All 32 teams are playing this week. Plus we have our first Thursday night game of the year. Another solid set of games as well. Lets get to it.
Last Week’s Record: 8-6
Year to Date Record: 84-46
Oakland Raiders vs San Diego Chargers
Two teams on big slides here. Ever since the Raiders lost Jason Campbell they’ve been on a slide. The Raiders have lost two games in a row since losing him, both to AFC West opponents. The Raiders swept the AFC West last year but haven’t won a single game in it this year. And now, people are starting to question if the power Hue Jackson has received since the passing of former owner Al Davis has gone to his head. Jackson pretty much benched WR Darieus Heyward-Bay and TE Kevin Boss last week. Jackson said the offensive packages but in place for the game didn’t fit their strengths. Yeah sure. Plus Carson Palmer didn’t look to great in his debut. The Chargers have lost 3 games in a row and there appears to be something getting to Philip Rivers. He’s having one of the worst years of his career and it’s affecting the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers actually had a chance to beat the Packers last week if it wasn’t for Rivers two pick-6’s. Both of these teams need this game. I think the loss of Darren McFadden for another week hurts the Raiders more than they think, and there is too much questioning of Hue Jackson going on. Chargers win a close one.
San Diego 26 Oakland 24
Arizona Cardinals vs Philadelphia Eagles
This was suppose to be Kevin Kolb’s big return to Philadelphia. But Kolb is unlikely to play due to a foot injury. The Cardinals won their first game since Week 1 last week against St. Louis thanks to an amazing Patrick Peterson 99 yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime. But the Cardinals still looked bad offensively with John Skeleton at QB. Philadelphia was upset by the Chicago Bears at home on Monday night football. That loss put the Eagles at 3-5 and all but shut the door on their playoff chances. It’s going to take at least 10 wins to get into the playoffs in the NFC, and I don’t know if this Eagles team can win 7 of their last 8. They have all the talent in the world but can’t seem to mesh together as a team. But they start a potential comeback with a win here. Mike Vick should tear a poor Cardinals secondary to shreds and the Eagles defense will double Larry Fitzgerald and pressure John Skeleton all day long.
Philadelphia 31 Arizona 13
Tennessee Titans vs Carolina Panthers
Tennessee just can’t seem to put everything together for an extended period of time. They beat Baltimore at home in Week 2, but they haven’t beaten any other team that is better than them this year. They are the classic definition of a mediocre team. They beat the bad teams but can’t beat the good teams. And of course, Chris Johnson is playing terrible. Johnson had his first decent game last week, getting over 100 yards from scrimmage in defeat. It’s sad that that is considered good now for Johnson. The guy used to run for over 100 yards a game on a regular basis. The Titans pass defense got beaten badly by Andy Dalton last week, giving up 3 touchdowns to 3 different WRs. That’s bad news heading into this week’s match-up with the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton spreads the ball around a lot. Plus he runs the ball a lot. Newton should be able to find open WRs all day. The Panthers are my pick for “Late Season Spoilers” in the NFL. They could be the team that squashes playoff hopefuls chances in the second half. Their offense is legit and their defense can hang with offenses. It won’t shut teams down but it can limit them. The Panthers win here with Cam Newton running wild on the Titans defense.
Carolina 34 Tennessee 27
Houston Texans vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Texans seem to be coming together. After losing two in a row, they’ve reeled off 3 straight wins. The offense is still going even without star WR Andre Johnson. And that’s because of their new two-headed monster at RB in Adrian Foster and Ben Tate. It’s a smart move by Texans Coach Gary Kubiak. Foster has been a bit injury prone in his short career, and having Tate help share the work load will keep Foster healthy and limit his touches heading into the playoffs. And trust me, the Texans will make the playoffs. There is no one else in the division that is better than them. The defense is a bit shaky and it may hurt them come playoff time, but no one can compete with the Texans in the AFC South. The Buccaneers have struggled a bit this year after high expectations coming into the season. The young Tampa team is 4-4 and not playing as well as they did last year during their 10-6 season. Josh Freeman isn’t playing as well, and Mike Williams has hit a wall. The defense took a big hit losing DT Gerald McCoy for the year. They signed Albert Haynesworth, but you have to question if he has anything left after being cut by New England. I don’t think Tampa has the same magic that they had last year. Houston wins here because of their offense.
Houston 27 Tampa Bay 21
Washington Redskins vs Miami Dolphins
It seems that these are two teams headed in opposite directions. The Dolphins have played hard the last few weeks and it finally paid off with a big win against Kansas City last week. They shut down a red hot Chiefs team. Reggie Bush has looked really good, and Matt Moore looked competent under center last week. Plus the defense came alive and pressured Matt Cassel into bad decisions. The Redskins, meanwhile, have looked terrible offensively since handing the reigns to Jon Beck. They’ve scored a combined 44 points in the last 4 weeks, including getting shut out by Buffalo. The only bright spot has been youngster Roy Helu who played well last week against San Francisco. You have to wonder if the Redskins will even win another game this year because they are so bad on offense. You know both of these teams want Andrew Luck, especially Mike Shanahan. Maybe they will just take knees and intentional safeties all game? Who knows. But the Dolphins are playing the better football of the two, and they win their second in a row here.
