When going into the final two weeks of the NFL season I always like to target the teams who have something to play for. The teams with the extra motivation of making the playoffs or earning a bye week always seem to play harder than a team just playing out the stretch. I also like to stay away from the teams who seem to have everything locked up, because they tend to either rest players or are looking past their current game because they are preparing for the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens at home vs Indianapolis Colts (Grade A)
This is the prime example of what I wrote about in my opening comments. The Baltimore Ravens are in a battle with three other teams for a playoff spot and they will not allow the Colts to spoil their season. The Ravens have survived this season because of their strong play on defense and that continues this week. You can expect multiple sacks and turnovers because the Ravens simply will want it more than the Colts. Another factor to consider is that the Ravens have been playing better on offense the last few weeks and this will take some pressure off of the defense. This can only mean good things for the owner lucky enough to have the Ravens this week.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (Grade A)
I could very easily simply cut and paste what I wrote about the Ravens here for the Vikings. The big difference is that the Vikings are playing for a bye week instead of their playoff lives and that is why I put them behind Baltimore. Minnesota will be playing to win but they won’t have that sense of urgency that Baltimore will have. I also worry that if things break the right way Minnesota will have nothing to play for next week. They still have one of the leagues best defenses and will be facing a poor Packers offense so this week will be a dominant performance for sure.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers (Grade B+)
Another great defense with a choice match-up. The Jaguars also have a lot to play for because if they lose two games and the Titans win out, they lose the division. This will be the easier of their last two games but beware of one thing: Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo has turned the 49ers into a good team. They have won three games in a row and have looked good while doing it. While I do think the Jaguars defense will have a very good week, it will not be as good as the other two teams above.
Daily Fantasy Corner
Carolina Panthers at home vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DK $3,100/ FD $4,800)
I struggled with who to put in this spot between Carolina and the previous three teams. What set Carolina apart from the others is that they are playing at home against what could be the worst of the opponents. The Buccaneers turn the ball over a lot and the Panthers will feast on this and push them to be the highest scoring daily fantasy team this week.