This week could shake up the playoff picture in a big way.
While it might seem crazy to say that since we're just in Week 8, it's pretty much true. So many teams are stuck within a few games of each other that a win here would go a big way toward strengthening playoff credentials.
Aside from the NFC South, there isn't a division where you definitively say the race is over. Just when one team starts to break out from the pack, it's brought back down to earth with a loss.
Below are predictions for each game this weekend, followed by a more in-depth breakdown of three games featuring teams trying to fight their way up the division standings.
|Time (ET)||Home Team||Away Team||Pick|
|Thurs., Oct. 24|
|8:25 p.m.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Carolina Panthers||CAR|
|Sun., Oct. 27|
|1 p.m.||Jacksonville Jaguars||San Francisco 49ers||SF|
|1 p.m.||Kansas City Chiefs||Cleveland Browns||KC|
|1 p.m.||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins||NE|
|1 p.m.||New Orleans Saints||Buffalo Bills||NO|
|1 p.m.||Philadelphia Eagles||New York Giants||NYG|
|1 p.m.||Detroit Lions||Dallas Cowboys||DET|
|4:05 p.m.||Oakland Raiders||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT|
|4:05 p.m.||Cincinnati Bengals||New York Jets||NYJ|
|4:25 p.m.||Arizona Cardinals||Atlanta Falcons||ATL|
|4:25 p.m.||Denver Broncos||Washington Redskins||DEN|
|8:30 p.m.||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||GB|
|Mon., Oct. 28|
|8:40 p.m.||St. Louis Rams||Seattle Seahawks||SEA|
Schedule via NFL.com
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
This is a game that could have heavy implications on the AFC East. The New England Patriots are just a game ahead of the New York Jets after dropping two of their last three games, while the Miami Dolphins are within shouting distance at two games back.
The Dolphins are stuck in a rut. They won their first three games, then dropped their next three to fall to .500. Don't count on them getting back in the win column this week.
There's no way New England will drop two in a row, especially playing at home on Sunday. Even with the injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, the defense should be good enough to stop Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller and the rest of the Miami offense.
Rob Gronkowski was a huge addition to the Patriots' passing attack. Expect Tom Brady to be even better as Gronk gets back closer to his old form.
New England 30, Miami 21
Denver Broncos vs. Washington Redskins
This one should be a lot of fun. Neither defense is very good, and both offenses have the ability to score in bunches.
Even with the return of Von Miller, the Denver Broncos had a hard time stopping Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Miller is no doubt an upgrade, but he still needs a few more weeks to become the monster he was last year.
The Washington Redskins defense is just plain bad, and there doesn't look to be any stopping in sight.
In a game between two great offenses, go with the better one.
Denver will be looking to rebound from that loss to the Colts, and it can't afford to lose any more ground to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. Peyton Manning will have his way with the Washington secondary.
Don't count out the Redskins too much, though. They'll get their fair share of points, but it won't be enough to take out the Broncos. This game could be very similar to the Broncos-Cowboys shootout earlier in the season.
Denver 38, Washington 31
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
You wouldn't think that a game featuring two teams with losing records would be one to watch, but that reflects how much of a mess the NFC East is at the moment.
The 1-6 New York Giants are going to have be as close to perfect as possible for the rest of the season. If they drop this game and fall to 1-7, you can officially eliminate them from playoff contention. Their hopes are hanging by a thread right now.
On the other side, the Philadelphia Eagles could get into a tie for the division lead should they win and the Cowboys lose.
The Giants should be able to get their second win on Sunday.
Michael Vick looks to be getting the start on Sunday, according to Jeff of the The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Now whether Vick will be 100 percent is another issue.
Plus, this is right about the time New York goes from looking like one of the worst teams in the league to a playoff contender.
New York 28, Philadelphia 24