Baltimore Ravens at (5-3) Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore will be looking to bounce back from a loss to the Bengals. It seemed as if in week 8 the Ravens would get the W at Cincinnati, but a last second offensive pass interference call gave the win to the Bengals. The Ravens coming into this game are allowing the second fewest points in the NFL. Their defense, led by Elvis Dumervil (ranked 4th in the league in sacks), seems to get stronger every week along with their potent run game. Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro have had breakout seasons in the absence of Ray Rice.
The Steelers are red hot coming off an emotional win over Indianapolis with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 6 touchdowns and establishing himself as one of the elite quarterbacks this season in the NFL. Big Ben is the only quarterback ever to throw for two 500 yard games. Antonio Brown looks to continue his stellar season leading, the league in catches and second in receiving yards. Leveon Bell will look to continue his impressive season on a stingy Raven’s run defense.
The Steelers are brimming with confidence and will look to get some revenge after the first meeting between these divisional foes. In that game the visiting Steelers rolled over allowing Baltimore to score 26 points on them, which seems like a lifetime ago. The Steelers are on a 2 game winning streak with first place potentially on the line; look for them to show some pride and win a close one in the Steel City.
(6-1) Denver Broncos [Away] at (6-2) New England Patriots
Unlike the typical NFL rivalry, there are two specific players that have brought the competitive fire out of each other for years. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have played each other 15 times with Brady winning 10 of those matchups, but Manning is coming off his best season as a pro, winning last season’s MVP award.
Tom Brady and the Patriots had a slow start to the season but after several dominating victories have returned back to form. This game is a potential AFC championship game preview. Both teams can score a ton of points but Denver arguably has the better weapons. New England boasts the second best pass defense in the NFL, which will be put to the test against the league’s best quarterback. The Broncos have the second most sacks in the NFL, so expect Brady to be under a lot of pressure. This rivalry between two hall of fame bound quarterbacks transcends stats, it is only about winning and that is something that both of these quarterbacks know a lot about. In a game for the ages, for a shoot-out in Foxborough.
(6-1) Arizona Cardinals at (6-2) Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys seemingly face a never ending list of questions by their critics. Who will step up for Justin Durant? Will Tony Romo be ok? Can this team produce in the playoffs? This game has a chance to answer a lot of questions and set a bench mark for what it takes to be the best team in the NFC. The Cowboys MVP candidate Demarco Murray will try to extend his 100 yard game streak to nine games as the Cardinals have the third best rushing defense in the league.
The Cowboy’s offense will likely lean more on the run this week even if Romo is deemed “ok” to play. He did finish out the game against Washington, but he took a few unnecessary shots towards the end; he will try to rebound against a familiar blitzing scheme. Tony Romo has 928 yards, 6 touchdowns, and zero interceptions in the last three meetings with Arizona. Dez Bryant will always play a factor in converting on third downs and getting into the end zone. Bryant will have a better chance of making big plays against the league’s worst pass defense without their star cornerback Patrick Peterson due to a concussion.
The Cowboy’s defense will introduce the team’s second round pick, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in his first NFL game. This will be the team’s first game without linebacker Justin Durant, who suffered a season ending injury during the game against Washington; look for linebackers Kyle Wilbur, Rolando McClain, and Anthony Hitchens to fill the void left by the team’s top tackler. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals are looking to go 7-1 after winning a nail biter against (another NFC East team) the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Larry Fitzgerald had his first 100 yard game of the season, another performance like that would put him ahead of Michael Irving for career receiving yards. The Cardinal’s defense has been decimated by injuries and yet their backups have come to play every week, much like the Cowboys. In the end this game could come down to which offense is deadlier and if that is the case, Demarco Murray will have another 100 rushing game and Romo will have another two touchdowns to cement their place in the NFC playoff picture.
(5-2) Philadelphia Eagles at (4-4) Houston Texans
The Eagles are locked in a tight race for first in the NFC East. They are currently second; only one win behind Dallas. In this game the Eagles get their first crack at an NFL team from Texas, look for them to try to make a point. The Eagles coming into this game have the second most turnovers in the NFL. Nick Foles alone has 12 turnovers.
The Texans will look to funnel their offense through Arian Foster, who had a monster game last week rushing for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Foster has the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season, so far. The Texans defense has the second most takeaways this season, and JJ Watt has more touchdowns than any defensive or special teams player. A win here for the Texans would be the first time in franchise history that they have ever beaten the Eagles.
(3-5) Washington Redskins [Away] VS (3-5) Minnesota Vikings [Home]
After a huge victory over reining NFC East titans, the Dallas Cowboys led by Colt McCoy, the Redskins will enter this game with the Vikings starting another quarter back. RGIII will get the nod as the starting quarterback this week, finally after healing from an ankle injury that has kept him out for the majority of the season. In Griffin’s absence, Kirk Cousins was the Redskin’s starter; however after a couple of dreadful performances he was benched which led to Colt McCoy’s biggest NFL victory.
This game will set the tone for the Redskins for the rest of the year as they fight to climb out of the basement of the NFC East. Their first step will be containing the ever elusive Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is coming off of an overtime victory were he looked to be in midseason form. The Viking’s defense has faltered on key moments throughout the season, until last week. Now we will see if this defense can build on this and form an identity. The Vikings and Redskins are in the same boat for the most part, this should be a hard fought game for two teams who desperately don’t want to throw in the towel.