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Many would say that one of the most difficult jobs in the entirety of sports is being a quarterback in the National Football League. But in 2021, being an NFL power rankings columnist might seriously be the tougher position. And we are only sort of kidding.
Every single week, top teams lay an egg against inferior opponents, while teams everyone assumes to be bad suddenly look like a Super Bowl threat. This parity has allowed for weird things to happen — like every single team in the NFC (except the Lions... sorry Lions fans) being legitimately in the playoff race. However, the inconsistency also makes it an absolute nightmare to rank the teams 1-through-32.
In Week 10, the Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams were the contenders to fall flat. It's anyone's guess who the victims will be in Week 11, but rest assured, there will be at least one head-scratching score come Sunday. It's just been that kind of year.
Here is everything you need to know about the best games headed your way this weekend:
Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1:00PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Bills -7.0
Over/Under Total: 49.5
Moneyline: Colts (+240), Bills (-290)
The Buffalo Bills had one of the most puzzling losses of the 2021 NFL campaign just two weeks ago when they lost 9-6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Week 10, they were looking for a bounce-back win, and they got one and then some.
Granted, it was against the New York Jets, but the Bills dominated from start to finish for a 45-17 victory.
At 6-3, the Bills are sitting in first place in the AFC East, but on their heels is a familiar foe, as the New England Patriots are 6-4 and a legitimate threat to take the division crown.
Buffalo is now scoring 31.1 points per game this season, good for second-most in the league, while their defence is giving up a league-low 15 per contest. They also boast an NFL-best plus-14 turnover differential, which always bodes well come playoff time.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 14, 2021
Their opponent on Sunday is no slouch at forcing turnovers either, as the Indianapolis Colts currently have a plus-11 turnover differential, trailing only the Bills.
But while the Bills sit 6-3 and at the top of their division, the Colts' turnover fortune hasn't led to quite the same success in the win column. Indy currently sits 5-5, three wins behind the AFC South-leading Titans and on the outside looking in of the AFC wildcard race.
Luckily, the Colts have found their key to success on the offensive side of the ball, and he goes by the name of Jonathan Taylor. The second-year back has been on a tear as of late, and is now the league's leading rusher, putting up 937 yards over the first 10 games. During Taylor's hot streak, the Colts have won four of their past five games and catapulted themselves right back into the playoff picture.
Carson Wentz has been middling, but with Taylor playing the way he has been, and the defence forcing turnovers, he hasn't had to do anything special for his team to win games.
Wentz went just 22-of-34 for 180 yards last week against the Jaguars and will need to be much better against a stingy Bills' defence if the Colts want to have any chance at finally climbing above .500.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1:00PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Packers -2.5
Over/Under Total: 49.5
Moneyline: Packers (-140), Vikings (+120)
In a year of teams showing their inconsistencies on a weekly basis, the Green Bay Packers may be the one team that has consistently looked the part — as long as you forget about Week 1.
Their only loss over their past nine games was when their backup quarterback started against the Kansas City Chiefs.
When Aaron Rodgers is under centre and not busy making controversial vaccination statements, the Packers may just be the most complete team in the NFL. Especially with the defence playing the way it has been over the past month.
Last week, they shut out Russell Wilson for the first time in his entire career. The previous two weeks, they stymied Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes. Not bad a bad track record.
The @Packers defense faced Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson over the past three weeks.
Their *combined* stats: 62-of-110 (56.3%), 601 yards, 1 total TD, 4 INT.
That's championship level play.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 15, 2021
The scary thing is, the Packers have the potential to get even better. They are close to welcoming back All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari, and could also welcome back Za'Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander at some point this season, who are arguably their two best defensive players.
Thankfully for the Vikings, the two defensive stars won't be back for the big divisional matchup on Sunday.
At 4-5, Minnesota might very well have a claim to the most up-and-down season of the year thus far. Every single one of their games this season has seemed to come down to the final few minutes and has most likely taken years off of every Vikings fan's life.
Unfortunately for the Minnesota faithful, many more hectic Sundays await, and they are about to get even more stressful. The nitty-gritty of the NFL playoff race is about to begin, and the Vikings are smack dab in the middle of it.
Sitting just a half-game out of a wild card spot, the Vikings could use a win against Rodgers and the Packers. And if they are going to pull it off, they will need their superstar Justin Jefferson to keep up his strong play. Jefferson had nine catches for 143 yards in their win over the Chargers in Week 10 and is proving himself as one of the top receiving threats in the entire league in just his second year.
The Vikings need a statement win badly, but nothing comes easy against Rodgers and the Packers, as most Minnesota fans know oh too well.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, Nov. 21 at 4:25PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Chiefs -2.0
Over/Under Total: 56.0
Moneyline: Cowboys (+110), Chiefs (-130)
Are the Chiefs finally back?
They sure looked like it in Week 10's installment of Sunday Night Football. Patrick Mahomes was slinging it all over the field to the tune of 406 yards and five touchdowns. Three different players had over 80 yards receiving, and the Chiefs put up 41 points against the Raiders.
Almost more impressively, the Chiefs' defence has looked average over the past few weeks. A far cry from where they were at the beginning of the season.
And for all the hoopla over the demise of Kansas City that has been circulating across the league this season, the Chiefs are 6-4 and in sole possession of first in the AFC West.
After half of a season where the Chiefs defense was called the worst in football and the Chiefs offense had its worst month since Mahomes was drafted, here’s the complete list of AFC teams that have more wins than the Chiefs:
— nick wright (@getnickwright) November 15, 2021
Of course, one game isn't enough to say that the dominant Chiefs we have grown accustomed to over the past few years are officially back, but it was a step in the right direction.
What might actually prove it, would be a win against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.
After getting crushed by the Broncos in Week 9, Dallas came out with something to prove against the Falcons in Week 10. Prescott and company were flawless on offence, while the defence picked off Matt Ryan twice.
The Cowboys looked the part of the number one scoring offence in the league, demonstrating a completely balanced attack spread out across their multitude of weapons.
Ezekiel Elliott pounded in two touchdowns, while WR CeeDee Lamb added two through the air. Dallas also welcomed back receiver Michael Gallup who chipped in three catches for 42 yards in his first game back since Week 1.
After winning just seven games all of last season, the Cowboys now sit in the driver's seat of the NFC East and have their sights set on the number-one seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
But there would be no better spot for the Chiefs to officially put the league back on notice than on Sunday afternoon against America's team. So sorry, Jerry, this one won't come easy.
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