MNF Saints v Buccaneers

By David McDonnell

The NFC South is all up for grabs, as the Saints travel to Tampa for this version of Monday Night Football. 

A win would be a statement for either team and give them a chance of winning the division, so expect a high intensity matchup with everyone going all out for the win.

New Orleans Saints (4-7)

Power Rankings – 28th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 24th, Defence – 15th, ST – 28th: Overall –  25th

The NFC South has been bad this year, but a win for the Saints could pull them to within half a game of first place. This season has been a tale of two different halves for them. 

In the first half, they were losing many high-scoring games as their offence consistently put 25 to 30 points on the board, while the defence got absolutely wrecked week in week out. Now their games have done a complete 180, as over the past five weeks the offence has cooled off while the defence has turned up, allowing more than 20 points just once during that stretch.

With their defence looking solid and three of their remaining five games against divisional foes, the division title isn’t out of their hands just yet. But an away win against Tampa is a must if they want momentum in their favour and a chance to catch the Bucs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)

Power Rankings – 16th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 17th, Defence – 7th, ST – 19th: Overall – 10th

The biggest problem for Tampa Bay remains an offence that can’t score points consistently. They have only topped the 22-point mark just once this season, despite Tom Brady playing mistake-free football. He has only thrown just two interceptions all year, but the big plays and scoring drives have completely evaporated.

Despite the worries on offence this team is still in line to host a play-off game. The defence has been the more solid unit throughout the year but injuries in the secondary can always hamper them. After coming off an ugly overtime loss to the Browns last week, the Bucs will be looking to set the record straight now and grow their lead within the division.

Previous Matchups

2022 Season:

Week 2 – Buccaneers @ Saints 20-10 Buccaneers Win

Despite having more success in recent years, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have struggled with the Saints. With Brady in a Tampa uniform, he was 0-4 against them coming into the year, but managed to finally beat New Orleans earlier this season. Since then, Tampa looks to have regressed, so was it just a fluke or can the Buccaneers grow the lead in the NFC South?


Teh Bucs enter this prime-time game as 3.5 favourites over the Saints.

Tampa Bay haven’t looked themselves on offence all year and come face-to-face with a steadily improving Saints defence. While the New Orleans offence can go hot and cool, the defence has really stepped up as of late and should do against Tampa Bay tonight as well.

With the Buccaneers missing Tristan Wirfs on the offensive line, it will only help the Saints, as I see them pulling off an upset. 

Whether it’s Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston at QB, they won’t have to play a perfect game but just outscore a below average offence that struggles against them.

Saints 20-17 Buccaneers

Bengals show Superbowl credentials

By David McDonnell 

Along with the Buffalo Bills, in my opinion the Chiefs and the Bengals make up the three best teams in  the NFL.

So the best place to start this week is when Kansas City visited Cincinnati for an exciting and very informative AFC matchup. 

What puts these three AFC sides on top of my board ahead of the Eagles or the 49ers is at quarterback, and I would put Joe Burrow in the MVP conversation just behind Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in that order as we approach the business end of the season. 

Last night Burrow led his team to a third consecutive win over Mahomes. After a poor start to the season, the Bengals are now 8-4 and only one game behind both the Bills and the Chiefs for top seeding and home advantage in the play-offs. 

The game finished 24-27 to the home side, coincidentally the same scoreline that the Bengals  beat Chiefs in the AFC Championship early this year.

This is a much better Cincinnati side from what we saw earlier in the season and I believe they are are a stronger team from when they reached the Superbowl last season. Their main upgrade during the off-season was to their offensive line and although this unit struggled early on, they are now fulfilling their potential. 

The knock on effect is that Burrow is getting a cleaner pocket and more time to pick his passes. It has also helped develop a run game in recent weeks, which could be significant. A few weeks ago Joe Mixon got five touchdowns in one game and recently Samaje Perine has been a major contributor on offence. 

Yesterday, Perine was Burrow’s safety blanket and got 27 touches to accumulate 106 yards on the ground and another 50 in receiving yards. Perine wouldn’t be in the upper echelons of running backs either in size or speed but has good hands and is a tough runner. He has been largely successful in my opinion because his offensive line is playing well and this run game is helping extend drives and taking huge pressure off Burrow’s shoulders.

