This is the third home game in a row for the Browns. If you watched either of the previous two you’re likely extremely discouraged by this news. For those of you that missed them, be glad you did. Both contests featured brutal winds that contributed to a total of only 39 points being scored. Though there’s probably a select few of you who really dig that sort of thing. Your idea of a perfect game is a 0-0 tie. Well leave that at the 1946 Army/Notre Dame game pal, because we don’t want your sick fetishes here in the future! It’s 2020 baby! We need our points. We have fantasy teams to feed. I’d recommend seeking that sustenance elsewhere. Regardless of the weather report for Sunday, the Eagles are involved, and one way or another most of their games have been ugly as hell. The good news for Philly, even if they lose here they won’t have fallen out of first place. That’s right, if they come out of this at 3-6-1 they’ll still be in playoff position. That helps illustrate the point I was trying to make, regardless of the weather, this is going to be a stinker.
Atlanta at New Orleans
Saints quarterback Drew Brees will be out for a few weeks after suffering some fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. While the Saints fared quite well without Brees last season, this does increase the odds of New Orleans dropping a previously assumed win such as this one against the Falcons. It makes me think about Matt Ryan’s claim from a few weeks ago that Atlanta could win out. At the time I laughed it off, but now I’m wondering what he knows that we don’t. Or perhaps, who? Am I accusing Matt Ryan of paying off 49ers players to injure Drew Brees prior to this match-up? No. Am I saying that he did just that, and that he should be tried in a court of law? Yes. Ok, so I guess I am accusing him. It’s just the most logical explanation. The only other possibility is that Matt Ryan legitimately thought the Falcons were going to win 9 in a row, including 5 against the Saints, Bucs, and Chiefs. Starting to see my point? Matt Ryan is undoubtedly pulling the strings here a la The Godfather poster. And just like in the movie itself, come to think of it. Oh my god! I finally get that poster!
Cincinnati at Washington
There are no intra-divisional games in the NFC East this week, which means that those teams can collectively go 0-3 (the Giants are on a bye). If they do, there’s a very good chance that the division as a whole will have as many wins as the Steelers. Is it hackneyed to yammer on about how lousy the NFC East is? Yeah. But I also find their ineptitude fascinating. I can’t look away, it’s like a car wreck. A car wreck that occurred on a football field and didn’t involve cars, just football players. It’s causing a lot of traffic too. There are a few teams stuck behind them that would like to get into the playoffs but can’t because they’re blocking the only road there. The Bengals are in a different conference, so they’re not affected by that gridlock, but it’s interesting to compare their situation to Washington’s. Cincy is currently 2-6-1 with no real postseason hopes, but if they were in the NFC East they’d be one game out of first. That really illustrates what a land of opportunity the East is. Truly anyone can make the playoffs, no matter how terrible they are.
Detroit at Carolina
This match-up is like looking into a mirror. Not necessarily because the teams’ styles of play are very similar, I’m merely talking about the color schemes of their uniforms. And come to think of it, they’re both named after big cats. Hmm ... Should the Lions and Panthers just join forces at this point? Doesn’t seem like either one of them is going anywhere on their own, might as well see how they’d do as a conglomerate. Just imagine it, Matthew Stafford throwing to DJ Moore! Or Romeo Okwara on the same d-line as Yetur Gross-Matos! Ok, so maybe they still wouldn’t be that good, but what do they have to lose? Their whole season and likely some draft picks because combining teams is against NFL rules, and would warrant serious discipline? Yeah, I suppose so. Ok, cancel those plans. They had a good run though, didn’t they?
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
There’s a lot of chatter about this possibly being a trap game for the Steelers. But I’m not so sure it will work out that way since the Jags played well against Green Bay last week. Meaning at this point it would be hard to surprise Pittsburgh. It’s like the Jags were setting the trap but hadn’t hidden yet, then the Steelers came around the corner and the Jags tried to scatter, but it was too late, they’d been seen. To that point Mike Tomlin explained to reporters this week that he has a “ridiculous level of respect” for Jacksonville. That sounds very flattering, but I would have followed up and asked him to specify just what that meant. One could argue that any amount of respect for the Jaguars is a ridiculous level. It’s possible that Tomlin was watching Jacksonville tape with his staff and said, “Ya know, I almost respect these guys.” When one of his assistants told him that was ridiculous he said, “Yeah, I guess so.”
Tennessee at Baltimore
It’s a revenge game for the Ravens whose 2019 season was ended prematurely by the Titans in the Divisional round. But Baltimore can’t worry too much about last year when suddenly their 2020 campaign is dangerously close to derailing. They’re currently three games (and a tiebreaker) behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North and with a loss here would likely be on the outside of the playoff picture going into Week 12. The same can be said for the Titans, except for being three games behind the Steelers. Yes, their record is three games worse than Pittsburgh’s, but they’re not in the same division. You guys get what I’m saying, right? No? The Titans are in the AFC South, so it’s not relevant how far behind the Steelers they are. What’s the AFC South? That’s your question? It’s Tennessee’s division. What’s a division?!? What are you talking about? How did you get this far into the post without knowing that? I’m moving on. The point is, the losing team will have their work cut out for them the rest of the way, especially if it’s the Ravens. This promises to be a pivotal and entertaining football game. What’s a football game?!!!!? Aaagggghhh!
