The sports Gods are obviously punishing me.
It is the only explanation for some of those upsets and comeback victories that absolutely destroyed my picks this past week. How else can you explain the Jaguars beating the Ravens on a last second field goal? Only divine intervention could have granted the Lions that victory despite their best attempts to give it to the Packers; and what in the depth of Dante’s Inferno conjured up the offensive explosion exhibited by the Redskins?
I may have gone 5-9 in picks last week, but I take no responsibility for the acts of God. Truly there is a conspiracy akin to Greek Mythology against me right now.
But back on the horse…I am going to turn it around with a masterful picking job this week (and I am not referring to my nose).
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Well here is a riveting matchup. Two teams without a shot at the playoffs playing the Thursday night game, which is notorious for putting forth 3+ hours of horrendous football.
Surprisingly, the Titans are ranked 5th in overall defense. They are in the bottom quarter of all the other major statistical categories, but they do have a decent defense. The Jaguars on the other hand are ranked 19th in total defense, but they also have a penchant for giving up the big play. Both teams sport talented young quarterbacks, with poor run games, and lackluster skill players.
The Titans have the better defense and there is something about Mariota that intrigues me. On a hunch I am going with the Titans.
Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears
This game comes down to one issue: how well can Brock Osweiler play? In mop up duty this past week he threw for 146 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.
The Broncos clearly have the better defense, including Aquib Talib coming back from his one game suspension, but the Bears are getting hot after winning 4 of their last 6 and are rapidly turning into a team that no one wants to face.
I am going with the Bears. The Broncos have no run game, poor quarterback play, and they are facing a tough team in Chicago. Plus, I think there is something to be said for a motivated and confident Jay Cutler playing against his former team. I like the Bears to pull off a huge upset.
Oakland Raiders @ Detroit Lions
Detroit should give that win back! After all the ways they tried to blow that game, the fact that they won is still indicative of their failure. They now have 2 whole wins, a fluke against Green Bay and a melt down by Chicago.
Now Oakland does not inspire confidence either. They are only 4-5 and seem to fall short anytime they are presented with an opportunity to step up.
But this is the Lions.
This is a game the Raiders have to have and I think they will win in dominant fashion. They have the 5th ranked offense and Derek Carr is emerging into a superstar before our eyes, while the Lions are a few bad plays away from firing another coach and general manager.
Indianapolis Colts @ Atlanta Falcons
So the Falcons are better than the Colts in every relevant team category except one: defensive third down conversions. The Falcons allow teams to convert 3rd downs at a clip of 40.4% whereas the Colts do so at 37.9%.
Other than that, it is all Falcons both offensively and defensively. Indy has been horrific all year and now Andrew Luck is out with a lacerated kidney. I am all about the Falcons in this game. It would not surprise me if they win by double digits either.
New York Jets @ Houston Texans
That is it! the Jets officially lose any credibility or benefit of the doubt with me. I do not care who they have or who they are facing, I can not in good conscience pick this underachieving team to win.
Statistically the Jets are better defensively and offensively than the Texan. They score 4 more points per game than the Texan do, and allow 3 less than the Texans, which theoretically gives them a touchdown advantage.
I am picking the Texans because they have J.J. Watt and because they are not the New York Jets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Philadelphia Eagles
It’s ironic, that for all the hoopla surrounding the Eagles’ offense, it is their defense that has proven pretty stout this year. While they allow 358 yards per game, they only allow 20 points per game. They are the epitome of a bend, but don’t break defense and they are facing a team that is struggling to score and hit big plays.
The Bucs are 6th in the league in rushing, but they are 23rd in passing yards and 24th in scoring. To me it seems that the Bucs are taylor made for the Eagles. Even if Sam Bradford is out this week, I still like the Eagles to win.
Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers
The Redskins may have played well enough to get Rob Ryan fired (and subsequently answer the prayers of most Saints fans), but now they face one of the two remaining undefeated teams. The Panthers are just playing great all-around football in a throwback style. They are playing physical and aggressive defense while maintaining ball control through a sustained run game. That is a recipe used by many Super Bowl champions.
I can talk about offensive and defensive rankings, various player matchups, and overall talent levels, but the only stat that matter is: Washington 4-5, Carolina 9-0. Panthers slap down the Redskins with ease.
Dallas Cowboys @ Miami Dolphins
Usually I would not take a team that released its best running back and that is starting a quarterback coming off a broken collar bone, but you know what? I have that little faith in the Dolphins.
To my eternal shock, the Dolphins managed to pull one out against the Eagles, but Romo is far better than Bradford and that offensive line of the Cowboys may be the absolute best in football.
With no Cameron Wake and a very inconsistent offense, I like the Cowboys to beat the Dolphins in South Beach.
St. Louis Rams @ Baltimore Ravens
The Rams have three things going for them: 1) a stout defense, 2) Todd Gurley, and 3) Nick Foles being benched. I do not know who the Rams will end up starting, but as the 32nd ranked passing team it can only be an improvement.
The sad thing is that even with all of their flaws, the Rams are a much better team than the Ravens. Better skill players, better overall talent, more coaching experience, and they will be pissed after the beat down they received from the Bears last week.
I like the Rams to bounce back in a big way.
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
Don’t look now, but the Chiefs have won three in a row on the unlikeliest of shoulders in Charcandrick West. The man is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and perfectly balances the west coast style of passing game that Andy Reid likes to employ.
I like the Chiefs in this one.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
The Packers have always lived and died on the ability of Aaron Rodgers. Over the past couple of weeks, they have been exposed for how truly thin their roster is.
The Vikings are far from an elite team, but Bill Parcels said it best: “you are what your record says you are.” In this case the record says that the Vikings are the better team. In addition to that, the Vikings are 1st in rushing offense and 9th in total defense, making them a lot like the Panthers.
With the Packers’ recent woes and the Vikings’ physical style of play, I like the Vikings to take a two-game lead in the NFC North.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
Cincinnati Bengals @ Arizona Cardinals
The Bengals were shockingly upset last week by a team that was statistically inferior. This week they are on the road against a team that is statistically superior, including being ranked 3rd in overall defense and 1st in overall offense.
In addition to the team statistics, the Cardinals have a bunch of players that are contributing in big ways. Chris Johnson has had a career resurgence, Larry Fitzgerald is showing they he is not done yet, John Brown is proving to be an elite deep threat, and Andre Ellington is carving out a niche for himself as a great third down back.
On the flip side, the Bengals have yet to effectively utilize their two very good running backs, and no other wide receivers have emerged alongside A.J. Green as a consistent threat.
I think the Cardinals are a better team and I think they are going to hand the Bengals their second loss in a row.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots
I really hope the Bills win: 1) I hate the Patriots and 2) because I want to see the epic celebration Rex Ryan will do. But let’s face it, the Bills are just not good enough. The Patriots win…again…unfortunately…