All right, three straight weeks with double-digit wins. Let’s see if we can keep that momentum going. No pretense, just picks…
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
This may be the game of the week. Unfortunately, it will be played on Thursday night which consistently features the sloppiest and worst football of the week. But these are two good teams that continue to find ways to win, even when they are not at their absolute best.
The Raiders unquestionably have the better offense. Carr is a much better quarterback with a plethora of explosive weapons at his disposal. Oakland is capable of scoring on a single play or sustaining a long, drawn out drive.
On the flip side the Chiefs unquestionably have the better defense. Despite Khalil Mack playing for Oakland, the Raiders struggle with consistency and are susceptible to big plays. The Chiefs are a hard-nosed group that routinely create opportunities for their offense and consistently provide solid field position.
Both teams are great and are playoff bound and if they played 10 times each team would probably win 5. In this case the x-factor is the homefield advantage. The Chiefs are 4-1 at home and 3-0 in their division, which puts them in the driver’s seat of the division if they win this game.
Based solely on the home field advantage, I am going with the Chiefs in this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
This is practically a must win for both teams in their quest for playoff glory. The Bills’ offense has been surprisingly good, with Tyrod Taylor making big plays and minimizing mistakes; and now that Sammy Watkins is back, they have yet another weapon from which to choose.
But unfortunately that defense is coached by the brothers Ryan. Rex Ryan is a fairly good head coach, but is completely overrated as a defensive mind and his brother is just a bad coach. I understand that the Buffalo defense has been ravaged by injuries and I get that they have had a slate of tough opponents, but at the end of the day they just have not gotten the job done.
The Bills won’t be able to stop that Steelers offense. I predict this game to be very high scoring and to even be a competitive game, but in the end the Steelers will get a stop or two, which may be a stop or two more than the Bills. Steelers win.
San Diego Chargers @ Carolina Panthers
I don’t know what to think about this game. On paper the Panthers are a better team, but their offensive line has been terrible and they are facing Joey Bosa. Bosa started the season late due to injury, but has been the heart of that defense ever since. Bosa has shown signs of stardom and the Chargers defense has been effective due almost solely to his pass-rushing ability.
But one man is not enough and there are ways to stop a single pass-rusher, even with a mediocre offensive line. In this case I like the Panthers at home to disrupt Philip Rivers and score against Joey Bosa and pick up the win.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
The Bears looked good against the 49ers, limiting Colin Kaepernick to 1 of 5 passing for 4 yards. But that was against the 49ers who lack talent and are poorly coached. This week they go up against the division leading Detroit Lions who are led by the most clutch quarterback in the NFL.
I maintain that Matthew Stafford should win the MVP and against this porous Chicago defense, he should have a field day. I like the Lions to march up down against the Bears all day.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
The Browns will never win a game again. Not this season. Not next season. NEVER.
I’m kidding of course, but in all seriousness the Browns are truly awful and they are not winning, even against a depleted Bengals squad. Bengals win.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Kelly, the rookie center of the Colts has proven to be a blessing for the Colts. That line as a whole is still struggling, but Kelly has provided a rock solid foundation upon which they can build on going forward. Furthermore, Andrew Luck is starting to play back to form after injuries have hampered him the past couple seasons.
I always thought the Osweiler was a bad investment and so far he has been nothing but money down the toilet for the Texans. He holds onto the ball too long, is inconsistent on the deep ball, and doesn’t go through his progressions efficiently. Lamar Miller has been slightly better, but certainly has not been able to carry the offense to any significant degree.
The Colts are playing well by AFC South standards and fortunately for them, they are playing another AFC South team who happens to be 1-5 on the road.
I like Indy to hold serve at home.
Minnesota Vikings @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Vikings are one of the best defenses in football ranking in the top 5 in both points and yards allowed. They find creative ways of disrupting the quarterback and safety Harrison Smith is a great defender who does not get nearly the credit he deserves. The Jaguars have not quite gelled on defense and have been a hot mess on offense.
I have said in previous weeks that Vikings are dependent on their defense and special teams for scoring, but against the Jaguars, that seems like a forgone conclusion.
I like the Vikings despite their recent woes.
Arizona Cardinals @ Miami Dolphins
The Cardinals are coming off an impressive win against a solid Redskins team, whereas the Dolphins are reeling from a bad loss to the Ravens. The Cardinals are playing for pride, while the Dolphins are still fighting for that last playoff spot.
