Power Rankings: Week 15

32 (32) – Oakland Raiders

The Raiders didn’t bring it this time around against the Chiefs. At least that still gives them a good shot at the number-one pick.

31 (31) – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars had their fair share of chances to tie the game, not surprisingly they couldn’t succeed. At least it’s good to see them in that position.

30 (30) – Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker got one last shot to prove himself, but getting injured (again) proved that he can’t stay up for very long.

29 (29) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs had a chance to get their third win of the season facing a Panthers team with Derek Anderson starting, but they still feel short. There isn’t much left to see from this team through the rest of the season.

28 (28) – Washington Redskins

RG3 keeps finding his way back onto the field. This time he was better, though still not completely back in his good ways. As if Jay Gruden needed to make another big quarterback decision next week.

27 (27) – New York Jets

The Jets finally got another win, which dropped them a few spots in the draft for now, but it’s encouraging that Geno Smith had two straight decent games.

26 (24) – Chicago Bears

The Bears’ season has crumbled as much as possible. There’s a lot to fix next season.

25 (23) – Minnesota Vikings

Overall, this has been a decent first season for Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, but one thing he really has to improve on is the team’s divisional record — right now 0-5.

24 (21) – Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons keep coming close to winning but they just can’t get the W to get a comfortable lead in the division. Still, the Falcons have the proverbial control of their destiny by winning out.

23 (25) – New York Giants

The Giants have locked up third place in the NFC East. That doesn’t mean much except that they’ve played well sparingly. It’s good to see their upside, however.

22 (26) – Carolina Panthers

The Panthers got a huge win this week over the Buccaneers but sit in second place due to a Saints Monday nigh win. All they need to do now is win out to make the playoffs, hopefully with a healthy Cam Newton.

21 (20) – San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers haven’t been able to scrape up much recently. What a drop down it’s been from the last few seasons to this one. Hopefully next year, with healthy players, they can climb back up the ranks.

20 (22) – New Orleans Saints

The Saints finally had a completely impressive game. All they had to do was face a struggling team. They’ll have to do it again next week gains the Falcons in their biggest game of the season.

19 (17) – Cleveland Browns

Johnny Manziel didn’t play better than Brian Hoyer would’ve. That pretty much torched the Browns’ playoff hopes.

18 (19) – St. Louis Rams

The Rams were in another tight game with a good team, but scoring more in a low-opportunity game is not the Rams’ forte.

17 (16) – Houston Texans

Despite the loss, the Texans still have a shot at the playoffs, but they’ll have to do it with either Case Keenum or Thad Lewis. Too bad they couldn’t really see what they have in Tom Savage.

16 (12) – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins can’t fool the Patriots twice, so it’s not yet their time to win this division. The loss also puts them in a very tough position to make the playoffs.

15 (18) – Buffalo Bills

The Bills kept their slim playoff chances alive with a big win over the Packers, which didn’t include an offensive touchdown. It’s hard to see exactly where the Bills stand, but after they pick up what should be a win next week over the Raiders, we’ll get a clear picture.

14 (15) – Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs needed the win over the Raiders this time to have a shot at the playoffs. Right now they’re sitting one spot behind the last Wild Card, but they have a say in what happens with meetings against the Steelers and Chargers.

13 (11) – San Diego Chargers

After losing to the Broncos, the Chargers will now need some help in order to make the playoffs. They’ve really dropped a level ever since Philip Rivers got nicked up.

12 (13) – Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are still playing strong, and if they continue this good run they’ll claim their division by winning out.

11 (14) – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were fortunate to have an easy game against Johnny Manziel, but their road to lock up a playoff spot through the Broncos and Steelers is still very tough.

10 (6) – Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles may have dropped back out of first place, but they have an easy road ahead of them for a chance at the division title or at least a Wild Card with remaining games against the Redskins and Giants.

9 (9) – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens came away with a narrow win against the Jaguars, but with an extremely favourable schedule: the Texans and their third-string quarterback then Johnny Manziel and the Browns, making the playoffs practically looks like a given.

8 (10) – Detroit Lions

With a scrappy win over the Vikings, the Lions are now in first place of the NFC North. All they have to do now is beat the Packers in Week 17 to make it in.

7 (7) – Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals locked up a playoff spot on Thursday night. The bad news is that they’ll have to do it all with their third-string quarterback.

6 (8) – Dallas Cowboys

This time, the Cowboys were able to dominate the Eagles instead of vice versa. However, they still have one more tough roadblock when they face the Colts next week.

5 (5) – Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks keep winning, but everything is on the line next week agains the Cardinals and Ryan Lindley.

4 (4) – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts locked up the division with a win over the Texans. Now comes the quest for Andrew Luck to get his first first-round bye.

3 (3) – Denver Broncos

The Broncos had a scare with Peyton Manning going down with an injury while blocking, which would’ve been a huge setback for their playoff run, but Manning came back and led the Broncos to another win.

2 (1) – Green Bay Packers

The Packers always struggle in Buffalo. Thanks to that bad karma, they now dropped to the 6th seed spot. We’ll have to see if that bad game offensively was only a one-time thing.

1 (2) – New England Patriots

The Patriots yet again won the AFC East. Now all the Patriots have to do to lock up home field advantage is to win two more divisional games, which is pretty simple for them.

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.

 

Power Rankings: Week 14

32 (32) – Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are so bad that they win two games in three weeks to jolted all the way back to the fifth draft slot for now.

31 (31) – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars looked primed to be on a two-game win streak through the first half of Sunday’s game against the Texans, but baby-steps…baby-steps.

30 (30) – Tennessee Titans

Zach Mettenberger will miss the rest of the season with a sprained shoulder. That’s really unfortunate for the Titans since he’ll miss valuable growth and evaluation time.

29 (27) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It took long enough, but the Bucs are finally eliminated from playoff contention. Now being in the spot for the first overall pick in the Draft (interesting turnaround), the Bucs are in a good position to really build their team.

28 (26) – Washington Redskins

It’s December — the annual time when every problem in DC bursts out into one huge mess, and we saw that on the field against the Rams on Sunday.

27 (28) – New York Jets

The Jets are using these last few games to evaluate Geno Smith one more time, and against the Vikings he was a little better than usual. He even almost got them the win. We’ll see if that keeps up, though.

26 (29) – Carolina Panthers

A 41-10 win over the Saints on the road? Where were the Panthers all season? Lucky for them its not nearly too late.

25 (25) – New York Giants

One week the Giants lose to the Jaguars and the next they blow out the Titans. Tom Coughlin must’ve really been upset.

24 (24) – Chicago Bears

The Bears’ playoff hopes are now officially gone, not like they’ve been playing with any.

23 (23) – Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are close to a .500 record, but the playoffs would’ve been a little bit of a stretch for the Vikings. All in all, they’ve shown immediate improvement under Mike Zimmer.

22 (22) – New Orleans Saints

The Saints can’t win at home, and Jimmy Graham has practically been an afterthought in the offense in recent weeks. They may be very close to leading the division, but it looks like the Saints are still a ways away from that.

21 (21) – Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons put up a good fight against the Packers, but fell short. They’re still in first place, though, and winning their remaining two divisional games should put them through to the playoffs.

20 (19) – San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers aren’t getting any better, and even though their only two game back with three to go, it’s hard to keep them in the conversation.

