Monday Night – Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
The Packers and Lions are always fun to watch. They’re old division rivals, but even more than that, they were recently matched up during one of Aaron Rodgers’ magical hail mary plays. I guess it was almost 2 years ago at this point… but you know the memory lives on and you can guarantee the Lions haven’t forgotten. It will be the only thing that’s talked about if the Packers are trailing late in the 4th quarter. I have a feeling this one won’t be a 1-score game coming down to the wire though…
Keys to the Game
If they Lions want to be competitive, this is a must-win division game for them. I know it’s in Green Bay at Lambeau Field, but that only makes it more important. If Detroit can’t compete at Lambeau, they won’t compete in the playoffs. Without the defensive talent to contain Green Bay, the Lions will need another big game out of Stafford and the offense. They can pile up the points quickly and they’re going to need one of their best efforts on Monday night to take down Rodgers and company. They just might need to drop a 40-spot at Lambeau to walk away victorious.
Green Bay needs to find a way to slow this game down and derail the Lions’ offense. While Aaron Rodgers can sling with the best of them, getting into a track meet with the Lions is always dangerous — you never know what Matt Stafford has up his sleeve. It will be much easier to win this game with a slow and steady approach, keeping the ball away from Stafford and getting under his skin. It won’t be easy, but getting the running game going will go a long way for the Packers on a cold November night in Green Bay. That will open things up down the field for Rodgers and Jordy Nelson to strike big when they need to.
Sunday Night – Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins
Every once in a while, we find ourselves with what looks like a mismatch on the surface but winds up being a good game. I think that’s what we have here with the Raiders and Dolphins. Oakland is one of the league’s better up and coming teams and frankly, they’re a sexy pick to go deep into the playoffs this year. Miami feels like they consistently underperform, but I expect a good game from them in the spotlight on Sunday night.
Keys to the Game
Oakland would do well to get Tannehill uncomfortable and off his game early with pressure from the one and only Khalil Mack. There’s no doubt that will fluster Tannehill and make him much more susceptible to throwing interceptions. A couple of turnovers will practically clinch this one for Oakland, who can just march down the field at their leisure at that point and score as they please. An early advantage will make for a cakewalk on Sunday Night Football.
Miami is going to need a strong showing from that expensive defensive line of theirs. Ndamukong Suh needs to blow up the middle and they need to get Derek Carr on the ground. Suh and Cam Wake can disrupt an entire offense on their own and that will be Miami’s key to beating Oakland. Offensively, a healthy balance of Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi should be enough to put points on the board and have the Raiders reeling. Neutralizing Mack is necessary.
Sunday Afternoon Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys
From terrible to terrific, luckily Sunday greets us with one of the better regular season matchups we might see all year: the Chiefs and Cowboys. These teams find their success in vastly different ways, but manage to climb the NFL standings just the same. The Chiefs will have their work cut out for them down in Dallas at Jerry World, but is there any better place to get a road win? We’ll find out.
Keys to the Game
It will be imperative that KC not let Dallas establish an early lead. The Cowboys offense quickly became one of the best in the NFL and KC won’t be able to keep up in a track meet — even with speedster Tyreek Hill. The key will be to frustrate Zeke Elliott and the running game and get Dak Prescott chucking the ball. Every pass that goes downfield is a chance for corner Marcus Peters to make a great play and cause a turnover… and maybe even take one back for six. Make Dallas throw the ball and capitalize on opportunities, that’s how you beat the Cowboys. Oh, and force Dallas to tackle by getting Hill in space — I guarantee he’ll take at least one to the house.
Obviously, Dallas would like to just run the ball down Kansas City’s throat, but this is a talented defense that won’t roll over under pressure. They’ll find ways to contain Zeke sooner or later. That’s why it will be important for Prescott to remain calm in the pocket and for Dallas’ secondary receivers to step up. Dez will be shadowed by Marcus Peters all game and probably won’t be able to impact the game much. This game could hinge on performances from Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley.
Thursday Night – Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again where the NFL is forcing us to watch the Bills and Jets. I know you don’t like it any more than I do, so let’s struggle through this together. The Bills are bad and the Jets are worse, but maybe they can still come up with some entertaining stuff for us to watch. There are still a few talented players on each squad that could break out with a big play here or there. I just wouldn’t bet on it.
Keys to the Game
Buffalo should use the old ground and pound technique until the clock reads all zeroes. The Jets lack any sense of offensive firepower, especially against what should be a decent Buffalo defense, and won’t be able to pull off any kind of comeback down the stretch. The Bills can establish an early lead here, heck maybe Sammy Watkins will do something (or maybe he’ll get hurt) and then LeSean McCoy and company can batter the New York front seven until they give up or time runs out. It’s just about that simple for Buffalo on Thursday night.
This is one of the more “winnable” games on New York’s schedule this year… if there is such a thing. We know all about the Jets’ struggles on both sides of the ball, but Buffalo has a history of being incredibly disappointing, making them the perfect victim for a Jets win. No matter who is lining up under center in New York at this point in the season, they won’t be much of a factor. It’s going to be all about giving Matt Forte and Bilal Powell room to succeed and hoping big Austin Seferian-Jenkins can make a big play. A turnover or two forced by some up and coming defenders (Jamal Adams?) would make this New York’s game to lose.