So last week was a bit of a rough one for me. 6-8 was not the final prediction score one hopes for. There were a few games that really came as a shocker; Cam Newton’s presence was missed by the Panthers when they lost to the Bucs, Detroit dropped Philadelphia coming off of a bye, and the Colts overcame jet-lag to pull out a victory against the Bears.
Have to get back on the horse this week with some very interesting matchups. There are a couple of surprise teams I think will overcome the odds this weekend and a couple powerhouses that take a fall.
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
In quarters 1-3 the Chargers are one of the best teams in football. Unfortunately, in the NFL the game lasts 4 quarters. In the 4th quarter the Chargers become a bumbling bunch of buffoons (no offense to buffoons). The Chargers have held a lead in every game in which they have played and inevitably have blown that lead in four of those games.
The x-factor in this game, however; will be Trevor Siemian. He was out of last week’s game with an injured non-throwing shoulder. He is expected to be back this week, but there will be obvious questions in regards to his effectiveness.
I do not care. Until the Chargers can pull their heads out of their collective asses, I cannot in good conscience pick them to win a game…especially against a team that has Von Miller on it. Broncos win the weekly Thursday night fiasco.
San Francisco 49ers @ Buffalo Bills
So Gabbert is out and Kaepernick is in. Kaep can’t do any worse seeing as the 49ers are the last ranked passing team in the NFL. But there are so many other things wrong with that team. The run game is inconsistent and the loss of NaVorro Bowman has left that defense vulnerable.
On the flip side the Buffalo Bills have won three in a row and are arguably the hottest team in football. Despite many early season setbacks due to injury, the Bills are entering this game with a plethora of confidence and will be very difficult to overcome, especially in Buffalo.
I like the Bills to keep rolling against a 49ers team that is in a state of flux (to put it mildly).
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
The big question in this game is the health and status of Jordan Reed. Reed has been the best player for the Redskins this season and has been overwhelmingly the favorite target of Kirk Cousins. The Redskins need Reed to be competitive.
Both of these teams will be playing hard since they are a game behind the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys, and a loss to a division rival could put either one of these deeps in a deep hole.
I personally like the Eagles in this game. They got shocked by the Lions last week and will be coming out with a vengeance. In addition to that, Carson Wentz has been absolutely phenomenal in running that offense with precision and efficiency. In the end I just think the Eagles have a better team; even if Reed plays in this game.
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans
Tennessee is starting to figure some things out. They have that running game clicking on all cylinders with power backs Henry and Murray. Demarco Murray is currently second in the league in rushing, and while his end zone production has not been outstanding, he gives the Titans a consistent and reliable offensive weapon to keep the chains moving.
The Browns have some young talents that are obviously part of that franchise’s future. Cody Kessler has emerged as a reliable passer with tremendous upside, Duke Johnson is a fantastic receiver out of the back field, and Terrelle Pryor has been an absolute stud at wide receiver thus far. But as I have noted in these articles in prior weeks, the Browns are in full rebuild mode and are playing for a high draft pick. Add in the fact that Kessler will be entering this week at less than 100% and that spells disaster for Cleveland.
With the Titans keeping games close and running effectively, I like them to get the win over a subpar Cleveland squad.
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Giants
The Ravens are a tough and gritty team that has put themselves in an early position to compete for the playoffs due to sheer force of will. Their defense has been very good and they have kept mistakes and penalties to a minimum, which means the Giants will have to play better football and can’t count on capitalizing on mistakes.
But the Giants have not shown the ability to play good football. They have one of the worst rushing offenses in all of football and their passing offense has been solid at best. The Giants are very one-dimensional and their defense has been very average, despite the extensive amount of money they have spent.
I like the Ravens to grind another one out.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
As of this writing Cam Newton appears as if he will be cleared to play this Sunday. But even if he is, Cam will not be at 100%. And should Newton not be able to play, then once again the Panther offense will driven by Derek Anderson. The problem is that no matter who is at the helm is going to get hit. The Saints are not very good at anything defense related, however; the Panthers’ offensive line has been pretty abysmal this year and the offense has taken a hit as a result.
Also, the Panthers’ defense has been a shell of its former self. They are having trouble getting pressure and the losses of Peanut Tillman and Josh Norman have left that secondary very thin. And that is not the kind of problem you can afford to have when playing in New Orleans.
The Saints have been terrible, but they are significantly better at home than when they are on the road and Drew Brees can still sling it. I like the Saints to take this game and to further bury the defending NFC champions.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Chicago Bears
A few weeks ago I predicted that the Bears would win two of their next three games. They beat the Lions in Chicago, lost to the Colts in Indy, and now they face the Jaguars.
Both teams suffer from similar problems. They both have defenses that struggle to rush the passer and both teams have athletic quarterbacks with highly questionable fundamentals. Jay Cutler for the Bears has every physical tool in the world and yet after 11 years in the league he still has trouble setting his feet and moving through his progression of receivers. Bortles has had many of the same struggles, often abandoning his fundamentals and leaning on his athleticism, especially under pressure.
Fortunately for the Bears Brian Hoyer is starting the game. Athletically he is no match for Cutler, but Hoyer is a better professional in that he adapts in game to the defense and he does a good job of making his reads quickly and efficiently. Add to the fact that rookie running back Jordan Howard is looking like an absolute stud and the Bears have all the tools necessary to pull out a victory against a questionable opponent.
And I think they will. Bears win.
Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions
How the hell do the Rams keep winning games? Their offense is among the worst in the league, their defense is middle of the pack, and they are allowing 5 points more per game than they score. It is inconceivable how they are 3-2 right now.
The Lions have not been great either, but Matthew Stafford has been playing much better than his statistics would indicate and Marvin Jones is the NFL’s leading receiver in total yards. This is an obviously flawed team with no running game and a lack of dynamic playmakers on defense, but they are tough and they can score a few points.
Until such time that I can articulate a quantifiable reason why the Rams should win, I will not pick them. I am going with the Lions because they have a better quarterback and they are at home and because I have no idea how the Rams are doing it.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins suck and Ryan Tannehill is slowly playing himself out of the league. Tannehill is a younger version of Jay Cutler; someone who has all the athletic ability in the world, but cannot wrap his head around the finer points of playing the position. He is failing to properly make his progressions and is inconsistent with feel for the pocket.
As for the Steeler, they are probably the best team in the NFL right now. That offense is tremendous, Roethlisberger is looking healthy and is making plays, and the defense has stepped behind the efforts of linebacker Ryan Shazier. There is no reason the Steelers should lose to the Dolphins and I do not think they will.
Steelers continue to roll.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots
The Bengals are struggling a little bit on offense, particularly in the red zone. Andy Dalton is 2nd in the league in passing, but the run game has been very average and without Tyler Eiffert, Cincinnati has failed to regain their dominant red zone form from last year. Right now Eiffert is projected to make his season debut this week and he is sorely needed.
Unfortunately, they are playing the Patriots. Not only is Tom Brady back and playing like he never missed a beat, but that New England defense has been incredibly stout and has made nothing easy for opposing offenses.
With or without Eiffert I like the Patriots to win on the strength of better players and better coaching.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are killing it right now. They are amongst the league leaders in most significant offensive categories and while their defense gives up a bunch of yards, but they make enough plays to usually pull off the win.
The Chiefs are a very efficient and tough team, especially in Kansas City, but at the end of the day I do not think their offense can keep pace with the high-flying Raiders.
I like the Raiders to keep ahold of their share of the division lead.
Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks
The Falcons have the best offense in football. They are averaging an absurd 35 points per game. Seattle is averaging a mere 19.8 points per game.
So here is the question: can the Seahawks, at home, hold down the NFL’s best offense and score enough points to overcome them?
While the Seahawks have allowed a minuscule 13.5 points per game, I do not think they will be able to keep pace with an offense that has so many ways attacking. I like the Falcons to pull off the win in Seattle.
Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
First off, I just want to say that I am sick and tired of seeing the Cowboys dominate the afternoon schedule. There are 31 other teams in this league and I would not mind seeing many of the other great players in this league, but week in and week out I am stuck with the grating voices of Troy Aikman and Joe “I can’t grow a beard” Buck and am forced to watch a franchise that has been thoroughly mediocre since the mid-1990s.
Now that I am off my soap box, here’s what I think: Dallas is a better team, but Green Bay is at home.
Aaron Rodgers has the lowest completion percentage of any year of his career. Eddie Lacy has played well, but the connection with Jordy Nelson still has not clicked and the defense is not forcing the same amount of turnovers that they have in years past. But the Green Bay effect counts for a lot.
I like Dallas’ team and I truly believe that they will win this division. On top of that, I think once Romo gets back from his injury they should sit his ass on the bench. Dak Prescott is not only the future, he is the present, and he continues to show more confidence and skill with each passing week.
With all of that being said, I am picking the Packers solely because they are at home against a rookie quarterback. Plus, they have a fantastic run defense and should be able to keep Ezekial Elliott from dominating the game.
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
A couple of struggling teams playing in the primetime Sunday Night spot…good planning NFL.
The Colts have management to pick up a few victories, but they are not a good team. Their years of neglecting their offensive and defensive lines are getting Andrew Luck killed and costing them prime years of his career. And even though J.J. Watt is out again due to injury and Brock Osweiller has not been worth the money the Texans have shelled out, I still like the Texans to dominate both sides of the ball and pick up a vital divisional victory.
New York Jets @ Arizona Cardinals
Both of these teams were predicted to make big playoff runs and both teams have been thoroughly disappointing. As of this writing, Carson Palmer has returned to practice and is set to be the starter on Monday Night Football. He has not played that well this year, showing a lack of accuracy and couple of bad decisions thus far. The return of John Brown should be helpful, but age seems to be catching up with Palmer.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been worse. They lost their best red zone threat in Eric Decker and Fitzpatrick may still have PTSD from that 7-turnover performance against the Chiefs a couple weeks ago. The biggest positive for the Jets has been Matt Forte, but you cannot have sustained success riding a running back on the north side of 30 year old and continue to win.
I like the Cardinals based on the vast amount of talent they have on their roster.
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