16. Ravens vs. Cardinals
The Cardinals have played well when you consider what they are working with. Josh Dobbs has been very impressive, and the new head coach and offensive coordinator look great. However, now they are facing one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
A particular point of this game to watch is Hollywood Brown's situation . Brown left the Ravens because of the offensive system. Now he's on a rebuilding team where he has never been a dominant alpha receiver. Que the Ravens rolling in with their new receivers, offensive coordinator, and 1st place in AFC North Standing. It's time to revisit the Hollywood trade. Will he go off and show the Ravens what they are missing, or will the Ravens show him why he should have never left?
15. Lions vs. Raiders
Trash or Trend
The Raiders and Lions both played horrible games last week. The Raiders got shredded by the Bear's backup QB just when it seemed like they had finally fielded a good defense. Raider nation wasn't happy with that embarrassing loss to Chicago, and now Josh McDaniels's seat is hot yet again. Once again, this happened right as McDaniel's seat was cooling off a bit. Will the Raiders quell the nation with a win, or will McDaniel's seat get even hotter?
The Lions head coach is far from being fired. However, it is time for him to produce. That means at least winning a playoff game and probably more, given the talent the Lions have. Last week, the Lions got trashed and validated every Lions fan's fear. They played a major contender, and the Lions were a major wreck. Was that just a bad game, or will it become a trend? Who will bounce back, and who will keep sliding?
14. Chiefs vs. Broncos
The Chiefs are flying high. They are at the top of the power rankings, and their offense is beginning to click. However, they did lose Nick Bolton. How will that affect the defense in his absence? The Chiefs are on top now, but every other team that has reached the top this season has been very quickly knocked down a peg.
The Broncos are desperate. Their season is not going well, and they don't have much to lose. Russ seems extra motivated when he plays Patrick Mahomes, even going back to his Hackett days. Will the Broncos be able to upset the Chiefs this week? It's hard to be a team multiple times.
13. Bears vs. Chargers
Bad New Bears
The Bears are about to be trouble for someone. Will it be them or the Chargers? Bagent fever is running wild, and the Justin Fields haters are sick. They have the fever. This could confirm everything they have been saying, or this could be a serious reality check. The Chargers have better defenders than the Raiders. One of which is Khalil Mack, who the Bears traded away. I know he is ready to have another six-sack day against his old team with a backup QB. Speaking of backup QBs, the Bears won't be playing a backup QB this time around. The Bear's defense is going to have to deal with Justin Herbert. Can they handle that?
On the other side is the Chargers, who have not been doing well. There's a reason people think the Bears even have a chance in this game, and I have to say the Bears should be overwhelming underdogs. However, because the Chargers have played so poorly, there's a real chance the Chargers lose. Not only would that be a tremendous blow to the Chargers' playoff hopes, but then the Chargers would be sitting right next to the Bears in the we were bad, and our coach will probably be fired tent.
12. Falcons vs. Titans
Arthur Smith is returning to Tennessee, where he became one of the most sought-after coaching candidates. He's gone to the Falcons, and after some rough periods, they look to be on the upswing in the NFC. The Titans, on the other hand, are a crumbling empire. Right now, the Titans are having a fire sale trying to get back in the game. They are still competitive because they are a Vrabel lead team, but they don't seem to believe they are serious competitors this year. The Titans are starting two backup QBs, which is telling. It looks like the Titans are about to find out what they have with the rest of the world on Sunday.
This situation seems well set for Arthur Smith and the Titans to win, but this is far from a gimmie game. The Titans still have Derick Henry. Who will look better, Bijan or Henry? Will Bijan get to play this time? The Titans have Hopkins, too, and these two young QBs are unknowns. The Falcons won't be able to adequately prepare for them, so the Titans have the element of surprise on their side. Plus, these two coaches know each other pretty well. Who will come out on top?
11. Eagles vs. Commanders
We Are Running It Again
Last year, it was the Commander who ruined the Eagle's undefeated streak. So the Eagles would route the Commanders this year as revenge. The Eagles beat the Commanders this year, but only by three. The Commanders clearly know something about the Eagles. It seems like the Commanders have their number. The Commanders were so close the last time they played. Will the Commanders be able to come out on top this time and derail the Eagles again?
