Half empty cup: There are Super Bowl hangovers and then there are the Rams. Yikes. Perhaps the draft picks are like the electrolytes in this analogy and LA’s banal disregard for them only makes the headache worse. Now Sean McVay’s team has to move on without world wide receiver Cooper Cobb as well, after he landed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. They are down by three points against 3-7 New Orleans this weekend. Neither the Rams nor Denver might be overjoyed at the time they meet at SoFi Stadium on Christmas Day.
Gulf Watch: The 49ers since trading for Christian McCaffrey have three of their top five total yardage catches of the season, and last week put together their best rushing day since week two. McCaffrey himself averaged 18 touches and 96 yards per game, scored three touchdowns and threw for another. Long way to go, but San Francisco with him and Deebo Samuel on offense look like a force to be reckoned with going forward.
package not return: Green Bay knocked out Dallas and had a home game Thursday night to get back into the NFC Wild Card picture. Instead of minding business against Tennessee, the Packers looked mostly rough on offense and bad on defense and fell to 4-7. Aaron Rodgers missed shots that he usually made in his sleep. About the only good thing? Junior wide receiver Christian Watson has caught five touchdowns in the previous two games. Who will catch them next year?
About the AFC
Snow competition: Six inches of snow can make a mess on the go. Six feet, it seems, gets you to Detroit. Such is the case for Buffalo this week. The NFL moved its game to Ford Stadium in the face of historic snowfall forecasts for a city famous for snow. The Bills, as it happens, also play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, so they’ll probably be spending the week in the Motor City. Now that’s the lake effect.
Western control: For all this off-the-record talk of how West Asia will dominate, it hasn’t materialized. We’re in Week 11 and Kansas City can put the squad in vice grips with a win over the Chargers in Los Angeles. With an 8-2 victory, Patrick Mahomes and company had a three-game lead over Los Angeles, a season sweep of the Chargers and have three games left against the struggling Broncos and Raiders.
Wilson v. Jones: Who would have thought that a pivotal match in the AFC East would pit Mack Jones against Zack Wilson? The 5-4 Patriots host the Jets 6-3 this weekend in a game with playoff implications. New England are currently in last place, but a win puts them back in the thick of things. The Jets can keep up with the first-place Miami team by winning. This is a real sentence. Robert Fit’s team is 4-0 on the road this year. Impressive stuff.
Game of the week
Dallas in Minnesota
Vikings show up in this place for weeks on end? This is the off-season for rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell — remember, he also interviewed for the Denver job — and the Vikings. After a wild finish as you’ll see in the overtime win against Buffalo last week, Minnesota hosts the Cowboys. Of course, Dallas blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter against Green Bay last time out. The Vikes are right in the mix for the first seed now and their pick to win is as sure a sign as any they won’t.
Vikings 27, Cowboys 24
Lock of the week
Carolina in Baltimore
Strange things happen all the time in the NFL, but the Ravens are sitting pretty. Lamar Jackson and company are not only Panthers line favorites, but they don’t have a team that currently has a winning record on their schedule until Cincinnati’s final week of the regular season. In five of those six, ESPN’s Football Strength Index gives Baltimore a 78% or better chance of winning.
Crows 34, Panthers 10
upset of the week
Chicago in Atlanta
The Bears have lost three straight since defeating the Patriots, but they’ve scored points and unlocked the running prowess of quarterback Justin Fields over the past month. Chicago has scored at least 29 points in each of its past four games, and in that run, Fields averaged 117 yards per game and scored five on the ground. He enters his team as a three-point underdog. Guessing Fields would soon appear on the lawn in his home state.
31 Bears, 30 Falcons