Last week resulted in another 10-5 record on my picks. I missed on Cincinnati, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Washington.
– Baltimore was supposed to go in and beat the Bengals while they were down. Instead, they gave Cincinnati the division lead.
– Tennessee was my upset pick with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback, but the rookie looked like… well… a rookie.
– Seattle almost fell on the road at Carolina. So close Blaine… so close.
– Pittsburgh is impossible to predict. They can’t make up their mind on what sort of team they will be this season. A team that loses to Tampa Bay at home and struggles with Jacksonville or the team that blew out Carolina on the road and then threw six touchdown passes against Indianapolis?
– I continue to say, Dallas is a great team, but we can’t assume they are the best in the NFL. They play a style that can keep any game close for better or worse. Against Seattle, it was for better. Against Washington last Monday? For worse. Washington did play well, but I think this is a combination of knowing a divisional foe very well (in how Washington pressured Dallas) and Dallas not being a “Denver-caliber” offensive or defensive team that can run away with a game regardless of opponent.
The byes this week are Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee. The gif is of the walk-off fumble and return for Minnesota Vikings rookie linebacker Anthony Barr.
Thursday, 10/30 – 8:25 pm ET
New Orleans Saints 3-4 @ Carolina Panthers 3-4-1
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
Drew Brees and company looked good at home against Green Bay last week with New Orleans playing surprisingly solid defense, running the ball well and finally getting the passing game clicking again. Carolina lost a hard-fought game against Seattle at home where their offense looked tormented by Seattle’s defense. Contrary to what you would entering this game, I like Carolina. New Orleans struggles on the road and has always seemed to struggle in Carolina. Expect the home crowd to feed what figures to be a solid game from the Carolina offense. New Orleans will move the ball and I think we will see one of those elusive close Thursday night games, but I like Carolina to win.
Sunday, 11/2 – 1:00 pm ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-6 @ Cleveland Browns 4-3
Prediction: Cleveland Browns
Look out for Cleveland! But seriously… this team remains in the picture moving forward and I like them to keep winning this week against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers did pull out a win in Pittsburgh earlier this season, but the trip to Cleveland isn’t a cakewalk, plus, the Browns still have a solid run game and a defense that rises it’s level of play in front of the home crowd. I like Cleveland to win in a close one.
Arizona Cardinals 6-1 @ Dallas Cowboys 6-2
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
I think this all lies on the status of Tony Romo. If he plays, Dallas has a very good chance to win at home with their power run game and highly-effective passing attack. If he doesn’t, I think too much of the gameplan comes down to DeMarco Murray and the run game to win this one. Arizona’s passing attack has been bad, but their rush defense is solid. They won’t stop Murray, because I don’t think anyone truly can, but he will be limited if Arizona can just key on him. I like Arizona to win this one, in part, because I think Romo sits, and because even if he plays, Arizona is a dangerously talented team. They have dealt with a number of injuries in the early part of the season and still sit at 6-1. Their offense should exploit Dallas a little and the defense will limit the Cowboys offensively, particularly if Romo isn’t there to air it out.
Philadelphia Eagles 5-2 @ Houston Texans 4-4
Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles
We are watching Houston come back to earth a bit now. They still have a roster loaded with talent in key spots, but I think quarterback play limits this team. The Houston defense should struggle to stop the Eagles offensively and assuming that is that case, I don’t like Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the Texans in what figures to be a high-scoring game. Arian Foster should play well, but the quick-strike nature of the Eagles should be too much to overcome.
New York Jets 1-7 @ Kansas City Chiefs 4-3
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
So, now we see what Michael Vick can do for the Jets. Vick has been tremendously turnover prone during the past couple seasons and I don’t see that changing. Kansas City can bring pressure and figures to force Vick into some turnovers. On the other side of the ball, the Jets can’t stop the passing game if their season depended on it and their vaunted rush defense has been showing holes recently to quick, outside runners. Here comes Jamaal Charles.
