Cowboys Can Wrap Up the East but Are They Number 1 Seed Contenders? DeJa Vu: Are the Cardinals Suffering Another Late Season Dip? Will the Patriots Sweep the Bills to Claim Divisional Title?
Buffalo Bills (8-6) @ New England Patriots (9-5) (Patriots -2.5)
3 weeks removed from their previous meeting in Buffalo, the Bills have an opportunity to overturn that humbling 14-10 defeat to the arch rivals and put the AFC East title race back in their own hands. A win for the Patriots though means New England will be crowned divisional champions once again by virtue of the tie breaking head-to-head record.
Buffalo have played twice since losing to the Patriots and their offense appears to have rediscovered its mojo – putting up over 30 points in each of those outings. However, WR Cole Beasley’s name appearing on the Covid list will be a big loss.
Bill Belichick was so disappointed with the manner of New England’s defeat in Indianapolis last Saturday, he apologised to the media for his manner in the following press conference. He has bigger concerns though. Leading receiver, Kendrick Bourne was added to the Covid list on Monday while both of the team’s top two running backs, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson have featured on this week’s injury report.
That said, the question remains, can the Buffalo Bills stop the run? If they can put points on the board and make New England play from behind, that may not be an issue BUT Belichick has already put together an unexpected game plan to defeat them once and with the stakes so high, I would be incredibly naïve to doubt his ability to do so again. Victory on Sunday would not only confirm the Patriots as divisional champions, but it would surely assure Belichick the 2021 Coach of the Year as well.
Indianapolis Colts (8-6) @ Arizona Cardinals (10-4) (Colts +1)
The Colts head into the desert on the back of a huge win! A statement win! Taking care of the New England Patriots 27-17 in front of a nationally televised audience! Running Back Jonathan Taylor is rightly in contention for this season’s MVP award. He has been outstanding! He leads the league with 1518 rushing yards – over 400 yards more than his nearest rival Joe Mixon. His 17 rushing touchdowns and 19 total TDs are both league leading marks as well. The Colts have won 5 of their last 6 and won each of their last 3 games on the road – scoring over 30 points in each game.
The Cardinals continue to sit on top of the NFC West but after going 7-0 to start the season, they’re 3-4 in their last 7. It’s hard to escape the parallels being drawn with last season when they tailed off in the second half and missed out on the playoffs and they’re home form is concerning, having now lost 3 in a row. However, against AFC opposition there is cause for optimism. The Cardinals are undefeated this season with a 4-0 record and averaging 34 points per game in those encounters.
That being said, it’s the business end of the season. Statistics don’t win games, players do! The bottom line is the Arizona Cardinals don’t have their best player. WR DeAndre Hopkins is out for the rest of the regular season – at least! Jonathan Taylor is available for the Colts and in the form of his life! This is a playoff calibre match up and right now, the Colts are throwing heavier punches!
Indianapolis Colts +1
Washington Football Team (6-8) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4) (Cowboys -11)
This game takes place just 14 days after these two teams last met and although the 27-20 score line suggests a competitive game, the reality is, it was a one-sided affair for 3 quarters.
Washington have been dealt a tough hand – heavily affected by a Covid outbreak and facing a tough 5 day turnaround between road games. The hope is that either Taylor Heinicke or Kyle Allen will return from the Covid list to start at QB but Washington have now lost 2 games in a row – both to divisional rivals.
In contrast, the Cowboys are coming off 3 straight roads wins. They’re 4-0 in the division this season and now just a game back from holding the no. 1 seed in the NFC. They’re defense is in outstanding form. While rookie, Micah Parsons is gaining acclaim, Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are wreaking havoc as well. Last weekend Dallas forced 4 turnovers against the Giants with Trevon Diggs claiming his NFL leading 10th interception of the season. The one concern for Dallas is on offense. Dak Prescott’s play has dipped in recent weeks and despite holding the NFL’s no. 2 ranked scoring offense, averaging 28.6 points per game, this isn’t the offensive juggernaut we saw earlier this season.
Divisional matchups are often more keenly fought contests than form would suggest but with all the adversity Washington is facing and the prize on offer for Dallas, it’s tough to see this being close.
Dallas Cowboys -11