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Six games - the best & worst this weekend

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Houston Texans v New York Giants

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

So, what’s this article about?

In a weekend where the Jets - Browns game was the most-watched Thursday night game since 2015, there seems to be a dearth of really great matchups, but looks can be deceiving. Who would’ve thought that a game involving the Browns, going into the game 1-33-1 since the start of the 2016 season, would be so much fun to watch?

Here’s the deal... I’ll give you six games below. Each of the six — like the Jets vs Browns game — has the potential to be a real stinker... or a surprising treat. In the comments section, nominate the BEST game of the group and the WORST game of the group, and — of course — tell us why.

NY Giants v Houston Texans

Unless we see the third tie of the season here in Week 3, one of these teams will fall to 0 - 3. This offseason, both teams had a lot of people picking them as division winners and playoff contenders, and each team had a significant number of doubters. (Personally, I had the Giants pegged as a sub-.500 club and I picked the Texans to win their division). This is a critical game for both teams in terms of keeping the season and any real playoff hopes alive (yes, I know about the Chargers). Is this just a turd of a game between two teams that suck that no one can polish, or is it a drama-filled contest where the winner will have the opportunity to turn its season around?

Injury Report:

The Giants ruled out CB Eli Apple (groin) and LB Olivier Vernon (ankle).

CB Kayvon Webster (Achilles) is out for the Texans. WR Sammie Coates (hamstring), WR Keke Coutee (hamstring) and TE Jordan Thomas (hip) are considered questionable to play this Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers (MNF)

The Steelers were the almost automatic offseason favorite to win the NFC North for fans and journalists who tend to just project last year into this year.

Meanwhile, with Ryan Fitzpatrick opening the season in place of the suspended Jameis Winston, not much was expected of the Bucs.

At the moment, Tampa bay is one of only two undefeated NFC teams, and they lead the division (with the Saints & Falcons playing each other this week). Pittsbugh is dead last in the AFC North. Lev Bell hasn’t shown up to play, Antonio Brown was disciplined for skipping practice.

Will we see Ryan Fitzpatrick embarrass Big Ben’s team? Will the Steelers finally show up to play a game in 2018? Is this going to be a slugfest between two talented teams; a lopsided win when the reality sinks in that either Fitzmagic really isn’t this good, or the Steelers really are this bad; or will it be a stinker of a game when we realize that this is just a contest between two bad teams?

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are winless. The only reason that the Cowboys aren’t is that somebody had to win last week’s game against the Giants. At the end of this game, these two teams will have a combined record of 2-4.

If the Cowboys lose this game, they’ll still be ahead of the Giants, but if the Seahawks lose, they’ll remain tied with the Cardinals as winless teams in the basement of the NFC West (or take over the basement if Arizona can squeeze out a victory against the Bears).

Dallas is currently in a three-way tie for the lead in the NFC East, so their season is very much alive, and they have the chance to go to Seattle and put the Seahawks playoff hopes to rest along with all memory of the Legion of Boom.

Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was at practice Friday but did not participate. Coach Pete Carroll was vague in answering questions about Thomas and said “we’ll see” when asked if Thomas would play Sunday. “He’s got some other stuff going on we’re working on,” Carroll said. “It’s personal in nature. That’s why I’m not talking about it.”

Is there enough hope left that Russell Wilson can rally his team to a home victory and push a mud-pie into the face of the visiting Cowboys to make this an interesting game for Redskins fans who love to see Dallas lose, or is Pete Carroll’s team — who have lost two road games to the Broncos and Bears — simply made up of traffic cones and crash dummies who are no-hopers ready to roll over for Jason Garrett’s silver and blue squad?

Injury report:

Cowboys DT Maliek Collins (knee) and C Travis Frederick (illness) will be out this Sunday. WR Cole Beasley (ankle), LB Sean Lee (hamstring) and S Xavier Woods (hamstring) all drew questionable tags.

WR Doug Baldwin (knee), G Ethan Pocic (ankle) and LB K.J. Wright (knee) have been ruled out by the Seahawks. C Justin Britt (shoulder) and LB Mychal Kendricks (ankle) will be game-time decisions after being listed as questionable.

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles

The question here is: How good are the Bengals?

If the 2-0 Bengals are the powerhouse of the AFC North, then maybe the Colts are a lot better then anyone thinks. If they are, then this could be a great game. If they aren’t, then it could be a massacre, which would have the unfortunate effect of wounding the pride of the Redskins and their fans.

