Nine games in the early slate and only two in the late afternoon. It’s almost as though the NFL wants everyone in the country to pay attention to Patriots-Packers.
Even though the other 4 p.m. ET game technically involves two first place teams, that’s probably for the best. New England-Green Bay seems like the best chance for a great game this week, even if the phrase “Super Bowl preview” has been repeated ad nauseam all week. Green Bay has yet to lose at home this season and New England hasn’t been defeated since September.
Bill Belichick has been doing his best to frustrate waiver wire savvy fantasy owners by having a different running back come out of nowhere to have good running performances. Two weeks ago, it was Jonas Gray running for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns. Last week, Gray got benched for being late to practice and it was LeGarrette Blount fresh off returning from a brief stint in Pittsburgh to rush for two scores. That the Packers have the 30th ranked run defense in the NFL would suggest another big game on the ground for the Pats. It is Shane Vereen’s turn to have big numbers? Probably not given his big games typically come in the passing game, but it would be appropriate.
I suppose we shouldn’t entirely overlook Cardinals-Falcons since it contains many of those oft-mentioned playoff implications. Arizona lost for the first time in seven games in Week 12, dropping a punishing game in Seattle. The Cardinals defense still sacked Russell Wilson seven times, so there’s not a lot of cause for concern on their end. But it was the first time that the Arizona offense finally looked hamstrung by having to rely on Drew Stanton to lead them. Arizona looked close to a lock to run away with homefield advantage in the NFC two weeks ago. An upset in Atlanta coupled with a Green Bay win today would have them close to blowing that with a month left to play.
Your late game slate, as rated by KSK’s not-at-all subjective, rigorously scientificated five-star system:
Arizona at Atlanta ***
New England at Green Bay *****