1st Down: The Game Of The Week

Cincinnati Bengals (8-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (7-2)

The number two and three teams in my power rankings will meet in my game of the week this Sunday. The Cardinals are coming off their biggest regular season win in franchise history, while the Bengals are coming off a huge Monday night letdown against the Texans.

This is the third straight primetime game for the Bengals. The narrative to this point has been Andy Dalton cannot get the job done on the biggest stage. This season he is 1-1 in primetime; one spectacular game against the Browns and one horrific game against the Texans. This is a huge statement game for the Bengals; if they want to be taken seriously, they don’t have to win this game, but it must be competitive.

Over his last three games, Andy Dalton has thrown more interceptions than he had through his first six games. In those three games A.J. Green is third in targets. For the Bengals to succeed, Dalton has to get back to his pre November form and get the ball to his best playmaker in A.J. Green.

The Cardinals’ offense is coming off a terrific performance; putting up 39 points on one of the best defenses in the league. Surprisingly, Carson Palmer has played better against defenses ranked in the top half of the league compared to defenses ranked in the bottom half. The Bengals are currently ranked 11th in total defense.

The Cardinals’ secondary is arguably the best in the league. They currently lead the NFL in interceptions with 14.

All signs point to an Arizona victory on Sunday, but I think it will be a competitive game.

 

Prediction: Cardinals 31

Bengals 27

 

2ND Down: The Battle For The North

Green Bay Packers (6-3) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

Before the season, who would have thought that a November game between the Packers and Vikings could make or break the Packers season?

The Packers come into this one having lost three in a row, with their offense struggling. For the Packers to succeed in this one, their offense is going to have to play better, something that will be a challenge, as the Vikings have one of the best defenses in the entire NFL.

The Vikings have dominated opposing team’s offenses since the start of October. Since then, the Vikings lead the NFL in tackles for loss and are fifth in total sacks. Their defense is clicking on all cylinders right now and much of that is because of the fact that they control the style of play.

They dictate the style of play that is played in the game. With Adrian Peterson at running back, they control the tempo and pace of play. They’ll give the ball to Peterson 25 times per game, regardless of how effective he is running. They make their opponent beat them on their terms. If the Packers want to win, they are going to have to beat the Vikings the way the Vikings want to play, which is the opposite of how the Packers play (Fast paced, through the air)

 

Prediction: Vikings 27

Packers 21

 

3rd Down: The Dawn Of A New Era…. Maybe?

Denver Broncos (7-2) @ Chicago Bears (4-5)

This game is full of narratives. John Fox VS his old team, Brock Osweiler’s first career start, and Jay Cutler’s revenge game. With a win, the Bears would suddenly look like a team ready to make a push at one of the two NFC wild card spots. With a loss, the Broncos season would suddenly look like a team whose season is going down the drain.

With so many narratives to watch, this game is a must watch for football fans.

Of all the narratives, the one that most excites me is Brock Osweiler’s first career start. I want to see how he performs compared to how Peyton Manning played through the first 10 weeks of the season.

I think he is going to shine, so much so, I think we have seen the last of Peyton Manning. I think he’s thrown his last career pass, and Oswiler will run away with this job.

 

Prediction: Broncos 27

Bears 13

 

4th Down: The Rest Of The Games

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars over the Tennessee Titans
  2. Dallas Cowboys over the Miami Dolphins
  3. Philadelphia Eagles over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Atlanta Falcons over the Indianapolis Colts
  5. Carolina Panthers over the Washington Redskins
  6. New York Jets over the Houston Texans
  7. Baltimore Ravens over the St. Louis Rams
  8. Oakland Raiders over the Detroit Lions
  9. Kansas City Chiefs over the San Diego Chargers
  10. Seattle Seahawks over the San Francisco 49ers
  11. New England Patriots over the Buffalo Bills

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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