Last week resulted in an 8-5 finish for me in my picks. Did anyone else notice that most of the games were blowouts? Wasn’t expecting some many games to be so one-sided. Anyway, I missed on New York [Giants], Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Dallas.
– New York dominated Washington on the road last Thursday night. I think that is an exception to the rule when it comes to Thursday night games. It’s hard to go on the road on a short week and win. It hardly happens.
– Green Bay looked like the Green Bay everyone outside of Chicago knows and loves. Their offense was clicking and their defense took advantage of some “gun-slinging” from Jay Cutler.
– Tampa Bay’s win was dramatic and fun to watch, but it really shouldn’t have come to that. Come on Pittsburgh! You’re killing me!
– Minnesota looked good with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Or was it that Atlanta just can’t play football outside of their dome? I could have sworn it wasn’t going to be that dramatic of a difference.
– Dallas is legit. I picked New Orleans expecting them to find their groove on both sides of the ball rather than because I thought Dallas was bad and New Orleans simply looks… off. Most of that goes to Dallas and how they are playing right now. Who would have thought that utilizing a strong run game and keeping games off Tony Romo’s shoulders would be a good idea?
The byes this week are Miami and Oakland. The gif I found for this week is in honor of Steelers fans who watch one week with excitement of what’s to come before uncharacteristically falling apart the next week. Gosh, they are hard to predict…
Thursday, 10/2 – 8:25 pm ET
Minnesota Vikings 2-2 @ Green Bay Packers 2-2
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
A couple things… traveling, on the road, on a Thursday night game is tough (I venture to say Washington’s horrible performance last Thursday was an exception to the rule). Historically, the road team struggles offensively with the short week for preparation and with rookie quarterback considered a game-time decision after not practicing all week anyway, I have to think Minnesota will struggle. I would like to see what Minnesota does with their running game between Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, but ultimately the Packers, at home, are too much. I do expect to finally see some big plays from Minnesota playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson. He had some of his biggest plays against Green Bay last season.
Sunday, 10/5 – 1:00 pm ET
Chicago Bears 2-2 @ Carolina Panthers 2-2
Prediction: Chicago Bears
What happened to Carolina’s defense? They can’t stop the run and they can’t limit the passing game. Offensively, Carolina is patching together whatever healthy bodies they can to find a running back and quarterback Cam Newton still looks a little affected by his off-season surgery. I think you see where this is going. I need to see a turnaround performance from them before I take them over Chicago. Despite being blown-out against Green Bay, I think Chicago will be able to win this game. With how Carolina is playing, Chicago’s should find success offensively and, frankly, I don’t think the Bears defense needs to do much to limit Carolina’s offensive effectiveness.
Cleveland Browns 1-2 @ Tennessee Titans 1-3
Prediction: Cleveland Browns
I’m actually excited to see how this game plays out. Running back Ben Tate should be back for Cleveland with fellow backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West taking some carries here and there. On the other side of the ball, rookie running back Bishop Sankey is expected to get more carries with Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst at quarterback for the Titans. I want to see the rookie backs get some carries and I think that will happen. As for the game, Whitehurst isn’t good enough to effectively attack Cleveland’s defense. Unless Sankey has a great game, I think Cleveland’s run game and defense will be the difference.
St. Louis Rams 1-2 @ Philadelphia Eagles 3-1
Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia hasn’t exactly been impressive on their way to a 3-1 record to start the year. Their first three wins came after going behind by 10 or more points in the first half and last week’s loss at San Francisco was a game where they led for most of the game because of everything but their offense. That said, St. Louis doesn’t have the talent to challenge the Eagles. It should be close. St. Louis might even take an early lead, but as the game progresses, the skill players for Philadelphia will be too much to overcome.
Atlanta Falcons 2-2 @ New York Giants 2-2
Prediction: New York Giants
New York appears to have turned a corner. Their offense is clicking and their defense really is quietly looking rather formidable. Atlanta’s offense is explosive, but they are a different team on the road and just this week they put two offensive lineman on Injured Reserve. Pass protection will be an issue and the Atlanta defense is swiss cheese unless they are playing Tampa Bay evidently. New York should run all over Atlanta while getting after the quarterback defensively.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-3 @ New Orleans Saints 1-3
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
Quarterback Mike Glennon is the best thing for the Buccaneers… then, now and in the future. He has a strong arm and makes an undermanned roster competitive. That said, New Orleans, like I said above for Atlanta, is a different team at home. Their offense will be explosive once again and their defense will play well for the home crowd. Does that suddenly solve the litany of pressing concerns for the Saints long-term? Not at all, but this week they should be fine. This will be closer than people expect though. Between Glennon’s play and this being a divisional game, I expect Tampa Bay to keep it close despite the apparent talent discrepancy.
