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At Halfway Mark, Defense Matters

Mill Woods

Posted on October 28, 2019 15:45

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In Week Eight, defenses took center stage. The Patriots responded to a particularly stingy Browns defense with a tough D of their own, while the 49er defense jumped all over the vaunted Panther offense. The highest-ranked teams have strong squads on both sides of the ball.

This NFL season is highly unusual. At the halfway mark, there are still two undefeated teams (Patriots and 49ers) and two winless teams (Dolphins and Bengals). The Patriots’ win, coupled with losses by the Chiefs and Bills, made the Patriots a strong bet for home field advantage in the AFC. That game also knocked the Browns down into third place in their division race. Meanwhile, the 49ers remain a hair in front of the Seahawks and Rams in the NFC West — and a game ahead of the Saints and Packers in the NFC race for home field advantage. The Niners face all four teams later this season.
 
In another defense-heavy battle Sunday, the Chargers visited Chicago for what almost amounted to a do-or-die game for both teams. The Bears tried to win with a barrage of field goal attempts — and fell one short.
 
Not much has changed in the NFC playoff picture. The Packers and Vikings are competing with the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams for two division titles and two wild cards. The Saints and Cowboys are the clear favorites to tie up the division titles of the South and East. But the Panthers are not completely out of the running, and, if the Eagles are still in the playoff race on December 22, they could take over after their rematch with the Cowboys. 
 
In the AFC, the Patriots face five tough opponents in a row, but are so far ahead that they look like a lock for home field advantage. The rest of the conference is wide open, especially since the Chiefs and Bills took a step back. The Ravens and Colts are in pretty good shape, having won two division games already, but the AFC South, having no teams under .500, is completely up for grabs.
 
Week Nine headlines an important match between the Vikings and Chiefs, followed by a major showdown in the AFC playoff race: the Patriots visiting the Ravens.
 
Last weekend, my picks went 12-3.  

Here are all the upcoming matches — and my picks:


49ers              Cardinals                     49ers
Texans            Jaguars                       Texans
Bears              Eagles                         Eagles
Vikings            Chiefs                         Vikings
Colts               Steelers                      Steelers
Jets                 Dolphins                     Jets
Redskins          Bills                            Bills
Titans              Panthers                     Panthers
Lions               Raiders                       Lions
Buccaneers      Seahawks                   Seahawks
Packers           Chargers                     Packers
Browns           Broncos                       Broncos
Patriots           Ravens                        Ravens
Cowboys         Giants                         Cowboys

Happy November!

Mill Woods

Posted on October 28, 2019 15:45

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Source: USA TODAY

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