19 (20) – St. Louis Rams

The Rams defense has played eight straight quarters of shutout football, while the offense has scored 76 points in that span. The Rams are extremely good when they play two of the worst teams in the league.

18 (17) – Buffalo Bills

The Bills looked bad against the Broncos. Next week they face the Packers, so their playoff chances are looking pretty gloomy right now.

17 (16) – Cleveland Browns

The Browns may still be in the playoff hunt, but Brian Hoyer isn’t taking advantage of his shot. It shouldn’t be the hardest decision to go with Johnny Manziel.

16 (18) – Houston Texans

The Texans won’t go down easily, no matter how many bumps Ryan Fitzpatrick will bring them through.

15 (13) – Kansas City Chiefs

A few weeks ago, the Chiefs looked like one of the better teams in the league, but they’re close to that state anymore. They’ll catch a break next in a meeting with the Raiders, but the last two games will be tough.

14 (14) – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals kept up with the Steelers in the beginning of the game, but things fell apart in the second half. They’ve been fortunate to barely come away with wins against bad teams recently, but the remaining divisional games will test if the Bengals are really a playoff team.

13 (15) – Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger has been putting up big games a lot this season — with the help of Le’Veon Bell. However, He cools off every few games or so. We’ll see if that happens in this final three games of the season.

12 (9) – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins still don’t have what it takes when it comes to the really big games. The injuries piling up surely don’t make it easier, but with a good division record, and two divisional games left, they still have a chance.

11 (11) – San Diego Chargers

Luckily, with loss by other playoff contenders, the Chargers are still sitting in a playoff spot for now, but it’s hard to predict how they’ll finish off the season at this point.

10 (12) – Detroit Lions

The Lions have a fairly easy road to the playoffs, but the big cheese wheel in their way in Week 17 could determine it all.

9 (10) – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens took out who should be their last tough test on the road to the playoffs. Looking at the rest of their schedule, they shouldn’t have a problem the rest of the way.

8 (8) – Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys bounced back from an embarrassing loss to the Eagles with a big win over the Bears on Thursday night. Thanks to an Eagles loss on Sunday, the two teams are now tied again for first place, which sets up their biggest game of the season in next weeks matchup.

7 (7) – Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals barely got the win over the Chiefs, but they’ll take all the wins they can get with the Seahawks closing in on them.

6 (5) – Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles didn’t enjoy much time alone in first place of the NFC East, and the bad loss to the Seahawks must’ve knocked down their confidence as to their ability to beat the better teams.

5 (6) – Seattle Seahawks

After starting the season 3-3, the Seahawks are now on a 6-1 run. Either as a Wild Card team or a division-winner, they’ll be a serious threat in the playoffs again.

4 (4) – Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck had an extremely terrible start to Sunday’s game against the Browns, but you can never count him out in the end of games. Let’s hope that this year in the playoffs he’ll at least be in a position to do so.

3 (3) – Denver Broncos

You don’t see Peyton Manning have such a bad game that much, so it’s a good thing the Broncos have a formidable run game now.

2 (2) – New England Patriots

Forget about the loss to the Packers, the Patriots proved their the next best team in the league.

1 (1) – Green Bay Packers

The Packers were in a close matchup with the Falcons, but their offense always kept them ahead. They look unbeatable at home, so lucky for them, the Packers’ big matchup with the Lions in Week 17 is at Lambeau.

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.

Power Rankings: Week 13

32 (31) – Oakland Raiders

Like anyone expected the Raiders to win two in a row. However, getting shut out 52-0 makes it even more embarrassing.

31 (32) – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars’ stay at the bottom of the Power Rankings didn’t last long. Their defense sure has some talent. But just how long will it take for the offense to mature and play well?

30 (30) – Tennessee Titans

The Titans fell victim to the Texans’ highest scoring game in franchise history — 45 points. Not quite the shocker.

29 (29) – Carolina Panthers

Last year, the Panthers defense was able to keep them in games while the offence came back late. This year, they fall behind way too quickly to even have a chance with the talent this team has.

28 (28) – New York Jets

If there’s one thing you can count on with the Jets is bad quarterback play. The ruling game was very strong, but Geno Smith only had 13 pass attempts, completing seven of them fro 65 and an interception. Michael Vick even got a little taste of it.

27 (27) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We keep seeing every game that Lovie Smith has a lot of work to do in his second off-season with the Buccaneers.

26 (26) – Washington Redskins

Well, the Redskins did much better with Colt McCoy at quarterback…

25 (25) – New York Giants

This season can’t get much worse for the Giants after botching an 18-point lead over the then one-win Jaguars. Even the Redskins destroyed them with Kirk Cousins.

24 (21) – Chicago Bears

It had seemed like the Bears were on a possible run for a shot at the playoffs, but that’s pretty much done now.

23 (23) – Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are coming up big sporadically this season, thanks to Mike Zimmer. He can really coach this team, and when they upgrade the talent they have they’ll start being a playoff-calibre team again.

22 (24) – New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees finally had a great game, and the offense scored 35 points despite Jimmy Graham not even catching one pass. However, the defense nearly gave up the lead.

21 (22) – Atlanta Falcons

What an incredible game the Falcons had against the Cardinals — the team that had the best record in the league — to get their first win outside of the division this season. The Falcons were opportunistic on defense and their didn’t make many mistakes. They really needed that win to stay atop the division.

20 (20) – St. Louis Rams

The Rams had another impressive game, this time shutting out the Raiders 52-0. They’ve had a pretty decent year despite their quarterback issues. So, once they get a quarterback they should be a fairly good team.

19 (16) – San Francisco 49ers

They may still have a shot at the playoffs, but the way the 49ers are playing now isn’t good enough. Plus, they have a tough remaining schedule with plenty of divisional games left. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lose all of those.

18 (19) – Houston Texans

Maybe Ryan Fitzpatrick can lead a run for a wild card spot; six touchdowns is no joke.

17 (18) – Buffalo Bills

The Bills finally got back on track with a win over the Browns. However, they suffered some injuries on the defensive line, the strongest part of their team. We’ll see how that affects them.

16 (14) – Cleveland Browns

Brian Hoyer has not been playing well recently. Mike Pettine must be starting to contemplate whether to let Johnny Football start. It’s a really tough decision since the Brown are in the thick of the playoff race.

15 (15) – Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers offense struggled early in what should’ve been an easy game for them offensively. Eventually they picked it up, but, too little too late.

14 (17) – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were barely able to beat a bad team. Right now, they’re sitting at 8-3-1 in first place of the AFC North, but the way they’re playing, they won’t survive the divisional games to close out the season.

13 (11) – Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs just can’t beat the Broncos ever since Peyton Manning arrived. Now they’re finding themselves in a two-game skid when it really matters.

12 (13) – Detroit Lions

The Lions had a few rough weeks recently, but the Thanksgiving game was a huge bounce-back for them.

11 (12) – San Diego Chargers

The Chargers mounted a huge comeback against the Ravens to keep their wining streak going. The win was especially huge because it kept them ahead of the wild card race, but the Chargers still have a tough schedule ahead of them.

10 (9) – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens had their opportunities in the red zone to beat the Chargers, but their defense also let the game slip away. They still seem to be better than the other teams in their division. So those games will be the Ravens’ chance to take the division lead.

