled since his bye. The Eagles defense is solid and smothered the Vikings last week at home to hand them their first loss. Those Vikings were coming off a bye. This game should be entertaining as both teams are playing well, and a win for the Cowboys would give them separation in the NFC East. However, bye weeks are harder for young teams and the Eagles defense is solid enough to give the young Cowboys fits on Sunday Night.
Things are about to get real ugly in Chicago as Brian Hoyer suffered a broken arm last week, meaning the Bears are forced to go back to Jay Cutler at quarterback. Cutler has expressed John Fox has no choice but to support him almost definitely reacting to his coach and the fans who have never warmed up to the Bears high priced passer. The Vikings meanwhile coming off a loss should bounce back nicely on Monday Night as Cutler is soaked by the purple rain defense and the rain of boos.