Neither team is particularly good on defense and both have been playing well offensively. The Carsen Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald connection has been phenomenal and Ryan Tannehill obviously loves playing under Adam Gase who has Tannehill playing the best ball of his career.
This will be a close game that will come down to which quarterback will make a mistake. But with the home field advantage and the incentive of the playoffs ahead I am giving the edge to the Dolphins.
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz is obviously the quarterback of the future in Philly and it looks like he is up to the job, but the Eagles are still a couple years away. Their defense is unreliable and the offense is inconsistent. The fact of the matter is that the Eagles are a middle of the road team that will end up in the 7-9, 8-8 range.
Washington is thriving. Loss to the Cardinals notwithstanding, Kirk Cousins must have jack pot alarms going off in his head 24/7 as he has established himself as an upper-level quarterback in the NFL. With a pair of aging receivers, no run game, and a shaky defense, Cousins is almost single-handedly keeping the Redskins alive in the playoffs.
They might not make it, but if they do it will be because of Cousins. I like him to keep the dream alive and carry Washington to victory this week.
Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans
Personally I would love to see the upset by the Titans, but the problem is that the Broncos have one of the best defenses in the NFL and they are one of the few teams capable of shutting down that explosive run game of the Titans. By making the Titans one-dimensional, Tennessee will have to rely on Marcus Mariota to carry the offense and I do not think he is quite ready to do that.
The Broncos defense is good enough to win the game themselves, no matter if it’s Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch at quarterback. And I think they will.
New York Jets @ San Francisco 49ers
Talk about two teams that have completely shit the bed this season. Dear God they have been awful. The 49ers may have had the worst game of any team last week and the Jets have seemingly quit on their coach and season. This game is a coin-flip as to the outcome of this must-miss TV.
I am going with the Jets because I believe they have more overall talent and I think Todd Bowles is a better coach than Chip Kelly. I’m sure I will end up regretting this decision.
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints have been an incredibly disappointing team this season. New Orleans is wasting the last few years of Drew Brees’ career. Between the lack of run game and the inability to field a quality defense the Saints simply cannot compete against the top tier teams.
The Bucs have quietly crept into not only playoff contention, but are challenging for the division championship. Winston seems to have settled down and is making better decisions and the return of the muscle hamster has rejuvenated a lackluster ground attack; which in turn takes pressure off of their defense.
These teams are going in opposite directions and Tampa Bay’s path seems a lot clearer. I like them to pick up the victory this week.
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
This game is incredibly interesting. Aaron Rodgers seems to have found his form and has led the Packers to two straight victories. The Seahawks have been running away with their division, however; the injury to Kam Chancelor is a significant blow to the heart of their defense.
With Kam out of the game I predict that Packers will get at least one deep play due to a safety miscue and lead to Green Bay touchdown. But will that be enough? No. Despite the offense of Green Bay looking better and the defense of the Seahawks being diminished, the Packers field one of the worst pass defenses in the league and I believe they will be completely unable to stop Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin.
Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams
I want Jeff Fisher’s job. Only in his job can a person fail to attain any success and get a contract extension for millions of dollars. Fisher is a coach who was always overrated and now is just a liability on the sidelines and until he is gone the Rams will never have prolonged success.
The Falcons have taken a couple of surprising losses and that defense is schizophrenic, alternating between brilliant plays and horrid missteps. That being said, their offense has been superb and is more than a match for anything the Rams can bring to the table. Atlanta will score points and the Rams cannot keep pace.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
The Giants are a one-weapon team; but what a weapon he is. OBJ is capable of breaking out against any defense at any time. He can come out and catch 3 touchdowns and no one would be surprise. But for the Giants it’s OBJ or bust and against a well-rounded team, like the Cowboys, it just will not be enough.
The Cowboys have a number of weapons and a quarterback capable of using all of them. The defense has been playing better under the leadership of Sean Lee, and Ezekiel Elliott has firmly entrenched himself into the MVP race in his rookie year.
The Cowboys are going to win because they are much better team.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
This feels like a trap game. The Ravens have the best defense in the NFL statistically, Terrance West has solidified the run game, and Joe Flacco has put together a couple of games that reflect the massive contract. The team seems to have taken on the discipline of their coach John Harbaugh and the attitude of their senior star, Steve Smith.
But this is the Patriots. They typically do not fall into trap games, especially with an extra day of preparation. I hate the Patriots with a burning passion, but they are the model of how to run an NFL franchise. So until further notice, they win.