Last week: 8-5, now 77-56 straight up on the season as the rebound from a wretched Week 3-5 stretch continues
Two games suffered serious extenuating circumstances following publication. Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in Thursday’s practice and is out for the year, and that ruined the Texans. On the flip side, Zeke Elliott was reinstated from his suspension and made a huge difference in Dallas beating Kansas City. That makes me feel better about dropping a couple of picks last week.
- Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (+6.5): Aside from the fact the Cardinals offense is on the Nine Inch Nails downward spiral plan, the Seahawks simply do not lose consecutive games. I expect Russell Wilson and Co. to bounce back from a bad home loss to Washington, but they’ll need to play well out of the gate to make it happen. Seattle hasn’t scored a TD on its opening possession in the last 21 games, handily the worst in the league. If the Cardinals can manage to strike early and fairly often, they’ve got a shot.
Seahawks 23, Cardinals 13
- New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5): No Jameis Winston for Tampa means the Ryan Fitzpatrick grudge match is on. Of course, no Mike Evans (suspended for his asinine cheap shot) means Fitzpatrick will have to work his magic without his top weapon. The Jets young secondary should get at least two takeaways, and it says here they cash one in for paydirt.
Jets 26, Buccaneers 16
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts (+10): If you are somehow still alive in a survivor fantasy league and haven’t used Pittsburgh yet, this is the time. You could give the Colts another touchdown on this line and I’d still like the visiting Steelers.
Steelers 37, Colts 14
- New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills (+2.5): Beignets or buffalo wings? Tough choice. I have to say I’ve been disappointed by the authentic food icon in both cities. It’s not that Café DuMonde or Anchor Bar are bad, and I have been to both. It’s just that neither met the considerable hype. I do really like chicken wings, but I’m even more of a pastry fan. Hold the powdered sugar.
Saints 24, Bills 21
- Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-5): The Bears are favored over the Packers. This despite the fact that rookie QB Mitch Trubisky has completed just 38 passes in his four starts for Chicago. That’s how little the professionals feel about Green Bay, which has a terrible combination of an overwhelmed QB in Brett Hundley and an anemic pass rush. I don’t trust the Bears even though they are the better team here, though the Packers going on the road on a short week won’t help them.
Bears 27, Packers 24
- Minnesota Vikings at Washington (+1.5): Teddy Bridgewater is back for the Vikings, though as of press time it appears Minnesota will still roll with Case Keenum at QB. Bridgewater hasn’t played in some time after his gruesome knee injury, but even getting him back on the active roster is such an emotional lift. It’s the kind of midseason spark that can elevate a pretty good overall team into a legit championship contender. The lift here vaults them over a Washington team which just stole a game in Seattle but will struggle to pull it off again.
Vikings 24, Washington 20
- Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4): I worry about overconfidence with the Jaguars, particularly on offense. Then I remember Philip Rivers is the Chargers QB, and there is perhaps no professional athlete who suffers more from overconfidence than Rivers. That’s not saying Rivers isn’t very good, because he remains one of the league’s better QBs. There are just too many instances where his chutzpah exceeds the ability of both his right arm and the guy he’s throwing towards. His immobility is a major problem against this Jaguars front, too.
Jaguars 23, Chargers 12
- Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions (-12.5): The Lions team that spanked the Packers in Green Bay on Monday Night Football, the one that didn’t punt in a game for the first time since 1971, wins this game 40-6. The Browns have a much better and more active defense than the Packers, however. Detroit might not rush for even 25 yards in this one, but the Browns might not pass for more than 150 against an underrated Lions defense which tackles very well.
Lions 27, Browns 13
- Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (-4.5): Cincinnati at Tennessee instantly conjured up memories of Carl Pickens for me. Pickens is one of the more underappreciated talents of his time, a very good wideout for some very bad Bengals teams. The Tennessee Volunteer star was the 1992 Rookie of the Year and scored 40 TDs in his three-year peak. He and Darnay Scott were one of the best dynamic duos with Jeff Blake bombing away at QB. My first-ever fantasy football team featured Pickens at WR and Blake at QB and I won the league.
Titans 30, Bengals 17
- Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams (-11.5): The two most improved offenses in the league meet in a game which held marquee status before Deshaun Watson got hurt. Now only one of the new-look offenses looks fantastic. The Rams have already scored more in their first 9 weeks than they did in all of 2016. Houston was the league’s top scoring offense before Watson got hurt. They won’t be able to keep up with Jared Goff and the Rams.
Rams 36, Texans 20
- Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-3): This should be a fun watch, though the Falcons offense has not been nearly as exciting as hoped. The key matchup for me is which team can get more out of the secondary receivers, as Dez Bryant and Julio Jones figure to cancel one another out. This is where the Falcons’ offensive struggles kick in. Cole Beasley has quietly become one of the league’s top red zone threats for Dallas, and Dak Prescott’s willingness to spray the ball to anyone who is open is a real asset. I smell the road upset.
Cowboys 29, Falcons 27
- New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (+1): This game opened with the winless 49ers favored, but the money has swung the game to favor the Giants. I have a feeling the bookies were right and love getting even one point for the homestanding Niners. It’s incredibly hard to go winless, and the chaotic Giants on the road seem the perfect victim.
49ers 20, Giants 17
- New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (+7.5): Another contest which looked a lot more appealing in September than it does now, as the wheels have come off the Broncos offense. With New England’s defense slowly rounding into shape, it’s hard to see Denver pulling this one off unless Tom Brady has an uncharacteristic bad day. The Broncos defense can force those, but I can’t forecast that in good conscience.
Patriots 27, Broncos 17
- Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers (-9): Three better uses of my time than watching this likely snoozefest between a Dolphins team that will not win again this year and a Panthers team coming off back-to-back divisional wins with a very impressive defense:
- Leave trolling comments on mock drafts
- Cleaning out underneath my kids’ beds
Wake me when it’s over…
Panthers 33, Dolphins 6
Washington 32, Stanford 27 on Friday night
Ohio State 23, Michigan State 20
Iowa State 33, Oklahoma State 31
Auburn 28, Georgia 27 because CFB is all about chaos
Wisconsin 19, Iowa 16
Alabama 37, Mississippi State 28
Oklahoma 34, TCU 22
Notre Dame 28, Miami 20