9 (10) – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins may have barely beaten the Jets, but right now they’re sitting in the 6th seed, and we’ve seen their capability of playing really good on offense and defense.

8 (5) – Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys did not look good agains the Eagles. We’re now in December, also known as the time when the Cowboys slide. If they’re really a good team, they’ll have to stick with it for the rest of the season, especially since it’s a tight race for the wild card.

7 (3) – Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals really need to get their offense in order, or else they could be looking at a major collapse.

6 (8) – Seattle Seahawks

Now this is what a defending Super Bowl champion team looks like. With all of the offensive woes the Cardinals are having and the sloppy way the 49ers are playing now, this is the Seahawks opportunity to jump ahead.

5 (7) – Philadelphia Eagles

On Thanksgiving, the Eagles showed that their still way ahead of the Cowboys despite their close record. But their rematch in a couple of weeks will be a huge game.

4 (6) – Indianapolis Colts

The game against the Redskins started off very ugly, but you can always count on Andrew Luck to keep his head up and take advantage of an easy secondary.

3 (4) – Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning wasn’t so efficient, but the run game was well and alive to help lead the Broncos to a Sunday Night victory. That reliability in the run game will be huge for the min the playoffs, especially if they have to make trips to cold-weather locations.

2 (1) – New England Patriots

The Patriots didn’t win the showdown of the two best teams in the league, but they still played a good game, nonetheless.

1 (2) – Green Bay Packers

One way to prove you’re the number-one team in the league is to beat the previous best team.

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.

Power Rankings: Week 12

32 (31) – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are still looking really bad. In fact, they’re almost worse than the Raiders, who picked up their first win on Thursday night.

31 (32) – Oakland Raiders

The Raiders finally got their first win of the season! What makes it even more amusing is that they almost screwed it up by celebrating sack while the Chiefs offense hurried up to the line.

30 (30) – Tennessee Titans

The Titans have been half-decent in the lsat two weeks, but the other half leaves what is the big gap between their skill and a good team’s.

29 (29) – Carolina Panthers

The Panthers finally reached their week of rest. While the division has continued to obliterate itself, we’ll see if the Panthers can get back on the right track to be the first team two be NFC South champions in back-to-back seasons.

28 (28) – New York Jets

The Jets got blown out so badly by the Bills that they had to switch quarterbacks again at halftime, going back to Geno Smith. This whole quarterback hoopla is started to lose its excitement.

27 (27) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago didn’t exactly go as planned. The Bucs have had their fair share of ugly games this season.

26 (26) – Washington Redskins

With everything that’s been swirling around in DC, everyone expected Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offense to struggle on Sunday.

25 (25) – New York Giants

If the Giants can take one positive from this season, it’s that Odell Beckham Jr. is ridiculous!

24 (22) – New Orleans Saints

The Saints have been close in many games this season, and that inability to do the little things to get ahead is what has kept them at four wins.

23 (23) – Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings season has been a huge roller coaster, winning one then losing a couple consistently.

22 (21) – Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons keep finding ways for games to drift away from them when they’re in position to win. However, luckily, the Falcons are somehow still in first place thanks to their ability to win their divisional games. Those will be extremely important in the finishing stretch of the season.

21 (24) – Chicago Bears

The Bears have a little win streak going, even though they haven’t exactly played well to earn it. Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Lions is huge for the their playoff chances.

20 (20) – St. Louis Rams

The Rams almost beat the Chargers for what would’ve been their second big win in a row, but if we’ve learned anything from the m this season is that they can be a pretty good team if they’d get a quarterback.

19 (18) – Houston Texans

After a decent first start, Ryan Mallett had big accuracy issues and suffered a work pectoral in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals. It’s been a very tough road for him, but it looks like the Texans need to Fitzmagic right about now.

18 (19) – Buffalo Bills

The Bills bounced back in a strong way on Monday night to stay in the AFC playoff race. However, the Bills have probably the most difficult finishing stretch of the season with games against the Browns, Broncos, Packers, and Patriots.

17 (17) – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals offense was okay, and with the help of a very inaccurate Ryan Mallett, the Bengals still have only three losses. That may be enough to get them into the playoffs, but Andy Dalton won’t get his first win with the way they’ve been playing for the past month or so.

16 (16) – San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers didn’t have a great game, but that’s all you need against the Redskins. They really needed the win this week when the Cardinals finally lost (and the Seahawks won).

15 (15) – Pittsburgh Steelers

With the  AFC North being so tight, it might actually be an advantage for the Steelers to have their bye so late in the season.

14 (14) – Cleveland Browns

Brian Hoyer didn’t have a good game, and there were chemistry issues with Josh Gordon, but that’s a work in progress. Good thing the Browns were playing the least advantageous team in the league.

13 (9) – Detroit Lions

Sunday’s huge loss to the Patriots was really bad, as the offense couldn’t get going at all and their top-rated defense was mute. Really, the Lions have declined in the past five games. This isn’t a good lead into a playoff run.

12 (11) – San Diego Chargers

After a shaky run before their bye, the Chargers are now on a two-game win streak. the Chargers really needed this and are now tied for second in the division and right in position for a chance at the playoffs. A healthy Philip Rivers would help, though.

11 (4) – Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have been very hot lately, so the Raiders weren’t a good team to cool down on. The loos puts a big dent in their division chances.

10 (10) – Miami Dolphins

They Dolphins didn’t win in a close, high-scoring matchup with the Broncos, but it shows they have a chance in this tough race for the AFC wild card.

9 (13) – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens keep winning when other teams in their division do too, and they’ll have to keep doing that and may not control their own destiny with only one divisional game remaining.

8 (12) – Seattle Seahawks

This win against the Cardinals was big for the Seahawks. They’ve been really shaky lately, so a division win will really help them. Next week’s Thanksgiving game against the 49ers will have the same effect.

7 (8) – Philadelphia Eagles

LeSean McCoy finally came back from the dead. The Eagles will need him to have big games when Mark Sanchez doesn’t play too well.

6 (7) – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts got a really easy win against the Jaguars. That’s the nice thing about their division — they get to face a couple of bad teams a couple times a year. Plus, the Colts get a couple of extra easy games thrown in: like next week’s game against the Redskins.

5 (6) – Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo had an excellent game agains the Giants and isn’t showing any signs of back problems. that should lead perfectly into a huge Thanksgiving matchup with the Eagles for sole possession of the NFC East.

4 (5) – Denver Broncos

The Broncos showed that they don’t need Julius Thomas in order to score nearly 40 points, especially against the Dolphins – a team with one of the top defenses in the league.

3 (2) – Arizona Cardinals

There was bound to be a time when the Cardinals would stumble with everything they’ve had to deal wit this season. Let’s how they’ll endure this loss through the continuation of their divisional championship run.

2 (3) – Green Bay Packers

The Packers didn’t blow out the Vikings on the scoreboard, but they outplayed them by a nice distance. Next week’s game against the Patriots should be the best of the season.

1 (1) – New England Patriots

The Patriots have the longest winning streak in the NFL by far. It shows they’re the only team not faltering, but they’re not only not faltering, they’re dominating.

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.

