Updated: Dec 14, 2022
14. Panthers vs. Ravens
Defensive Battle Royal
The Panthers are trying to turn things around, but it is a difficult task midseason with chaos swirling around the organization. P.J. Walker is hurt, and now Baker Mayfield will be the starting QB again. Who knows what effect that will have on the offense? The Panthers defense could be the difference makers. The Panthers defense is their best side of the ball. If they can slow down the Ravens, then the Panthers offense can use their best weapon D'Onta Foreman. The Ravens have had a few injuries on offense, but they remain in control of their own destiny. They have to have this one if they are truly Super Bowl contenders. Also, the Ravens have traded for Roquan Smith and invested more into their defense. That investment should show up in a game like this, where the defense has an opportunity to completely shut down a weak offense.
13. Commanders vs. Texans
The Texans almost beat the Eagles after the Eagles bye, but they couldn't close the deal. The Commanders came in the next week and did close the deal. However, was that just a fluke win by the Commanders or are they actually good? The Texans should be a good test because they have a good defense and run game. They are going to play smart football, dominate the clock, and they aren't giving the Commanders any cheap plays. Also, Ron Rivera worked under Lovie Smith with the Bears in the mid-2000s. They know each other well. If Lovie beats Rivera, their coaching series will be tied at 4-4 against each other.
12. Lions vs. Giants
The Giants and the Lions were absolute trash last year. Now, the Giants are one of the best teams in the league, and the Lions are better than they were last year. Both teams had great drafts, and both teams have explosive running backs and questionable QBs that are performing well this year. Each team has taken on the traits of its coaches. The Lions have intensity, don't give up, and are always involved in crazy games. The Giants play smart with clever plays and a systematic running game. Which style will win?
11. Eagles vs. Colts
This is a statement game for both teams. The Colts got their first win with their new coach, but it was against the feckless Raiders. The O-line play seemed better. Thus, so did the run game, which also led to the Colts passing game improving, but it was against the Raiders. The Eagles are the polar opposite of the Raiders. If the Colts can beat the Eagles, they can beat anyone. The Colts get a chance to prove to the world that their comeback is real. The Eagles just took their first loss to a suspect team, and they look vulnerable. The Eagles want to beat down the Colts and prove that the Commanders game was a fluke.
10. Rams vs. Saints
Best of the Worst Offenses
The Saints and Rams have been so disappointing this year. The Saints are loaded everywhere, except the head coach. Dennis Allen keeps starting Andy Dalton, even though he is clearly not the right guy for the job. The strange part is this isn't a Cooper Rush situation. Dalton isn't winning, he is 2-5 as the Saints starter, and one of those wins came against the Raiders, who didn't score a single point. The other win came from the Seahawks back when their defense was terrible. It's not like Dalton takes care of the ball better than Jameis Winston. Dalton threw three costly interceptions that caused the Saints to lose the Cardinals game. Also, Winston is no longer injured, and the coach is aware that some of Winston's poor play was because he was injured. Hopefully, the coach starts Winston before the Saints are eliminated from playoff contention.
The Rams have been pretty disappointing as well. They have had lousy O-line play all year. The running game has been nonexistent, and Matthew Stafford has not developed chemistry with Allen Robinson despite Robinson having an excellent camp. Sean McVay has even regressed in terms of offensive creativity. Sadly, the one bright spot in the Rams offense, Cooper Kupp, has gotten injured and is probably out for the season. Now, Stafford has no choice but to develop chemistry with Allen Robinson.
9. Bears vs. Falcons
Somebody Has to Win
The Falcons and the Bears are actually pretty similar teams. They both have mobile QBs, and they both want to win games by running the ball. Both teams have dynamic pieces on offense, but poor defenses. The Bears have been more dynamic on offense thanks to Justin Fields, but none of it has mattered thanks to Ryan Poles, the Bears GM. Poles is trying to win next year, so he has gutted the defense. This has caused Justin Fields to run a hamster wheel, scoring tons of points and losing anyway. The Falcons are familiar with this wheel, but who will get off it? I will not bet against Justin Fields when he faces a team who passed on him in the draft.
8. Browns vs. Bills
Keeping Hope Alive
The Browns and the Bills have moved to a new location for their game. They will now play in Detroit. But where are the teams in their journey? The Bills are surprisingly third in their division. They came out of the gates hot, but just like last year they have fallen apart, gotten inconsistent, and now they could lose to anyone. The Browns have been on tilt as well. They have won three games on the season, and they need to win two more to give their future starting QB Deshaun Watson a chance to make a playoff push. The Browns need to go back to featuring their running game, and the Bills need to reign in Josh Allen and establish a run game. Who will make their corrections, and who will fall further into the hole?
7. Raiders vs. Broncos
How Low Can They Go, The Rematch
Earlier in the season, when these two teams faced off, we had a lot of questions about their coaches and the potential of the teams. Not much has changed since then. Josh McDaniels and Nathaniel Hackett still look like prime candidates to be fired. Ironically, McDaniels, who actually won the first Broncos vs. Raiders game of the year, looks worse now. McDaniels just lost to a coach with no experience, and his players seem to be fed up with him. Davante Adams called out the game plan in the Jaguars game, and Derek Carr cried on the podium after the last loss. The players are at their wits' end. The Raiders owner doesn't seem to care about team morale or the fact that he handed Josh the keys to an upgraded playoff team, and Josh crashed and burned at 2-7.
