Last week: 7-7, not exactly the happy hour result I was looking for. The season forecast is now 94-53.
- Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (-2.5): One of the weekend’s better matchups lands on Thursday and should entice viewers, if nothing else than to see the potential death of the Packers realistic playoff chances in 2018.
The location plays a big role here. Green Bay does not win outside of Green Bay; the Packers are winless on the road. This is not a new development either. Last year it took overtime to win in winless Cleveland, and one of the other two road victories was over the last-place Bears. Seattle is notoriously tough at home, especially against the Packers.
These teams have played three seasons in a row in Green Bay. The Packers won all three. Prior to that, the teams met three times in a row in Seattle, including a playoff game. Seattle won all three. I’ll take history to repeat itself.
Seahawks 27, Packers 24
- Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions (+3.5): Two teams coming off humiliating blowout losses meet in Detroit. The difference is, the Panthers ugly debacle against Pittsburgh is an outlier whereas the Lions lifeless loss in Chicago was more of a harbinger of bigger doom to come. Carolina is also coming off the mini-bye from playing on Thursday night, while the Lions will be playing their second of three games in 11 days. It’s going to get worse before it gets better in Detroit…
Panthers 33, Lions 21
- Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (NL): There is no line here because of the questionable status (as of press time) of Joe Flacco. This game could mark the starting debut of Lamar Jackson, and that leads to all sorts of speculation about the immediate future of the Ravens. With coach John Harbaugh reportedly on the way out already, if Jackson plays here it could spell the end of Flacco’s highly-compensated run too.
There might not be a better team to face in a debut than these Bengals. Cincinnati fired first-year DC Teryl Austin on Monday after his unit allowed at least 500 yards for the third straight game, something no other team had ever done before. Advantage, home team.
Ravens 30, Bengals 27
- Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-2): The Colts offensive line becoming one of the league’s best almost overnight is one of the best, and most overlooked, stories of the year. Watching rookie OG Quenton Nelson seek and destroy defenders is a guilty pleasure right there with sneaking a Klondike Bar at lunch. Big AFC South implications here, and the Titans dominating win over the Patriots will get everyone on their side. I worry too much about a snapback effect and a little overconfidence against Andrew Luck & Co.
Colts 24, Titans 21
- Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5): The Falcons defense had no answer for Cleveland last week, allowing Nick Chubb to break the franchise record for the longest run. Dallas has Ezekiel Elliott. Enough said. Sleep on the Cowboys defense at your peril, too.
Cowboys 33, Falcons 28
- Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-9): I know, I know. The Eagles are the reigning champs and facing a must-win on the road against arguably the NFL’s best team, the Saints. Heart of a champion.
Tip of the spear
Edge of the knife
Crack of my (butt)
These are not last year’s Eagles. With all the injuries on their defense, they’re not even last month’s Eagles. There might not be a worse opponent in NFL history to face with three regular defensive starters likely to be out and perhaps joined by a couple of key contributors. They’re really going to miss top CB Ronald Darby, the only Eagles DB with much of a chance to foil the NFL’s leading receiver, Michael Thomas.
The Edge of Tomorrow looks worse for Philadelphia than the creepy alien that infected Tom Cruise with the Groundhog Day curse in the wildly underappreciated flick. Maybe Cruise can run one of his patented fly patterns and help the Eagles pull off a Mission: Impossible.
Saints 35, Eagles 26
- Houston Texans at Washington (+2.5): Houston coming off a bye is a very bad opponent to face with the massive injury woes to the offensive line that plagues Washington. Keep an eye on D.J. Swearinger in a revenge game situation. The Skins safety has toned down his volatile act and the associative cheap shots to become a pretty darn good player, but will facing the team which quickly dispatched him trigger some deep-seated lack of self-discipline?
Texans 20, Washington 16
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants (-2): Someone has to win. They might be the Giants.
Giants 30, Buccaneers 28
- Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-7): The Chargers, already a vastly superior team to Denver, could get Joey Bosa into the lineup for the first time all season. They won’t need him against one of the limper offensive attacks, but who doesn’t like gravy at this time of year?
Chargers 28, Broncos 14
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+6): When last these two teams met, it produced an epic playoff victory for the Jaguars. That was January…
Steelers 40, Jaguars 17
- Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (-2.5): Huge game in the NFC North and a definite validation game for the first-place Bears. The young Chicago team has yet to be truly challenged with this sort of pressure. How will Trubisky et al handle it?
I think they do just fine, thank you very much. Having a loaded defense to handle Kirk Cousins behind a shaky OL helps the home team, too. Trubisky’s ability to create with his legs is an extra dimension I don’t think the Vikings defense handles all that effectively this time around.
Bears 31, Vikings 21
- Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals (-5): Are the Raiders playing in the game? Check. Is it still 2018? Check. Doesn’t matter who the opponent is, that foe is better than these lifeless Raiders. Checkmate.
Cardinals 26, Raiders 12
- Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5): This tremendous matchup was supposed to be played in Mexico City, but unprofessional field conditions forced the game to be moved back to LA. It’s still appointment viewing, folks!
My favorite angle in this one is enigmatic Rams CB Marcus Peters squaring off against his old team, one which decided his personal volatility was not worth the occasional on-field excellence. Peters tends to play quite well against bad QBs/teams but is often exploited by better passers or more successful teams. There is no love lost on either side involving his departure, either; expect Patrick Mahomes to target him and to find some success. Mahomes is an MVP candidate for good reason. That’s bad news for the Rams.
Chiefs 38, Rams 34
You’ll notice a theme here with a certain conference...
Alabama 63, The Citadel 6
Syracuse 36, Notre Dame 33
Georgia 71, UMass 20
Clemson 38, Duke 21
LSU 56, Rice 0
UCF 30, Cincinnati 28
Auburn 52, Liberty 10
UCLA 26, USC 24