Forecast 5: How Week 12 will Impact the Playoff Hunt

With teams like Atlanta and New Orleans still relevant in playoff discussion boasting a measly 4-6 record, this year’s NFL is one of the hardest to predict in years. In addition to a select few teams who have edged clear of the pack, a plethora of playoff contenders lie ready and waiting to pounce on a wildcard spot late in the year. This week’s Forecast 5 will look at 5 teams “in the hunt” and how their bid to reach the post season will fair in the week ahead.

Chiefs @ Raiders on TNF

After opening the season with a devastatingly embarrassing loss to the Titans in week 1, the Chiefs’ early struggles continued as they stuttered into the bye week sporting an uninspiring 2-3 record. Since their early season slump, the Chiefs have been revitalised and stormed to 5 consecutive wins to tie the Denver Broncos atop the AFC West. This resurgence in results falls directly in line with the return of their franchise running back and primary offensive threat, Jamaal Charles. In each of the past 5 games, Charles has been the leading rusher on both teams combined and this Thursday he’ll be squaring up to the hapless, helpless and winless Oakland Raiders. A Raider team that ranks 27th in run defence thus far. Thursday Night Football has typically hosted blowout wins in 2014; expect that trend to continue this week with a ground and pound performance from the Chiefs. Their strengths are with the running game; they will stick with that and rush their way to a 6th straight win.

Prediction: KC 27 – 13 OAK. This game will be over early as the Chiefs pull out to an early lead and control the game on the ground with over 200 total rushing yards for the 2nd straight week.

Dolphins @ Broncos

Similarly to the Chiefs, the Dolphins have fired up the power rankings with a spell of high-energy and clinical performances, triumphing in 4 of their last 5 to take 2nd place in the AFC East ahead of the early season sweethearts, Buffalo Bills. This week, the Dolphins are pitted against the wavering Denver Broncos. Manning has begun to show signs of age lately; losing 2 of his last 3 games and the Broncos no longer boast an air of invincibility. This week the Dolphins take their no.2 ranked pass defence to Manning, 7 days after he lost 3 key offensive weapons to injury. And as if enough factors weren’t working in favour of the Dolphins, Miami travel to Denver during a week in which every state in the country has been below freezing temperatures and parts are beginning to look eerily like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. We all know how Manning performs in adverse weather conditions… The pass defence of the Dolphins should deal with the Broncos’ aerial threat handily, and if Tannehill can continue his improvement for another week and take advantage of his undeniable ability to scramble and execute designed runs, the elite pass defence of the Broncos should be neutralised and the Dolphins can quite possibly walk away from Colorado with an extremely valuable victory.

Prediction: MIA 28 – 21 DEN. If the weather continues as it appears now, the Dolphins have every chance of pulling the upset in Denver. Look to Tannehill to have a dominant game with his legs being as important as his arm.

Redskins @ 49ers

San Francisco sit tied for 2nd place in the uber competitive NFC West behind the mighty Arizona Cardinals who appear to be the 2nd coming of the ’85 Bears (satire before anyone jumps down my throat!). Posting a strong 6-4 record and being deeply amongst the playoff picture is a great feat for the 49ers who have looked less than impressive in most games this season. Even a 5 interception performance from the bipolar Eli Manning wasn’t enough to allow San Francisco to run away with the game and run up the score. Nevertheless they are 6-4 and a sign of a great team is to win when you aren’t ay your best. The 49ers certainly aren’t at their best, however, with a stronger focus on the ground game as we inch towards December, and as Kaepernick begins to open the field more with his incredibly elusive running ability, the 49ers should steadily climb those rankings. Sunday’s game against the depressing Redskins is an ideal matchup for them to finally get a comfortable, easy win and begin to build up momentum leading into the playoffs. Washington’s offence will gift the 49ers stout defence with a couple of turnovers and the 49ers will do what they do best, dominate the game on the ground with some old school power running football.

Prediction: WAS 10 – 30 SF. Kaepernick will combine for 3 TDs in the air and on the ground to complete their 3rd win on the bounce.

Cowboys @ Giants

The last time we seen the Cowboys was in our back yard in the glorious capital of England as they trounced the powerless Jaguars with distinct ease. Even an injured Romo handily through lasers all over their surprisingly able defence; focusing on his BFF Dez Bryant who ended the game with over 100 yds and a pair of TDs. I expect the same on Sunday. The trend is that the Cowboys offence continues to put up points while their defence, although beginning to show signs of cracking, exceed expectations and cause an all too familiar sight for Giants fans…Eli Manning turnovers. A Tony Romo who has had 2 weeks to fully recover will go back to his favourite pairing of Bryant and Witten, opened up in play action by another 100 yard performance from the MVP through 8 games, Demarco Murray. Although the Cowboys defence does not rival the 49ers defence, they will still cause turnovers allowing the Cowboys to control the game from start to finish and stay neck and neck with the Eagles atop the NFC East.

Prediction: DAL 35 – NYG 20. Another day at the office for Dallas will be highlighted by another dominant rushing performance from Demarco Murray, ending the game with over 100 yards and 3 TDs.

Ravens @ Saints

Fortunately for the underwhelming New Orleans Saints, they belong to the worst division in football, the NFC South. With their 4-6 record they are tied for the lead in their division, as inexplicable as that is, they are still tied for the lead in their division with a 4-6 record (I just had to repeat that to make sure it settled in). Drew Brees has become part of the problem in Louisiana. He is no longer considered in the discussion of top 5 QBs, and his kamikaze throws, combined with the hugely underperforming, yet highly paid defence, is the reason the Saints have been so poor. Oppositely, the Ravens belong to the toughest and tightest division in football, posting a 6-4 record and sitting in 3rd place. It’s clear who the better team is in this matchup, and as unbelievable as a 3rd straight home defeat for the Saints sounds, I believe a Ravens win is written in the stars. Flacco will comfortably dunk the ball off the Steve Smith while throwing the occasional bomb to his namesake Torrey and completely expose the Saints at home yet again. A season to forget continues for the Saints on Sunday…and yet with defeat they will remain a maximum 1 game out of the playoff picture. Outrageous.

Prediction: BAL 31 – NO 19. Drew Brees will once again clock up a couple more picks as his decline continues and the Saints remain among the league’s most disappointing teams.

Picks of the Week:

Lock of the Week: 49ers over Redskins

Shock of the Week: Dolphins over Broncos

Bold Prediction: A Chiefs Wide Receiver will catch their first TD as a unit on Thursday night…followed by another.

This article was written by Martin Thomson. Martin is from Newcastle, England. In addition to being a huge Newcastle United fan; he experiences much more joy as a diehard fan of the New England Patriots. His articles “Forecast 5” will focus on certainties and surprises to look out for in the week ahead. He hopes to one day meet Tom Brady and give him that High-5 he so desperately wants. Find him on Twitter @martin12tina

Power Rankings: Week 11

32 (32) – Oakland Raiders

The Raiders couldn’t even beat a team with their quarterback barely being able to throw.

31 (31) – Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles has been struggling with his decision making to start his career. Let’s see how he handles things after a bye week.

30 (30) – Tennessee Titans

The Titans had a shot to down the Steelers, but, as they have many times this season, failed to keep a lead a the end of the game.

29 (27) – Carolina Panthers

The Panthers didn’t look good against arguably the worst defense in the NFL. In fact, they looked pretty bad. That’s been the theme for them lately, which has dropped them from a nice first place spot to an ice-thin third place.

