The NFL season has arrived at the second half of November, with the NFC playoff picture becoming a very hard thing to figure out on many levels.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions
This game might feel like a Detroit blowout, but Tampa Bay blew out the Atlanta Falcons last weekend and is now on a two-game winning streak. The Buccaneers can’t be taken lightly by the Lions, who fell apart in the second half of this past Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that entered the game 3-6. The Lions remain an erratic team, even though they’re at the top of the NFC North Division alongside Chicago. This is such a big week for the franchise, because after this game against Tampa Bay, the Lions host Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day. If the Lions win both of these games, their playoff chances will soar. However, if Detroit looks ahead to Green Bay and doesn’t pay due attention to Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers – who almost beat the Seattle Seahawks on the road in Seattle – are certainly playing well enough to pull off the upset. If Detroit loses both home games this week, the team will probably not recover over the remainder of the season, and the 2013 season will lie in ruins. This is a more interesting game than you might first think.
New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens
This is a game in which the visitors from the Big Apple will rely on their defense to win. The New York Jets’ defense has stood tall in so many big moments this season. Despite losing cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Jets have been able to contain almost all of the opponents they’ve faced this season. The Jets have developed and largely sustained a high-level pass rush that has been able to make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable and – instructively – unable to throw the ball deep against the New York secondary. This same defense did not play well at Buffalo this past weekend, but if the Jets can rally, they can certainly contain a Baltimore offense that has been stuck in quicksand all season long.
San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins
This Monday Night Football matchup should go to the 49ers. San Francisco’s defense really didn’t do many things wrong against the New Orleans Saints this past weekend, but the offense couldn’t pick up the slack. The Niners, though, are playing a Washington team whose defense isn’t as strong as New Orleans’ defense. If San Francisco loses this game, the Arizona Cardinals could pass the 49ers for second place outright in the NFC West.
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