15. Jets vs. Bengals
Storyline: Everything to Lose
The Bengals have the juice right now. They are number one in the AFC. They are balling out. They are fresh off of slaying the Ravens. The Jets are the total opposite, their season has been bad. They have no juice, the Jets just lost their QB, and their expectations are under the ground. That means that the Jets have nothing to lose, and the Bengals have everything to lose. The Bengals need to not only beat the Jets, but they need to blow them out.
14. Rams vs. Texans
Storyline: Revenge of the Rogues, Part 2
13. Jaguars vs. Seahawks
Storyline: So You Are Saying There is a Chance?
Jaguars got a really gritty win they weren't expected to against the Dolphins. However, now they have a chance to actually win again against a struggling Seahawks team. The Seahawks have been absolutely awful since Russell Wilson got hurt. It's actually been hard to watch, and I'm amazed they haven't brought anyone else into QB the team. It's funny everyone was dissing Wilson for wanting a different philosophy and contemplating going to a different team until he got hurt. They pulled back the curtain on how good things really are in Seattle.
12. Washington vs. Broncos
Storyline: Lifeline Game
Both of these teams have been disappointments, thus far. I think Washington is more fun to watch than the Broncos. However, someone has got to win and get back on track. I think Washington is that team. They haven't been winning, but they show flashes and have talent. The Broncos have talent, but something isn't right with that team. I lose more faith in them the more I see from them. They don't have anything to hang their hat on. Their defense is supposed to be that thing. However, last week, when everyone knew the Browns would run with their third-string running back, the Broncos couldn't stop them. Also, Case Keenum is a dude, but a good defense should have been able to exploit him, the Broncos were not. Those are causes for concern with this defense.
11. Falcons vs. Panthers
Storyline: Loser Leaves Relevance
The Falcons are on the rise. They are at five hundred, and maybe they are starting to figure it out. However, they can't drop too many more games with the Bucs in their division. On the other side, we have the Panthers, and we have no idea what's going on with them. Is Sam Darnold even going to be their quarterback? They look terrible right now, specifically on offense, where they managed just three points against the Giants. I said a couple of weeks ago I wasn't sold on the comeback of Darnold yet, and this is why. When they have needed him, he hasn't played well. It's easy to play well when the team doesn't need you. Also, I'm sure that defense is tired of the offense letting them down. However, the Falcons defense isn't scary.
10. Lions vs. Eagles
Storyline: Ugly Game of Week
I love Jalen Hurts. I'm a big fan of him, and I think he will be one of the great young QBs in the league. I want him to win. However, I think the Eagles are a bottom five team. I don't trust the coaches, the weapons are inconsistent, and I don't trust the defense, but I have seen them show up, situationally. I say all that to say that Detroit has a very real chance to win this game. I know Detroit must be demoralized after throwing everything at the Rams and losing, but if they just keep fighting and don't give up, they can get their first win. They should be excited because there aren't that many beatable teams on their schedule.
9. Giants vs. Chiefs
Storyline: How Far Have the Chiefs Fallen?
These two teams actually match up pretty well. The Giants defense is surprisingly pretty good. They get to play Mahomes at a time when he is struggling. The Chiefs defense is god awful, and so that should help the Giants offense that doesn't have any semblance of health. This game will show us how bad the Chiefs are by how they play with the Giants, who aren't very good at the moment. I'm going to trust Mahomes to lead his team to a win because, despite his struggles, he is still one of the best QBs in the league. However, I acknowledge there is some serious upset potential.
8. Steelers vs. Browns
Storyline: Playoff Revenge
The Steelers have probably had this game circled on their calendar. Last year, the Browns took everything from the Steelers and embarrassed them in their playoff win over the Steelers. Also, to add to that, Mike Tomlin was pretty fired up about reporters asking him if he was considering going back to college. He will have his team fired up and ready to shut down anybody thinking he belongs in a college conversation. Also, add to that, the Browns are dealing with injuries. This is the perfect spot for revenge. However, the Browns are no joke. Even their backups are good, they won't go down easily, and that defense could make the day very long for Big Ben.
