Houston Texans at New England Patriots: Texans QB Brock Osweiler surprised a lot of people in a win over the Oakland Raiders a week ago. Osweiler was 14 of 25 for 168 yards with 1 TD and no INTs, he also ran for a score. The conservative, do not make mistakes mentality allowed the Texans to score just enough points to get the win in the wild card round. The Raiders were without their star QB Derek Carr and the Texans defense, which ranked 1st in total defense, shut down the Raiders offense. This week, Osweiler will have to continue to not turn the football over as he faces his toughest challenge yet, the red hot New England Patriots and their 8th ranked total defense. We expect the Texans to try and run the ball and keep Tom Brady off the field, but eventually Osweiler will have to hit some big plays downfield if the Texans want a chance for a massive upset. We think the key will be how the Texans defense will play against the league’s 4th ranked offense. They can rush the QB with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus off the edge, and if you can continue to harass Tom Brady you give your defense a chance to get stops. I believe it will be closer than people expect, as the Texans defense will keep them in the game but eventually the Patriots will force Osweiler into mistakes and too many 3rd and longs which will ultimately decide the game. The Texans inability to hit big plays on offense will wear the defense down as they will be on the field for too long and the Patriots should run away with it in the 4th quarter.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs: These are the two teams with the chance to upset the New England Patriots this postseason. This is the first time the Steelers have had a fully healthy “big three” in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown, so that will definitely be a major factor. The Dolphins could not stop Brown as he had 5 catches for 124 yards and two TDs in their win last week. We believe the Chiefs star CB Marcus Peters will do a much better job of limiting what Brown can do in the pass game, and force other WRs to beat them. The Chiefs defense has been susceptible this season, as they rank 24th in total defense, but they make up for it with a league leading +16 in turnover differential. The Chiefs defense forces you into mistakes and their offense does not make very many mistakes. The Chiefs are a completely different team with an emerging star in WR Tyreek Hill, who led the league in 60 plus yard TDs this year. He is explosive and a great complement to WR Jeremy Maclin and the All-Pro TE Travis Kelce over the middle. RB Spencer Ware has done a nice job filling in for the injured Jamaal Charles, and we believe the Chiefs will have great balance on offense. The biggest key to this game is QB Alex Smith, he has been called a game manger in the past but he has the ability to rip it downfield. The key will be his legs, which are vastly underrated. Smith runs the read-option and is far more athletic than people think, he can convert big third downs on the ground if the defense plays man across the board which will be a huge factor in sustaining drives. This game is a toss up, but I think that the Chiefs defense will get enough stops, force some turnovers and allow the offense to manage the game, while hitting a few big plays. The Chiefs should get the win with the help of their home-field advantage, but it will be a great game!
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans: If you love great offensive football, you probably should not watch this game. The Oakland Raiders already lost starting QB Derek Carr for the postseason, and may be without backup QB Matt McGloin as he injured his shoulder in week 17. That means rookie 3rd string QB Conner Cook will start if McGloin cannot play, and that is just not a story with a great ending. The Texans, however, have QB issues of their own as QB Brock Osweiler was benched earlier this year for his poor performance, and backup Tom Savage did not impress so Osweiler is now the starter again. Brock Osweiler is a big QB with a strong arm but he struggles under pressure and is mistake prone. The only thing we like about this move is that he has the arm to stretch the ball downfield to star WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Raiders defense has improved throughout the year but they were helped out a lot by a very explosive offense that could score points with Carr under center. The Raiders offense will struggle and the Texans defense will create turnovers to allow their offense to have short fields and that will be the reason that the Texans win a low scoring, defensive battle at home.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Dolphins defeated the Steelers 30-15 in Miami earlier this year, but Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured. This game has a very different feel to it, as all of the Steelers offensive weapons are healthy. Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and star WR Antonio Brown will all be ready to play. The Dolphins will most likely start backup QB Matt Moore as Ryan Tannehill has not practiced this week. That is a huge advantage to the Steelers despite their defense being susceptible throughout most of the year. The Dolphins must run the football with Jay Ajayi and do their best to keep the Steelers offense off the field. We think the Dolphins can score and keep it close early, but their downfall will be Matt Moore’s inability to hit big plays when they matter most and the Steelers offense exposing the Dolphins defense that ranks 29th in total defense. The Steelers and their explosive offense will eventually run away with the game as the Dolphins will struggle to keep up offensively and their defense will not be able to stop Roethlisberger and company and the Steelers will get the win at home. Enjoy!
