A few weeks into this NFL season, this game looked like a beauty of a matchup. But, the Vikings have figured out that injuries can decimate the best teams in the league very quickly. Minnesota has lost five of its last six including a Thanksgiving Day loss to NFC North leader Detroit last week. The Vikings are having difficulty running the football and protecting quarterback Sam Bradford. That’s not good as they welcome the NFC’s best team this Thursday night… Dallas 27, Minnesota 17.
The Chiefs (8-3) won possibly the most exciting game of the 2016 season on Sunday night beating the Broncos in overtime. Now, they go on the road to face the NFC South leader Atlanta. If Tyreek Hill continues to provide offense, the Chiefs have a chance, but Atlanta can score. If the Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones connection puts up 30 or more, Kansas City is in trouble… Atlanta 34, Kansas City 28.
Yes, the Lions are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. They beat Minnesota for the second time this season on Thanksgiving Day. Now, they must prove that they can win on the road. Detroit is just 2-3 away from Ford Field and they must face a Saints team coming off a 49-21 beat down of the Rams last week. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a tough place to play… New Orleans 32, Detroit 28.
The Rams got destroyed by Drew Brees and the Saints last week. Imagine what Tom Brady will do. Los Angeles rookie quarterback Jared Goff threw his first touchdown pass – he threw three total – as the Rams trailed 28-21 at the break but couldn’t generate another point. Playing in Foxborough with hopefully a healthy Rob Gronkowski and one of the league’s better defenses, the Patriots should have a field day with the Rams… New England 34, Los Angeles 17.
The Jaguars (2-9) just can’t get a break. Jacksonville has lost six straight and has dropped the last four by a touchdown or less. Last week, it was a fourth-quarter Tyrod Taylor touchdown pass that gave the Bills a 28-20 win over the Jags. Now, head coach Gus Bradley and company face Denver at home. With Jags QB Blake Bortles coming off his best game, does Jacksonville have a chance on Sunday? Probably not… Denver 27, Jacksonville 20.
The Texans have put themselves into a jam. A loss last week to the Chargers leaves Houston just 6-5 and a half-game ahead of Tennessee in the AFC South. Now, they have to travel to Green Bay which may not seem all that challenging given the Packers are just 4-6 heading into a Monday night game in Week 12. But, consider that Houston is just 1-4 on the road this year and couldn’t generate any offense against the Chargers’ 28th-ranked defense last week. A loss here digs an even deeper hole for Houston… Green Bay 27, Houston 24.
The Bengals season all but ended last week when they dropped a hard-fought 19-14 decision to Baltimore. Injuries have decimated Cincinnati’s offense and the Bengals will face another very good defense this week in Philadelphia. Tight end Tyler Eifert is back and healthy but with A.J. Green and RB Gio Bernard done for the season, it doesn’t look like Cincy will enjoy another trip to the postseason under head coach Marvin Lewis… Philadelphia 23, Cincinnati 18.
The Dolphins could be the hottest team in the league right now. A 31-24 win over San Francisco was first-year head coach Adam Gase’s sixth straight win. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill has cut down on his mistakes and the Dolphins offense is generating points by the bunches. The problem this week is they go up against a very good defense in Baltimore and they play away from home where, unfortunately, they are just 2-3 on the year… Baltimore 24, Miami 13.
The 49ers got closer to a victory last week. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was stopped at the two-yard line as time ran out in a 31-24 loss to Miami. The San Francisco quarterback had his best day of the season with 296 passing yards and three touchdowns and another 113 yards on the ground. The Bears are just trying to get to the end of the season. They haven’t won in a month and if they don’t stop Kaepernick, they might not win again… Chicago 17, San Francisco 14.
Yes, the Raiders are for real and have a legitimate shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Buffalo is surging at the right time and RB LeSean McCoy and WR Sammy Watkins are healthy. This game at Oakland and next week’s with Pittsburgh will prove if the Bills are worthy of the postseason. In a passing league where you rank dead last, it’s not looking good… Oakland 37, Buffalo 19.
The Steelers looked like they may have straightened out a few issues in a 28-7 Thanksgiving night victory over Indianapolis. Either that or the Colts are just getting worse week by week. WR Antonio Brown caught three touchdown passes from QB Ben Roethlisberger in the win over the Colts and that kind of play needs to continue. The Giants (8-3) will give Pittsburgh its toughest test of the season. Playing at Heinz Field in December is tough… Pittsburgh 27, NY Giants 23.
At 4-6-1, the Cardinals are clinging for dear life to the possibility of a playoff berth. They must win Sunday which means the Arizona defense is going to have to corral Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. Despite Washington’s loss to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, the Redskins are still in great shape for a wild card berth. The loss was just the second in nine games for head coach Jay Gruden and company. The Cardinals have lost two straight and their season is slowly slipping away… Washington 23, Arizona 20.