Of course, some of the drama in this game will revolve around the return of Carson Wentz to the role of starting quarterback for the Eagles. Does that, alone, make this a watchable game, even if the Colts prove to be an unworthy adversary?

If the Eagles blow these guys off the field, I don’t wanna see that, but if they can give Philly the treatment that the Eagles got from Tampa Bay last week, then it could be a lot of fun to watch.

Injury report:

The Colts had a big group of players ruled out on Friday. DT Denico Autry (ankle), T Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), TE Jack Doyle (hip), RB Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring), DT Hassan Ridgeway (calf) and CB Quincy Wilson (concussion) will all miss the trip to Philly. S Clayton Geathers (knee, elbow) and CB Chris Milton (concussion) are questionable.

Running backs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) are out and Corey Clement (quad) is questionable, so the Eagles have some injury issues in their backfield. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (groin), WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and T Jason Peters (quad) are also questionable, although Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday that Jeffery has yet to be cleared.

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars

The Titans lost to Miami by a touchdown in Week 1 and beat the Texans by a field goal in Week 2. Miami is 2-0 and leading the AFC East; Houston is 0-2 and firmly in control of the basement in the AFC South. What kind of team is Tennessee?

Jacksonville just came off a hard-fought and emotional victory against the Patriots after playing the Giants closer than they should have in Week 1. Jacksonville has a fearsome defense, but this is a division game, which means that all bets are off. The Titans swept the Jaguars last season — a season in which Jax went to the AFC championship game (and nearly won). The Titans actually lead the series all-time 26-20.

Will this be a classic division battle between two fairly evenly matched division rivals, or will the Titans simply be a bump in the road as the Jaguars make their inexorable march to the superbowl in February? Leonard Fournette and Jalen Ramsey are both fighting injuries and listed as questionable to play.

Injury report:

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he’ll make a call in the next 24 hours about QB Marcus Mariota (right elbow).T Jack Conklin (knee), LB Kamalei Correa (back) and S Kendrick Lewis (foot) are also questionable while RB David Fluellen (groin) and T Dennis Kelly (illness) are out for the Titans.

G A.J. Cann (triceps), RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring), CB D.J. Hayden (toe), CB Jalen Ramsey (ankle) and RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle) have been listed as questionable this week.

Los Angeles Chargers v Los Angeles Rams

The Chargers lost a shootout to the division rival Chiefs in Week 1 when Mahomes tossed 4 touchdowns, then pushed aside the Bills in Buffalo last week.

In the Battle for Los Angeles, do the Chargers have what it takes to give the Rams their first loss of the season? After all, while the Rams are undefeated, their two wins have come against two winless teams — the Raiders and the Cardinals. Yes, the Rams outscored their opponents 67-13, but that was against two new head coaches, one of whom had been out of football for the past decade, and has a team full of guys who were playing when he last coached.

Normally, I’d say this game has “upset” written all over it, but with an injured Joey Bosa ruled out of the game, the Chargers’ chances are reduced — maybe to nil. Hell, maybe this will be the blowout that Rams fans seem to expect.

Injury report:

T Joe Barksdale (knee) and DE Joey Bosa (foot) will miss the battle for Los Angeles. WR Travis Benjamin (foot), TE Antonio Gates (illness) and RB Derek Watt (thumb) are all listed as questionable.

Rams K Greg Zuerlein (groin) is out and LB Mark Barron (ankle) is unlikely to play given his doubtful tag.

With the 49ers a likely loser to the Chiefs this week, Sean McVay’s team has the opportunity to establish a stranglehold on the NFC West here in Week 3. Is there any chance that they falter against the lighning bolts?


From your perspective, which of the 6 games listed do you expect will be the BEST game of the weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Giants - Texans
    (4 votes)
  • 34%
    Steelers - Buccaneers
    (87 votes)
  • 8%
    Cowboys - Seahawks
    (21 votes)
  • 15%
    Colts - Eagles
    (38 votes)
  • 5%
    Titans - Jaguars
    (14 votes)
  • 34%
    Chargers - Rams
    (86 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now


From your perspective, which of the 6 games listed do you expect will be the WORST game of the weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Giants - Texans
    (122 votes)
  • 2%
    Steelers - Buccaneers
    (5 votes)
  • 21%
    Cowboys - Seahawks
    (47 votes)
  • 4%
    Colts - Eagles
    (9 votes)
  • 12%
    Titans - Jaguars
    (27 votes)
  • 5%
    Chargers - Rams
    (13 votes)
223 votes total Vote Now