Over the last few weeks, Tee Higgins had to step up as the number one receiver in Ja’Marr Chase’s absence through injury and showed himself to be a number one receiving talent in his own right. He had the speed and a massive catch radius and Burrow often went in his direction on important third downs. He also found Higgins who trucked a defender and reached successfully for the endzone for a second quarter touchdown.

Yesterday, Chase returned to the fold and was terrific. He did not miss a beat with seven catches for 97 yards. Since he was drafted no wideout in the NFL has more plays over 50 yards and more touchdowns over 20 yards. If he is not there already, he is on his way to being the best receiver in the NFL.

It is  no surprise that the Bengals are statistically the best third-down team in the league with the passing options Burrow has.

Another reason why the Bengals are up there in the Super Bowl mix is that they have an excellent defence and the highest ranked team in the NFL at not missing tackles. This is an indicator of good coaching and I believe being able to lean on the experience of getting to a Superbowl is a huge advantage for the squad, compared to a team like the Bills, who have yet to cross that Rubicon.

The Chiefs are still my favourite for the Super Bowl. Having home advantage in the playoffs could make the difference so the next few weeks continue to be important. 

Where I think the Chiefs can improve is their run game to give Mahomes what Burrow has in Cincinnati and I believe Andy Reid is trying to do this.  Yesterday Isiah Pacheco had 66 yards on 14 carries and McKinnon had another 51 on eight. 

However, just like Allen in Buffalo, when the game is in the balance Mahomes trusts himself over everyone to make a play and he did just that at the end of the third quarter when he ‘Michael Jordan’d’ himself into the endzone for a touchdown. 

However, a fourth quarter Kelce fumble was punished when Burrow found sophomore running back Chris Evans for a touchdown. It gave the Bengals a fourth quarter lead and although Mahomes did get one chance to respond, he didn’t get a second. 

The Bengals have their fate still in their own hands to finish on top of the AFC North, as they still have to meet the Ravens again and there is the possibility of getting a bye in the playoffs when they meet Buffalo in a few weeks. 

With Lamar Jackson possibly out with an ankle injury, it could make a home play-off game in Cincinnati all the more probable. 

Yesterday, Jackson limped off in the first quarter but they managed to earn a 10-9 win against the Broncos when Caleb Huntley led a 16 play 91-yard drive and ran it in for the only TD of the contest with only 30 seconds remaining.

Dolphins v 49ers

The 49ers have been getting very healthy in recent weeks, which has helped resurrect their season. However, they were hit by a body blow after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was ruled out of the season after breaking his foot on the opening drive against the Dolphins. It is a wicked blow for Jimmy G as he was playing the best football of his career in recent weeks. 

Top of the QB depth chart now is Brock Purdy, who was the last player picked in the NFL Draft last April, to be given the title of Mr. Irrelevant.

Purdy has certainly now become relevant to San Francisco’s title hopes and I was impressed with how comfortable he looked on his NFL debut. He was measured in the pocket throwing 25 of 37 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also leaned on Cristian McCaffery, who had 146 all-purpose yards.

The 49ers defence was also in top form and in the final quarter dominated proceedings with sacks, turnovers, forced fumbles and a touchdown which added a lot of gloss to the scoreboard.

The win leaves both the 49ers and the Dolphins in the play-off hunt on records of 8-4, with San Fran reeling off five wins in a row. 

The big question is whether Jimmy G’s injury will scupper San Fran’s title aspirations and it could very well be the case. But going on what I saw last night, I would be hopeful that Purdy will do better than expected. 

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa had a poor game and was unusually inaccurate, completing just 54.6% of his throws. Coincidentally, he also had to leave the field before the end with an ankle injury, despite flashing with two big plays touchdowns to Tyreek Hill and Trent Sherfield,

Washington v Giants 

Terry McLaurin continues to be the Commanders’ most important weapon and he finished the game with 105 yards and an early touchdown. The Giants have needed the rushing capabilities of Sequon Barkley all season and he doubled up with Daniel Jones for 134 yards and a touchdown. 

