There are many excellent matchups this week.
Thursday night gets us started with the Tennessee Titans facing the Indianapolis Colts. A game between Washington and Philadelphia should be an exciting shootout. The Baltimore Ravens will try to win a second key game in a row against the Chicago Bears. San Diego meets Miami in a game between teams in the wild-card hunt.
And those aren't even the most exciting contests on the schedule, folks. Let's pick each game this week and take a closer look at three truly elite matchups on tap.
|Tennessee Titans||Indianapolis Colts||Colts|
|Buffalo Bills||New York Jets||Bills|
|Chicago Bears||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||Bengals|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Detroit Lions||Lions|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||Falcons|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals|
|Houston Texans||Oakland Raiders||Texans|
|Miami Dolphins||San Diego Chargers||Chargers|
|New Orleans Saints||San Francisco 49ers||Saints|
|New York Giants||Green Bay Packers||Giants|
|Seattle Seahawks||Minnesota Vikings||Seahawks|
|Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||Broncos|
|Carolina Panthers||New England Patriots||Patriots|
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints
Another week, another tough test for the Niners. And this time, they have to travel to face a Saints team that is 18-4 in its last 22 games in the Superdome.
This game will be a clash of styles. The Saints win by passing the ball at will on opponents (second in pass offense) and limiting their opponents through the air (third in pass defense). The Niners win by controlling the line of scrimmage on offense (fourth in rush offense) and by playing excellent overall defense.
All eyes will be on Colin Kaepernick in this game. Last year's breakthrough star has struggled this season, and if he can't keep the Niners moving on offense, this game could get out of hand for San Francisco.
The Saints will have success through air, but the other key in this game will be their rushing attack. If they can remain balanced offensively and keep the time of possession relatively even in this game, it's hard to see the Niners pulling out the road win.
Prediction: Saints win, 24-20
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
The league's best offense—the Broncos lead the NFL in yards (458.7) and points per game (41.2)—will face its most opportunistic defense, as the Chiefs lead all of football with 23 takeaways. Oh, and they're also giving up a league-best 12.3 points per game.
So who wins—the unstoppable force or the immovable object?
Everything points to Denver in this game. The Broncos are at home—where they've won 12 of their last 14 games—have more weapons than the Chiefs have been forced to deal with yet this season and are eager to prove that Kansas City is overrated, seeing as the Chiefs haven't played a single team that currently has a winning record.
But the Chiefs are coming off a bye, and their ability to run the ball and, in turn, run down the clock will be important. Of course, that will all be moot if they don't get points out of those long drives—it doesn't take long for Peyton Manning and Co. to put up points.
Expect Denver to even things up in the AFC West.
Prediction: Broncos win, 28-20
New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers
There isn't a better way to cap off an excellent week of NFL action than with a Monday Night Football clash between two of the league's best teams.
Tom Brady and the passing offense appeared to finally get back on track against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as Brady threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns, while the Panthers and their vaunted defense are fresh off a statement win over San Francisco, out-muscling them in a 10-9 triumph.
The first half of New England's season was about the defense. Key offensive players like Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola were missing due to injury, and Brady struggled to find chemistry with his younger receivers.
Which game are you most excited for?
Add the fact that the Patriots have had an extra week to prepare for this Panthers team—and that Carolina has really struggled to throw the ball this year—and the balanced Patriots team should squeak out a narrow victory over Carolina.
The Panthers play excellent defense and should run the ball on New England's 30th-ranked run defense, but Brady will find a way to win this game for the Pats in the end.
Prediction: Patriots win, 24-21
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