Houston Texans 3-1 @ Dallas Cowboys 3-1
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
When I wrote my Season Preview post, I looked at Houston’s schedule and thought they would be able to start strong, even going so far as to think they would be 4-0 by this point. The problem is, Houston can’t maintain it all season. Their wins are over Washington, Oakland and Buffalo. I’m sorry, but that’s only three combined wins. Dallas, on the other hand, has looked very impressive. A power run game, headlined by running back DeMarco Murray has Dallas looking like geniuses for investing in first-round lineman over the most recent NFL drafts. Quarterback Tony Romo isn’t asked to do too much and the Dallas defense is looking better than most expected (I told you they wouldn’t be that bad). I like Dallas to keep to the script and win this one.
Buffalo Bills 2-2 @ Detroit Lions 3-1
Prediction: Detroit Lions
Veteran quarterback Kyle Orton won’t save the Bills. He may play better than E.J. Manuel currently is, but even that isn’t necessarily a guarantee. Detroit, at home, is explosive offensively even when receiver Calvin Johnson isn’t 100%. I like Detroit to win this one.
Baltimore Ravens 3-1 @ Indianapolis Colts 2-2
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts
Baltimore has looked good, but I’m still not sure how good. The Ravens are 3-1 after beating Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Carolina. The Pittsburgh game was on a Thursday night, which seems to be a disadvantage to road teams, the Cleveland game was tight and who knows what is happening in Carolina now. There are still questions with this Ravens team and I think Indianapolis and quarterback Andrew Luck are good enough to win this one at home. The Colts have been on fire the last two weeks, albeit against Jacksonville and Tennessee, but I like what Luck can get out of the Colts offensively. I think Indianapolis does enough to win in a high-scoring affair.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 0-4
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is ruining my predictions (seriously… I’m 1-3 in my Pittsburgh picks). They can’t seem to make up their minds on how good they are or when they are going to play up to their talent level. Fortunately for me, my rule of picking against Jacksonville overrules here. Jacksonville is getting better and is actually capable of pulling the upset, purely because of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. I think Pittsburgh will be focused this week after giving away a win to Tampa Bay, at home, last week.
Sunday, 10/5 – 4:05 pm ET
Arizona Cardinals 3-0 @ Denver Broncos 2-1
Prediction: Denver Broncos
The news out of Arizona is that quarterback Carson Palmer was feeling better after dealing with nerve issues in his shoulder, but recently had a setback making him unlikely for this weekend’s game. Even with Drew Stanton starting, I like Arizona given their talent and playing style. Plus, Stanton is a quite serviceable backup. That said, the Cardinals are traveling to Mile High to play quarterback Peyton Manning and company after a bye week. Denver is still immensely talented and I expect Denver to simply be too good, particularly defensively, without Palmer behind center.
Sunday, 10/5 – 4:25 pm ET
Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 @ San Francisco 49ers 2-2
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
This is the hardest game to gauge this week. I was impressed by Kansas City’s performance against New England, but I can’t base this pick off that game. After all, primetime games at home tend to provoke pretty good performances. Plus, how good is New England anyway? San Francisco spent last week getting back to their roots and running the ball. The 49ers defense isn’t what they have been, but they still did more than enough against the Eagles offense last week. I want to see Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith play well in his return to San Francisco – and I think he will – but the 49ers will pound the ball and pull out a close one.
New York Jets 1-3 @ San Diego Chargers 3-1
Prediction: San Diego Chargers
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is playing lights-out. There is a reason he is a favorite for the MVP award at this point in the season. The Jets, on the other hand, are still rolling out Geno Smith at quarterback. I don’t know if everything is Smith’s fault with the New York offense, but he does tend to be the dagger to doom them. All that aside, the Chargers will move the ball at will through the air against the Jets porous secondary. Plus, traveling from east to west coast is always a challenge.
Sunday, 10/5 – 8:30 pm ET
Cincinnati Bengals 3-0 @ New England Patriots 2-2
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
I think we should avoid jumping to conclusions with the Patriots. Did they look bad last week against Kansas City? Oh, worse than anyone could have imagined. But, are they really going to just disappear from the football scape like some have suggested? I don’t think so. It’s just a matter of time before things start clicking for them. Unfortunately for Patriots fans, I don’t think that happens this week. Cincinnati is coming off a bye week and brings a top-tier defense, a powerful run game and a quarterback in Andy Dalton who hasn’t made many mistakes thus far. Cincinnati still needs to show that they are for real with a win in New England, but I’m taking the Bengals here.
Monday, 10/6 – 8:30 pm ET
Seattle Seahawks 2-1 @ Washington Redskins 1-3
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is another team coming off a bye, so they are rested and prepared for this road matchup with the Redskins who fell apart at the hands of the Giants last Thursday. I have a question for you… if the Redskins offense couldn’t move the ball consistently and consistently turned the ball over against the Giants, do you really think they will fare better against the vaunted Seahawks defense? I don’t think so. I’m taking Seattle.