28 (28) – New York Jets

Michael Vick got some extra time to get ready for an opportunity for the Jets to get a winning streak going against the Bills next week.

27 (29) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith was being very optimistic about the Bucs’ chances, being only a few game out of first place. Now sitting only two games back, things are looking better. However, The Bucs have to take advantage of this opportunity — something they haven’t been able to do yet this season.

26 (24) – Washington Redskins

Things just keep looking ugly. The offense handed the opposition plenty of extra opportunities, but the defense could only keep them at bay for so long. It looks like the Redskins will actually get to pick in the top five this time.

25 (22) – New York Giants

This Giants team now looks exactly like they did last year: Eli Manning throws as many interceptions as you can count in one hand and the defense looks bad.

24 (26) – Chicago Bears

The Bears finally got another win! It might be a little too late, though.

23 (21) – Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings had a nice chance to continue their streak against the hapless Bears, but came up short. With a very tough remaining schedule, starting with a matchup against the Packers, it’s tough to imagine the Vikings making a strong push for the playoffs.

22 (19) – New Orleans Saints

This Saints offense has been struggling, and now will miss Brandin Cooks for at least a month at the time they need him most.

21 (25) – Atlanta Falcons

After two consecutive wins, the Falcons are in first place of the NFC South. However, all four of their wins have come against division rivals. Can they make it at 6-10?

20 (23) – St. Louis Rams

The Rams keep showing us that they can beat the best of the league. This really was an impressive win over the Broncos.

19 (15) – Buffalo Bills

The Bills haven’t been able to do much lately. They are a team that relies on their defense, which couldn’t hold back the Dolphins on Thursday night, falling further down the AFC East standings.

18 (20) – Houston Texans

The Texans start under Ryan Mallet looked pretty good. They still have a good shot at making the playoffs with a very fortunate schedule: only two road games and three games against the Jaguars and Titans. This stretch will show if Mallett has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback.

17 (18) – Cincinnati Bengals

A week after having nearly the worst quarterback rating possible, Andy Dalton bounced back with a big win to keep the Bengals atop the division. Will he be able to keep it up?

16 (17) – San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers did just enough to beat the Giants, when in reality they should’ve blown them out with all of the turnovers they got. Nothing has been perfect for this team this year.

15 (16) – Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers were barely able to pull out a win against the Titans. They’ll have to be more commanding in games like they were for a little bit a few weeks ago if they want to come on top of the tightest division in the league.

14 (12) – Cleveland Browns

The Browns took a step back against the Texans after recently looking pretty good. At least Josh Gordon is coming back now, which should give them a good boost.

13 (14) – Baltimore Ravens

Right at the fist place pole, the Ravens should take advantage of their late bye week to be more ready and fresh than their opponents.

12 (10) – Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks got some players back on defense, but the team still wasn’t able to come away with a win against one of the hotter teams in the league. They really can’t get things going.

11 (11) – San Diego Chargers

The Chargers needed this win over the Raiders, but what they really need is for Phillip Rivers to be healthy for them to have any shot at anything.

10 (13) – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are finding themselves in the thick of the deep race for the playoffs in the AFC. Wit the way Ryan Tannehill has played recently, they have a good shot at it too.

9 (9) – Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford had led his team to three consecutive game-winning drives, but not this time against the NFL-best Cardinals. This is no time to slip with the Packers running full steam right beside them.

8 (7) – Philadelphia Eagles

I’m sorry Eagles, nobody can beat the Packers right now.

7 (4) – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts can’t keep playing games with their running game completely absent. That’s why they’re in danger of dropping out of first place in favour of the Texans.

6 (6) – Dallas Cowboys

DeMarco Murray sure could use this extra rest after the workload he’s had to handle this season. The same goes for Tony Romo and his bad back. It must’ve been an extra nice bye week with the rest of the NFC East all losing.

5 (3) – Denver Broncos

What a shocking loss this is for the Broncos. It shows how much they rely on Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

4 (8) – Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs keep winning, and thanks to a Broncos loss they’re now tied in first place. the Chiefs will give their division rivals a good fight this year for that top spot.

3 (5) – Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are looking like the hardest team to beat right now. They may have the same record as the Lions, but their play is far apart.

2 (2) – Arizona Cardinals

Game-one under Drew Stanton as the starter was a success. They have a fairly simple recipe: Stanton just has to do enough while the defense gives him the chance to succeed.

1 (1) – New England Patriots

It’s hard to beat the Patriots because they find so many different ways to beat you. They’ll keep having to do that with their brutal upcoming schedule.

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.

Forecast 5: Big or Bad Performances in Week 11

The 2014 NFL season has been predictably unpredictable, but one of the real standout trends of this season is the emergence of truly dominant, record-breaking individual displays week in week out. We’ve had Rodgers and Roethlisberger throwing 6 TDs in a game, Marshawn Lynch rushing for 4 TDs last week and 9 out of the opening 10 weeks of the season consisted of a 100 yard rushing performance from the Cowboys’ workhorse running back. In that spirit, this week’s Forecast 5 will be focussing on individual performances to be aware of, some will be dominant, some might even be earth-shattering and some may be a cause for concern. One thing is for sure, they will all be worth watching for one reason or another. So let’s kick off with a 4th year veteran’s first ever start in the NFL…

Ryan Mallett – Texans @ Browns
After 3 boring years acting as resident waterboy in New England behind the formidable #12, Ryan Mallett finally secured a trade to Houston to team up with former Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien moments before the start of the season. When Mallett takes the field on Sunday afternoon, he will be under pressure he has never experienced, how he handles this pressure will be the crucial factor. Undoubtedly, Mallett has a cannon of an arm, the deep ball was his strength in college and we did see flashes in his flittering preseason performances. Where Mallett falls down, is in the short-mid range passing accuracy arena. In essence he is the polar opposite of his mentor in New England. With Mallett focussing on the deep ball and under unusual pressure as a starting QB, Joe Hayden, whose performances are steadily improving, could be in for a big day. I fear for Mallett’s debut. Without the comfort of short, easy high percentage passes Sunday afternoon just might make him flashback to the happy days of warming the bench in Foxboro.

Prediction: HOU 14 – 24 CLE. Mallett will end the day with a TD and 2 INT, although his stats will be skewed by a large number of yards due to his deep ball prowess.

AJ Green – Bengals @ Saints
Week 10 was not a kind week for the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense as they mustered a measly 3 points against their division rivals Browns, aided by a dismal QB performance as Dalton sported a record lower QBR of 2.0. Fortunately, week 10 will be kinder to the former AFC North leading team from Ohio. A few things work in favour of their aerial attack on Sunday. 1. The game is not a primetime game, so Dalton won’t be quaking in his boots and throw up a stinker as he does each time the Bengals are in the eye of the nation. 2. The heavily invested defence of the Saints has struggled thus far, and although Drew Brees is responsible for a number of losses, their defence is part responsible too. 3. The offensive weapons are a force. With these 3 key factors, one man will benefit more than anyone else. AJ Green. Throughout his absence, Mohamed Sanu developed into a playmaker, this will draw more defensive attention away from Green than he is usually exposed to. Additionally, his health is still improving, and at least for this week, he will have a QB capable of completing more than 10 passes. The combination of these factors, married with Green’s undeniable elite ability make it inevitable that he has a monster game on Sunday.
Prediction: CIN 30 – 31 NO. The Saints will edge a tight one in New Orleans, but the star of the show will be AJ Green with multiple TDs and closing in on 200yds receiving.

