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February 22, 2024

Max Breaks Down Key Games in the NFL and NCAAF

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This past weekend of football was again filled with surprises. In college football, Ole Miss beat LSU in a classic shootout, UCF blew a 28-point second half lead and lost to Baylor by one, Georgia barely avoided an upset at Auburn, and Florida thankfully was blown out by Kentucky. In the NFL, the Broncos overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Bears in the losers Super Bowl, the Chiefs almost lost to the Jets, and the Bills blew out the Dolphins. With another week of exciting action ahead, here is all you need to know.

NFL power rankings:

The cellar dwellers:

#32. Chicago Bears (0-4, 32)

#31. Carolina Panthers (0-4, 30)

The boring and mediocre tier:

#30. Denver Broncos (1-3, 31)

#29. Arizona Cardinals (1-3, 29)

#28. New York Giants (1-3, 24)

#27. Las Vegas Raiders (1-3, 25)

#26. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3, 20)

Playoff longshots:

#25. Washington Commanders (2-2, 28)

#24. Houston Texans (2-2, 27)

#23. Indianapolis Colts (2-2, 26)

#22. Atlanta Falcons (2-2, 17)

#21. New Orleans Saints (2-2, 18)

#20. Green Bay Packers (2-2, 15)

More likely playoff teams:

#19. Los Angeles Rams (3-1, 21)

#18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1, 22)

#17. New York Jets (1-3, 23)

#16. New England Patriots (1-3, 14)

#15. Tennessee Titans (2-2, 19)

#14. Minnesota Vikings (1-3, 16)

#13. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3, 9)

Definite playoff contenders:

#12. Seattle Seahawks (3-1, 13)

#11. Los Angeles Chargers (3-1, 10)

#10. Detroit Lions (3-1, 12)

#9. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2, 11)

#8. Cleveland Browns (2-2, 8)

Super Bowl contenders:

#7. Philadelphia Eagles (4-0, 6)

#6. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, 7)

#5. Miami Dolphins (3-1, 3)

#4. Dallas Cowboys (3-1, 4)

Super Bowl favorites:

#3. Kansas City Chiefs (3-1, 2)

#2. Buffalo Bills (3-1, 5)

#1. San Francisco 49ers (4-0, 1)

College football top 10:

#10. Oklahoma (5-0)

#9. Florida State (4-0, 8)

#8. Penn State (5-0, 9)

#7. USC (5-0, 4)

#6. Oregon (5-0, 7)

#5. Washington (5-0, 6)

#4. Ohio State (4-0, 5)

#3. Texas (5-0, 3)

#2. Georgia (5-0, 2)

#1. Michigan (5-0, 1)

College games of the week:

Texas vs. Oklahoma:

For the final time, the Red River rivalry will happen in the Big 12 and it shouldn’t disappoint. Oklahoma had a down year in 2022, losing five games including a 49-0 demolition at the hands of Texas. However, the Sooners are off to a hot start this year at 5-0. With that being said, Texas is also 5-0 and is ranked third in the country. This is Oklahoma’s chance to show why they should be in the college football playoff conversation, while this is an opportunity for Texas to show why they should be the favorites to win the national championship. With massive steaks and a historic rivalry, this game should be a classic. I’ll pick Texas to win since they are higher ranked and have the more impressive wins this year so far, but it would not be surprising if Oklahoma pulls off the upset.

Kentucky @ Georgia:

This is a huge game for the two-time defending national champs. Georgia hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2020 but they have been cutting it close in recent weeks. They were down by 11 at half time against South Carolina in week three and only ended up winning by 10. Last week, they barely beat Auburn 27-20 on the road a week after the Tigers lost to Texas A&M by 17. Kentucky is also undefeated and entered the top 25 after blowing out Florida 33-14 last week. This game should be a good indicator of whether Georgia has simply been playing down to their competition or whether they just aren’t as good as everyone thinks. My guess is that it is a combination of both, but we will find out on Saturday.

Maryland @ Ohio State:

Similar to the Georgia Kentucky game, this is another conference battle between a heavyweight and an up and coming opponent. Ohio State is 4-0 and is coming off a close win at Notre Dame two weeks ago. They should be well rested for this one after an early bye week, but questions still remain about their offense. Notre Dame have a great defense, but nevertheless Ohio State was only able to put up 17 points against them and seven of those came with one second left. On the other hand, this is by far the best Buckeye defense in recent memory, and that is the reason why Ohio State ranks in the top five even with a less consistent offense than usual. Maryland, a program that has struggled to stay afloat in the star studded Big 10 in recent years, is off to a surprising 5-0 start that has them ranked inside the top 25 of the AP poll. They are led by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Terps played Ohio State tough last year, and they will try to keep it going in this one. I would still pick Ohio State to win just because of their pedigree and home field advantage, but I can’t wait to see if Maryland can pull off the upset or at least keep it close.

NFL games of the week:

Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers: This is a huge game between the two best teams in the NFC, and it is set for prime time this Sunday night. The Niners have had Dallas’ number of late, including in last year’s divisional round playoff when they stymied Dak Prescott and won 19-12. These teams are largely the same as they were in January and this game will also take place in San Francisco. I expect this to be a defensive battle, but I think the Niners offensive coaching and home field advantage will give them a slight edge.

Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Bills hype train is rolling right now after they obliterated the previously unstoppable Dolphins 48-20 for their third straight win. Josh Allen has had an incredible turnaround since a four-turnover clunker in week one against the Jets, as he has scored 10 touchdowns and has only turned the ball over one time in his last three games. The Jaguars rebounded from back-to-back disappointing losses to convincingly beat the Falcons last week. This will be Jacksonville’s second consecutive game in London. It’s really easy to pick Buffalo in this one, but I think they have two things working against them. For one, they are coming off a huge win and could easily look past Jacksonville amid the excitement over last week’s win. They also have to make the trip to London this week while the Jags have already been their for a week. I would not be surprised in the slightest if the Jags pull off the upset.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Minnesota Vikings:

The Chiefs had an unexpectedly hard time beating the Jets last week, as Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions and the defense struggled to contain the previously lifeless Jets offense. The Vikings picked up their first win last week against the Panthers but 1-3. They really need to win this one to stay in the playoff picture, so I expect them to play physically and with urgency. The Chiefs still have Mahomes and Travis Kelce (and now apparently Taylor Swift), but I think the Vikings have a great home field advantage and will have more urgency to win this game than Kansas City.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams:

Before the season started, nobody would have predicted this to be a close game. However, the Rams have greatly outperformed expectations through the first month of the season, winning three of their first four games. On the other hand, the Eagles have not looked impressive at all despite a sparkling 4-0 record. They could easily be 1-3 if a few lucky bounces went the other way. The Rams are playing really well, and I think the Eagles are due for a loss.

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About the Contributor
Max Teply, Staff Writer
This is Max's third year on staff. He enjoys writing, and he spends plenty of time keeping up with the NFL.
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