With 4 games left in the season, the 6-6 Cowboys would like to begin their playoff push tonight in Chicago.
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 11-5
Top Five Games of the Week
Dallas @ Chicago – With 4 weeks left in the season, the Bears have a slim chance at making the playoffs, currently sitting in third place in the NFC North. A win tonight at home would definitely help their situation. Chicago, after a tough start, has gained momentum recently winning their last two games. Dallas is desperate for something positive after losing their last two. Though they are still in the driver’s seat in the NFC East, their play recently hasn’t spurred any confidence. I think the Cowboys are in a “back against the wall” scenario and how they respond to that will go a long ways in terms of closing out their division, solidifying their playoff spot, and possibly saving the job of their head coach. In recent years, the Cowboys have responded well in these situations. In the last two seasons, Jason Garrett has led them to 3-1 records in the month of December. Tonight, the Cowboys will have to be the aggressor. Their defense has been lacking impact plays recently and that’s something that must change. Chicago doesn’t have much to offer besides their defense. Dallas must protect the football on offense and the defense can’t let Mitch Trubisky beat them. Dallas has to start playing like they’re desperate. Tonight, on the road in Chicago, would be the best time for that. Prediction: Cowboys over Bears
Baltimore @ Buffalo – The Bills were impressive on Thanksgiving. They can really start to turn heads in the AFC with another strong performance against one of the top teams in the league. Baltimore is on a roll right now, taking on all opponents. Last week against San Francisco, they battled all the way down to the last second and were victorious. Buffalo is a talented team that is especially receiving great play upfront defensively. But it seems like nothing can derailed the Lamar Jackson train right now. Buffalo is going to need some dynamic plays offensively to keep pace with the Ravens offense. I don’t know where they can get that from. December games in Buffalo can be tough but I think this Baltimore team is built for it. They handled the weather well last week. Prediction: Ravens over Bills
San Francisco @ New Orleans – The 49ers lost a tough one last week but I came away feeling good about their standing in the NFC. They took one of the league’s best teams down to the wire in a game that could have gone either way. This Sunday, they’ll face another great opponent in New Orleans. The Saints have had some hiccups this season but they are still one of the proven best teams in the conference. I think they will be in trouble this week though. New Orleans has struggled against strong defensive fronts this year. The 49ers have the formula for getting to the QB and limiting their opponents scoring chances. The Saints aren’t bad defensively either but I think they have some holes up front that the 49ers running game can expose. Much like their game last week in Baltimore, I think San Fran is looking at a contest that will be determined in the last minutes. Prediction: 49ers over Saints
Kansas City @ New England – New England’s lack of offense finally caught up to them last week. They have done some amazing things defensively this season but at the end of the day, you must figure out a way to score points. Tom Brady needs help at the receiver position and the offense’s running game can only do so much. Kansas City pretty much has the opposite problem. Patrick Mahomes’ offense can look unstoppable at times and they will pressure New England’s defense in a way that they haven’t seen all season. I have to wonder if Brady is going to ask owner Robert Kraft to bring back Antonio Brown after this one. Prediction: Chiefs over Patriots
Seattle @ LA Rams – The Rams got a much-needed win last week but thanks to the Seahawks and 49ers, they seem like a playoff long shot. Seattle is a team where you pretty much know what you’re going to get each week. They just play hard and it’s a reflection from their head coach, Pete Carroll. I honestly can’t stand him but year in and year out, his team competes at a high level. No matter what they have in the backfield or at receiver, they are solid offensively. A lot of credit should also go to QB Russell Wilson. The Rams have been shaky offensively this season. QB Jared Goff has been inconsistent and the play calling suggests that they don’t really trust that RB Todd Gurley is fully recovered from injury. The Rams should also be better defensively since acquiring CB Jalen Ramsey but that transaction hasn’t really proven its worth yet. Seattle has had issues in the past on the road but I think they’ll handle this week’s test. Prediction: Seahawks over Rams
The Rest of Week 14
Falcons over Panthers – Who had Ron Rivera getting fired before Dan O’Quinn? Not me.
Browns over Bengals – Cincy finally won last week. I think Cleveland will benefit from playing one of the league’s worst defensive teams this week.
Packers over Washington – Does Washington have some momentum left over after beating Carolina last week? Technically, they are still alive in the horrible NFC East.
Vikings over Lions – Minnesota should feel good about their playoff chances. They still can afford a let down at home against a division rival.
Jets over Dolphins – Dare I say that the Jets play better this year at home?
Buccaneers over Colts – In a mild upset, I see Tampa’s defense stepping up against a wounded Indianapolis team.
Texans over Broncos – Houston has the potential to play well against any team in the league.
Chargers over Jaguars – The Chargers were hosed by the refs last week. They are owed one.
Raiders over Titans – Another upset here. Tennessee is playing well but they are inconsistent. Gruden will have his guys ready to play at home this week.
Cardinals over Steelers – The formula of having a good defense and very little offense can only take you so far in this league. Arizona isn’t great but they aren’t the Browns.
Eagles over Giants – Sorry to be the buzz kill here but the potential return of Eli Manning will only help the Eagles pass rush, right?