St. Louis at Baltimore
- Favorite: Baltimore (via NFLPickWatch.com)
Case Keenum is starting to shape up like Ryan Fitzpatrick: starting every season for a different team when they weren’t supposed to be. But with how ineffective Nick Foles has been (especially after seeing evidence of it last week), the change is definitely warranted. Case Keenum has won 100% of his starts as a quarterback since 2014. It was only two games, but c’mon! 100%!
Baltimore seems to be getting the short end of the stick lately. The officials inadvertently enabled Jacksonville to beat them on the final play of the game last week, which shouldn’t have even been run. To be fair, if they were the team they wish they were, they would’ve blown out Jacksonville at home. And for that, I think it’s hard to give Baltimore the edge here.
Case Keenum is a bit of a wild card here. I can’t really say if he’s an improvement over Nick Foles or not, and I can’t say that St. Louis would take care of business here if Nick Foles were starting. I think the defense (granted it plays okay) of St. Louis is the deciding factor here, along with the reason I think St. Louis will prevail.
Winner: St. Louis
Washington at Carolina
- Favorite: Carolina
Carolina is the favorite here, but a few are staking claim that Washington could upset them on the road this week. Carolina has to lose sometime, right? Peeking at the rest of their schedule, they have four divisional games in the last five weeks of the season, along with facing a Romo-led Dallas team on the road and New York (Giants). There are some teams in the mix that has a chance to upset them. Could Washington be the first?
After all, Washington just came off a 47-14 romping of New Orleans. Kirk Cousins has been playing better as the season goes on. Washington’s defense has been better than anticipated. They’re not a bad team by any means. But against a 9-0 team at home? I doubt it. But hey, I’ve been wrong before (many times).
I like the idea of an upset here, but I think Carolina will lose to a more complete team. There are still some question marks with this Washington offense, despite their last win against an atrocious defense. Carolina will take care of business.
Denver at Chicago
- Favorite: Chicago
A match-up almost as intriguing as St. Louis at Baltimore. Peyton Manning has been ceremoniously benched in favor of longtime back-up Brock Osweiller, who will make his first career start versus Chicago on the road. Y’know, I remember the last time Chicago went up against a team that had a one point back-up starting in favor of an injured star. All the way back in 2012, when they got throttled by Colin Kaepernick in his breakout game for San Francisco. Will Osweiller do the same? The situations are certainly similar.
Though, one could make the argument that Lovie Smith was still the head coach at that point, and the defense was on the decline. Now, Chicago looks to be a revitalized team under John Fox and co. Oh, and John Fox also coached Denver between 2011-2014. He has a little motivation for this game.
I’ll pick this game the same way I picked the game between San Francisco and Chicago back in 2012: with Chicago winning. Again, I don’t know what to expect of Osweiller, as this is his first career start. All I know is that Chicago’s been playing well recently, and Denver’s defense is starting to crack a bit. No Alshon Jeffery, no Matt Forte, no problem. Chicago will find a way to win.
Dallas at Miami
- Favorite: Dallas
Dallas fans, take in a collective breath. Tony Romo is back in the line-up.
This should be an interesting match-up. Tony Romo is back from breaking his collarbone in what seems to be the 700th injury of his career. Will he play well in his debut game? Or will the rust of sitting on the sidelines handicap him? All I know is that Dallas can’t afford to play catch up. It’d most likely be better to ease Romo into playing again with a balanced offensive attack of quick passes and bruising runs. Kinda like last year, but with Darren McFadden rather than DeMarco Murray.
Miami had a good win against a Philadelphia offense that couldn’t get anything going, especially once Bradford got hurt. Their defense played well and gave their offense about 20 tries to score points. I don’t know if that’s a compliment to their defense or an insult to Philadelphia’s offense. Nevertheless, Miami got the win, but it wasn’t all too convincing. Now they have to face off against an offense that isn’t as inconsistent, especially now with Romo in there.
Basically, I trust a Romo-led offense. I don’t trust Miami’s validity as a team. Maybe if they win here, it’ll turn the tides, but not a lot of people expect them to win. Except the people who believe in the “Hardy Curse.”
