DALLAS COWBOYS (9-4) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-4) [8:30pm]
(Game of the Week)
Heading into the final meeting the Cowboys and the Eagles, the roles are somewhat reversed. The Cowboys are coming off a big Thursday night win against the Bears, the Eagles on the other hand are still reeling from a Seahawk Smackdown. This game is basically for the NFC East title. The first time around, the Cowboys were only four days removed from a tight contest against the New York Giants, with such little time to rest and recover the Boys found themselves quickly pummeled by Chip Kelly’s speedy offense. Now the Cowboys have had some thinking to do, and yes thinking about a rival beating you at home on Thanksgiving gives some added incentive to get the job done the second time around. The Boys are faced with a simple dilemma, win or wait. If the Cowboys get swept by the Eagles all they will be able to do is wait and hope that the Eagles drop their final two games and the Cowboys win, or some other complicated variation. This season for the Cowboys has been about proving themselves and believing in one another, of all the games to need faith in your fellow teammates, this is the one.
The setting has changed from 4:45 pm in the afternoon on a holiday, to a 8:30 primetime, all out, slugfest. Dez Bryant has been the teams spiritual compass this season, so expect an aggressive and emotional performance from 88. DeMarco Murray will have his work cut out for him again as the lowest yardage he has had in a game has come from facing this stiff Philadelphia Eagles defensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, Orlando Scandrick and the shaky Cowboys secondary will try to stop the tiny speedsters that are the Eagle’s wide receivers. Shady McCoy will attempt to push this healthy Cowboy’s defensive line to the brink.
The key factors in this game will hinge on the quarterback play. Mark Sanchez has had this Eagles team balling until they ran into the defending Super Bowl champs. Sanchez had two picks in that game leaving everyone to question whether or not he really has progressed as a quarterback. Sanchez is not on the Jets anymore so things were bound to be better, but how far has he come? Tony Romo’s progression is well documented this season and if it were any other season their record along with one more win would get them into the playoffs, but it isn’t. This will be a career defining game for the Cowboy’s signal caller and he has answered the call all season. Romo, Dez, DeMarco, the O line, Defenders have all said they are ready to take on the Eagles and get their revenge. This Eagles have been auspiciously quiet this week, even with Seahawks All Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner calling out Shady McCoy stating that “Shady didn’t want no part of hits”. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles respond to a motivated Cowboys team, lets see if the Cowboys can hit as hard as the Seahawks.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys
DENVER BRONCOS (10-3) AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (8-5) [4:05pm]
Bucking the Bolts
Let me start out by saying that these games are always weird. The Chargers are pretty weird too for that matter. Their erratic season has been a nightmare for Chargers fans, beat the Seahawks and some of the worst teams in the NFL (getting pushed to the edge by Oakland 31-28, and then lose to Kansas City by 3, Denver by a lot more, and then put a fat zero points on the Dolphins....Weird. The Chargers are coming off a loss last week against the Patriots, no real surprise their but what was surprising is how entertaining they made it. One thing is clear though the Chargers are on the outside of the playoff picture, they are not an elite team but their not an average team either.
Phillip Rivers has been mildly inconsistent, but it is do to a lack of a true number one wide receiver, it has been effecting his game all season long. Sure the Chargers wide receivers are not bad but none of them are on the levels of a Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown type of level yet. Their defense is not their yet either in terms of consistency, these are all things their going to have to fix over time. The Broncos however are not going to wait for the Chargers to get a more potent offense, they will most likely try to break them early. The first time they met it was the Broncos passing attack proving too strong to overcome. Now it seems it will be the running game. Running back CJ Anderson has had some incredible games and he has taken on the responsibility as the Bronco’s lead back. Peyton Manning has looked off, This was probably just because he had to spend so much time with Eli over the holidays. Peyton’s unlucky streak will end as the Bronco’s win the division with a potent passing game.
Pick: Denver Broncos
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS [7-6] AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS [9-4] [4:25pm]
Back to the Hawk’s Nest
This game is always a fun one. The Seahawks have been very rambunctious as of late but also very good. They remind me of the team they were when they won the Super Bowl, probably because they pretty much are. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Bobby Wagner, and Bruce Irvin aka The Legion of Boom (LoB) is back. The Seahawks took apart the Eagles last week leaving them confused and befuddled. Russell Wilson looked sharp and has been having one of his best seasons as a pro.
Now they take on a 49ers team that all but has thrown in the towel. The 49ers may hate the Seahawks but they definitely hate the Oakland Raiders for making them look extremely bad last week. NaVorro Bowman has been activated and bought back on the roster however there is a good chance he does not see a snap all season thanks to his lingering ACL MCL issues. Frank Gore and the 49er’s rushing game have been a joke this season mostly do to the abhorrent play calling. The 49ers are a run first football team and the last time I checked Steve Young was not at quarterback. Its not a question of if the Seahawks win, its a question of by how much and who gets ejected?
Pick: Seattle Seahawks
PITTSBURGH STEELERS [8-5] AT ATLANTA FALCONS [5-8] [1pm]
Falling Falcons Head Toward the Steel Curtain
The Falcons are falling apart like a comet tumbling towards a black hole. They played the best football they have played all season long against the Packers last week and they lost, which is common. Only in the most bizarro world like conference ever would they be leading the pack, and that is exactly what has happened. The lack of winning has kept the division up for grabs for most of the year however after a brutal loss to the Panthers, the Saints are losing their grip on the NFC South. The opposite can be said for the Steelers who have been in a dead heat with the Ravens and Bengals for first place all season long.
The Steelers destroyed the Bungles last week which made a huge statement as to whom this division belongs to. The real problem is the secondary for the Steelers and the Ravens are banged up to a point where anyone can score on them, the only edge their defenders have is in their linebackers. Matt Ryan aka Matty Ice has been under attack all season as his offensive line cannot protect him at all. To make matters worse Julio Jones will most likely be out for this game making a returning Roddy White the number one receiver. P.S. Atlanta’s run game is attrocious, Devonta Freeman if the Falcons offensive line ever plugs in their leaks. Pittsburgh will be to much too handle as they down the Falcons.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (7-5) [1pm]
Johnny Football and the Bungles
Ahhh its finally time, I thought it would never come. Johnny Football is now the starter for the Cleveland Browns. So what does this mean? Absolutely nothing... yet. I would have thought the Browns for being out of the playoff hunt for the most part would let Brian Hoyer run the show until he eventually was fired or at least forced to the bench. That did not happen, Hoyer got the Browns to were they are now, and yes it is not in the playoffs, but its pretty darn close for the Browns. Johnny Football could be their final remaining piece before they have a team that can really contend. So why would you have your future starting quarterback play the last three games of the season of failed campaigns, suspensions, and major injuries?
TO SEE WHAT HE CAN DO, OF COURSE. They are playing the Bungles this week so Andy Dalton will probably make Manziel look great. The Bungles blew it against the Steelers last week and now they are stuck with this name until they prove otherwise. Gio looks unhealthy averaging 3.9 yards per carry since his return from injury so expect a larger roll for Jeremy Hill. A Bungles win will keep them in first place, just not for long.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals