By: David Dzienis
Buffalo Bills @ Denver Broncos
The Bills are flying high after taking down my Pittsburgh Steelers, the AFC’s number 1 seed at the time. New addition Stefon Diggs looks even more electric than he did in his time in Minnesota and Josh Allen looks like an MVP candidate. He has a stable of reliable wideouts in Cole Beasley, John Brown (when he isn’t hurt), and rookie Gabriel Davis, as well as the steady handed Dawson Knox. The running game has been the weak part of the offense. The future looks bright for Zach Moss and Devin Singletary, but the Bills need them to perform better now to help secure a playoff spot. The defense has finally started to play up to expectations in past weeks which makes this squad one of the most well-rounded teams heading into postseason football. Buffalo can secure the AFC East with a win or a Miami loss. They can secure a playoff spot even with a loss if Baltimore loses.
The future also looks bright for Denver, at least in certain aspects. The defense has been one of the league’s best despite crippling injuries to key players, starting before the season even started with Pro-Bowler Von Miller. The offense has been horrendous. The youth has shown for this squad, one of the league's youngest. If Drew Lock can finish the season playing like he did last week, then he will secure another year as the Broncos shot caller. After years of poor QB play, Elway may have finally found his leader. That is, if he can stay healthy and play to his potential. Last week’s 4 touchdown performance definitely helped his case. He could use some help from his rookie wideouts, but more importantly from big name RBs Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. The Broncos are somehow still alive for a playoff spot but would need a miracle to qualify. They would be eliminated this week with either a loss or a Baltimore or Miami win.
Prediction: Buf 30- Den 21
Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers
The Panthers season isn’t over! At least, not mathematically speaking. A loss, or a Chicago or Arizona win, this weekend would finish the Panthers hope. I’d say this was still a successful year. Without do-it-all RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina has still managed to be a respectable squad and staying close in most of their games this year. Will they give QB Teddy Bridgewater another year to prove he can lead this team to a postseason berth? I think they should. Despite losing arguably the best non QB player in the league Bridgewater still managed to have 2-thousand-yard receivers, at least most likely, with DJ Moore at 924 and Robby Anderson at 996. McCaffrey’s replacement, Mike Davis, has been serviceable, but no one can truly replace CMC. Given another year and a healthy offense, this squad can be explosive next season. Defensively they will need to stiffen up. A true bend and almost not break squad, they have managed to keep most of their games close but aren’t stopping anyone from scoring. Shoot, they just let Lock throw 4 TDs against them.
Enter Aaron Rodgers. If Lock’s unproven arm can take apart the Carolina defense so easily, one can only imagine what Rodgers and his MVP cannon can produce. With his favorite weapon, WR Davante Adams, back and healthy, as well as RB Aaron Jones producing from the backfield, this offense is terrifying. Despite no other big-name players, the likes of MVS and TE Robert Tonyan have stepped up and helped this unit be one of the league's deadliest. The defense has been the opposite of this week’s adversary, being a bend but don’t break unit. They haven’t been nearly as dominant as Rodgers and the offense, but they haven’t needed to be. The Packers have already secured an NFC North title, and with it a playoff berth. They currently hold the number one seed due to a tiebreaker over the Saints. It will be an exciting race to the NFC’s top seed.
Prediction: Car 24- G.B. 33
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