Oakland at Detroit
- Favorite: Oakland
Oakland’s the favorite here, but it’s a 71-29% divide, which puzzles me. Are people that confident in Detroit after taking down Green Bay on the road? I see it more as Green Bay being buried in issues as opposed to Detroit actually being a good team. After all, they didn’t perform well that game, either. It looked like two old injured dogs having one last scuffle before they kneel over and die.
Oakland came close to closing the gap against Minnesota last week, but two interceptions from Terence Newman ruined their plans. Minnesota’s defense is not to be trifled with. Detroit’s, on the other hand, will let you trifle, ruffle, and bombard them with touchdowns aplenty… assuming you aren’t a struggling Green Bay team.
For me, this game isn’t even close. Even if the game becomes close, I think Oakland will close the deal in the end. They’re a much better team.
New York at Houston
- Favorite: New York
Y’know, if you showed me this match-up two weeks ago, I would’ve picked New York in a heartbeat. With the way last week played out, however, I feel a little more hesitant. New York isn’t as stable as a team as I thought, and Houston seems to have some defensive talent. Then again, Houston’s defensive performance could’ve been attributed to Cincinnati’s awful offensive performance. Nevertheless, this is a tricky match-up reeking with upset, if you can consider Houston beating New York an upset.
FitzMagic just had surgery on his thumb a week ago, so that’s an interesting factor to consider. Houston is starting their back-up quarterback T.J. Yates, who has been there a total of less than a month (this year), which is another interesting factor. Brandon Marshall, as talented as he is, has dropped some easy passes this year (which led to an interception last week). DeAndre Hopkins seems to be the second-coming of Andre Johnson.
I think defense will be the deciding factor to this game: which defense will play harder? Cause more turnovers? I like New York’s chances more than Houston’s.
Winner: New York
Indianapolis at Atlanta
- Favorite: Atlanta
Does everyone remember Atlanta losing to a Blaine Gabbert-led offense two weeks ago? Apparently not, because Atlanta’s an 87-13% favorite. Sure, Matt Hasselbeck is starting, but he played well against… Houston. Okay, I think I see the point.
Still, though, with as inconsistent as Atlanta’s offense is, despite having the league’s second-leading scrimmage yard holder on offense, it’s hard to imagine them blowing Indianapolis out. Their defense is solid, though, and should prove Hasselbeck’s first real test of the season. I don’t think Matt Ryan will struggle with Indianapolis’s defense, especially with Mike Adams out.
This game, along with New York at Houston, reeks of upset. Part of me wants to pick Indianapolis because I believe in Hasselbeck. But on the other hand, Atlanta looks like the better team on paper. If only they played like they’ve looked on paper. Don’t let us down again, Atlanta.
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia
- Favorite: Philadelphia
Philadelphia is an 85-15% favorite here, but I could see this game going either way. Jameis Winston and co. have been playing good football in the past couple of weeks (excluding Mike Evans’ performance against New York) and the defense has been stout. It looked good against Dallas last week, but Dallas is Dallas. Anyone could hold them to 6 points… except Philadelphia.
This is my dilemma: I want to pick Philadelphia. I want to feel confident that Philadelphia will put this game away easily, but they’re starting Mark Sanchez against an offense that can score points when needed. Mark Sanchez starting is not a good sign. Philadelphia’s defense can only do so much. I would even argue that Tampa Bay’s offense is better than Miami’s. Their records may be the same, but in terms of Pick ‘Em percentage, this match-up not only reeks of upset, but screams it, too.
In the end, I still like Philadelphia to win, but only because I trust their defense more than Tampa Bay’s offense. Mark Sanchez may not move the ball much, but I don’t think he’ll make any major errors. Then again, Tampa Bay’s pretty good at forcing turnovers…. Mrmm.
Kansas City at San Diego
- Favorite: Kansas City
After a five-game losing streak, Kansas City has won three in a row. Their defense is starting to become elite force and Charcandrick West is looking to be a fitting replacement for Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith just has to not play like Alex Smith and they’re golden.
I feel bad for San Diego. I really do. They may as well change their logo from a lightning bolt to the Red Cross, because they have so many substantial injuries it’s ridiculous. Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Johnnie Troutman, Chris Watt, Branden Oliver; all out indefinitely. At least they may be getting some starters in King Dunlap, Orlando Franklin, and Manti Te’o back from injury this week. That should help this struggling offensive line to a degree.
I expect to see a lot of Antonio Gates and Danny Woodcock in this game. Philip Rivers simply doesn’t have many else to throw to. And with Kansas City’s rising defense, I don’t see a very offensive game from San Diego. San Diego’s defense could allow 20+ points from pretty much anyone.
Winner: Kansas City
Green Bay at Minnesota
- Favorite: Minnesota
A 52-48% favorite, might I add. This game has experts very divided, much like Denver at Chicago does. For me, with as badly as Green Bay’s offense has been performing in the last three weeks, I’m both surprised and not by how close people are picking this game. I’m surprised because Minnesota is clearly the better team at this point. I’m not surprised because this game will inevitably be a close-knit game between fierce division rivals, with Minnesota running and Green Bay throwing. It’ll be a test for both defenses to show what they got. I’m really looking forward to it.
One has to think that Aaron Rodgers will turn it around, right? He’s better than what the last three weeks have seen out of him, so what’s the issue? Well, recent reports say he’s injured. Others say that his receivers simply aren’t getting separation. His offensive line hasn’t been all too good recently, which is also affecting Green Bay’s running game. So, essentially, he’s become a lesser Philip Rivers in a much colder environment; the product of injury and a bad offensive line.
Minnesota, on the other hand, has no issue with Teddy Bridgewater, as he’s typically not a flashy number guy by any stretch of the imagination. Their offensive line is “eh,” okay enough to let Adrian Peterson be the league’s leading rusher (that may say more about Adrian Peterson) and to protect Bridgewater when it counts. Still, though, with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, that’ll be put to the test quickly.
My favorite game this week. I’m picking the logical choice based on this year’s evidence for the outcome, which points to Minnesota. They’re at home, they have an elite defense, and they have Adrian Peterson. They look to take a two game lead in the division.
San Francisco at Seattle
- Favorite: Seattle
Seattle is a 100% favorite. I would laugh really hard if San Francisco upset them, but I don’t expect that. Much like everyone else.
Seattle let the game get away from them last week against Arizona. Their defense can’t seem to handle offenses with high-powered passing games like they used to. Still pretty good against the run, though, which is basically 70% of San Francisco’s offense. The only thing is with San Francisco’s defense, which is okay normally, but teeters a tot on the road. Seattle’s offense can be okay, assuming they play a balanced game and let Russell Wilson attack the defense with both his arm and his legs. One can’t be very confident with their offense the way they’ve played throughout the season, though, even with Jimmy Graham.
In case you forgot, San Francisco is also starting this guy:
- 6-22 starting record
- 25/26 TD/Int ratio
- 53.4% career pass completion
- 67.1 career quarterback rating
Cincinnati at Arizona
- Favorite: Arizona
People don’t have a lot of confidence in Cincinnati after they lost horribly to Houston a week ago in PRIMETIME. I’m the same. Had Cincinnati taken care of business against Houston in convincing fashion last week, I probably would have picked them to beat Arizona this week. However, it would seem Cincinnati’s struggles at night continue to haunt them and are no longer favorites when it comes to big games like this. Oh well.
Arizona beat Seattle last week the way Cincinnati should’ve beaten Houston last week. There was always talk about Arizona only being good against teams with bad defenses, but they disproved that against Seattle on the road. Though, some are convinced that Seattle’s defense has softened considerably this season. Fact of the matter is Carson Palmer shredded the Legion of Boom for three touchdowns and 363 yards through the air. While I don’t expect the same type of game against Cincinnati, I expect him to perform well.
And that’s the only thing that’s preventing me from throwing all of my chips on the table in favor of Arizona: Cincinnati’s defense. They’ve played very well this season and can turn the tide. I don’t expect this game to be a blowout by any means, but unless Cincinnati’s offense plays the way it did last week, the combined score shouldn’t be much more than 40. A fascinating game, to say the least. This week’s slate of afternoon/evening games are all enticing (not counting Tennessee at Jacksonville).
Buffalo at New England
- Favorite: New England
New England is playing at home and they’re New England. Rex Ryan or no Rex Ryan. Julian Edelman or no Julian Edelman. Offensive line or no offensive line. New England doesn’t lose at home. I don’t expect them to this week. Or any week.
Winner: New England