I was 10-3, once again, for my picks last week. I missed on Cleveland, San Francisco and New York [Jets].
– I told you… I told you Cleveland would get Cincinnati this season. I just thought it would be in Cleveland, but I was kind of right, right?
– The offensive pass-interference call on Jimmy Graham on the final play of regulation was the right call, but felt a little forced. You never really see that called and you could see a little acting on the part of the 49ers player. I don’t feel bad about this prediction. It was a key win for San Francisco moving forward.
– What gives Pittsburgh? Can anybody figure out this out? Are the Steelers a bad team that plays well at random times against good teams or a good team that is so inconsistent that they lose to some of the worst teams in the NFL?
The byes this week are Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville and New York [Jets]. The gif this week comes from last week’s Miami @ Detroit game where Ryan Tannehill throws a perfect throw to opposing quarterback Matthew Stafford. Nice catch.
Thursday, 11/13 – 8:25 pm ET
Buffalo Bills 5-4 @ Miami Dolphins 5-4
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Miami has been a quiet contender through 10 weeks with an elite defense, a solid run game and the vastly improved Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Buffalo has been equally overlooked, despite their 5-4 record and Kyle Orton at quarterback. This matchup should be a great opportunity to see where these two teams are, in what figures to be a defensive showcase. For my pick, I have to take Miami given their effectiveness on offense. Both defenses are great, so I’m going to go with the team whose offense fields the most playmakers. I expect the game to be put on Tannehill’s shoulders and for him to find a lot of success. Watch out for rookie receiver Jarvis Landry for Miami. He could be the difference maker in this one.
Sunday, 11/16 – 1:00 pm ET
Minnesota Vikings 4-5 @ Chicago Bears 3-6
Prediction: Minnesota Vikings
Who knows what we are going to get here. Chicago’s talent warrants a 5-4 record, at least, yet they continue to find themselves thoroughly outclassed on the field. While I see the Bears getting back on track, maybe even this week, a team that is floundering like this has to dig deep to right the ship and considering their issues on defense, that could be another week or two. Minnesota isn’t a bad team and their defense is solid and playing lights out as of late. Considering Minnesota’s greatest weakness is a young offense and the Bears defense is very beatable, I have to think we will see a great game from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings offense. Looking on paper, this pick looks like an upset pick, but seeing each team play as of late, you can’t help, but think Minnesota has the upper hand.
Houston Texans 4-5 @ Cleveland Browns 6-3
Prediction: Cleveland Browns
Who am I to pick against the Browns now? They have now beaten the Steelers, the Saints and the Bengals, while nearly topping the Steelers a second time and the Ravens in Week 2. Cleveland has been very impressive on the ground and that has opened up the playbook for Brian Hoyer in the passing game. The Texans are getting ready to roll with Ryan Mallett at quarterback and while I believe he is a very talented thrower, I want to see him play a bit. He wasn’t very impressive in preseason and has needed some time to adjust to the Houston offense. I expect to see a solid game from him this week and then begin to turn heads in the coming weeks. I have to take Cleveland here though because Cleveland is a better team at home and last week’s win in Cincinnati should contribute to some positive momentum moving forward.
Atlanta Falcons 3-6 @ Carolina Panthers 3-6-1
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
Despite being 3-6 (or 3-6-1 in Carolina’s case), neither team in this matchup is technically out of the running for the NFC South. Sure, New Orleans is getting hot offensively and 3-6 isn’t where you need to be for a wild card spot, but I’m just saying it’s still technically possible. So, this game means something. I’m taking Atlanta. I know they struggle on the road, but that offense is still immensely talented. Atlanta’s defense is bad, but so is Carolina’s and with the Panthers offense running off the tracks in the past couple weeks I have to give the edge to the Falcons. That said, I think we should see some points courtesy of Julio Jones and Kelvin Benjamin. Nobody on either defense can cover them.
Cincinnati Bengals 5-3-1 @ New Orleans Saints 4-5
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
I feel like this may be one of the more straightforward pick this week, despite Cincinnati’s talent. The Bengals were atrocious last week, at home, against Cleveland being thoroughly outplayed in every aspect of the game. Their offense is lost with many of their playmakers being injured for much of the season and their defense is swiss cheese without a solid pass rush and their injuries to the linebacker position. That’s not to save Andy Dalton from much of the blame after his awful game last week, but my point is that there are a lot of issues contributing to the Bengals fall. The Saints lost last week, but were displaying offensive firepower they have been lacking for much of the season. That is a good sign. With the Bengals offense coming to town, the Saints defense will look better than they are and the Saints will score points. It will be loud in the Superdome.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-8 @ Washington Redskins 3-6
Prediction: Washington Redskins
The Buccaneers seem to have hit it big with their first round pick Mike Evans. The wide receiver is playing very well and Tampa Bay seems to be well on their way of replicating the offensive weapons that are in Chicago. However, the offensive line remains a problem. Washington has the pass rush to take advantage of that weakness and has an offense with playmakers, regardless of their record. The Tampa Bay defense is nothing to be worried about.
