Updated: Jan 15
13. Cowboys vs. Texans
The Texas Bowl
I'm not going to lie to you, I expect a slaughter. The Texans were going to get blown out anyway. Then, they lost Derek Stingley Jr., Brandin Cooks, and Nico Collins. They have elevated Davis Mills back into the starting job, but I don't see who that was for. If the Texans are within two touchdowns and the Cowboys don't score forty points, they should consider it a failure.
12. Chiefs vs. Broncos
The Old West
Before the season, this game would have been one of the most anticipated shootouts in the new AFC West. However, the new AFC West looks a lot like the old AFC West. Just like in the Old West, the Chiefs are going to spank the Broncos. Sadly, Russell Wilson's tour of shame will continue.
11. Panthers vs. Seahawks
Both the Panthers and the Seahawks were expected to be bottom five teams,. The Panthers are, but the Seahawks are pushing for playoffs. Not only is the team defying expectations, but so is Geno Smith. The NFL thought Geno was done, but he has reemerged like a Phoenix. He needs this win to help complete his Comeback Player of the Year season by making playoffs. The Panthers have defied the odds in their own way. They fired their coach and traded Christian McCaffrey, which some thought would never happen. They have remained competitive with their interim head coach and Sam Darnold has actually looked like a solid starting QB since he returned this season. Can the Panthers defy expectations again and beat the Seahawks?
10. Patriots vs. Cardinals
In Your Head
Kyler Murray got paid this year. His financial future is secured, but the jury is still out on what he will accomplish on the field. Kyler has always had the traits of an elite QB. However, he is rough around the edges. He still feels like he isn't quite elite when he should be. The Patriots are the perfect team to test Kyler and Kliff Kingsbury, who we also have questions about. The last time the Cardinals played the Patriots, they had Cam Newton. Newton had one of his worst games of the season, but they still beat the Cardinals.
If the Patriots are hoping to stay in the playoffs, they need this. The Cardinals are the perfect team to take advantage of to get a win. It all comes down to whether or not Kliff and Kyle will step up or get stepped on by Bill Belichick and Mac Jones.
9. Jaguars vs. Titans
The Present vs. The Future
The Titans are very clearly still head and shoulders above the competition in the AFC South. However, the Jaguars are coming. They have a QB who was the number one draft pick in his class as well as a defender of the same pedigree. They have a Super Bowl winning head coach as well as a revamped receiving core and an awesome running back. Both teams have stingy defenses and exciting capabilities on offense. This game will be a preview of the future. Will the Titans continue to dominate or are the Jaguars taking over soon?
8. Steelers vs. Ravens
The Ravens looked pretty good through the first part of the season. They had some hiccups, but they looked like a team that was probably going to make the playoffs as the leader of their conference. However, now Lamar Jackson is hurt and the Ravens could miss playoffs. On the other side, the Steelers looked like a team that wouldn't even get a winning record. Now, they are talking about making a playoff push. The Steelers are two games away from .500. They get to play the Lamarless Ravens twice. If they secure those wins, they could maintain Mike Tomlin's record and possibly sneak into the playoffs. Which one will it be? Will the Ravens hang on, and make it to playoffs and get Lamar back? Or will the Steelers have yet another winning season under Mike Tomlin?
7. Rams vs. Raiders
Reaction (Thursday Night Football)
I was actually at this game. It was incredible. The margin of error was so small in this game. In the second quarter, Derek Carr threw a red zone interception. If he had just thrown the ball away, the Raiders would have kicked a field goal and probably won the game. Even on the final drive of the game, the Raiders gave up two huge penalties to help the Rams move down the field. Baker Mayfield won the game with a last second drive after one day of practice. It was a great moment for the Rams.
The Raiders, on the other hand, were bad. Carr had one of his worst games in recent memory. Davante Adams was only able to get three receptions, which is unacceptable. I don't understand how the offensive coaching staff just let Adams get taken out of the game. The defense was undisciplined and gave up frivolous penalties. The Raiders lost a game they needed to win. It will be interesting to see what happens to this team in the offseason.
Predicted: Raiders; Winner: Rams
6. Eagles vs. Giants
Eat or Be Eaten
The entire NFC East has a good chance of making the playoffs. However, now they have to play each other, and they run the risk of cannibalizing themselves. The Giants are barely in the playoffs. They need to win to hang onto their spot. The Eagles also need this win to keep hold of their spot as the one seed. What will win out: The desperation of the Giants or the dominance of the Eagles?
5. Bengals vs. Browns
Battle for Ohio, Part 2
The Browns have enjoyed a comfortable advantage against the Bengals in the last few years. They even trounced them with Jacoby Brissett earlier this year. However, this week's game is sort of a strange one. The Browns have upgraded at QB, but Deshaun Watson is rusty. So, who knows what kind of game this will be? It could be a classic battle between two great QBs or Watson could struggle. It could be another win for the Bengals on their way back to the top.
4. Vikings vs. Lions
The New NFC North
It's a strange time in the NFC North, where the Bears are rebuilding again and the the Packers suck. It's really up to the Vikings and Lions to determine who will be the best team out of the division. The Vikings have a clear headstart, but I wouldn't count out the Lions. They are still trying to make a playoff push. All that stands in their way is the tight end they traded away, T.J. Hockenson, and the 10-2 Vikings. The Lions and Vikings aren't that different talentwise. The Vikings are just healthier. The Vikings are chasing the one seed. Will the Vikings get one step closer to being a one seed or will the Lions get one step closer to playoffs?
3. Bucs vs. 49ers
It's no secret that Tom Brady loved the 49ers as a kid and that he wanted to play for them. I think the 49ers got a lot of love for Tom as well. However, this game is like an Oklahoma Drill. They are going to have to run straight through each other to reach their ultimate success. Tom Brady gets a chance to show the 49ers exactly what they have been missing out on. However, it won't be easy. Tom has weapons, but is still on a struggling offense. Brock Purdy went last in the draft. Whenever somebody like him plays, they always get compared to Brady. That's one thing, but actually having to play Brady in your second game is another. It's time to sink or swim. Who will keep their playoff hopes alive?
2. Jets vs. Bills
The Bills looked like they were faltering for a second. However, they course corrected. Now, they are the number one seed in the AFC. How sweet would it be to redeem themselves against the Jets, who arguably sent them into this tailspin? Interestingly, the Jets beat the Bills with Zach Wilson. So if the Bills beat the Jets, people will have to wonder if it is time to bring Wilson back. I mean, sure, Mike White has looked good. But, he has only beaten the Bears, who are a bottom five team. Now comes the true test for both teams.
1. Chargers vs. Dolphins
Ever since they were drafted, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert have been hurdling toward this moment. Tua was drafted first, but Herbert started first. Herbert was dropped into a better situation and had better individual numbers, but Tua won more with fewer weapons. Yet, Herbert is praised and Tua is treated like a bust. Now that Tua has weapons as well, we can truly see who the better QB is.