Last Week’s picks: 11-4
Overall record to date: 11-4
*TNF Pick: Colts 24 Texans 21 / IND +5
Chiefs @ Bears: Line KC -9
This could be our first, “loser leaves town” matchup of the NFL. A loss to either 1-3 team most likely eliminates any chance of playoff hopes. The Bears are a mess, a slightly better mess now that Jay Cutler has returned but none-the-less, they are not good. The Chiefs, I’m not ready to declare them that bad. Their 3 losses have come to Denver, Green Bay and Cincy. As of now, those are three of the top five teams in the league. The key for KC is to not get down early. Limit the exposure of Alex Smith in obvious passing downs and they should be fine. I think the Vegas line is too high but I’m still taking KC in this one.
Chiefs 24 Bears 20 / Bears +9
Seahawks @ Bengals: Line CIN -3
In what is probably the NFL game of the week, a lot of questions will be answered after this contest. Anybody still on the fence about the Andy Dalton hype train will have their answer if the “Red Rifle” is for real on Sunday. The Seahawks have regained their swagger after two cupcake games at home vs Jimmy Clausen and Matthew Stafford. Kam Chancellor is back and the Seattle defense is playing at “high level”, although the quality of offenses they played in the last two games leaves a little to be desired. The key to this game resides on both offensive lines. Dalton red hot start can be attributted to the stalwart blocking he’s been getting. The stagnant-pace of the Seattle offense can be traced directly to the lack-luster protection the Seahawks have given Russell Wilson. Vegas deems this game a toss up. I’m not ready to believe in Dalton just yet, he needs to prove it in this game. Take the points and Seattle.
Seahawks 23 Bengals 20 / Seahawks +3
Redskins @ Flacons: Line ATL -7
Washington is still very much in the hunt thanks to a terrible NFC East. After pulling out a win against the Eagles last weekend, they get a matchup with the NFL’s hottest offense. I stated last week that when Atlanta gets a chance to play downhill at home, they are as scary as any team in the league. We all know what Julio Jones can do, the man is unstoppable. But the emergence of Devonta Freeman has made this offense a complete monster. Now Washington’s defense is respectable, but unless they have 2012 RG III back there, the defense is going to spend too much time out on the field and the Redskins offense will not be able to keep up. I personally think the line is too low. Atlanta in a another blow out.
Falcons 34 Redskins 13 / Falcons -7
Jaguars @ Buccaneers: Line TB -2.5
At the bar I watch all my games at on Sundays, The Bench, there is always a game that is stuck on the back wall, in the corner, on the smallest tv. This will be on that tv, I can’t think of less riveting matchup in the NFL all year. This is probably the toughest game to predict all week because I can’t trust either QB to play well. These teams are what they are, squeaked out a win against the terrible team they played and got man-handled by the good teams. I’ll give the nod to the home team, Jameis could flash that first round potential that Blake Bortles might not have. Bucs in a snooze-fest.
Buccaneers 23 Jaguars 20 / TB -2.5
Saints @ Eagles: Line: PHI -5
This could be another “loser leaves town” match but 8 wins could very well win the NFC East. Chip Kelly offense leads the league in most 3 and outs and is worst in time of possession. Not very good for the so called genius. Drew Brees returned last week and edged the Cowboys in OT but the results were clear, Brees can not push the ball down field. The Saints have always been a different team on the road. And for a little bit last week, Sam Bradford looked like the QB we saw in the pre-season. At some time, someone other than Jordan Matthews has to step up in the Philly receiving game. Look for Nelson Agholor to finally shake off the rookie-slump. And look for the “Mad King’s” defense to stack the box against Brees and dare him to beat them deep. I’m taking Philly.
Eagles 27 Saints 20 / PHI -5
Browns @ Ravens: Line BAL -6.5
The Ravens saved their season last week, they are perhaps the best 1-3 team in the league. The Browns played their hearts out against the Chargers and Josh McCown impressed with a great performance on the road. Unfortunately, he was let down by his defense and special teams. Justin Forsett showed major signs of life last week in cracking the century mark for the first time this year. In a divisional matchup, scores usually tend to be closer than they should. Regardless, I don’t see this Ravens team wasting an opportunity to start stacking wins after digging themselves a 0-3 hole. Ravens take care of business at home. As far as the Vegas line goes, grab the Browns and the points in this divisional matchup.
Ravens 24 Browns 20 / CLE +6.5
Bills @ Titans: Line BUF -2.5
The Bills losing to the Giants at home was one of my 4 misses last week. I put my faith in Tyrod, Rex and the Orchard Park home field advantage, but I didn’t see the 17 penalities for over 100 yards coming. I still have faith in Buffalo, just not as much as last week. The Titans are coming off a bye week, at 1-3, if they have any hopes of competing in the AFC South, they need to take care of business at home. Which leads into my main x-factor, Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme vs rookie Marcus Mariota. The Oregon product has gotten off to a good start, take out that first game though, the stats start to look a little pedestrian. I just think that Rex’s schemes will keep Mariota under constant pressure, the Titans will put up a fight but in the end, but it won’t be enough.
