Posted on December 1, 2022
The main cast is the same as usual, save for the Cardinals who are on the bye. But the supporting cast is especially star-studded this week.
The Ravens, Dolphins, and Bengals are joining in on the action this week, which should lead to plenty of fun.
This week will also feature some potentially entertaining matchups in the Broncos versus the Ravens and the Seahawks versus the Rams.
The Chiefs will be out for revenge against the Bengals in an AFC Championship Game rematch.
The 49ers take on another potential Super Bowl contender in the Dolphins, and former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel.
And the Chargers and Raiders square off in what should be a high-scoring affair.
Most people believe 13 is an unlucky number but with all these great matchups for the west teams, this week may not be so unlucky.
So, without further ado, here are some quick previews for each of the five matchups featuring west teams this week.
Broncos (3-8-0) at Ravens (7-4-0)
Sunday, December 4
10:00 a.m. PT, CBS
Denver still has arguably the best pass defense in the league, which should challenge Jackson. The Ravens are averaging the seventh-fewest passing yards per game, although they are a bit better when it comes to yards per attempt.
But the Ravens really make their mark in the ground game, though, which should be more successful against the Broncos.
The Ravens average the second-most rushing yards in the league and the Broncos are in the bottom half of the league in rush defense.
Jackson is going to have a ton of pressure on him to carry the offense, especially with just tight end Mark Andrews to provide additional star power.
But he won’t have nearly as much pressure as Russell Wilson, who probably feels the weight of Boulder (the city not the object) on his shoulders right now.
The Baltimore defense has been improving lately, allowing 14.7 points per game over the last three contests. And this week may be even easier for them, going up against the worst-scoring offense in the league.
The Broncos haven’t been able to get much going lately, having scored just 36 points in their three games since the bye week.
Denver has not demonstrated the ability to score enough points to remain in games, and this game against Baltimore probably won’t be the game to finally flip the switch.
Maybe the defense plays out of its mind and this game is a 10-9 Broncos win but against a superstar like Jackson, that will be incredibly difficult.
Seahawks (6-5-0) at Rams (3-8-0)
Sunday, December 4
1:05 p.m. PT, FOX
And now they will be without defensive tackle Aaron Donald, adding him to the long list of injuries this team has suffered.
That will make this week’s matchup with the Seahawks even tougher, which is not something Los Angeles can afford right now.
The Seahawks haven’t been playing their best of late, having lost their last two games, but they still have what it takes to win this game.
Quarterback Geno Smith is continuing his resurgent season and gets to go up against a Los Angeles pass defense that is struggling like the rest of the team.
The one area that the Rams have excelled in is the rush defense, where they are allowing the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game. The Seahawks have a pretty good rushing attack, led by star rookie running back Kenneth Walker, and are averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
The Rams have been virtually the opposite of the Seahawks when it comes to running the ball. They’re behind only the Buccaneers in yards per game and yards per carry, thanks in large part to a struggling offensive line.
That line has also led to them giving up 38 sacks, the third most in the league. Whoever plays quarterback for the Rams—most likely Bryce Perkins again—may actually have some time to throw for once.
Seattle has not had a great pass rush, with outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu being the only viable threat off the edge. That could lead to the Rams putting some points on the board, but it may not be enough to outscore their opponent.
The Seahawks are a potent offense, so unless the Rams can rediscover their defense from last year, it may be a long four quarters of trying to slow down Smith, Walker, and wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
49ers (7-4-0) vs Dolphins (8-3-0)
Sunday, December 4
1:05 p.m. PT, FOX
These two teams have been two of the most exciting squads this year, so the pair facing off should be must-see television.
The 49ers are the best-scoring defense in the NFL, while the Dolphins are the sixth-highest-scoring offense in the league. This is a classic best-against-best type of game, where each side features some of the game’s brightest stars.
The 49ers have stars such as defensive end Nick Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner leading their top-tier unit. While the Dolphins feature star wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, with the emerging quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to run the offense.
That matchup is going to be incredibly tantalizing, but the game will be decided by what happens when those players are on the sidelines.
The 49ers’ offense has been the perfect complement to their elite defense. they have played better recently, no doubt due to the acquisition of running back Christian McCaffrey, but there is still not a ton of pressure on them.
