My success is down this year. I'll blame it on the election, or national anthem protests, or poor officiating. I think ultimately I just haven't found the pulse of the league this year. How is someone supposed to predict something like the Miami Dolphins blowing out the Pittsburgh Steelers? Come on!
I have also put faith in some bad teams that I expected to play better this year (I'm looking at you Jets) so now seven weeks into the season I should realize teams are who they are and hopefully I can get back on track.
The good thing is, though, I've been consistent. Consistently wrong. So if you're looking to make some picks just do the opposite of what I do and you should be solid.
Chicago Bears (+7.5) at Green Bay Packers
Fun fact (unless you're a Packers fan): Aaron Rodgers is completing only 60 percent of his passes and averaging 6.5 yards per passing attempt. Over the last 16 games (heading into the Giants game..and it hasn't gotten better since then) Aaron Rodgers is a completely pedestrian quarterback. He has an 83.6 QB rating, is averaging 6.06 yards per pass attempt, 56.8 completion percentage Aaron Rodgers falls from grace of elite and has under 4,000 yards passing. These are not Hall of Fame numbers. And no one can quite figure out why. Ive made all my Packers picks based on the fact that sometime Rodgers has to figure this out and become the Rodgers of old, but until he does I'm going to treat him like a pedestrian quarterback and 7.5 points on short rest is too much to give up. Disclaimer: over the last three years I haven't been good on Thursday night games. it's not really football. It's a loose affiliation to professional football. The games are terrible. This year I've been bad all year, including Thursday night games.
Giants (-3) "at" Rams (in London).
I think the Rams did a smart thing by heading straight to London following their Sunday night loss to the Lions. Otherwise, they would have gone from Los Angeles to Buffalo back to Los Angeles out to Detroit, back to Los Angeles, out to London. That's a lot of travel. It's still a lot of travel even going from Detroit to Los Angeles. But I think that was the right decision. I think these London games are harder to predict (though I tend to like the Jaguars in these games because they are spending a lot of time out there) because the start times our odd, the traveling schedule is odd, and the fields can sometimes be a mess. This game is tough to predict because both teams have been good and bad. I think personnel-wise the Giants match up favorably with the Rams.
The Rams don't really threaten the field vertically with Case Keenum. Their best two offensive weapons are running back Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin (though this year Kenny Britt has regained his rookie form). The Giants have been pretty good against the run this year (though not as good over the past two weeks) and Janoris Jenkins and DRC should be able to contain the Rams passing attack without a ton of help from the secondary which should allow the Giants to focus on the run.
On defense, the Rams are solid, but they lose Jenkins from a year ago and Trumaine Johnson missed last week and has not practiced yet this week which means he could be out. If he's out the Rams don't have much depth in the secondary to contain what is supposed to be a good aerial Giants attack (let's see them establish that shall we). The other injury issues for the Rams are up front where Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn are also banged up and could potentially miss the game. Things are set up for the Giants to win here and if they do they will be 4-3 heading into the bye where they should get a little healthier.
Really, though, my analysis should have started and ended like this: the Giants will start Eli Manning on Sunday and the Rams will be starting Case Keenum. That's not the be all, end all. but that's a huge advantage for the Giants and if they can't find a way to maximize that, shame on them.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
This is the 1 p.m. game I might be most interested in seeing. The Vikings have beat up on every quarterback they have seen this year without having to rely not he blitz and made future Hall of Fame caliber players and MVP players Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning look pedestrian. How good is Carson Went really this year? I think Sunday is an excellent test.
New Orleans Saints (+6.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Saints aren't great, but 6.5 points is a lot of room to give Drew Brees. Even though Brees isn't as good on the road as he is at home it's an offense that can outscore any team on any given weekend.
