Last week was the tail of two halves of the day for me as I was absolutely brutal in the 1 p.m. games but finished strong to finish the day at 7-7. There were a couple of games that I was just absolutely wrong on. I thought the Eagles could be starting a free fall but they really bounced back and played a quality game, but on the flip side I also read a game or two right that just didn't turn out the way it should have. The Rams did cause the Packers problems and really should have covered the spread, but they missed three field goals and didn't get any points on the final drive when they were in the red zone. Unfortunately, I was also right on the Giants, who made the 49ers look like a competent team after spending the last month looking like the worst coach team in the league. But, o nto another week.
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at New Orleans Saints
I don't know what to make of the Saints. I keep expecting more out of them, but they aren't delivering. They are a team that is in a rebuild they just happen to have one of the league's better quarterbacks. This team is fast on defense, but can't put up the points they used to be able to without Jimmy Graham and with Colston only a shell of what he used to be. They have historically be tough at home, but this Falcons team is just better and should win this game pretty easily. Thursday night games tend to be on the sloppy slide and though home teams have a distinct advantage the Falcons aren't traveling far and this is a team that comes out to play every week. The one big key here though is whether or not Julio Jones plays, Jones is one of the league's best offensive weapons, but I think he'll play enough and the Falcons win this one easily..
Pick: Falcons [Final score: Saints 31, Falcons 21]
Denver Broncos (-4.5) at Cleveland Browns
I continue to ride the Broncos band-wagon waiting for Peyton to step it up and figure some things out but that just doesn't seem to be happening. He can't throw the ball down the field the way he once did and teams are really crowding the short passing game and daring him to beat him over-top so far they haven't been able to do that. On the other side of the coin the Browns lack playmakers but they play hard and tend to be in games. They are 13th in the league in offensive scoring and McCown is completing 67 percent of his passes and has 6 touchdowns to only 1 INT. He's playing better than people realize, The Browns are a candidate to beat themselves because the Broncos beat up quarterbacks and score points on defense, but the Broncos can't rely on that every single week. I think the Browns are in this game until the end because they will use an effective quick passing game with Duke Johnson Jr and emerging tight end Gary Barnridge.
Pick: Browns cover the spread
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills
The Bills offense has really struggled without LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, and this week the Bills will be without Tyrod Taylor. I don't think they have enough to compete with what might be the best team in the league.
Kansas City (+3.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Chiefs have some nice pieces, but it's just not coming all together yet. The Vikings are starting to build something up there in Minnesota and that's even without Teddy Bridgewater playing to his potential yet. They haven't figured out how to use their offensive pieces yet with Adrian Peterson back, but perhaps the bye week has given them some time to fix that. I like the Vikings to win this game pretty easily against a floudering Chiefs team who is going to be without their best offensive player for the rest of the season.
Houston Texans (-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars
These teams both stink, but one team has a future Hall of Famer in J.J Watt who can wreck games. I'll just go with the Texans because I think they have more talent and really need a win here, plus they are getting a few extra days to prep, maybe that'll help.
Chicago Bears (+3) at Detroit Lions
I think the Bears are actually the better team here and win outright.
Washington Redskins (+6) at New York Jets
The Redskins are not a good team, but they are a tough team. They can run the ball, they have some physical guys up front on defense, but there play-makers are aging on offense and they turn the football over too much. The Jets are similar. The Jets are good on defense, can the football have a few aging play-makers on offense, but Fitzpatrick can also turn the ball over too much. I think the Jets are the better football team, but I would expect a low-scoring game here and in low-scoring games take the six points.
Pick: Redskins cover the spread
Arizona Cardinals (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cardinals are a very good team with no glaring weaknessess. The Steelers are still starting MIchael Vick for now and while he's played competently in replace of Big Ben he hasn't played a defense like the Cardinals.
Miami Dolphins (+2.5) at Tennessee Titans
If there's one thing that always seems to happen is that a team comes out firing on all cylinders for an interim coach. I'm not sure why it's that way, and i'm sure it's more perception than reality, but I expect the Dolphins to come out and play their best game of the season to date against the still under-talented Titans and win this game outright.
Pick: Dolphins with the minor upset
Carolina Panthers (+7) at Seattle Seahawks
The Panthers keep on chugging along winning games and are coming off a bye ... The Seahawks, on the other hand, are squeaking out victories and are inches away from being 1-4 or 0-5. Russell Wilson is getting beaten up constantly. They can't figure out how to use Jimmy Graham, and their defense, while still good, is wilting a bit in the fourth quarter. Yet the Seahawks are heavy favorites against the Panthers and while I think they are better and the Panthers are scoring points with smoke and mirrors (27 points per game, sixth in the league, though they are 25th in total yardage), the Panthers defense is legit (fourth in points and 10th in total yardage). They are +8 in turnover ratio differential are big and talented up front and have one of the leagues young stars at cornerback in Josh Norman. I don't know if they can go into Seattle and upset the Seahawks, but I barely trust the Seahawks to score 7 points against the Panthers so I can't give the points.
San Diego Chargers (+10) at Green Bay Packers
The Chargers are missing too many guys up front, but I'll always take double digit points with a quarterback as good as Philip Rivers.
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
The Giants are confidence builders for other teams. You're struggling to find an identity or do anything special come play the Giants, even if you're terrible we'll keep you in the game! (Like the Jaguars last year!). The 49ers are not a good football team, but they are starting to straighten things out a bit. They played the Packers tough on defense but couldn't get anything going on offense. Last week the Giants did a very good job of minimizing their pass rush, but this week the 49ers will get back Ahmahd Brooks. The Ravens, on the other hand, are just not a good football team. The loss of Terrell Suggs hurts, even though they are still getting to the quarterback they are blitzing a lot and exposing their back end. They lack play-makers on offense, it's not the playoffs so Joe Flacco is playing middling football and they give up too many points on defense. I think the 49ers like their coach and are playing hard I also think playing the Giants helped Kaepernick find himself a bit and he'll have a good game this week.
Pick: 49ers pull off the upset
New England (-8) at Indianapolis Colts
Until someone shows you how to stop the Patriots I like them to win often and big by points. Last week the Cowboys sacked Tom Brady five times in the first half and the Patriots still scored 30 points. The Colts haven't looked very good all season
New York Giants (+4) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants never make it easy, but finally this is a tough-minded team. The Super Bowl winning 2011 team was a tough team. They never got down, they always had some come back in them. They had the assassin Eli Manning and were awesome in the two-minute drill, winning pretty much every game that whole season in the fourth quarter. The last few years they seemed like melt-down teams in the fourth quarter and the first two weeks of this season, too, where they blew two fourth-quarter leads. But something is different about this team, it's like everyone on the team hasn't something to prove and it's fun to watch. The Giants always struggle against the Eagles and as I was saying in the 49ers preview the Giants are a team that always seem to let teams find themselves how much they are struggling. I'm nervous about this game, but I think four points is too many for two teams that are pretty evenly matched talent wise (assuming the returns of OBJ and Devon Kennard).
Pick: Giants cover the spread