Baltimore at Washington
Coming off an emotional divisional victory over the Big Ben-less Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens go to Washington as the odds on second seed in the AFC.
Washington still has its eye on a playoff berth, but needs some serious help. The first step toward their dream of playoff football is a win over Baltimore.
The only way that happens is if Joe Flacco stumbles. Ray Rice is one of the NFL’s best backs, but run defense is Washington’s only strength on defense.
Shutting down Flacco and his receivers will be Redskin’s only way to keep the game close.
Robert Griffin III, is the most exciting player in the NFL today and should win the NFL Rookie of the Year honors, but will be challenged against an old but stout Ravens defense. Baltimore struggles to contain the run and between Griffin and running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins should be able to wear them down.
If Washington defense can contain the Ravens, this could be a game going into the fourth quarter. I like Washington pulling this one out to keep playoff hopes alive, likely though some heroics by their rookie quarterback.
Baltimore: Will, Josh
Washington: Jeremy, Colin, Jake, Mike
Playoff implications appear likely for this AFC/NFC matchup. Cincinnati is above .500 but still sits behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
Dallas is in third place in the NFC East and appears to be on the outside looking-in in terms of the NFC playoffs. Tony Romo will as usual be Dallas’ x-factor and how he plays will likely dictate the outcome. The Cincinnati defense is average, but that may be enough.
Andy Dalton has not seen a major sophomore slump and BenJarvus Green-Ellis has proven to be an intelligent free agent acquisition. A.J. Green is a serious threat on the outside for Dalton, but so are Dez Bryant and Miles Austin for Romo.
This game may come down to tight end play over the middle. Cincinnati has Jermaine Gresham who has almost 600 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
For Dallas, Jason Whitten is again one of the most consistent tight ends but struggles to get into the end zone with only one touchdown. Dallas will depend upon a strong outing from DeMarco Murray to literally carry the offense. Cincinnati in early December may mean inclement weather, which can mean good things for Cincinnati.
I think in the end, Cincinnati will put the final nail in Dallas’ coffin and essentially eliminate them from playoff contention.
Cincinnati: Jeremy, Josh, Colin, Jake, Mike
Chicago at Minnesota
The Green Bay Packers are in the driver’s seat to win the NFC North. That means playoff football is unlikely for at least one of these teams.
Chicago has been both one of the best and worst teams in football. They will need to be in top form if they hope to keep pace in the playoff hunt. Adrian Peterson will need a huge game if the Vikings have any hope of winning.
The Bear’s defense is one of the best. Anchored by aging Brian Urlacher, they create turnovers as well as rank in the top 10 in all categories. Minnesota has a middle of the pack defense and will likely struggle to contain double threat Matt Forte.
Chicago will be without Devin Hester; without him, quarterback Jay Cutler will need to look outside for Brandon Marshall. Marshall has had another stellar season with over 1,000 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. The Vikings simply do not have an outside threat for Christian Ponder without Percy Harvin and he appears unlikely to play.
Despite being in Minnesota, Chicago should pull this one out to keep on track for the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs.
Chicago: Jeremy, Will, Josh, Colin, Jake, Mike
Texas at New England
Two of the top teams in the AFC meet on Monday night NFL football at its best. Both the Texans’ and the Patriots’ main objective will be to stop the other’s offense.
New England will be without Rob Gronkowski, who is still out with a broken forearm. Tom Brady still has receiver Wes Welker, and tight end Aaron Hernandez continues to improve as he finally recovers from a high ankle sprain.
For once, New England has a reliable running game with Stevan Ridley, Matt Schaub and Houston. The Patriots defense will be hard-pressed to contain them.
For a long time New England has relied on a bend-not-break mentality on defense but they need to do more than simply create turnovers to beat the Texans. Besides a top 10 run defense, the Patriots are at or near the bottom in most other defensive categories.
This game will be a shootout and the last team with the ball may very well emerge victorious. In the end I believe the Patriots will find a way to squeak this one out at home in Foxboro.
New England: Jeremy, Will, Colin, Jake, Mike