Denver Broncos 7-2 @ St. Louis Rams 3-6
Prediction: Denver Broncos
I say this nearly every week, but it still rings true. I love the fire the Rams play with, but they just don’t have the offense or the consistent defensive play to compete this week. Denver wins the games they should win and this week should be no different. That said, the Rams have loads of talent, which could give Broncos some sweaty palms early in the game, but Denver is too good.
San Francisco 49ers 5-4 @ New York Giants 3-6
Prediction: New York Giants
This game isn’t a given by any means. The Giants lack the depth or pure talent that San Francisco possesses, but what have the 49ers done with that talent anyway? They are 5-4 after a hard fought game last week in New Orleans, but they have been underwhelming for much of the 2014 season. The Giants should make this a game as their top-tier offensive talent should make noise against the San Francisco defense that lost Patrick Willis for the season, but returns Aldon Smith and possibly NaVorro Bowman. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for the Giants and the return of Rashad Jennings should have a huge impact on the outcome of this game. I’ll take the Giants in an upset.
Seattle Seahawks 6-3 @ Kansas City Chiefs 6-3
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
Seattle is finding their groove again, but I’m going to take Kansas City this week. Playing in Kansas City is a tall task and with the Chiefs run game and defensive pressure, you know this will be a tight game. Seattle will, and should, live and die by Marshawn Lynch, but I think Kansas City has the talent to limit him. Alex Smith has been playing well for the Chiefs and the Seahawks defense isn’t the impenetrable force many expected this season. I’ll take the Chiefs in a close game. It could easily come down to a lucky bounce in this one.
Sunday, 11/16 – 4:05 pm ET
Oakland Raiders 0-9 @ San Diego Chargers 5-4
Prediction: San Diego Chargers
It’s Oakland and I expect the Chargers to get back on track against one of the worst teams in the league.
Sunday, 11/16 – 4:25 pm ET
Detroit Lions 7-2 @ Arizona Cardinals 8-1
Prediction: Detroit Lions
I have been impressed with the play of the Lions, as a team, and quarterback Matthew Stafford specifically. He hasn’t had the huge numbers, in large part due to Calvin Johnson’s injury, but he has led his team to comeback wins against good teams without his running mate. Now, Johnson is back and the Lions defense is playing some of the best defense in the league. The Cardinals are still a team I like, despite Carson Palmer’s injury, but there is no way Palmer’s injury can be considered a “good thing”. Detroit is a good team and I expect them to keep this close with some “Stafford magic” being the difference in the end.
Philadelphia Eagles 7-2 @ Green Bay Packers 6-3
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Quarterback Mark Sanchez is in a great spot with Philadelphia and should be solid down the stretch in the Eagles offensive system. That said, there will be games where you need more than solid and this should be one of those weeks. Aaron Rodgers will be staring him down from across the frozen tundra at Lambeau Field and you know the Packers will put up points. I like Sanchez and the Eagles to take advantage of a bad Packers defense, but I think a couple interceptions are enough to ground the birds. You have to love what the Philly defense has been doing, but this is Rodgers and the Packers at home. There is no stopping that.
Sunday, 11/16 – 8:30 pm ET
New England Patriots 7-2 @ Indianapolis Colts 6-3
Prediction: New England Patriots
This is a matchup between two great teams with incredible quarterbacks. Tom Brady is a Hall of Famer and Andrew Luck is following suit in his young career. So, how do you pick this game? The Colts get to play at home in primetime. That is going to create an incredible home atmosphere for Indy. Brady and the Pats hardly ever lose in November and December, not to mention, they are 7-2 with some impressive wins on the resume. This is their time of the year and Brady is playing lights out. I expect Luck to score points and for the Colts to catch some early momentum, but the Patriots are too complete on offense and defense. Head coach Bill Belichick has his hands full trying to limit Luck, but he has the defensive talent to get a couple stops while Brady and company feed their backs and tight ends. The Colts have some great corners, but that may not be enough given the Patriots and their weapons.
Monday, 11/17 – 8:30 pm ET
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-4 @ Tennessee Titans 2-7
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is safe this week because the Titans aren’t considered one of the worst teams in the league. The Steelers have now lost to the Buccaneers, giving them their lone win on the season, and the currently 2-8 Jets just last week. What gives? Which team will we get this week? I think the Steelers will be active offensively and win this game, but the Titans may move the ball with Ryan Shazier and Troy Polamalu out with injuries. Make up your mind Pittsburgh. What kind of team are you?