Trailing by seven, with less than four minutes remaining Heinicke led a 90-yard drive. First he linked up with Curtis Samuel for 25 yards and then he found rookie Jahan Dotson, who turned a catch into an impressive 28-yard touchdown with a wonderful spin to bring the game to overtime. 

The Giants had a chance to break the tie with a walk-off field goal but Graham Gano’s 58-yard effort came up short.

The results leaves the Commanders a win behind the Giants on a record of 7-5-1 after 13 games. They also lost their play-off berth to the Seahawks who have a record of 7-5 after 12 games, thus giving them a better win percentage. With Washington heading to their bye week, the teams will have the same amount of games played. 

In two weeks, it’s the Commanders versus the Giants once again and this should give the victor an advantage in head-to-head should they finish the season with the same record. 

Unless of course, it ends up in another draw.

Round Up 

The Seahawks are now the seventh seed in the NFC after a late win against the Rams in an ill-tempered affair between divisional rivals. 

Most of the beef throughout came from the matchup between DK Metcalf and Jalen Ramsey. Both players were playing well and at one stage DK waved at Ramsey to come follow him to the other side of the field where he made a catch.

It didn’t go down well on the Rams sideline and Bobby Wagner, playing against his old side, made sure to let his teammates know the importance of the game to him on the sideline. 

The Seahawks responded and Pete Carroll became part of the mosh pit as the Seahawks showed they were up for the fight.  However, former Seahawk Wagner then made a play to turnover the ball.

Cam Akers gave the LA franchise a three-point lead with three minutes to go, but Geno Smith fizzed a late pass to Metcalf who caught ahead of Ramsey for the game-deciding score and the bragging rights.

Another team in the play-off hunt are the LA Chargers but they took a loss in an entertaining matchup against the Raiders. Justin Herbert had another strong showing despite being under pressure throughout as the Raiders defence dominated the Chargers O-line for most of the contest 

Derek Carr found Devontae Adams for two sensational touchdowns including this one-handed grab. 

Adams had 177 yards on eight receptions and got a second TD from a flea-flicker. This is starting to become a signature move between Derek Carr and Adams.

It leaves the Chargers one game behind the Jets, who could not improve their 7-5 record after a loss to the Vikings. The Vikings gave up over 500 yards of offence to the Jets but managed to win the turnover battle to earn a late win. 

Deshaun Watson had a poor first day back at the office with no offensive touchdowns but the Browns still beat the Texans comfortably with a pick-six interception and a forced fumble, both returned for touchdowns and Donovan Peoples-Jones also added this effort from a punt return. 

The Packers came from behind and scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field to continue their dominance over the Bears 

Justin Fields was back with a bang when he scored a terrific touchdown in his first game back from injury. 

However, the man of the moment in Green Bay, rookie Christian Watson continued on his scorching form of late adding two more touchdowns to make it eight in his last four games. That Watson has eight touchdowns on just 15 receptions over the last four games is just mesmerizing.  

First Rodgers found him with this pass.

And then he added his first rushing touchdown of his NFL career inside the last two minutes for the game-winning score.

The Dallas Cowboys ended up hammering the Colts 19-54 in the late game on Sunday night.

This was a close game in the first half as Dallas led by only a score at halftime. However, in the second half the Dallas defence took over and the Cowboys helped themselves to 33 fourth-quarter points as they showed no mercy to the Colts. 

In the NFC East, Philly made light work of the Titans to go 11-1 on the season. Their best score of the contest was when Jalen Hurts found AJ Brown for a touchdown against his former team.

Lastly, the Steelers beat the Falcons 19-16 in Georgia. 

It was a big day for the Hayward family as both Connor and Cameron Hayward visited their father’s grave pre-game in Atlanta. Their father played for the Falcons for three seasons and it was fitting that Connor Heyward scored the first touchdown of his career as a Steeler against his father’s old team. 

I will post our Monday Night Football preview as the Bucs visit the Saints in the NFC South soon. 

Bills dominate Patriots on TNF

By David McDonnell

Josh Allen was in sensational form on Thursday Night Football as the Bills dominated this AFC East divisional clash with the Patriots.

