Welcome back football fans! If you’re not still in a coma from the holiday festivities, what say we run through the rest of week 13’s action with this edition of The Opening Drive? Yes? Alrighty then.
(2-9) Jacksonville Jaguars at
(4-7) Cleveland Browns
Well we are starting this drive off with a BANG, aren’t we? The high-powered Jags versus the explosive Bro- I can’t. Seriously. I can’t. This game will pit Chad Henne against the returning Brandon Weeden. I’m not sure quarterback battles get less interesting. The Browns’ defense will be the best unit on the field, so let’s say Cleveland gets a win.
(5-6) Tennessee Titans at
(7-4) Indianapolis Colts
So what’s to like about the Colts’ recent string of performances? Uh… nothing. They’ve fallen in deep holes early, allowing Andrew Luck to be pummeled by opposing pass rushes. Ryan Fitzpatrick is in one of his trademark “hot streaks,” so he might be up to the task of putting the Colts in a deficit. Indy’s pass defense has been inconsistent and their run defense has been dreadful. Chris Johnson might go ballistic. (Just to tease all his fantasy owners.)
(5-6) Miami Dolphins at
(5-6) New York Jets
Ew. This AFC East match-up brings together two teams of mediocre potential. Technically they’re both still in the playoff hunt, but neither team brings much to the table in terms of offensive production. New York has a valid rushing game, but Geno Smith is a turnover machine that negates their time of possession advantages. Miami’s offensive line is still in dire straits and doesn’t reliably give Ryan Tannehill the time to throw down the field. Home team wins? Probably.
(7-4) Arizona Cardinals at
(6-5) Philadelphia Eagles
So the Eagles are looking to keep pace with the Cowboys in the NFC East race (which is really down to those two teams), but they have to do it against the Cardinals, who are one of the hottest teams in the entire league. They’re on a four game win streak, the most recent win featured their defense thrashing the Indianapolis Colts. Arizona’s rushing defense is ranked second in the NFL, so Nick Foles and his receiving targets have to pick up some of the slack on Sunday. I’m leaning towards the Cardinals on the road, as Chip Kelly’s offense might not be enough to make up for his putrid pass defense.
(3-8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at
(8-3) Carolina Panthers
These red-hot Buccaneers are riding a three game win streak into this game against their division foes. Too bad the Panthers are on a seven game win streak of their own. Tampa is outrageously more competitive than they were even a month ago, but I’m not about to commit myself to predicting their win over a strong playoff contender. It’ll be close (division games usually are), but I like the Panthers to keep the streak alive.
(8-3) New England Patriots at
(2-9) Houston Texans
I’d love to offer up reasons why the Texans can win this game, because that means it would be slightly exciting and fun to watch. But I can’t help you out. I’m sorry. Maybe Houston’s defense isn’t god-awful and Kubiak’s offense can get a ground game going against the Patriots’ interior, but do we really think they can out-score the Patriots? Nuh-uh.
(2-9) Atlanta Falcons at
(4-7) Buffalo Bills
Ugh. My god. Are these games going to get better at some point? The Falcons are garbage, but the Bills are just unwatchable at times. I’m predicting one of these teams will win. And no one will care.
(5-6) St. Louis Rams at
(7-4) San Francisco 49ers
FINALLY, the NFC West brings The Opening Drive back to decent football. The Rams are quietly becoming one of those middling teams that can really compete against the big boys. Their dismantling of the Bears gives them an air of legitimacy. Against the 49ers, the Rams front four could cause problems for Colin Kaepernick, but the St. Louis secondary can’t let the returning Michael Crabtree tear them apart. Kaepernick finally has his number one receiver on the field, but it’ll take a week or two until Crabtree is back to his old form. This should be close… unless the Rams forget how to run the ball.
(9-2) Denver Broncos at
(9-2) Kansas City Chiefs
For the second time in three weeks these teams will face-off. Both are coming off close losses as well, meaning they’ll be “amped” to get back on track. The problem for Kansas City is that they might be missing both outside pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Hali is questionable, but thinks he’ll play. Houston will certainly not be on the field. The Chiefs had major issues getting to Peyton Manning two weeks ago WITH their top talent, how can they hope to throw off his timing without them? And Denver’s defense may not be top-tier, but they’re better than the Chargers. KC ain’t puttin’ up 38 this week.
(7-4) Cincinnati Bengals at
(5-6) San Diego Chargers
An intriguing match-up, the Bengals are on the road to meet the Chargers, who just handed the Chiefs their second straight loss. I’m rooting for a Cincy win just so I can see Philip Rivers lose his shit. It’ll probably happen too, as San Diego loves to fall apart just when their fans are buying into them most. Have fun with that heartache. I’ll be maniacally laughing.
(4-7) New York Giants at
(3-8) Washington Offensive Names
You know how I said earlier that the NFC East was a two-team race? Yeah. It’s not these two teams. Even if at 5-7 the G-Men wouldn’t technically be out of the postseason picture, I’m writing them off. Washington’s struggling to keep Robert Griffin upright and out of the headlines, something that could get worse against a better-than-you-think Giant defense. They’ll put RG3 on the ground early and often.
(9-2) New Orleans Saints at
(10-1) Seattle Seahawks
Week 13 offers a delightful ending between the top two seeds in the NFC playoff race. This game will go a long way in determining home field advantage for the conference tournament. New Orleans should have the edge on offense, but Seattle’s defense (especially at home) will be the best unit on the field. This contest will come down to how the Seahawks’ offense matches up with the Saints’ improved defense. If Rob Ryan’s squad can create a turnover or two, they’ll have a shot to ruin Seattle’s typically stellar home record. Let us all give thanks for what will likely be the best Monday night game of the year.
And on that creepy note, The Opening Drive is finished! Have a fine time watching men run around in tight pants while they slap each other on the butt. (It’s true.)