I was a rather unimpressive 8-6-1 last week. Normally, I am quite good at picking the afternoon and evening games, but they let me down last week. On the plus side, I did correctly call Cleveland’s upset. On the other hand, I missed on Indianapolis, Tennessee, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia. I’m counting the Bengals game as a tie in my predictions.
– Indianapolis looked impressive offensively, thus debunking the “every road offense struggles on Thursday night” myth. Houston is starting to come back down from their strong start. They are only an average team, maybe lower unless they can get more from Ryan Fitzpatrick. The final season standings should reflect that eventually.
– I can’t really say that Tennessee looked impressive holding off Jacksonville. The Jaguars are playing hard and you have to like Blake Bortles. Maybe not his numbers or decisions, but he looks like a player in the future.
– Detroit was better offensively than I thought and their defense just keeps playing like it’s the best in football. Minnesota looked worse than I thought they would against said defense.
– Chicago won one at Atlanta. That is actually quite the accomplishment. Questions about Jay Cutler and the Bears defense remain, but Chicago has won some impressive road games this season. Now if only they could beat the Packers.
– Dallas was impressive beating Seattle in Seattle. The Cowboys gameplan allows them to keep games close, which makes them threats going forward, but we shouldn’t jump the gun with the whole “Dallas is going to the Super Bowl” stuff just yet…
– Philadelphia played a flawless game. Not much more they could have done. They made the Giants look very bad and now the Eagles get a bye. Not bad for them.
The byes this week are Philadelphia and Tampa Bay (gosh they need one). Here’s my gif for the week. The play that means I have to add a “-1” to two team records every week I copy and paste my Weekly Predictions template into a new post. Thanks Cincinnati.
Thursday, 10/16 – 8:25 pm ET
New York Jets 1-5 @ New England Patriots 4-2
Prediction: New England Patriots
I see this going one of two ways. Either the Jets will come out fighting and keep it close to the very end, or they will experience “butt-fumble part two” with quarterback Geno Smith thoroughly being outplayed by his counterpart, Mr. Tom Brady. This is a divisional matchup, which tends to be closer, but have we had a good Thursday night game all season? I’m taking New England and for my final answer, I think this is a thorough win by the Patriots.
Sunday, 10/19 – 1:00 pm ET
Atlanta Falcons 2-4 @ Baltimore Ravens 4-2
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
The first thing you look at when considering Atlanta’s chances is if they are playing indoors, particularly at home. When they don’t, that offense, despite being riddled with talent, can’t seem click and their defense may be one of the worst in the NFL (they actually are: ranked 31st in yards per game allowed). Baltimore shouldn’t warrant consideration at legit Super Bowl contenders yet, but they are trending up. I like Baltimore to move the ball as they wish. Atlanta is too talented to not score, but it won’t be enough on the road.
Tennessee Titans 2-4 @ Washington Redskins 1-5
Prediction: Washington Redskins
Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker is considered a game-time decision at the time of this post. If he plays, I like Tennessee to pull this one out, but even then, Washington has a solid claim to this matchup. The Redskins defense is 10th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and their offense has talent if they protect the ball. Seeing how Tennessee isn’t a particularly imposing defense themselves, I like Washington to do enough. Watch for head coach Jay Gruden to take the ball out of Kirk Cousins’ hands in a matchup that is more favorable for the run game than weeks past.
Seattle Seahawks 3-2 @ St. Louis Rams 1-4
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle looked human at home against Dallas last week, but I’m concerned. Seattle didn’t utilize Marshawn Lynch effectively and St. Louis isn’t nearly as good as Dallas is offensively. I like Seattle to reassert themselves against the Rams young offense.
Cleveland Browns 3-2 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 0-6
Prediction: Cleveland Browns
Jacksonville will win this season, but I don’t think they will this week. Cleveland has been on fire this season and could be 4-1 if not for poor play/coaching against Baltimore earlier this season. Cleveland will run the ball against the worst rush defense in the league, which will win them this game. That said, I think this game will be tougher for Cleveland than their win last week against Pittsburgh. Watch out for Jacksonville and quarterback Blake Bortles. If things start slowing down for him, which is only a matter of time, he will keep the Jaguars in games and finish a couple.
Cincinnati Bengals 3-1-1 @ Indianapolis Colts 4-2
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts
I want to see Cincinnati play up to their ability again before picking them over the Colts and their explosive offense. Andrew Luck is playing like the best quarterback in the league right now and that is enough for me with Cincy coming to town. The Bengals defense is looking suspect after dominating the early season and their offense is still without receiver A.J. Green. That said, I am impressed with quarterback Andy Dalton’s play despite the current problems along the rest of the roster.