The Patriots got off to a great start in this contest and in the first quarter Mac Jones made a good offensive read and he got the ball out to Marcus Jones who stepped inside a would-be tackle and took it to the house.

The standout rookie special-teamer is listed as a defensive back and this was his first snap on offence and he got another NFL touchdown to add to his growing collection. 

It threw the gauntlet down to the Bills and Josh Allen picked it up. 

After hurdling his way in a first and goal, two plays later Allen First faked a hand-off to Singletary and threw to Stefon Diggs in the endzone. It was excellent route running by Diggs who caught his 10th touchdown of the season. 

On the next Bills drive,  Allen scrambled to the right, brushed off a tackle and just before he ran out of road, he anticipated a throw to Gabe Davis for a second Buffalo touchdown. It was a terrific play and another highlight to add to his MVP candidacy. 

Let’s look at that TD against from another nagle.

The Buffalo quarterback was on fire and showing what sensational arm talent he has. He made a 60-yard throw on the run look effortless as he found Diggs over the top by the TD and was called back for holding. 

At the start of the fourth quarter Singletary punched another six pointer in after a nine minute drive to leave the Bills 23-7 up. Both teams added a field goal to round out the scoring.

Mac Jones was clearly frustrated in the fourth quarter with Matt Patricia’s play calling.

TNF: Bills v Patriots

By Conor Perrett 

The AFC East is still very much up for grabs, and the outcome of Thursday night’s matchup between the Patriots and Bills could make the divisional race even more interesting. 

After Thanksgiving last week, both teams will be playing on Thursday for the second consecutive week, with Buffalo opening as 3.5 favourites in the bookies. 

New England Patriots (6-5)

Power Rankings – 14th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 25th, Defence – 2nd, ST – 9th: Overall – 11th 

New England currently sit at the bottom of their division but the AFC East is still very much within reach for them, if they win at home tonight. Buffalo won’t be an easy test though, with them being one of the most well rounded teams in the league. 

Bill Belichick’s defences have tended to struggle against running QBs and Josh Allen has 36 career rushing touchdowns, 12 more than any other quarterback since entering the league in 2018. With an injured elbow as well, Allen may look to take to his feet more, but this year’s Patriots defence is better than past seasons. The matchup on this side of the ball will be a heavyweight bout. 

If New England wants to win this game, they will have to do it through Mac Jones.

The offence has been stagnant all year, but last week we finally saw the Pats passing game come to life. The Bills will not have Von Miller this week which will help, as their pressure rate with and without him drops from 39.3 percent to 26.6. Buffalo still has an elite defence but if Jones can stay clean in the pocket, there might be some openings for him to exploit.

Buffalo Bills (7-3)

Power Rankings – 4th

DVOA Rankings: Offence – 6th, Defence – 3rd, ST – 3rd: Overall – 1st 

Buffalo currently sits a game behind Miami in the division, with a seat in a Wild-Card spot. It likely isn’t what anyone within the Bills organisation hopes for, so some divisional wins will be crucial to host a playoff game. Earning a victory on Thursday night would keep Josh Allen and Co. in the mix to push themselves further up the seeds and achieve them goals.

Missing Von Miller will be a big loss for this team over the next couple of weeks, meaning others will need to step up to stop New England’s rushing attack. It’s the strongest part of their game and if they can do that, they’ll be in good shape to secure their ninth win of the season.

Previous Matchups

2021 Season:

Week 13 – Patriots @ Bills, 14-10 Patriots Win

Week 16 – Bills @ Patriots, 33-21 Bills Win

These teams are meeting at the same time as last year where the Patriots took down the Bills in a low scoring affair. Since then both teams’ defences have only improved but you would say New England’s offence has regressed.. 


On a normal slate of paper the Bills have looked a far more impressive team than the Patriots this season. Despite having similar defences, with the Patriots slightly ranked higher through DVOA, the offences don’t compare with the superstars Buffalo have on that side of the ball.

Injuries have started to pile up for them though, with the trenches having some significant losses in EDGE rusher Von Miller and OT Dion Dawkins.

