The NFL has been in the news for kneeling, lawsuits and suspensions just to name a couple of things. What the average fan is missing is that it’s been a competitive, hard fought season. A lot of good football has been played. But if you are reading this you aren’t the average fan, are you?
@New England Patriots, @ New York Jets, @Carolina Panthers
Yes, these are all on the road. It is difficult in most circumstances to win in the NFL on the road. The Falcons can do it. Beating the Patriots in Foxboro would be a giant wintergreen mint in the process of getting the bad taste of last year’s super bowl loss out of Atlanta’s mouth. I personally think they may have looked past Miami to this rematch. This year’s pass defense in New England is not like the last season. This edition of the Brady / Ryan show should be filled with fantasy sweetness. The Jets are improved over where people thought they were but hosting Atlanta between to divisional games in not ideal. Although the two teams haven’t met since 2013 I give the edge to the Falcons weapons. Carolina have met recently, they do twice a year with Atlanta winning the last three.
New Orleans Saints
@ Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There is no better time for anyone to play the Packers than the first week Aaron Rodgers is sidelined. This applies to the “away from dome” challenged Saints more than most. Trading Adrian Peterson was the best thing for both Peterson and the Saints. He wasn’t taking opportunities from the other backs away in games so much as prep time before the games. Mark Ingram looks like an RB1 candidate. Alvin Kamara hasn’t gotten the press that some other rookie running backs have but he passes the eyeball test. He’s super athletic and able to share some of the work load against a Packers defense that is 26th in the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs. For both the Bears and the Buccaneers there is no place like the home. The Saints have beaten Tampa Bay 5 of the last 6 meetings in the dome. Jameis Winston’s shoulder injury is still being sorted out and although Ryan Fitzpatrick has starter experience he won’t be as effective as Winston. The Bears defense hasn’t been terrible this year but the Saints weapons are just beginning to click. The 52 points that they put on the Lions was in part supplemented by New Orleans own defense with three defensive touchdowns!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, @ New York Jets
The Bills defense has been one of the better units in the league this year. Tampa Bay’s offense has been good but with its quarterback Jameis Winston going out last week his availability is in question. With a full week to prepare for old divisional foe Ryan Fitzpatrick the Bills will be ready. Oakland has not met expectations this year. Derek Carr is back but he wasn’t very effective before he was hurt this year and I wonder if Amari Cooper is ever going to get in to the flow of the season. There is an issue somewhere with Cooper and Carr. Facing a Bills secondary that is 11th against wide receivers and 3rd against quarterbacks won’t help either of them. Buffalo already has a victory over the Jets this year and have won six of the last eight in the series.