Indianapolis @ Buffalo
Tyrod Taylor suffered an injury on Sunday and is unlikely to play this week. Obviously no one is more devastated than ... Nathan Peterman, who now has to play in an NFL game again. If it turns out anything like the last time that happened expect 10 picks by the Colts. Apparently the fans in Buffalo are equally as unenthusiastic about the prospects of Peterman, because tickets are going for as low as $4 on resale web sites. So Bills fans have a decision to make, go to what promises to be a dreadful game, or throw in an extra dollar, spring for two McRibs, and do something else with your Sunday. As far as I’m concerned the decision is easy. My only advice to them would be this: get them without the pickles, because pickles are wack.
Dallas @ New York Giants
Last week amidst the controversy surrounding the Eli Manning benching Ben (Twosythe) McAdoo repeatedly assured the media that the decision was made mutually between himself, the front office, and ownership. Days later he had been fired and Eli Manning had been reinstated as starting quarterback. It appears McAdoo was embellishing the mutuality of that decision just a bit. He reminds me of a wannabe hardass substitute teacher who trots out his own lesson plan and insists to the griping students that this is what their teacher had laid out. Then the real teacher shows up the next day and doesn’t know what the hell that asshole was thinking. I’m not sure if that actually happens very often, but it will if Ben McAdoo becomes a substitute teacher now.
Detroit @ Tampa Bay
The Lions are not a difficult team to figure out. They’re 6-6 on the season with their splits looking like this: 1-6 against winning teams, 5-0 against everybody else. Basically they’re good enough to play on Pro level, but when they turn it up to All-Madden they don’t stand a chance. The good news for Detroit is that nobody remaining on their schedule is currently above .500, which means they have (at least based on their past performance) a decent chance at running the table. And that would be nice for a change, to just have one family dinner where their father-in-law doesn’t think he runs the table. It’s their house Ron, let them carve the ham! ... Guess I got a little carried away there. Upon a second glance, one of those remaining games is against the Packers, who will have Aaron Rodgers back, so the Lions will lose that one; but this Bucs game should be a breeze!
Oakland @ Kansas City
Somehow this has become a game for first place in the AFC West. What did things look like when these teams played just 7 weeks ago? The Raiders came into the contest at 2-4, while the Chiefs were 5-1. Oakland won on a sub-last-second touchdown pass and helped shove Kansas City into a tailspin. But not a fun tailspin with a bear pilot, a tailspin that has resulted in the Chiefs going from a Super Bowl contender to a .500 team fighting for their playoff lives. There is currently a three-way tie atop the AFC West (these two and the Chargers) and a sort of round robin between the leaders will transpire over the last four weeks with the teams all playing each other down the stretch. So the division winner will come down to who wins the most games ... Hmm, that’s not very insightful. I have to believe the Chiefs will pull this one out at home. Well, I suppose I don’t have to, but I’m like 60% sure that I do.
San Francisco @ Houston
In his first start last Sunday in Chicago Jimmy Garoppolo failed to lead the 49ers to a TD, setting for five field goals. “Hey, I could’ve done that!” C.J. Beathard probably thought afterward. The main difference though is that San Francisco got a win and Garoppolo looked competent. In fact, the Niners’ offense controlled the ball for over 38 minutes and helped limit the Bears’ to 36 offensive plays. 36! They only had 6 legitimate possessions. Now that’s what I call managing a game. I also call it playing the Bears. Well guess what, things don’t get much tougher this week against the Texans. Facing this lousy Houston team I get the feeling that, once again, somehow he’ll manage.
Green Bay @ Cleveland
The Packers are a mere week away from the possibility of Aaron Rodgers returning to action, and with a softball match-up this week could be sitting at 7-6 with a decent shot of making the playoffs once their all-pro QB does return. And it’s exactly this sort of forward-looking mindset (which I’m projecting onto them) that makes me think the Browns are primed for their first win of the season. My logic is this: I don’t they’ll go 0-16, and this is their best shot to get a win that they have left on the schedule. Of course I also have to take into account that they’re the Browns. Believe me, that weighed heavily on my mind as I made my considerations. Ultimately though I said what so many an itchy-anused fellow has said before me, screw it I’m picking the Browns.
Chicago @ Cincinnati
At 5-7 the Bengals are technically still alive in the AFC playoff picture. But that’s like saying Andy Dalton could still win the MVP award. Sure he’s eligible as an NFL player, and it’s not mathematically impossible, a sweeping virus could kill the hundreds of players ahead of him on the list (though a posthumous recipient would still be more likely), but in all reality it’s not going to happen. Based on Cincy’s remaining schedule their chances of finishing better than 7-9 are slim, but hey this is one the games they can actually win! We’ll never know though, because no one will watch it.
