sundays are for football
January 12, 2020

Sunday's pair of divisional round clashes features four of the game's best quarterbacks, offering an exciting look at a changing of the guard at the position.

The early game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on CBS at 3:05 p.m. E.T. will pit two of the brightest young stars in the league against each other. Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes already has an MVP award under his belt, and the prolific passer will now try to add a Super Bowl trophy to his collection. He'll have to go through Houston's Deshaun Watson first, though. Watson shrugged off a rough start to his postseason career last year with an iconic performance a week ago in a come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills in the wild card round. Watson and Mahomes figure to take over as two of the league's first-rate players for a long time and, if they stay healthy, there's a good chance this won't be the last time they face each other in the playoffs.

That's where the other quarterback matchup comes in. This one consists of two veterans who long ago established themselves as premier players and likely Hall of Famers. The Seattle Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson, will travel to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to take on the Packers and Aaron Rodgers at 6:40 p.m. E.T. on Fox. This isn't the first rodeo for Wilson and Rodgers, both of whom have numerous playoff appearances and a Super Bowl ring each. They've faced off against each other in the postseason before, as well, when the Seahawks prevailed in overtime to win the NFC championship.

Sunday, in other words, has the best of both worlds. If you want a look into the future of the league, Watson and Mahomes have you covered. If you want to see some familiar faces who know what it takes to win in the postseason, Wilson and Rodgers are back once again. Tim O'Donnell

December 29, 2019

Week 17 is finally here, and the NFL playoff picture will be set by the end of the day. In the meantime, there's two spots up for grabs — the No. 4 seed in the NFC and the sixth and final wild card spot in the AFC. Here's how those could be filled.

The NFC is a little easier to figure out — if the Philadelphia Eagles win, they're in. Even if they're upset at home by the New York Giants, they can still clinch the NFC East with a Dallas Cowboys loss. But if the Cowboys win, and Philadelphia loses, Dallas will sneak into the field instead.

The AFC, on the other hand, could turn into a doozy if the Tennessee Titans can't beat the Houston Texans. If Tennessee does lose, they can still get in with losses by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts.

The simplest way Pittsburgh can lock up the spot is if they beat the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee falls in Houston. But they can also — try to keep track — get in despite a loss if Tennessee and the Oakland Raiders both lose and the Colts win, or if the Colts and Raiders both win coupled with losses by the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, and New England Patriots. Go figure.

Oakland is the only other team that has a shot at the No. 6 seed, but their path is even more complex than Pittsburgh's. John Gruden's team will need a win, losses by the Titans and Steelers, as well as a Colts win, and a loss by at least one of the following teams: the Bears, Lions, Chargers, or Patriots.

On second thought...it's probably easiest to just let the games play out and check the standings afterward. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

December 22, 2019

The NFL only has two playoff spots remaining. One is the AFC's No. 6 seed which will be decided mostly by a two-way battle between the 8-6 Pittsburgh Steelers and 8-6 Tennessee Titans, though the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders (both 6-8) are still lurking around. The final spot in the NFC, meanwhile, comes down to two old school rivals, The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.

Both teams are 7-7 and have had relatively disappointing seasons. But thanks to a less-than-stellar division, they each still have a shot to lay claim to the NFC East and get a home playoff game against a superior team come Wild Card weekend in January. If Dallas pulls out Sunday's victory, they'll clinch the division, while Philadelphia would still have to win next week even if they win Sunday. But that's against the lowly Giants, so the Eagles-Cowboys clash sure feels like a winner-take-all game.

The Eagles are only two years removed from a Super Bowl Championship and boast a talented roster, but they've struggled against the Cowboys of late. Dallas beat Philadelphia twice last season, winning the division by just one game, and they handled them easily earlier this year in a 37-10 victory in Dallas. Maybe quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles will bounce back behind their home crowd, but either way their playoffs hope are tied to whether they can shed their issues against Dallas. The Eagles and Cowboys will square off in Philadelphia at 4:25 p.m. on Fox. Tim O'Donnell

December 15, 2019

The Tennessee Titans — yes, you heard that right — are the hottest team in football that doesn't employ Lamar Jackson at quarterback. Despite a 2-4 start to the season, the team has a shot to establish itself as the team to beat in the AFC South with a win over their division rival, the Houston Texans on Sunday. But it may be time to start wondering if the Titans have the legs to make an even deeper run come January as they seek their fifth straight victory.

First off, though, the Texans should not be taken lightly (The Ringer pegged this game as "the best football of the day"). Sure, Houston is coming off a surprising blowout loss to the out-of-contention Denver Broncos, but they're just two weeks removed from handling the New England Patriots, and sit atop the division alongside Tennessee at 8-5. So the Titans have a long way to go before they start thinking about the postseason.

But a win might prove that the performances during the win-streak from Tennessee's entire roster and especially quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose insertion into the starting lineup was the spark the team needed, haven't been flukes. Like a few other playoff contenders, the Titans haven't beaten too many teams of note this year. But in recent weeks they did knock off the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs, as well as the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders both of whom not too long ago looked like they could sneak into the postseason. This team, it seems, is for real, and it might be time to pay attention. The Titans and Texans will square off at 1 p.m. E.T. on CBS. Tim O'Donnell

December 8, 2019

Only four weeks remain in the 2019 NFL regular season, and Sunday's slate of games is a doozy.

It'll be a particularly telling week for the AFC East, where the New England Patriots might actually have a real challenger for the division crown for the first time in what seems like forever – and people are excited.

