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by jeff beyel

 

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Giant QB Baker Mayfield has a near impossible 6 TD passes on the season for the winless G-Men.  Mayfield has been sacked 27 times while the New York defense has been able to get to the opposing QB just 4 times all year!  A 26.8 3rd down conversion rate, a 63% field goal rate for kicker Joey Slye, and a 4.6 yards per play rate have spelled doom for NY.  However, only Atlanta has an even worse yards per play rate (4.5) and these are the two lowest scoring teams in football so a low scoring event is likely.  The run game is the strength of both clubs and the Giants do a better job versus the rush.  New York 17-13.

 

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Jags have given up most points in the league (32.2 PPG) and give up the second most rush yards per game (157 YPG) in the league.  They are facing a Buffalo team that is second in the league in rushing (157 YPG) and have won five of their last six games. Buffalo sack leader Melvin Ingram will be out.  Buffalo 31-13.

 

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A very big game for both clubs.  San Diego is clinging to its playoff hopes while Seattle is hoping to gain a first round playoff bye.  Seahawks have had a knack for winning close games and could get into another one here.  They get a lot of sacks but also surrender quite a few.  They run the ball pretty well (4.5 YPC) but allow teams to rush at a 4 YPC clip and that could spell trouble vs the Chargers who still lead the league in rushing (187.8 YPG). A huge key will be the availability of HB Josh Jacobs who is listed as questionable (50% chance of playing).  Without him, the main running duties would fall to RB David Montgomery.  SD corner Marshon Lattimore remains out and his absence has opened the door for teams to have success passing the ball. Seahawks have scored 13 or fewer points in three of the four games in which QB Russell Wilson has not attained a 100+ QBR. A very tense game is likely here.  Seattle 21-17.

 

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Niners are on life support as season winds down and probably need to run the table while getting some help.  The D remains solid but the lack of a consistent running game has handicapped the attack.  Denver is in a similar position as the Niners as far as the playoffs go.  QB Josh Allen has really cooled off in the second half of the season with five straight sub-81 QBR games.  He could have success here, though, if the Broncos opt to truly use some of their weapons like TE Darren Waller who has a great match-up.  Waller, though, has just 36 receptions on the season.  The Broncos will need to do better than their current 151.6 YPG average passing the ball.  San Francisco 23-21.

 

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The Bears started their season off great and then floundered.  However, they have a very soft stretch of games now and should get to 11 wins.  They have scored touchdowns on 50% of their red zone possessions and their 9 rushing TDs is tied for the fewest of any team in the league with a .500 record or better.  Their 35.1 % conversion rate on third down is 8th worst in the league.  New Orleans cannot run the ball at all coming in with an NFC worst 66.1 YPG average.  Their 3 rushing TDs is tied for the fewest in the league.  Chicago 28-10.

 

 

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Kansas City has QB Kyler Murray and little else going for them at the moment.  He has just 11 TD passes on the season, though, mostly due to not having enough targets.  Averaging 17.1 PPG is probably not going to be enough to stay with a Dolphin team that has scored  30+ points 8 times this year including four games where they have topped the 40 point plateau.  QB Ryan Tannehill will not play so RB Derrick Henry will likely have to carry the burden for Miami.  The Dolphin O-line is one of better units in the league and should dominate the KC front 7.  Miami 31-17.

 

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The Eagles might be the one team that can finally end the long reign of the LA Rams but they have work to do yet.  The early season concerns over QB Carson Wentz have slowly melted away.  Wentz has posted a 98.2 QBR or better in five consecutive games and now has heaved a league leading 37 TDs!  Those numbers are consistent with head coach Rick Mainís philosophy and reminds one of the glory days when Main coached the Falcons.  Main loves the long ball as evidenced by Wentzís 97 long or bomb passes. RB Devin Singletary will be out 1 more game.  The Lionsí Jared Goff has had a miserable campaign throwing a league worst 18 interceptions.  RB Leonard Fournette (867 yards) has been a bright spot but his 3 rushing TDs is not good enough.  Philadelphia 32-13.

