The Opening Drive: Week 16, 2013

Alright everyone, we’ve got two weeks left in the NFL regular season. That means playoff spots are on the line across both conferences as this home stretch concludes. That also means there’s no time to waste with snarky pleasantries. Let’s get right into The Opening Drive!

(8-6) Miami Dolphins at
(5-9) Buffalo Bills

As of right now the Dolphins are in the seventh spot in the AFC, perched just outside the final Wild Card slot. With the Ravens hosting the Patriots, Miami has a shot at claiming that position. A match-up against the Bills breeds a load of uncertainty. as who knows what we should expect from E.J. Manuel at this point in his career. He’s not completing even 60% of his passes and his 11 touchdowns are slightly offset by nine interceptions and six fumbles. The Bills are 29th in the league in passing offense, so it should be difficult for them to keep up with Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace. Unless the weather pitches in, of course.

(4-9-1) Minnesota Vikings at
(9-6) Cincinnati Bengals

Cincy missed a prime opportunity to jump up in the standings when they lost terribly to Pittsburgh in week 15. Now their ceiling is likely the three seed, but they are in danger of completely falling out of the playoffs! There shouldn’t be any major problems this weekend, because even their banged-up defense should be enough to handle Matt Cassel and the Vikings offense. (Yes, the Vikes trashed the Eagle’s D, but it WAS THE EAGLES.) The Bengals will keep the playoffs interesting with a win at home.

(9-5) Indianapolis Colts at
(11-3) Kansas City Chiefs

It’s highly possible that these two teams will be meeting in the first round of the playoffs, only the locations will be reversed. The Colts are stumbling into the postseason, while the Chiefs have been lighting up the scoreboard in recent weeks, albeit against the defenses of Washington and Oakland. As not crazy as I am about the Chiefs, I surely dislike the Colts. And at Arrowhead? Forget about it.

(4-10) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at
(6-8) St. Louis Rams

I’m ignoring all non-playoff related games. It’s not because I don’t like these teams, they’re just irrelevant. I will now use dismissive GIF’s in place of analysis.

Ferrell Nope

(4-10) Cleveland Browns at
(6-8) New York Jets

Jim Nope

(7-7) Dallas Cowboys at
(3-11) Washington Offensive Names

This NFC East rivalry certainly has lost some of its luster because only one of these teams is in the playoff hunt, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be thrilling. It’ll have Kirk Cousins attacking one of the worst defenses in the league, so let’s all be prepared for him to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns without overreacting about it. Okay? If they Cowboys fall, the Eagles have a chance to clinch the division title on SNF. And then the head-rolling would begin.

(10-4) New Orleans Saints at
(10-4) Carolina Panthers

For the second time in three weeks these two teams will face off. The last meeting surely left a bad taste in the Panthers’ mouth, a 31-13 shellacking. New Orleans has been a freakishly inconsistent road team in 2013, so they’ll need to clean up all those mental mistakes if they’re getting a win against a legitimate playoff contender and division rival. I’m cautious about the Panthers though. They’re 6-1 at home, but if their defense slips up against the Saints, I’m not sure the offense can pick up all of the slack. Look for a lot of DeAngelo Williams and that ground game.

(5-9) Tennessee Titans at
(4-10) Jacksonville Jaguars

Dee NO

(11-3) Denver Broncos at
(2-12) Houston Texans

After being suckered into thinking the Texans could pull out a win over the Colts last Sunday, I’ve decided I can’t possibly make that same mistake again. Manning will undoubtedly enjoy playing indoors this weekend, something that will translate perfectly to the scoreboard. He’s played in Houston many-a-time before, so I’m not anticipating any problems. It’s the best team in the AFC versus the worst team in the AFC. Just chalk it up.

(5-9) New York Giants at
(7-7) Detroit Lions

Can I say this is one of the games I’m most excited for this weekend? Eli Manning + Matthew Stafford = 9,645 turnovers. It’s pretty basic math. Detroit needs help from Chicago and Green Bay to get back into the NFC North picture, but the Giants are a fickle opponent. They might not be ready to lie down and let Tom Coughlin be fired just yet. Detroit’s defensive line will have every advantage over a New York offensive line that has let Eli Manning get sacked 36 times.

(9-5) Arizona Cardinals at
(12-2) Seattle Seahawks

I’ve been impressed by Arizona this season, truly. But they’re about to get buzz-sawed by a team looking to secure a number one seed throughout the NFC playoffs, which would practically seal them a trip to the Super Bowl. Carson Palmer hasn’t been Eli Manning bad this season, but he’s liable for an interception or two against the Seahawk secondary. Giving away possessions is a surefire way for the Cardinals to drop this NFC West match-up.

(6-8) Pittsburgh Steelers at
(7-6-1) Green Bay Packers

Well, we are deprived of Aaron Rodgers yet again. He’s being held out because his collarbone is somehow only healing at a normal human rate. I mean, Adrian Peterson would have used ‘roids by now. This means this contest may actually swing in the Steelers’ favor. Ben Roethlisberger is quietly having the best season of his career, but his team’s struggles are overshadowing his successes. And with slim playoff hopes on the line (it needs to be a five-way tie or something crazy), Ben needs to play his best. I honestly have no idea who will win this game.

(4-10) Oakland Raiders at
(7-7) San Diego Chargers

San Diego is clinging to the faintest of playoff hopes as well, but theirs isn’t quite as convoluted. They get to welcome in the craptastic Raiders, who have lost four straight… and still claim Matt McGloin is somehow a starting quarterback. It’s cool. We all get it. You’ve found a four and think she’s a nine. But she’s not. You’re drunk Oakland, go home.

Wiig Drunk

(10-4) New England Patriots at
(8-6) Baltimore Ravens

New England has a chance to clinch a bye this weekend while the Ravens can clinch a playoff spot if the Dolphins and Chargers both lose, so obviously there’s a lot riding on this game. (And it was flexed OUT of the SNF spotlight?) Baltimore will show no fear of the Patriots, because why would they? The last time these teams played the Ravens were advancing to the Super Bowl. But this time around Baltimore’s offense is dreadful. Joe Flacco may have perfected his “drawing the pass interference” downfield throw, but Ray Rice is finishing out a terrible regular season. Even without Gronk, the Patriots might have enough weapons to pick up a road win.

(4-10) Atlanta Falcons at
(10-4) San Francisco 49ers

Hey Monday Night Football, thanks for the EPIC match-up! (Sarcasm.) This game is being featured because, barring a 5-6 match-up in the Conference Championship round, this will be the last game at historic Candlestick Park, which was opened back in 1960. (History BITCHES!) And while it will be dramatic for Friscoans, for everyone else this game will probably lack for excitement. I mean, the Falcons stink.

And that’s all I have for you! I’m going to gear up for these games by killing things online, Killzone-style. PEACE.