This week, the secrets to every game can be found by doing a simple “compare and contrast” to see what’s alike, and what’s different, about every one of the teams competing this week.
St. Louis vs. Baltimore
What’s alike: Both teams play 9 on offense versus 11 on defense. At least, it sure seems like it. Both teams feature a quarterback whose best days are likely behind him. Both teams play in a city whose baseball team was terrible this year.
What’s different: Baltimore also plays defense, while St. Louis eschews this as an unnecessary part of the game.
Rams 3, Ravens 17
Minnesota vs. Chicago
What’s alike: Both teams are caught in a vicious struggle to the death to be far and away the worst team in the NFC North.
What’s different: So far Minnesota is winning the battle, but they have yet to play Chicago.
Vikings 6, Chicago 3
BONUS PREDICTION: The sum of the QB rating in this game will be less than the QB rating for the winner of the New England-Dallas game
Miami vs. Cleveland
What’s alike: Both teams make their opponents look nigh-unbeatable.
What’s different: Cleveland put over 50 points on Cincinnati, while Miami has almost scored a hundred for the season.
Dolphins 14, Browns 17.
Washington vs. Green Bay
What’s alike: Both teams feature what, to some people, is an insulting slur as their team nickname.
What’s different: Washington is owned by a megalomaniac. The other team plays that guy as QB.
Redskins 28, Packers 24
Houston vs. Jacksonville
What’s alike: Both teams get victimized by the Indianapolis Colts twice a year, and will be for some time to come.
What’s different: Jacksonville has long been the most chivalrous NFL team, playing to its opponents level to prevent embarrassment. Well, except to themselves.
Texans 21, Jaguars 20
Cincinnati vs. Kansas City
What’s alike: Both teams feature grandstanding, me-first guys that think nothing of their teammates, promote their own greatness, and make spectacles of themselves in public.
What’s different: Chad Johnson keeps his antics confined to the field. Herm Edwards has no such boundaries.
Bengals 45, Chiefs 10.
Philadelphia vs. NY Jets
What’s alike: Both teams hearken from wretched places to live, and have a flying mascot. They are each desperately hoping for change in fortunes to turn around their seasons.
What’s different: Philadelphia’s mascot is carbon-neutral, and they have a hope for turning around their season. The high point of the Jets season was tattling on Bill Bellicheck.
Eagles 24, Jets 17.
Tennessee vs. Tampa Bay
What’s alike: These two teams are like a photocopy of each other, they’re so similar: they play in the South, have three wins, and a bright future.
What’s different: Tennessee’s coach didn’t take three years off and isn’t considered a genius, like Tampa Bay’s coach. And Tennessee’s not feasting on weak NFC competition like Tampa, either.
Titans 38, Buccaneers 24
Carolina vs. Arizona
What’s alike: Both have 3-2 records and share the division lead.
What’s different: Carolina isn’t cursed by the cosmos to be the worst team in the NFL every year.
Panthers 20, Cardinals 17
New England vs. Dallas
What’s alike: Both are undefeated and playing in the monster game of the season, which for each of them is their first real test. Both feature players (Moss and Owens) who have been identified as destructive to their teams in the past.
What’s different: For some reason the pundits think Dallas’ schedule was weak, but the Patriots are a cinch to go undefeated. Moss is more surly than destructive, and Owens is 2-3 for sabotaging his team’s seasons. Patriots fans don’t secretly dread the day that their QB is exposed as a fraud, while Cowboys fans do.
Patriots 31, Cowboys 34
Oakland vs. San Diego
What’s alike: Both teams have been coached by Norv Turner.
What’s different: San Diego is still coached by Norv Turner.
Raiders 142, Chargers 3
New Orleans vs. Seattle
What’s alike: Um, they’re both in the NFC? Both teams play near the coast?
What’s different: The most polite way to put this is: New Orleans is awful.
Saints 12, Seahawks 25
NY Giants vs. Atlanta
What’s alike: Both teams are playing in the “This seemed like a good MNF matchup in the preseason” game.
What’s different: Atlanta has no business playing on Monday night.
Giants 28, Atlanta 13