Monday Night – Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
They’re baaaaaaack. We’ve already seen Round 1 of these two teams squaring off in 2017 and now it’s time for round 2. The AFC North title and playoff hopes are on the line here which only intensifies a game between two teams that already hate each other. What’s better than a football game between two teams with bad blood? Nothing. The hits will be fierce, the celebrations will be outlandish and the game will be great. Get your popcorn ready, because you’re not going to want to leave your seat this Monday night.
Keys to the Game
An all out offensive assault against Cincy should get the job done here. The Bengals have a little firepower of their own, but not the kind necessary to keep up with Pittsburgh’s Killer B’s. Big Ben, Bell and Brown can run the Bengals out of town by dropping 30 or 40 points on them. Andy Dalton will be forced to drop back and chuck it every time out, but he can only complete so many passes to A.J. Green. The rest will likely fall to the ground or go for modest gains and not touchdowns. The Bengals just won’t be able to hang.
Cincy needs to get after Big Ben and force him into making bad plays. Roethlisberger never wants to give up on a play and sometimes that gets him in trouble. The Bengals need to capitalize on that. They should be able to force a couple of turnovers if they get enough pressure and then Andy Dalton needs to strike. A.J. Green will probably be double-covered every time he comes to the line, so they might need to get creative and maybe get the ball to Gio Bernard out of the backfield and out in space. If they can keep that Pittsburgh defense off balance, they should have any issues getting into the endzone.
Sunday Night – Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
More birds of prey on Sunday night. This time, we’ve got the Eagles flying west to Seattle to tango with the Seahawks. Yes, tango. That’s because I can already see Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz dancing around defenders and making plays that make our jaws drop all night long. Maybe not to that extent, but you get the picture. It’s going to be fun to watch these two mobile quarterbacks go head to head while facing tough defenses.
Keys to the Game
Create big plays. This is what the Eagles defense has done best the last few years and it will serve them well on Sunday night in Seattle. Russell Wilson has a history of being loose with the ball, so this is the perfect opponent for that Philly D to take advantage of and get a pick 6… or two. Turning that defense into instant offense will turn the tides in this game and put the Eagles on top. From there, Carson Wentz can show everyone why he was the 2nd overall pick in last year’s draft and lead the Eagles to a tough road win at the 12th Man in December. Now, that’s a resume booster.
Seattle should be looking to crush the Philadelphia offense. If they can’t score, they can’t win. Sure, the Eagles have some good talent on offense, but as a whole, they’re average at best. Seattle chews up and spits out average offenses every week. Getting pressure on Wentz will force him into making some throws he wouldn’t normally make and that means Russell Wilson will be getting the ball back with good field position. As long as he is patient and doesn’t give the ball right back, Seattle will dance their way to another W as the season gets late.
Sunday Afternoon – Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
We head west on Sunday afternoon to see the Cardinals take on the LA Rams. There’s two ways this game will go: either they’ve both had good seasons and they’ll be contending with Seattle for the NFC West title or both teams are going to be out of it already in Week 13. I’m going with the latter. I think these teams will both take a step forward towards being contenders once again in 2017 and that’s why you need to watch this game. If nothing else, these teams have some terrific players that you need to see.
Keys to the Game
The Rams need to stifle that Arizona offense. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but with the defensive talent LA has, anything is possible. That’s good because it’s going to take a mammoth effort in order to slow down the Cardinals’ super back David Johnson. He can do it on the ground and he can do it in the air, so LA’s front seven will have their hands full all game. But, if they can limit Johnson’s effectiveness, Arizona will be hard up for points all day long. That will lead to an easy win at home for LA.
Get David Johnson in space and let him run wild. He’s proven he can run over, through, around or by just about anyone on the field and he can be Arizona’s offense all by himself in this one. Of course a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald might help open things up a bit, but if the Cardinals can get rolling and put 25-30 points on the board, the Rams will struggle to keep up. Todd Gurley showed last year that he can’t carry a team on his own and LA doesn’t have any other options for scoring. It will be game over in LA.
Thursday Night – Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
It’s Week 13 and it’s time for those playoff races to really start heating up. So, naturally, we kick the week off with the division that’s been the most competitive recently: the NFC East. There are 3 legitimate contenders for the division crown with the Eagles being the only team that would surprise people if they won. This time out we’ve got the Redskins flying south to Dallas for the final game in November and it should be a good one.
Keys to the Game
As usual, this game is going to come down to defense when playing the Cowboys. Washington will need to find a way to contain Zeke Elliott. You won’t have a shot to win if he’s running for 200 yards and 3 scores while eating up the clock. Slowing him down is the key to staying in this game down in Dallas. Josh Norman will have Dez Bryant on lockdown, so there’s not much to worry about there. If Kirk Cousins can generate some offense via the pass, the Redskins will be sitting pretty with a road win at Jerry World.
Dallas is going to need to focus on getting Kirk Cousins out of rhythm. Washington’s passing game is their only true offensive weapon and if the Cowboys can disrupt it, they’ll have an easy Thursday night. If Washington is struggling to score, Dallas can march down the field on Zeke’s back and burn the clock while adding to their lead. That’s the beauty of having a workhorse back like Zeke. Getting some solid play out of Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley will only open things up even more for Zeke on the ground.