The Broncos are just one game better, and their offense still looks bad. They went into their bye, losing to a Jaguars team that had lost five straight games. Then, the Broncos came out of their bye and lost to the Titans. The worst part of the Broncos terrible record is that their defense is actually outstanding, but it doesn't matter because of the offense. So how far can these two teams fall? We are about to find out.
6. Jets vs. Patriots
The Rubber Match
The Jets had all the momentum early in the season, and it seemed like they would finally surpass the Patriots. They have surpassed the Patriots in record, but things didn't go that way when they actually faced the Patriots. The Patriots still hold the mental edge and the division tiebreaker. If the Jets are going to be real contenders, they have to beat the Patriots. Just like the Bills, Chiefs, and Dolphins had to go through the Patriots to prove themselves. This means Zach Wilson will have to play big because you can bet your bottom dollar that Bill Belichick will be taking away the Jets run game. Zach Wilson will have to be the one to beat the Patriots.
On the Patriots side, they found out last time that the Jets defense is legit. Mac Jones and the Patriots were lucky to escape with a win. Mac Jones was, at one point, thought to be head and shoulders above Zach Wilson from his draft class. However, now Zach Wilson has the chance to catch up. Mac Jones won last time, but it wasn't convincing. Mac can rectify his mistakes from last time and prove that he is head and shoulders above Zach Wilson.
5. Packers vs.Titans
Thursday Night Football Reaction
This was always going to be a tough game for the Packers. The Titans do one thing extraordinarily well on defense, and that is stop the run. The Packers finally realized they need to win games through their running backs. Then, the Packers ran through a buzzsaw. This game was one of the rare ones when they needed Aaron Rodgers to take 60 percent of the responsibility. Unfortunately, Rodgers showed he couldn't do that this year. The Titans are looking better and better each week. Their process for winning is sustainable. If the Titans can stop teams from running the ball, be efficient in the air, and dominate the time of possession with Derrick Henry, they can win big.
Predicted: Titans, Winner: Titans
4. Cardinals vs. 49ers
The Cardinals have struggled early in the season. They have also been pretty unlucky healthwise. Marquise "Hollywood" Brown got injured right before DeAndre Hopkins got back, and James Conner has missed multiple games. Plus, now that Hopkins is back, Kyler Murray, unfortunately, has his annual late season injury. Colt McCoy is now behind center, and it's an interesting point of reference. Obviously, Kyler can do so many things that Colt McCoy can't. However, the Cardinals tend to run better with Colt behind center. Colt keeps the offense on schedule. But can he keep the Cardinals alive while Kyler's gone?
The 49ers are on everybody's shortlist of NFC contenders, but they are still just one game above 0.500. They still have a lot of work to do. Deebo Samuel isn't back to himself yet, and the 49ers offense hasn't figured out exactly how it will balance Deebo and Christian McCaffrey (CMC). The 49ers defense looks to be returning to who they were, which is crucial. Despite all the impressive names on the offense, it's the defense that determines if the 49ers will win most of the time. So is the 49ers defense back, or will Colt and the Cardinals steal the 49ers momentum?
3. Bengals vs. Steelers
The AFC Classic Clash Two
The Bengals vs. the Steelers was the most physical matchup of the year. Pads clacking. Bodies flying. It was a war zone. The Steelers won in overtime, but truth be told, they were never the same after that game. T.J. Watt got hurt, and they had a couple of other injuries that hurt their defense. However, the Steelers defense is getting healthy just in time to face the Bengals again. Also, how will Kenny Pickett do? He didn't play in the first game. Mitch Trubisky was the reason the game was so close in the first place despite the Steelers excellent play, but Mitch did get the W. Can Kenny Pickett get the W?
The Bengals come into this game without Ja'Marr Chase, and there is no proof that the Bengals offense can survive without Chase. The Browns demolished the Bengals, and the Bengals demolished the Panthers. However, the Panthers aren't as good as the Browns and the Steelers, and they don't know the Bengals as well. Can the Bengals pick up a win, or will they get swept?
2. Vikings vs. Cowboys
Return of the Body Snatchers
The Cowboys and the Vikings are like the same team. They are both supertalented teams with above-average QBs, who we have questions about in the biggest moments. The Vikings are really the Cowboys of the North. The Vikings just have less publicity than the Cowboys. However, the Vikings finally look to be taking advantage of their potential. The whole team is playing well, but Kirk Cousins, especially, is helping his teammates ball out without making big mistakes. The Vikings have only taken one L this year, and they are coming off their biggest win in the game of the year.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, are coming off a backbreaking loss to Aaron Rodgers. Dak Prescott threw multiple terrible interceptions and has been present for more losses than wins this year. The defense has regressed since Dak has returned as well. If the Cowboys want to win, they need to play Dak like he is Cooper Rush. Run the ball, make high percentage throws, and let the defense bury the other team. Will the Vikings continue to roll, or will the Cowboys get back on track?
1. Chargers vs. Vikings
Battle of the Bold
The Chargers charged up in the offseason to take out the Chiefs. Shockingly, it was the Chiefs that electrified the Chargers. The Chiefs got game one of the series, and the Chargers haven't been the same since. Justin Herbert, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen have been hurt ever since. Now, they are all getting healthy just in time to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Chiefs have been balling out this year, primarily through the air. However, now they are down JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Plus, the Chargers are the most vulnerable through the running game, which is the weakest part of the Chiefs game. Will the Chiefs be able to sweep the Chargers, or will it be different this time?