1st Down: The Game Of The Week

Green Bay Packers (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (12-2)

Of all the games this week, I couldn’t think of a better game than what we have here. These two teams have a combined record of 22-6. The two quarterbacks involved in this game, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers, are two of the best in the business. In my opinion, the winner of this game will be the NFC’s number two seed come January.

Even with the loss of Tyrann Mathieu, I still believe the Cardinals are the NFL’s best team. Outside of a select few non-quarterbacks, I think every non-quarterback is expendable. I’m not taking anything away from Mathieu, but it’s just the landscape of the league. As long as Carson Palmer is behind center, the Cardinals are going to be fine. In his last 29 starts the Cardinals are 25-4, the best of any NFL team in a stretch of 29 games with one quarterback since 2010.

Despite clinching their seventh straight playoff appearance, those who cover the league seem to be down on the Packers. Yes, their receiving core is abysmal compared to previous years. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is not having the typical Aaron Rodgers type year. Yes, their running game is extremely inconsistent. But, nonetheless, I will never count out a team with Rodgers at quarterback. Even in a down year, he is still completing 61 percent of his passes, and he has a touchdown to interception ratio of 29-6.

I’m giving the edge to Arizona in this one. They are the better football team from top to bottom and the game is in Arizona. This is going to be a great game, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind we will see a rematch come January.

 

Prediction: Cardinals- 31

Packers- 26

 

 

2nd Down: The NFC East Championship (Sort of)

Washington Redskins (7-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)

With a win here, the Washington Redskins would clinch the NFC East for the first time since the 2012 NFL season, but if they lose, all hell will break loose.

Here are all of the scenarios for the NFC East:

  1. Redskins can clinch the division with a win over the Eagles. If they lose, they can clinch the division the following week with a win over the Cowboys and a loss by the Eagles or tie in the Giants Eagles game.
  2. For the Eagles to win the division they have to win their final two games and the Redskins have to lose their final two games.
  3. For the Giants to win the division, they have to win their final two games and the Redskins have to lose their final two games.

In other words, this game has huge implication in deciding who wins the NFC East. The Redskins are clearly in control, but I think if they lose this game their hopes of a division title will be lost.

So, what I’m trying to say is this game is the de-facto NFC East championship. If the Eagles win, I think they’ll go on to win the division, but this game will be far from easy for the Eagles to win.

Over the last four weeks Kirk Cousins has been lights out. The Redskins are 3-1 in those games and Cousins has completed 74 percent of his passes. His touchdown to interception ratio is 7-1 and he has three rushing touchdowns in that span.

The Eagles have been one of the hardest teams to read all season long. At times they look like the team we thought they were going to be, and at other times they look like the worst team in the league. One week they beat the best team in the AFC, the next they barely escape against a middle of the road team.

All signs point to a Redskins win in this one. In their game earlier this season, the Redskins won 24-21. This Redskins’ team today is much better than that team was a few months ago.

 

Prediction: Redskins- 34

Eagles- 17

 

3rd Down: The Monday Night Showdown

Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) @ Denver Broncos (10-4)

AJ McCarron versus Brock Osweiler, just what what we thought when we saw this game on the schedule back in August.

Ehh, not quite, but nonetheless, we have a tremendous game on our hands. This game features two of the NFL’s best defenses. The Broncos’ defense is coming off of an embarrassing performance and will be chomping at the bit to get back into the eyes of the elite, and they’ll have the opportunity as they are taking on a quarterback who is making his second career start. Week in and week out the Bengals’ defense, specifically their front seven, has been fantastic. They consistently bring pressure on opposing quarterbacks and are an elite run stopping team.

I love the Bengals in this one. We saw in the second half of last week’s game just how poor this Broncos’ offense can be, and that was against an abysmal Steelers’ defense. I think the Bengals’ defense is going to control this game. We are in store for a defensive showdown on Monday night.

 

Prediction: Bengals- 20

Broncos- 13

 

Fourth Down: The Rest Of The Games

 

  1. Oakland Raiders over the San Diego Chargers
  2. New England Patriots over the New York Jets
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers over the Baltimore Ravens
  4. Tennessee Titans over the Houston Texans
  5. Kansas City Chiefs over the Cleveland Browns
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Chicago Bears
  7. Indianapolis Colts over the Miami Dolphins
  8. Buffalo Bills over the Dallas Cowboys
  9. Carolina Panthers over the Atlanta Falcons
  10. Detroit Lions over the San Francisco 49ers
  11. Jacksonville Jaguars over the New Orleans Saints
  12. Seattle Seahawks over the St. Louis Rams
  13. Minnesota Vikings over the New York Giants

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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