If the Patriots offence can show up like they did last week then this game has a chance to be real close. The problem with that, is we don’t know if such performances were a fluke or real. For that reason I can’t trust what New England has out there and will lean towards the better offence.

With a weaken O-Line, Allen may take to his feet more, something that we know this Patriots defence can struggle with. He has the far superior weapons and a blueprint on how to beat this Patriots defence might have been put out last week for them to copy. 

Bills 20, Patriots 13

Week 13 Power Rankings

By Conor Perrett 

With December soon upon us, things will change down the final stretch of the regular season, but there appear to be about eight real Super Bowl contenders.

The NFL is all starting to heat up with six games remaining to determine the race for playoffs, the draft order and most importantly fantasy leagues around the world. 

Let’s get into the rankings for those eight and the rest of the 32. 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

Last Week – 1st

Another week, and another dominant offensive performance from the Chiefs. Kansas look like they’ve reached full gear and at a good time as well. With only two teams with a winning record remaining on their schedule, they can afford to put one eye forward to the playoffs in January, to get in the best position possible for the AFC No. 1 seed.

The job isn’t finished yet and they’ll have a big test this week against the Bengals, but the bottom line is, no other team is able to consistently move the ball on offence as well as the Chiefs right now.

Up next: at Cincinnati, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)

Last Week – 2nd

After two Eagles-light weeks, the Philly O-line were back to performing at a top level on SNF and dropped 40 points and 363 rushing yards on the Packers. Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders both set career highs for rushing yards in the game, while the rushing total is good for eighth-most for any team in the Super Bowl era.

The Eagles have a two-game lead over the Cowboys atop of the NFC East, but Dallas is likely to hold a tiebreaker, if it wins the rematch. Philly cant afford to slip up if they want that No. 1 seed in the NFC, so i am looking forward to the Christmas Eve matchup between the two. 

Up next: vs. Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m. GMT

  1. Miami Dolphins (8-3)

Last Week – 3rd

Miami has a perfect 8-0 record in games started and finished by Tua Tagovailoa, but they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 3. They have one of the three best offences in the league by most measures, but they now may need to prepare for life without left tackle Terron Armstead for the rest of the regular season.

They look the business right now and we’ll find out how real they are in the next few weeks when they travel to San Francisco, LA for the Chargers and to Buffalo. The offence may be able to keep up with all of them, but there’s still work to be done on the other side of the ball.

Up next: at San Francisco, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Buffalo Bills (7-3)

Last Week – 4th

The NFL sometimes works like a revolving door, with former All-Pro corner-back Tre’Davious White returning from injury this week, but Buffalo’s biggest defensive star Von Miller went down with an injury. Bills have a deep pass rush that won’t fold with the loss of one player, but boy is he a good one.  

Miller’s loss comes at a bad time as well, with three straight AFC East games on the horizon for Buffalo. With a division that looks the closest in football and a 0-2 record, a poor return so far in the AFC East, every game is important if they want to win the division and not try their luck on the road through the playoffs.

Up next: at New England, Friday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)

Last Week – 5th

My favourite stat of the week may be the fact the Niners’ defence haven’t allowed a point in the second half since Week 8! 

That’s a whole month of football and Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans should start preparing for vacant head coaching jobs sooner rather than later.

The offence did take a hit this week with an MCL injury to Elijah Mitchell, sidelining him for at least four weeks. But looking at their No. 2 running back Christian McCaffrey, you would think there be fine. 

There’s a lot of great matches this week but 49ers vs Dolphins might be the one that tops it for me. The Kyle Shanahan vs Mike McDaniel, teacher-student matchup will teach us a lot and lucky for us in Ireland and the UK, its not at stupid o’clock.

Up next: vs. Miami, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

Last Week – 7th

Since Dak Prescott’s return in Week 7, Dallas ranks third in EPA per offensive drive, behind only the Chiefs and Dolphins. Dallas are looking great right now and it’s not just the offence that’s playing great. In that same stretch, Micah Parsons has continued his campaign for DPOY, leading a Cowboys defence that ranks first in quarterback pressure rate and passing yards allowed per game. 

