In this edition of the Showstopper, we’ll get you prepped for two gridiron battles: Packers vs. Chiefs and Titans vs. Rams. How will the road teams fare without their biggest stars?
Plus, find out what you need to know for Knicks vs. Bucks in a nationally televised clash. Can the defending champs hold off New York with Khris Middleton on the shelf?
New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Friday, November 5 | TV: ESPN
Maybe “bing bong” was a bad idea? After a hot start, the Knicks have dropped 2 of their last 3 games heading into a big showdown at Milwaukee. The Bucks have lost 3 of their last 4 games, so they haven’t exactly been too sharp, either. The primary culprits for New York have been poor defense and costly turnovers, two things that Giannis and the Bucks know how to exploit. While the Knicks are trying to rediscover their flow, the biggest positive has been the play of rising star RJ Barrett, who appears to be making the leap in his third season.
Although Khris Middleton tested positive for COVID-19 and will remain in quarantine for at least a week, it looks like Jrue Holiday should make his return for Milwaukee. The point guard has missed the Bucks’ last five games but will have a prime matchup waiting for him against Kemba Walker. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Brook Lopez will miss this game, as he continues to cope with a back injury. Without Lopez manning the paint, Barrett could have an easier path to drive to the hoop, something he’s aggressively been doing early this season.
Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, November 7 | TV: FOX
It’s the quarterback battle everyone’s been anxiously waiting for: Patrick Mahomes vs. uhh … Jordan Love?! That’s right, the 7-1 Packers will take on the Chiefs without reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week. In Rodgers’ absence, Love will be making his first career start after being taken in the first round of last year’s draft. The good news is that Love could have his best weapon at his disposal, as wideout Davante Adams has been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. With Love in the saddle and the Chiefs defense much more susceptible against the run, we could see Green Bay feature a heavy dose of Aaron Jones, who got a whopping 11 targets in last week’s win.
Even though the Chiefs are at home, that doesn’t mean the sacks won’t stop coming. The Packers were able to force Cardinals QB Kyler Murray into two rare interceptions last week, so it’s very possible they cause Mahomes some fits as well. Kansas City has an NFL-leading 19 turnovers and the Pack have one of the best turnover margins in the league. The Chiefs did get some much-needed help on the defensive end, though, as they dealt for pass rusher Melvin Ingram ahead of the trade deadline. That should hopefully help them put some pressure on Love as the young signal-caller faces a hostile crowd.
Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, November 7 | TV: NBC
Condolences to anyone who had a futures bet going on Derrick Henry to win the rushing title. The Titans running back will likely miss the rest of the season after undergoing foot surgery. With Henry no longer anchoring the offense, Tennessee will feature Jeremy McNichols and 36-year-old Adrian Peterson, who will be hard-pressed to fill the void. Since Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been relentlessly targeting weaker secondaries, the Titans might be forced to air it out much more than they would prefer. If you’re hunting for prop bets, Stafford is on a serious roll, having thrown for at least 3 touchdowns in three straight games.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 24 times through 8 games, which is bad news against a stout Rams pass rush that leads the NFL in sacks and just added Von Miller via a trade with Denver. One silver lining for Tannehill is that wide receiver Julio Jones recently returned to practice, boosting his chances of suiting up, in spite of his ailing hamstring. Jones’ presence would help soften the defensive coverage for the surging A.J. Brown.