Somewhat surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers (6-3) are only favoured by three points when they head to Detroit to take on the Lions (4-5). The Packers are starting to get hot after a slow start to the season. After losing three out of the first five, they are starting to hit their stride. The Pack has won the last four games before its bye by double figure margins.
Coming off a bye and wanting to take advantage of a loss by the Chicago Bears, first place in the NFC North, the Packers will be a tough call for a Detroit team that has continued to blow hot and cold, even though they are playing at home.
The game is a bit of a must-win for the Lions’ slim playoff hopes. Lose, and while not mathematically eliminated, it would be difficult for them to secure even a wildcard spot. This may make them play better than they have in recent weeks but it is still a big ask.
Jacsksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Preview And Where To Watch Online Live Stream: Blaine Gabbert Battles For Job Against NFL's Stingiest Defense
When the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) hosted the Houston Texans (8-1) earlier in the season, they received a fairly thorough drubbing.
This week, when they head to the Texan s’ Reliant Stadium for the second leg of their AFC South divisional rivalry, there is none of that early season hope. It is now clearly a story of two teams heading in different directions.
The Texans will be looking to secure the first seed in the AFC for the playoffs. They are currently holding first place in the conference, with the Baltimore Ravens chasing. Meanwhile the Jaguars are quickly falling into the lead for the first overall pick in the draft. Currently Jacksonville and the Kansas City Chiefs are tied for last in the league and have a nose in front of the rest of the league in the race for worst.
The Houston Texans (7-1) head to Chicago to take on the Bears (7-1), in what many people are saying could be a preview of the Superbowl. Although the two teams are to and near the top of their respective conferences, they’ll need to prove they can actually win playoff games before they are touted as Superbowl contenders.
However, near the halfway point of the season, the matchup is almost certainly the most intriguing of the week. The Bears have been led by their defence, recalling the squad that challenged the Colts for the Lombardi trophy in 2006.
Of course this squad has almost completely been revamped since the Bears were NFC champions. Although, linebacker Brian Urlacher still commands from the middle of the field, his playmaking abilities have declined since his prime (his pick-six last weekend notwithstanding). Cornerback, Charles Tillman has had a half of a season that puts him firmly in the discussion for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Coming off a bye-week the Houston Texans (6-1) are hosting the 3-4 Buffalo Bills. Houston is a fairly heavy favourite in their home encounter. The Bills have been a disappointment this year. Their record actually flatters a team that has been absolutely destroyed in three out of four losses and only had one win, over the even more lowly Kansas City Chiefs, which could be considered dominating.
The Texans’ defence will face its biggest aerial challenge from the passing tandem of quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver, Stevie Johnson. Johnson leads the team in receptions, yards and is tied for most receiving touchdowns. In the red zone, also look for the Bills’ tight end, Scott Chandler, who is quietly on track to have his best season by a long margin. Chandler is emerging as one of the Bills’ better players, he is third in receptions and yards, and it will be up to the Texans’ linebacking core to stop him.
Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers Preview: Cards Offensive Line Faces Pass Rushing Challenge vs. Clay Matthew And Co.
The Green Bay Packers (5-3) take on the Arizona Cardinals (4-4) at home in a game they are widely expected to win. Currently the point spread stands at anywhere between 9.5 and 10.5 points.
Last week the Packers failed to cover the spread, having a harder time than many predicted knocking off a wounded Jacksonville Jaguars team. Arizona is a tough team. After a fast 4-0 start the Cardinals have lost four straight. But it is a record that belies a decent defence capable of getting after a passer, stopping a running game and covering receivers down field.
Look for Arizona cornerback, Patrick Peterson in defence and special teams. The former first round pick is an excellent coverage corner and an explosive returner. He will take on whomever the Packers top wide receiver will be this week. The banged up Green Bay receiver core is still recovering and receiver, Jordy Nelson may be able to play. If so he will be quarterback, Aaron Rodger’s leading target.