So, the Buccaneers won three straight games, are 6-5, and have a real chance at making the postseason. Those are words no one would have expected a month ago when Tampa Bay couldn’t stop anyone. The Bucs held Seattle to five points in the defense’s best effort of the season. They will need it again on Sunday against one of the league’s better offenses. San Diego is fourth in the NFL in scoring and will have to put up points to cover for its awful defense. The Chargers can even their record at 6-6 with a win and stay alive in the playoff hunt… San Diego 38, Tampa Bay 28.
The Panthers will likely not make the postseason after their comeback attempt at Oakland fell short. The Seahawks hit a bump in the road when they mustered just five points against Tampa Bay last week. Carolina could take a page from the Bucs playbook and pressure Seattle QB Russell Wilson. Tampa Bay did and sacked him six times. Still, winning at CenturyLink Field is something that doesn’t happen a lot for Seahawks opponents… Seattle 17, Carolina 10.
At 5-6, the Colts best hope of making the playoffs is to win the AFC South. For the past seven seasons, either Houston or Indy has won the division and the Colts need a win over the 3-8 Jets on Monday night to continue their quest. If QB Andrew Luck does not play, backup Scott Tolzien will start once again. He’s good enough – 22-for-36 for 205 yards in a loss to Pittsburgh – to beat the Jets, who have lost three in a row… Indianapolis 28, NY Jets 17.
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2018 NFL Football Season
Green Bay @ Detroit
The Lions are hot. Three wins in a row, including a Thanksgiving Day stomping of Philadelphia have Detroit talking about a possible playoff run. The remaining schedule features just one major hurdle – the Packers this Thursday night. Detroit beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field earlier in the season. Don’t believe that the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will let that happen again… Green Bay 29, Detroit 23.
NY Jets @ NY Giants
The Giants will officially be the home team at MetLife Stadium, the home field for both the Giants and the Jets. Both teams are clinging to visions of the playoffs. The Giants (5-6) didn’t help themselves last week with a loss to Washington who is now in control of the NFC East. The Jets are 6-5 and in contention for a wild card berth. A win over the Giants would give them momentum heading into late season showdowns with AFC East foes New England and Buffalo. It’s a tossup… Giants 32, Jets 31.
Arizona @ St. Louis
The Rams are one of two teams to beat the Cardinals, but an ugly 31-7 loss to the Bengals last week has St. Louis reeling. Head coach Jeff Fisher’s team was 4-3 five weeks ago and has now lost four in a row. The offense hasn’t scored more than 13 points in its last three games. Don’t expect anything different… Arizona 33, St. Louis 13.
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay
A month ago, the Falcons appeared to a legitimate playoff contender. Four straight losses later and they look like what they are – a team struggling to find itself. Wide receiver Julio Jones was held to just 56 yards receiving last week by a very good Minnesota defense. Look for Jones and Atlanta to redeem itself for its earlier loss to the Bucs… Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 17.
Seattle @ Minnesota
The Vikings are for real. At 8-3, they lead the AFC North. The offense has the league’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson, and head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense ranks in the top ten in every major statistical category. The Seahawks got a big win over a pretty good Pittsburgh team last week and are making their playoff run. Can they win in Minnesota? Probably not… Minnesota 23, Seattle 17.
Carolina @ New Orleans
The league’s only remaining unbeaten team takes on division rival New Orleans, a team it beat 27-22 earlier in the season. The Saints have the league’s worst defense. They give up 31 points per game and seem to be getting worse every week. Cam Newton and the Panthers are not losing this week… Carolina 28, New Orleans 13.
Philadelphia @ New England
After losing three in a row, the Eagles are still alive in the very poor NFC East. The problem is they have to face the 10-1 Patriots coming off their first loss and do so in Foxborough. With TE Rob Gronkowski possibly out this week, the rest of the Patriots offense is going to have to step up. And they will. The Eagles drop their fourth in a row… New England 30, Philadelphia 24.
Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh
The Steelers let one get away last week in Seattle. QB Ben Rothliesberger reportedly had a concussion late in the game and threw a costly interception. If he plays against the Colts, expect the Pittsburgh offense to play well at home. The Colts have won three straight but are still suspect. Running back Frank Gore has yet to crack 100 yards in a game this season. Don’t expect that to happen against a stout Pittsburgh defense playing in front of its home crowd… Pittsburgh 34, Indianapolis 31.
Kansas City @ Oakland
The Chiefs have turned their season around with five straight wins. QB Alex Smith and WR Jeremy Maclin are playing well and the running game, featuring Charcandrick West, is somehow the sixth best in the NFL. West has stepped in for Jamaal Charles who is out for the season with a knee injury. The Raiders won last week after losing three straight. They are still very much alive for a wild card berth in the AFC. Can they win this rivalry game at home? Kansas City 27, Oakland 24.
Dallas @ Washington
It’s one of the NFL’s greatest rivalries. Now, the 5-6 Redskins, currently in first place in the NFC East, will take on the 3-8 Cowboys, who have not won a game that QB Tony Romo did not finish. Romo reinjured his broken collarbone last week in the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day loss to Carolina. He will miss the rest of the season. Washington somehow beat the Giants in the division that nobody seems to want to win. Without Romo, the Cowboys are just awful… Washington 23, Dallas 17.