The Eagles need to dominate this game. This is a lesser team, and division rival or not, the Eagles went to a Super Bowl, so they SHOULD be able to prepare and execute a game plan that allows them to win big. The Eagle's last few games haven't been amazing. They lost to the Jets and escaped the Dolphins in a game plagued by questionable penalties. The Eagles need to win big. Plus, they are the one seed in the NFC, and if they want to stay there, they need to start stacking wins and run away with the lead in the NFC.
10. Browns vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks and Browns are both solid teams with the same record. Both teams are in the thick of the playoff race. Both teams aren't overwhelming favorites to be at the top of their conference, so they must hold onto any advantage they can get in the standings. The Browns, in particular, are in do-or-die mode. They are playing without their starting or backup RB, and Watson is still out with his rotator cuff injury. Yet they are still in competition for their division, which is really competitive. Every team in the AFC North is within a game of each other; it's the toughest division in the NFL. The Browns cannot afford to fall behind.
The Seahawks are only a game and a half behind the 49ers for control of the NFC West. They could get a wildcard spot in the NFC, but it is much better to secure their playoff future with a division title. The 49ers are struggling. If the Seahawks want to be the big dogs in the West, they need to strike while the iron is hot. They can't fall behind either, but someone has to. Who will it be, the Browns or the Seahawks?
9. Saints vs. Colts
The Colts and Saints have similar problems. They are both struggling to finish games. The Colts aren't the most talented team in the NFL, but they play hard enough to compete with anyone. The Colts have heart, and they have chances to win, but they aren't always able to finish the job. Will they be able to finish the job against the tough Saints defense?
The Saints have also had problems finishing games, but that isn't due to a lack of talent. The Saints are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but the offense, in particular, doesn't seem very creative, and they come out of the gates slow. The defense is always going to give the Saints a chance to win. Will the Saints start cashing in on those opportunities?
8. Patriots vs. Dolphins
Tua is 5-0 vs. The Patriots in his career. He has no idea what it feels like to lose to Bill Belichick and the Patriots. However, the more that Tua beats the Patriots, the more likely it becomes that the Patriots will still be one. They are certainly due. Bill Belichick is debatedly the Greatest coach of all time. Tua can't beat him every time, right?
The Patriots are coming off a huge win against the Bills. The Dolphins are coming off a loss to the Eagles. The Patriots have played their best football this year against the AFC East. Can the Patriots continue their momentum against the Dolphins? Will the Patriots finally break the streak?
7. Packers vs. Vikings
How the Mighty Have Fallen
The Vikings started the year even worse than even the most skeptical critics would have thought. However, the Vikings are starting to turn it around. It's thanks to the defense. Initially, the Vikings' defense looked like one of the worst units in the NFL, but they have finally adjusted to the Flores system. The Vikings offense has remained productive, and now that the defense is on board, who knows how far the Vikings can go? The NFC is wide open, and the Vikings are one win from .500.
The Packers, on the other hand, look like one of the worst teams in the NFC, and things have just gotten worse as time has gone on. They just lost to the Broncos of all teams. The Packers have a win and one less game than the Bears, but they are circling the drain with them, and if the Bears win and the Packers lose this game, they will be at the bottom of the league at 2-5. The Packers are good enough to play their opponents close, but their biggest problem is their QB Jordan Love's decision-making. They aren't at their very best, but they should still be better than they have been. Can they get on track this week against the Vikings, or will they fall further?
6. Rams vs. Cowboys
Big City Lights
The Cowboys and Rams have a little unofficial rivalry. All time, the Cowboys are 15-13 against the Rams. Dak is 1-3 against the Rams, with one of those losses coming in the playoffs in the same calendar year where Dak lost to them in the regular season. Both these teams represent two of the biggest markets in the NFL. While the Cowboys brand it bigger, the Rams have won bigger.
The Rams won the Super Bowl in 2021, and the Cowboys last went to a conference championship over two decades ago. However, the Cowboys go into this match-up with a Super Bowl-winning coach and a better roster than the Rams. The Rams are wily this year, and they will give the Cowboys all they can handle. This is a great test for the Cowboys. The Cowboys have the tools to win this game, but can they handle such a tough opponent? Can the Rams upset the Cowboys, make up for their loss last week, and get closer to making playoffs?
