The weeks fly by during football season. The bad news is that we are closer to the end of the season than the beginning. The good news is that we are almost through the bye weeks. You’ve only got to get through a couple more.
New England Patriots
@Denver Broncos, @Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins
If I’d have told you at the beginning of the season that going to Denver and Oakland would be considered easy in any way, you’d have thought I was crazy. Well, that’s what the statistics tell us. New England’s defense is getting better. The past four games the Patriots have surrendered 14, 17, 7, and 13 points. That’s a little over 12 per game. The ferocious Bronco defense gave up more than that in each of the first three quarters against Philadelphia. Denver is ranked next to last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. The New England passing attack will feast led by Rob Gronkowski. The Raiders rank in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to every position. They do have a bye week ahead of the game to get healthy, but the home game is not in Oakland it’s in Mexico City. No matter how rabid that fanbase may be, it’s not the black hole. The Patriots have won 4 consecutive in this series. Miami traded their best running back and might have gotten better but the only sampling we have was against the Raiders defense. They still rank 29th in passing yards, 30th in rushing yards, and dead last in points scored per game.
Los Angeles Chargers, @Cleveland Browns, @Arizona Cardinals
The Jaguars are the biggest surprise in the NFL. We knew the defense was pretty good but the “Sacksonville” defense is better than pretty good. A whole lot better. They lead the league in sacks with 35. That’s six more than Carolina and they’ve done that in 8 games compared to the Panthers 9. The Chargers are 26th in the league in rushing yards. You have to run the ball to beat Jacksonville. They won’t let you throw. The Browns have difficulty running or throwing on offense. Cleveland is 27th in total yards from scrimmage and 31st in points per game. It could be a very long day in northern Ohio. The Arizona Cardinals are decimated by injuries. Their starting quarterback Carson Palmer is done for the year and arguably the best running back in football, Davis Johnson, may or may not get back on the field this year. Adrian Peterson can still run the football and the Cardinals will feed him as much as possible but if Arizona falls behind early or by a substantial amount it will effectively take Peterson out of the game.
@Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, @San Francisco 49ers
All three of the defenses here are in the bottom half of the league. Arizona is 27th in defending quarterbacks and San Francisco is 30th. The Falcons are at least a respectable 17th but have to travel to Seattle. Every year it seems like Russell Wilson goes crazy the last half of the season and puts up fantasy points by the ton. The last two weeks Russell Wilson has led the NFL in fantasy points scored. Wilson hasn’t beaten the Cardinals in the past three tries, but he has rung up more than 20 fantasy points in six of the last seven games broke the 40-point mark twice. The Falcons offense hasn’t played poorly overall but they haven’t been able to put the ball into the end zone. This was a great match-up last year when these two teams got together. The words “Shoot Out” leap into my mind. The Seahawks have beaten the 49ers eight games in a row. San Francisco ranks last against running backs, 31st against tight ends and 30th against quarterbacks.