NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week Seven; 2015)

[Buffalo vs. Jacksonville] (London game)

Buffalo’s been struggling recently. If not their defense against powerful offenses (such as last week against Cincinnati), it’s their offense against mediocre defenses. Their starting quarterback, one starting receiver, and one starting defensive tackle are all out. They have to be pretty thankful that they’re facing a team like Jacksonville in London instead of, say, Green Bay. Maybe a win this week will get their heads back on straight.

But I won’t completely disregard Jacksonville. Despite the fact that they have let me down considerably all season, they’ve had some close games against superior teams. Namely Indianapolis at home with Hasselbeck at quarterback and Carolina, but nevertheless. I don’t think they’ll get blown out, but I certainly don’t think they’ll win. Blake Bortles may have a lot of passing yards and touchdowns this season, but a lot of those are in garbage time, trying to catch up with his opponent’s two-score lead.

I like E.J. Manuel. I like his chances against Jacksonville’s defense. I think he’ll pull through. To be frank, though, if Buffalo loses here, it might be worse than Miami’s loss against New York in the same stadium a few weeks prior.

Winner: Buffalo

[Cleveland @ St. Louis]

This is a tough cookie. Cleveland has been very good offensively lately, even against good defenses. St. Louis is coming off a bye-week and Todd Gurley has shown to be very talented player. Not to mention, Cleveland has given up quite a few rushing yards in the last few weeks. St. Louis has very few weapons on offense to pass to. Tavon Austin may have a big game… rushing and returning.

Both teams are missing a few key players. Cleveland is without Joe Haden. St. Louis is without Chris Long. Both of these players, while good, are one of many good players at their position for their teams. Their respective defenses probably won’t falter without them. Josh McCown actually had one of his worst games of the 2013 season against St. Louis. Will it repeat? Probably not. He’ll probably have a similar performance as he did against Denver last week.

The only thing is: it’s St. Louis. I have no idea if they’ll be really good or really bad. They have little talent on offense, with great talent on defense. Sometimes their offense creates fireworks; sometimes their defense allows fireworks. They’re grossly inconsistent. I can’t really trust any pick I make in regards to this team, but I’ll definitely try.

Winner: Cleveland

[Minnesota @ Detroit]

Detroit got its first win of the season last week. Good for them! Now they get to face a defense that is actually considered “good.” If they call the same aggressive plays as they did last week, they may make this a high-scoring game, which is actually what they need to do. Detroit’s defense has been struggling against the pass, but is fairly good against the run. Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t play well when Adrian Peterson doesn’t play well. But with Detroit’s pass defense thus far, maybe he’ll turn it around. Who knows?

Matt Stafford and his offense should not be having as bad a season offensively with all of their weapons. Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Ameer Abdullah, and Theo Riddick. He has plenty to throw to, but the play-calling seems to favor quick releases and possession plays. Gotta say, that may work better if they had any threat of a run game or a good offensive line, neither of which Detroit has.

Detroit got the better of Chicago last week in a game that was supposedly very badly officiated. Assuming the referees aren’t clamoring for a Detroit victory, I think Minnesota’s defense will keep the game close if necessary. Regardless, Bridgewater will probably have a decent game against them. I kinda miss seeing Kyle Rudolph, too. I’d like to see him have a giant game.

Winner: Minnesota

[Houston @ Miami]

They ain’t no Jacksonville anymore.

Houston had one of the most one-sided games of the season against Jacksonville last week. Brian Hoyer looked like Tom Brady against the weakling Jacksonville squad. But Miami had a similar result against another AFC South team last week. They’re looking like a team that many had expected them to be since the beginning of the season.

Miami finally had a running game last week. They’ll need that against Houston as their passing defense is (or was last week) okay. Ryan Tannehill, despite leading his team to 31 points, threw two interceptions, which is worrying, to say the least. His completion percentage was pretty good, though. But he wasn’t the star of their win last week. The star was Cameron Wake, who had 4 sacks against Tennessee’s lowly offensive line. While I don’t think he’ll have the same results against Houston, I think he, Suh, and Vernon will all have good days. Miami’s defense looks to be spirited after a lopsided win.

After what happened with Miami last week, I don’t think this game will even be close. I shouldn’t assume that, however, as it’s proven me an idiot before (especially last week). I still believe Miami is too good of a team to be losing to a struggling Houston. It’ll probably be another AFC South beatdown.

Winner: Miami

[New Orleans @ Indianapolis]

Drew Brees beat an undefeated team that didn’t take their crazy pill last week. As much as Indianapolis has been struggling lately, I think they’ve somewhat recovered from their offensive flushing last week after a good showing against New England (in the first half). Not to mention, New Orleans is on the road. They kinda suck on the road.

Andrew Luck didn’t turn the ball over last week. That’s good news for someone who had turned the ball over about 10 times through 3 starts. He seems to have found his footing again, but still can’t seem to stop forcing in balls when he’s behind on the scoreboard. At least his offensive line has played better since switching guys around. That may not be as impressive, knowing they were almost complete shit before that.

New Orleans could win this game. Of course, any team could win any game. But I think Indianapolis will bounce back and start winning again. They have to, right? Andrew Luck’s back, the offensive line is better, Frank Gore’s playing hard. I don’t see how Indianapolis’s offensive struggles will continue, especially against New Orleans of all teams. Right? Right?

Winner: Indianapolis

[Pittsburgh @ Kansas City]

Landry Jones is starting for the first time in his career! He only had to wait for what seems like 6 years or so. (Actual number is 2.4.) He played magnificently in relief of Mike Vick, who looked… defeated last week against Arizona’s rough defense. Though, I’ve seen this scenario before. A back-up’s back-up comes in a plays well in relief, but once he actually starts, he ends up being less than people expect. It happens. I don’t expect Landry Jones to play the way he did last week, but we’ll see what happens.

