The Steelers’ bye-week is always a miserable week. Waiting for it to pass is like waiting for the pizza delivery person to arrive, but on a larger scale.
Fear not, ‘Burghers. There’s still football being played. Or, in some cases, remotely reasonable facsimiles thereof.
Why you should watch: It’s always entertaining to see if the Falcons can blow an even bigger lead than 25 points. Sure, this one won’t have the gravity of coughing up a four-score lead in the Super Bowl in barely more than one quarter, but it’s not like Atlanta is making a return trip this year, anyway. This is what you get, folks.
Why you should NOT watch: The Panthers are inexplicably 5-3, despite playing marginally more competently than the Cleveland Browns. Unless you like watching how Cam Newton’s play can possibly be worse than his typical post-game outfit of choice, this one might qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Oh, and no more Kelvin Benjamin.
Why you should watch: DeShaun Watson will be playing and...um...well...that’s pretty much it. Wait.... What’s that you say? Watson is NOT playing? Uh, I got nothin’.
Why you should NOT watch: Would it be wrong of me to list out the entire Indianapolis roster here? To say the Colts are bad without Andrew Luck would be placing too much importance on one player. The motto the year before Luck arrived was to “Suck for Luck” in an effort to secure the top draft pick. They did. The problem is that, now, they “Suck without Luck” and would likely “Suck with Luck”. This could be the most lifeless and uninspired football team since the Detroit Lions went 0-16. Their only two wins came over Cleveland and San Francisco, the league’s only remaining winless teams. You have no idea how much I hope this game isn’t the local CBS game on Sunday.
Why you should watch: There’s no reason not to watch if it’s on TV in your local area. It’s always entertaining to watch the Bengals’ ineptitude against a quality defense. The sub-story in this game is, of course, following along with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s inevitable running commentary on Joe Mixon’s performance throughout the game.
Why you should NOT watch: Honestly, it’s going to be a fun game to watch, no matter which Jacksonville team shows up. It’s either going to be something like 41-10 Jacksonville, or 11-10 Jacksonville. Either way, the Bengals lose. That’s quality entertainment.
Buccaneers @ Saints - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST
Why you should watch: The New Orleans offense is back to their old ways of putting up at least 30 points — sometimes. Half the fun each week is trying to guess which Saints team will bother showing up.
Why you should NOT watch: Tampa Bay’s score will not be a function of the quality of the New Orleans defense. That’s because the Buccaneers’ offense might be a myth, like unicorns.
Rams @ Giants - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST
Why you should watch: Watch this game if you are one or more of the following people: 1) a fan of teams that have been bad for a long time suddenly getting good; 2) you enjoy both the New York Giants and physical pain; or 3) you think “McAdoo” is fun to say over and over.
Why you should NOT watch: You are not one of the following people: 1) a fan of teams that have been bad for a long time suddenly getting good; 2) you enjoy both the New York Giants and physical pain; or 3) you think “McAdoo” is fun to say over and over.
Why you should watch: The rise of Carson Wentz is one of the best stories of 2017. He’s playing at a high level and is a strong candidate for MVP at season’s end.
His opponent, Trevor Siemian, cannot make the same bold claim. In fact, Siemian isn’t going to actually be his opponent, unless newly named starter Brock Osweiler gets hurt. And, since Denver president and legendary quarterback John Elway suddenly forgot that finding quality quarterbacks is Job One, there’s always the possibility that the Broncos will inexplicably bring back Tim Tebow to be the emergency arm.
Why you should NOT watch: Potential MVP candidate Carson Wentz versus a guy who couldn’t beat out Tom Savage for a job in Houston, or any one of the hot messes the Browns keep trotting out, for that matter. That’s all the reason you need.
Why you should watch: There is a strong chance the Baltimore defense will score.
Why you should NOT watch: There is a strong chance that no one else will score.
Why you should watch: On TV? None. There is no compelling reason. Neither team is going anywhere but down. Even after trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers aren’t planning to play him this weekend. According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, he might not play this year.
If you have tickets, though, at least you can rest assured you will have plenty of room to stretch out, what with all those empty seats around you.
Why you should NOT watch: Because this is a terrible, terrible game. The Cardinals have lost their quarterback and starting running back, and they have an insufferable head coach. The 49ers couldn’t find their rear ends with both hands at an anatomy chart.
Why you should watch: This could be one of the better games of the week. I’m not sure how much that says about the rest of the games, though.
Kirk Cousins is playing pretty decent football, and the Redskins still have a shot at the playoffs. The Seahawks are somehow 5-2 despite not having a single offensive lineman through the first seven games who looked like he has ever put on shoulder pads in his life. They picked up a strong offensive lineman at the trade deadline, though, so it could at least make the Seahawks’ blocking good enough that you won’t need to cover your eyes for every play. Oh, and quarterback Russell Wilson has been phenomenal, despite his offensive line actively seeking to get him injured.
Why you should NOT watch: If you’re reading this site, you are probably a Steelers fan. If you are a Steelers fan, an NFC-only matchup between two teams not likely to make the Super Bowl probably has zero interest for you, unless you’re of the contingent that wants to try signing Cousins if Ben Roethlisberger retires after the 2017 season.
Why you should watch: It oughta be one heckuva game. There’s not a whole lot else you can say about this. It’s the game of the week.
Why you should NOT watch: You hate the Cowboys (they’re probably going to win, if Ezekiel Elliott gets to play).
Why you should watch: This is an intriguing matchup of a team in freefall (the Raiders, losing five of their last six) versus a team that is mysteriously floating above .500 despite some of the worst quarterback play outside of Chicago. You aren’t watching this game because it’s good football; you are watching this game to feel better about your own team.
Why you should NOT watch: It could have playoff implications — but probably not. If the Raiders lose two of their final eight games, they are almost certainly done. Miami is trying to keep pace with the Bills in the wildcard race (did I really just say that?) but they don’t have the offensive firepower to get that job done. At the trade deadline, they were considering unloading receiver Jarvis Landry. Buffalo, meanwhile, was buying, adding enormous receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the squad. The Bills are positioning to contend, while the Dolphins just seem to want to mail it in, but can’t lose despite themselves.
Lions @ Packers - Monday, 8:30 p.m. EST
Why you should watch: Do you love blowouts? Then this is probably your game. Despite an inability to score in the red zone against the Steelers last Sunday night, the Lions should be able to find more success against the Packers. And Green Bay, now being led by backup Brett Hundley with starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone being held together with more than a dozen screws, lacks the firepower to keep up or catch up.
Why you should NOT watch: It’s an NFC-only matchup, and you probably have to get up for work on Tuesday morning. It’s probably not worth being tired all day just to see the Lions win by double digits.