The Ravens and Falcons are a fantastic way for NFL Network to kick off its 2010 Thursday Night schedule, as both are among the best teams in the NFL at 6-2. The Falcons are having some health question marks, while the Ravens are just getting to full strength with Ed Reed already proving to be a force in the secondary. This is what will be the difference in a close game.
The Lions have played much better than their 2-6 record suggests as they have lost several games they could have won. The Bills are 0-8 and have show signs of life lately. This is where the Bills finally break through and win this week as the Lions may be without QB Matthew Stafford and have not won a road game since October 28, 2007.
Last week the Priest was on hand to administer last rites as the Vikings trailed by two touchdowns late. However, a dash of Brett Favre magic and the Vikings still had a pulse. Though still in critical the Vikings can emerge for the coma with a win this week against the Bears. This game will be won by the Vikings defense who will take advantage of the Bears awful offensive line handing the Monsters of the Midway their fourth loss in six games.
You know Browns Coach Eric Mangini will love to win this game more than any other as he faces the team that fired him after the 2008 season. However, the Jets defense may cause problems for the Browns as Darrelle Revis is starting to reach full strength. It will be a low scoring game and the team that avoids the big mistake will win, and with the Jets defense able to control Peyton Hillis that team it’s easier to see the Browns slipping up.
Last week the Colts despite losing played one of their grittiest games of the season. As the injuries pile it will be harder and harder for Peyton Manning to work his magic. The Bengals meanwhile are all but done at 2-6, despite their near comeback over the Steelers on Monday Night. The game will be close, but the Bengals defense doses not have what it takes to stop Manning on a late drive for the win.
This game is almost an elimination game with both teams sitting at 4-4 in the rough and tumble AFC South. The Texans who have struggled after a solid start have been victims of their schedule, while the Jaguars have benefited against weaker teams. Though this game is in Jacksonville the Texans should pull it out as they have the better players and should be in playoff contention, especially with the season Arian Foster is having.
No team has had a tougher schedule than the Dolphins, who at 4-4 have lost four games to arguably the best teams in the NFL. The Titans are 5-3 and another tough match up. The Dolphins have yet to win at home need this win to keep any hope for the playoffs alive. Turning back to Chad Pennington may help as Chad Henne has struggled at QB, but the key will be the Dolphins defense which has been strong all season and is capable of keeping the Titans under wraps.
Despite losing last week the Buccaneers showed some real good signs as they were close the entire way in a battle for first place in the NFC South. At home against the Panthers they should be able to feast on a woeful team who is already focusing on the future. A future that will likely have an entirely new coaching staff next year and is beat up and playing with back ups at several key positions including Running Back and Quarterback.
The Chiefs coming off a tough road loss face another division foe on the road. The Broncos who have played miserable football in recent weeks are hoping that the bye week can get things turnaround. The Chiefs won in January to finish the season, it was their first win in the Mile High City in a decade. The Chiefs are improved and have a shot at the playoffs, but they still are shaky on the road, and a desperate Broncos team will find a way to win with the passing of Kyle Orton.
Some day someone will look back at the NFC West from 2010 and wonder how can one division be so bad. Someone will have to win and go to the playoffs, and this game between to mediocre teams could go a long way to decide it. The Seahawks coming off to straight blowout losses hit the road and take on the Cardinals coming off a devastating loss to the Vikings. At least last week the Cardinals looked capable of winning, and this week they will as the Seahawks struggles continue.
After last week’s 45-7 debacle against the Packers, the Cowboys had no choice but to fire Coach Wade Phillips. With Jason Garrett now leading America’s Team, the rest of the season will be about trying to forge whatever dignity they can muster. The first game of the Garrett era is a tough one as they face the hottest team in the NFC. With the way the Giants defense is playing and the Cowboys using Jon Kitna at quarterback it likely won’t get much better this week as they lose another blowout.
The Rams have made a lot of posative steps this year, but the road has still been troublesome. Coming off a win in London before the bye the 49ers can throw themselves right back in the playoff race despite a 1-6 start as they can potential come within one win of first place with a win. With a solid defensive effort, the running game of Frank Gore they should be able to keep Sam Bradford off the field and out of sync to earn a solid win at Candlestick Park.
The Patriots despite a 6-2 record have been ordinary on the road, and are coming off a loss in Cleveland. Staying in the AFC North they face an even tougher task in Pittsburgh. The Patriots running game has been mediocre all season, this will allow Troy Polamalu and the Steelers pass rush to key on Tom Brady and the Pats passing game, while the Patriots defense will have a tough time containing the Steelers balanced offense.
When the Redskins won in Philadelphia earlier in the season the Eagles were dealt an early blow as QB Michael Vick suffered a rib injury. Since then the Eagles have played well no matter who has been under center, while the Redskins have been awash in mediocrity with QB Donovan McNabb struggling. In their last game two weeks ago McNabb was benched with the game on the line in the final minutes. With McNabb’s future hazy in DC the team of his past will hand him another loss on Monday Night.