Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5) M&T Bank Stadium
The Ravens need a victory to stay equal top of the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers when they host the struggling Bengals on Sunday. The Ravens were competitive but came up short in a 27-17 loss to the Cowboys in Dallas last week. It completed a remarkable sequence when nine of Baltimore's ten games this season have been decided by 10 points or less. The season appears to be quickly slipping away from the Bengals after close losses to the Giants by 1 point and the Bills by 4 points. The Bengals have made the playoffs the past five years, however a loss here will surely end all hope of them trying to reel in the Steelers and Ravens in the Division.
Verdict - Ravens 27 Bengals 26
I actually think the Bengals have a big chance to win this game but I refuse to tip them. They have blown too many games this year to have faith in them. However they are good, as bad a team as their record suggests, and the Ravens are involved in close games almost every start this year.
San Diego Chargers (4-6) @ Houston Texans (6-4) - NRG Stadium
The Chargers can't afford another loss this season as they head to Houston to take on the Texans on Sunday. In an AFC West where Oakland has 8 wins and Kansas City and Denver both have 7 wins, the Chargers appear set to remain at the bottom of the division for a second straight season. After winning 3 of their past 4 games, all the Chargers' recent momentum was stalled in their last game as they blew a lead to lose 31-24 at home to the Dolphins. The Texans are coming off a controversial 27-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City where a number of blown calls by the officials arguably cost them victory. Brock Osweiler had one of his better games for the year going 26 for 39 for 243 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. With both the Colts and Titans stuttering, Houston retains the lead in the AFC South division.
Verdict - Chargers 24 Texans 23
Going with somewhat of an upset here and the Chargers to pull out a road win. The Texans are coming off a short turnaround having played in Mexico City in a heartbreaking loss on Monday Night football to the Raiders. Despite their defence being strong, I don't trust Brock Osweiler to pull off back-to-back decent performances, so going with Phillip Rivers and a San Diego team which is probably a little better than their record suggests, having lost a number of close games this season.
Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) - Raymond Games
The Buccaneers can breath new life into their season with a third straight victory against the high flying Seahawks at home on Sunday. Tampa are coming off their biggest scalp of the season, having stunned the Chiefs 19-17 at Arrowhead Stadium last week. Coupled with a pounding of the Bears, the Bucs are now just one game behind the Falcons in the NFC South Division race. The Seahawks are starting to hit the ominous form which carried them to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in the last two years. A huge 31-24 victory at New England was followed by a dominant 26-15 defeat of a decent Eagles team at home. Quarterback Russell Wilson appears close to being back to his best, throwing for a combined 600 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the Seahawks last two victories.
Verdict - Seahawks 26 Bucs 21
Expecting a really tight and physical game here, but have to go with the surging Seahawks. Russell Wilson appears to be fully fit again and, with the defence in a menacing mode, the Hawks appear the best team in football alongside New England and Dallas. I expect Tampa to play well at home, but fall just short.
Carolina Panthers (4-6) @ Oakland Raiders (8-2) - Oakland Coliseum
It's the last chance saloon for the defending NFC Champion Panthers as they head to Oakland to take on the surging Raiders. The Panthers have won three of their past four games, however remain two games behind the Falcons in the NFC South. Despite winning 23-20 against the Saints in their last start, the Panthers nearly blew another 17 pointer as they did in a damaging home loss against the Chiefs two weeks ago. The Raiders are red hot right now, riding their first 4-game winning streak since they last went to the playoffs and the Super Bowl way back in 2002. Despite being well below their best last week, the Raiders rallied from a 20-13 4th quarter deficit to complete a 6th straight victory away from the Oakland Coliseum, retaining their one game lead in a high powered AFC West.
Verdict - Raiders 29 Panthers 28
This is a trap game for the Raiders, off a short turn around, against a desperate Carolina side. There are arguments that Carolina are better than their record suggests, and the Raiders have won a number of close games this season. However the Raiders did everything possible to lose last week's game against the Texans and still won, so I think their offense will click into gear once more and they will pull off another close one.
New England Patriots (8-2) @ New York Jets (3-7) - MetLife Stadium
The Patriots will look to remain tied for the first seed in the AFC with another victory over their downtrodden Divisional rivals, the Jets, in New York on Sunday. Tom Brady managed 4 touchdowns to 0 interceptions in the Pats 30-17 win over the 49ers last week. It was the 21st time Brady had managed such a feat, and Brady will be gunning for the 200th win of his career on Sunday against an opponent he has enjoyed beating up on over the years. After going 10-6 last season, the Jets are experiencing a nightmare season at 3-7, and with doubts over Head Coach Todd Bowles future. After a particularly ugly 9-6 loss to the Rams, Bowles has decided to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, despite him throwing a league high 13 interceptions this year.
Verdict - Patriots 30 Jets 17
Not much to see other than a routine victory for New England at the struggling Jets. The Pats have not been anywhere near their best the last two weeks, so I expect this game to be close for at least the first half before New England pull away.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) @ Denver Broncos (7-3) - Sports Authority Field
It's the match up of the round on Sunday Night Football as AFC West Rivals the Chiefs and Broncos clash on Monday Night Football. With both teams sitting at 7-3 and one game behind the Oakland Raiders in the Division, the loser of this game faces an uphill climb to win the Division. The Chiefs lost just their three regular season games in their last 20 starts, with a surprising 19-17 home loss to the Bucs last week. The Broncos are fresh off a bye after a last gasp 25-23 victory over the Saints away from home to get to 7-3. With the defence still playing at a high level, Denver need more consistent play of the offense if they have ambitions of winning a 2nd straight Super Bowl.
Verdict - Broncos 17 Chiefs 14
The Broncos love prime time at home and I think their defence dominates this game and gets a huge Divisional victory. I expect this game to be really low scoring and physical with both defences getting on top and forcing a couple of turnovers.