Minnesota @ Carolina
The Vikings are proving themselves week after week, to everyone except me apparently, because I keep picking against them. I’ve learned my lesson. Unless I finally go with them and they lay an egg ... Damn it, this is exactly how I talk myself out of it every time. But no, this week is different, I’m going with Minnesota ... whose quarterback is Case Keenum. Case Keenum? Can they seriously be Super Bowl contenders with Case Keenum? It’s like a movie starring Kevin James being nominated for Best Picture. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I have to pick the Panthers ... No! I’m taking a stand and going with the Vikings. This does not, however, mean that I have to see all or any Kevin James movies going forward.
Washington @ Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are in a three-way tie atop the AFC West, and surprisingly have a real shot at winning the division. But to me their path to the playoffs would make a lot more sense if they were one of the wild cards, simply because the Chargers are the ultimate wild cards. They could win or lose any game at this point and I wouldn’t be surprised. Also, Philip Rivers dresses like a guy that would be playing poker at the kind of cheap casino that would actually have tables with wild cards. Also, being a wild card would allow them to go on the road for the postseason and avoid the embarrassment of having to host a playoff game at the StubHub Center ... and probably getting booed off the field ... after they win.
New York Jets @ Denver
Who is the starting quarterback right now for the Broncos? Try to answer without looking it up. Is it still Osweiler? That’s what I’m going with. Ok, I’m going to check now ... Whoops! Turns out it’s Trevor Siemian again, and he had himself a terrible day in last week’s blowout loss against Miami. In fact, it was the fourth-worst performance of the season according to ESPN’s QBR metric. And looking further into it, Denver quarterbacks account for three of the bottom seven starts this season. When you take that into consideration it’s not hard to understand how the Broncos have plummeted from 3-1 to 3-9. The wonder is that they were 3-1 at all. It’s to the point where they might want to consider not passing at all. It worked a couple times for Chicago this season, and the Denver D should be better than the Bears, so why not? They’ll probably get too big for their britches though and try to propel the ball downfield through the air in attempt to gain yardage; and it will be their undoing.
Tennessee @ Arizona
The Titans come into this game at 8-4, with a lead in the AFC South and a very good chance at making the playoffs one way or another. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are 5-7 and dealing with their annual spate of injuries. So why do I get the feeling that Arizona is going to win this game? I don’t know, but I’ll bet at least one person reading this believes that the earth is flat, so see, sometimes people believe weird things. Also though, the Titans have three road wins on the season and two of them were close victories over the winless Browns and the hapless Colts. So perhaps my theory isn’t that far-fetched, like the existence of ghosts and Bigfoot, which are both real. How do I know? Because I saw a bigfoot ghost.
Philadelphia @ Los Angeles Rams
His week the Rams were forced to cancel their Wednesday practice due to rampant wild fires near their facility. But was this a small price to pay in service of a larger goal? There has been a lot of chatter about how the Eagles’ fans are going to take over the Coliseum this Sunday; but they can’t take it over if their planes can’t get to LA due to smoke filling the sky. The joke will ultimately be on the Rams though, because most of the Eagles fans that are attending the game already live in the LA area. Talk about a backfire. Will the bipartisan crowd be enough to get Philly the road win? Only time will tell ... Whoops, forgot I’m supposed to pick. Ok, then I say no.
Seattle @ Jacksonville
These teams last played in 2013; later that season the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. The last match-up between these two in Jacksonville was in 2005; later that season the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. Do I sense a trend? Well maybe not, because sandwiched in between there was a 2009 game; later that season the Seahawks finished 5-11 and fired coach Jim Mora after one year at the helm ... which led to the hiring of Pete Carroll. Holy shit! The Jaguars pop up at every seminal moment in recent Seahawks history. There’s a conspiracy here, the only question is how high it goes. Actually I have a lot of other questions, the main one being what sort of franchise milestone or turning point will this game trigger for Seattle? We shall see, especially if the Seahawks are declared Super Bowl champions immediately after the final whistle.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
After a controversial Monday Night melee with Cincinnati, the Steelers return to prime time against another divisional rival. What should we expect? Let’s ask the man who will be in the booth in Pittsburgh, SNF analyst Cris Collinsworth:
I gotta say, I did not see that coming. And that’s really all I want to say about it.
New England @ Miami
The Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski for this game due to his suspension that came as a result of the lunging elbow to the neck he delivered to a prone Bills defender. It's been said that Gronkowski is akin to a professional wrestler because of his stature and outsized personality. Obviously those comparisons will only intensify after his actions last Sunday. If anything though, this proves to me that he would make a terrible wrestler, his form was awful. His movement lacked any sort of grace or grandeur, and the maneuver itself was quite lame. Maybe he can spend his day off learning how to drop a decent elbow. I’ll lend him my WWE Network password if necessary. Just kidding, screw Gronk.