With the regular season coming to an end a few of the top tier teams can lock in on bringing home the Lombardi Trophy. The NFC teams are going to clash to power their way to Super Bowl LI. Filled with power houses such as Detroit, Green Bay, Seattle, and New York playing in Wild Card matchups the outcomes are unpredictable.
Detroit was snubbed having no players on their roster elected to the Pro Bowl this year, but that didn’t slow them from finishing with a 9-6 record. An offense led by MVP candidate Matthew Stafford it doesn’t seem as if any other offensive weapons are needed. Aside from a QB there is really no great on the Lion’s offense just a lot of good that contributes to filling their schedule with wins. A sub par defense seems to be one of their only weaknesses led by cornerback Darius Slay. If Detroit’s defense can play as a team they will make a case to be true title contenders.
Division rival to Detroit, Green Bay is pretty straightforward. Plain and simple, when Aaron Rodgers is your QB you are gonna win football games. Especially when he is being protected by three of the best pass blocking linemen. Overcoming numerous injuries on their roster to win six straight to finish the season. Receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery has shown flashes that he can play at an explosive level in the NFL. The only thing holding them back is a beat up defense. With arguably the weakest secondary in the NFL it will something Green Bay’s offensive firepower will have to make up for. Green Bay’s front seven unlike its secondary is always bringing the heat. Despite the age of many key players their run stop and pass rush continues to improve.
A team that seemed to be the kryptonite to the Green Bay Packers is the Seattle Seahawks. On the other hand having arguably the best secondary in the NFL with the notorious Richard Sherman. Their defense also known as the “Legion of Boom” causes every opponent’s offense to throw a fit. Questions in the running back spot may hold the offense back, but Quarterback Russell Wilson’s mentality fuels that offense. To progress through the playoffs Seattle will nee complete play by their receivers after suffering a huge loss in Tyler Lockett. Seattle comes with a winning mentality considering their past which will play as a key advantage this time around.
One of the most talked about players around the league seems to be Odell Beckham Jr. His sure hands and quickness can make any quarterback shine. Although recently New York’s defense has been carrying the team. With a loaded young secondary and some bruisers in the front seven New York has been the reason teams are losing sleep at night. An aging and inconsistent Eli Manning has seemed to be the only question mark on the team. If Eli can get hot and use his numerous weapons to his advantage it will make New York a tough team to beat.
Usually, Week 17 of the NFL’s regular season is mostly meaningless. The teams with nothing left to play for usually play out this last game as nothing but a formality, while those teams in contention have usually solidified their spots in the postseason race.
However, heading into Week 17, while we do have a good idea of who’s most likely to be in this year’s NFC playoffs, there’s still plenty at stake for the participants to play for, and fans of those teams to watch for.
The Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants have all clinched postseason berths. We know that the Cowboys have secured the top seed in the conference, meaning they’ll have home field advantage for any game leading up to the Super Bowl. We also know that the New York Giants have secured the fifth seed (the top Wild Card spot), meaning they’ll play against the division winner with lowest win-loss percentage in the playoffs.
But after that? It’s all up in the air.
With the Detroit Lions losing to Dallas on Monday evening, the two biggest “must watch” games for Week 17 are the Washington Redskins hosting the New York Giants, and the Green Bay Packers traveling to Detroit; the latter game was flexed into the Sunday Night prime time spot, due to the playoff implications of the game. If Washington wins, they’ll almost automatically clinch the last playoff spot (the #6 seed). The only scenario in which the Redskins win and still get left out of the playoffs is if the the Lions-Packers game ends in a tie; more on that in a second. But for all intents and purposes, Washington is pretty much in a “win and in” situation.
The interesting wrinkle to the Redskins-Giants affair will be whether the Giants decide to rest their starters in the game. New York can do no better or no worse than the fifth seed in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of the game, so it bears watching as to whether they’ll still have their star players — like Odell Beckham Jr., among others — participate in this meaningless match up.
