Oh, joy oh fun, it’s Thursday Night Football, and it’s going to be ugly with a capital ugh. The Miami Dolphins have 17 players listed on the injury report, with Albert Wilson likely done for the year and Kenny Stills out with a groin injury suffered running into a security guard. Yes in case you did not know apparently, the Dolphins have hired Ray Ramirez as their trainer. The Houston Texans meanwhile have four straight wins and a defense on a tear. This has shutout written all over it.
Have there been any teams more disappointing than the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars? The Eagles have had some injury issues, with Carson Wentz working his way back from a knee injury as they have had a touch of Super Bowl hangover. The Jaguars have been without Leonard Fornette, which has had a trickledown effect of making quarterback Blake Bortles regress into a giant mess. The Jaguars have gotten healthy in London in the past, but with Bortles bortling and the Jaguars squabbling, this looks like a win for Philadelphia.
It was a game of highs and lows for both teams last week, as the Carolina Panthers scored 21-unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Eagles on the road, while the Baltimore Ravens blew a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Saints when Justin Tucker missed a game-tying PAT. Both teams are somewhat similar, though the Panthers have more weapons with Christian McCaffery running out of the backfield. The Ravens never travel, while Carolina is a strong home team. This looks like a win for the Panthers.
The Chicago Bears were one yard from a miracle last week against the Patriots as Mitch Trubisky Hail Mary pass was caught, but a wall of defenders kept Kevin White out of the end zone. The New York Jets meanwhile sputtered at home against the Vikings. The Jets are a young team, with a rookie quarterback that will have difficulty in games like this on the road against a tough defense, especially with several key injuries on offense, including a season-ending neck injury to Bilal Powell. Look for a big day from Khalil Back to get the Bears back on track.
The Cincinnati Bengals were thoroughly exposed last Sunday as they were shredded by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for 45 points. Add in their blown fourth-quarter lead two weeks ago against the Steelers and you have a team at a fork in the road. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly let one slip away themselves but got a 59-yard boot from Chandler Catanzaro to save the day in overtime. However, they will need more than the longest overtime kick in NFL history to win this one, as the Bengals should be able to pick apart the Tampa defense at home.
Last week was a breakout game for Kerryon Johnson as the Detroit Lions rookie running back ran all over the Dolphins. Coming home, the Lions could climb over .500, which would be a significant achievement after their ugly start. The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a bye week, and sit at 3-3 seeking to get over .500 for the first time. The Seahawks have two of their three wins against possibly the league’s worst teams, while the Lions have beaten the Patriots and Packers in their last two home games.
Something tells me that Chad Kelly got a hold of some bad Rocky Mountain High as he got kicked out of Von Miller’s party, broke into a neighbor’s house and hit with a vacuum hose all before being sent packing. I think it was Patrick Mahomes anxiety as the Broncos face the Kansas City Chiefs for the second time in October. The first meeting saw Mahomes engineer a great comeback in Denver, this time it will be just all Chiefs rocket power as he teams with Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt to run rings around the Broncos at Arrowhead.
The fire sale has begun in the Meadowlands as the New York Giants at 1-6 are selling off players, and focusing on the future. Eli Manning has been a disaster and the team appears to have gone off the rails under Pat Shurmur. The Washington Redskins have played well, and lead the NFC East at 4-3, but they have not done well in the Meadowlands, losing eight of the last ten games in the Swamps of Jersey. This is the type of game that always seems to sting the Redskins; preventing them from taking a step forward when it comes to the playoff chase.
These two teams were fit to be tied in Week 1, as the Cleveland Browns ended their 17-game losing streak with 14 points in the fourth quarter as Ben Roethlisberger had a bad game. The Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to be finding themselves going into the bye, as they crushed the Falcons and rallied to beat the Bengals. The Browns meanwhile after playing well early have slowed in recent weeks. This has all the making and the signs of a Pittsburgh blowout. Look for a big day from Antonio Brown as the Steelers get the terrible towels waving early and often at Heinz Field.
The last time the Indianapolis Colts ventured into the black hole, Derek Carr suffered a broken leg and it has been downhill for the Oakland Raiders since. The Indianapolis Colts are coming off an impressive win over the Bills, as Andrew Luck is starting to get back in pro bowl form. The Raiders are just a giant mess; they are trading players and pointing fingers. With Carr losing a major target in Amari Cooper, expect the Raiders offense to continue to spin its wheels. Meanwhile, Luck will pick the Raiders defense apart and get another big game, with a win.
Three weeks ago, the Arizona Cardinals earned their first win of the season at Levi’s Stadium. The San Francisco 49ers, also sitting at 1-6 will look to return the favor at State Farm Stadium. Both teams are coming off ugly losses, with the Cardinals making a change at offensive coordinator. Despite the lack of success, C.J. Beathard has looked good at times, coming close to beating the Packers in Lambeau Field two weeks ago. The Niners are due for a positive result, while the Cardinals are due to be on the clock.
At 3-2-1, the Green Bay Packers are either a sleeping tiger about to go on a run, or a star about to flicker out and die. The next two weeks will tell the story, as they have to play two of the best teams in the NFL on the road beginning with the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams. The Rams may be unbeaten with their unstoppable offense, but they have been in close battles. Aaron Rodgers is good at winning these close games, and Los Angeles is not exactly a tough place to win for road teams. Look for Rodgers with a rested knee to have a big day, and to out gun Jared Goff to hand the Rams their first loss of the season.
It was one of the most dramatic moments in playoff history as Stefon Diggs caught a pass over Marcus Williams and turned up and scored as time expired to send the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. The New Orleans Saints return to the scene of the crime hoping to continue their strong start as Drew Brees adds to his Hall of Fame resume. The Vikings have won their last three games and appear to be finding their groove. Look for the return of Everson Griffen to practice to provide a boost as they again frustrate the Saints in the Twin Cities.
In the past two decades, the New England Patriots have owned the AFC East, while the Buffalo Bills who held the deed through most of the 1990’s have been subletting the outhouse. Head-to-head it has been even uglier for Buffalo, as the Patriots have won 30 of the last 34 meetings, with two of the Bills wins coming while Tom Brady has rested in Week 17 or been suspended. The Bills will be starting Derek Anderson again and this is Monday Night. I think this is the game where the ghost of Howard Cosell comes out and says what are you doing watching this rubbage, as he pulls a rabbit out of Jason Whitten’s head. Meanwhile, fans ask for Booger McFarland to turn on Raw and beg him to block the view from the field of the coming carnage as Nathan Peterman finishes up and throws three more pick sixes, while Rob Gronkowski runs on the field and blocks the last PAT to give the Patriots the perfect score.