Bills 27 Titans 20 / BUF -2.5
Rams @ Packers: Line GB -9
The Rams shocked a lot of people with their road win vs the Cardinals. While I wasn’t too surprised that the Rams won, I was taken back by the performance of rookie Todd Gurley in the 2nd half. Gurley ran through, over and around a very good Cardinals defense. If this just the first taste of what Todd Gurley can do, then we have to start taking the Rams very seriously. The Packers came away with a gritty, hard-fought 17-3 win against the 49ers. Now while it wasn’t the blow out that many predicted, the way in which the Packers won has to inspire confidence. The Packers defense has been stout against the run and swarming in their pursuit of the QB. They rank tied for 2nd in the league in sacks so far with 17. Through 4 games this year, the Packers boast a top 10 defensive unit. Aaron Rodgers continues to play clean turnover-free football, and while the offense only put up 17 points, the game was always in their control. The Rams have an elite pass rush and the look of a bourgeoning elite RB, those two commodities will travel anywhere. But this game will be in Lambeau Field. A place where the Packers have won 10 straight, Rodgers has not thrown an interception there since 2012 and the offense plays at another level than on the road. The Rams will give the Packers a contest, but look for Rodgers and co. to pull away in the 2nd half.
Packers 27 Rams 17 / GB -9
Cardinals @ Lions: Line AZ -3
Both teams received tough losses last week, only the Lions can blame the zebras on theirs, Arizona has only themselves to blame. The Cardinals are not infallible, that much was certain last week, but I find it hard to believe they will turn in two clunkers in a row. As for the Lions, they just can’t seem to get out of their own way. They are not as bad as their 0-4 record would indicate, but not much better either. The Stafford-led offense cannot seem to find a rhythm. The defense is doing better than i expected after the loss of both Fairley and Suh. But Detriot cannot seem to close out games. I look for the Cardinals to bounce back in a big way this week. It could get ugly, and if it does, Jim Caldwell’s job is not too far from Joe Philbin waters.
Cardinals 30 Lions 20 / AZ -3
Patriots @ Cowboys: Line NE -8.5
The grim reality is starting to set in for the Cowboys as their injuries mount, this season may just be lost. And it is unfortunate, with a healthy Dez and Romo, the Cowboys would probably be favorites in this game. Now, that Vegas line couldn’t be high enough. Jason Garrett’s Cowboys face a red hot Pats team fresh off a bye week. I just can’t see any way the Cowboys can keep within 2 touchdowns of the Patriots. Their pass defense is not that good, they will have no answer for Gronk and Tom Brady owns the Cowboys. I wish i could say more but this one will be a blow out.
Patriots 42 Cowboys 20 / NE -8.5
Broncos @ Raiders: Line DEN -4.5
There is no question who has the best defense in the NFL so far, its Denver and it is not really close. Boasting the best duo of edge rushers in the league, and both top 5 in rush and pass defense, Peyton Manning finally has a legit defense. Only one problem, Manning’s arm is fading faster than the Eagles playoff hopes. After being Denver’s lynch-pin for so long, the Broncos are hoping for just league-average QB play from Manning and relying on their defense to finish the rest. And so far it has worked out. The Raiders disappointed a some people last week who thought for sure they’d get on the right side of .500. Derek Carr did not have the breakout game many of us thought he would. This game will be at home but I find it hard to believe he will have much success against the leagues top defensive unit. The only hope is that Manning throws the game away, like he almost did last week when he let the Vikings back into the game. I’m still taking the Broncos but expect the Raiders to make this game more frisky than it should be.
Broncos 23 Raiders 20 / OAK +4.5
49ers @ Giants: Line NYG -7
I think Bill Simmons summed it up perfectly about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers defense put up a good fight last week vs Aaron Rodgers. But Kaepernick was just plain terrible. The QB we saw run through the 2012 playoffs is long gone. He was bouncing easy throws, reluctant to take chances downfield despite clear man to man with little safety help over the top. If the Niners get down early in this game, expect more of the same from CK7. As for the Giants, they look to have taken control of the dumpster fire that is the NFC East. The defense looks to be better than anyone gave them credit for and Eli is playing well, despite Odell Beckham Jr. being just average so far. I don’t want to fully get on board with the Giants just yet, but it might be time to do so. They could be easily 4-0. No one has played Atlanta as well as they did. And Odell has to breakout at some point right? After watching Kaepernick last week, I don’t see the 49ers coming to play on the road. The Giants win comfortably here.
Giants 30 49ers 20 / NYG -7
Steelers @ Chargers: Line SD -3
The Chargers are getting Antonio Gates back this week, the Steelers can’t say the same about Ben Roethlisberger, he’s at least about 3 weeks away. Michael Vick did not look good last week against the Ravens. Of course he isn’t their biggest problem, the kicker situation has been the Steelers Achilles Heel so far. The Chargers have been about as unpredictable as any team this season. They have looked terrible on the road and only slightly better at home. Vegas seems to think the same, the -3 line basically says this is a toss up. I don’t really have a great feel for this game yet. If you’re betting, stay away. Gun to my head, I’m going with the Chargers to continue there home roll.
Chargers 27 Steelers 24 / SD -3