Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-2) – Thursday, 8:25pm, CBS/NFL Network
This looked like a fantastic primetime game in preseason. Ok, a pretty good one. Ok, decent. Now? A little bit less. I keep wanting to call the Vikings awful, but even without Adrian Peterson they’re 2-2, just like most of their division. Teddy Bridgewater was instantly more exciting than Matt Cassel. Of course, he might not even play tonight (ankle sprain), so the Vikings might be stuck with…Christian Ponder!? Oof.
The Packers are coming off of a big win over the Bears. Eddie Lacy continues to struggle (he’s averaging a meager 3 yards per carry), but Aaron Rodgers is on a roll with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb right now. This one is the Pack’s to lose.
Chicago Bears (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2) – Sunday, 1:00pm, FOX
The Panthers are so desperate at running back that they’re going to start throwing coaches on the field. Cam Newton might have to take over at RB with Derek Anderson stepping in at QB. The Panthers got the Crazy 88 treatment from Steve Smith (Senior, he is Senior now!) last week, and look to rebound against the Bears.
The Bears got their asses handed to them in a key divisional matchup with the Packers last week. Chicago should have the edge this week with more weapons on offense and Carolina’s dead running game.
Cleveland Browns (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-3) – Sunday, 1:00pm, CBS
Here’s your Red Zone groaner of the week. Cleveland is in less shambles than Tennessee, so there you go. Good for you, Browns.
St. Louis Rams (1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) – Sunday, 1:00pm, FOX
The Eagles got whooped by the 49ers, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. 213 total yards on offense? Yeesh. You’d think that they were in dead last place from the talk that’s followed the loss in San Francisco. The Eagles need to rebound, and what better team is there to rebound against than the Rams?
Austin Davis will be starting the game for St. Louis. His most notable attribute is that no one was aware he existed until he game in for Shaun Hill (!) in the previous game. Zac Stacy should get about 50 carries on Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons (2-2) at New York Giants (2-2) – Sunday, 1:00pm, FOX
A matchup of two teams that don’t make much sense. The Falcons have a terrific receiving corps with Julio Jones and Roddy White. They’ve put up big points to their division rivals. But then they lost to the Vikings last week. The Giants rebounded from an 0-2 start with wins over Houston and Washington. Many people have cited offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system finally clicking with the players as the primary reason for the Giants’ recent success. Others have pointed out that the football teams in Houston and Washington, frankly, stink.
In short, Atlanta’s at home, so the money I’m not placing on the game is on the Falcons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) at New Orleans Saints (1-3) – Sunday, 1:00pm, FOX
Tampa Bay was shockingly able to snag a win on the road against the Steelers, despite my hubris over the matchup in last week’s installment. The Saints have been getting their asses handed to them this season. Buuuut the Saints really are a different team at home.
Bloodbath potential: The Bucs win last week has downgraded this from “Superman and General Zod accidentally kill millions while punching each other through skyscrapers” to “Anakin Skywalker slaughtered them like animals”.
Houston Texans (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1) – Sunday, 1:00pm, CBS
It’s a Texas-off! Tim Riggins is so excited that he’s gonna get extra blackout drunk! The Houston Texans are a surprising 3-1, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Hey, he’s thrown as many touchdowns as he has interceptions, so it’s a wash.
The Cowboys blew up the Saints on Sunday Night Football, so they’ve reached flavor of the week status. Random Cowboys fans should be magically appearing around the country any second now. DeMarco Murray is having a stellar season, leading the NFL in rushing by 156 yards. Tony Romo’s back hasn’t crumbled like so many Legos. Their defense is not the legendary disaster that many expected. Things are good in the atrocity that Jerry built with tons of taxpayer money. The Texans might be able to pull this one off if J.J. Watt Iron Mans up and plays every down.
Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Detroit Lions (3-1) – Sunday, 1:00pm, FOX
Oh hey, it turns out that E.J. Manuel isn’t very good. He’s so bad that he’s been benched in favor of Kyle Orton. You might remember Kyle Orton from all those great drinking pictures. He’s very shrugworthy as a quarterback, not eliciting positive or negative feelings. His first game with the Bills unfortunately throws him over to a Lions defense that’s only ceding 267.3 yards/game. The Bills’ main chance lies in the status of the man they call Megatron. Calvin Johnson is nursing an ankle injury and barely played against the Jets last week.
Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – Sunday, 1:00pm, CBS
Happy bitter Baltimore fan week! Yes, any Baltimore resident over the age of 40 will tell you all about the great move of 1984 time and time again this week. Of course, the Ravens were stolen from Cleveland and have won two Super Bowls in 18 years, but those are mere details.
Andrew Luck has been picking apart crappy defenses all season, and Baltimore’s pass defense isn’t tremendously better. Joe “not elite per say, but still pretty ok” Flacco is off to a pretty good start himself and has found a reliable target in Steve Smith, Sr. Smith is third in the league in reception yards with 429 after smashing the Panthers in week 4.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – Sunday, 1:00pm, CBS
I severely overestimated the Steelers last week, a mistake I will not be repeating. Yes, Jacksonville is terrible. Putrid, really. They actually came into the season relying on Toby Gerhart to be their starting running back, which is insane. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have been huge for the Steelers so far. This should be an easy road win for Pittsburgh, who I’m hesitantly picking in my survival pool this week. If they lose, I’m going on a lifelong Heinz strike.
Arizona Cardinals (3-0) at Denver Broncos (2-1) – Sunday, 4:05pm, FOX
Two teams coming off of a bye week meet in an intriguing matchup. Denver obviously has a juggernaut of an offense. Arizona is supposed to have one of the strongest secondaries in the league, led by cornerback Patrick Peterson. The other side of the field is guarded by penalty and baby making machine, Antonio Cromartie. I’ll give you 3 guesses as to where Peyton Manning will be throwing all day. With Carson Palmer still sidelined, the Cardinals are going to rely on Drew Stanton. Stanton has been competent in his two games, which is all the Cardinals have needed.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – Sunday, 4:25pm, CBS
Alex Smith returns to the city where he was (justifiably) disrespected as the Chiefs go to San Francisco. The 49ers dumped Smith and his complete and utter mediocrity in favor of Colin Kaepernick. Looking back, Kaepernick’s numbers aren’t considerably better than Smith’s, but he’s way more exciting. Maybe it’s because he’s tall. Yeah, let’s go with that.
The Chiefs beat the Patriots up on Monday Night Football, mostly due to the return of Jamaal Charles. Charles had 154 total yards and 3 touchdowns while making Bill Belichick tear up what is left of his hoodie sleeves. The 49ers are fresh off of a stifling defensive performance against the Eagles and are only giving up 69.8 yards on the ground per game.
New York Jets (1-3) at San Diego Chargers (3-1) – Sunday, 4:25pm, CBS
The Jets are a sad bunch. They’ve got some talent. They’re actually running the ball well, despite their backfield consisting of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. They haven’t even been blown out in a game, their worst loss being by 8 points. They’re still painful to watch.
The Chargers are pretty good, besides their non-existent running game. Phillip Rivers is off to a great start. Their defense is solid. It’s all pretty, pretty, pretty good.*
(Editor’s note: Steve fell asleep on his keyboard writing this one)
Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) at New England Patriots (2-2) – Sunday, 8:30pm, NBC
Cincy is off to a great start, and one of the two remaining undefeated teams. The Pats are coming off of a humiliating loss on a national stage to the Chiefs. People are questioning how much Tom Brady has left in the tank. Reports are being floated that New England benched one of their most talented receivers for mouthing off to their offensive coordinator. All is not well in Foxboro. This is a big game for the Patriots. They can stop all of that talk with a dominant performance over the high flying Bengals.
That’s probably not going to happen. Cincy’s got multiple weapons in the backfield in Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. they’ve got one of the best receivers in the game with A.J. Green. They’ve got the second creepiest ginger in NFL history in Andy Dalton. This one might be close, but don’t be shocked if the Patriots take another beating.
Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at Washington Whoozywhatsits (1-3) – Monday, 8:30pm, ESPN
The Washington Washingtonians got beat the hell up by the Giants last Thursday. Thousands of fantasy football players screamed out at once as Kirk Cousins threw 4 picks. It doesn’t look much better for Cousins this week, as a rested Seahawks team comes to town. Yeah.