Houston Texans (3-3) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)
After starting the season 0-3 the Houston Texans have won three consecutive games and are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans for the AFC South lead. This week 7 matchup will create some separation in the division—and could ultimately show us who’s for real in this not-so-strong division.
The Jaguars are coming off a 40-7 loss to a Dallas Cowboys team that had struggled to move the ball through five weeks. After setting the NFL on fire in 2017, the Jaguars defense has been underperforming as of late, and will look to get back on track against a Texans team that has seen Deshaun Watson hit the ground 25 times through 6 games. With inexperienced tackles and one of the leagues worst red zone offenses, the Jaguars should be considered favorites in this game.
The Texans will look to take advantage of an injured Jaguars team, however, led by a struggling Blake Bortles. On the year, Bortles has completed just 61% of his passes for 1,674 yards with 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Although T.J. Yeldon has filled in admirably for Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars need their young running back to return to take some of the offensive burden off of Bortles.
New England Patriots (4-2) vs Chicago Bears (3-2)
Coming off an overtime loss to the Brock Osweiler-led Miami Dolphins, the Bears will have to get back on track against a Patriots team that just took down the undefeated Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Outside of the Jaguars in week two, however, this is the best defense the Patriots have faced all season. Khalil Mack has been tremendous for the Bears thus far, but other players such as Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller have been impactful as well.
The key for the Bears is to get Mitch Trubisky going. In his past two games, Trubisky has thrown for just under 700 yards with 9 touchdowns to 1 interception. If they can slow down the Patriots offense and keep the offense moving, do the Bears have a chance against the Patriots?
New Orleans Saints (4-1) vs Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
The New Orleans Saints look to have a firm grip on the NFC South, and will look to gain some distance this week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Saints will be coming off their bye week, and the Ravens are coming out of a win in which they sacked Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota 11 times.
The Saints offense features several playmakers in Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and a fresh Mark Ingram—whereas the Ravens taken on a balanced approach, featuring mid-tier targets like Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead.
The Ravens defense poses a unique test for this Saints offense that has been humming through six weeks—as Baltimore is first in total defense (second in rushing, third in passing.) With the AFC North still somewhat open with the Bengals at 4-2 and facing a tough opponent in the Chiefs, a win for Baltimore will go a long way in securing a playoff spot down the road.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) vs Kansas City Chiefs (5-1)
The Kansas City Chiefs suffered their first loss of the 2018 season against the New England Patriots last Sunday, and are looking to rebound against a Cincinnati Bengals team that’s fresh off a division loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes has been nothing short of spectacular through six weeks, with 18 touchdown passes to just 4 interceptions. The combination of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt on offense is nearly impossible to cover, and the Bengals will face their toughest task of the season in defending them.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals will face a putrid Chiefs defense that has had trouble slowing anyone down to this point. Giving up more than 5.5 yards-per-carry on the ground, the Bengals will need to get Joe Mixon involved early and often. AJ Green and Tyler Boyd have quietly been one of the NFL’s most productive receiving duos—with both players on pace to finish with 1000 yards on the season.
This game has all the ingredients for a shootout.
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) vs Washington Redskins (3-2)
Our final fame of the week is between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins—both of whom are coming off impressive week 6 victories against the Jaguars and Panthers, respectively. The Cowboys offense finally sprang to life last week, and will look to keep it going against an underrated Washington defense that ranks 5th in the NFL. Stud defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne will look to shut down Ezekiel Elliot after he gashed the Jaguars for 106 yards and a touchdown.
When Adrian Peterson goes over 95 yards, the Redskins are 3-0. Jay Gruden would be wise to use Peterson as much as he can against this Cowboys defense after a solid showing against the Panthers—where he rushed for 97 yards on 5.7 yards per carry.
The winner of this NFC East showdown will continue to be in the mix for the division crown as we approach the midway point of the 2018 NFL season.