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-7 @ Cincinnati Bengals 4-2-1
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati isn’t “back”, but the win over Baltimore last week was huge for them moving forward. Now they get what many assume is a “tune-up game” against the lowly Jags. This won’t be as one-sided as people think, but Cincinnati hasn’t lost at home in a regular season game (they tied with Carolina in Week 6) since December 2012. My bold prediction here is that Blake Bortles plays his best game of his young career against Cincinnati leading to a dramatic finish.
San Diego Chargers 5-3 @ Miami Dolphins 4-3
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Neither of these teams looked particularly impressive last week with San Diego being outplayed by Denver and Miami needing their defense to lead the way in an uneventful win over Jacksonville. This week, they matchup and I’m taking Miami. San Diego’s offense is still very hard to contain, but I believe that if you couple Miami’s defensive play, as of late, with the long trip the Chargers need to make, I think the Dolphins have enough going their way in this one.
Washington Redskins 3-5 @ Minnesota Vikings 3-5
Prediction: Minnesota Vikings
This one is hard to predict. Robert Griffin III is scheduled to start this one after missing the previous few weeks with an ankle injury, pushing Colt McCoy to the bench after leading an impressive win in Dallas last Monday night. The Vikings still field a young and talented core of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but struggle to maximize that skill. If they can get the ball in the hands of Jerick McKinnon, Cordarrelle Patterson and Teddy Bridgewater can play an efficient game at quarterback, Minnesota should win this one. You would have to think Griffin will be a little rusty and even when he wasn’t coming off an ankle injury, he was struggling. I’ll take Minnesota.
Sunday, 11/2 – 4:05 pm ET
St. Louis Rams 2-5 @ San Francisco 49ers 4-3
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
The Rams are the real-life version of my fantasy football team. A bunch of talented players, in what figures to be an exciting year, that suddenly falls apart with no explanation. St. Louis was already without Sam Bradford for the season and while Austin Davis has filled in admirably, the Rams lost their number one receiver, Brian Quick, to a season-ending injury of his own last week. Quick’s production was really helping this offense as the Rams cycle through their running backs trying to find a spark. The 49ers, though, are coming off a bye. They are still very talented and should be ready to go at home against a division rival.
Sunday, 11/2 – 4:25 pm ET
Denver Broncos 6-1 @ New England Patriots 6-2
Prediction: New England Patriots
Denver is probably the best team in the NFL right now, but for some reason, picking the Patriots felt like a relatively simple decision. The battle of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning should, once again, be a classic. The Denver defense has been lights-out and the Denver offense is on-par or better than last year’s model. The Patriots are rolling in their own right after destroying the Bears last week. The Patriots hardly ever lose big games at home in November, December or January and like that to be the case this week.
Oakland Raiders 0-7 @ Seattle Seahawks 4-3
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
It’s Oakland and Seattle at home. These are my only two real rules when doing these things…
Sunday, 11/2 – 8:30 pm ET
Baltimore Ravens 5-3 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 5-3
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is still the hardest team to gauge this season with losses to Cleveland and Tampa Bay, but a total annihilation of Indianapolis last week. Baltimore continues to looks strong and steady, but they couldn’t put the Bengals down despite their own struggles entering last week’s matchup. I’m taking Pittsburgh for the home field advantage. The Pittsburgh defense isn’t good enough to turn this into a defensive struggle as we are used to seeing, but the use of Martavis Bryant on the outside diversifies the Steelers offense enough to win a shootout. I’m taking the Steelers. This means they will likely look awful given how hard it is to predict them, but nonetheless…
Monday, 11/3 – 8:30 pm ET
Indianapolis Colts 5-3 @ New York Giants 3-4
Prediction: New York Giants
Giving up six touchdown passes is a problem and something we can’t overlook when assessing this matchup. Thoughts are that top Colts cover corner Vontae Davis will miss this game. That could be enough to turn this into a shootout. New York is coming off a bye week. An extra week of preparation and rest against a team that just got manhandled by Pittsburgh on a short week should work out in the Giants favor.