Kansas City’s defense is pretty good, too. Maybe not as good as Arizona’s, but they definitely have some very good players. They’ve allowed less than 20 points in the last 2 weeks. Neither of the last two games were a win, however, as Kansas City’s offense is very, very bad. No Jamaal Charles. No arm for Alex Smith. No weapons outside of Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. It’s amazing how little Kansas City’s defense has given up with how inept their offense is. It’s kinda sad.

Kansas City’s offense is the deciding factor in this game. If they can get something going, their defense could hold Jones and co. in check. However, with all the weapons Pittsburgh has on its offense (Brown, Bryant, Bell, Miller), I feel they have a much better chance at putting up points than their opponent, even with a 3rd-string quarterback in his first career start. Pittsburgh’s offensive line may be crumbling, but Kansas City’s has already fallen. It should be a very sack-happy game, assuming Andy Reid doesn’t call screens every other play.

Winner: Piitsburgh

[New York (Jets) @ New England]

Ohhhhh. This should be a fun game. Shame I won’t see it.

With everything considered, with New York’s good defense and New England’s great offense, I expect a tough, close, physical game. However, I fully believe that New England is the best team in the league. The kicker? They’re at home. If they’re going to lose this season, it won’t be at home. I highly doubt New York will beat them on their own turf, but I’m sure they’ll give them a run for their money. Here’s to FitzMagic pulling off the 0.1% upset!

(I love this video far too much.)

Winner: New England

[Tampa Bay @ Washington]

Another tricky match-up. Interesting.

Kirk Cousins has been playing like a back-up quarterback the last few weeks. However, in those games, he never had any running game, either. I think this should change against Tampa Bay. Their defense isn’t, well, great. I also think this is the week that Washington bounces back, especially when their defense allows them chance after chance to get as many points or throw as many interceptions as possible. I really don’t believe in Tampa Bay’s offense.

It’s a real shame, too. Tampa Bay’s offense, if not for their alright offensive line, has some good players. Mike Evans, Doug Martin (sometimes), Vincent Jackson, and what-not. I’m not saying they should be putting up 30 points a game or anything, but I don’t think the connection is there with Jameis Winston. He’ll have to improve his play considerably if I want to take his team seriously. The game against Jacksonville didn’t help much: he threw the ball less than 20 times. I’d like to see him with something on the line. Against New Orleans was impressive, but, eh, it’s New Orleans.

But wouldn’t it be funny if Washington lost this game by 3 scores and head coach Jay Gruden decided it was time to go to Colt McCoy, only to lose the next three games, so he goes to RG3 and loses every other game of the season? That’d be hilarious. That could never happen.

Winner: Washington

[Atlanta @ Tennessee]

Atlanta, you had a tough loss against New Orleans last week. You fucked up considerably and let yourself be trampled on by a lesser team. But that is no reason for you to go out and lose to Tennessee against their back-up quarterback. You cannot fuck this up. Stomp these losers I thought were actually kinda decent but are actually very, very bad. Look up Ken Whisenhunt’s head coaching record since 2012. Go on, look it up.

Winner: Atlanta

[Oakland @ San Diego]

Hmmm. San Diego’s without Eric Weddle. Oakland has shown that they can be pretty good offensively. They’re coming off a bye-week. Their defense has held their opponent to less than 23 points in their last 2 games. Derek Carr is a hot, young quarterback with quite a few weapons. The head coach has history in this division. Their offensive line is very good. They’re an up and coming team.

On the other hand, Philip Rivers threw for 500 yards against Green Bay.

Winner: San Diego

[Dallas @ New York (Giants)]

See, now, had this match-up included Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, I would’ve picked Dallas in a heartbeat. However, they are not playing this game. Instead, we have Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, and Matt Cassel.

New York looked like Jacksonville against Philadelphia last week, despite Philadelphia also looking like Kansas City offensively. They had one good drive… and man, that drive was really good. However, they’re in their snug and adequately-lighted abode this week against a defense that isn’t as punishing as Philadelphia’s. I suspect Eli Manning will have a good game, assuming Odell Beckham plays. Their defense shouldn’t have much of a problem against… uh, yeah. Matt Cassel.

But I’m being unfair. Matt Cassel has made some big plays in the past (even recently) and can win games as a starter. He has more losses than wins, sure, but he can still win! The only thing here, though, is he’s only been with Dallas for, like, three weeks? Remember what happened with Josh Freeman when Minnesota tried to start him a week after they traded for him? That was hilarious. While Matt Cassel is no Josh Freeman (thankfully for Dallas fans), I don’t think he has the type of big-play weapons to score a lot of points. Then again, New York’s passing defense is awful and their defensive line likely won’t get much against Dallas’s awesome offensive line. This game will probably be pretty high scoring.

Winner: New York

[Philadelphia @ Carolina]

After what Cam Newton did to the Legion of Boom at home, combined with Philadelphia’s most recent offensive performance, I don’t see how anyone could genuinely think Philadelphia could win this game. Carolina is a much, much better team. Injure all of Carolina’s starters, maybe?

Winner: Carolina

[Baltimore @ Arizona]

This should be a fun match-up to watch. And by fun, I mean one-sided. It may be close, seeing as Monday Night games tend to be, but like with Philadelphia, I don’t see Baltimore winning this game. Their secondary is too bad. Their offense is too depleted. Arizona eats defenses like Baltimore’s for breakfast. Just don’t ask the same of them against Pittsburgh or St. Louis. Maybe Baltimore will get lucky and heave a few touchdown passes Steve Smith’s way. I just expect Larry Fitzgerald to triple whatever Steve Smith gains.

It’s so nice seeing Fitzgerald’s renaissance right now.

Winner: Arizona

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