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Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions: Eight upsets that will rock the stretch run

Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.

In this space, I articulate positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Today, I forecast eight upsets that will rock the football world down the stretch.

The December portion of football season is always one of my favorite times of year. And I say that as a Bears fan whose most recent Decembers have been spent tweaking my fantasy rosters. (Yes, pick up Jaylen Samuels, kids.) This month will be absolutely bananas -- thanks, in no small part, to the eight upsets I'm predicting below!

Of course, this is barring any injuries or other unforeseen complications -- I'm looking at you, Leonard Fournette. Anyway, here goes:


Miami Dolphins over New England Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Hard Rock Stadium): We all know a guy who lives a rather subdued life. Always gets the side salad with his turkey burgers. Never texts you back after 8 p.m. because he's gone to bed. Loves Huey Lewis and the News. But once that guy gets on vacation, he's dipping his jalapeño poppers into a milkshake. He's out until 3 a.m. And now he's jamming to ... Huey Lewis and the News, because they rock! I don't know if this describes Tom Brady, but the Patriots have lost four of their last five games in Miami. And that seems like the most un-Belichick thing ever. But who knows, maybe he's the one who can't contain himself when he sees a Hard Rock Café. It's going to happen this week.

Chicago Bears over Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, Soldier Field): The last time the Los Angeles Rams traveled to Chicago for a meaningful game, Dieter Brock was L.A.'s quarterback and the Bears overwhelmed Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as they skated to a 24-0 victory in the 1985 NFC Championship Game. Now, it's probably fair to say this Rams team is slightly better, in the way the Bayside version of "Saved By the Bell" was much better than the "Good Morning Miss Bliss" iteration of the show. Chicago's current defense obviously isn't the same caliber as the legendary unit that fronted the '85 Bears, but it's good enough to make plays. Of course, I make this prediction with the hope that Mitch Trubisky can play. (I don't know why more people aren't talking about this, but Vikings safety Harrison Smith -- whose hit on Trubiskyled to the shoulder injury that's kept the QB out the past two weeks -- is like this generation's Charles Martin. I understand Martin's hit on Jim McMahon happened in 1986, the year after the Bears won it all, but roll with me.)


Los Angeles Chargers over Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Arrowhead Stadium): The Chargers have lost nine consecutive games against the Chiefs -- and eight of those came with Alex Smith as Kansas City's QB. How can anybody possibly think the Chargers have a chance now? It's simple. These aren't your same old sorry Chargers. They have been reborn. Like the first time we saw former 3MB member Drew McIntyre return to NXT as a new man. (Trust me, non-wrestling fans, this is an apt comp.) The Chargers are legit. Before Sunday, no team in history had rallied from a 14-plus-point deficit to win in Pittsburgh. Ever. EVER. Then the Bolts did it, proving a lot of the doubters wrong. Even me, who didn't want to startKeenan Allen on his fantasy team last week.

San Francisco 49ers over Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Levi's Stadium): This might seem a bit strange, considering the Seahawksabsolutely demolished the 49ers this past weekend, but in the NFL, you never really get to rest too long on your accomplishments. This is how upsets work. The Seahawks have a tough one on tap for Week 14, with the Minnesota Vikingscoming to town for "Monday Night Football." That's a critical game for Seattle, which, though already eliminated from the race for the NFC West, remains very much alive in the wild-card hunt. While it's not an especially demanding trip to head down to Northern California, the Seahawks will, after beating the Vikings, get caught in the trap game against the 49ers in the rematch on a short week. I know Seattle fans want to get upset thinking about that, but you know this is going to happen.


Baltimore Ravens over Los Angeles Chargers (Saturday, 8:20 p.m. ET, ROKiT Field at StubHub Center): I know -- and I just became friends with Keenan Allen, too! I'm not trying to take anything away from the Chargers at all. But they'll have won two big road games over the Steelersand Chiefs within a span of 12 days -- which means this is a prime letdown setup for the Bolts. I don't want it to be true, but as with the Seahawks-Niners scenario described above, this is the way these things work. If I might use this space to say one thing: I hope the person who created the Chargers' schedule this season really takes care of them next year. Thanks to the Week 7 game in London and their Week 8 bye, they went over a month without playing a game in L.A. (from Oct. 7 to Nov. 18), with trips to Pittsburgh and Kansas City in December. That alone should be worth a first-round bye.

Detroit Lions over Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. PT, Ford Field): This seems like an easy call, because of course the fraudulent Vikings would be looking ahead to the Bears in Week 17. But look deeper: A win by Detroit would be part of a predictable pattern for the Lions. Back in 2015, after being eliminated by mid-December, they won their final three games. They started 9-4 in 2016 -- and lost their final three while backing into the playoffs. Last year, it looked like they were eliminated at 6-6. They won two and looked like they could make a bid, then lost to the Bengals to take themselves out of contention -- and beat the Packers in Week 17. This is just the way the world works, people. The Lions will end the Vikings' chances for the NFC North win a win.


New York Giants over Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium): The Cowboys have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL after trading for receiver Amari Cooper in October. But what if I told you they'll lose to the Eagles this week and end up needing to beat the lowly Giants to get into the playoffs? Where do you think the hearts of Giants fans will be? Will they want to lose, thus strengthening their chance to draft a replacement for Eli Manning? Or will they want to win and knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs, even if their team will then be more likely to have to surrender a bevy of draft picks to move up for a quarterback in the spring? That's kind of what I thought. This will be Eli Manning's swan song against the Cowboys. It would only be more fitting if it were in Dallas.

One more thing ...

Matt Nagy should have gone for two. Our friends over at EdjSports -- who specialize in predictive analytics -- say otherwise, but damn, when you have a team reeling, put that team away. Like Chris Petersen did in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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