Buffalo Bills (-3) at New York Jets
As a current Rochesterian, I am hopping on the Buffalo Bills bandwagon (choo, choo) and hoping for the best. It’s been a long, long time for the Bills since their last playoff appearance and this year the team feels different. The biggest reason for that is their ability to hold onto the football. Tyrod Taylor is the best QB the Bills have had in a long long time. Interesting fact you probably didn’t know: since Taylor took over the starting gig for the Bills, he has thrown 45 touchdowns and only 14 INT (he’s also rushed for 14). The Jets have been pretty competitive every game and I’m terrible at Thursday night games so I’ll take the Bills.
Final score: Jets 34, Bills 21
Denver Broncos (+8.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles may be the best team in the league at the moment, but 8.5 points is too many against a talented defense like the Broncos. I think they play better this week.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at New York Giants
Even at their best I think the Rams are a bad matchup for the Giants. The thing that I have liked about the Rams the past few years (that Jeff Fisher was in their way) was that they are a very fast active defense. Their pass rush is uber talented with Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. They have a lot of speed at the linebacker position and they can are tough and physical. This year they have also added the element that suddenly their offense can play as well. Before the season I thought this was not an ideal matchup for the Giants and know it looks even worse. Again, the pressure Aaron Donald forces up the middle will likely completely destroy Eli Manning’s (whose rapidly declining ability to avoid the rush is in my mind the most overlooked reason why the Giants are really struggling) chances of having any success. I like the Rams here.
As a matter of principle I really like big points spreads in divisional matches. We all expected the Buccaneers to be better this year and I’ve been looking to see what’s wrong and it might be this: the Buccaneers have only sacked the QB seven times this year. That’s not great. I don’t know if that is good enough against the Saints, but 7 points is just too much for me to lay with the good possibility of a back door cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Bengals have had a difficult time creating an second option outside of A.J. Green and their offense has struggled. Their offense really hasn’t been as good since that off season where they lost both Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. I think that’s a problem against the Jaguars who might have the league’s best secondary this year led by there terrific Jalen Ramsey. Could we actually see both the Bills and Jaguars in the playoffs this year?
Atlanta Falcons (+1) at Carolina Panthers
Sometimes losing a good player is addition by subtraction. The Panthers traded away Kelvin Benjamin who is not a team problem and who is a very good solid player. Benjamin has been solid this year, he actually led the team in receiving yards, but the Panthers felt that having both Benjamin and Devin Funchess on the outside was making them way too slow. The Panthers are winning games despite a very poor turnover ratio. That’s not sustainable. I think they’ll continue to win, but the turnovers will slow down.
Indianapolis Colts (+13) at Houston Texans
Big point spreads for divisional teams are too tough for me to swallow. The Texans have been extraordinary since they inserted Watson into the lineup on offense and they may very well win by more than 13, but I just can’t swallow it.
Baltimore Ravens (+4) at Tennessee Titans
Did the Ravens figure something out on offense last week, or did the fact that Joe Flacco got knocked out of the game actually improve their offense? Flacco has not played well. The reason I like the Ravens here though is because they are only allowing 184.5 yards passing per game on defense, and Titans don't have the weapons to change that. I think this will be a very close game.
Arizona Cardinals (-2) at San Francisco 49ers
I think the 49ers will win at least one game and this (and the Giants game) might be their two best chances.
Pick: 49ers win outright.
Washington (+7) at Seattle Seahawks
Washington is a tough, physical football team. They aren’t a great team but I think they’ll keep it close
Oakland Raiders (-3) at Miami Dolphins
I think the Raiders are a better team and if they are going to make a season out of it they need to win it this week. Despite the Dolphins record they have a -60 point differential this year. For reference, despite how bad the Giants have been they have a -44 point differential this year.
Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers has hidden a lot of the Packers flaws over the past few years and I just don’t think they are that good without him.