Cardinals at Falcons
Last meeting: Cardinals 18 Falcons 29 (30/11/14)
Overall record: Cardinals lead series 16-13
After losing to the Vikings in week 11, the Cardinals season is in serious danger. They sit at 4-5-1 and perhaps need to win their remaining six games to make the playoffs.
The Falcons have been one of the best teams in the league this year, particularly on offence. In fact, this game is a match-up of strengths as the Falcons’ no.3 offence goes up against the Cardinals’ no.1 defence.
The buzz around Matt Ryan being named MVP has tailed off a little bit over the second half of the season but he is still playing at a very high level and he will need to continue that against a tough Cardinals defence.
Carson Palmer has struggled throughout the season and just has not looked like the quarterback that lead one of the most exciting teams in the league just a year ago. If the Cardinals are going to make the postseason, Palmer will need to improve a lot.
With all three teams in the division lurking not far behind, this could be a key game for Atlanta. A win here could cement them as clear favourites for the NFC south. A loss and it would open the division right up.
Panthers at Raiders
Last meeting: Raiders 6 Panthers 17 (23/12/13)
Overall record: Panthers lead series 3-2
The Raiders continue to do it. It wasn’t always pretty in Mexico for Oakland but Derek Carr and the offence found their form just in time to sneak past the Texans.
Derek Carr has emerged as one of the leading candidates for MVP and rightly so. The offence had been held to 120 yards through three quarters but when it mattered, Carr played his best. It may have been with the help of some questionable refereeing and a tiring Texans’ defence, but he lead the team to their eight win of the season.
The Panthers defence could well cause him similar problems to those that the Texans did. They will be without star linebacker Luke Kuechly but they still have the talent to cause the Raiders problems.
The Panthers need this one if they are going to get anything. Like the Cardinals, they are in must-win mode. Another loss could be the final nail in the coffin for their season.
Cam Newton may not have had anything like the sort of season that he had last year, but he can tear apart a weak Raiders defence. The Raiders will come into this as favourites but they are coming off a short weak against a team that are starting to find their form. This will be a big test for Carr and his team.
Chiefs at Broncos
Last meeting: Chiefs 29 Broncos 13 (15/11/15)
Overall record: Chiefs lead series 57-55
This one could well be the biggest game of the week, at least in the AFC.
Whoever loses this game will be in a bad position in the division and with teams such as the Dolphins charging up behind them in the battle for a wild card spot, the losing teams playoff hopes could take a serious dent. With both teams having a tough finish to the season coming up, this could well be a key game in the playoff picture in the conference.
The Chiefs fell to a somewhat surprising loss to the Buccaneers last week when they were without a number of key players. One of those was Marcus Peters who is questionable for this one. It will be a big boost for the Broncos if he can’t go for a defence that will already be without the league’s sack leader, Dee Ford.
Trevor Siemian got off to a good start to the season but the cracks have started to show of late. The defence is once again one of the very best in the league but on the odd occasion that they can’t carry the team, Denver needs Siemian to step up and lead them to victory.
These two teams are among the best in the league at creating turnovers so we could well see a defensive score in this one. It could well be the key to this one. Whoever can protect the ball better will be favourite to take what should be a close one.
Follow Author Dave Gray on twitter at djg23
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