New England, behind quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichik, has won the last 10 division titles, but the upstart 9-3 Buffalo Bills, who were mostly an afterthought before the season, are right there.

Here's the thing, though: Neither team has done much against quality opponents this year, aside from New England's hardfought 16-10 victory in Buffalo way back in Week 3. New England is 10-2, but they were beat convincingly in their two most challenging games this year — road matchups with the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans — which has led to questions about whether the Brady-Belichik partnership might be winding down.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has only beat one team that currently has a winning record, and it's fair to say that the Tennessee Titans were nowhere near as good as they are now when that happened.

Both teams will be up against a major test Sunday with a chance to buck the trend. New England will host the Kansas City Chiefs and reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, while the Bills have the luxury of playing the Baltimore Ravens, the hottest team in the league thanks to potential 2019 MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Per The Ringer, New England will need its statistically-impressive defense to play like it has against its non-Houston and Baltimore opponents, while Buffalo will need its improving quarterback Josh Allen to step up against Jackson. Tim O'Donnell

December 1, 2019

Week 13 of the NFL season showcases some crucial intra-division matchups, and a possible Super Bowl preview. Here are four games to watch:

Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennesee Titans, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — Tennessee has transformed since Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback. The veteran is finally living up to his potential, and he's got the 6-5 Titans looking like a playoff contender. The 6-5 Colts are coming off a tough division loss to the Houston Texans, but they'll look to bounce back against their other AFC South rivals.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — These AFC North rivals played just two weeks ago, and, well, it wasn't pretty. Both teams have said the drama won't carry over from that game, and many of the players involved in the previous kerfuffle are suspended for this week's festivities. Regardless, this is a big game for two wild card contenders. Pittsburgh's defense will need to continue its stellar play, since the offense is in shambles.

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on Fox — This rematch of the 2013 Super Bowl, when Baltimore edged the Niners, could also be a sign of things to come. The 9-2 Ravens are probably the best team in the league right now behind their quarterback — and MVP frontrunner — Lamar Jackson, who is worth watching no matter the opponent. But San Francisco is an elite team, as well. These two could very well see each other again in February.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. E.T. on CBS — The 6-5 Raiders received a dose of reality last week when they were trounced by the lowly (but improving) New York Jets. Still, they only trail the AFC West-leading Chiefs by one game. It's been a sloppy season for the 7-4 Chiefs, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes is back in full gear after an injury, so there's every reason to believe they'll cement their playoff position soon enough. A win Sunday would go a long way. Tim O'Donnell

November 24, 2019

Week 12 in the NFL features a few tantalizing potential postseason matchups. Here are four games to watch Sunday:

Buffalo Bills vs. Denver Broncos, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — This game doesn't jump out at you on paper, but it's a big one for the playoff-hopeful Bills. After this, they've got four straight games against playoff-caliber teams before closing out the season against the New York Jets. Buffalo could obviously win at least a couple of those games, but they could also be looking at a late season collapse if they don't take care of business against Denver at home. The Broncos, while 3-7, have been competitive in most of their games, so it won't be an easy win for the Bills.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Seattle Seahawks, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on Fox — The Eagles can't quite get a run going, but they continue to hang around. Defeating a team as talented as the Seahawks would be a huge boost as they chase the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. Seattle, meanwhile, will look to keep pace with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. They're also very much in the running for homefield advantage.

New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. E.T. on Fox — The Patriots are trying to pick up their second straight win over a team from the NFC East in the hopes of improving to 10-1. Dallas, behind the play of quarterback Dak Prescott, is seeking a signature win on the road in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which would also keep them ahead of the Eagles for the time being.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m. E.T. on NBC — Sunday night's primetime game features two of the best teams in the NFC. San Francisco continues to roll, while Green Bay is coming off a loss and another iffy performance in which they scraped out a win. But they're still one of the teams to beat in a loaded conference. This could be a thriller. Tim O'Donnell

November 17, 2019

Hopefully most of Sunday's NFL drama stems from tightly contested games, rather than any dangerous extracurricular activities after the whistle. Here are four Week 11 games to watch.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — This might be one of the best games of the season let alone this week. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has entered the MVP conversation, but Houston's signal caller DeShaun Watson has also emerged as one of the game's best players. On paper, this one projects to be a joy to watch as two of the game's brightest young stars go at it for the 7-2 Ravens and 6-3 Texans.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — These two division rivals will face off with the playoffs on their minds and their quarterbacks returning to the field. Jacksonville will get prized free agent acquisition Nick Foles back after he suffered a broken collar bone in the first game of the season. Jacoby Brissett will slot back in under center for Indianapolis after missing last week's humbling loss to the Miami Dolphins. The 4-5 Jaguars and 5-4 Colts are two talented teams that have had up-and-down seasons so far, so this game could turn the tide for either.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m. E.T. on CBS — The Patriots will look to avenge their first loss of the season against Baltimore two weeks ago while simultaneously paying the Eagles back for beating them in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles, meanwhile, are seeking their third straight win as they look to duplicate last year's late season surge.

Los Angeles vs. Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m. E.T. on NBC — The primetime game features two teams suffering through disappointing seasons. But there's a ray of hope for each side, as they aim to repeat their playoff runs from last season. After four straight losses, the 4-5 Bears finally got a win against the Detroit Lions last week, while the 5-4 Rams are coming off a loss where they were stifled by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Tim O'Donnell

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