The NFL season is getting down to the nitty-gritty. There are only five playoff spots still up for grabs including the AFC and NFC South divisions. There are a few games this week that will feel more like playoff games as the winner gets the right to control their own destiny, and the losers are stuck hoping for help next week to sneak in.
The big matchup from the 1 o’clock games is the Miami Dolphins heading to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots. At one point, the Dolphins seemed like a lock for a playoff spot if not the AFC East, but they have fallen off the last few weeks with Tua Tagovailoa regressing from earlier in the year, and now he’s sidelined while being in the concussion protocol again.
The Patriots have been leaning heavily on their defense and running game, and they have a chance to reverse the Week 1 script where Miami controlled the game. They won’t have the benefit of a freezing cold day like last week, but the potential is there.
Sunday Night Football has the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens secured a playoff spot last week with the Cincinnati Bengals defeating the Patriots, but they need to keep winning if they hope to win the division. That may be a difficult task with no Lamar Jackson at quarterback again.
The Steelers have won four of their last five games, but that one loss came against a Jackson-less Ravens as well. In that game the offense was unable to put enough pressure on Baltimore as the backup quarterbacks threw only 17 passes (Tyler Huntley was replaced by Anthony Brown due to injury in that game).
One big difference is Pittsburgh will have Kenny Pickett at quarterback after he went down early in that game. Mitchell Trubisky replaced him and threw a touchdown accompanied by three interceptions. It is cliché, but where these teams are currently, who ever takes care of the ball better in this one likely wins the game.
Here is who our staff is taking, as well as today’s open thread!