If Washington wins, the game between Detroit and Green Bay will not only bear the implications of the NFC North division winner, but will also be a “loser goes home” scenario. Midway through December, Detroit had a 9-4 record. But after losing their last two games, combined with the hard-charging Packers currently riding a five-game winning streak, the Lions grasp on the NFC North title is tenuous at best. But, in an interesting twist, the Lions and Packers can actually both make the playoffs if their game ends in a tie. If that happens, the Packers would win the NFC North, and the Lions would get the last playoff spot in the NFC, as they would have the same record as the Redskins but own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The other two games that could potentially alter the NFC playoff landscape involve the Atlanta Falcons hosting the New Orleans Saints, and the Seattle Seahawks playing the San Francisco 49ers in the Bay area. The Falcons presently hold the second seed in the NFC playoffs, meaning they’d get the highly valuable first-round bye and host the playoff semi-final game. However, if Atlanta loses to New Orleans and Seattle beats San Francisco, then Seattle would secure the second seed in the NFC playoffs. But, both the Falcons and Seahawks will be favorites entering the game, so it’s hard to see the current seeding of both teams changing.
With Green Bay entering the game as three point favorites over the Lions and Washington entering their game against New York as eight point favorites, if we assume that the Packers, Redskins, Falcons, and Seahawks all win in Week 17, we would have the Cowboys with the top seed in the NFC playoffs, the Falcons with the second seed, and the Redskins taking on the Seahawks as well as the Giants traveling to Green Bay to take on the Packers in the NFC playoffs.
Coming off a win against Buffalo, the Oakland Raiders have continued their hot streak and look to catch up to New England for the number one seed in the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs on the other hand hold a wildcard spot and hope to hold on to it and make a good postseason run. This is a big game for both teams, and it could play a pivotal role in deciding each team’s playoff rankings.
Derek Carr’s injured finger didn’t seem to play a role in last week’s win against the Bills, as he was able to fight it off and have a great game. He moved the ball efficiently and the Oakland defense eventually got its act together to get him out onto the field as much as they could. However, Oakland overall still has a very poor defense, and Andy Reidâ’s West Coast scheme that he runs with the Chiefs is built to destroy the type of defense Oakland has. Oakland’s main weaknesses on defense are against the run and their linebackers, so not only will running the ball be effective, but short, quick passes will stop Raiders defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack from putting their pass rushing skills to good use. Khalil Mack had another big game against Buffalo, forcing the hit that led to Tyrod Taylor’s interception, and also the strip sack that sealed the game for the Raiders. He can be used all over the field, and coach Jack Del Rio will want to use his versatility in defending against the Kansas City Chiefs style of offense.
On defense the Chiefs have good players all around. An interesting player to watch will be Justin Houston, who has been a monster since he came back from injury. While the Raiders have given up the least sacks in the league, they have a noticeable weakness on the right side. The Chiefs may want to put Houston there to do the most damage, but they can switch it up due to teammate Tamba Hali being a very good pass rusher himself. An interesting matchup to watch will be Raiders wideout Amari Cooper against Chiefs corner Marcus Peters. Peters has a knack for being boom or bust at the corner position, and Amari Cooper is known to make great plays on deep routes. Do not be surprised if Peters gets an interception but also lets Cooper have a big game as well. It is also possible that Peters may protect one side and line up against Michael Crabtree on occasion, who is quite good as well. Just another story to watch this week, and it makes for a very exciting game.
On paper the Raiders have the better team, but the Chiefs are no pushovers. This should be a very competitive game, and both teams have their case for a win.
- Analysis by NFL artificial intelligence!
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are 7-4, and just defeated the Arizona Cardinals 38-19 at home. The Falcons are ranked 4th in total offense, and 3rd in passing offense. QB Matt Ryan has looked much more comfortable with an improved offensive line and a steady, reliable run game in Devonte Freeman. The pass defense is ranked 30th but the run defense is ranked 9th, and they are +3 in turnover differential. The Falcons have always been a dominant team in the Georgia Dome, and if they continue to play at a high level they could secure a home playoff game. With the balance they have on offense and the improving defense, we could see this team making a run in the playoffs.