They may have to settle for a wildcard spot if Philly becomes uncatchable, but home or away this team will be a tough matchup for anyone.

Up next: vs. Indianapolis, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

Last Week – 8th

The top of the NFL is looking more competitive as ever and that’s easy to see when the Bengals are ranked 7th. Their performance on Sunday in Tennessee, was a statement win we needed to see out of them and Joe Burrow said it himself: “This was the type of game that great teams win.”

The Bengals’ defence held Derrick Henry to 38 rushing yards on 17 carries, his second-fewest yards per attempt over the past three seasons. After a bad month on that side of the ball, they came back with a statement to stop the Titans. 

They look like Super Bowl contenders, if they can just make it through their late season gantlet of games against a host of fellow contenders. 

Up next: vs. Kansas City, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

Last Week – 6th

After a good few weeks for this Baltimore side, they fell back to their usual fourth quarter self this Sunday, with a late defeat to the Jaguars. 

Using ESPN’S win probability model, the Ravens had at least a 70% to win in all four of their losses during the fourth quarter. As talented as Lamar Jackson is, none of it will matter if the Ravens can’t play good football and close out games in the playoffs.

Up next: vs. Denver, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)

Last Week – 11th

The Vikings had highs and lows on both sides of the ball during their win on Thanksgiving, leaving many questions to be answered about them still. We’ll start at the highs: The Vikings scored 33 points on Thursday against the No. 1 defence in football. New England has been dominant, especially in the pass game, as they got Zach Wilson benched. But Vikings won in that area, as Belichick had no answers to the weapons of Jefferson, Thielen and Hockenson. 

But what comes up must come down, as the Patriots have been horrible on offence yet Mac Jones looked like Tom Brady against the Vikes on Thanksgiving. Even at 9-2 the Vikings are still an unknown quantity and are opening as just three-point favourites at home against Mike White and the Jets.

Up next: vs. New York Jets, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Tennessee Titans (7-4)

Last Week – 9th

The Titans are a real physically tough team but they tend to go as their defence goes because the offence just isn’t the type to get into shootouts. As seen in their 1-4 record in games where they’ve allowed 20 or more points. 

Treylon Burks has been a pleasant surprise of late with 181 receiving yards over the last two weeks, good for best in the league among rookies. But they need more weapons to be more explosive.

Overall Tennessee are a good football team that looks likely to host a playoff game. Such game will not be easy for most teams, but if they are to make a deep run into the postseason the offence will need more about it. Sadly, it’s kind of the reason why they have failed to consistently do that in past seasons as well.

Up next: at Philadelphia, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Last Week – 10th

The Seahawks had reality hit them this week after a pretty disappointing team performance. In a 40-34 overtime loss to the Raiders, they were out-gained by 204 yards, as the defence showed their early-season selves.

Despite playing a Raiders defence that ranks 32nd in DVOA, Kenneth Walker was held to just 26 rushing yards on 14 carries. With two winning games up next in the Rams and Panthers, Seattle will need to be on their A-game if they hope to keep up with the rest of the teams fighting for a wild-card spot.

Up next: at Los Angeles Rams, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Jets (7-4)

Last Week – 14th

Zach Wilson was benched this week and taking his place, Mike White showed what the Jets can really do. White completed 22 of 28 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets 31-10 win. By EPA per drive, it was the best offensive performance in the league during Week 12 and the Jets best offensive performance since 2020. 

How long Wilson’s benching goes on will be telling to his future in New York, but it seems for now he will continue to stay there.

Up next: at Minnesota, Sunday 6 p.m GMT

  1. Washington Commanders (7-5)

Last Week – 15th

Washington has been quietly climbing the rankings over the last couple of months with a sneaky 6-1 record across their last seven games. The results have put them in Playoff contention along with the rest of the NFC East. With two games against division rivals Giants over the next three weeks, it will determine the fate of both teams’ seasons, but the Commanders should open as favourites.

Up next: at New York Giants, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. New England Patriots (6-5)

Last Week – 13th

Much to what we wrote about the Vikings you could reserve that and it would apply to New England. It was great to see Mac Jones set up, but the defence looked nowhere near its usual self. Despite a record over .500 in a tough conference and division nothing is certain for the Patriots. They do have an elite defence going for them, but until Jones shows some consistency they may continue to look from outside into the playoff picture.

