I mainly focus on covering the Green Bay Packers when it comes to the NFL, and by doing so, I believe that what goes on in the rest of the division is just as important as what goes on with the Packers. I’m not one of those guys who believes you need to beat out the best competition week in and week out (in pro sports more so than college sports) to prove you are worthy of the playoffs, because that is not what matters. All that matters is the standings after Week 17, which is why I root for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings to lose each week. So, with that in mind, here is a preview of the match-ups these teams will be facing coming out of the gate.
The Vikings are coming off of a bye week, and are about as healthy as a team with four offensive starters on injured reserve can be. Top receiver Stefon Diggs should play this week, and the only absence on that dominant defense remains to be defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. No worries there for the Vikings, though, as the other two DTs Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson are killing it, and the Vikings are among the sack leaders in the NFL. Also, if they don’t lead the league in defensive touchdowns, there is a really, really underrated defense somewhere. In other words, they will be fine without Floyd.
As for the Eagles, having right tackle Lane Johnson suspended, and both guard Allen Barbre and center Jason Kelce on the injury report doesn’t help matters. Rookie franchise quarterback Carson Wentz should be pressured heavily all game. On the flip side of the ball, the Eagles’ defense has the talent to slow down the Vikings, and at home, it shouldn’t be too tall of a task. I know quarterback Sam Bradford is playing out of everybody’s minds right now, but the former-Eagle made a lot of enemies after publicly whining for a trade in the off-season. The Eagles’ D will get after it. I like it to be a low-scoring game, but I still like the Vikings here. Final score: Minnesota 13, Philadelphia 10.
As for the Detroit Lions, their injury situation is no better, as they are still demolished at the running back position, tight end Eric Ebron likely won’t play, and same with outside linebacker DeAndre Levy. Linemen Ziggy Ansah and Haloti Ngata also are banged up, and that won’t help the defensive line get pressure on Kirk Cousins. Washington has the definition of an average offense, but they are riding a hot-streak lately behind a good stretch by running back Matt Jones. They also have talented receivers, but being potentially without star tight end Jordan Reed won’t help against a strong Lions’ secondary. On the flip side, I like the Washington defense, and they have really done a good job at getting after the quarterback. Without a reliable running game, they will need to be dialed in to stop the passing game. Cornerback Josh Norman is a shutdown CB, and since teams avoid throwing at him, that means the Lions’ offense is either WR Golden Tate or Marvin Jones. The Redskins aren’t as good as their recent run suggests, but that still doesn’t cut it. I like the Redskins to keep it going. Final Score: Washington 31, Detroit 27.
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