Updated: Nov 15, 2021
14. Steelers vs. Lions
Storyline: How Long Can This Continue?
On one side, we have the Lions, who are maybe the unluckiest team in the NFL. They have been blown out, falling apart, and just had things generally not go their way. However, in a league where the Jaguars and Texans both have won, how long can the Lions continue losing? The Steelers are beatable, but so were the Eagles that blew out the Lions. Maybe the Lions are just checked out.
The Steelers are a very poor offense. The receivers are banged up and underachieving. The QB is on his last legs of competent play. Big Ben is also dealing with an injury and might not even play. The line is not great, but the defense and the running backs are. Can the Steelers keep riding the defense and running game?
13. Ravens vs. Dolphins
Storyline: Temperature Check
The Dolphins are not good this year for many reasons. Their line is not good. They cannot run the ball. Their defense has regressed. Their QB has been really unlucky with injury. Tua Tagovailoa is out again with a finger injury. Without him, at QB, the Dolphins should not have a chance.
The Ravens need to steamroll the Dolphins. If they are whom we think they are, they should dominate the Dolphins. The Dolphins almost beat the Bills. They will not go down easily. However, the Ravens need to show they can prepare for the lesser teams and handle their business, so they don't repeat the Bengals game down the line.
12. Bills vs. Jets
Storyline: Are the Bills in Trouble?
Mike White returns at QB for the Jets, which is bad news for the Bills because he makes the team competitive. Also, the Jets defense is playing as well as they could be given their personnel.
They are the perfect team to test the Bills. After last week's loss, everyone wants to know if it was just a fluke or are the Bills in trouble? This Jets team is a division rival with a bite behind their bark, but a team the Bills should beat. We will see if the Bills have figured out their offensive struggles or not this week.
11. Jaguars vs. Colts
Storyline: Hunting or Hunted?
The Colts are chasing the Titans at the top of the division, trying to make the playoffs. However, while their eyes are on the prize, the Jaguars have their eyes on the Colts. The Jaguars just took out the Bills last week. If the Colts overlook the Jaguars, they could end up one game out from the Jags instead of one step closer to the Titans.
10. Bucs vs. Washington
Storyline: Playoff Rematch!
Last year, the Bucs started their magical Super Bowl run by beating Taylor Heinicke. Brady and the Bucs spoiled Taylor's debut, and I am sure he would love to repay the favor. Plus, the Bucs are looking as beatable as ever. Gronk is out, AB is out, and the defense is injured as well. Plus, they just lost to Trevor Siemianand the Saints. Can the Bucs hold off Washington one more time?
9. Panthers vs. Cardinals
Cardinals are trying to remain on top of the NFL while dealing with a ton of injuries. Kyler Murray probably will not play. Rondale Moore and Hopkins are dealing with injuries, and so is Chase Edmonds. However, A.J. Green is returning from the COVID list. Can they pull another rabbit out of the hat with Colt McCoy? The Panthers finally swallowed their pride and signed Cam Newton, but he will not be playing this week. Can P.J. Walker guide this team to victory over a vulnerable Cardinal team and get the Panthers back in playoff position?
8. Eagles vs. Broncos
Storyline: Reluctant Runners
Both of these teams have struggled this season. However, both coaches have learned that their teams operate best when they run the ball more. The Broncos have the better team, but the Eagles have the better QB. If the Broncos stay disciplined, they should be able to grind it out. However, it will be interesting to see if Jalen Hurts can steal one.
7. Rams vs. 49ers
Storyline: McVay vs. Shanahan
Sean and Kyle are very similar on paper. They are division rivals and have struggled this season. Both coaches are considered offensive geniuses, and both have been to a Super Bowl they did not win. Both are coming off embarrassing losses. However, the Rams are still good overall. They have their guy, Matthew Stafford, at QB, and they just signed Odell Beckham Jr., so they are expected to get even better.
On the other hand, the 49ers are a mess. They most likely will not make the playoffs again, and Kyle Shanahan's seat is starting to get very hot. Both coaches need a win here, but Kyle needs it a little more.
6. Chiefs vs. Raiders
Storyline: One Chance to Get it All Back
Everything that happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. Unfortunately, the outside noise is starting to drag down the Raiders. However, they signed DeSean Jackson, and they are not going down without a fight. They get to play at home against the Chiefs. They have a chance to get all their lost momentum back in Vegas by beating the Chiefs. They have beat the Chiefs before, and the Chiefs have never looked more vulnerable.
The Chiefs are bouncing back a bit. The defense looks better and Mahomes has been more disciplined. However, the Chiefs have not looked special in a while. Beating the Raiders and climbing the division gives them a chance to get their momentum and their division back.
5. Browns vs. Patriots
Storyline: Revenge Game: We Aren't So Different You and I
The last time these two teams played, the Browns talked a lot of mess, but lost. However, now that the Browns walk in as the better team, can they finally get the job done? These teams are similar. They are both excellent defensive teams with limited QBs who rely on their running game. Also, both teams are missing running backs. The Browns are missing RBs due to COVID, and the Patriots are missing RBs due to concussion. However, Bill Belichick will try and take the running game away from Baker Mayfield. Will Baker be able to rise to the occasion without OBJ? Since these teams are so similar, the Browns will probably do the same. Can Mac Jones rise to the occasion?
4. Seahawks vs. Packers
Storyline: Return of the Franchise
This is a very interesting matchup. Two QBs who kicked up dust in the offseason to varying success. Both were forced to miss games, and both should return this week. Rodgers comes back with a dark cloud hanging over his head after lying to everyone about being vaccinated, and not following unvaccinated player protocol and costing his team first place in the NFC. Wilson comes back to his team, who has been anxiously waiting for his return. The Seahawks are not in as good a position as the Packers, but they are not eliminated either. It will be interesting to see who overcomes in this matchup. Can Wilson rise above the fact that his team is inferior, or will it be Rodgers rising above all the controversy?
3. Falcons vs. Cowboys
Storyline: Double Revenge Game
The last time these two teams played each other, the Cowboys made a mockery of the Falcons by making an astronomical comeback in Dallas. The Falcons return to Dallas as a playoff team with a new coach trying to get revenge and hold onto their playoff spot.
However, the Cowboys are even better than they were last time. They also have the Falcons coach as their defensive coordinator. He would love to beat his old team and knock them out of the playoff picture. Plus, the Cowboys are trying to show the world that last week's loss to the Broncos was a fluke.
2. Vikings vs. Chargers
Storyline: Must Win
The Chargers are holding onto their division by the skin of their teeth. This week is a must-win for them to protect their playoff position. The Raiders or Chiefs will jump them if they do not win. Also, this is a chance to see if the Chargers are still as bad against the run as they were before. The Vikings do not have a great record, but they are a talented team. A win against the Vikings would mean more than the Chargers win against the Eagles.
On the Vikings side, they need this win because they are three and six. Their coach is on the hot seat after losing several winnable games. Dalvin Cook has legal troubles, and you cannot feel secure about his future right now. The Vikings need every win they can get. Their situation is getting worse by the day.
1. Saints vs. Titans
Storyline: Something Has Got to Give
The Saints and Titans are two great teams who seem immune to adversity, thus far. That is a massive credit to these coaches. They have kept their teams competing through many injuries and stolen games they should not have won. Both teams are in playoff contention. The Titans have lost Derrick Henry and have not really been able to count on Julio Jones consistently. The Saints lost Jameis Winston, and it looks like they might not have Alvin Kamara this week either. How long can these teams continue to overcome? One of them has to lose this week.