We’re now into October and there are just two undefeated teams and one winless squad. Those could all change this weekend.
Last Week: 9-6, pushing the season forecast to 34-29
- Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-10.5): There is a perception about the Patriots that they don’t typically dominate foes when they’re favored by double digits. That’s simply not been the case. New England has not only won outright but has also covered the spread in 10 of the last 11 homes games where they were favored by at least 10 points.
Between that and Tom Brady’s mastery on Thursday Night Football (25/3 career TD/INT ratio), there’s a good chance you can turn this one off at halftime without worry of some epic comeback by the Colts.
Patriots 33, Colts 17
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (-3): Perhaps the most appealing game on the weekend slate pits Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Chiefs offense against Jalen Ramsey and the fearsome Jaguars defense.
It will be fascinating to see if the Chiefs attack can find success against the best defense in the league. Jacksonville simply doesn’t surrender big plays on defense, and that’s what the Chiefs offense relies upon. When they don’t get the explosive scoring bursts, the Chiefs have struggled on offense more than the gaudy stats would indicate.
Lost in the feature matchup is the quiet factor which will decide the game: can Jacksonville’s offense without Leonard Fournette keep pace on the scoreboard? I think they can, and I think the Mahomes bubble loses just a little air this week.
Jaguars 23, Chiefs 21
- Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3): How will the Falcons somehow squander another outstanding performance from Matt Ryan this week? Special teams breakdown? Antonio Brown torching their dilapidated secondary for 212 yards and 3 TDs? Joe Haden getting a lucky pick-6? Or will Ryan cool off just a bit? I can’t tell you how it will happen, I just know to expect it to happen.
Steelers 30, Falcons 21
- Denver Broncos at New York Jets (-1): Just a hunch on this one. I like the Jets defense to come up with a couple of game-changing plays at home.
Jets 20, Broncos 17
- Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (+1.5): The Lions swept the Packers last season, but Aaron Rodgers did not play in either game. As long as Rodgers is merely hobbled and not sidelined, Detroit is unlikely to extend the winning string in the series. I’d feel better about the Lions chances at home if they weren’t so inexplicably terrible (a league-worst 33 percent TD rate) in the red zone. The Lions passing offense will keep this one close and gives Detroit a chance for a game-winning Matt Prater 55-yard field goal attempt.
Packers 26, Lions 24
- Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+3): The Ravens have enough weapons in the passing game to exploit a weakened Cleveland pass defense. The Browns lost starting CB Terrance Mitchell to a (really gruesome) broken forearm, and free safety Damarious Randall is slowed with a heel injury. Rookie Denzel Ward has been great at CB, but without Mitchell to help out the rest of the secondary is vulnerable. Could be a good week to play Willie Snead and John Brown in daily fantasy games. The Browns are improved overall, and pulling off the upset here would be an impressive pelt. They’ll need to be sharper and fix the wretched special teams against a Ravens unit which consistently ranks near the top.
Ravens 33, Browns 20
- Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (+3.5): How in the world is the line for this game so small? The Titans have knocked off the Jaguars and Eagles in the last two weeks and sit at an impressive 3-1. THey’re also healthier than they have been all season. Buffalo just got shut out by an unremarkable Packers defense, with rookie QB Josh Allen taking inefficiency to historically low levels. I could see the justification if the Bills defense was great, but they’re in the bottom third almost across the board on that side of the ball.
This sure seems like a betting trap. I’m willing to put my hand in the beartrap and grab what looks like free money here.
Titans 26, Bills 12
- New York Giants at Carolina Panthers (-7): A well-rested Cam Newton off a bye week is a problem for New York’s defensive front-7. So is a fired-up Panthers defensive line that can tee off on Eli Manning thanks to the Giants’ ongoing OL issues. Saquon Barkley will need to break off a couple of big plays just to keep this one close. Fortunately for the Giants, he and Odell Beckham are capable of doing just that. The Panthers are this week’s fantasy survivor pick, the first week all year I’m not using the team playing the Bills as my choice.
Panthers 30, Giants 21
- Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5): We will learn a lot about the 3-1 Dolphins here. They’re coming off a spanking at the hands of New England. Now they have to deal with a balanced Bengals team with big-play potential on both sides of the ball in A.J. Green and Geno Atkins. I expect a better performance out of Miami’s defense this week, but unless Andy Dalton plays poorly I don’t see the Dolphins being able to outscore Cincy’s offense.
Bengals 27, Dolphins 21
- Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (+7.5): The Rams juggernaut rolls on. The mystique of the 12th man can only do so much. Heck, the Seahawks defense could play with 12 players and still have issues trying to contain Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the dynamic Los Angeles offense.
Rams 34, Seahawks 17
- Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5): The incompetent officiating can’t possibly help the Raiders once again. Alex Kemp will be the referee in this one, not Walt Anderson...who happens to be off this week after gift-wrapping Oakland’s first victory last week. I wonder if he’ll spend his bye week in Las Vegas, perhaps waiting for the Raiders to arrive next year?
Chargers 36, Raiders 27
- Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-4.5): The Cardinals cannot run the ball, ranking 31st in rushing. They cannot stop the run, ranking 31st in rushing defense. The 49ers under C.J. Beathard should find enough success with Matt Breida attacking that Arizona run D to keep the visitors winless. Should be a big week for 49ers TE George Kittle, too.
49ers 20, Cardinals 17
- Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-3): A popular choice for a potential NFC Championship game pits the 1-2-1 Vikings against the 2-2 Eagles. Minnesota’s defense has been an issue, and with top DE Everson Griffen still away and the secondary struggling with speed, it’s not an easy fix. Even so, the biggest problem for Minnesota in this game is the run game.
Philadelphia has allowed the fewest rushing yards through four games, just 63.8 yards per week. The Vikings rank last in total rushing yards, 63 yards per week. It’s like trying to chisel through steel with a plastic knife. Kirk Cousins might once again spoon out over 350 yards, but without any help from his forked-up run game, there won’t be any heartiness to the soup.
Eagles 36, Vikings 31
- Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans (-3): I moved to Houston in 2010 having never been to Texas before. One of the first things I learned I was ignorant about my new state was the preponderance of Cowboys fans in Houston and how resentful Texans fans were of them. There will be some uncomfortable neighbors around the 713 and 281 this weekend. I think the home fans will come away with the last laugh, though Zeke Elliott could spoil the local guacamole.
My family moved back to the Midwest in 2013 and we all still miss Houston’s incredible food scene. If you’re a foodie it’s a must-do trip. I’d kill for some shrimp brochette right now...
Texans 25, Cowboys 20
- Washington at New Orleans Saints (-6.5): Washington gets an extra day of their already freakishly early bye week by playing on Monday night. No NFL team will ever be fresher than this Washington group in this game. Will it be enough?
The key matchup is the Washington pass rush against the New Orleans OL and Drew Brees. If the Skins can’t somehow inhibit the Brees-to-Michael Thomas, a league-leading 42 connections on 44 targets, the rest means nothing. Saints LT Terron Armstead is quietly having a great season, so it won’t be easy.
Saints 32, Washington 24
Oklahoma 36, Texas 31
Michigan 51, Maryland 10 (in a game I’ll be attending in Ann Arbor)
West Virginia 35, Kansas 20
LSU 23, Florida 17
Mississippi State 27, Auburn 24
North Carolina State 34, Boston College 30