1st Down: The Game Of The Week

Denver Broncos (10-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

By far this is the game of the week. Here we have two of the best teams in the AFC going at it this late in the season, with playoff implications on the line.

Despite being ranked 5th in my power rankings the Steelers would miss the postseason if the playoffs were to start today. On the other hand, we have the Broncos, who are tied for the second seed in the AFC, despite being in the bottom half of the league in almost every offensive category.

The Steelers come into this one red hot, winning four of their last five, scoring over 30 points in all five of those contests. The Steelers receiving core is arguably the best in the NFL. They have Antonio Brown, who is the best receiver in the NFL, Martavis Bryant, who is the fastest receiver in the NFL, Markus Wheaton, who would be a number two receiver on a handful of teams, and Heath Miller, who is one of the most underrated tight ends in the NFL. With plenty of options to choose from, Ben Roethlisberger is having a career year. So, the question remains; can any team stop the Steelers high powered offense?

Well, if any team could, it would be the Broncos, who posses one the best defenses in the NFL. They have allowed the fewest amount of yards and points, and have only allowed a mere 13 passing touchdowns. It seems like the Broncos defense is the perfect kryptonite to the Steelers’ offense, but just because it seems like that, it doesn’t make it true.

I give the edge to the Steelers offense in this one, and the main reason why, is the amount of time the Broncos’ defense will be on the field. Despite being ranked as the best defense in the NFL, the Broncos rank 13th in time of possession. This is the lowest ranking for a team that has the number one ranked defense in over 10 years, and this because of the anemic offense. They have scored one offensive touchdown in their last two games, and have scored 17 points or less in four of their last six games. With all that said, I think the defense is going to be on the field a lot on Sunday, which is bad news. The more chances you give to the high-powered Steelers’ offense; the more likely they are going to score. A defense can only hold an offense like the Steelers have for so long.

 

Prediction: Steelers- 30

Broncos- 14

 

2nd Down: The Pursuit Of Perfection

Carolina Panthers (13-0) @ New York Giants (6-7)

Three games left; three wins away from perfection.

The Panthers come into this one red-hot. Over the last three weeks the Panthers offensive explosion has pushed them into first in total offense. Cam Newton has established himself as the favorite to win the MVP. The defense has gotten back to their 2013 form, which is right up there with the Broncos as one of the best in the league. If the Panthers can beat this Giants team, they will finish 16-0, but this game by no means a lock for the Panthers.

Despite a 6-7 record the Giants are in the thick of the NFC playoff race. They are currently tied atop the NFC East and control their own destiny. If they win the remanded of their games the Giants will win the NFC East based on tiebreakers.

The Giants as an organization are not strangers to big games. They ended the 07 Patriots perfect season, defeated the 2011 15-1 Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, and they posses a quarterback by the name of Eli Manning, who seems to always keep his cool even in the biggest of games. If any team is going to end the Panthers’ perfect season it would be the Giants.

In my opinion, this is a coin flip game. I know the Giants are coming off a short week, and the Panthers are red hot, but like I said earlier, I can’t count out the Giants. I haven’t been high on the Panthers’ at all this season, but this week, I came to the conclusion that they will finish 16-0, so by default, I have to pick them here.

 

Prediction: Panthers- 31 (Last Second Field Goal)

Giants- 30

 

3rd Down: The Battle For The AFC South

Houston Texans (6-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-7)

Despite both teams having records of 6-7 the winner of this game will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

This is by no means a great game, but I am intrigued by this matchup. It’s week 15 and a game between Charlie Whitehurst and T.J. Yates might decide the winner of the AFC South. This fascinates me. The Colts have given up more than 40 points in consecutive games, losing both of them by more than 30. The Texans have lost two straight games, and in those games J.J. Watt has been held to just one total sack.

Again, this isn’t a great game, but I will definitely have my eye on this game. It’s going to be ugly, but more than likely one of these teams will be playing football in January.

 

Prediction: Texans 7

Colts 3

 

4th Down: The Rest Of The Games

  1. Buccaneers over the Rams
  2. Jets over the Cowboys
  3. Chiefs over the Ravens
  4. Patriots over the Titans
  5. Redskins over the Bills
  6. Jaguars over the Falcons
  7. Bears over the Vikings
  8. Packers over the Raiders
  9. Seahawks over the Browns
  10. Bengals over the 49ers
  11. Chargers over the Dolphins
  12. Cardinals over the Eagles
  13. Saints over the Lions

 

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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