Last week: 8-8
LA (4-9) @ SEA (8-4-1) | THU 8:25 PM ET | NBC/NFL NETWORK/TWITTER
Say what you want about Jeff Fisher, but his team (i.e. former team) has won four of the last five games versus Seattle, including three straight. In Week 2 of this season, Fisher’s Rams shut down the Seahawks and won 9-3 in Los Angeles. Now though, on a short week and with an interim coach after Fisher was fired on Monday, the Rams probably don’t have a chance to get a win in Seattle. The Seahawks were just dominated by the Packers in Green Bay last week, as they lost 38-10 to the Pack; that probably just means they’ll be ready to play in this one. I would be surprised if this one is at all close, but you never know in the NFL.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks
MIA (8-5) @ NYJ (4-9) | SAT 8:25 PM ET | NFL NETWORK
What a huge win for Miami last week. After getting destroyed by the Ravens two weeks ago, the Dolphins bounced back and beat a talented Cardinals team. It did come at a cost, as Ryan Tannehill injured his knee and could be done for the season. In the mean time, backup Matt Moore will takeover at quarterback for the Dolphins, and he’s got a great matchup for his first start. The Jets looked dead after they were down early to the 49ers last week, but they overcame a 17-3 halftime deficit to win 23-17 in overtime. We’ll see if one of the real tough guys in the league in Matt Forte fights through a torn meniscus for a team that’s going no where, but you have to respect the veteran for wanting to play. Byron Maxwell will look to shut down Brandon Marshall again this week after Marshall talked trash earlier this season.
Winner: Miami Dolphins
GB (7-6) @ CHI (3-10) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
The Pack are back. Green Bay dominated Seattle last week and will look to extend their winning streak to four games as they make a playoff push in the NFC. They will need some help if they’re going to be playing in January, but Green Bay is definitely a team that I wouldn’t want to see in the postseason. The last time these two teams faced off, Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams had their coming-out parties, as Montgomery played a lot of running back and totaled 126 yards on 19 touches, and Adams had 132 yards and two scores on 13 catches. Chicago paid for doubling Jordy Nelson, so they won’t do it again, but it probably won’t matter against an on-fire Aaron Rodgers. Matt Barkley has provided nice play at the quarterback position for the Bears, and he’ll have to have his best game yet to potentially dash Green Bay’s playoff hopes. By the way, this game could be one of the coldest in NFL history with temperatures around 0 degrees for the 1 PM kickoff.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
CLE (0-13) @ BUF (6-7) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
The Browns are obviously going no where this year at 0-13, and the Bills are highly unlikely to do anything themselves, but this could be a heated game on Sunday. Bills’ star Marcell Dareus said there is no chance the Browns win the game, and Cleveland might take that as a sign of disrespect and motivation. There are questions swirling around the quarterback position in Buffalo, where Tyrod Taylor has played well with not much around him, but it seems like Tyrod is done with the Bills after this season. On the other side of the field, Robert Griffin III is looking to prove he can be the answer at quarterback for Cleveland or somewhere else. With both sides expected to play hard, this should be a competitive game.
Winner: Buffalo Bills
PHI (5-8) @ BAL (7-6) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
Since starting the season 3-0 and well on their way to Super Bowl LI, the Eagles have just two wins over their last 10 games. Always better at home than on the road, Philadelphia almost got a win over the rival Redskins last Sunday, but things will be a lot tougher in Baltimore this Sunday. The Ravens pass-rush should feast on the injured offensive line protecting a rookie quarterback in a game that they need to win if they want to keep up with the Steelers in the AFC North. Steve Smith Sr. is due for a big game with just three regular season games left in his career, and the weak Philly secondary is a good spot. Doug Pederson better leave in extra guys to protect their franchise quarterback this week.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
TEN (7-6) @ KC (10-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
The Titans and Chiefs both got huge wins last week; Tennessee won by a score of 13-10 despite Marcus Mariota completing just six passes against Denver, and Kansas City was able to hold off the Raiders 21-13 as they forced Derek Carr to have his worst game of the season. Even though they held the Broncos to just 10 points last week, the Titans could not guard Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders, as both had double-digit catches and 100+ yards—that’s good news for Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill. With temperature below 20 degrees in KC on Sunday, this will be the coldest game Hawaii-kid Marcus Mariota will have played in. Mariota is such a mentally strong person that it probably won’t impact his play. Still, I like the Chiefs at home; coming off a Thursday night game is like a mini bye week for Andy Reid.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
PIT (8-5) @ CIN (5-7-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
Most football fans should remember the intense playoff game between these two teams last season where Antonio Brown was concussed on a dirty hit and unable to play the next week. The two teams faced off already in Week 2, but Brown was held to just four catches for 39 yards. Also, Le’Veon Bell and Ladarius Green were not playing for the Steelers, and Vontaze Burfict, who was the one who laid the dirty hit on Brown last year, was suspended. You better believe that AB84 wants to have a big day against Cincinnati.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
DET (9-4) @ NYG (9-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
The Lions and Giants look well-positioned for the two wild card spots in the NFC, but there are a handful of teams right behind them, so the loser of this game will probably be in trouble. I think Detroit is both the better team and needs a win this week more, as they play Dallas and Green Bay over the final two weeks. Matthew Stafford is dealing with an injured middle finger on his throwing hand, which is concerning with the whole offense predicated on him throwing it. Still, Stafford does what it takes to win, as evidenced by his game-winning touchdown run where he (again) looked like a running back. Eli Manning lucked out last week with at least one dropped interception in the win over the Cowboys, and his luck will run out eventually. New York’s defense needs to stay hot against the Lions.
