Big games aplenty this weekend. Stars need to shine. Desperation is setting in with certain teams and players. Some guys must start living up to their reputations before 2014 is labeled a waste.
Many need it this weekend. But who needs it more?
I'm glad you asked ...
1) Who needs a win more: Houston or Pittsburgh?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a mess. They're 3-3, but it feels much worse than that, fresh off a 31-10 pasting at the hands of the Cleveland Browns. Their lack of talent has been exposed. The coaching has been poor, with the same mistakes being repeated. And a home game isn't the guaranteed remedy. Remember when the immortal Mike Glennon marched Tampa Bay down the field for a Buccaneers win in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago? To stress the point, yes, I'm referring to the one-winBuccaneers.
I think Houston is the superior team, despite having Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. This is a group that has a legit chance to win eight games and compete (or faux-compete) for a wild-card slot.
Pittsburgh, as I predicted throughout the offseason, is a last-place team in the AFC North.
2) Who needs a breakout game more: Eddie Lacy or Alfred Morris?
Meanwhile, when it comes to Morris, we just haven't seen the dominant back that he was as a rookie two years ago. You know, the guy who finished second in the NFL with 1,613 yards rushing. And he was more consistent last fall, piling up a respectable yardage total of 1,275. Right now, he's on pace to barely crack 1,000 yards, averaging a career-low 3.98 yards per carry.
3) Who needs a road win more: Atlanta or New Orleans?
New Orleans, though, still has hope. As I wrote a couple of Mondays ago, I still anticipate that the flawed Saints will win the division. And whether Jimmy Graham is able to play or not, New Orleans will take the field Sunday against the 4-2 Lions as the better team. Or, at least, they should be. But time is running out. The first team to nine wins could take the NFC South. This game, which could get New Orleans back to .500, looms incredibly large for Drew Brees and Co. The Saints need to get rolling heading into this five-game stretch:
4) Who needs more help from above: Chicago or Seattle?
It's Week 7, and the Seattle Seahawks are in third place in the very tough NFC West. The Seahawks' O-line hasn't been stellar by any stretch of the imagination. Percy Harvin's been a non-factor on offense (see: six touches for negative-1 yard last week). Dallas just shoved around Seattle's vaunted defense.
Seattle is visiting the Rams in St. Louis, which means Seattle will beat the Rams in St. Louis. The Seahawks' defense will eat Austin Davis for lunch. Now, on the surface, Arizona's trip to Oakland looks like a game in which the Cardinals will beat up on the Raiders. But Derek Carr and Co. nearly knocked off the Chargers last week. And San Francisco must go on the road to Denver for a possible Super Bowl preview Sunday night. I think Colin Kaepernick and his weapons match up very well with the Broncos, but this is obviously a tough assignment.
5) Who needs elite play from their QB in S.D. more: Chargers or Chiefs?
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I think Kansas City is destined to finish with seven or eight wins. If they are going to prove me wrong, they need Smith to take over a game like this.