Up next: vs. Buffalo, Friday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)

Last Week – 16th

After back-to-back weeks with a failed attempt at a late game-winning drive, Justin Herbert finally came through in Sunday’s 25-24 win. Scoring a 1-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining put them in an opportunity to tie but Brandon Staley had other ideas. Known for his aggressiveness, Staley went for a 2-point conversion and it paid off. 

With five teams fighting for three spots in the AFC wild-card spots, it will come down to the end, but one thing for sure, Staley and the Chargers can’t afford to be one of the two teams that miss out or he may be looking for another job. 

Up next: at Las Vegas, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)

Last Week – 12th

Tampa has not had the season we expected and Sunday’s late game collapse against Cleveland has been an all too familiar sight. The good thing though is this team still leads its division and just has to take care of its divisional games if they want to host a playoff game. 

Up next: vs. New Orleans, Monday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)

Last Week – 19th

Trevor Lawrence finally looked like the Trevor Lawrence we knew with a game winning drive performance. 

Trailing by seven points with just over two minutes remaining, Lawrence completed 7 of 7 passes (spikes not included) for 91 yards, a touchdown and the winning two point conversion. The stats looked good and the throws were even better with three perfect dimes during the drive.

Up next: at Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT 

  1. Detroit Lions (4-7)

Last Week – 17th

Detroit went head-to-head with Buffalo for Thanksgiving but unfortunately came up short. This team is steadily improving, but are still finding ways to lose. Playoffs seem like a slim chance but with an ideal schedule down the stretch nothing is impossible in this league.

One thing for sure though, is the long-term future for the quarterback position may need to be figured out and they have the perfect opportunity to do it this off-season, with two potential top-10 picks in the draft. 

Up next: vs. Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Giants (7-4)

Last Week – 18th

We mentioned earlier about how competitive the NFC East has been this year, but there’s potential for it to be the best division since 2002. All four teams are in the playoffs and have at least 7 wins. They currently have a non-division record of 26-7 and if they can keep it up, the NFC East will be the best division since 2002.

Up next: vs. Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Cleveland Browns (4-7)

Last Week – 23rd

What a way for quarterback Jacoby Brissett to go out with the Browns this season. Brissett threw a touchdown to Njoku to force overtime and has led Cleveland to a top-five offence by EPA per drive. It’s been a pleasant surprise to how well he has played and if his defence could hold their own he would be in the comeback conversation with Geno Smith.

Now though, Cleveland begins a new era with Deshaun Watson, who is set to make his first start in 700 days. Coincidentally it happens to be against Houston as well. The NFL just loves scripting these storylines don’t they?

Up next: at Houston, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Green Bay Packers (4-8)

Last Week – 20th

In what might become a familiar sight in the next few years, we saw a Aaron Rodgers-less Packers against the Eagles late on. Rodgers left with a rib injury but it might be a blessing in disguise to get game experience for Jordan Love.

Think of it, this season is already done for the Packers and they need to start looking towards the future. If Rodgers does retire, then Love will be your new QB, so see what you got with him in an actual game like situation. 

But if Rodgers does stay, maybe Love impresses and you can get some sort of trade value for him. Basically Love’s stock is at rock bottom, so if he impresses you either have your  future QB or some trade value at least. Better than sitting on the bench like he has done for three seasons.

Up next: at Chicago, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

Last Week – 21st

The NFC South is the prime example for why division winners shouldn’t automatically be granted a home playoff game. At 5-7, the Falcons are just a half-game behind the Bucs for the NFC South, with the Panthers and Saints only a game behind them. All teams have been below average and there’s a realistic world where one of these teams get in with seven wins, while another NFC team will miss out with perhaps nine wins.

Up next: vs. Pittsburgh, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Las Vegas Raiders (4-7)

Last Week – 28th

Josh Jacobs has been one of the breakout stars this season and if you didn’t know him before Sunday, you will now when he totaled 303 yards from scrimmage, while playing through a calf injury. Jacobs averaged almost seven yards per carry on 33 touches with an offensive line in front of him that’s the weakest unit on their offence.

