Hey there, folks.
Busy week for me, and not much time for a big introduction, so I’m sticking to football this week.
Looking at the playoff races, the conferences are like night and day. The NFC is really top-heavy, with five teams already having 8 or more wins, compared to only two in the AFC. With so much cream rising to the top, the stakes are getting really high for some teams in the NFC. For the LA McVays, going from league runner-up to third place in the West and two games out of a Wild Card spot is quite the kick in the arse. Meanwhile, Dallas and Philly are battling for East supremacy, knowing that second place likely means no playoffs at all. Contrast that with the AFC, where the Pats have 9 wins, Baltimore has 8, and then there are a whopping TEN TEAMS with between 4 and 7 wins. A logjam like this will make for some pretty important games down the stretch.
In the NFC, the races seem to be more about seeding, whereas in the AFC, it’s more about just getting into the postseason mix. It’ll be interesting to see how much clearer things are after this week and next week.
So, without further ado…
Winners in Bold:
Denver at Buffalo
I’ve been high on Buffalo since the beginning of the season, and they’ve been pretty good to me this year. Their defence should be able to stuff Denver, which just leaves it up to Jared Allen and Co. to execute a conservative game plan and avoid turnovers.
NYG at Chicago
Though they’re far from a playoff contender, New York will continue to hold my interest because of how bright their future looks, and because I’m curious to see how the coaching situation gets handled. Whatever problems Big Blue might have (and I have been emphatic in my dislike of Pat Shurmur), I’m pretty convinced that Daniel Jones will be a successful QB in this league, provided he gets the proper coaching, and an improved OL to protect him, as the team already has loads of talent at RB and WR. Chicago needs to solve their QB situation, or they’ll never go anywhere, and they will have wasted a lot of great defensive talent. I’m feeling an upset here.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Even with a pile of injuries AND Maurkice Pouncey suspended, I still can’t pick Cincy in this one. The only thing I want to hear out of The Queen City is where are they sending Andy Dalton.
Miami at Cleveland
It’s impressive how much effort Brian Flores has gotten out of a Miami team that was gutted by salary dumps before the season had even begun, and continued jettisoning players afterward. With the draft capital Miami has accumulated, I hope Flores gets a chance to stay on for a bit and work with some of the new talent that will be coming in over the next few years. As for now, they’re in the spoiler role, so Cleveland, and any other teams with playoff aspirations that play them, had best not underestimate them.
Tampa at Atlanta
Atlanta has baffled me all season. I had them pegged for the playoffs, but they went into a tailspin, posting a 1-7 record. Then, they turned into world-beaters, thumping New Orleans and Carolina. Might as well make it a divisional three-pack.
Carolina at New Orleans
Carolina’s defence has looked pretty ordinary this year, and Kyle Allen seems to have turned into a pumpkin. Call me crazy, but I believe that the biggest obstacle standing in the way of New Orleans making a deep playoff run is Drew Brees.
Seattle at Philadelphia
One of the best matchups this week. Russell Wilson outduels Carson Wentz.
Detroit at Washington
Even without Matt Stafford, and with a bunch of defenders hurt, I still like Detroit in this one.
Oakland at NYJ
Oakland continues to impress, and I’ll be rooting hard for them in this one, especially since they seem to be the only team in position to challenge KC for the AFC West title.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
Is it just me, or does it seem like every team in the AFC South goes win/loss/win/loss…? Jacksonville lost last week. OK. Tennessee won its last game, but had their bye last week. Hmm…
Dallas at New England
Another marquee game. New England plays host to a Dallas team that is built to win, but can’t seem to do so with any kind of consistency. New England’s defensive secondary depth, plus the fact that Stephon Gilmore can lock down any receiver Dallas has, will make things difficult for Dak Prescott. This game will be determined by which offence can grind out drives and wear down the other team’s defence.
Green Bay at San Francisco
This will be a key game in the race for one of the top seeds in the NFC. A Green Bay win would even the teams’ records, and give the Pack the tiebreaker edge, while a San Fran win would put them two games up. San Fran has a bunch of key injuries, and will be without Dee Ford, who they will sorely miss as they face a stiff offensive test from Aaron Rodgers and Co.
Baltimore at LAR
LA’s defence has been playing better since acquiring Jalen Ramsey, but their offence is still dogshit. I have a hard time imagining LA being able to match Baltimore score-for-score.