 

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The Packer season never really got going this year as the offense struggled to find an identity. QB Dak Prescott had his fifth game in a row where he ended with an 84.4 QBR or lower!  RB Dalvin Cook has had a marvelous season but Green Bay has come out on the short end of too many close contests.  The Cowboys need to keep winning if they wish to gain a first round bye by winning the division. They swept the Eagles and have 1 more game with Carolina so there is an avenue for them.  QB Kirk Cousinsí 72% completion rate tops the NFC and Green Bay has surrendered the second most passing yards in the league (270.8 YPG) and that spells trouble.  Dallas 31-17.

 

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The Steelers and coach Pete Katsafanas have shown grit all year long and have never quit.  QB Sam Darnold hit season highs with 54 pass attempts for 470 yards in a win over New York last week which was very encouraging.  Still, the team averages a measly 42.3 YPG rushing and they line up against one of the best defenses in the league this game.  The Colts and coach Bob Durfee can smell a trip to the Super Bowl having already clinched their 3rd AFC Central crown and second in a row. The one major worry has to be the Coltsí propensity for turning the ball over having done so 16 times while fumbling the ball 20 times!  They have an unreal -11 TO ratio which is stunning for a 12-1 squad.  Indianapolis 35-7.

 

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Washington never showed up vs Dallas last week and got blanked, 28-0.  QB Gardner Minshew had his worst game of the season with 3 Picks and 19.9 QBR and one cannot expect much better against the talented Carolina defense.  Top back Darius Guice has a slim chance of returning and that could help.  The Panthers edged the Bengals last week with a last second Jarrison Butker field goal.  The offense remains sluggish averaging only 3.4 YPC rushing and Carolina has scored 30+ points only 3 times all year.  Carolina 27-13.

 

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One of the top games of the week.  The Vikings currently sit atop the NFC Central by 2 games but will need to win the division outright since they were swept by the Bears.  They have tough games vs these Rams and then finish with Miami and New England.  Vet QB Philip Rivers has gotten it going in the back half of the season and looks like he is in his prime having posted five straight 100+ QBR performances and winning all 5!  The D has been stellar as well limiting their last four foes to 9 or fewer points.  The Rams have won another divisional title (yawn).  While many have said they do not seem to be as dominant as in the past, the fact is they have the best point differential (16.7 PPG) in the league and have the best defense in football allowing only 12.8 PPG.  MVP candidate QB Tom Brady has 33 TDs and just 2 INTs.  Los Angeles 27-21.

 

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Cinci showed some pride and nearly knocked off the Panthers last week.  QB Drew Brees was excellent completing 30 of 36 passes against one of the best defenses in the league.  Brees also had 4 TD passes in the game.  Still, the lack of a running game reared its ugly head yet again as they ran for just 28 total yards!  The penalty bug also continued (7) and they lost the time of possession battle.  The Titans saw QB Aaron Rodgers have another of his, at this point, expected downer of a game against the Colts last week. He finished with a 62 QBR marking the 8th time this season where he has an 82.3 QBR or lower.  He is probably going to struggle vs the Bengals but he did have one of his best games all year against them the first time the two teams met so who knows?  Cincinnati 27-23.

 

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Not so fast San Diego!  Arizona, the darlings of last season, were not quite ready to give up that mantel just yet upending the Bolts, 34-30, last week.  QB Patrick Mahomes rallied his team from a 27-13 hole with 2 late game TD passes and now has 26 on the year.  The Cards (8-5) still have an outside shot at the playoffs if they can win here and maybe against Atlanta in week 16 to get to 10 wins.  Oakland, folks, was expected to compete for the AFC West crown and have been a mess.  However, they have shown marked improvement in the second half of the year and have won two of their last three games. Much maligned QB Mitch Tribusky has done a complete turn-around and has played well of late with four games in a row where he has compiled a 96.1 QBR or better.  They could use a better running game and will need it in this one.  Arizona has the better quarterback.  Arizona 28-23.