Thanksgiving weekend means a shorter Sunday schedule, but still plenty of prime action. The New York Giants host the Green Bay Packers and the red hot Aaron Rodgers on Sunday Night, while the Chicago Bears try to stop the slide against division rivals Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons trying to remain the best in the NFC facing a streaking Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Chicago Bears (7-3), 1:00 PM
All about Jay Cutler. While Jason Campbell isn’t the worst backup you might think of, the Bears were humiliated against the 49ers, and for a second straight season look on the verge of a collapse without their starting quarterback. The Vikings are building on Adrian Peterson and keeping it simple for Ponder, hoping to duplicate what SF did last week on Monday Night.
Oakland Raiders (3-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-5), 1:00 PM
Carson Palmer is in the center of this game, having played for the Bengals since his arrival in the NFL until getting traded to Oakland. While he’s having a decent season, the Raiders are not, on the verge of their first four game losing streak since 2008. The Bengals are doing well, mostly based on the Andy Dalton – A.J. Green partnership, catching a touchdown in nine consecutive games. Their defense should do pretty good vs the Raiders as well.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Cleveland Browns (2-8), 1:00 PM
The Browns, with Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, are erratic on offense at best, and somewhat of a turnover machine. Still, despite the strengths of the Pittsburgh Steelers, knowing that Charlie Batch is starting under Center with Big Ben out for a second straight week makes this one much harder to predict than it should be. The Browns haven’t beaten the Steelers since 2009.
Buffalo Bills (4-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-4), 1:00 PM
Two things are pointing towards the Colts in this game: They’re facing a team with a losing record once again after the “facing the harsh reality” class they had to take against the Patriots, and they’re 4-1 at home. Andrew Luck is a great QB at Lucas Oil, while Ryan Fitzpatrick is always a huge question mark regarding his decision making. The best ones usually involve dumping the ball to C.J. Spiller, who leads the league with a 6.6-yard average per carry.
Denver Broncos (7-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9), 1:00 PM
There’s simply nothing that the Chiefs can count on to win this game. Maybe the running of Jamaal Charles, hoping to slow the game down (821 yards on 172 carries) and their ability to get to the quarterback. Still, the Broncos have the same weapons plus a much better quarterback, boosted by a five game winning streak, with the AFC West pretty much a done deal for them.
Seattle Seahawks (6-4) at Miami Dolphins (4-6), 1:00 PM
The Dolphins are struggling to run the ball through their best player, Reggie Bush, while Ryan Tannehill isn’t getting the praises he did before because he can’t take care of the football. The Seahawks and especially Russell Wilson are terrible on the road, and the game will be decided on their ability to move the chains with Marshawn Lynch against one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons (9-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4), 1:00 PM
The Bucs haven’t won five straight in over a decade, but surprisingly, they are the hottest team going into the encounter with the NFC-Best Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan threw five interceptions and still won the game against the Cardinals, something that hasn’t been done in 45 years; It’s hard to say if that hurts or boosts your confidence in a game against a team that loves to run the ball through Doug Martin, enabling the vertical passing game from Josh Freeman. Still, Tampa’s defense is the worst in the NFL against the pass, which should keep Ryan throwing and throwing.
Tennessee Titans (4-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9), 1:00 PM
Chad Henne slipped back to the starting role thanks to Blaine Gabbert getting injured, and this seems like good news for Justin Blackmon, who very much enjoyed the connection with the former Michigan quarterback. Still, the Titans are pretty happy about the playoff picture, with two games against the Jags lined up, Jake Locker coming back and Chris Johnson running like the wind, averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season.
Baltimore Ravens (8-2) at San Diego Chargers (4-6), 4:05
Philip Rivers does very well against the Ravens, but this season looks like a different story. Despite injuries, the Ravens are rolling strong, with Joe Flacco moving from great to abysmal and Ray Rice being the center and engine of this offense. For the Chargers, it may be about the lack of confidence in their head coach and themselves, but they do have a great run-defense to help them, maybe, slow down Rice and allow Rivers a bit more chances to show this team isn’t is bad as its record.
San Francisco 49ers (7-2) at New Orleans Saints (5-5), 4:25 PM
Quarterback controversy is for when the team is losing. The 49ers aren’t in that situation, but it’s unclear if it’ll be Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernik behind Center on Sunday afternoon; maybe both. This game was probably the high-point of the playoffs last season, and Drew Brees and the Saints are certainly a threat. Still, the Saints’ terrible defense might be a bit too much to concede against the top rushing offense in the NFL.
St. Louis Rams (3-6) at Arizona Cardinals (4-6), 4:25 PM
The Cardinals keep changing quarterbacks, now giving Ryan Lindley a shot, but their problem, or biggest one, isn’t the man who’s behind center. It’s about stopping pass-rushers from getting to him, something the Cardinals have failed to do all season; a problem which began their slide (six straight losses) in their visit to St. Louis not so long ago. The Rams have an OK offense and an OK pass-rush, but struggle to stop the pass and especially the run. Luckily, running game isn’t something the Cardinals are known for.
Green Bay Packers (7-3) at New York Giants (6-4), 8:20 PM
Aaron Rodgers keeps getting hit, but is playing like the best quarterback in the NFL, which he probably is by the way. The Giants struggle with stopping the pass, but gave Rodgers and the Packers a lot of trouble the last time these two teams met. Eli Manning needs to step up and stop playing like the old Eli unless the Giants want to take away some bad attention from the New York Jets.
Carolina Panthers (2-8) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-7), MNF, 8:30 PM
A game that should have been much bigger, with Cam Newton and the rising Panthers against one of the best teams in the NFC. Well, the Eagles are a mess – losing their last six games; the last four by at least 13 points. Andy Reid will get a “warm” welcome from the home crowd, and another bad loss on national TV might speed up the coaching replacement procedure.