Last Week 6–8
Back to mediocrity last week with a 6–8 clip. Last week the Falcons went into Denver in our Game of the Week and declared to the league that they are contenders, with a big win against the Broncos. The Bills looked good on the road in Los Angeles, and Tom Brady dazzled in his debut against the hapless Browns. In other notable action, the Eagles suffered their first loss of the season, and the Vikings continued to go berserk on defence as the only unbeaten team left in the NFL. Have fun this week, because I have a sense there will be some major upsets and real nail-biters.
Byes: Minnesota, Tampa Bay
Denver (4–1) at San Diego (1–4), Thursday, 5:25 p.m.
Yes, the Denver defence is elite, but the Chargers have lost all four of their games by the slimmest of margins and have the firepower to move the ball against a divisional opponent they know very well.
Prediction: Chargers 27 Broncos 19
Jacksonville (1–3) at Chicago (1–4), Sunday 10 a.m.
Da Bears 76 Jaguars 3. I hope you have seen the SNL sketch, “Super Fans.” In the real world, Brian Hoyer has looked good for the Bears in relief of Jay Cutler, but he will be facing a Jaguars team which is rested off a bye week and improving on defence. The Bears manage to force at least two turnovers off Blake Bortles’ miscues to win a shootout.
Prediction: Bears 33 Jaguars 30
Cleveland (0–5) at Tennessee (2–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
Tennessee got the ground game going in a big way last week in a road win at Miami. Look for that to continue against a Browns team with spirit but too many holes on both sides of the ball to win this week.
Prediction: Titans 34 Browns 21
Philadelphia (3–1) at Washington (3–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
The NFC East looks to be the most competitive division in the NFL this year. A big key to this matchup is that Eagles’ left tackle Lane Johnson just lost his appeal and will begin serving a 10-game suspension. Rookie Carson Wentz will thus be vulnerable against a Washington defence that yielded only 10 points last week. This divisional matchup will be a tightly contested affair that will be won on a big play by former Eagle DeSean Jackson.
Prediction: Washington 23 Eagles 21
Pittsburgh (4–1) at Miami (1–4), Sunday 10 a.m.
Blowout alert. Pittsburgh is really, really good and found yet another weapon in Sammie Coates, who had 139 yards receiving and two touchdowns last week. The Fins got gouged last week on the ground, so look for a huge game from Le’Veon Bell.
Prediction: Steelers 41 Dolphins 16
Los Angeles (3–2) at Detroit (2–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
Long trip for the Rams to take on a Lions team that had a big home win last week against the Eagles. Stafford and company make enough plays against a stout Rams defence for the W.
Prediction: Lions 24 Rams 15
Baltimore (3–2) at New York Giants (2–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
Firing offensive coordinator and former Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman will not change the fact that the Ravens are devoid of big-time playmakers on offence. The Giants’ offence is loaded with them, which will be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Giants 27 Ravens 20
San Francisco (1–4) at Buffalo (3–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
The Bills are red hot with three straight victories after a big road win at the Rams. The Niners are reeling at 1–4, and have decided to start the politically outspoken Colin Kaepernick for the first time in a calendar year. Kaepernick was 2–6 as a starter last year before being benched, but remember that he came within one throw of being a Super Bowl Champion in the 2012 season. When I heard that Chip Kelly would be coaching the 49ers, I thought that Kaepernick would be the perfect dual-threat quarterback for his system. Kaepernick shines in his debut in a big-time upset in Buffalo, which will be all over the highlight shows.
Prediction: 49ers 33 Bills 28
Cincinnati (2–3) at New England (4–1), Sunday 10 a.m.
The Patriots look very good this year and now have their star quarterback at the helm. The Bengals are a traditionally undisciplined football team, loaded with talent that was completely dominated last week in Dallas. Tom Brady was not tested last week in Cleveland but now will face a defence fighting for their season. The Bengals go on the road and shock the world.
Prediction: Bengals 19 New England 18
Carolina (1–4) at New Orleans (1–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
The Panthers are coming off an awful loss to Tampa Bay, but should get starting quarterback Cam Newton back. The Saints are coming off a bye week which followed their emotional victory in San Diego. This game will be fun with lots of touchdowns, turnovers, and highlights. Brees outplays Newton in a barn burner.
Prediction: New Orleans 38 Carolina 35
Kansas City (2–2) at Oakland (4–1), Sunday 1:05 p.m.
There is one axiom in football that must always be followed: never bet against coach Andy Reid after a bye week. This should be a fun game between these two bitter rivals.
Prediction: Chiefs 34 Raiders 31
GAME OF THE WEEK
Dallas (4–1) at Green Bay (3–1), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
This game edges the Falcons vs. Seahawks game because of how storied these two franchises are. If you are looking for a good Sunday afternoon drinking game, do a shot every time the broadcast shows footage of past matchups between these teams. In addition, when the ice bowl footage of Bart Starr’s game winning touchdown is aired, everyone has to shotgun a beer. In terms of the game, the Packers still have not clicked on all cylinders offensively this year, whereas the Cowboys have played like a complete football team. Prescott wins his first game at Lambeau Field and forces the Cowboys to leave the rookie in the lineup when Tony Romo returns from injury.
Prediction: Cowboys 24 Packers 20
Atlanta (4–1) at Seattle (3–1), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
Both of these teams have staked an early claim to contender status in the NFC. Seattle has a huge advantage in this matchup because the team is playing at home, coming off a bye, and Atlanta is playing on the road for the second straight week. Russell Wilson to Jimmy Graham becomes a force to be reckoned with this week.
Prediction: Seahawks 34 Falcons 24
Indianapolis (2–3) at Houston (3–2), Sunday 5:30 p.m.
The NFL regularly schedules its Sunday night game to be a premier prime time matchup of two elite teams, similar to the main event in wrestling. Both of these teams play in a putrid division and have no chance whatsoever of winning the Super Bowl. Expect a poorly played football game between two subpar, mediocre teams.
Prediction: Texans 22 Colts 17
New York Jets (1–4) at Arizona (2–3), Monday 5:30 p.m.
This game offers a very interesting subplot in that Jets coach Todd Bowles is returning to the desert for the first time to take on his former team where he served as defensive coordinator. You better bet his players will be highly motivated to win this game; not only to save their season, but for their coach. The Cardinals should have starting quarterback Carson Palmer back from injury and will be looking to get to .500 after a rocky start to the season. I have a feeling that Jets’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick gets pulled after another poor outing and is succeeded by backup Geno Smith, who fares even worse in a big Cardinals win. Third stringer Bryce Petty, who looked very good in the preseason, takes over in New York going forward.
Prediction: Cardinals 34 Jets 13