The best thing about this time of year is that there are enough games that have been played where trends emerge. Teams with winning and losing streaks; teams dealing with injuries, and unexpected emerging stars, as well as surprising duds.
All of these things lead to interesting and compelling matchups. This week there are six intriguing games to spend a little extra time paying attention to.
- San Francisco 49ers @ Jacksonville Jaguars: After five weeks, the 49ers had a stranglehold on the NFC West, but after three consecutive losses they are in a battle with the Seattle Seahawks. The Jaguars were reeling before winning back to back games in London…and now they are sitting on a five game win streak and coming off a bye. Something has to give in this game. Despite Jacksonville’s better record at 6-2, and being at home in a 1pm game vs. a west coast opponent, they find themselves as a 3-point home underdogs. It’s hard to see the Jags losing at home, but it’s also hard to see the 49ers losing four in a row.
- New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings: This game is intriguing for one reason, QB Josh Dobbs. He’s now with his fourth team and obviously not for long, but if he can string a few more wins together he may be the next Geno Smith. The Saints find themselves in first place at 5-4, the same record as the Vikings; who are two losses behind the Lions in the NFC North. This game has major playoff implications.
- Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens: This game could give the Ravens a little breathing room with a home win, and truly catapult them as a legitimate Superbowl contender, (if they already aren’t). But a Cleveland victory on the road would throw a monkey wrench in the entire division. It would get them closer to the Ravens and possibly give them a little separation with the Steelers and the Bengals.
- Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals: Speaking of the Bengals, they are one of the hottest teams in the league, with a four game win streak. But they are playing a young, fun, and overachieving team in the Texans who are ahead of schedule at .500. A road win in Cincinnati could position them for an implausible playoff run.
- Detroit Lions @ Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers finally got back to .500 with a 4-4 record, and are trying to claw back into the playoffs. Their defense looked great against the inept Jets offense, but this week it gets much harder against the Lions. And the Lions have proven to be able to win on the road this year.
- Washington Commanders @ Seattle Seahawks: The question for the Commanders is, is Sam Howell the real deal? He looked great last week against the Patriots, but this isn’t your father’s Patriots…it’s more like your grandfather’s Patriots. Awful. The Seahawks lost terribly last week and are looking to bounce back at home. They have the same record as the 49ers but can’t expect them to lose every week. They desperately need to win this game at home.