MUST WATCH GAMES
Patriots at Giants
One of two Brady vs. Manning matchups this month. The Eli Manning led Giants are 3-1 against the Patriots with two of those wins coming in Super Bowls XLII and XLIV.
The last time these two teams played in New York was in the December 2007 season finale. The game was aired across three television networks: NBC, CBS, and the NFL Network in part due to the Patriots were on the verge of completing the first perfect regular season since the league expanded to a 16-game season in 1978 and the first since the Miami Dolphins in 1972. The Giants had already clinched a playoff spot and had no need to play their starters. In that game, the Giants led the Patriots 28-16 in the third quarter. The Patriots took the lead for good with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss for Moss’ 22nd touchdown reception of the season and what was then a record 50 passing touchdowns.
Even though New England won that game 38-35, it gave the Giants the confidence that they could compete with the Patriots. Nearly a month later, the two teams played in Phoenix and it was another three-point game; this time won by the Giants in one of the most dramatic Super Bowls I have ever witnessed.
Like in February 2008, the Giants stand in the way of another Patriots attempt at perfection.
OTHER MUST WATCH GAMES
Bills at Jets
This game marks Bills head coach Rex Ryan’s return to New York since being released as coach of the Jets. In his tenure as coach of the Jets, Ryan guided the team to 2 consecutive AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010. In the 2010 playoffs, the Jets beat the Colts in Indianapolis and upset division rival New England in the second round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Ryan’s tenure with the Jets began to wear thin. Even though his defenses performed well, his offenses were at times below par. After starting 24-14, the Jets under Ryan in the next four seasons were 26-38 with the team finishing 4-12 last season.
Both the Jets and Bills are in the middle of the AFC playoff hunt with the Jets currently occupying the AFC’s 5-seed and the Bills being one of the last two teams out. The Bills are trying to break a 16-year playoff drought with their last playoff appearance coming in 1999. Since them the Bills have only finished above .500 twice, two 9-7 seasons in 2004 and 2014.
Chiefs at Broncos/Vikings at Raiders
Unfortunately, viewers in Denver, Kansas City, and Oakland will not get the Patriots at Giants game because 1) the Chiefs at Broncos game, like the Patriots at Giants, is on CBS and 2) even though the Raiders are on Fox, they are at home.
Still these are very compelling games. Chiefs at Broncos is an AFC West matchup and for the Broncos they are looking at rebounding from their first loss of the season. Right now the Broncos are the AFC 3-seed and have home games against the currently undefeated Patriots and Bengals remaining on the schedule. The Broncos faithful should not panic; they are still very much in the race for homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs.
Plain and simple: The Chiefs cannot afford another loss. Even though they have favorable games against the Chargers twice, the Ravens, and Browns remaining, they face the resurgent Bills and Raiders twice in the final 7 games. I would be surprised if somehow they made the playoffs.
The Raiders have exceeded expectations and are only a half-game out of the AFC’s last playoff spot. The Raiders could break their 13-year drought of finishing .500 or worse and the only games remaining where they likely won’t be favored in will be games at Denver and home against the Packers. Finishing the season 9-7 is not out of the question for this team. The last time the Raiders finished better than .500 was in 2002 when they made the playoffs and played in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Vikings are 6-2 and are currently tied with the Packers for the top spot in the NFC North. To make the playoffs and even overtake the Packers will require going through a gauntlet of teams over the next four weeks: home against the Packers, at Atlanta, home against the Seahawks, and at Arizona.
Cardinals at Seahawks/Bengals at Texans
The Cardinals are in a unique position. Not only are they leading the NFC West, but their next two games are in the Sunday night slot. Their first game is against NFC West division rival Seattle. In the season Seattle won the Super Bowl, their only home loss was against the Cardinals. The Cardinals’ next game at home against the Bengals was flexed into Sunday night because the originally scheduled Chiefs at Chargers currently has 5 wins between the two teams. In April that looked like a promising matchup; now in November… notsomuch.
Seattle may be 4-4 and tied for the first spot out of the playoffs with two other teams, but I would not count them out yet. Including this game, five of Seattle’s final 8 games are at home. The Seahawks have a definite homefield advantage and that should be a factor.
It is another prime time game for the Bengals and an opportunity for them to show the country that they are a team to be reckoned with.
The Texans, despite their 3-5 record, are currently in second place in the AFC
South division. The Colts are on the bye this week, but have lost Andrew Luck
for 2-6 weeks due to a lacerated kidney and other injuries sustained in Indianapolis’
27-24 win over Denver last Sunday. The Texans (or any other AFC South team)
should be in position to win the division but unfortunately the Texans do not
have the quarterback that could take them to playoffs.
And now the picks.
Kickoff times are Mountain Time
Sunday afternoon games airing in Denver are noted by (DEN)
Picks are in BOLD
Chargers, Colts, Falcons, 49ers
THURSDAY NIGHT, NFL 6PM
Bills at Jets
Browns at Steelers (DEN)
Dolphins at Eagles
Bears at Rams
Jaguars at Ravens
Lions at Packers (DEN)
Cowboys at Buccaneers
Saints at Washington
Panthers at Titans
Chiefs at Broncos (DEN)
Patriots at Giants
Vikings at Raiders
SUNDAY NIGHT, NBC 6:30 PM
Cardinals at Seahawks
MONDAY NIGHT, ESPN 6:30 PM
Texans at Bengals