Last week: 10-4, pushing out the season forecast to 52-29
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-4): Get excited America! The winner of this game between the 1-4-1 Eagles and 1-5 Giants will be in first place, at least temporarily, in the NFC East. It’s hard to keep track of who exactly the Eagles will have on the field, but one of them will be Jalen Hurts presumably taking more reps from Carson Wentz at quarterback. I can see it working against the Giants but it is not a sustainable situation. And if it doesn’t work against New York’s defense…?
Eagles 27, Giants 24
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (+2): This is a rare meeting of unbeatens this late in the season. And the stakes are high--every winner of previous matchups of 5-0 teams has gone on to the Super Bowl that season.
I think the Steelers are the best team in football right now. I also think the Titans are going to win this game. Why? Ryan Tannehill. If the Steelers load up to snuff out Derrick Henry, the top non-QB MVP candidate, I see Tannehill finding success attacking the biggest weakness of the Steelers--deep coverage. Pittsburgh will miss LB Devin Bush and this is a bad first opponent to play without him, too. The Titans passing offense will miss LT Taylor Lewan, however. That gives the Steelers a viable chance to rewrite this forecast and come away with a huge road win. If Pittsburgh does win, I don’t think it will be a close game either.
Titans 24, Steelers 20
- Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans (+3.5): Aaron Rodgers is coming off a terrible game, one where very little went right for the Packers QB or the team around him. That’s very bad news for Houston, which has struggled to stop significantly less potent offenses than the one Rodgers leads into NRG Stadium at Reliant Park.
The Texans have a shot because Deshaun Watson is playing great. The Packers defense? Not so much. Hence the over/under mark of 57, the highest on the docket in Week 7. Take the over and trust in Rodgers rebounding emphatically.
Packers 40, Texans 31
- Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (+3.5): The Seahawks are not going to miss an opportunity to assert their dominance over an up-and-coming division foe. There are a lot of things that go into that, but sometimes it’s best not to overthink these things. Should be an entertaining one to watch play out nonetheless.
Seahawks 31, Cardinals 27
- Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7.5): Carolina is good at muddying the waters of the game, keeping it close and making it difficult for the foe to sustain any sort of in-game momentum. And the Saints are prone to being streaky in-game. It makes the 7.5 points very appealing, even if I’m confident enough to make the Saints the fallback survivor fantasy pick this week.
Saints 22, Panthers 20
- Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (+13.5): The Bills need a soft landing after two straight losses derailed the Josh Allen hype train and showed some defensive vulnerabilities. The Jets are a perfect soft landing spot. Good week to use the Bills as a survivor fantasy pick if you haven’t already.
Bills 34, Jets 10
- Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (-3): No lead is safe in this battle of choking dogs, err...cats and birds. Atlanta blew 14-point 4th quarter leads in two straight games, the first NFL team to ever accomplish that dubious feat. Detroit lost 10 of 11 games where the Lions held a double-digit lead at one point in the game.
Maybe the strategy here is to slow-play the entire game and head into the 4th in a 3-3 tie. Given how bad the Falcons defense is, that seems quite unlikely. I sense a letdown for Atlanta in the second week of the interim regime of Raheem Morris after breaking through the win column banner last week.
Lions 31, Falcons 28
- Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5): When last we saw this matchup in Week 2, many Bengals fans began grabbing the rosary beads to pray for Joe Burrow’s longevity. The prayers have fallen on deaf ears, and now they face the Browns (again) coming off an ugly blowout loss with something to prove, both to themselves and a skeptical national media. Light a candle for Burrow and for A.J. Green, who appears done at WR.
Browns 30, Bengals 20
- Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team (NL): Be very wary of thinking the Cowboys will cruise here. Very wary. Why aren’t those homonyms spelled with the same vowels? Why is there also a “vary” that doesn’t mean anything like very, or wary for that matter? English has too many gray areas as a language. Or is it grey? Oy vey!
Football Team 33, Cowboys 30
- Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (+10.5): Denver played the role of blind squirrel finding a tasty nut last week in New England. The Chiefs will play Hillbilly Jim from my freshman dorm at Ohio University to that fatted squirrel.
Flashback to 1990. My neighbor in Tiffin Hall was Hillbilly Jim, a proud redneck from the hollers of southern Ohio that doubles as an extension of eastern Kentucky and northwestern West Virginia. Jim saw a squirrel foraging around the dumpster behind the dorm. Instead of thinking, “ooh cute, a squirrel” like sane 18-year-olds do, Jim scampered down to the dumpster with his Rambo-like hunting knife in hand. He coaxes the curious squirrel over with some random food wrapper he found laying around. Just as the squirrel gets close, Jim jabs the knife into the back of the squirrel’s neck. He stuck it in so far the knife actually got stuck and it angered Jim enough that he flung the knife--and the squirrel--into a wall.
Needless to say, Jim did not do well with the ladies…
Chiefs 38, Broncos 18
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers (-8.5): Finally, the Chargers play a foe with an even shakier kicking situation than their own! Jacksonville trotted out kicker Jon Brown last week even though he’d never attempted a field goal in a game that counted at any level. As you might have guessed, Brown missed as many as he made in the Jaguars’ lifeless loss to the Lions. They could have Josh Lambo back for this one, but with little practice he’s just as apt to miss a critical field goal as Brown. Or Aldrick Rosas. Or Steven Hauschka.
Chargers 27, Jaguars 14
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5): Jon Gruden is coaching the Raiders against Tom Brady, who made his legend initially by vanquishing a Gruden Raiders team thanks to one of the most controversial calls in NFL history. Now Brady is quarterback for a Tampa Bay team Gruden also used to coach. It’s a soap opera akin to the epoch on Days of Our Lives where Marlena wasn’t really Marlena but was instead possessed by the devil. Brady has the Stefano that is Todd Bowles on his side, capable of vexing any trickery from Gruden’s game Raiders. Get your Chucky dolls out and hold tight!
Buccaneers 22, Raiders 17
- San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots (-2): Jimmy Garoppolo makes his return to New England, and strangely enough his 49ers have the better overall team and superior defense. The Patriots team that couldn’t beat a dilapidated Denver team last week stands no real chance of wiping the smile of the impossibly handsome Jimmy G’s face. I suspect the Patriots will be better but there’s a ceiling to how much better this roster can be.
49ers 25, Patriots 21
- Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-5.5): If you like dominant defensive line play, this game is for you. Aaron Donald vs. Khalil Mack is a rare defensive superstar matchup. The Bears defense is a lot more than Mack, of course, and that’s why I think they’ve got a good shot to improve from the wrongly labeled “worst 5-1 team in history” to “worst 6-1 team ever”. Tis better to be the worst 6-1 team than the best 1-6 team, haters…
Bears 23, Rams 21