Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30p.m. EST
The second half of the season is where Green Bay started to show cracks in the armor last season. This matchup will be deceivingly difficult for them. The Eagles will have had time to gel under their new head coach and will be looking to make a statement with a win of one of the NFC’s best.
Keys to the Game
The Packers can’t let their guard down here. It’s one of those weeks where they could easily get caught looking ahead on the schedule to their division matchups, looming just a week or two away. Keeping focused on the task at hand will be a necessity while they weather everything the Eagles have to throw at them. Eddie Lacy’s effectiveness will tell the story of the game, if he can get rolling, Rodgers won’t have to shoulder the load alone.
The Eagles should look to pick Green Bay apart where they can. Stopping the run will make the Packers one dimensional and allow Philly’s all or nothing defense focus on the pass. If they can convert one or two mistakes into a big play, be it a turnover or a pick six, it will swing the momentum in their favor, big time. We saw what happened last year when Green Bay’s running game fell apart, the Eagles would be wise to replicate that.
New England Patriots at New York Jets, 8:30p.m. EST
This game was even more exciting when Rex roamed the sidelines, but it’s still exciting nonetheless. Bowles and Belichick will each stare down opponents with a silent, stoic demeanor while their teams fight it out. With the AFC East and the playoffs on the line, we’ve got another great chapter in the Boston vs. New York storybook.
Keys to the Game
Running the ball will be much more beneficial than usual. The Jets lost one of their key run defenders in the offseason and New England can take advantage of that to keep pass rushers from locking in on Brady. The Pats will obviously need to find success in the passing game, but a balance run attack will open up some bigger windows to throw through for Brady as he takes on former teammate Darrelle Revis, who is still a factor.
New York Jets
Getting to Brady and forcing New England into obvious passing situations will help the Jets get a victory here. The combination of their solid pass rush and experienced secondary gives them a good shot at throwing Brady off his game. Offensively, they will need to utilize all their weapons in Matt Forte, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall in order to keep the Patriots off balance and get in the endzone.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:25p.m. EST
A good old-fashioned AFC West matchup. Late in the season like this, this game will have a strong bearing on the outcome of the division. Teams can’t afford to lose division games down the stretch, but someone is going to have to walk away with an “L”. Who’s keeping their division title hopes alive?
Keys to the Game
Above all else, the Chiefs will need to run the ball effectively. Denver still maintains one of the most talented defenses in the entire league, headlined by a suffocating secondary. If they want to have success, they can’t leave it up to Alex Smith and the passing game. Denver will bring pressure and their corners simply outmatch anyone KC will line up to catch passes. Jamaal Charles and company will need to shoulder the load this week.
The Broncos will need everything they can get out of their offensive line. The Chiefs have a ferocious pass rush and Denver will have a difficult time overcoming negative plays against this stout defense. Running the ball effectively will help to keep rushers from jumping the snap, but the line is still going to need to perform to get the job done. The best news for Denver is that KC “only” has Marcus Peters at corner now since Sean Smith moved on to Oakland.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30p.m. EST
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with a game between these two squads? The Cowboys play every Thanksgiving as a tradition, but this matchup is icing on the cake. The fact that they’re both competitive? There’s your chocolate cream pie dessert. Dig in.
Keys to the Game
Going into Dallas to play the Thanksgiving Day game takes on a little added pressure. This game is in the spotlight and every Cowboy player wants to make their team proud by winning on Thanksgiving. The tradition just breeds a different atmosphere. Washington will need Kirk Cousins to be on his A-game today, the Cowboys will be playing with a little added enthusiasm. That goes both ways though, managing the excitement and leaving Dallas with a Turkey Day victory is that much sweeter.
Don’t let the game get bigger than it is. It still only counts for one game in the win column, don’t let the spotlight get in the way. Ball control will be a good way to keep the ball out of Cousins’ hands, but the Cowboys also have the firepower to try and run Washington off the field. Just be aware that Cousins has weapons to sling it to as well. Protecting the ball will be key since Dallas’ defense lacks the stopping power to shut down opposing offenses.