Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Derek Carr, Fletcher Cox, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Rob Gronkowski, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
It has been a frustrating season as a Bengals fan, but there comes a point where you have to accept that the playoffs really are out of reach, and whilst that happened to me a couple of weeks ago, the optimist in me still tries to hang on to hope for a couple of weeks. I am dreading what Fletcher Cox could do against the Bengals this week, but mainly I’ll be curious about what is going on with the rest of the league.
The Cowboy ran out eventual winners in an intriguing Thursday night game, but even though the Vikings defence is back to where it was earlier in the season, they couldn’t stop the first team to record double digit wins from getting their eleventh. There are two teams that could join them this week, but whilst the Raiders and Patriots stand a good chance of getting their tenth wins, injuries to Derek Carr and Rob Gronkowski could be causing differing degrees of anxiety to fans. Derek Carr came back in the game to play with his nastily injured finger, it is amazing what adrenaline will do for you, but it is possible it might affect his play. More worrying for the Patriots though will be the loss of Gronkowski for the rest of the season after having back surgery this week. You would back the Patriots staff to be able to adjust to this loss, but it is a big loss as Gronkowski is a real difference maker and is a favourite target of Brady as well as being the best tight end in the league.
No team is unaffected by injury at this time of year, but it is a question of whether you have picked up a critical injury and how strong you are at that position in the first place. The Seattle Seahawks offensive line has not been good all season, but in recent weeks they had improved enough when combined with Russel Wilson getting healthy to make the Seahawks look frightening again. However, they picked up more injuries last week and the Seahawks could only register five points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They are still very much in control of the AFC West, which is very much going through a down season this year, but they will have their eyes on bigger prizes and I will be curious to see how well their offence goes this week against a Panthers team who have been more competitive in recent weeks, even if the results don’t necessarily reflect it.
It felt like a strange week of games to predict, there are a lot of teams whose performance is varying week to week, and when there are questions surrounding even the best of teams, it is beginning to feel that the Cowboys might be putting themselves on a level of their own as they keep grinding out wins.
I think the question of overtime could rear its head again this week with another game that did give us a winner last Sunday, but still went to the end of overtime. One of my picks is resting on whether this extra pick is enough to let the Jaguars cover, but given the previous results of teams coming off a full overtime period it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Jaguars could pick up a win. I know that Americans are culturally obsessed with there not being draws, but if a full period of overtime is that much of a disadvantage to the participating teams the following week, I’m still not sure that in an era of concern over player well-being, that we are not better off just accepting that draws happen.
Let’s see what happens with the Chiefs and Broncos when they play today.