Dec 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) dives for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 30-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Lions (1-7) at Green Bay Packers (6-2)
While it is unlikely that the Lions figured out their problems in a tumultuous bye week, they can not expect any mercy from division foe Green Bay, who is looking to end its two game losing streak. That mission should be accomplished as they return home, face a bad team and will have every opportunity to revitalize their pass rush.
Carolina Panthers (8-0) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)
We might not like to admit it, but the Panthers are one of the best football teams in the NFL. They might have caught many teams in difficult phases of the season, but all signs point to the Panthers being a real contender. As such, one is supposed to win against the Titans, a team that lacks play-makers and has to rely on opposing defenders to drop interceptions to score. This has trap game written all over it, but the Panthers defense is just too good to give up a lot to Tennessee’s boring offense.
Dallas Cowboys (2-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
Another week without Tony Romo, another week with bad news surrounding Greg Hardy. Simply put, Jerry Jones might not be the hypocrite Robert Kraft is, but he is without doubt the most ignorant owner in the league. While Matt Cassel made strides last week, a few things have to fall in place for the Cowboys to escape Florida with a win. Two of said things: Sean Lee clearing concussion protocol and Anthony Hitchens recovering from an ankle bruise.
Chicago Bears (3-5) at St. Louis Rams (4-4)
Jay Cutler takes care of the football, releases it fast, makes good decision, and is not a liability. Back in the summer, many did not believe those things would ever be true, but they are now. The Bears are not a good team but make the most out of their limited opportunities and come out every week with effort. Effort alone will not be enough this week, as the Rams are coming off an overtime loss and will ride Todd Gurley at home to establish the upper hand. The healthy Alshon Jeffery is the X-factor to look for here.
Nov 8, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) point at the line of scrimmage against the Tennessee Titans during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Titans defeated the Saints 34-28 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints (4-5) at Washington Redskins (3-5)
Both teams do not have a lot of time for wound licking as they face desperate teams in their own rights after taking a serious beating the previous week. As expected, the Redskins travelled up to New England and got blown out. What was not expected was the Saints seeing their winning streak end against a team with underwhelming talent, a makeshift offensive line, and a rookie quarterback asked to move the offense with dump-off passes. This game will be a lot of things, but pretty is not one of them. A loss here would take the Saints out of playoff contention for good, and the Redskins must win this game to stay competitive in a not-so-competitive NFC East. Once again, the fights in the trenches are likely to decide this game, and the Saints have nowhere to go but up in this regard.
Miami Dolphins (3-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
Who are the Dolphins under Dan Campbell? A team that can not snap the ball up north without giving up a safety or a team that blows out lesser opponents down south? We inch closer to finding out when they face the Eagles in Philadelphia, an injury-battling squad with serious playoff aspirations in a weak division. The Eagles have a slight edge but it could go either way when two teams with such inconsistency meet.
Cleveland Browns (2-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
Will Big Ben start? This is the large question looming in the Steel City where fans got to see an offensive explosion by DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown last week. Landry Jones would be called upon if Roethlisberger was not good to go but at least he is a pocket passer, hence a better fit Todd Haley’s system. Cleveland expects Josh McCown to start and lead the team into Heinz Field.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
Oh boy, the Ravens lose another pass catcher in Dennis Pitta who will not be able to play this season (and possibly beyond) after all. The Jaguars are in town and in dire need of a conference win to maintain a theoretical chance of winning the division. Blake Bortles and the offense are headed in the right direction but fail to put it together late in games. There is no better week for Gus Bradley’s expensive defense to step up than this week against a struggling quarterback without viable wideouts.
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