Frank Gore – 49ers @ Giants
In a season-defining game last Sunday, the 49ers triumphed in overtime against the usually impenetrable fortress of the New Orleans Saints team playing in front of their home crowd. It was a game that seen the 49ers revert to their old style of play, the style of play which led them to consecutive NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. A strong, powerful and committed run game, balanced by competitive, tough and opportunistic defence is the 49ers recipe for success. Things appear to be clicking in the bay area and I expect this to continue on Sunday over the porous New York Football Giants. The Giants themselves submitted over 300 yards on the ground last week in Seattle, that’s a problem that isn’t fixed in 7 days. Harbaugh should continue to stick with a committed run game, early and often, establish the power in the game and release Frank Gore to obliterate the Giants’ defence. The 49ers gameplan, combined with the weak Giants defence pave the way for a huge game from Frank Gore this week in New York.

Prediction: SF 35 – 20 NYG. Gore will rack up over 100 yds on the ground and 3 TDs, supported by Kaepernick’s scrambling and designed runs.

Brandon Browner – Patriots @ Colts
Sunday night boasts potentially the game of the week in Indianapolis as the Colts host the Patriots in a matchup made famous by the Brady v Manning rivalry. In a matchup that pits 2 of the best offenses in the league against each other, this game will be won and lost in the air. Andrew Luck is having an outstanding season, on par to break the record for passing yards and is more than filling the massive gap left by Peyton. With such an explosive offense, the Patriots defence will have to leave everything on the field and produce their greatest performance of the season to dethrone Andrew Luck. We all know Revis will be great, but the key really lies with controversial CB Brandon Browner. This game has 2 scenarios. Either Revis will shadow TY Hilton (the Colts’ greatest threat) leaving Browner to shadow Reggie Wayne. Or both CBs will continue to stick with their side of the field (as per Browner’s experience with the Seahawks). If the former is true, both matchups lean towards the Patriots winning. Revis can cover any WR in the league, so that is no contest, whereas Wayne is a perfect match for Browner with his ageing lack of speed and bigger frame. Browner has been very successful against those types of WRs thus far. If the latter is true, this give Luck and the Colts offense the ability to mix up their formations and look for favourable matchups, this will undoubtedly lead to another 40+ points for the Indianapolis Colts. This game lies with that decision.
Prediction: NE 38 – 28 IND. Similar to the Broncos game, the Patriots will take and early lead and hold the Colts to 7 points in the first half employing the Revis-Hilton and Browner-Wayne matchups, leading to the Colts chasing the game and scoring some garbage points late on.

Martavis Bryant – Steelers @ Titans
The resurgence of the Steelers offense lately has coincided nicely with the emergence of Martavis Bryant. Bryant offers a great alternative to one of the best WRs in the league, Antonio Brown. With at least one TD in each of his last 4 games, Big Ben and the rookie wideout from Clemson must be salivating at the mouth at the thought of facing Tennessee on Sunday. The Titans are awful, even worse than the Jets who sprung a shock win last week. That won’t happen for the second week in a row. This Steelers offense can be a crushing, dominant force, I expect that ruthless, explosive style of play to return this week in the form of 40+ points and the most one-sided victory of the week.
Prediction: PIT 44 – 10 TEN. Bryant will amount for 2 of Ben’s 4 TD passes this week, continuing to be one of the most in form WRs in the NFL

Picks of the Week
Lock of the week: Steelers over Titans
Shock of the week: Rams over Broncos
Bold prediction: Packers will beat the Eagles by 25+ points

This article was written by Martin Thomson. Martin is from Newcastle, England. In addition to being a huge Newcastle United fan; he experiences much more joy as a diehard fan of the New England Patriots. His articles “Forecast 5” will focus on certainties and surprises to look out for in the week ahead. He hopes to one day meet Tom Brady and give him that High-5 he so desperately wants. Fins him on Twitter @martin12tina

Power Rankings: Week 10

32 (32) – Oakland Raiders

(Insert new clever line about the winless Raiders here)

31 (31) – Jacksonville Jaguars

With all of the high draft picks the Jaguars have had in the past years, it’s surprising that they haven’t gotten any better in the past few years.

30 (29) – Tennessee Titans

The Titans aren’t looking at much hope to winning a game. At least Zach Mettenberger is getting some valuable experience in the process.

29 (27) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers’ season may be starting to travel down the tubes, but Mike Evans is playing phenomenally, which bodes well for their future.

28 (30) – New York Jets

Of all the teams to break the Steelers’ hot streak, the Jets would probably be one of the last to come to mind. The offense didn’t do too much, but when the defense come away with plenty of takeaways (more in this game than the entire season) you only need to do so much.

27 (26) – Carolina Panthers

Usually, the Panthers start there season slow and then improve. However, I don’t know if they can make those fixes this time around.

26 (24) – Chicago Bears

The Bears’ season is getting way too ugly to watch. There are just too many things wrong with the team aside from their play on the field.

25 (28) – Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons picked up their third win of the season on Sunday — their first since a Week 3 win over the Buccaneers. Too bad they can’t play Tampa Bay every week, but the good news is that the Falcons are still within an arms reach of the division race.

24 (25) – Washington Redskins

The Redskins were in this same situation two years ago: 3-6 coming out of the bye week. Last time they won the last seven games and the division. Can they do it again?

23 (23) – St. Louis Rams

If one game could be a trap for the Cardinals it could be the Rams, but the Cardinals had their number in the fourth quarter.

22 (20) – New York Giants

They were doing ok for most of the game against the Seahawks, but their frailty on defense finally caught up to them. This could be the start of a tough second half for the New York Football-Giants.

21 (22) – Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are still very much in the playoff race. The bye week now should help them stay focused on the last seven games of the season.

20 (21) – Houston Texans

This was a good time to make the switch to Ryan Mallett, who had the luxury of a bye week before his first career start.

19 (19) – New Orleans Saints

The Saints are finding hard to put together some kind of winning streak, which is keeping the door open for the rest of the division.

18 (12) – Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton was truly horrible on Thursday night, throwing for less than 100 yards and three interceptions. So much for that nice contract extension if he can’t pull it together in crunch time. Luckily, there are still six games left to prove himself.

17 (18) – San Francisco 49ers

This is by no means a simple season for the 49ers, so they’ll easily take the controversial win over the Saints, especially with a chance now to catch up to the Cardinals and Seahawks.

16 (14) – Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers broke the iron clad rule: if you don’t protect the football, you won’t win games.

15 (16) – Buffalo Bills

It’s unfortunate that Sunday’s game was determined by a big Jamaal Charles run and a fumble just before the goal-line. The Bills really have to get any win they can with the way the Patriots are playing.

14 (17) – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens may still be sitting in last place of their division, but at 6-4 and only one-half game behind first place, every game is huge, including their recent win against the Titans.

13 (13) – Miami Dolphins

Putting aside the loss, the Dolphins will have to ride the season without left tackle Braden Albert, who has been the glue of their vastly improved offensive line. The Dolphins have a bunch of other key injuries, so it’ll be a big test for them to see if they can pull it off in the tight AFC.

