Thursday night’s contest was anything but one. If it wasn’t for Saquon Barkley channeling his inner Barry Sanders, the New York Giants would have been shut out. All told, the 34-13 scoreline is, somehow, misleading how disastrous this performance was for the Giants. Eli Manning looked petrified every time he dropped back, which is reasonable given their offensive line struggles. Odell Beckham and the rest of the wide receiving core were clearly annoyed as they barely had time to get into their routes before Manning was pressured. And the entire Giants defense looked lethargic after their offense failed to create anything.
On the Eagles side, it’s a confidence boost for a team who has struggled out of the gates. Carson Wentz had a solid outing and the pass rush hit home. The run defense and tackling for the Eagles is still a bit concerning as they missed numerous tackles as Barkley torched them all night. However, the Eagles sit atop the NFC East at 3-3. Meanwhile, the Giants fall to a lowly 1-5 and may begin to seriously question whether this team should make significant changes.
Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-2-1)
Before their two wins this season, the Browns last win came at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. A lot has changed since then, but the outcome may not. The teams the Chargers have beaten include the Raiders, the 49ers and the Bills. The Browns seem to be a step above those teams. Additionally, the Browns, if not for a Zane Gonzalez blocked field goal in Week 1 and then a meltdown from the same man the next week, could be 4-1. A tight contest that will probably go into overtime will see the Cleveland Browns pick up their third win. Browns 23-20 OT.
Carolina Panthers (3-1) vs. Washington Redskins (2-2)
Both teams have had some peculiar games this far. The Panthers handed the Bengals (4-1) their only loss but also gave the Falcons (1-4) their only win. In addition, if Graham Gano didn’t have the kick of a lifetime, they would’ve lost to the inept Giants at home. For Washington, after letting Drew Brees have an early Mardi Gras celebration on them, they look to bounce back at home. The Redskins did beat the Packers earlier this season, but lost to the Colts. A hard one to predict, but the Panthers should win this. Panthers 27-21.
Seattle Seahawks (2-3) vs. Oakland Raiders (1-4) (Wembley Stadium, London)
A part of the NFL International Series, the Raiders lose a home game to London, where a ton of Seahawks fans reside. Additionally, the Raiders as a team, just don’t travel and play well. The Seahawks almost upset the undefeated Rams at home last week and will use that as confidence as they take their game abroad. Interesting storylines in Sunday’s game: Marshawn Lynch faces his former team as too does Bruce Irvin. Seahawks should win comfortably. Seahawks 33-14.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)
Another week closer to LeVeon Bell’s return, but it’s this week they need him the most. A loss this week to the Bengals and the Steeler’s season is in real jeopardy. The Steelers dismantled the hapless Falcons last week, but face a much more potent side in the Bengals. The Steeler’s defense has its hands full trying to slow down a Bengals that’s averaging more than 30 points a game. However, the Steelers pass rush did apply significant amounts of pressure to Matt Ryan, and will have to do the same to Andy Dalton. In what would not usually be considered an upset, I think the Steelers manage to pull this one out. Steelers 30-27.
Chicago Bears (3-1) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-2)
The Bears, besides the Jaguars, boast one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Dolphins, who were embarrassed 38-7 by the New England Patriots, followed up that performance by blowing a 17 point lead to the Bengals, mainly due to their poor offensive work. But, when the Dolphins aren’t out on the road, they seem to play better football. Tannehill has weapons, and the Dolphins have explosive potential, but they always seemed to get sidetracked from their game plan if one or two plays don’t go exactly as planned. Anticipating that, the Bears may just sneak out of South Beach with a gutsy win. Bears 24-23.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) vs. New England Patriots (3-2)
There’s something special about Foxborough October through January, especially at night. Games you think the Patriots have no shot in, turn out to be the complete opposite. This Chiefs team, however, comes into to Foxborough hot, looking to prove to the world they are the best team in the AFC. Looking at scenarios first, if the Patriots were to lose this game, they’d be three games, plus a tiebreaker behind the Chiefs. If the result were to be in New England’s favor though, only a game back and holding the tiebreaker edge could be monumental. Both team’s defenses are horrendous, but Kansas City’s defense injuries cannot be overlooked. Key factor in this game: tight ends. Whoever utilizes their’s better should win, and with Eric Berry doubtful Rob Gronkowski should have the edge. Expect an inspired Patriots performance Sunday night. Patriots 41-27.