1st Down: The Game Of The Week

New England Patriots (10-0) @ Denver Broncos (8-2)

Arguably this was the most anticipated game of the offseason. It was supposed to be Brady VS. Manning round 17, but instead we have Brady VS. Brock.

This is going to be a defensive battle. The Patriots’ defense has been sneaky good all season long. Super Bowl 49 hero, Malcolm Butler has become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He routinely shuts down opposing receivers. The defensive line, led by Chandler Jones, is the fiercest defensive line the Patriots have had since the Richard Seymour days. Going up against a quarterback making his second career start presents the defense with the opportunity to have a field day on Sunday.

Like the Patriots’ defense, the Broncos’ defense also has the potential for a huge game. The depleted offensive personnel of the Patriots gives the Broncos’ defense a clear edge over the offense of the Patriots. On Monday night, quarterback Tom Brady was hit on over 50 percent of his drop backs against the Bills. The Broncos’ posses the best pass rush in the NFL. I can already see the likes of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware bringing constant pressure to Brady on each and every drop back. Behind a suddenly bad offensive line, Tom Brady might be in trouble.

This is going to be a low scoring game. It’s a hard one to pick, but I’ve been saying it since week three: The Patriots are going to finish 16-0. So, I have to pick New England in this one. When all things are even, 99 out of 100 times I’m going to pick the team with the better quarterback and that is the Patriots in this one.

 

Prediction: Patriots 16

Broncos 13

 

2nd Down: The Thanksgiving Staple

Carolina Panthers (10-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-7)

Normally, a game between a 10-0 team and a 3-7 team wouldn’t be a game of note, but that is not the case here.

With Tony Romo at quarterback the Cowboys are 3-0, and thanks to a bad division, at 3-7 the Cowboys are right in the thick of the division race. They likely will have to win the remainder of their games to win the division, but with Tony Romo at quarterback, I think it is possible. This is the toughest game remaining on their schedule, but playing them on Thanksgiving gives them a distinct advantage. Tony Romo’s record on Thanksgiving is 6-2. Of course, this team might be the best team he has ever played against on Thanksgiving, but nonetheless, Romo and the Cowboys consistently perform on Turkey Day.

The Panthers have played terrific over the last month, so much so they lead the NFL in scoring and defensive efficiency during in that span. Cam Newton is right behind Tom Brady in the race for the MVP and rightfully so, as he is playing at a level we have not seen from him ever. The Cowboys’ defense has been better as of late holding opposing quarterbacks and running backs to below their average total yards, but the Panthers team is a different animal. Cam Newton is as unique a quarterback we have ever seen. He is the best goal line threat on his team and he has the ability to throw the ball accurately down the field.

The Cowboys will have their hands full with the Panthers on Thursday, but something about Tony Romo leads me to believe that this will be the game that the Panthers lose. It’s going to be a close game, but on a short week, traveling to Dallas, in a big spot, I think the Cowboys get the job done and get one step closer to winning the NFC East.

 

Prediction: Cowboys 34

Panthers 30

 

3rd Down: The Wild Card Extravaganza

Buffalo Bills (5-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-5)

At 5-5 both the Bills and the Chiefs find themselves in the thick of the AFC wild card race. The Chiefs have stormed back from a 1-4 start to even their record up at 5-5. Only a few teams in the NFL played better football over the last month than the Chiefs.

The Chiefs’ defense allowed a mere 201 total yards of offense against the Chargers on Sunday, a team who coming into the game were averaging over 400 yards of total offense. They’ve managed to shut down their opponents biggest strengths over the last month, an ability only a few NFL teams possess.

The Bills have been disappointing over the last month. Since returning from injury, Tyrod Taylor hasn’t been the same. Although the defense played well on Monday night against New England, they have severely underwhelmed all season. Stopping the run was supposed to be a staple of this Bills’ defense, but that has been far from true thus far. They give up an average of 96.4 rushing yards per game. This is bad news for the Bills, as the Chiefs come into the game averaging 120 rushing yards per game.

The Chiefs are hot right now, and I think that hot streak continues this Sunday. I don’t think a Tyrod Taylor led offense can put up enough points to beat the Chiefs.

 

Prediction Chiefs 28

Bills 13

 

4th Down: The Rest Of The Games

 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles over the Detroit Lions
  2. Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears
  3. Cincinnati Bengals over the St. Louis Rams
  4. Minnesota Vikings over the Atlanta Falcons
  5. New York Jets over the Miami Dolphins
  6. Washington Redskins over the New York Giants
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars over the San Diego Chargers
  8. Indianapolis Colts over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  9. Houston Texans over the New Orleans Saints
  10. Oakland Raiders over the Tennessee Titans
  11. Seattle Seahawks over the Pittsburgh Steelers
  12. Arizona Cardinals over the San Francisco 49ers
  13. Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Ravens

 

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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