Updated: Nov 13
15. Titans vs. Texans
The Texans have one win and a tie this year. Nobody expected much from them this year, but it's still disappointing somehow. Davis Mills hasn't really taken a leap in his second year. The team needs him to if they plan to be relevant. The Titans are the quietest 4-2 team ever. Nobody is really talking about them because nobody believes in them, but they have strung together wins. Once again, they have a chokehold on the AFC South. This game against the Texans is actually a good test for the Titans. If the Titans are good, they should beat the Texans soundly. If they struggle, then maybe they aren't as good as their record says they are.
14. Commanders vs. Colts
Who Is Better Off?
There is some comedic irony to this game. The Colts traded Carson Wentz to the Commanders. Then, the Colts traded with the Falcons for Matt Ryan. Now, the Colts and Commanders play each other in Week 8. Not only is Carson Wentz not starting for the Commanders, but Matt Ryan isn't starting for the Colts. The Commanders have a good QB in Taylor Heinicke, but the Colts backup QB, Sam Ehlinger, is questionable. I'm just waiting to see how long it takes for the Colts to put Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles in. Can Nick Foles come behind Carson Wentz again and win? Who is really better off, the Colts or the Commanders?
13. Dolphins vs. Lions
Keeping the Streak Alive
Tua Tagovailoa is undefeated so far as the Dolphins QB. Can he keep this streak going? The Lions defense has been pretty bad this year. This is the perfect game for the Dolphins offense to get right. On the Lions side, things look very bleak. Like many others, I had a lot of hope for the Lions this season, but they still look like the league's punching bag. I hate to say it because Dan Campbell seems like a fun guy to play for, but it's time to consider that maybe the Lions don't have the right coach.
12. Panthers vs. Falcons
The Panthers seemed like they were having a fire sale and they would be a free win to the rest of their schedule. However, the Panthers beat the Bucs and they have just as good a chance to make the playoffs as any other NFC South team. Now, they have a chance to pick up another divisional victory. The Falcons seem like the Seahawks of the NFC South. They have played better than anyone expected and they have a good chance to make the playoffs. They will have an advantage against the Panthers offense, but the Panthers defense will be a difficult challenge. Who will come out on top?
11. Jets vs. Patriots
Is This Really Happening?
So, the Jets are actually good. The Patriots are not. The Jets seem playoff bound and the Patriots are sitting at the bottom of the AFC East. The Jets and Patriots game will show us how far the Patriots have fallen and how far the Jets have risen. Also, it will be Mac Jones's next battle against a QB from his draft class. Has Zach Wilson surpassed Mac? Have the Jets surpassed the Patriots?
10. Cowboys vs. Bears
Pattern or Fluke?
The Bears have just proven they can be a force on offense. When the Bears are highlighting Justin Fields strengths by calling designed runs, RPOs (Run Pass Options), and rollouts, the Bears offense looks great. Now that the Bears have shown the world what they could be, the question is can they repeat their success? The Cowboys defense is one of the best in the NFL so they are the perfect test for the Bears. The Bears are also a great test for the Cowboys defense. The one team that was able to beat the Cowboys pass rushers were the Eagles. The Eagles were able to use their mobile QB to negate Micah Parsons. Can the Bears do the same thing or was that a one time thing? Pattern or fluke?
9. Bengals vs. Browns
The Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals are cross town and division rivals. The two organizations are pretty similiar. They have both been bottom of the barrel for some time and are enjoying a resurgence. The question is who has surpassed who? A couple years ago, it was the Browns who went and won a playoff game, but then the Bengals raised them and won a conference championship. The Browns are still trying to scrape together wins for Deshaun Watson, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot at the end of the games. They needs to get back to being a run dominant offense and stop trusting Jacoby Brissett's arm so much. The Bengals have struggled this year and have also had to be more balanced on offense at times. Now, they will be without Ja'Marr Chase for at least four weeks due to injury. How much will their offense suffer? Which side of the Ohio fence is greener?
8. Eagles vs. Steelers
Desperation vs. Dominance
The Eagles are undefeated, and must stay undefeated to get their respect. Not many people will say it out loud, but many in the sports world don't believe in the Eagles and Jalen Hurts. They want to tout teams like the Chiefs, who have two losses, and the Bills, who have one loss, as the best teams. The Eagles are only in the conversation because they are undefeated. As soon as they take one loss, they will be cast aside, so they have to keep the undefeated streak alive. The Eagles new addition, Robert Quinn, should help them accomplish that mission.
