Man, what an epic Sunday of football action it’s been! After a thrilling Thursday night game, the day has been chock full of late comeback wins. The Browns and Bengals overcame double-digit deficits to win, the Jaguars and Buccaneers put up nearly 70 combined points on the board, all while the Bills, Falcons and Bears pulled off late wins.
Due to the fact that eight games took place at noon, along with the three primetime games and a few teams being on bye, there are only three late games on tap today. The lone FOX game pits the beleaguered Detroit Lions against the angry, previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals, while the alternate CBS game is an AFC West battle between the cardiac Denver Broncos and upstart Oakland Raiders.
But the main game is one that many NFL fans had circled the moment they first glanced at the NFL schedule back in April. The undefeated Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will visit Dallas for the first time since their vaunted undefeated season back in 2007. The Cowboys will be without their two best offensive players, quarterback Tony Romo and elite receiver Dez Bryant, which is why the game has lost some luster. Still, it should make for decent viewing.
Without further ado, here are my picks for today’s late afternoon games, as well as the Sunday and Monday night games.
New England Patriots (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2) (4:25/3:25c, CBS)
No Romo? No Dez? The healthy, tested Patriots team should feast on the Cowboys. I still expect this game to be closer than most people are expecting it to be. I see it being a one-possession game for about a half, with the Cowboys keeping the Patriots off the field due to their o-line and running game, along with the returns of some of their key defensive players. Eventually, I do expect the Pats to pull away. The Cowboys will keep this respectable though. Prediction: Patriots 38, Cowboys 23.
Arizona Cardinals (3-1) at Detroit Lions (0-4) (4:05/3:05, FOX)
The only FOX game on in the late afternoon slot pits two Wild Card teams from a year ago. Both are different now, with the Cardinals being healthy, while the Lions seem to be battered and cursed. Matthew Stafford is taking a beating every week, Joique Bell is still hurt, and the team seems to have everything going against it.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, were strolling along before being upset by a feisty Rams team at home. The Cardinals fell shot, 22-20, and are looking to get back on a winning track. Starting running back Andre Ellington will be ready to roll, making the Cardinals chances of winning even more likely. I will pick them to win by double digits, but I’m expecting the Lions to put forth a respectable fight. Prediction: Cardinals 34, Lions 20.
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Oakland Raiders (2-2) (4:25/3:25, CBS)
The other CBS game is one that has been predictably one-sided for the past several years. However, the Raiders finally look respectable, while the Broncos have been participating in nailbiters all year long. Peyton Manning seems to feast on the Raiders every go he gets at them, and the defense is as good as any in the league. The Raiders will put up a fight, and while I expect them to make this a close one, I can’t say I’ll be surprised if it isn’t. Prediction: Broncos 31, Raiders 23.
Sunday Night Football: San Francisco 49ers (1-3) at New York Giants (2-2) (8:20/7:20c, NBC)
The Sunday night game is usually the most notable, or amongst the most notable game every week. However, every season, there are at least two games that are well below the typical standard of the Sunday night schedule. This is one of those instances.
Still, the game should be a fun one, at least to a degree. Both teams are below average defensively, and have some talented offensive players. The 49ers have Carlos Hyde, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, while the Giants have surging receiver Odell Beckham Jr, a decent running game, and Eli Manning.
I believe the 49ers will keep this close. However, the Giants are simply a better team, and I see them holding the road team off at the end of the day. Prediction: 49ers 20, Giants 30.
Monday Night Football: Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at San Diego Chargers (2-2) (8:15/7:15c, ESPN)
While the Sunday night game isn’t a very anticipated one, the Monday night has a little bit more traction. Both teams are mid-level clubs, and tend to be fun viewing on most go-arounds.
The Steelers still don’t have Ben Roethlisberger back, which is a key reason why they lost to the Ravens last week. With Michael Vick at the helm, they will be a much more one-dimensional team. They will need to control the clock and grind their way through their running game, while mixing in a few smart passes to win.
Meanwhile, the Chargers will finally be getting a key piece back. Future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates will make his season debut, with his four-game suspension for a positive PED test having officially been served. He is one touchdown away from joining the 100-touchdown club, one in which only seven skill position players have their name etched onto.
In the end, I see this being a game where the first team to 20 wins. The Steelers may garner some success tonight, and the Chargers seem to be an eight or nine win team yet again this season, which I believe will be evident in this game. I see the Steelers putting some points on the board, but not enough for a win. Prediction: Steelers 17, Chargers 23.