12 (15) – Cleveland Browns

The Browns got a huge blowout win over the Bengals on Thursday night, and it looks like they are up to the task of competing in the toughest division this season.

11 (9) – San Diego Chargers

The Chargers have been in a rut lately. Hopefully, the bye week will recharge them.

10 (11) – Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are another team that can really use every win they can get, but what’s special about them is that they always find a different way to do it. That makes it tough on other teams to stop them.

9 (10) – Detroit Lions

The Lions finally broke down the Dolphins top-3 defense to come up with a game-winning touchdown, to keep in stride with the Packers, who also won on Sunday. It’s sure nice for them to have Calvin Johnson back for a playoff run.

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8 (8) – Kansas City Chiefs

It took the Chiefs a while to pick it up and score points against the Bills, but they won a very tough matchup. It’s hard to tell if that was a good win or not, but nonetheless, it’s a win.

7 (7) – Philadelphia Eagles

The Sanchise has begun in Philly! I also have to give props to the defense for a great game too.

6 (6) – Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys finally got back on track with a convincing win over the Jaguars in London. We’ll see if Tony Romo’s back can hold up for the erst of the season.

5 (5) – Green Bay Packers

The Packers are controlling games in a different way than the Lions. All they need to do is at least stay stride-for-stride with them for a Week 17 showdown.

4 (4) – Indianapolis Colts

The bye week didn’t come at any specifically necessary time for the Colts, but they do always take advantage of it.

3 (3) – Denver Broncos

The Broncos cruised to an easy win over the Raiders. That’s a good way to bounce back from a tough loss to the Patriots a week earlier.

2 (2) – Arizona Cardinals

With Carson Palmer coming fresh off his new contract extension, he tore his ACL in Sunday’s meeting with the Rams, but the Cardinals were still able to get the win. Sitting at 8-1 and still owing the best record in the league, will Drew Stanton be able to carry them the rest of the way?

1 (1) – New England Patriots

The Patriots are fortunate to be one of the only very good teams in the league to have their bye at this time of the season, and they’ll take advantage of it.

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Booksaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.

Forecast 5: Week 10 QBs and Their Time to Shine

Since the NFL’s conception, change has been a constant – changes in rules, personnel changes, relocations, the list is endless. One change, or potential change, that creeps into columns and sports radio/tv shows every year is a change of QB. Who will be at the helm of each team, lauding the praise when they win and bearing the brunt of the blame when they lose? 2014 has been no different, and whether it be through injury or simply inept performances, there has been a flurry of QB changes so far with heaps of drama thrown into mix. This week I’ll be looking at 5 teams who have had a rethink, forced or otherwise, and what we can expect from QBs who have been gifted their time to shine.

Blake Bortles – Cowboys @ Jaguars

In a move that surprised nobody associated with the NFL, the Jaguars’ 1st pick in the draft (3rd overall) was thrust into the starting line-up in week 3 against the Colts. Since then, in addition to continuing his promising performances in preseason, no. 5’s outings have been littered with turnovers, mistakes and ultimately losses. Although the Jags will be encouraged by the potential Blake has shown, the mistakes, unnecessary throws and crippling pick-6’s need to be eradicated. This Sunday, Bortles will lead his team out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley, under the spotlight of 80,000 fans (of which I’ll be one) and have an opportunity to shine in as close as he’ll get to a primetime game this season (discounting the obligatory Thursday night divisional matchup in week 16. Against a Cowboys defence that has been decimated by injuries and yet over performed, Bortles will hopefully embrace the spirit of the crowd and deliver a knockout blow to Jerry Jones’ dwindling Dallas Cowboys. If a healthy Brandon Weeden is at the helm, Bortles can drive the Jags to their 2nd victory of the season as the Cowboys defence continues to show frailties in a bend-but-don’t-break system that is inching towards breaking with each passing week. Unfortunately, as Romo looks increasingly more likely to lead the Cowboys out in Wembley, The Jags may well slip to a measly, and somewhat harsh, 1-9 record.

Prediction: DAL 24 – 17 JAX. Although Romo will lead the Cowboys to victory on the back of Demarco Murray, the rookie mistakes from Bortles will be greatly reduced and the memories of London won’t quite be as nightmarish as predicted earlier in the season.

Kyle Orton – Chiefs @ Bills

As the disappointing and beleaguered EJ Manuel era came to a swift conclusion, typical journeyman Kyle Orton entered the fray in Buffalo and has led the Bills to a surprisingly impressive 5-3 record, only losing out to the Chargers, Texans and AFC-leading Patriots. Orton has found a favourite target in the extremely talented Sammy Watkins – only amplifying the inability of EJ Manuel. Watkins has been very productive and will continue to open up the field for other targets, Chandler and Woods, providing further evidence the Bills were right to mortgage their future in the explosive rookie. The Chiefs defence has been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks, giving up only 40 points in their last 3 outings. And with the efficient and improving offense led by underrated Smith, the game on Sunday will be a serious test for Buffalo. Orton should, and will, focus on the star of their offense, Watkins, who will have to carry the load and bail out the Bills running game. In the Bills’ biggest test of the season, and biggest opportunity to prove the doubters wrong and solidify themselves as true playoff contenders, Buffalo will unfortunately fall short yet again.

Prediction: KAN 27 – 24 BUF. Although individual performances will be impressive, and Kyle Orton will have another solid outing, Kansas City will be just too strong and edge a tight one in Buffalo.

Micheal Vick – Steelers @ Jets

Michael Vick’s career has looked destined to end on more than one occasion already, however after QB performances even Ryan Leaf would be embarrassed about from the enigma that is Geno Smith, Vick has been gifted another opportunity to lead the Jets out on Sunday. Fortunately for Vick, the Steelers defence has been haemorrhaging points of late and will play a large part in making Michael Vick masquerade as a functional NFL quarterback. With Percy Harvin, an incredible but frustrating talent, and the overrated yet productive Eric Decker, Vick has at least some functional weapons who he will take advantage of. By taking Shazier out of the game, Vick can keep the Jets close in New Jersey, but can he lead Gang Green to an unexpected victory over the high-flying Steelers? I doubt it. Although Ben will not throw for 6 TDs this week, that offense will still put up points. Vick will keep the score respectable but Dick LeBeau will triumph over the Jets QB and New York will succumb to a 9th defeat out of 10.

Prediction: PIT 30 – 24 NYJ. Vick will litter Harvin with targets, fuelling a 100 yd receiving game for the polarising figure on the way to yet another loss in the 2014 season.

Mark Sanchez – Panthers @ Eagles

Mark Sanchez’s career looked all but over as he was ran out of New York chased all the way to Philadelphia by every Jets fan, much to the dismay of the rest of the AFC East. Since then, Sanchez has proved himself a capable QB, playing impressively in preseason and effortlessly defeating Matt Barkley for the backup QB position in Philadelphia. With Nick Foles out for up to 8 weeks, Sanchez has the opportunity to ride the Eagles train to the playoffs and go some way to eradicating the memory of the infamous butt fumble from his career. With Foles’ discouraging first half of the season in the bag, the Eagles are still 5-3 and sit atop the NFC East. If Sanchez could lead the Jets to the AFC Championship game, TWICE, then he is more than capable of leading the Eagles, a team with greater talent, superior coaching and an easier division, to the post season. Sanchez will begin his reign in Philadelphia with a comfortable victory over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers’ front 7 has been among the most disappointing units in the league and if given time, Sanchez will pick apart the defence and begin another QB controversy in Philadelphia.