5. The Jets vs. Giants
Battle For New York
This game got way more exciting in recent weeks. Zach Wilson and the Jets are on a roll. After the Jets lost Rodgers, they were supposed to be finished. However, the Jets have refused to die. The Jets have taken out the Bills and Eagles, and they are three and three. Now they face a very beatable Giants team. All they have to do is go through the G-men, and they are one step closer to making playoffs.
The Giants are having a resurgence of their own. They have looked putrid all year. Even their one win was a late comeback against one of the most talent-depleted rosters in the NFL. Then Tyrod Taylor came in, and all of a sudden, the Giants' offense could throw down the field and run an offense. And they didn't beat the Bills, but it was close enough to be impressive. Tyrod played again against the Commanders and got the Giants their second win of the season. Can Tyrod continue this hot streak and get the Giants their third win against a beatable Jets team? The Jet's defense is no joke. If Tyrod looks good against him, he should remain the Giants starter.
4. Texans vs. Panthers
The Real #1
CJ Stroud and Bryce Young were a hot topic of conversation last offseason. It was a foregone conclusion that they would be drafted high, but the question was who should be the number one pick. Bryce Young ended up going first, and despite joining a team that traded up to get him, meaning they weren't really the worst team in football, it still looks like he went to the worst situation of the two. Bryce's head coach was fired in Indianapolis for his performance after multiple disappointing seasons. In addition, to get Bryce, the Panthers traded his potential number-one receiver, and CMC was traded the season before Bryce got there as well. It's been tough sledding for Bryce, who is winless. Wouldn't it be sweet if the first win of his season came from beating the other QB in his draft class, who he will forever be compared to?
CJ Stroud has been balling out. He looks like he should have been the number one pick, and it looks like he landed in a better situation. Both Quarterbacks will have a little extra competitive juice flowing in this match-up. Head to head, who will prove they are the best?
3. Jaguars vs. Steelers
The Rise and Fall
Both The Jaguars and the Steelers are thriving right now. They are both in the top five of the power rankings and rising in the ranks. However, for them to rise, someone has to fall. The defense on both sides is very solid, with the edge going to the Steelers. The offensive battle goes to the Jaguars. To win, the Steelers will need to shut down Etienne, and TJ Watt must wreck the game. Still, if the Steelers' defense doesn't shut the Jags down, will the Steeler's offense keep the Steelers in the game long enough to give their defense a shot to make a play?
The Jaguars will need to get to Kenny Pickett and take away Pickens if they want to win. It will also be interesting to see how this Jaguars offense looks against the hard-hitting Steelers defense. The Coaching battle is also exciting as well. This Sunday, we get to see two Super Bowl-winning head coaches go at it. These two coaches are particularly gifted at making a lot with a little. Doug Pederson won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles, and Tomlin has never had a losing season, even when starting third-stringers. Who will outcoach who?
2. The Bills vs. Bucs
The Bucs could have played better. They weren't outmatched. However, penalties killed them. Plus, when it came down to it, the offense was a touch behind where you would want them to be. They couldn't go score for score when the defense needed the offense to pick them up.
The Bucs and Bills played a very competitive game. The Bucs came within one play of scoring a TD and winning the game. The Bills had some poorly timed timeouts, and they could have used Cook better, but they won. Josh is the most important piece of the offense, and he played well. The question is, can Josh consistently lock in and play well?
1. Bengals vs. 49ers
Before We Collapse
Both the 49ers and Bengals are trying to climb back to the Super Bowl and win this time. They have both played in the biggest game at the highest heights and lost. Since then, both teams have only made it as far as the conference championship. Time is running out for them too. The more they pay their players( they deserve it), the smaller their Super Bowl window gets. They both need to go for the gusto this year before their teams fall apart. Both teams are doing the same things they always do.
The 49ers are still rolling with decent rather than elite QBs, and they are still dealing with significant injuries. Burrow has gotten injured for the second consecutive season, and the Bengals have started slow again. For the Bengals, in particular, this game is crucial because they are in the toughest division in football in the toughest conference in football, and they are 3-3. The Bengals are ready, but is Joe Burrow?
The 49ers will be starting Sam Darnold, whom many expect to bomb. However, not only are the 49ers a QB-friendly team loaded with talent, but Darnold is a former 3rd round pick who is good. Go back and look at his last games with Carolina. He was good. Also, he has always played well with CMC, and guess who he is reuniting with? Could Sam make a splash and snap the 49ers losing streak?