NFL Sunday Preview: Can Seahawks-Cards, Pats-Steelers, Vikes-Eagles Bring Back Viewers?

Russell Wilson

The NFL has long been the United States most popular sport. More than any other sport, it captures the national spirit.

But the TV ratings are down this year, in part do to some players kneeling during the national anthem, clearly driven by the Black Lives Matters movement.

So why punish a whole league for the behavior of a few players manipulated by BLM?

Most teams, most players, aren’t engaging in this Anti-American behavior.

What is the league supposed to do about a small group of rabble-rousers, who last time we checked aren’t Mensa members?

The NFL is in a tough spot. Perhaps boycott the troublemakers, not an entire league.

For those who chose to watch this week, there are a number of excellent games, including Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings traveling to Philadelphia to face the quarterback’s former team, the Eagles. Another intriguing match-up features the Seattle Seahawks in Arizona to face the Cardinals.

Let’s take a closer look at the action…

San Diego Chargers (2-4) at Atlanta Falcons 4-2)

The Atlanta Falcons have the NFL’s #1 offense.

The Chargers are coming off a big win over Denver on Thursday Night Football, so they had 10 days to get healthy and prepare.

Chargers star QB Philip Rivers, from nearby Birmingham, AL, will have a lot of friends and family at the game.

Don’t be shocked if the Chargers pull the upset.

Minnesota Vikings (5-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

Really interesting match-up featuring Vikings QB Sam Bradford squaring off against the team that traded him right before the season.

Who will the people of Fargo, ND, root for? Fargo is a Vikings town, but Eagles QB Carson Wentz is a native son.

Yah, that’s a tough one. And this is a tough game to call.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) at San Francisco 49ers (1-5)

This game could be unwatchable.

49ers QB/activist Colin Kaepernick makes his second start of the season. In his first start last week, the Buffalo Bills blew out the 49ers.

The Buccaneers aren’t a very good team, and will be without their best running back (Doug Martin) and wide receiver (Vincent Jackson).

It’s hard to tell which team’s QB will be kneeling in the victory formation at the end of the game. We know which one will be kneeling before the game.

Seattle Seahawks (4-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

One of the better games on the schedule, featuring Seahawks QB Russell Wilson against the NFL’s #1 pass defense.

Cardinals 36-year-old QB Carson Palmer, who is immobile to start with, now deals with a hamstring injury. Being a pocket statue is from ideal against the Seahawks’ outstanding pass rush.

This game is a toss-up.

Indianapolis Colts (2-4) at Tennessee Titans (3-3)

The Colts continue to be like a MASH unit. This week they have seven players out, including starting tight end Dwayne Allen and guard Jack Mewhort

The Titans have won two games in row, but over struggling opponents, Miami and Cleveland.

And keep in mind, they barely won a home game against the winless Browns last week, holding on for a 28-26 victory.

If the Browns can hang with Titans in Nashville, the Andrew Luck-led Colts should be able to beat them there.

New England Patriots (5-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)

A few weeks ago this looked like a great match-up, but not anymore, with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger out following knee surgery. He will return in 2-6 weeks.

Landry Jones takes over for Roethlisberger, and this is a big drop-off.

Also out for the Steelers are right tackle Marcus Gilbert, their best defensive lineman Cam Heyward, and starting receiver Marcus Wheaton.

With all these injuries, especially Big Ben’s, it’s hard seeing the Steelers winning this game.

Oakland Raiders (4-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)

The Raiders defense is awful with a chance at being historically bad. They are on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history.

Another problem is their featured running back Latavious Murray is sidelined with a turf toe, and the Raiders running game slipped the last two weeks without him.

No defense or running game is putting too much pressure on QB Derek Carr.

But the Jaguars aren’t exactly a juggernaut.

This game is a toss-up.

Cleveland Browns (0-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)

While there aren’t a lot of positives with the winless Browns, they have been getting good QB play from rookie Cody Kessler, who has completed 65.6 percent of his passes and thrown just one pick.

The Bengals are the much healthier team, and finally get back talented tight end Tyler Eifert who was injured in last season’s Pro Bowl.

Cincinnati should win the “Battle of Ohio.”

New Orleans Saints (2-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-2)

The Saints have won two games in a row thanks to QB Drew Brees and a talented group of young receivers, including Ohio State rookie Michael Thomas, who has caught a TD in three straight games.

But if the Saints don’t start playing better defense, this winning streak isn’t going to last long. In the last two games they beat San Diego 35-34 and Carolina 41-38.

This game is too close to call.

Washington Redskins (4-2) at Detroit Lions (3-3)

A battle of red-hot quarterbacks.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford is playing some of best football of his career, completing close to 70 percent of his passes. Kirk Cousins has led the Redskins to four straight wins.

Both teams are pretty beat-up.

This game could go either way.

Buffalo Bills (4-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-4)

It’s unclear whether Buffalo’s star tailback LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s #2 rusher, will play this week. He nurses a hamstring injury.

“Just trying to be smart,” McCoy said. In other words, he doesn’t want to make it worse and put himself out for a long stretch.

If he doesn’t go, this will help the Dolphins a great deal. McCoy is probably the Bills’ best player.

The Dolphins finally field a healthy offensive line (a problem early in the season), which helped them upset Pittsburgh last week, and don’t be shocked if they pull another upset.

New York Giants (3-3) at Los Angeles Rams (3-3) (in London)

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham had 211 yards receiving, and two touchdowns in the second half, in a win over Baltimore last week. He’s a rare talent.

Considering the Rams are without top cornerback Trumaine Johnson, they really don’t have anyone to match up with Beckham.

The Rams also don’t have a running game.

The Giants should win this game.

Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at New York Jets (1-5)

These Jets aren’t cruising at 37,000 feet, losers of four straight.

Geno Smith has replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Some wonder if the Jets’ owner made this move.

More than a quarter of the Baltimore Ravens starters sit due to injury.

This game could be tough to watch.