New England at Houston
Last Sunday the Patriots proved that they still have what it takes to beat a good team, as long it’s a torrential rain storm and no one can hold onto a football. Unfortunately for them, this game is being played under a roof. A “roof which no rain could possibly penetrate” according to its architect G. Francis Molehill. A bafflingly modest boast considering he was commissioned to build a very expensive roof, but hey if you keep expectations low you won’t disappoint anyone. Which is the exact opposite scenario that New England finds themselves in. If they had taken a page out of Molehill’s book they never would have won a Super Bowl and their fans wouldn’t be nearly as bummed out about the lackluster season they're currently in the midst of. However, it’s worth noting that Molehill’s own home caved in due to heavy rain. So maybe don't take a page out of his book. But did Molehill build that house? Well yes, yes he did. The more I think about there’s a decent chance this game gets rained on. If so, advantage Patriots, disadvantage Molehill. Though, as you may have guessed by now Molehill hasn’t been seen or heard from in years, so good luck bringing him to justice!
Miami at Denver
Coming into Week 11 there were nine teams with a record of 6-3. That’s over a quarter of the league! Even more surprising than that: the Dolphins are in that group! They’ve won 5 in a row, and could very logically stretch it to 8 with upcoming tilts against the Jets and Bengals after this one. I’m not saying this is an automatic win for Miami, after all, Denver is a historically tough place to play. But it’s a lot tougher when the Broncos don’t have one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. Drew Lock is only in his second season, so there’s a good chance he’ll improve, and he’s left plenty of room for improvement, so in a way that’s good. But in terms of this season and actually helping his team, that is not good. Look for an ever-improving Dolphins defense to feast on Denver’s struggling QB. But hey, don’t fill up too much guys, Thanksgiving is less than a week away! Also, Drew Lock has a family that probably loves him, so just be nice.
New York Jets at Los Angeles Chargers
Based solely on records these are two of the worst teams in the AFC, but I don’t think they’re comparable. Yes, the Chargers are 2-7, but their losses have all been by one score. Whereas the winless Jets only have two such defeats. They’re losing games by an average of 16 points. Also the quarterback situation for each team is quite different. In New York Joe Flacco is starting in place of an injured Sam Darnold, who the Jets may move on from anyway, while the Chargers have one on of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert. And when I say young I mean it, he’s only 15! Don’t believe me? See for yourself. I’m not sure what Herbert was trying to accomplish with this new do, but if his goal was to look like a walking learner’s permit, then mission accomplished! Jokes aside, I have all the confidence in the world that Herbert will lead the Chargers to victory this Sunday. As long as he doesn’t get suspended for breaking curfew. And I mean his parents’ not the team’s (or the city’s for that matter).
Green Bay at Indianapolis
We’ve got ourselves a possible Super Bowl preview right here. No, I’m not saying that I necessarily think either of these teams will make it there, I’m literally just saying that by virtue of one being from the NFC and the other from the AFC we have, quite literally, a possible Super Bowl preview. I could have said the same thing about the Cincy/Washington match-up as well. This blog would have suspended by the NSA shortly thereafter, but I could have stated it as fact. It should be noted though, that the Colts and Packers are both leading their divisions, making this a bit more likely to portend a championship match-up than your run of the mill inter-conference contest. While it may not mean as much in terms of end of the season tiebreakers, it should still be very interesting to see Aaron Rodgers go up against the top defense in the league (on a yards per game basis), and to see Philip Rivers do anything. It’s just fun to watch that guy try to look/act like a normal human.
Dallas at Minnesota
This week Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence said, “Don’t ever get this twisted, we’re a good team.” Now I’ve always thought that I have a kind of twisted take on the NFL, and this just confirms it. So thank you Demarcus Lawrence. Here I foolishly considered Dallas (2-7, last place in the NFC EAST) to be lousy, but as it turns out, I was incorrect, they’re actually good. Look out Vikings, you’ve got more to deal with this week than I initially realized. Something tells me Minnesota will be able to handle it though since lately it seems like anyone who left them for dead after a 1-5 start also had it twisted. They’ve won three in a row, and could realistically stretch that to six in the next few weeks. But that’s just my assumption, and as you know by now, I have a bit of a skewed view of the world. A real Joker-type. Not the Joaquin, Leto, or Heath Ledger versions though, those are too far out there. More of a Nicholson, Romero vibe. Yeah, that’s me. And if you ever need proof just ask Demarcus Lawrence.
Kansas City at Las Vegas
The Chiefs seek to avenge their only loss of the season in their first trip to Vegas. Well I'm sure most of these guys have been to Vegas before, but you get what I was saying, right? It's an exciting match-up, and I'm sure Cris Collinsworth is jut as jazzed. Let's see what he thinks about it:
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay
Hey, a good Monday night game! This is the first MNF match-up this month between winning teams, and looking ahead there might only be one such game on the slate after this for the rest of the season. So enjoy it while you can ESPN! This reminds me of old TV shows or movies when a fancy out-of-towner would come through a hum-drum burg and all the townsfolk would scramble to impress them. Ya know, punt up some bunting, shoo the drunks out of the street, finally bury all the dead bodies that have piled up outside the brothel. One could argue that that’s casting ESPN in too pathetic of a light, and maybe you’re right. But don’t be surprised if you tune in on Monday and see Steve Levy in his finest cotillion gown.
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