A few years ago, these two teams had the hottest new rivalry in the NFC, especially after playing in the 2014 NFC Conference Championship. In the last two seasons, both have seen their fortunes wane, as the Seattle Seahawks with two straight losses enter at 4-5, while the Green Bay Packers are barely alive at 4-4-1. The Packers may have deep internal issues that are about to explode, while the Seahawks seem to have holes in their roster. Aaron Rodgers always seems to come up big when needed and will again in Seattle.
Both teams come into this game holding 4-5 records but in different states of mind. The Atlanta Falcons looking to get over .500 last week suffered a setback against the Browns on the road, while the Dallas Cowboys off a bad Monday Night loss, stunned the Eagles on the road on Sunday Night Football. A loss here and the Falcons are finished while the Cowboys can survive a bad game thanks to a bad division. For Atlanta, playing at home this is the truth detector game of the week. After this one, we will know what the Falcons are when it is over.
In another game of survival AFC North, rivals meet with the winner still in the race and the loser on the way to a harsh winter. The Baltimore Ravens at 4-5 have three straight losses and having lost to the Cincinnati Bengals early in the season, cannot afford another loss. With rumors swirling that there is a split coming with Coach John Harbaugh, this is the game that will see how the rest of the season goes, as another loss means the players have quit on the coach and will be going down without a fight the rest of the way.
Coming off a terrible Thursday Night loss to the Steelers, the Carolina Panthers who have played well most of the season are looking to show that was a mere bump in the road. The Detroit Lions in the middle of two games against the Bears in 11 days are hoping not to be carved up before Thanksgiving. The Lions have had flashes of brilliance, but overall lack the manpower and when they face strong teams it gets ugly fast. The Panthers are a strong team who just had a bad game last week and should easily bounce back.
Don’t look now, but the Tennessee Titans are on the rise. After struggling before the bye, the Titans have beaten the Cowboys and Patriots in impressive fashion, with a defense that had Dak Prescott and Tom Brady on their backs. The Indianapolis Colts are also surging with three straight wins. The Titans defense is playing at a high level and the Colts offensive line despite their three wins have weaknesses. The Titans should get the win on the road and toss their hat in the ring for the playoff chase.
The Jacksonville Jaguars after their run to the AFC Championship were a favorite to win the Super Bowl when the year began. That did not change as they started 3-1, with a Week 2 win over the Patriots. However, in the weeks since the Jaguars have plunged back to being the Jaguars team that was perennial last-place finishers as Blake Bortles has regressed to being one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. The Steelers are surging, the Jaguars are crashing, this means only one thing, upset because it is the NFL.
The New York Giants played perhaps their best game of the season on Monday Night as they beat the two-win 49ers. They have yet to win at home this season and have saved some of their worst performances for the Meadowlands. A key part of the Monday Night win was the play of the Giants line, which allowed just one sack. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the strangest games last week, collecting 500 yards, but scoring just three points as they struggled in the red zone with turnovers. The Giants are due for a good run and the Bucs are a sinking ship.
The Houston Texans went into the bye at the wrong time as they were on a roll winning six straight before the break. At the start of the season, they dropped three straight and appear to be the type of team that is a slow starter. The Washington Redskins have had their ups and downs all season, but lead the NFC East at 6-3. Coming off a great effort win in Tampa, the Redskins are set up well for a win.
It is on the schedule, so it must be played, is the motto of this game. The Arizona Cardinals are 2-7, the Oakland Raiders are 1-8 and neither looks capable of winning that many other games this year. The Raiders one win was due to referee error, the Cardinals two wins have come against the 49ers the other bay area team. The Cardinals beat the Bay again and get win number three as the Raiders of the Lost Cause find the Golden Tank.
The Los Angeles Chargers are 7-0 against teams with sub .500 records. Their only losses have come against the two best teams in the NFL, last I looked the Denver Broncos are on the bad side of the tracks. The Broncos look like a team about to undergo major changes as the seat under Coach Vance Joseph continues to reach the boiling point. The Chargers have had their offense and defense playing well all season, if only they could get the kicking team going, they could be dangerous. Fortunately, the kicking game has not mattered all that much for the Chargers.
What a difference a year makes. After having a magical season that even the loss of Carson Wentz in the midst of an MVP season could not derail, the Philadelphia Eagles are going through an epic Super Bowl hangover. Even in games, they have won, the Eagles have rarely had a full 60-minute great game. Now they sit at 4-5 and are seeking answers as they hit the toughest part of their schedule. The New Orleans Saints meanwhile are rolling at 8-1 and coming in like a locomotive. Right now to pick against the Saints at the Superdome is to touch the third rail.
NBC did not do the Chicago Bears any favors by flexing them into Sunday Night at home against the Minnesota Vikings as they will play the Lions for the second time in 11 days at noon on Thanksgiving. The Vikings meanwhile are coming off a bye and need to get the win here to regain first place. This one will close throughout with the Bears winning with the help of their home crowd as Mitch Trubisky has been playing well helped by the Bears strong defense and running game.
The NFL made the right call, pulling this one away from Mexico City. It is understandable the desire to grow the game internationally, but when the field can’t make a standard level, then it’s no sense in risking injuries to what has been the two best teams in the league at 9-1. Both teams have defenses that can be shaky at times and offenses that are at times unstoppable, resulting in the highest over-under in NFL history. I like this one to live up expectations, with the Chiefs winning Kareem Hunt having a big night in primetime.