With only seven weeks left in the regular season, The Freak will determine the serious contenders for the Lombardi Trophy this year in Minnesota.
1. Saints – For once the Saints have a good defence, and a very effective running game. Drew Brees doesn’t need to throw the ball 45 times anymore to win games. In the past, they had no chance in late December playing outside in the cold. The beauty of a running game is it travels well.
2. Eagles – Philly has a great front seven, and their young quarterback is playing lights out. The secondary is questionable, and how many quarterbacks in their second year have led their teams to a Super Bowl? More than you think, but their offensive line needs to keep him upright.
3. Rams – New coach Sean McVay has instilled much-needed life to the offence, and key free-agent signing Andrew Whitworth, at left tackle, have made the Rams a contender. A tough finishing stretch will determine if they’re for real.
4. Vikings – A championship-calibre defence, but can Case Keenum and a rusty Teddy Bridgewater score enough points on offence? Need to get home games for the playoffs.
5. Panthers – Made it to the dance two years ago, and can be in the mix if they can find some receivers who can catch the ball.
6. Seahawks – It’s a one-man show on offence with Russ Wilson. Seattle needs more than him to win in the playoffs.
1. Patriots – There was no doubt Coach Belichick would get the defence figured out, and once again New England is in the Super Bowl conversation.
2. Steelers – Unless they get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Pittsburgh won’t be in the big game. The only way they can beat Brady and the Pats is at Heinz Field.
3. Chiefs – Coach Reid can devise a game plan to confuse the Pats with the different type of offensive pieces he has. But can he beat New England twice in one season?
4. Jaguars – They are playing great defence and running the ball – a formula that has won many championships. Only problem, they have a dummy at quarterback in Blake Bortles.
5. Titans and Raiders – A late-season surge may put these teams in the mix. They have the talent, but can they put it all together?
Stat of the week
The Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater spent the last 675 days rehabbing his knee, and finally dressed for a game against the Redskins as the backup quarterback.
The Chiefs need to get on a roll, and a great way to start this momentum is playing the Giants. The game is on the road, but it doesn’t matter. New York has packed it in for the season. KC in a romp
Problem with bad teams like Cleveland is they always make two or three bonehead plays that will cost them the game. It will happen again this week as the visiting Jags pull out a close road win.
The Steelers are a different monster at home as they host the Titans, who will lull you to sleep, but are very much in the AFC South hunt. Take the Black and Yellow.
Don’t’ mortgage the house picks
If you haven’t noticed the Patriots are starting to roll, and play a road game against the Raiders in Mexico City. This is a big game for Oakland to prove they can play with the best in the AFC. Don’t bet any pesos on them, as they can’t beat the Patriots in Mexico.
It’s a big test for the Rams and Vikings to see who’s for real. The home defence of Minnesota will test the Rams’ offence. The Vikings’ D causes a late turnover, which is the difference in their win.
A huge NFC East battle in Big D on Sunday night. Dallas is having trouble blocking up front, giving up six sacks to Atlanta’s Adrian Clayborn! Philly has a very good front seven, and will give the Dallas offensive line trouble all night. The Eagles fly home with a big road win, and the look on Jerry Jones’s face is priceless!
Seattle is home to Atlanta on Monday night.
The Falcons’ D has the speed to contain Russell Wilson, and there are signs Atlanta’s offence is finally coming to life.
Atlanta upsets the ‘Hawks.
Last week: 6-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside school teacher and coaches youth football. His column appears every Thursday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.