Last week was a decent 9-5 forecast, but the season tally of 52-41 is not as good as it should be. I’d like to blame the radar or even the sling psychrometer for misreading the NFL winds so badly, but it’s all on me.
- Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (+3): Denver has quietly been playing better football of late. Kansas City has noisily fallen from NFL elite to “what’s wrong” status in the last two weeks, both losses. A hobbled Partick Mahomes is only part of that equation; the Chiefs defense gets no pass rush and is also terrible against the run. If just one of those issues was the problem, I’d feel good about a return to vitality for the visiting Chiefs. But both the offense and defense are now issues. The only upshot is the Broncos are also bad at rushing the passer. I still smell the upset cover, if not outright victory for Denver.
Chiefs 24, Broncos 23
- Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers (-5.5): The XFL held its draft this week. The Packers hopefully paid attention to some of the wide receivers selected, because they might need someone, stat. Green Bay practiced on Wednesday with exactly two healthy wideouts, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. They signed Ryan Grant off the street and are still looking for anyone who can run pretty well, catch a ball and deal with Aaron Rodgers. The Raiders pass defense is better than most fans think, and if the Packers have to rely on what’s left of Jimmy Graham as their primary receiving threat, Oakland could win. Then again, they haven’t beaten the Packers since Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” was No. 1 on the pop charts. Here we go again…
Packers 20, Raiders 17
- Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5): Seattle is really good at home. Cue that cliche, but it works. The NFC West domination over the AFC North continues in grand fashion as Russell Wilson keeps his status as MVP front-runner. I am looking forward to how Jadeveon Clowney and the Seahawks defense plays Lamar Jackson, who is looking very good in his own right in his second season.
Seahawks 28, Ravens 20
- San Francisco 49ers at Washington (+10): Good week to own 49ers RB Matt Breida in fantasy football. He’s poised for a big rebound game in the visit to Washington after a weak week against the Rams. I can see 132 yards and two TDs in a too-easy 49ers romp.
49ers 33, Washington 13
- Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants (-3): This is the third week in a row the Cardinals are 3-point underdogs. They’ve won the last two. The Giants get Saquon Barkley back, however, and that will catapult the home team in the early start for Arizona on the road. Expect a lot of comparative discussion on the rookie QBs in the postgame...perhaps in a $.10, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!
Giants 30, Cardinals 27
- Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1): Both of these teams beat the Chiefs when we las saw them play, and now the AFC South supremacy is firmly on the line here. And it’s likely to be decided by which team is more efficient and effective on 3rd downs.
The host Colts are very good offensively at keeping drives alive on 3rd downs. Jacoby Brissett & Co. rank 9th at 46 percent. But their defense is awful, ranking 26th at allowing over 45 percent. Now flip the table for Houston: The Texans are the best in the league on offense at over 51 percent. Their defensive rate is the exact same as the Colts. I’ll trust Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans to win that battle and also make more big plays throughout the game.
Texans 33, Colts 31
- Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (+1): How will the NFL rip this game away from the Lions? After Monday night’s officiating debacle added to the dubious list, it’s hard to fathom in what way the Lions will get screwed. From rescinded pass interference penalties (in Dallas in the playoffs) to the “Calvin Johnson rule” (two of them, actually) to missing a blatant illegal batting call (K.J. Wright) to somehow nobody seeing Justin Forsett being tackled on Thanksgiving--a play which resulted in all scoring plays being automatically reviewed--the Lions have been on the wrong end of the NFL’s hose so many times, I can’t think of any new ways to have victory taken from them. Somehow I don’t think this game will be close enough for it to matter, with the visiting Vikings playing some great team football lately.
Vikings 27, Lions 16
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5): Could this be the week the Bengals crack the win column? I’m suddenly singing Loverboy’s “This could be the night” and inspired for Andy Dalton,
This could be the night, the night to remember
We'll make it last forever
This could be the night
Oh, to end all nights
Everybody working for the weekend in Cincinnati will feel turned loose and like hot girls in love when the notorious Bengals when it’s over and lovin’ every minute of the first win.
Bengals 20, Jaguars 17
- Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-17): Nope. Changing from Josh Rosen back to Ryan Fitzpatrick can only help the woeful Dolphins so much. Great week to use the Bills in survivor fantasy football if you’re somehow still alive.
Bills 31, Dolphins 14
- New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (-3): The Bears are coming off a bye week that saw them somehow lose two key starters--Kyle Long and Akiem Hicks--to injured reserve. How demoralizing is it to hit the rest and rehab week and still lose the best player on each line to IR?!? I guess we’ll find out...I like the Saints defense to carry the day.
Saints 22, Bears 15
- Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons (+3): Just what the free-falling Rams need to save their fading season: a trip to Atlanta to face the defenseless Falcons. Or is it? I know the Rams dealt for Jalen Ramsey this week, but I think in the short-term the chaos will be an issue. Atlanta’s offense is still potent, and I think they seize the day and pull the upset. Jared Goff isn’t beating Matt Ryan in a shootout.
Falcons 38, Rams 34
- Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans (-2): The Marcus Mariota era in Tennessee could very well be done. Mariota was benched last week during the latest Titans loss, and now former backup Ryan Tannehill takes over as the starter. The mistake-prone Chargers could prove a good launching pad for Team Tannehill. Be careful here in trying to forecast two of the league’s most schizophrenic teams. I like the Titans but I trust them as far as I can throw Derrick Henry.
Titans 26, Chargers 21
- Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3): Two of the most overhyped teams square off in a battle for supremacy in the NFL’s worst division. Yeah, someone has to say it. It sure as heck won’t be any of the mainstream media or NFL broadcast partners, who will fluff up this game between two wounded, flawed 3-3 teams as if it’s the Must-See Game of the Century!
Meh. Dallas without its vaunted offensive line intact is worse than an Eagles team pulling guys off the street to play in the secondary. Unless Carson Wentz gets injured once again, which could happen too.
Eagles 28, Cowboys 23
- New England Patriots at New York Jets (-10): The Jets are not going to win, but they are consistently good at covering the spread at home when facing their AFC East masters. They’ve covered five of the last six meetings at home. I think they’ll do it again and keep the Monday night game close and interesting thanks to Sam Darnold and a revitalized offense. The buzz of last week’s win can only carry so far against Bill Belichick and his suffocating style.
Patriots 26, Jets 20
Ohio State 40, Northwestern 10 and STOP PLAYING ON FRIDAY NIGHTS
Clemson 36, Louisville 28
Oregon 27, Washington 23
SMU 35, Temple 31
Utah 24, Arizona State 17
Penn State 37, Michigan 20