Minnesota Vikings 2-4 @ Buffalo Bills 3-3
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
This game feels like coin-toss. I know Buffalo is at .500, but they aren’t really a team I expect to contend for the playoffs. Their offense is suspect and while their defense plays admirably, it isn’t enough to win games. For Minnesota… well… it’s pretty much the same story. I like Minnesota to improve as the season progresses, but for now I’m thinking Buffalo’s defense will have a greater impact on this game by disrupting the play of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. With Buffalo capable of shutting down the run game, Minnesota will need Bridgewater to win the game for them. I think Buffalo outlasts the Vikings in that case.
Miami Dolphins 2-3 @ Chicago Bears 3-3
Prediction: Chicago Bears
Miami lost in dramatic fashion to Green Bay last week while Chicago went into Atlanta and came away with a win. I think Chicago playing at home is the deciding factor here. Jay Cutler figures to throw some interceptions, but, in the end, running back Matt Forte and the other offensive weapons for the Bears is too much for Miami’s offense to keep up with.
New Orleans Saints 2-3 @ Detroit Lions 4-2
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
At one point, this game was supposed to be a high-powered shootout, but now we are looking at two teams who haven’t been able to get clicking offensively and both are now missing their primary offensive weapons for a couple more weeks. With Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson sitting out, the defenses figure to have a greater impact on this game where Detroit has a clear and distinct advantage. That said, I’m taking New Orleans. I expect that they used their bye week to rest up, fix their offensive issues and find specific ways to attack the Lions. I’m taking preparation over “on paper” matchups in this one and taking New Orleans.
Carolina Panthers 3-2-1 @ Green Bay Packers 4-2
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
I think this one will likely turn into a classic this week. Green Bay’s offense is starting to roll and Carolina’s is starting to put more on Cam Newton’s shoulders. Newton and the Panthers will look to control the clock with their run game, thus taking the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands. With Carolina’s defense looking average though, I don’t think they will be able to keep Green Bay from putting up enough points. This should be close and come down to the end, but I’m taking Green Bay at home.
Sunday, 10/19 – 4:05 pm ET
Kansas City Chiefs 2-3 @ San Diego Chargers 5-1
Prediction: San Diego Chargers
San Diego is on fire. The Chiefs will challenge them on the ground, but these are the games Kansas City struggles to win. A high-powered offense, like San Diego’s, that can consistently put points on the board is hard for Kansas City to match offensively.
Sunday, 10/19 – 4:25 pm ET
Arizona Cardinals 4-1 @ Oakland Raiders 0-5
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
Honestly though, with Carson Palmer returning to normal, Arizona remains a legitimate NFC Super Bowl contender, even in the rugged NFC West.
New York Giants 3-3 @ Dallas Cowboys 5-1
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
Dallas was very impressive in their win at Seattle last week, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Are they better than everyone expected? Yes. At least better than most thought with the exception of yours truly. Are they Super Bowl favorites? No. Don’t go there. Dallas is a fine team and a team that could make noise in the playoffs, including a Super Bowl appearance, but jumping to the conclusion that they are the team to beat? That’s jumping the gun. Dallas has a phenomenal power run game behind a talented running back and the best offensive line in football. Their defense is also solid and Tony Romo has stopped making “game-ending” mistakes. That formula is obviously successful, but it is also the tried and true formula for staying in tough games. If you can run the ball, have a talented quarterback and a solid defense, it is tough to lose games. It doesn’t automatically mean you win every game, it just makes it easier. Point is, they are a great team that should be in every game they play this season, but we can’t assume they are the team to beat now. It’s just the media jumping on the popularity of the Cowboys. As for this game, New York has to deal with the lose of Victor Cruz and has to deal with getting shut out by Philadelphia last week. To be fair, Philly played the perfect game. Not much the Giants could have done and I think that wasn’t a reflection of their team the rest of the season. This will be a one-score game in the favor of the Cowboys.
Sunday, 10/19 – 8:30 pm ET
San Francisco 49ers 4-2 @ Denver Broncos 4-1
Prediction: Denver Broncos
I like Denver in this one. Obviously, Peyton Manning at quarterback doesn’t hurt your chances and the Denver defense should keep climbing the defensive rankings as the season progresses. Yeah… they are already fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game, but my point remains. They are very talented. Sunday night, on the road, against the top AFC team is hard for anyone to overcome and I don’t think San Francisco bucks the trend. Don’t be surprised if Manning does struggle more than usual though as the 49ers figure to take a good look at how their NFC West rivals have handled Manning in their last two meetings.
Monday, 10/20 – 8:30 pm ET
Houston Texans 3-3 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 3-3
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
I wrote in my predictions two weeks ago that Pittsburgh is the hardest team to predict. See what I was talking about? How good is this team, really? Cleveland is better than most people expected, but the Steelers shouldn’t have been beaten that badly. While Houston is more than capable of replicating Cleveland’s gameplan, I think Pittsburgh comes out, at home, and plays well. The whispers asking about Pittsburgh declining and head coach Mike Tomlin make me think this is a team that will play with their backs against the wall pretty soon. That’s normally when things start clicking again for Pittsburgh.