What a wild week of the NFL Season. We had six teams on a bye, so we knew it was going to be tough. But we got some big performances, big upsets and some crucial injuries. All of it coming during the most vital week of the fantasy season. So, you might be looking for a miracle tonight to save your playoff push. Can the Patriots and Cardinals provide it? I’ll look at your chances below. For now, let’s consider what we learned on Sunday.
The Titans are in trouble
This week wasn’t great for the Tennessee Titans. Coming off back-to-back losses to playoff contenders, the Titans parted ways with their General Manager, Jon Robinson. It was an indication the team isn’t happy with where they are in the AFC landscape. They’re likely even more upset after a 36-22 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Jaguars are still alive for the playoffs, despite sitting at 5-8. They don’t have an easy closing schedule, but neither do the Titans. The Titans have lost three straight and have the Chargers and Cowboys in the next three weeks before ending the season with the Jaguars. With a couple timely wins, the Jaguars could set up an epic Week 18 battle with the Titans for the AFC South crown. The Titans need to be better if they want to make the playoffs once again.
The Lions are making things interesting
The Detroit Lions got off to an ice-cold start. They were scoring on offense but couldn’t stop a stiff breeze on defense. Somewhere along the way, despite trading star tight end T.J. Hockenson, Dan Campbell’s squad turned it around. The Lions hosted the Vikings and came away with an impressive 34-23 win. They kept the Vikings from clinching the NFC North, though I think that’s just a matter of time. More importantly, the Lions moved to 6-7 on the season and are in position to make a huge run toward the playoffs. The Lions have the Jets, Panthers, Bears and Packers to close the season. That isn’t an easy stretch, but it’s possible. Especially with the Lions getting healthy on offense and starting to put it together on defense. We’re seeing that fire and fight we got this summer on Hard Knocks, setting up the Lions to be a Cinderella story this season.
We shouldn’t worry about Brock Purdy
Sure, when Mr. Irrelevant ends up having to start a meaningful football game, it’s fair to wonder how it’s going to turn out. Still, that’s where the 49ers were sitting after Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were lost of the year due to injury. And in Purdy’s first start, he got to face the Greatest of All Time in Tom Brady. Turns out, it was no problem. Purdy looked solid, scoring as a runner and passer as the 49ers rolled to the win, moving to 9-4 on the season. The 49ers close with the Seahawks, Commanders, Raiders and Cardinals, and it’s gone from wondering if Purdy can hold up to wondering if the 49ers can catch the Minnesota Vikings. The loss of Deebo Samuel is a blow, but Purdy looks like he’s going to be just fine.
And now, on to Monday Night Football!
New England Patriots (6-6) at Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
Both of these teams were in the playoffs in 2021. It looks like that won’t happen this year. In fact, it’s possible neither makes the playoffs. The Cardinals typically start hot and fade. This year, they couldn’t get it going. The Patriots, meanwhile, have been up-and-down with a young offense. The team needs to pile up some wins the last five weeks to get into the AFC playoff field. That could begin Monday night.
For fantasy purposes, Mac Jones was a mid-tier QB2 for me this week, especially with everyone on a bye. Despite that, I’m not trusting any of his receivers. I do like Rhamondre Stevenson as a solid RB2, especially with Damien Harris declared out. For the Cardinals, Kyler Murray has fringe QB1 potential. James Conner is a solid RB2, while I like DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown as receiver starts. Those two might be your best bet if you need a Monday night miracle.
The Pick: Patriots
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.