[4:25pm] [9-2] New England Patriots at [8-3] Green Bay Packers
Tom Brady VS Aaron Rodgers Round 1
This is the first ever meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, the last time the Packers played the Patriots, Rodgers was out with a concussion. This should be a historically high scoring affair as both quarterbacks have proven Both of these teams have been on an incredible roll these past few weeks. In their last game the Patriots held the Detroit Lions to nine points while putting up 34 of their own. In the last three weeks the Patriots have easily defeated some of the NFL’s top tier teams (Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions) but their biggest test might be yet to come.
The Green Bay Packers are probably the only team capable of keeping up with the Patriots high powered offense. Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP caliber season and also putting up crazy fantasy football stat lines. In Green Bay’s last two out of three games they have scored over 50 points, last weeks close affair with the Vikings is one of the few aberrations. This should be an exciting affair pitting the number one ranked Patriots offense against the second ranked Packers offense. Rodgers and Brady have had almost identical passing numbers. Rodgers only has three more touchdowns than Brady but Brady has more yards. This is truly a unique matchup between two elite quarterbacks who have yet to fully see what one another are capable of on the field.
Did I mention they also both wear the number 12?
Pick: Green Bay Packers
[8:30pm] [8-3] Denver Broncos at [7-4] Kansas City Chiefs
The Battle for Divisional Dominance
The Chiefs are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Raiders, while the Broncos are coming off a close win against Miami. The Chiefs loss was absolutely unexpected but it shows that they lack the level of consistency to control their fate in this division. Alex Smith is a good quarterback but their offensive potency leaves something to be desired. Most of the Chief’s touchdowns have come from their ground game or their defense. Alex Smith’s biggest targets are his tight ends and Jamaal Charles. Tight end Travis Kelce has four touchdowns on the year, back up Anthony Fasano has 3 and Charles has 3 receiving touchdowns. The Chiefs have closed out close games thanks to their defense, they are ranked 1st in yards allowed per game, and 3rd in points allowed per game.
The Chiefs were dealt a significant and saddening blow earlier this week when strong safety Eric Berry was diagnosed with Lymphoma officially ending his season. This will have a significant impact on the strength of the Chief’s secondary against the Broncos established All-Pro receiving targets and new lead running back CJ Anderson. Peyton Manning has had a couple of off games as of late, his struggles should continue against the Chief’s number 1 ranked pass defense. Manning could exploit the loss of Berry by focusing on throwing to his banged up tight end Julius Thomas, or throwing short screens to the elusive CJ Anderson. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have a combined 16 touchdowns on the year.
The Chiefs will slow the pace of the game significantly by putting pressure on Manning but if this game comes down to the defensive side of the ball the Broncos may have an easier time rattling Alex Smith with their defensive anchors Demarcus Ware and Von Miller. This will be an important test for the Broncos as they look to return to form after several underwhelming performances.
[1:00pm] [4-7] New Orleans Saints at [7-4] Pittsburgh Steelers
Which team will stay in the playoff race?
Both of these teams are currently in tight divisional races. The Saints lost a close one last week against the Ravens giving up the game thanks to their abysmal defense. The loss of Brandin Cooks has helped to consolidate the targets Drew Brees has to throw to which has benefited receivers Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. The more targets they get, the more confident they become in making big plays. Mark Ingram last week proved ineffective against the Raven’s strong run defense. He should have a tough time bouncing back against a Steelers defense that allows 103 yards per game on average. The Saints allow 123 yards per game so expect a big day on the ground for LeVeon Bell.
The passing game for both teams have been inconsistent as Brees has struggled this season and Big Ben has had his good and bad moments. With all of their primary weapons fully healthy this game should be a shoot out for both quarterbacks. A loss for either team could potentially put them behind the preverbal eight ball in this playoff hunt. The Steelers will look to utilize Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, and Martavis Bryant to get them into the end zone. This should be a close contest however at the end of the day the Steelers have been proven to be the more consistent team. Coming off the bye the Steelers should be fresh and ready to throw with Brees and the Saints.
[4:05pm] [9-2] Arizona Cardinals at [4-7] Atlanta Falcons
With the Seahawks Rising will the Cardinals be able to stay on top?
The Cardinals dropped a big game last week against division rival the Seahawks. This has allowed the Seahawks to crawl back into the hunt for first place. The Cardinals should have very little trouble dispatching the mediocre Falcons. The Cardinals have obliterated just about every team they have faced defensively, making it next to near impossible to gain any ground on the offensive side of the ball. On the Offensive side of the ball the return of Larry Fitzgerald from injury should bring an extra dimension of danger for the Falcon’s defense.
The Falcons defense is the worst in the league and cannot stop anyone. Their only saving grace has been the recently consistent good play of veteran wide receiver Roddy White. White has been on the roll leading the offense while Julio Jones has been nursing a number of injuries. Hampered by bad offensive line play the Falcons will struggle to keep pace with the Cardinals, however if any team could pull off the upset it just might be the Falcons.
[1:00pm] [7-4] San Diego Chargers at [7-4] Baltimore Ravens
Two 7-4 Teams Look to Take Control of their Division
The surging Ravens are looking to book their playoff destination and, another win will help push them towards that goal. Justin Forsett is coming off the best game of his career. He has been a solid constant in the Raven’s offense and is reliable enough to gain first downs and touchdowns when they are truly needed. In the passing game Torrey Smith and Steve Smith have stood out as Joe Flacco’s clear go to targets. The Raven’s defense is what sets them apart from their division rivals. The Ravens boast the most consistent pass rush and run defense out of any of their divisional rivals.
Their secondary is ailing as they are currently only starting their reserves, giving up big plays in in opportune times. The Chargers have had a rough few weeks. Phillip Rivers is banged up and their defense is middling at best. Gone are the early season games were Rivers has played lights out, he has slowly regressed to forcing passes without a run game. The Chargers offensive line has let them down on several occasions when they could not give up a touchdown. If the Chargers have any ounce of being a real threat in them they will find a way to beat the Ravens.