Updated: Dec 8, 2021
14. Rams vs. Jaguars
Storyline: Get Right Game or Trap?
The Rams have lost three in a row, and the Jags should be their get-right game. This should be the game where the Rams establish an identity and thrash the Jags. However, the Jags want to win, and if the Rams continue to struggle, the Rams could end up like the Bills. Also, Jalen Ramsey is returning back to play his old team. Will Ramsey have a career day or be exposed by the Jags?
13. Texans vs. Colts
Storyline: Revenge Game
The last time these two faced each other, the Colts beat the brakes off the Texans. However, Tyrod Taylor wasn't playing then. Since Tyrod has returned, they lost to the Jets, but beat the Titans. Can the Texans avenge their loss, or will the Colts sweep them in the division and keep their head above water at 7-6?
12. Lions vs. Vikings
Storyline: Winless in Detroit
The Lions are still winless after 12 weeks. The last time they played the Vikings, they only lost by two. This week, the Vikings will be without Dalvin Cook. It's a winnable game. Will the Lions end their winless streak, or will the Vikings sweep the Lions?
11. Atlanta vs. Bucs
Storyline: Stepping Stone or Spoiler?
The Bucs have owned the Atlanta Falcons since last year. The Bucs used the Falcons to get ahead in the NFC and boost stats. Now, it seems like the Bucs are returning to Super Bowl form, and here come the struggling Falcons. Will it be the same story from last year, or will the Falcons shock the world and beat the Falcons?
10. Seahawks vs. 49ers
Storyline: Staying Aliiiiiiiiiiive
The Seahawks have looked awful lately. The defense isn't playing well, the running game is nonexistent, and Russ looks like he is still injured. The 49ers started the season looking like pretenders, but have found their identity and made a playoff push. However, Deebo Samuel, their star player, is down and they have to manage without him for at least a week. Now, these two division rivals face each other with everything on the line. If the Seahawks lose, they can't even have a winning record. If the 49ers lose, they risk falling behind in the race for the playoffs. This is basically a playoff game, and I expect both teams to scratch and claw to get a W.
9. Eagles vs. Jets
Storyline: Proving Ground
This is about the two franchise quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Jalen Hurts. Hurts needs to smash the Jets. This is a game the Eagles should win convincingly. Dominating weaker opponents is part of proving you are the right QB for the Eagles. You have to beat the bad teams big. Alternatively, Wilson needs to steal one. This is a stealable game, and if he is going to be the franchise QB for the Jets, he needs to make them better than what they are sometimes. Can Wilson elevate the team?
8. Cardinals vs. Bears
Storyline: Can the Cardinals be Caught Slipping?
Everyone is happy Kyler Murray is coming back, and they should be. However, while Kyler has been away from football recovering, the Bears have been playing. Also, because the Bears played on Thanksgiving, they have had even more time to prepare for the Cardinals. The Bears could take advantage of Kyler's rust. As talented as Kyler is, he gives away strange losses, like to Patriots last year. If the Bears can stay on schedule, on offense, and control the clock, they can win. However, if Kyler hits the ground running, the Bears will have no chance.
7. Cowboys vs. Saints
Storyline: Stop the Bleeding
The Cowboys just lost to the Raiders after choking against the Chiefs. It's time for the Cowboys to get a win and get back on track. However, they have multiple players and coaches out with COVID. Plus, the Saints were embarrassed on Thanksgiving and have made a QB change to Taysom Hill. This gives them the chance to upset the Cowboys because the defense will be off-balance with a new running QB to prepare for. However, the Saints are missing Alvin Kamara, Terron Armstead, and Ryan Ramczyk. If the Cowboys lose, they will be labeled as the pretenders. They have been for the last few years, instead of the contenders everyone expected them to be this year.
6. Broncos vs. Chiefs
Storyline: AFC West Gauntlet
After fighting back from a losing streak, the Chiefs have taken their division back. However, with just one win from the Broncos, they can go from the bottom of the division to the top. This will be an excellent test for the Chiefs. Can the Chiefs defense stop the Broncos rushing attack, and can Mahomes survive the stout defense of the Broncos? Mahomes will have to air it out, and the Broncos will capitalize on his mistakes.
5. Dolphins vs. Giants
Storyline: How Much Do the Dolphins Have Left?
A team nobody is really talking about right now is the Dolphins. They have won four straight and are making a serious playoff push. The Dolphins defense is back, and the offense is humming. The coach seems to know what he wants to do to defenses-throw high percentage passes to Jaylen Waddle and manufacture a run game, however they can. However, the Giants are no easy task, as the Eagles found out last week. Their offense probably won't be great with Mike Glennon at the helm, but they have a lot of talent and a tough defense. Can the Dolphins navigate all that to win their fifth straight game?
4. Steelers vs. Ravens
Storyline: Can the Steelers Avoid Another Sweep?
Fresh off of getting swept by the Bengals, the Steelers face their division rival, the Ravens. The Ravens haven't played particularly well, but have found ways to win. The Steelers have gotten away from their run-first identity, and the results have not been pretty. The Steelers simply can't count on Big Ben to carry them. Also, the defense hasn't been playing well. However, the Ravens are struggling on offense. I expect a slugfest between these two rivals.
3. Washington Football Team vs. Raiders
Storyline: Shootout in Las Vegas
Both of these teams are coming off upsets on primetime television. This week will decide who will carry that momentum and make a playoff push. Both teams have bad defenses and good offenses. I expect this to come down to a shootout. Shootout games favor the Raiders.
2. Chargers vs. Bengals
Storyline: Who is Going to Show Up?
Both of these teams are stacked. However, they tend to disappear randomly. The Chargers just disappeared against the Broncos. The Bengals just dominated the Steelers and swept them in the division. Regardless, both teams find themselves one game out from taking their division. Which one of them will show up?
1. Patriots vs. Bills
Storyline: Who Runs East?
The Bills and the Patriots both just beat depleted teams. However, the Patriots have a six game winning streak. The only problem is they haven't really beaten anybody of note. Winning this game would put them one game up on the Bills, and prove that the Patriots can hang and beat the most talented teams in this league. This is a playoff preview for them.
The Bills are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They won their last game, but have been super inconsistent. They don't always play up to the level they should. They don't always beat the teams that they should. You just don't know what you are going to get from them. Beating the Patriots would show that the Bills have arrived and are ready to dominate the AFC East. Also, it would show that they can handle duress because Belichick will test them.