New York Giants: The Giants are 8-3 and are on a 6 game win streak. The Cowboys are the obvious pick to win the NFC East, but the Giants could still sneak in the wild card and make some noise. Eli Manning is an elite QB, and they have one of the best WR trios in football with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard. The Giants last two super bowl wins, they barely snuck into the playoffs then caught fire. This team has the potential to do that again, with Manning they are never out of a game. The defense has drastically improved from last year as well, ranking 16th in total defense and 5th against the run. The NFC East is always crazy, and we could definitely see the Giants spoiling the Cowboys super bowl run and make a deep run of their own.
Denver Broncos: This is an unconventional pick from the AFC West, most would pick the Kansas City Chiefs. We like the Broncos because of their suffocating defense, they won a Super Bowl with great defense last year and they could make a run again. QB Trevor Siemian has played well, throwing for 2,396 yards 15 TDs and only 7 INTs. The Broncos have proven they can win b y not beating themselves and letting the defense keep the scores close. They still have an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with games at the Chiefs and a home finale with the Raiders. If they sneak in, they will be a tough out with that stout defense and can cause problems to the explosive offenses in the AFC.
One of the more interesting activities to participate in as Thanksgiving approaches is to look at the underlying mismatches in the NFL, or at least some of them (Click Here for the latest Super Bowl picks).
Anyone looking to set their daily fantasy lineup will find this especially interesting:
+Vikings at Detroit Lions
No one thought Minnesota would do so well against the Arizona Cardinals; going into their Week 11 encounter, the Vikings’ defense made it easy to write them off. However, the Vikings refused to be intimidated.
Their sensational performance saw them garner a 30-24 victory over the cards with two field-long touchdowns. The Vikings are very stingy when it comes to rushing scores, and it will be interesting to watch as the Lions find that out.
The one thing you will notice about the Vikings’ first ten games this season is the way they restricted their opponents to five rushing touchdowns. They have simply refused to surrender rushing TDs this season, and you can see that in the way they limited their opponents in this area in the last here games.
The Lions have a pass-heavy red-zone strategy that has given them a mere four rushing touchdowns in 2016. Even Lions fans cannot deny the fact that they are especially inept when it comes to rushing in the red zone.
The Vikings, on the other hand, are determined to shut rushing scores down. The Lions’ offense will be fighting an uphill battle.
+Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are riding high on a nine-game winning streak. This means their thanksgiving bout with the Redskins will have added significance because Washington is fighting for second place in the NFC East.
Neither team can afford to not take the other’s offense seriously, not with the talent hiding within each side’s squad. The Cowboys will boast quite the difficult challenge for the Redskins whose defense is definitely lacking.
The Redskins do not do well when it comes to road games; Dallas will be one of their more difficult tests this season, especially seeing as the Cowboys are ranked second in rushing yards per game (overall) and home rushing yards per contest.
The chances of the Redskins overcoming this contest, set in hostile territory, are low, especially if the Redskins fail to contain Ezekiel Elliot.
+Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh is struggling to change the narrative that they are truly terrible on the road. They only seem to come alive during home games, and convincing pundits that they could turn things around against the Colts will take a lot of effort.
After all, Ben Roethlisberger has only thrown 19 touchdown passes in the last 19 road games; this is as opposed to the 55 thrown in the previous 19 home games. Of course, the Steelers do not necessarily have much to fear.
After all, they have shown that they are very tough when it comes to home teams facing third-down situations. The Steelers are tied with the Miami Dolphins with their tiny 33.3 percent conversion rate, with only Oakland standing ahead of them.
The New York Jets just lost their fourth game in a row to drop to 1-5 on the season. This is not what Jets fans expected after the team took a giant leap forward last year. Two years ago, the Jets finished 4-12 to put the final nail in the coffin of Rex Ryan. However, last year the Jets had a record of 10-6 and just missed out on the playoffs.
With not many changes made during the offseason, most Jets fans had no clue that their team would come out of the gate like a horse that ends up being carted off to the glue factory. There is a lot of blame to be passed around for the Jets’ horrendous start.