However, the Steelers have a mission of their own. They are trying to maintain their own record. Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season and he doesn't plan to start now. The Steelers have the potential to have an explosive offense, but they haven't so far. It's been rumored that the Steelers offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, could be fired based on his performance against the Eagles. So what will win out: the dominance of the Eagles or the desperation of the Steelers?
7. Raiders vs. Saints
The Raiders and the Saints both have new head coaches this year, and both have had rough starts. Dennis Allen's team has underachieved. Despite all the talent, the Saints have not been able to put it together. Also, Allen insists on playing Andy Dalton over Jameis Winston, which is perplexing considering Andy threw three interceptions against the Cardinals and cost the Saints the game. The Raiders have failed to finish games their games and have lost several games they should have won. Also, Josh McDaniels record isn't very good as a head coach. So the question is: who is going to take a step in the right direction and whose seat is about to get hotter?
6. Jaguars vs. Broncos
Something Has Got to Give
There have been murmurs around the league that Nathaniel Hackett may be fired if he doesn't beat the Jaguars. If you are a Broncos fan, a loss may be best here. Either way, we are about to find out what Hackett is made of because everything is on the line for him. On the other side, the Jaguars have failed to launch. The blame needs to be put squarely on the QB. Trevor Lawrence has had weapons and coaching, but he has not once elevated his team or looked special. It may be time to face the reality that Trevor Lawrence is average.
5. Cardinals vs. Vikings
Old School or New
The Vikings have one of the best young receivers in the league with Justin Jefferson. The Cardinals just got DeAndre Hopkins back and looked like a competent offense again. The question is, who is going to show up and show out? Will it be the vet, DeAndre Hopkins, who has been holding it down in the top five receivers list year in and year out or the young bull, Justin Jefferson, who is taking the league by storm?
4. Bills vs. Packers
Coming for Blood
Aaron Rodgers said that a loss to the Commanders was just what the Packers needed. Maybe the Packers will go out there, lose with no expectations, and pull an upset. Maybe, but I don't think that's likely. For my money, the Bills have the best defense in the league, and they have one of the leading MVP candidates on offense. The Packers are in danger of being exposed by a team that is better than them in almost every way. I expect the Packers to come out hard, but they will be running headfirst into a wood chipper.
3. Giants vs. Seahawks
Put Some Respect on Their Name
The Giants are getting their respect because they only have one loss in seven weeks. They have become impossible to ignore. However, the Seahawks have also played way better than we expected. However, the Seahawks have a good record that can be ignored. The Giants winning would obviously continue to prove the Giants are who they say they are. On the other hand, if the Seahawks win, they will finally get their respect. Pete Carroll and Brian Daboll are coach of the year candidates, and this game could be the tiebreaker between them down the road.
2. Rams vs. 49ers
Battle of Will
The Rams and the 49ers genuinely don't like each other. Even if both teams had no chance to make the playoffs, this game would still mean something to them. The Rams are regressing this year on offense, and the 49ers are regressing on defense. People think that the 49ers are a top three defense, but they have been injured. That's why the Falcons and Chiefs have exploited them. This game will be determined by whether the Rams lethargic offense can spring into action or if the 49ers declining defense can turn things around.
1. Ravens vs. Bucs
Battle of the Sleeping Giants
The Ravens and Bucs have failed to live up to expectations. Both QBs are going through things off the field that may be affecting them on the field. Tom Brady is going through a divorce and has missed more practices than ever. This is all after Tom retired and then unretired. Plus, the Bucs offense has been the team's main problem. Despite having a healthy offense, the Bucs have not been clicking. On the Raven's side, Lamar Jackson is ready to be paid, and the market dictates that he should be paid more than 230 million guaranteed. The Ravens organization doesn't want to pay Lamar what he has earned. This has led to Lamar playing this year without a new contract. As a result, he hasn't been his normal self on the field or during practice. Despite the Ravens being penny-wise and pound-foolish, and Tom's struggles on and off the field, both teams are leading their division. Which team can hold it together another week?