Winner: Detroit Lions
IND (6-7) @ MIN (7-6) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
Indianapolis lost both the game and a couple of key players last week against the Texans, as they could be missing both left guard Jack Mewhort and wide receiver Donte Moncrief this week in Minnesota. Mewhort, easily their best offensive lineman, is done for the year, and Moncrief looks doubtful to play with a hamstring injury. Both are huge losses against the Vikings defense. For the Vikings offense, Sam Bradford is throwing it nearly 40 times a game since Pat Shurmer took over for Norv Turner as offensive coordinator; Minnesota isn’t dominating like the beginning of the year because of it, but they are keeping their quarterback upright with the quick-passing game. The Vikings are playing for both a W and the potential return of Adrian Peterson in Week 16.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
JAC (2-11) @ HOU (7-6) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
I was very surprised that Houston was able to get a win over the Colts last week, as the defense basically shut down Indianapolis besides one drive where Andrew Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton. The Texans had a close win over the Jaguars in their first meeting, but they should easily handle business at home this Sunday. Jacksonville is just trying to see what they have heading into 2017, while Houston controls their own destiny for a playoff spot. Running the ball 40+ times seems like the formula for Bill O’Brien and the Texans.
Winner: Houston Texans
NO (5-8) @ ARI (5-7-1) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | FOX
New Orleans will probably look back and see their season went off the rails when they decided not to commit to the running game over the past two weeks. Mark Ingram is dealing with a toe injury, but he seems like he wants to be on the field, and should be fed with the second highest yards per carry average in the NFL (5.1). Instead, the Saints have decided to chuck it all game despite facing manageable deficits. They need to give “Angry” Mark Ingram the ball (yes, I have him on my fantasy team). Arizona’s season all but ended last week in their three-point loss to the Dolphins, and now the front office will have to make some tough decisions for this veteran squad. Unless Carson Palmer was dealing with an undisclosed injury this year, the Cardinals could be looking at a quarterback in 2017. This is basically a toss-up between two disappointing teams.
Winner: New Orleans Saints
SF (1-12) @ ATL (8-5) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | FOX
Atlanta steamrolled through the Rams and caused them to fire their head coach after winning 42-14 last week, and did it without their top-two receivers in Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Whether or not they play this week, the Falcons should easily handle the Niners; however, Chip Kelly isn’t going anywhere for San Francisco. The 49ers don’t have much of anything on the roster, and losing might actually be winning if they love Deshaun Watson and want to put him in Kelly’s offense next year. For this week, they need to contain Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman if they want to have any chance of winning. I don’t think that will happen.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
OAK (10-3) @ SD (5-8) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS
San Diego isn’t going to finish with a winning record this season, but they do have a chance to play spoiler with games against Oakland this week and Kansas City in Week 17. A competitive dude like Philip Rivers is going to be treating the final three games like the playoffs, even though they haven’t been there since 2013. Oakland should be ready for Rivers though, as they are coming off a loss to Kansas City and need a win to keep up in the AFC West. The Raiders will welcome back their top offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele back after he was a late scratch for their loss to the Chiefs.
Winner: Oakland Raiders
NE (11-2) @ DEN (8-5) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS
This matchup just doesn’t have the ring to it like it did when Peyton Manning was still playing, but it's still a huge game. Manning was hurt for the first meeting between the teams last season, but Brock Osweiler was able to get a 30-24 win for Denver. In the playoffs, Manning helped the Broncos to a 20-18 win on their way to a Super Bowl victory. #18 might be gone, but the defense remains for the Broncos. Tom Brady will badly want to win this game (as he does every game) after losing twice last season, and taking down the #1 defense in the league last week in the Ravens was a good tune-up TB12. Rob Gronkowski being absent will obviously hurt, but I never pick against the Patriots as long as they have Brady and Belichick. New England will probably attack Denver's defense with the dynamic-duo of Dion Lewis and James White out of the backfield. Oh, and be sure to keep Brady in your fantasy lineups.
Winner: New England Patriots
TB (8-5) @ DAL (11-2) | SUN 8:30 PM ET | NBC
Maybe I should be a believer in the Bucs after they won their fifth game in a row last week, especially since they beat the Chiefs (in KC) and Seahawks during the winning streak, but I am hesitant to call them a contender. Tampa Bay doesn’t run the ball well, they don’t have a lot of weapons outside of Mike Evans, and the defense is overachieving right now in my opinion. Hopefully they can prove me wrong against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Dallas lost to the Giants for the second time this season last week, but are still undefeated versus the rest of the league. Dez Bryant will probably make amends for his big drop last week against the small Tampa corners.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
CAR (5-8) @ WAS (7-5-1) | MON 8:30 PM ET | ESPN
Even with a win last week against the Chargers, this is a season to forget for Cam Newton and the Panthers. Newton has completed 14 or less passes in four straight games, including 10 (!) last week. I’ll have to get some researchers we don’t have on that, but I’m pretty sure a reigning MVP at quarterback has never done that in a season in NFL history. Carolina could re-shape the offense this offseason. Washington just needs to make sure they sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal heading into 2017; there are plenty of teams in the league that would take Cousins in a heartbeat. If the Redskins’ quarterback leads them to the playoffs for the second straight season, he will surely get a huge contract. Step one is beating the Panthers on MNF.
Winner: Washington Redskins