1st Down: The Game Of The Week

Minnesota Vikings (10-5) @ Green Bay Packers (10-5)

The de-facto NFC North championship game. Although the loser still makes the playoffs, this game still holds a lot of weight. The winner wins the North and the number three seed in the NFC. Depending on what happens in this game, we could see a rematch next week featuring these two teams. For that to happen the Packers would have to win this game and the Seahawks would have to defeat the Cardinals. If the Vikings win the Packers would get the number five seed and travel to Washington next week.

Last time these two teams played the Packers manhandle the Vikings, winning 30-13. The Packers’ defense held Adrian Peterson to 3.5 yards per carry. The Packers offense torched the Vikings’ defense with a balanced attack of passing and running.

The Packers are struggling right now, but let’s not forget. The last time these two teams played the Packers were on a three game losing streak and looked atrocious on offense, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Packers bounce back in this one.

The Vikings’ defense is coming off of a terrific performance against the Giants. In that game, the defense intercepted Eli Manning three times, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

In this game we have a struggling offense, who hasn’t looked right all season long, going up against a defense that just saw the return of three of their best players (Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph, and Harrison Smith). The Packers’ depleted offensive line allowed eight sacks last week. I expect the Vikings’ defense to dial up a lot of blitzes. When healthy, their defense is a championship level defense.

The Vikings are going to look to control the tempo of this game. I expect them to run the ball much more than they did in their first meeting (Peterson got 13 carries in that one). They are going to try to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field, and I think they’ll succeed at that.

 

Prediction: Vikings- 23

Packers- 20

 

 

2nd Down: Win And You’re In

New York Jets (10-5) @ Buffalo Bills (7-8)

With a win in this game the Jets would clinch their first playoff berth since 2011. I don’t think anyone wants to knock the Jets out of the playoff picture more than the Bills’ coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan, the former coach of the Jets, showed just how much he cared about beating them the first time these two teams met, but the Bills’ team that beat the Jets back in week 10 was a much different team than the Bills are now. To start, their running back, LeSean McCoy will miss this game with a torn meniscus. Back in week 10, the Bills’ defense was among the best in terms of yardage allowed, but now they rank in the bottom half of the league in that category.

In addition to the Bills’ defense underperforming on the field, multiple reports say “Unnamed Bill’s defensive players have voiced their displeasure with Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme.” The Bills are a mess right now.

On the other side of the field, we have the Jets, who, at this moment, are the exact opposite of the Bills. The Jets are rolling right now. Led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets have won five consecutive games. Not only have they won their games, but they’ve also looked like one of the best teams in the NFL.

I never thought I would utter the phrase “The Jets Passing Attack Is Among The Best In The NFL”. But that’s just what I am doing because it’s true. Fitzpatrick is lighting up opposing defenses right now. He’s thrown for 13 touchdowns and just one interception during this five game winning streak.

I think the Jets’ dynamic receiving duo of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker will be too much for the Bills to handle.

 

Prediction: Jets- 34

Bills- 13

 

Third Down: Win And The Path To Super Bowl 50 Goes Through Foxborough

New England Patriots (12-3) @ Miami Dolphins (5-10)

I’m going to say this right now. I fully expect this game to be a blowout in favor of the New England Patriots.

The Patriots haven’t looked like the Patriots we are used to seeing in about six weeks, but with a win here they’ll clinch home field advantage throughout the AFC. I think the Patriots, coming off of a loss, will come out firing in this one. I fully expect Danny Amendola to play, giving Tom Brady one of his leading receivers back. The Patriots want to go into the playoffs on a high note and they have the perfect opportunity to do so against this Dolphins’ team.

The Dolphins have been an absolute disaster this season, from firing their coach to a Brent Grimes’ wife calling out Ryan Tannehill. It’s just been an absolute dumpster fire. They severely underachieved all season long and I think it’s time to clean house. Bring in a new coaching staff and a new GM.

 

Prediction: Patriots- 38

Dolphins- 10

 

 

Fourth Down: The Rest Of The Games

 

  1. Jaguars over the Texans
  2. Colts over the Titans
  3. Steelers over the Browns
  4. Bengals over the Ravens
  5. Lions over the Bears
  6. Saints over the Falcons
  7. Cowboys over the Redskins
  8. Giants over the Eagles
  9. Panthers over the Buccaneers
  10. Cardinals over the Seahawks
  11. 49ers over the Rams
  12. Broncos over the Chargers
  13. Chiefs over the Raiders

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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