The National Football League is the primary focus this weekend with six games I will be watching closely. It is also the semi-finals weekend in Fantasy Football, so ratings should be high throughout not only the United States, but Canada as well.
Saturday—Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets—Sportsnet—5:30pm PT—This game means nothing for the 4-9 Jets but everything for the 8-5 Dolphins. However it is Miami that will be entering the game with a major question mark offensively. That is because Ryan Tannehill, who is out with a knee injury, will be replaced by backup Matt Moore of Van Nuys, California. Moore was the Dolphins starting quarterback in 2011, but since then has only had 35 pass attempts over the last five seasons.
Saturday—Tampa Bay Lightning @ Edmonton Oilers—CBC—7pm PT—The Edmonton Oilers might have gotten the Tampa Bay Lightning at just the right time. The Bolts currently have forwards Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov out of their lineup. However the Tampa Bay offense was prolific against Calgary on Wednesday and beat the Flames 6-3.
Sunday—Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears—FOX—10am PT—In this NFC North Division battle, it appears the 7-6 Packers got the 3-10 Chicago Bears at just the right time. The Packers have won three straight and have looked dominant in wins over Philadelphia, Houston and Seattle. However this could be a trap game for Green Bay. That is because earlier this season on Halloween, the Minnesota Vikings came into Chicago with a 5-1 record and lost convincingly to the Bears, (who were 1-6 at the time), by a score of 20-10.
Sunday—Detroit Lions @ New York Giants—FOX—10am PT—Two teams with identical 9-4 records will be playing this weekend at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The question right now in New York is how strong is the Giants defense and can they take New York deep into the playoffs? The strides the Giants have made when they don’t have the football is significant. Last season they had the second worst defense in the NFC, and they are now the fourth best in the conference. Last week the Giants defense was the only reason why they upset Dallas 10-7.
Sunday—New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos—CBS—1pm PT—The New England Patriots will try to move one step closer to the top seed in the AFC. At 11-2, they have a one game lead over the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots will play wide receiver Michael Floyd, who they claimed off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.
Sunday—San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons—TSN—1pm PT—The big news in Atlanta is that wide receiver Julio Jones will miss his second straight game because of turf toe. That will mean that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will probably use Taylor Gabriel more. Gabriel led the Falcons with 82 yards receiving in their 42-14 romp over the Los Angeles Rams last week in southern California.
Sunday—Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys—NBC—5:30pm PT—Five weeks ago the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season appeared to be done. Now they have won five straight games and at 8-5 are in a playoff spot in the NFC. The Cowboys will be looking to bounce back after a shaky offensive loss to the New York Giants. If rookie quarterback Dak Prescott struggles again this week, it won’t be long before Tony Romo returns to the lineup.