Prediction: CAR 19 – 28 PHI. In a surprisingly efficient performance, Sanchez will lead the Eagles to victory on the back of 250+ yds, 2 TDs and 0 picks, immersing LeSean McCoy into the offense in a way Foles has struggled to thus far.

Cam Newton – Panthers @ Eagles

This game has both QB’s looking to impress from very different situations. As I mentioned above, Sanchez gets his opportunity due to Foles injury. For Cam it’s a little different, he was showing great promise as a pocket passer earlier in the season after his ankle surgery as he was forced to try and win with his arm. In the last few weeks, his running has come back but his accuracy, in particular on Thursday night football against the Saints was wildly off. This should be a chance for him to improve his passing and also get his yards on the ground. I still think the team comes up short, but Cam will have a solid outing and start to get into a rhythm passing the ball.

Predictions: CAR 19 – 28 PHI. The team will come up short, but Cam will rush for over 40 yeads and Throw for 2 TDs and over 250 yards passing. A bit improvement on recent weeks.

Picks of the Week

Lock of the week: Broncos over Raiders

Shock of the week: Bears over Packers

Bold prediction: SF @ NO will be the lowest scoring game of the weekend

This article was written by Martin Thomson. Martin is from Newcastle, England. In addition to being a huge Newcastle United fan, he experiences much more joy as a diehard fan of the New England Patriots. His articles “Forecast 5” will focus on certainties and surprises to look out for in the week ahead. He hopes to one day meet Tom Brady and give him that High-5 he so desperately wants. Find him on Twitter @martin12tina

OTI Full Slate: Week 10 Preview

A little less emphasis will be put on the game picks this week as intend to break down some of the major plot points of the season and give you my thoughts on the end of year awards. Plus how can I not react to the awesome news that the Wembley games next year will feature a divisional game!

Yes the Jets Vs Dolphins game isn’t maybe the sexist divisional game that could be played, 49ers Seahawks, Packers Bears and Ravens Steelers would all be more intriguing, but it doesn’t sidetrack from the major point here, a divisional game!

These games can always have huge implications on playoff standings and divisional rankings, but the rivalry and bragging rights always mean more to fans. And I hope that many Jets and Dolphins fans turn up to the game and make it an intense atmosphere with booing, shouting, singing and everything else that can be brought on by rivalry.

Also playing back to back games is a real step towards a team in London, but I like many more people still have problems with a team in London, but I absolutely cannot wait until next year. For now though let’s focus on this season and whose stood out.

2014 MVP: Andrew Luck and it isn’t even close. Yes Brady, Manning and the usual suspects can put up a very impressive resume I’m going with Andrew Luck. His offense has exploded this year and yes it is his offense, make shift O-line and a useless run game have forced Pep Hamilton to realise “hey I got a great QB here”.

Offensive Player of the year: Demarco Murray. This man has been exceptional in every game apart from the Cardinals game, were he had Weeden under centre. Golden Tate crossed my mind because his filled in a great void in Detroit but Murray is unstoppable. Antonio Brown gets a mention to.

Defensive Player of the year: JJ Watt and Von Miller tied. I think Watt has dominated this year and has looked like the best NFL player, but Millers come back from ACL surgery and his own dominance has forced him into the conversation and I think they both deserve it.

Coach of the year: Bruce Arians. Anyone remember when we all thought the Cardinals would fall apart due to injury and suspensions. Well even if they finish 12-4 or 11-5 Arians deserves this title for the 2nd time in 3 years.

Now to the Games:

San Francisco 49ers 20 @ New Orleans Saints 23:

Teams who are desperate for the win are always very dangerous and I would caution that even though the Saints are great at home a win is anything but certain. But I think they will win but it’s going to be one hell of a watch.

Atlanta Falcons 30 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10:

This is going to be one hell of a drab game, but if the Falcons win and the Saints lose just remember they will only one game back. Josh McCown won’t make the team any better and if Lovie Smith is there next year I’ll be shocked, because I wouldn’t want him bringing through my next young QB.

Dallas Cowboys 24 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 21:

Wembley may not get the opportunity to see Tony Romo play but the run game should be able to help the Cowboys over the line against the Jags, but they seem to be becoming a frisky team and may just be able to pull out a win.

Pittsburgh Steelers 35 @ New York Jets 17:

The Jets have severely struggled to punch the ball in once they reach the red zone, unlike the very in form opponents. Big Ben and Brown could have another big week and I would definitely start them in your fantasy team.

Tennessee Titans 13 @ Baltimore Ravens 27:

The Titans are doing the right thing by given their rookies as much playing time as they can, a move the Raiders should do as well. But the Ravens need to desperately bounce back in the most competitive division in football. The loss of Jimmy Smith is going to hurt for a long time.

Kansas City Chiefs 20 @ Buffalo Bills 17:

Whoever loses this is most likely not going to be one of the AFC Wildcard teams. The pass rush ability of both teams is going to dictate the game, and Buffalo is going to struggle to win if Sammy Watkins isn’t on the field. I think Kansas has more offensively and wins.

Miami Dolphins 20 @ Detroit Lions 23:

A very underrated game this week, and it features two of the bets D-lines in the NFL. Wake is a beast and Vernon is emerging instead of Dion Jordon. But the Lions are at home which I think gives them the slight edge but the form the Dolphins are in I wouldn’t but it past them.

Denver Broncos 42 @ Oakland Raiders 13:

The Raiders could not be playing the Broncos at a shoddier time, the Broncos are going to play angry, fast and powerful, Miller is going to be hunting and Manning will be slinging. The Raiders have looked so much better recently and might not finish 0-16 but not this week.

St Louis Rams 17 @ Arizona Cardinals 27:

The Rams as mentioned in previous posts are so frisky when playing in division and they have to find a way to win outside it and they can be competitive. But Arizona just keep winning and I love it for so many reasons, and I truly believe they could have won with Palmer in Denver.

New York Giants 12 @ Seattle Seahawks 30:

The Giants aren’t going to score a Touchdown this week, Seattle needs to keep up the pressure on the Cardinals but they looked so inept last week on offense and it has to worry so many fans especially if they have to win on the road in the playoffs.

Chicago Bears 24 @ Green Bay Packers 38:

I do love these games when they come around because Packer fans are so creative in their abuse of the Bears. Important to watch Rodgers hamstring in this game as they can take a while to feel 100% again, but the pass rush of the Bears is so bad I expect him to not do much running.

Carolina Panthers 17 @ Philadelphia Eagles 23:

Sanchez is back and I think his going to do ok because the Panthers can’t stop the run and all he has to do is feed it to McCoy and he should be golden. Like the Falcons the Panthers might expect New Orleans to lose so they’ll still be within a shout of the division.

This OTI Piece was written by David Ironmonger. David hails from London, England. He has been a New Orleans Saints fan since watching them grace the Wembley Stadium Turf. He enjoys many sports, football (our version), cricket, rugby and golf. You can let him know your feedback on Twitter @NFLbritview & you can also view his personal blog NFL Brit View .