Washington Redskins (+1.5) at Detroit Lions
The Giants were the perfect slump-busters for the Washington Redskins. Since that game awoke Kirk Cousins out of a sleepwalking state the Redskins have won four games in a row with Cousins throwing 8 of his 9 touchdowns on the season. The Redskins are pretty solid along both lines and have some playmakers too. Matt Jones is really starting to run well also averaging 4.9 yards per carry on the ground. For the Lions Matthew Stafford has been terrific (14 touchdowns to 4 Interceptions) despite the retirement of Calvin Johnson. The retirement of Calvin Johnson may have actually brought out the best in Stafford who is spreading the ball al around to Marvin Jones (29 receptions), Anquan Boldin (29 receptions), Theo Roddick ( 26) and Golden Tate (25) evenly. The Lions problems are on defense where they don't force a whole lot of turnovers and are middling in both stopping the run and the pass. I hope for the Lions to win, but I think the Redskins are better along both lines.
Cleveland Browns (+10) at Cincinnati Bengals
About the only thing I've been right on this year is that the Browns are tough and competitive. They are big time underdogs everyweek, but the are usually competitive, minus the Patriots game where clipboard Jesus had to fill in for Cody Kessler and was absolutely brutal. The Browns are young and have talent, they haven't learned how to win yet, but they play hard and are usually close enough to cover the spread. And it's not like the Bengals are any good anymore either. Perhaps one of the league's longest tenured coaches is finally losing his team.
Buffalo (-3) at Miami Dolphins
The Bills have been one of the best teams in the league over the last four weeks in large part because of their running game. The Bills have the leagues best running game averaging a whopping 166.5 yards per game this year (if you told me the Giants have a stretch of three games in a row this year where they don't accumulate 166.5 yards I'd believe you). The Dolphins can't stop the run 147 yards per game allowed. And the Bills also really harass the quarterback led by Lorenzo Alexander? (Is that a typo...looks it up....Nope). Lorenzo Alexander who has nine seasons under his belt with the Redskins and Raiders among others had a total of nine sacks entering this season and eight this year.
Best running team in the league vs the second worst seems like it should be a decided victory for the Bills. But that's why the play the game on Sunday.
Oakland Raiders (+1) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Two teams who have been rebuilding for a decade both expected to take steps forward this year, but only one has and it's the AFC West leading Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are the better team and they are getting a point.
Indianapolis Colts (+2.5) at Tennessee Titans
The Titans have been very solid this year. They are not great, but they have a very good run game (3rd in the league). Demarco Murray has had a renaissance in Tennessee, rushing for 526 yards and leading the team in receiving. And that's the problem. They don't have any receiving threats. I think ultimately though the Titans lines are much better than the Colts lines and I think they'll win this game.
Baltimore Ravens (+1) at New York Jets
They have weapons, but they are aging. hey have great players along the defensive line, but they can't put it together. The biggest reason for that is the terrible play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who's been a turnover machine. The Ravens are solid, but are really beat up by injuries and Joe Flacco has missed two straight practices.This game is really impossible to predict with those two factors in play, but I'll take the Jets one more time. Hopefully, the play of Geno Smith will inspire the Jets to play to their potential.
San Diego (+6.5) at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have been one of the best teams in the league while the Chargers are 2-4 because they can't finish games. The Chargers are putting up 28.5 points per game, which is near top of the league and Rivers is playing extremely well with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions though with he injury to Kennan Allen has had to learn on other options.Still, he's at 8.2 yards per pass attempt for the season.
I thought the 49ers were going to play inspired behind Colin Kaepernick, but they got run off the field. The Buccaneers have taken a step back this year, but are still talented.
New England (-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Can the Steelers run enough and make enough plays to Antonio Brown to keep this game close? The Steelers don't play the pass well and the Patriots have had good success vs the Steelers in the past throwing the ball.
Seattle Seahawks (-2) at Arizona Cardinals
Seahawks are the better team and the Rams are their Kryptonite, not the Cardinals, but I think the Cardinals are going to play very well here. They are really getting after the quarterback (19 sacks on the season) and are putting up points
Houston Texans (+7.5) at Broncos
I'll take the points here.