Last week: 9-7, extending the season forecast to 138-83.
Due to the rampant COVID-19 outbreaks afflicting nearly every team in various states of constantly changing virulence, the commentary here will be brief. The status quo on Thursday morning is likely to change dramatically by the times the games kick off. Remember that as you wager or make your own confidence picks.
- San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans (+3): Lots of reasons to like the 49ers in this one, including the fact they’ve won four of the last five meetings on the road dating back to the Titans days as the Oilers. Kyle Shanahan’s team is a hot knife, and the banged-up Titans are trying to avoid being the soft butter.
49ers 27, Titans 20
- Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers (-7.5): The Browns should have a lot more players back from the COVID infection than they had for Monday night’s loss to the Raiders. They’ll need every last one of them to hang with the Packers in Green Bay on the Christmas matinee. The lack of a consistent passing game will doom the Browns, though a big day from Baker Mayfield could just as easily spark the upset.
Packers 20, Browns 16
- Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals (-1): The Cardinals are looking to rebound from getting absolutely dominated in all phases by the Lions. The Colts and their balanced game on both sides of the ball are a bad team to try and get right against.
Colts 28, Cardinals 21
- Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (+3): Matthew Stafford has had some of his worst career games in Minnesota, but that was with the Lions. With the Rams, he’s got a defense that can win the game for him. Cooper Kupp should have a great day, and that helps too.
Rams 31, Vikings 16
- Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5): The Ravens are 2-4 in their last six and two of those have come as the direct result of coaching decisions. With Lamar Jackson both iffy for the game and struggling behind a patchwork OL, it’s tough to have confidence in John Harbaugh’s Ravens. Joe Burrow and the Bengals passing attack against the injury-ravaged Baltimore secondary is an epic mismatch, too.
Bengals 34, Ravens 23
- Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (pick’em): Drew Lock takes over at QB for the Broncos with Teddy Bridgewater’s injury. That’s about the only reason to think the Raiders can win. Las Vegas barely beat a Browns team missing 18 regulars and a head coach, a team playing a third-string QB lined up behind their fifth-string right tackle. They’re not beating the Broncos without Denver helping them do it.
Broncos 21, Raiders 12
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5): Kansas City’s recent defensive uptick is bad news for the Steelers and their inconsistent passing attack. T.J. Watt and the defensive front give the Steelers a chance, but the Chiefs' COVID status will decide this game.
Chiefs 19, Steelers 13
- Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans (+10): Beware the trap game for the Chargers. They should be refocused after losing to the Chiefs, but it’s easy to skip past the lowly Texans to their final two games against the Broncos and Raiders. Houston isn’t good, but they’re capable if the visitors from L.A. don’t bring their A-game. Then again, the Texans have massive COVID issues including no kicker. Good test for rookie coach Brandon Staley.
Chargers 33, Texans 8
- New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-10): The Giants sure look like a team that has checked out on coach Joe Judge. Or maybe it’s just a relative lack of talent and Mike Glennon playing QB. Either way, good news for Philly fans…
Eagles 37, Giants 12
- Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-2.5): The Patriots famously beat the Bills two weeks ago without throwing the ball more than three times. That’s the kind of performance that can get in Buffalo’s head. Will they do that again? Will Belichick’s Pats come out throwing to reverse the script? The ultimate chess match from the best NFL head coach of the 21st century, and I don’t think Josh Allen playing hero ball is the right foe to figure it out.
Patriots 22, Bills 17
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (+10.5): The grumbling about coach Matt Rhule in Charlotte will figure to grow after Tampa Bay rolls into town. This one could be as ugly as a plastic surgery accident.
Buccaneers 35, Panthers 10
- Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5): Seattle has perked up the last couple of weeks and that’s more than enough to bury the dead Bears.
Seahawks 13, Bears 6
- Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-2.5): The Jets being favored against anyone tells you just how bad things are in Jacksonville. And it’s hard to argue against the Jets being the better team. There’s something that doesn’t get said or typed very often…
Jets 23, Jaguars 15
- Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (-5.5): Detroit has a legit chance to win its second game in a row, but they won’t do it without Jared Goff continuing his recent string of solid games. Goff’s status is unknown with COVID symptoms. On paper, the Falcons are a team Detroit matches up with quite well. But Atlanta is also capable of running away if the Falcons defense can create a takeaway or two.
Falcons 24, Lions 20
- Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5): Dallas is rolling with the defense making plays and the offense carrying its own share of the load at times. The Cowboys won 27-20 two weeks ago in Maryland despite not playing all that well. I don’t expect a repeat of the closeness of that outcome.
Cowboys 36, Football Team 14
- Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (-3): When the Saints defense is dialed in and attacking, they’re a formidable foe. Dialing up the intensity against another Florida-based team a few days after blanking Tom Brady and the Bucs is a tall order, however.
Dolphins 18, Saints 17