Part Two of this week’s rundown features a Game of the Day entry as well as two from the mirror-universe where not only is left right, but bad is good. Nah, it doesn’t really work for me either, but some weeks are just like that.
Giants at Falcons – Honestly, Atlanta seems to have run out of gas. They played very poorly against a weak team last week and, despite winning all but one, the past five weeks they’ve not exactly blown anyone’s doors off. It just reeks of difficulties facing a New York team that always seems to get their tanks full to the brim in time for Christmas.
Buccaneers at Saints – If you’ve read Peter King this week (quite often highly recommended), you’ll realize he has a point. Angry teams win football games. Drew Brees is among the most ticked off football players you can imagine. His pregame team huddle chant should be one for the NFL Films archives.
Packers at Bears – Oldest rivalry in the league and still one of the best, but Green Bay has all the upside with the return of Greg Jennings. The season has just lasted longer than Chicago could hold up. A win gives the Packers the division, though the Bears still have a paw up on a wild card spot. Jay Cutler may be great against the vulnerable Packers secondary, but his line is still leaky as an old minnow bucket, so a stiff neck may the least of his problems after this one is done.
Panthers at Chargers – San Diego’s defense continues its run as the team’s only hope for victory. They keep making plays to cover for Philip Rivers’ INTs and they are stout enough to put a stop to any kind of consistent running threat Cam Newton delivers. Carolina hasn’t played well on the road (and not all that great at home either). Still the fact is that since the San Diego team is now a dead duck, the players are free to soar like eagles.
Seahawks at Bills – The annual experiment in Toronto gets tested this week when Seattle arrives on the opposite shore of Lake Ontario. The Bills can get a nice visit to Niagara during their bus ride north, I’m sure. The game should be a showdown between pretty strong running games led by Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Because this doesn’t exactly qualify as anything other than a technical home game for the Bills (the Canadians have yet to warmly embrace the appearance of this part-time resident), they get no boost from the crowd. If the Seahawks are to keep a grip on their playoff slot, they cannot afford to overlook a talented, dangerous, but underperforming team; because you never know when Buffalo’s defense might actually show up.
Lions at Cardinals – “Taps” has been played over Detroit for this season and they can all go to bed now because their lights have been put out. Meanwhile in Arizona the same tune is playing, but it’s for a funeral.
The Cardinals have been a bad team before. They were bad in Chicago, usually bad in St. Louis, and just as often bad now in Glendale, so it’s very hard to believe it’s been 68 years since they have lost this many consecutive games. (Yes, that was during World War II when they were still the Chicago Cardinals, but still owned by the Bidwells.) This is epic awfulness.
If you have the courage to watch, know how good Detroit’s passing game is. Last week’s 58-0 lambaste might have just been a warm up.
Steelers at Cowboys – Last week Big Ben made a less than triumphant return, which means he was probably a week early. Now that some of the rust has been knocked off and a little more 3-in-1 Oil applied to the crucial joints, things should be better this time around.
The Dallas offensive line is no match for what Pittsburgh’s front seven has planned. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant really need Miles Austin to show up for this one. Jason Witten won’t be enough. Most of all, they need a running game they just don’t have. It really doesn’t matter who they give the ball to when there are no holes to run through.
Chiefs at Raiders – If you thought Lions versus Cardinals was a bad choice, I have the AFC equivalent for you! Kansas City has a recent – but getting to be rather lengthy – history of success in Oakland. These guys are just too darn bad this year for any scheme analysis to be of much good, so we just have to go on gut instinct which points toward the Raiders’ terminal penchant for mistakes.
49ers at Patriots – For all the poor matchups one has to endure, there are these potential gems that give us hope the scales of sports justice will balance. Maybe San Francisco’s defense can get to Tom Brady sooner and harder than Houston did. Maybe they will cover the short routes more effectively without giving up big gains on the ground.
Maybe the Forty-Niners will get more production down the field than they have the past two weeks and keep up with the inevitable barrage of points from The Brady Bunch.
Maybe we can just content ourselves with two good teams trading plays with the almost inevitable conclusion that New England never loses at home late in the regular season.
Jets at Titans – What the…? Who let this dog in the room?! New York has no business winning, but they will. They have no businesses having a shot at the post-season, but they do. On the scales of sports justice, this one tips so far backward the lady’s blindfold is snagged on her belt.