Written by Pat Pryor, @pryorgraphics
Seattle Seahawks 16, Los Angeles Rams 23
Buffalo Bills 30, Arizona Cardinals 32
In the NFC West featuring showdown featuring the Bills, we had no lack of excitement. In Los Angeles, the Rams shut down Russel Wilson for a hard-earned victory. Further south, in Arizona, Kyler Murray stunned the league with a 43-yard Hail Mary to DeAndre Hopkins to seal a victory over the Bills. The Seahawks were bumped to third in the division, but that didn’t last long, as they beat the Cardinals on Thursday night. They grabbed first back, but are at the Rams mercy this Sunday thanks to their head to head loss. As for the Bills, their hopes of an early clinch have gone into jeopardy, as the Dolphins have a chance to tie their record this week, and could take the lead as early as next. After an exciting week, and another close matchup on Thursday, the NFC West stays as hot as ever.
Chicago Bears 13, Minnesota Vikings 19
This game was… ugly. So far this year, the Bears have already benched former 2nd overall pick Mitch Trubisky and former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. Foles had proven to be the lesser of two evils, but this game put it too far over, and Tyler Bray has entered the fray. Not only did they lose, 2 of the 3 teams they were relying on to come out victorious failed to do so; the Panthers and the Bills. The Vikings now are in the position to take second in the NFC West this week and could be in the wildcard race soon.
This week’s games are:
Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3), Sunday 1:00 PM
Both of these teams are coming off big losses, as the Titans dropped Thursday Night Football to the Colts, and the Ravens we’re upset by the Patriots on a rainy Sunday night game. The Titans took the bigger hit, as they’re now out of the wildcard and will have to fight back into it. In the AFC Divisional Round rematch, they are able to win against the reigning MVP however, they’ll be actually fighting for the division, as a 1:00 win gets them the lead. The Colts could very well rain on their parade against the Packers later in the afternoon, but a win would mean the Titans have a wildcard for at least the next week. The same applies to the Ravens, who will remain second in the North with a victory, even if the Browns can beat the Eagles. A win for either of these teams put them in the wildcard spot, and this game is almost guaranteed to make an effect when it comes down to the final seeds.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3), Sunday 8:20 PM
The Raiders have done it before, and they can do it again. They have a chance to upset the dominant Kansas City Chiefs, and this time they are trying to do it at home, in primetime. Patrick Mahomes has an incredible 25 to 1 TD to interception ratio, with his only pick coming to Jeff Heath in the 40-32 victory. The 8 points loss is also the largest in the young quarterback’s career. If the Raiders can pull off the upset again, it’ll send waves through the AFC. They’ll be in control of the 5 seed, and in a prime position to make a move next week. They face the Falcons in Week 12, and the Chiefs have a hard opponent in the Buccaneers. Yes, the Las Vegas Raiders could be ahead of the Chiefs as early as next week. A loss here would be killer no matter what happens next week for the Chiefs, as they’d be one loss away for the rest of the season from giving the Raiders an opportunity to take the division. With a win, however, the Chiefs would expand their division lead and sit comfortably on top, focused more on playing for a bye than the playoff spot itself. This Sunday Night game will have the entire football community watching it, as Las Vegas hopes to shake up the entire conference.
Los Angeles Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3), Monday 8:15 PM
The short term consequences of this game are quite simple. If the Rams win, they lead the NFC West. If the Buccaneers win, the Falcons will have had to already take down the Saints to change the order of the NFC South. However, this game could very well move things when it comes down to the final stretch. As it stands, both teams are second in their division. If the Buccaneers win, it would be a crucial head to head victory against what could be their top opponent for a top wildcard spot, or even home-field advantage if they can both claim their respective divisions. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have struggled in their recent primetime games and will hope to bounceback on Monday Night Football.
Some more games that could change the playoff race:
If the Saints win against the Falcons and the Packers lose to the Colts, New Orleans will be first in the Conference.
A Browns’ victory over the Eagles moves them into the top seven, unless both the Colts and Raiders lose.
An Eagles loss provides the Giants to take back the division coming off a bye next week against the Bengals.
Draft order notice: If the Jets can beat the Chargers, LA will be in a much better position for a higher draft pick, and could even result in number 1. They currently sit at 5.