With six games left, it’s time to keep an eye on the Raiders (and KC)
Panthers (4-6) @ Raiders (8-2)
Cam Newton may be suffering some SB hang over blues, but Oakland's defense isn't going to be ready for him. He's the best QB they've faced and didn't lose to, plus the Panthers have been on a minibye while Oakland just played on Monday.
Oakland is bottom ranked for stopping the run and sacks and their secondary is mediocre. There's nothing defensively that Oakland does well, as a group. They've won because they faced bad QBs and/or teams with bad defenses.
Carolina, on the other hand, has a defense that is starting to click and are good. Carr is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly and make some third downs with his legs. This is a bad match-up for Oakland even with Luke Kuechly out.
If Newton is mentally up on his game and doesn't keep treating the football like it's covered in snot, just don't see how Oakland pulls out a win. This should be a fun game to watch, especially if Carolina shows up in Oakland.
KC (7-3) @ Denver (7-3)
Tampa Bay exposed the Chiefs' warts. If Denver had a QB or RB as good as Jameis Winston and Doug Martin, I'd predict a blow out. Unfortunately, we don't. Using the OL as an excuse won't fly because TB not only had a cobbled together OL, but also a rookie in his first start and had to shuffle the OL during the game. Not to mention, our OL has had two weeks of rest.
Having Andy Janovich without his club (woo!) and AJ Derby with another game under his fake belt, gives Siemian more tools than TB had. If Trevor can just play like a 15th and not the 26th ranked QB he is, our offense should be able to pull out three TDs. KC allowed almost 500 yards against a team with basically one quality WR. They allowed TB a 67% third down conversion rate.
They also used a hurry-up on ocassion and it worked. When Peyton played them, he always made them pay using it, too. Something I’d love to see us use. Not sure Trevor is up to doing that with any effectiveness. If he can, it would help tremendoulsy in air a mile high.
Andy Reid loves his conservative game plan. If Smith plays like he's capable of, KC may dink and dunk themselves to a win if our offense stumbles. What KC does best, is exactly where we do worst. In golf, if you don't have a short game, it doesn't matter how well you drive if it's not a hole-in-one every time. Our #NoFlyZone can stop the drive, but our run stop is equal to not having a short game. Hopefully being rested is equivalent to two weeks of practicing our chip, pitch and putt.
Key to beating KC is win the TO battle, make them start on the 25 or less and stop the short game. As an aside, our offense has the 9th best starting position on drives. Our average is almost on the 30. Opposing defenses are about the same against us. ST needs to do better at wrapping their guys up, keep KC from good starting field position.
*Last season’s first game against KC in the final two minutes was one of my favorite all time moments. Peyton Manning and our defense were sublime. KC will be choosing to remember the second outing, but I'm going to focus on all those points we racked up in under 76 seconds.
SD (4-6) @ Houston (6-4)
It's tough to get excited about this game. Both these teams are bad. Don't care what Houston's record is, they're still a mediocre team.
If Phil and Melvin can put together a good game and Joey can harass As, er, Osweiler into his usual panic mode, this is the "upset" win in the AFC West. Brent’s ego writes checks his arm can't deliver and if SD can push him to do more than his meager talent can pull off, they could breathe some life into Indy.
The result of the game won't change where either team ends up in the playoffs against us because of the divisions they play in. Had the Colts receivers been able to catch yesterday, they might’ve won and changed the AFC South dynamic, but they didn't. No way the rest of the West falters enough to help SD.
So, a win or loss won't change our fortunes, as both the Texans and Colts are poor teams, but if Bosa wants to have fun sacking Osweiler all day, I won't contain my glee.