By: David Dzienis
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions
The Lions come into this game out of playoff contention and on their third string coaching staff. Tampa Bay not only can win their division still but would clinch a playoff spot with a win this week. While this may appear to be a lopsided game, it could very well have some fireworks. The Lions have a habit this year of building big leads and slowly bleeding them away. On the flip side, the Bucs have spotted opponents big leads and had to fight their way back to get their wins. Tampa Bay’s defense has cooled off some since the beginning of the season. I’m not sure Detroit’s ever showed up for training camp. With a banged-up Matthew Stafford, as well as no Kenny Golladay, it may well fall on rookie RB DeAndre Swift to spark the Lions for an upset. I wouldn’t count on it facing Tom Brady and his very talented wide receiver unit.
Prediction: T.B. 27- Det 13
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
An NFC West battle with playoff implications is next on the docket. San Fran has been eliminated while the Cardinals can lock their spot with a win and a Chicago loss. If the Super Bowl contenders from a season ago were healthy, this may well have been one of the best late season bouts this year. Sadly, the 49ers have been one of the most injured teams in the league and will once again go into a game banged up. The Cardinals are flying high after Kyler Murray was able to hold off the suddenly hot Jalen Hurts led Eagles last week. Of course, it helps when you have DeAndre Hopkins on the receiving end of the majority of your throws…just ask DeShaun Watson.
Prediction: S.F. 17-Ari 28
Miami Dolphins @ Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders need a Christmas miracle to make it to this year’s playoffs. Not only must they win both of their final two games, but they need both Miami and Baltimore to lose out. The Dolphins on the other hand can’t secure a spot this week regardless but can stay in the 7th spot with a win. The main question heading into this game is who will be under center for Las Vegas. Derek Carr left last week’s game with a groin injury and was replaced by Marcus Mariota. Mariota sparked the Raiders into a comeback and managed to send the game into OT before eventually falling to the Chargers. Carr and Mariota have two completely different styles. The Dolphins just handled a mobile QB last week in their game against the Patriots. As much as I enjoy chaos in the playoff picture heading into the final stretch, this matchup feels like it trends towards the Dolphins and their takeaway happy defense.
Prediction: Mia 24-L.V.21
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