Chicago (1–5) at Green Bay (3–2), Thursday 5:25 p.m.
The Packers are coming off a frustrating home loss to the Cowboys where they were utterly dominated. They enter this game with their top three cornerbacks and both their running backs injured. In desperation they traded for the Chiefs’ fourth string running back. The Bears meanwhile have received steady quarterback play from Brian Hoyer, who has thrown for over 300 yards in four straight games without an interception. I know this is sacrilege, but right now Hoyer is playing far better football than Aaron Rodgers. The Bears will light up the Packers secondary and Rodgers will throw a late game interception in this week’s upset special.
Prediction: Bears 24 Packers 17
New York Giants (3–3) vs. Los Angeles (3–3), Sunday 6:30 a.m. in London England
This matchup seems much the same for the Giants as their last game against the Ravens. The Giants are loaded on offence and should do just enough against a stout Rams defence to win. Case Keenum had the best game of his career last week for the Rams but will come back to the land of mediocrity in this performance.
Prediction: Giants 23 Rams 15
New Orleans (2–3) at Kansas City (3–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
I like the Chiefs’ ability to run the ball in this one against a suspect Saints defence. New Orleans is traditionally much better at home on offence and will be facing a Chiefs defence with excellent pass rushers and playmakers in the secondary. Look for Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles to become more involved in the offence and make some big plays.
Prediction: Chiefs 31 Saints 24
Buffalo (4–2) at Miami (2–4), Sunday 10 a.m.
Both team are coming off impressive victories which were achieved by running the football and playing stout defence. Look for both Bills running back LeSean McCoy and Dolphins counterpart Jay Ajayi to have big games. I’ve got to go with the Bills in this one.
Prediction: Bills 31 Dolphins 28
Baltimore (3–3) at New York Jets (1–5), Sunday 10 a.m.
In a unique scheduling twist, the Ravens are playing back-to-back road games in the same stadium. The Jets have turned to Geno Smith at quarterback for his first start since 2014. Smith was slated to be the Jets starter in 2015 before having his jaw broken by a teammate in a locker room altercation. Ryan Fitzpatrick seized the opportunity and played very well last year but has looked awful so far this year. I like Smith’s mobility and will look for a big game from Jets superstar receiver Brandon Marshall who will be facing a depleted Ravens secondary.
Prediction: Jets 25 Ravens 21
Oakland (4–2) at Jacksonville (2–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
As predicted, the Raiders lost last week to the Chiefs and coach Andy Reid, after the Chiefs’ bye week. The Jaguars eked out an ugly win in Chicago last week and are looking to keep the momentum going. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr wins the battle of 2014 draft picks against the Jaguars Blake Bortles and stakes the Raiders towards a perfect 5–0 record on the road this season.
Prediction: Raiders 38 Jaguars 31
Minnesota (5–0) at Philadelphia (3–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
The Vikings have been the best defensive team in the league this year and are well-rested after their bye week. They will be facing an Eagles team reeling after consecutive defeats and starting a rookie quarterback, and rookie replacement right tackle. Advantage Vikings.
Prediction: Vikings 24 Eagles 9
Cleveland (0–6) at Cincinnati (2–4), Sunday 10 a.m.
Cleveland came agonizingly close to another victory, falling 28–26 to the Titans last week. The Bengals were actually right in it with the Patriots deep into the third quarter until things slipped away. The veteran and experienced Bengals come to play in a big way and take care of business against their state rivals.
Prediction: Bengals 35 Browns 20
Indianapolis (2–4) at Tennessee (3–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
Not another game in this irrelevant division. Tennessee has an identity with a solid run game whereas the Colts have a great quarterback and nothing else.
Prediction: Titans 27 Colts 21
Washington (4–2) at Detroit (3–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
Both of these teams are on a roll, with the Lions winning back-to-back games and Washington reeling off four straight wins. I like the Lions to take care of business at home in a barnburner against a Washington team that has found its rhythm offensively.
Prediction: Lions 39 Washington 33
Tampa Bay (2–3) at San Francisco (1–5), Sunday 1:05 p.m.
I like Tampa Bay in this matchup of teams with losing records, because they have more talent on the offensive side of the ball. Receiver Mike Evans is one of the best in the league and running back Jacquizz Rodgers is coming off a 101-yard game against Carolina. Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a playmaker but has below average receivers and will be without top running back Carlos Hyde.
Prediction: Buccaneers 28 49ers 24
San Diego (2–4) at Atlanta (4–2), Sunday 1:05 p.m.
San Diego’s record is deceiving because all four of the team’s losses were by the slimmest of margins. The Falcons are very good and a tough out at home. Look for another strong game from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and his dual threat running backs, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman.
Prediction: Falcons 37 Chargers 31
New England (5–1) at Pittsburgh (4–2), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
This could easily be the game of the week and a possible AFC Conference Final preview. However, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is hurt and his backup, Landry Jones, was ineffective during Big Ben’s last injury. By the way, Tom Brady just had the best two-game stretch of his illustrious career. Look for him to keep it going as the Patriots earn a 6–1 start against a great Steelers team.
Prediction: Patriots 30 Steelers 19
Game of the Week
Seattle (4–1) at Arizona (3–3), Sunday 5:30 p.m.
Now this is the type of matchup I expect of a Sunday night showdown. This has been one of the best rivalries in football, with each of these teams being amongst the NFL’s elite over the past few years. The Cardinals started the season 1–3, but won their last two games and looked very good last week in a 28–3 beatdown of the Jets. The Seahawks are coming off a victory over the Falcons, in another instance of late-game magic by Russell Wilson. I am going to roll with the Cardinals at home, despite the uncertainty of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer’s wonky hamstring. Drew Stanton better step up and defend my pick if Palmer can’t go.
Prediction: Cardinals 23 Seahawks 20
Houston (4–2) at Denver (4–2), Monday 5:30 p.m.
This offseason, former Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler rejected a generous contract offer to succeed legend Peyton Manning and opted to sign with the Houston Texans for more money. Now he returns to face his former team in what is feeling like the dawn of a public execution in the Wild West. This week, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall was asked about Osweiler’s return. He said, “We just want to kill him.” Denver has a fantastic defence and will be facing a Houston team whose 4–2 record is a mirage, as two of those wins came in their very weak division and one of them was over the 1–5 Bears. Look for the Broncos to win big and get their revenge.
Prediction: Broncos 31 Texans 3