Falcons vs. Eagles
Poor, Eagles, man. They had a legit shot to win it all. An elite QB? Check. A solid running game? Check. Receiving options? Check. An elite run defense? Double check. A functional pass defense? Check. The Eagles offense is no match for the improving Falcons defense. Nick Foles, despite having that one fluky season where he posted a 28:2 touchdown to interception ratio, is not a playoff-caliber quarterback and has regressed significantly. While solid, the Eagles running game won’t be able to achieve the success needed facing endless 8-men box fronts, and the stellar Falcons corners should be able to contain the passing attack with ease.
While the Falcons don’t possess the potent attack of a year ago, their defense has improved markedly and they luck out by facing the Wentz-less Eagles. The offense doesn’t need to do a ton to win this game, but that may be easier said than done against a very solid Eagles defense.
PREDICTION: Falcons 24 Eagles 13
Titans vs. Patriots
I hate the Patriots. Not only do they consistently play in the weakest division in football, but they luck out by playing a Titans team that I maintain wouldn’t have even sniffed the playoffs in the NFC. I don’t really feel like I need to say a ton regarding this game. The Patriots should be able to move the ball with ease against a poor Titan secondary, and the Titans don’t have the offense or the experience to keep up.
PREDICTION: Patriots 34 Titans 20
Jaguars vs. Steelers
I am really looking forward to the Sunday games. I could see the Jags upsetting the Steelers and the Vikings/Saints game is easily the best of the weekend.
I think the Jaguars should have more success moving the ball than in their opening bout against the Bills. The Steelers were already prone to giving up big plays through the air (Brett Hundley for God sake threw all over that secondary), and now they’re missing their top defender. The Jaguars have an underrated receiving group and a good running game spearheaded by Fournette. However, they still have Bortles. He’s looked competent at times this year, but was dreadful last weekend through the air – albeit against a good secondary. I just don’t know how much faith I can put in Bortles. He’s got some good things working in his favor this weekend – namely a defense prone to allowing big pass plays and a team missing its top defender.
Big Ben is going to want some redemption in this game. Last time he saw the Jags he threw a career best (or worst?) five picks in a complete drudging. Think he’ll be motivated for this game? The Jags have an unbelieve defensive front and secondary that makes it extremely difficult to throw on them, so the Steelers will want to pound the rock early and often to soften the teeth of that Jacksonville front.
This game will be decided by superior quarterback play and overall experience. The outcome of this game could also depend on the status of MVP candidate Antonio Brown, who is listed as a game-time decision.
PREDICTION: Steelers 20 Jaguars 16
Saints vs. Vikings
What a game this should end up being! I love the matchups and storylines in this game — The Vikings, led by feel-good story of the year, Case Keenum, face a much improved Saints defense, while the Saints second-rated offense go up against the top defense in the league. Which wins out? That’ll be up to Case Keenum. Unlike in years’ past, the Vikings (at least without Dalvin Cook) don’t have an elite running game to carry the offense, so it’ll be up to Keenum and the passing attack to put up points. I still am wary about the Saints defense regressing back to the mean, while I truly believe in the Vikings defense and believe in Keenum and their offense just enough that I see them winning this thriller.