Injured Players Missed Training Camp
One of the key culprits that is affecting the Jets this year is that they had so many players injured during training camp. Players like Khiry Robinson, Devin Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson and Breno Giacomini started training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. With so many key players missing training camp, it is little wonder that New York has stumbled out of the blocks.
While the team did take a step forward last year, that success seems to be unsustainable thanks to the aging roster. Key players like Darrelle Revis, Ryan Clady and Giacomini are on the wrong side of 30 now, and the NFL is an unforgiving place for players who lose a step as they get old. With so many older players on their roster, it is likely that the Jets will have to overhaul the team in the offseason.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Has Been a Disaster
In the Jets’ most recent game against the Arizona Cardinals, Fitzpatrick completed just 16 of his 31 passes for 176 yards in a 28-3 loss. The sad thing is that was one of his better performances this year. Fitzpatrick leads the league with 11 interceptions compared to just five touchdowns, and Jets fans are right to complain about the $10 million salary he is pulling in this year.
No Speed on Defense
The secondary, which has long been a strength of the team, has played pathetically so far this year. They seem to be a step behind the receivers they are covering on nearly every play. There have been far too many wide open completions against the Jets defense. Fans that thought the D line would finally step up against the Cardinals last week were once again disappointed.
Wide Receivers Can’t Get Open
On the other side of the ball, the Jets receivers seem to be unable to find separation from their defenders. That is part of the reason why Fitzpatrick has been struggling so badly this year. It is much easier to throw interceptions when your receivers cannot give you any space to throw the ball.
It is hard to see the Jets coming back from such a brutal start to make the playoffs, which means that their fans are in for a long year. Even one more loss may kill their playoff hopes, and some fans are already starting to turn the page to look ahead to next year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are without a doubt the best team in the NFL, though New England Fans will probably argue that idea. Sure, they had a sloppy start, but you only need to look at the NFL lines to know that the Steelers are definitely back at full strength.
Even this early in the season, everyone has to agree that Ben Roethlisberger is the top contender for MVP, and that isn’t the only arrow in the team’s quiver. They are basically playing the best football of any team around.
Certainly, you can always point to their loss in Philly; but you also cannot ignore the fact that their defense hasn’t allowed more than 16 points in any given game. Anyone that doubted Antonio Brown is now eating their words because he is definitely living up to the hype.
Martavis Bryant’s one-year suspension doesn’t even look as bad at the present, not with the way Sammie Coates stepped into his role and gave the Steelers an even deadlier edge.
Put simply, the Steelers are the team to beat in the NFL; they are presently 4-1 in a weak AFC North. They should be making another deep run into the playoffs soon enough. Of course, not enough people are giving the Steelers the attention they deserve, not when the Patriots are hogging all the attention.
That is all anyone can talk about right now, whether the Patriots can deliver on the hype and how Tom Brady will perform in the MVP race when he isn’t likely to play more than 12 games this season.
While Tom Brady continues to captivate fans, Roethlisberger is going unnoticed, this despite having performed so astoundingly in the season, essential to the success the Steelers have experienced so far.
The Steelers didn’t really warrant the attention at the start; sure, they did fine in their first three games, this despite Philadelphia ruining their September by adding a loss to their record.
However,Leveon Bell returned from a three-game suspension and the running back completely transformed the team. Just as Brady seems to be outshining Ben, Ben is also somewhat outshining Bell, who has played a crucial role in the amazing record Ben has amassed in the first third of this season.
Bell’s presence has had a notable impact on the Steelers; keep in mind the fact that Bell returned to the game just in time for the Steelers to take on teams like the Jets and the Chiefs, with Bell finishing with 210 yards for a 5.5ypc, this along with keeping his touches very low.
The Steelers weren’t floundering without Bell. His stand-in, DeAngelo Williams, did a decent job. At the very least, he was able to get yards, though mostly because the defense prioritized shutting down the passing attack.
Now Bell has returned to the Backfield and that puts opponents in a difficult position. With Brown and Coates in place, the Steelers definitely have the deadliest offense around.
Sure, all the hullaballoo surrounding the Patriots is probably deserved; however, the Steelers deserve even more love, boasting a full and healthy roster as well as a coach with playoff success and a quarterback at his peak.