7. Bears vs. 49ers
Storyline: Nagy vs. Shanahan
People often compare Matt Nagy to Kyle Shanahan when criticizing Nagy. They look at Kyle as the positive side, like he can do more with less. Well, now we get to see them go head-to-head. Both are struggling at QB position, but both have a decent defense. Both heavily rely on the running game and haven't got the most out of the skill positions this year. Also, both have rookie QBs. Nagy is on the hottest of seats, and he has earned it this season, but Kyle hasn't got the same ire, despite not having as good of a record as Nagy, all time or this season. It's time to tell who is who in this head-to-head matchup in Chicago.
6. Dolphins vs. Bills
Storyline: Tua's Revenge
Tua has been doubted all season, and he was seriously derailed after the Bills game. He was knocked out of that game with a rib injury, and I'll bet he hasn't forgotten about it. He is probably ready to shut up all the haters by beating Josh Allen and getting revenge on the team that injured him. The Bills need to get back on track. They have lost to the Titans in a game they should have won, and their offensive struggles have not stopped. I can't shake the feeling that we are in for an upset.
5. Chargers vs. Patriots
Storyline: Herbert vs. Belichick
Last year, Herbert was absolutely exposed against the Patriots defense. He looked like Sam Darnold. He struggled to do anything to the Patriots. Herbert is a year older and a year wiser. Can he finally play well against Belichick? Also, the Patriots love to lean on the run game, which seems like the Chargers weakness. Can the Chargers sure up their run defense and make Mac throw into the teeth of the secondary, or will Patriotmania run wild?
4. Packers vs. Cardinals
Storyline: The Injury Bowl: Streak vs. Streak
The Cardinals come into this game undefeated and are the last team in football who have those credentials. However, they face a big test with Rodgers in the Packers, who are a contending team. How the Cardinals play in this game will tell us a lot about who they are. They have some injuries to key players like JJ Watt and Hopkins. Can they overcome and remain undefeated? The Packers are missing most of their receiving core, most notably Adams due to COVID. However, they are six and zero without Adams. Is Rodgers still that QB that can win without his best receiver? I have had a lot of questions about this Packers team, but if they beat the undefeated Cardinals, especially under these circumstances, they will prove to me they are not pretenders. Rodgers says he wanted Cobb with him when he goes to war. Well, he has Cobb and quite the war to fight tonight.
3. Saints vs. Bucs
Storyline: Double Revenge Game
Winston finally gets his shot at the Bucs. They dumped him and have gone on to have success. However, he went right over to the Saints, and now he gets a chance not only to beat his old team, but the QB who replaced him. Winston gets a chance to get his team one step closer to taking first place in the NFC South from the Bucs. On the other side, Brady wants to obliterate the Saints. The Bucs beat the Saints last year when it mattered most, but they owned Brady twice in the regular season, and don't think he has forgotten that. Brady probably wants to pulverize the Saints and prove they are not even in the Bucs league. In year two, he is ready to plant his flag as the unquestioned best team in the NFC South, but will the Saints allow it?
2. Cowboys vs. Vikings
Storyline: A Tale of Two Teams
Both of these teams are absolutely loaded. However, the Cowboys are a dominant five and one, and the Vikings are barely hanging on at three and three. Both teams have star players dealing with injury, Dak with his calf and Cooks with his ankle. Both teams have promising young receivers in Jefferson and Lamb, and both teams have outstanding veteran receivers like Amari Cooper and Adam Thielen. I'm giving the edge in this match up to the Cowboys because I believe in their quarterback and defense more than the Viking counterparts.
1. Colts vs. Titans
Storyline: Division Rivals
These are two teams that always put on a good show no matter how beat up they are. Even though the Titans have the better record and found their feet first, I still believe this will be a great game. The Colts defense is getting better. Their run game is improving, Wentz looks good. Meanwhile, the Titans receivers are getting healthy, and the running game has been on point, but now the defense is playing well too. These two teams are peaking just in time to run into each other at one hundred miles per hour. This matchup will be an epic clash.