MUST WATCH GAMES
Bengals at Steelers/Chargers at Ravens/Cardinals at Browns
The AFC North is on display in the early window of games.
The Chargers are coming east for an early kickoff while the Ravens are coming off a short week after a loss at Arizona. The schedule makers were not kind to the Ravens having sent them west in Weeks 1 & 2 to Denver & Oakland and in Weeks 6 & 7 to San Francisco & Phoenix. All of the Ravens games have been close the season with their games being decided by 8 points or less.
The Chargers recently announced their plans to file for relocation to Los Angeles and if history is any indication, this does not bode well for the rest of their season. In 1995, the Browns started the season 3-1 but there were rumors of relocation given their stadium situation and the Cleveland Indians were given a baseball specific stadium that opened in 1994. The team was at 4-5 when in November Art Modell announced That the Browns would start playing in their new city in 1996. The Browns lost 7 of their final 8 to finish 5-11 including being swept by the expansion Jaguars.
The city where the Browns relocated to? Baltimore
For both teams, this is essentially an elimination game. Both teams are in last place in their respective divisions and are at the bottom of the AFC – the Chargers are 14th and the Ravens are 16th. The loser might as well start planning for 2016 after this game.
Speaking of the Browns, the Cardinals are in Cleveland and like the Ravens are coming off of a short week. The Cardinals won on Monday with running back Chris Johnson rushing for 122 yards and touchdown and safety Tony Jefferson securing the win with an interception in the end zone. The Browns are still trying to get the tread marks out of their uniforms. Last Sunday, Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns and also made me a very happy fantasy owner.
Could this be the game that the Bengals lose? Against the Steelers, quarterback Andy Dalton has posted a 79.2 quarterback rating and has 2 wins in 8 starts against the Steelers. If there is one thing going for the Bengals in this game, it is that the Steelers have given up the second most touchdowns to tight ends. Expect Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert to be utilized in this game.
Seahawks at Cowboys
This is the second of four losses for the Cowboys since the Tony Romo injury at Philadelphia in Week 2. Dallas went with a quarterback change and started journeyman Matt Cassel at the Giants. Cassel played well in the first half, but two interceptions as well special teams meltdown with allowing a return touchdown as the winning score and Cole Beasley fumbling a punt return doomed the Cowboys.
I cannot see things getting better for the Cowboys this coming Sunday. The Seahawks are going to be well rested after playing last week in San Francisco and coming away with the win. Running back Marshawn Lynch appears to have recovered from a hamstring injury that hindered his performance a couple of weeks ago.
Packers at Broncos
NBC’s Sunday Night Football package lucked out by getting three consecutive games featuring undefeated teams: Patriots in Week 6, Panthers in Week 7, and the Packers and Broncos this coming Sunday. The Patriots and Panthers won their respective games to remain unbeaten. Though one team will remain undefeated after this game, another will not.
I assume that the reason why this game was chosen for Sunday Night was because of the quarterback matchup between Broncos Peyton Manning and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now it is not looking as great of a matchup given Manning’s quarterback rating (72.5) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (7:10).
Each of the Broncos wins have featured a key defensive play to secure or aid in the victory. The Broncos defense will have a challenge in trying to stop Rodgers and the Packers receiving corps.
Colts at Panthers
The Panthers are again in primetime at home for the second consecutive week, this time on Monday Night Football against Colts.
The Panthers are one win away from matching their wins from 2014 and two wins away from securing a better record than what they had last season (7-8-1). The NFC South was an absolute dumpster fire last season. The Buccaneers – who ended up with the first pick in the 2015 draft – were still in contention for the division title in the last month of the regular season.
This season it is looking like the AFC South might have the distinction of being the worst division. So far the Colts’ wins have only come against divisional opponents. If this trend holds, their next divisional opponent is at Jacksonville in Week 14.
And now the picks.
Kickoff times are Mountain Time
Sunday afternoon games airing in Denver are noted by (DEN)
Picks are in BOLD
Bills, Eagles, Jaguars, Washington
THURSDAY NIGHT, CBS/NFL 6PM
Dolphins at Patriots
LONDON, FOX 7:30AM
Lions at Chiefs
Giants at Saints (DEN)
Vikings at Bears
Buccaneers at Falcons
Cardinals at Browns
49ers at Rams
Bengals at Steelers (DEN)
Chargers at Ravens
Titans at Texans
Seahawks at Cowboys (DEN)
Jets at Raiders
SUNDAY NIGHT, NBC 6:30 PM
Packers at Broncos
MONDAY NIGHT, ESPN 6:30 PM
Colts at Panthers