Last week I finished 10-3, or 10-4, depending on how you want to count the Rams – 49ers tie. Last week I messed up with the Bengals vs the Giants because I thought New York would beat an underachieving Cincinnati team. I also thought Chicago would pull out the home win against the Texans, which may have happened if QB Jay Cutler didn’t go down to injury and I didn’t think Minnesota would pull it together to beat Detroit. Oh, and that ridiculous tie between St. Louis and San Francisco. Why do we still allow ties anyway? The teams on bye are the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans.
Thursday, 11/15 – 8:20 pm ET
Miami Dolphins 4-5 @ Buffalo Bills 3-6
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
If I’m being completely honest, I thought Miami would pull off the win. I thought Miami QB Ryan Tannehill would be able to take advantage of Buffalo’s poor defense. I was wrong, but I’ll be honest.
Sunday, 11/18 – 1:00 pm ET
Green Bay Packers 6-3 @ Detroit Lions 4-5
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Green Bay’s offense has caught fire recently and I think that pattern continues. These teams know each other very well, so I could see this game being surprisingly low scoring, but on paper you have two high-powered offenses. I just think Green Bay has a better defense to matchup against Detroit.
Arizona Cardinals 4-5 @ Atlanta Falcons 8-1
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
I like Atlanta. Arizona has the 2nd-ranked pass defense only giving up an average of 194.6 yards a game. Atlanta’s pass offense is ranked 4th in the league passing for 292.6 yards a game. Strength vs. strength. I think the overall talent on Atlanta’s roster is too much for Arizona. Also, keep an eye on Arizona’s porous offensive line, which has allowed 41 sacks on the season, which is awful. Those 41 sacks are 12 more than the next worst offensive line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-4 @ Carolina Panthers 2-7
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers offense is hot right now and their defense has been solid. Carolina is heading in the opposite direction. Their offense has been wildly inconsistent and the defense, while improved from last season, hasn’t been enough to compensate. I expect Bucs RB Doug Martin to continue his strong stretch and, while I think Panthers QB Cam Newton will play well, it won’t be enough.
Cleveland Browns 2-7 @ Dallas Cowboys 4-5
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has been awful at home ever since Owner/GM Jerry Jones built his prize stadium (15-13). I don’t think Cleveland has the team talent to take advantage, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Dallas has the 8th-ranked defense in the league. Cleveland’s offense is ranked 28th. That side of the ball should be the deciding factor.
Philadelphia Eagles 3-6 @ Washington Redskins 3-6
Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles
This is Eagles QB Nick Foles first start. Foles has solid talent, but I don’t think he will single-handedly win this game. Washington’s defense is ranked 29th, giving up 397.9 total yards a game. Philadelphia, for all their struggles, still have a lot of talent. The Redskins will have to rely on RB Alfred Morris and QB Robert Griffin III. I think Philadelphia’s defense, while flawed, has enough athleticism to neutralize the Redskins key players.
New York Jets 3-6 @ St. Louis Rams 3-5-1
Prediction: St. Louis Rams
I’m going with St. Louis here based solely on how they played last week. They went into San Francisco and ended up tying, but tying with one of the best in the NFC on the road is still quite impressive. The Jets are not anywhere near the talent level of San Francisco and I think the Rams will be ready to play at home. Look for a solid Rams run game and a solid pass defense being the difference in this one.
Cincinnati Bengals 4-5 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1-8
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
Of all the games I have attempted to predict, Cincinnati’s have been the most difficult. They have talent, but when you think they should win, they fall flat and when they shouldn’t have a chance (like last week against the Giants), they put it all together. That said, I think Cincy puts it together against the 1-8 Chiefs. The Chiefs put together a great performance last week in Pittsburgh and should play Cincy closer than expected, but all in all, I think the Bengals defense is turning the corner and getting back to last season’s success. The Bengals offense can be explosive as well.
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-8 @ Houston Texans 8-1
Prediction: Houston Texans
Please take a look at the Jaguars record… and now the Texans. Houston should win this one. Houston is such a good team because they are built to win games they should win. A strong run game, a capable pass offense, and a suffocating defense are a recipe to beat teams like Jacksonville. If you can effectively control the clock and shut down the opposing offense, you’re in good shape. I like Houston.
Sunday, 11/18 – 4:05 pm ET
New Orleans Saints 4-5 @ Oakland Raiders 3-6
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
I’m taking momentum in this one. New Orleans is coming off a huge win against the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons and, suddenly, you can’t count them out of any game. Oh, and they are playing against the Raiders. Oakland has moved the ball offensively this season, but not consistently and by consistently, I mean, when it matters. They are normally well out of the game by the time they start clicking. The Saints should be able to pull out a comfortable win in a shootout.
Sunday, 11/18 – 4:25 pm ET
San Diego Chargers 4-5 @ Denver Broncos 6-3
Prediction: Denver Broncos
San Diego seems broken somehow. They just don’t have a very good offense and their defense isn’t enough to compensate. I know San Diego played well last week in a loss to Tampa Bay, but Denver is no Tampa Bay. In fact, this is the same Denver team that scored 35 unanswered points in the second half alone to beat San Diego 35-24 in their first meeting. I’ll take the Broncos and QB Peyton Manning.
Indianapolis Colts 6-3 @ New England Patriots 6-3
Prediction: New England Patriots
This one could very well turn into an upset because Colts rookie QB, Andrew Luck, has been fantastic as of late and the entire Colts team has been solid. They are 6-3 after all. That said, this seems like one of those games where we expect a close, interesting matchup between two talented teams and the Patriots just demolish them. I just don’t think Patriots QB Tom Brady will struggle against the Colts defense. Even then, I expect the Patriots to run the ball on the 22nd-ranked run defense with RB Stevan Ridley. New England head coach Bill Belichick should have something ready for Luck.
Sunday, 11/18 – 8:20 pm ET
Baltimore Ravens 7-2 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 6-3
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
People think Pittsburgh doesn’t have a chance in this one because of QB Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, and while I think Baltimore does win this one, Pittsburgh should make this a very close game. Backup Byron Leftwich isn’t bad and with a week of practice he should be at least serviceable. Also, keep in mind that Baltimore has struggled to stop the run, which helps with the whole “missing a quarterback” thing. That said, Baltimore has gone into Pittsburgh before and beaten the Steelers and think it happens again. The lack of Roethlisberger isn’t a kiss of death, but it is enough to give the Ravens the edge.
Monday, 11/19 – 8:30 pm ET
Chicago Bears 7-2 @ San Francisco 49ers 6-2-1
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
This will be interesting. Bears QB Jay Cutler has been ruled out with a concussion suffered last week and 49ers QB Alex Smith’s status is still unclear. That means we could see Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick, respectively, against two of the most formidable defenses in the league. Ouch. I think San Francisco has the offense to account for a lack of quarterback experience with their power run game and head coach, Jim Harbaugh’s, ingenuity. Look for a defensive struggle.