This game is likely going to be closer than it really should be as the NFC East always finds a way to produce a mind-boggling game. The Giants are coming off an ugly 30-10 loss to the Bucs as the Eagles have now won two straight and are starting to get in a rhythm. This week Philadelphia heads on the road where they have thrived the most with a 4-2 record, 19.5 PPG allowed, +53 point diff, and +8 sack diff. On top of that, the Eagles are 12-2 against the Giants since 2014. If there’s a lopsided NFC East matchup, it’s between these two squads.
Perhaps one of the most important regular-season games is upon us this Sunday in Foxboro. It comes as no surprise that the Patriots have found a way to be great again in the post-Tom Brady era and find themselves in a prime position to shake up the playoff picture. New England has won their last five straight games averaging 35.0 PPG with only 10.0 PPG allowed, and +9 turnover diff. The offense is clicking and the defense is playing dominant football. This week rookie QB Mac Jones takes on a stout Titans secondary as Ryan Tannehill will watch from the opposing sidelines.
Interestingly enough, since Mike Vrabel was hired as the Titans HC in 2018, the team is 1-4 against rookie quarterbacks, including an overtime loss earlier this season to Jets no. 2 overall pick, Zach Wilson. But it may be no walk in the park for Jones in this matchup as Tennesse still poses a stout defense and has allowed only 18.6 PPG since Week 7.
However, the Titans will be without wide receivers Julio Jones, A.J. Brown, and RB Derrick Henry for the foreseeable future, and in a pivotal matchup like this, it‘s tough to imagine the Titans moving the ball consistently against Bill Belichick’s defense.
The snoozefest of the early window comes with a matchup between two squads that both have an abysmal record of 2-8. I’ll take Houston simply because the team looked great in last week’s upset win over the Titans and with rookie QB Zach Wilson back, it seems like a favorable matchup for the defense.
A pivotal AFC North matchup is upon us in Cincinnati as the Bengals look to slowly but surely turn their season around. The Bengals have 30+ points in 4 of their last 5 games as they hold the 2nd place spot in the division. Meanwhile, a tie with the winless Lions and a loss to the Chargers have the Steelers stuck half a game ahead of the Browns and behind the Bengals for 3rd place in the division.
The only issue with the Bengals has been Joe Burrow who has 215.0 pass YPG, 1 TD, 2 INT, and a 78.8 passer rating since week 9. Rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase has been on the receiving end of this with fewer than 50 rec yards in 3 straight games. This week, Cinci has the ability to exploit a Steelers secondary that has been vulnerable at times, especially with RB Joe Mixon allowing the Bengals to have a strong dual-threat offense. The Bengals beat them earlier this season, and they can do it again on their home turf on Sunday.
This seems like a toss-up game in the early window. The Panthers seem like they have something special in the return of Cam Newton, however, Miami has been playing great football lately which is too tough to ignore. The Dolphins have won three straight games and a large part of that is thanks to their defense allowing a mere 12.0 PPG over that span. On top of that, Miami is 15-7 in Nov-Jan since Brian Flores became HC in 2019. This team simply performs better on the back end of the season and if Flores’ defense can contain Newton the same way they did to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Week 10, Miami should take this.
One of the sneaky good matchups in the week finds Tom Brady in Lucas Oil Stadium once again in a battle with the Colts. Gone are the days where this would be about Brady against Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis squad as reality begins to settle in that TB12 is a Buccaneer and Carson Wentz is now calling the shots in Indy.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is Brady’s dominance over the horseshoe. The future Hall of Famer is 8-0 vs Colts since 2010 (incl. playoffs), his most wins without a loss against any opponent in that span. But this week, he will need to rely on his arm to beat Jonathan Taylor’s legs.
Both offensive units have shown up and shown out, so it’s going to come down to these two defenses stepping up and winning this game, and that’s going to be Tampa Bay. Todd Bowles’ defensive unit continues to impress as the Buccaneers have not allowed 100+ scrimmage yards and 1+ scrimmage TD to an RB since Week 14, 2020 (Vikings’ Dalvin Cook). It’s going to be an uphill battle for Taylor and forcing Wentz to air it out against the Bucs secondary is exactly what Arians would want.
The Falcons have been outscored 68-3 over the last two weeks, but it’s hard to believe that this team doesn’t have the talent it takes to beat a 2-8 Jaguars squad. Atlanta is coming off a long week following an ugly loss to the Patriots in Week 11’s installation of Thursday night football. Meanwhile, the Jaguars season speaks for itself… other than pulling off a massive 9-6 upset over the Bills, Jacksonville has allowed teams to have their way, especially NFC squads. The Jaguars have lost 14 straight games against NFC teams and best believe that streak seems yet to be snapped.