We’re now into December and truly into the home stretch. At least three quarters of the teams still have playoff hopes with the top teams jockeying for position. And the bottom teams are jockeying to ascend to the top of the draft. It seemed that way last week in the Patriots-Giants game, when Bill Belichick seemingly played for a tie at the end of regulation, instead of going for the win…only to have his rookie kicker miss a 35 yd chip shot FG.
There are a handful of games that stand out this week, and the Patriots are involved again.
Meet the New Boss
The Patriots are finally putting QB Mac Jones out of his misery this week at home against the Chargers. Bailey Zappe got the lion share of snaps this week, with backup Malik Cunningham getting the rest of them. Accounts at the stadium were that Jones didn’t get a snap, and will only see the field in an extreme situation.
It was a bit of a shock that Jones started last week, but after what he did in Germany, and then at the Meadowlands, there is no way he could suit up this week. The fan base in New England would boo him off the field before the fist snap…and make no mistake about it, whoever is in attendance, will most likely boo regardless. Still, they face an opponent in the Chargers who give up a ton of yardage, with a QB, Justin Herbert, that the patriots have owned the last couple of years. The Patriots are a +5.5 home underdog. It’s almost impossible to say, but I like the points in this spot for The Pats.
Not Even Taylor Swift Was Enough…
Speaking of the Patriots, they made history this week. For the first time in history, a MNF game has been flexed out. This is supposed to be a decision by the NFL in conjunction with the networks, in this case Disney owned ABC/ESPN, and FOX, but I have to believe the Patriots’ owner had something to do with the decision.
He was a big proponent of adding Monday night games to be eligible to be flexed, and I have to believe if he pushed back, the league probably would have acquiesced. Some have theorized this move is a slap in the face to him and he is upset by the move.
I think the opposite, over time people won’t remember that the Pats got moved. They play on Thursday Night in a nationally televised game on Amazon, and then they play in a nationally televised game on Christmas Eve. The game in between against the Chiefs would have been three in a row.
There’s a good chance Kraft would prefer this current outcome, with the game being moved to 1 pm on Sunday, and not on Monday night where they are likely to be embarrassed at home against the defending Super Bowl champs…most likely with Taylor Swift in attendance.
Will a Bronco Buck a Texan, or Will a Texan Tame a Bronco
The Texans were a crossbar away from being tied for first place in the AFC South. But they are now two games out of first place and just outside a playoff spot. They face off against the Broncos, the hottest team in the league, who are also just outside of the playoffs. Each team is 6-5 with the winner gaining a valuable win to move closer into the postseason, and the loser falling deeper behind.
It is a game that feel like the Texans should win, as they have been the flashier and more explosive team, but the Broncos have done nothing but win as of late, holding a five game winning streak. With the pedigree and experience of both QB Russell Wilson, and HC Sean Payton, it feels like they are in a good spot here. This is the most intriguing game of the week.
The Lions have been teasers all year. They have a solid 8-3 record, but could easily only have one loss. Everytime they seem like they’re moving to the elite level, they throw up a stinker as they did on Thanksgiving at home. Being on the road may be the best place for them this week, as they’ve been a resilient and successful team away from Detroit this year. They have a winnable games against the Saints on Sunday, and this is the type of game where Super Bowl contenders prevail.
Matchup of the Week? And Season? And a Preview of Things To Come?
The Broncos/Texans game may be the most intriguing, but this game against the 49ers and Eagles in Philadelphia is the best. The Eagles just keep winning, and the Niners have gotten back on the horse and won their last three games. A win by the Eagles will all but lock up the no.1 seed in the NFC, but a Niners win will put them within one loss of the Eagles for the top spot. And, a loss by the Eagles will even put their hold on the division in jeopardy, with Dallas pulling out a win on Thursday. It sounds strange to say, but the one-loss Eagles are a +3 point underdog at home. If I’m HC Sirianni, I’d be using that tidbit as chalkboard material all week.