[Aaron got this to me on November 9th. I have been looking for a time to post it when it wouldn’t get lost in the post-election furor. Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen and now we have games beginning. It starts with me. We’re gonna take a look at the film and try to get better next week. -Editor]
The NFC East is back. Absolutely considered one of the worst divisions in the NFL recently, mostly because of lackluster Cowboys and Redskins teams, I think the NFC East is back to being the best division in football–for now. Can you find any division that has four legitimate playoff contenders? I could see three of the four NFC East teams being in the playoffs this season. Will it shake out that way? I’m not sure, but the only other contender I can see that has a ton of talent is the AFC West – but the schizophrenic nature of the Chargers makes that a hard point to make. The East has its veteran, Super Bowl winning QB, and three younger guns at the helm of its other teams. Those young teams are somewhat hot but the Giants stepped up and came out of their bye with a decisive win against the Eagles last week. The excellent week 1 Cowboys-Giants game remains the only loss on Dak Prescott’s resume at this time, but look to that Week 14 rematch to see who may come out on top. The G-Men are very quietly 5-3 and their next three games look very winnable. The Cowboys only have one loss right now, and that is fine because they are playing lights-out… can it continue? As we enter into double digit weeks of the NFL season, let’s take a quick look at the rest of the league.
AFC: The East is what the East is – the Patriots’ division to lose. Right now the other three teams don’t look like they’re going to sniff a Wild Card slot, but the Dolphins may be able to take advantage of a relatively weak remaining schedule. The North is an absolute stinker, and Pittsburgh should take that division so long as they don’t put too much on Roethlisberger. The South stinks even worse, and the division is up for grabs. Houston’s lead is tenuous and Indianapolis always makes a strong push at the end of the season. The Colts have the best QB in the division, too. The West may indeed shake out to include at least one Wild Card team, but the Chiefs can’t play down to their foes. They barely beat the Jaguars, and that may make them seem vulnerable.
NFC: The NFC North is a surprise – there’s no clear front-runner. The Vikings are the top team there but the Packers and the Lions are nipping at their heels – and it’s just plain weird to see the Packers not dominant, but they have had many injuries. The West is going to be dominated by the Seahawks. I do see the Cardinals beating the Niners this week, but unless there’s a late-season surge (which is possible) the Cards may be relegated to contending for a Wild Card, if anything. In the South, the Falcons are the clear cut top team, but don’t rule out the Saints nipping at their heels. And again, in the East, it could be anyone coming out on top – I like both the Cowboys and the Giants.
On to our weekly game summaries/picks and the Top Five!
Week 10 Top Five:
BROWNS at RAVENS – What a great game to put on Thursday night Prime Time, said no one ever. Ravens should and will win this.
CHIEFS at PANTHERS – The Panthers’ formula to win is to keep putting up points. Against the Kansas City defense, I don’t see that happening. I believe that Alex Smith is the best quarterback for the Chiefs, so there isn’t any reason to start any sort of controversy, but he runs Andy Reid’s offense well. I’ll say the Chiefs should win this one.
BRONCOS at SAINTS – This has the potential to be a great shootout. Two powerful offensive teams going at it… but I think the Saints will run up against the Broncos defense. While it’s not as good as it was last year, it’s still pretty dominant – and so that will lead to the Broncos winning this week.
RAMS at JETS – Case Keenum versus Bryce Petty. Who ya got? Hopefully the remote to change the channel. Rams win, I suppose.
PACKERS at TITANS – The Packers have lost two straight, and if there was ever a bounce-back game for them, it’s a match-up with the Titans. How Green Bay handles this game will determine the outcome of the rest of their season. They SHOULD win but they also should have beat the Colts and they didn’t. The Titans are coming off a loss to the Chargers and have some injuries to deal with. I think the Packers will win this.
FALCONS at EAGLES – GAME OF THE WEEK Part One – The Falcons are looking impressive, and on a two-game winning streak. The Eagles shouldn’t be discounted either because even though they have lost two in a row the losses came against very powerful opponents. The Eagles’ defense is nothing to sneeze at and that’s why I think this is going to be a very interesting game – the Eagles played both the Cowboys and the Giants down to the wire and the Falcons lost their three games by a touchdown or less… these are both very, very good teams. With the home field advantage, I’ll take Philly.
VIKINGS at REDSKINS – The Vikings seem to be coming back down to Earth, and that’s okay – their defense may need time to rally. However, they need to find a way to get off the schneid because they are rocking a three-game losing streak. The Redskins have a 2-game “not winning” streak as well, coming out of the bye after a loss and a tie. Minnesota has only scored in the teens the last three games. However, I think they can pull it together. I like Minnesota to win here.
TEXANS at JAGUARS – The Jaguars are maddeningly talented because they keep losing. They should be doing more than they are. If they can run the ball like they did last week, I can see them possibly taking down the Texans. Brock Osweiler is easy to sack and does not look like a good investment for Houston. But we are talking about the Jaguars – they always find a way to lose. I’m very cautiously picking the Jags here.
BEARS at BUCS – The last of the full stinkers this week comes to us from Tampa, where the Bucs face the Bears. Based on what we saw out of their seemingly long-ago matchup against the Falcons, I believe the Bucs to have the offensive power necessary to hand the Bears another loss.
DOLPHINS at CHARGERS – The Dolphins were thought to be a joke earlier this season, but have quietly put together a three-game winning streak and have fought their way back to .500. The Chargers are definitely a weaker team but Philip Rivers can keep anyone in a game. Here, I like the Dolphins to win, despite the time zone being a potential factor.
49ERS at CARDINALS – The Niners are not doing well this year, inviting rumors that Chip Kelly may already be on his way out the door. The Cardinals are not doing as well as expected, but if they get it together they have a chance of doing very well in their final 8 games. I think this will be a solid win for Arizona.
COWBOYS at STEELERS – GAME OF THE WEEK Part Two, the Clone Wars – This is a very, very interesting game as long as Roethlisberger is playing at full go. If the Steelers are kind of shaky like they were last week in Baltimore, then this game will tip over in favor of Dallas quickly. The Cowboys seem like a true powerhouse team in the NFC and it is entirely possible we could be looking at a Super Bowl preview here. Heinz Field is a tough place to play but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and the rest of the team have gone into Lambeau itself and walked away with a win, so I think the Cowboys keep on winning.
SEAHAWKS at PATRIOTS – The Seahawks squeaked by the Bills on a pair of no-calls, but they know the Pats well and have a shot to hand New England their first loss with Tom Brady starting at QB. I think that this will be a close, hard-fought game but the Pats are getting healthy at the right time… so I predict New England will come away with the win.
BENGALS at GIANTS – The Bengals have a losing record and questions surrounding their head coach. The Giants have a three-game winning streak and just came off a decisive win against the Eagles. I think that the Giants are coming together at just the right time and are going to be able to win the games they need to win. I think the Giants pull this one off.