It’s great to see Jacobs break out, but the front office in Vegas will be kicking themselves after declinding his fifth-year option in the pre-season. They made the effort to extend Derek Carr, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller but are letting the biggest play-maker be a free agent in this upcoming off-season. Jacobs won’t mind though with the offers he will receive at least.

Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Arizona Cardinals (4-8)

Last Week – 22nd

Things are starting to turn ugly in Arizona and it feels like it’s only going to end one way. We have seen all the spats on the sideline between players and coaches, but now Kyler Murray came out publicly to say they lost this Sunday due to “Schematically.” 

With Marquise Brown back to pair with DeAndre Hopkins for the first time, maybe they can bring it back down the stretch, but things will have to change. Murray and Kingsbury, both got big new contracts, but cutting the head coach won’t affect their salary cap.

Up next: Bye

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7)

Last Week – 27th

Kenny Pickett has shown real improvement over the last three weeks and played the best game of his young career as a starter in the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Colts on MNF. 

Pickett was decisive and threw accurate balls to each of his top three receivers. He’s limiting turnovers as well, as he and George Pickens look like a great rookie pair for Pittsburgh.

Up next: at Atlanta, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)

Last Week – 24th

Jeff Saturday got this team playing well in his first couple of games in charge, but his lack of experience showed towards the end against Pittsburgh. 

Rumours have started to grow on the vines of Michigan head coach and former Colt, Jim Harbaugh making the move back to the NFL for Indy. But this offence needs revamping all over and it isn’t as simple as in college where a few transfers and recruits come easy. 

Up next: at Dallas, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. Carolina Panthers (4-8)

Last Week – 30th

Sam Darnold got the nod this week and it paid off with a win over Denver. Steve Wilks has made the most of his interim head coaching job and it’s worth debating whether he will get the job permanently. I’m sure he’ll get a go at interviewing and Carolina will conduct a wide search but it’s been a good signing to get this team back on track.

Up next: Bye

  1. New Orleans Saints (4-7)

Last Week – 25th

The Saints have been up and down this year more than one of those whack-a-mole games. Both offence and defence can look completely different each week, but if there’s been one consistency about this team it’s Chris Olave. 

The rookie receiver has been fantastic and stepped up as veterans Micheal Thomas and Alvin Kamara have underwhelmed. At the moment Olave is the brightest light at the end of the tunnel of a dark tunnel. 

Up next: at Tampa Bay, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Chicago Bears (3-9)

Last Week – 26th

The Bears were a fun team a few weeks ago, but injuries have now derailed their season towards the end. First, all the running caught up with Justin Fields as his season is on hold. Now against the Jets, Chicago lost both Darnell Mooney and Eddie Jackson for the rest of the season. A lot less of a fun team to watch with those guys missing.

Up next: vs. Green Bay, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Rams (3-8)

Last Week – 31st

The Rams are currently going down as the worst defending Super Bowl champions of all time, and their season could get summed up with the clip of a player running into Sean McVay this Sunday, dropping the shoulder nicely on his jaw. With all of the injuries this team has faced, the end of the season can’t come soon enough as they try to understand what the future holds for their players and head coach.

Up next: vs. Seattle, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Houston Texans (1-9-1)

Last Week – 32nd

Houston rallied back from a 30-0 start against Miami, it just so happened to be against their backups. Now the Texans have their Super Bowl this week when they take on the Browns and Watson. Expect a feisty crowd that will be going full force at Watson, as maybe the pressure will get to him and Houston can win the first bout of their trade bragging rights. 

Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Denver Broncos (3-8)

Last Week – 29th

Denver deserves being ranked at the bottom here as they might be the franchise in the most crisis right now. The Russell Wilson trade is looking like the worst trade in league history, with players on his own team getting in his face and yelling. 

In a life comparison, the Broncos dumped everything to be with a supermodel, but are now slowly finding out it’s not quite the lifestyle they wanted. Nathaniel Hackett seems likely to be one-and-done, but they’re stuck with Wilson for the long haul.

Up next: at Baltimore, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT