Last week I went 9-3-1…I hate ties. Honestly I do not even feel bad that I missed the Vikings/Bears pick. Anybody who called that upset is either a liar or certifiable. But last week is in the past, on to the week at hand.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Falcons are scoring 30+ points a game and the Bucs were having trouble moving the ball against Oakland. The fact of the matter is that Tampa Bay just is not good enough to keep up with the Falcons offensively and their defensive secondary is to thin to stop Atlanta defensively.
I like the Falcons to get a big division win on the road to kick off football this week.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
The past two weeks the Vikings have been exposed on offense. While they do not make many stupid turnovers, they have no run game and an immobile quarterback who is being protected by two offensive tackles that are practically off the street. This past Monday the Chicago Bears were having their way with the Minnesota offensive line and they are a thoroughly mediocre defense at best.
What has kept the Vikings in their games all season is their stellar defense. But even they have shown chinks in the armor; sometimes having trouble getting pressure on the quarterback.
There are two things that are working against the Vikings in this game: 1) the Lions defensive front is getting healthy and is showing an increased ability to rush the passer, and 2) the Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner announced his retirement. Both of these things come at an incredibly bad time and I think the Lions will take advantage.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
I said in the preseason that the Giants were spending a lot of money on mediocre talent. Their offseason moves were ones of desperation, not of careful planning. The Giants’ defense allows 20 points and 360 yards per game. Their run defense has been solid, but they are not forcing to turnovers and the pass defense has been average at best.
Offensively the Giants are among the worst rushing teams in the NFL and are completely reliant on the big play ability of Odell Beckem Jr. to clear up space for the other receivers. Oddly, Beckem’s statistics are not much better than his counterpart Jordan Mathews; Beckem has 4 more receptions and they each have 3 touchdowns.
The Eagles are an efficient team that avoid mistakes and convert in the redzone. One thing that I found impressive is that Carsen Wentz has 9 touchdowns to 7 different receivers. That tells me that the Eagles can beat teams with a number of different weapons. And while Wentz has been sacked 15 times, the Giants pass rush does not instill fear into their opponents.
I like the Eagles to keep themselves alive in the NFC East race.
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
Somewhere between last year and this year the Jets forgot how to play football. Matt Forte has been one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise dismal year. Darrelle Revis is having one of the worst years of his career, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a walking turnover, the offensive line is in shambles, and their pass rush has been below average.
Conversely the Dolphins seem to be improving in every phase of the game. The emergence of Jay Ajayi has seemingly galvanized the whole team. His running has opened up the passing game allowing Ryan Tannehill to look like a NFL quarterback, and with the improved time of possession the defense has picked up their productivity as well.
Had this been four weeks ago I may have gone with New York; but it is not. I am going with Miami off a bye to win their third in a row.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs
Is there anyone that would ever pick the Jaguars to win a game?
Chiefs win, move along.
Dallas Cowboys @ Cleveland Browns
Speaking of teams no one would pick to win a game…The Browns are the bastard step-child of the Cavaliers and Indians right now. I said at the outset of the season that the Browns were trying to lose in order to secure the #1 overall pick and right now they are succeeding.
The Cowboys on the otherhand are 6-1 and are featuring the top 2 contenders for offensive rookie of the year. Sean Lee has returned to the lineup at linebacker and is playing fantastic football, and the emergence of Cole Beasley has served as Dak Prescott’s lifeline in pressure situations.
I like the Cowboys in this game because I am a rationale football fan.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens best player is the ancient Terrell Suggs, their next best players is the even more ancient (and injured) Steve Smith, and their third best player is a quarterback who waits until the playoffs to become a force to be reckoned with.
The big factor in this game is the health of Big Ben. I fully expect him to return, but even if he does not I fully expect the Steelers to win. While the Steelers are prone to have big let downs, I still think they are the more talented team and should pick up the victory.
New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers
The Saints are coming off a big win against a quality opponent at home and while they are distinctly less effective outside of New Orleans, the Saints have to love this matchup. The 49ers are one of the worst offensive teams in the league and the switch to Colin Kaepernick has not yet evoked a resurgence their firepower.
To put it bluntly, the 49ers defense is not good enough to stop the Saints and their offense is not good enough to keep up. Saints get a necessary win on the road.
Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams
Don’t look now, but the Panthers are starting to look like the team that made it to the Super Bowl last year. The interior of their defensive line is starting to dominate and the skill position players have hit their stride. The problem facing Carolina is a beast named Aaron Donald.
The Carolina offensive line has been terrible and has failed to keep defenders off of Cam newton. Now they face arguably the best defensive lineman in the game who is likely to have a field day. It is a rough matchup for both teams.
In this case I am going with the hot team that has a better quarterback and that would be Carolina.
Indianapolis Colts @ Green Bay Packers
The Colts can run the ball and even if they could, the Packers would stop them with their #1 ranked run defense. The Colts also cannot protect Andrew Luck, which does not bode well seeing as they are going against Clay Matthews and Julius peppers, and Indy cannot get any pressure on opposing quarterback, which sucks for them because they are playing Aaron Rodgers.
The fact of the matter is that the Colts are going to have to face some major decisions this offseason, chief among them being whether or not Chuck Pagano will continue as their head coach.
This game will not help his cause…Packers win.
Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers
I am honestly surprised that the Chargers were able to achieve 3 wins this season, let alone this early. They have the 18th ranked defense, their run game is anemic (although Gordon does have a nose for the endzone), and while Rivers has thrown for 15 touchdowns, that is only one more than Mariota. And while the Chargers are 3rd in the league in scoring, Rivers has also thrown 7 interceptions and been sacked 21 times.
The key matchup here is run offense versus run defense. The Titans have 3rd best run offense going against the Chargers and 6th ranked run defense. A defense that has improved with the maturation of Joey Bosa.
I don’t like the Chargers, I don’t like Philip Rivers, and even at home I do not trust them in this game. I will take the emerging Titans for the victory.
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Last week Derek Carr announced his presence in this league with authority by having the most prolific passing day in the history of the Raiders. The Oakland offense is a tour de force that scores 27 points per game, but they are facing a team that only allows 17.
This game is the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Will one of the league’s elite defenses be able to stop one of the league’s elite offenses?
At home, I am betting on the Raiders. I think they are hot right now, plus I think if they get a lead, then it will put Trevor Siemian in a position where he is forced to pass from behind setting him up to be a victim of the Khalil Mack pass rush that devasted the Broncos last season.
I’m taking the Raiders at home.
Buffalo Bills @ Seattle Seahawks
The Bills went from the hottest team in football into one that is among the most desperate. The injuries seem to be taking their toll and defenses are doing a better job at containing Tyrod Taylor and the Bills have the unenviable task of taking on a Seattle team that just lost a tough one to New Orleans.
I think the Seahawks will be coming back to Seattle looking for blood and the Bills just happen to be the team in their way.
Seattle dominates this game.