Miami’s defense has similarly flown under the radar but is more than deserving of some of the credit for the team’s great year.
The Dolphins may not have any superstars on defense, but players such as cornerback Xavien Howard and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins are perfectly capable of leading a great unit.
The Dolphins are giving up the 10th-fewest rushing yards per game, so that matchup against McCaffrey could be a pretty good one.
It’s going to take a very well-played game to beat either of these teams, especially with each squad playing well at the moment.
So, whichever team can get more out of its less-heralded side of the ball will probably earn the win, unless one of the many superstars in the matchup has a dominant performance.
Chargers (6-5-0) at Raiders (4-7-0)
Sunday, December 4
1:25 p.m. PT, CBS
Running back Josh Jacobs wasn’t dominating the league yet, wide receiver Davante Adams was adjusting to his new team, and the Chargers’ players were still healthy.
With that being said, some aspects of that previous contest still stand today.
The final score, a 24-19 Los Angeles win, is a pretty good indicator of where those two teams would go from there. It was also a good performance from quarterback Justin Herbert, who spread the ball around to his weapons to great success.
That should once again be the vase this time around. The Raiders have continued to struggle against the pass, giving up the seventh-most yards through the air per game.
The Chargers haven’t necessarily kept up the same pace on offense, but the passing offense has been reliable. Herbert and crew are averaging the sixth-most passing yards per game, though it has not been efficient, just 6.5 yards per attempt.
But the biggest problem for Los Angeles has been the rush defense, where it is allowing the most yards per carry. Luckily for the Chargers, it’s not like they have to go up against an elite ground game or anything this week.
Just kidding, obviously.
The Raiders, thanks to Jacobs and a surprisingly effective offensive line, are gaining 5.2 yards per carry, which is the fourth-best in the league. Also, Jacobs happens to be the league’s leading rusher, which is pretty impressive.
But if the Chargers are able to put up some points, which they should do, then this game may come down to what the Raiders are capable of through the air.
Quarterback Derek Carr has had an up-and-down season but at least he has Adams to throw to. He is in the top four in both receiving yards and touchdowns, so throwing the ball to him seems to be working.
The Chargers are banged up in the secondary and are allowing touchdowns at the fifth-highest rate.
The avenue for success is there for the Raiders, they just need to take advantage of it, which is harder said than done against a very competent Chargers team.
Chiefs (9-2-0) at Bengals (7-4-0)
Sunday, December 4
1:25 p.m. PT, CBS
It certainly doesn’t seem like that will happen to Kansas City this time around, considering quarterback Patrick Mahomes is playing the sport better than anyone on the planet.
The Chiefs’ offense is appropriately praised as one of the most dominant units in the league, but the Bengals’ defense may actually be up to the task this week.
Cincinnati is allowing the eighth-fewest passing yards per attempt and is giving up touchdowns at the third-worst rate in the league.
Even without cornerback Chidobie Awuzie, who was playing great before a season-ending injury, the Bengals have been great on that side of the ball.
But once again the Bengals’ defense will not be the main story, as it will be all about whether the offense can keep up with the Chiefs.
It is an intriguing story for sure, as the Bengals can at least match up with their opponent in terms of star power.
Quarterback Joe Burrow is clearly one of the stars of the future who is capable of going toe-to-toe with Mahomes, and has already beaten him in a huge game.
But Burrow can’t do it alone. Fortunately for him, he should be getting wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and running back Joe Mixon back this week, giving him and wide receiver Tee Higgins more help.
The Chiefs’ defense also shouldn’t be overlooked, although it has, similarly to the Bengals’ defense.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones deserves a ton of credit and might be the Chiefs’ second-best player, even though tight end Travis Kelce has been amazing as well.
It may not always should up in the statistics, but Kansas City’s defense has improved quite a bit. It is allowing 22.1 points per game, which is the 17th-most in the league, and is even better when it comes to yards per play, where it is allowing the 20th-most.
This week’s matchup against a very dangerous, and healthy, Bengals team will be a good indicator of just how good the Chiefs are.
Conversely, if the Bengals can stick around in this one, it will suggest they are once again a team capable of making some noise in the postseason.
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