Miami 20 Washington 12
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis Colts
If the Colts have a chance to win a game this year, this game is it. The Colts have looked downright dreadful the last 3 weeks. Before the New Orleans blowout games were at least being kept close. Now it doesn’t even look like the Colts care anymore. But if they have any pride, they should be able to compete here. Jacksonville’s defense has improved in recent weeks so the Colts might have some difficulty moving the ball. While Jacksonville’s defense has improved, their offense is still stuck in neutral. Blaine Gabbert still hasn’t improved too much since becoming the starting QB. The offense still hasn’t scored more than 20 points with Gabbert under center. Maurice Jones-Drew should be able to run free here against a shabby Colts defense. While many think the Colts have packed it in, I like their chances to win here before the bye week.
Indianapolis 21 Jacksonville 19
Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs
Don’t look now, but Tim Tebow has the Broncos one game out of first place in the AFC West. Tebow again didn’t have great stats or look good against Oakland, but he did enough to get the job done against the Raiders. Now Tebow faces another road test against the Kansas City Chiefs, who were just picked apart by Matt Moore and the Dolphins. The good news for Tim Tebow is that Willis McGahee looked really good in his return from his hand injury, running for 163 yards and two scores. The defense also picked off Carson Palmer three times, an improvement after getting torn up by Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions a week earlier. The Chiefs were embarrassed at home by Miami after a big win the week before on Monday night against San Diego. The Chiefs were lucky to win that game, and they couldn’t carry the momentum over to the next week. Poor Todd Haley had to shave his beard off, and now he has to get this Chiefs team refocused for this big division showdown. The Chiefs have a BRUTAL five game schedule after this: at New England on Monday night, home to Pittsburgh on Sunday night (although this could be flexed), at Chicago, at NY Jets, home to Green Bay. They need this one bad, but they don’t get it. The Broncos keep winning, and the media keeps praising Tim Tebow.
Denver 30 Kansas City 23
Buffalo Bills vs Dallas Cowboys
The Bills received a big butt kicking last week at the hands of the NY Jets. They were out matched in every aspect of the game last week against the NY Jets. Ryan Fitzpatrick made some bad throws, the offense couldn’t get going, and the defense couldn’t get off the field. The Bills are still a good football team, but these next two weeks will show just how far they have come this year. The Bills next three games are all on the road, where they have struggled this year and are only 1-2. But Ryan Fitzpatrick should find more openings against Dallas. The Cowboys don’t have the same personnel the Jets do to stop the Bills offense. The Cowboys are coming off another one of those games where they beat a weaker team, this time Seattle, and face a good team the next week in the Bills. After the Cowboys beat the Rams easily, they were then demolished by the Eagles. After they beat the Redskins they blew a big lead late against Detroit. Tony Romo will be without Miles Austin for the next few weeks, but Romo should focus on handing the ball off to DeMarco Murray here and looking for Jason Witten, as the Bills have struggled to stop the run and tight ends in coverage. This one is close to the end, but I’m still not sold on the Cowboys. The Bills rebound after last week’s ugly loss.
Buffalo 28 Dallas 27
New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons
This should be a good game. The winner takes the lead in the race to win the NFC South. The Saints have struggled a bit in recent weeks. Take away the Colts blowout, and all of their recent games have been close. They were beaten rather easily by the Rams, which is a bad thing. Tampa Bay kept last week’s game close throughout and Tampa also beat the Bucs in Tampa a few weeks ago. Drew Brees still has plenty of weapons at his disposal, but he’s been struggling a bit. The Falcons, meanwhile, have won three straight heading into this match-up. Rookie WR Julio Jones returned from injury last week and finally scored his first two touchdowns of his career in a breakout game for him. Jones give QB Matt Ryan another weapon to look for in his arsenal. The defense is also playing much better. I thought the Falcons were going to struggle after a poor start, but they rebounded nicely and seem to be back to last season’s form. The Falcons are playing really good football, the Saints are not. Give me the Falcons here.
Atlanta 31 New Orleans 21
St. Louis Rams vs Cleveland Browns
The Rams looked brutal again last week against Arizona after lighting up the Saints the week before. Sam Bradford threw for a lot of yards, but couldn’t get his team in the end zone. The Rams continue to disappoint this year after having high expectations. Injuries have been a major reason, as well as a brutal early schedule. Expect a heavy dose of Steven Jackson here, as the Browns have one of the worst run defenses in the league. The Browns are also disappointing on offense. The “Madden Curse” has taken down Peyton Hillis, and he’s become a bigger distraction then he needs to be with his contract situation. Colt McCoy isn’t playing well either. This could be an ugly game. I think the Rams have more talent, so I’m picking them to win.
St. Louis 17 Cleveland 16
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals
Well, time to find out what these Bengals are really made of. Their first division test against the main stays at the top of it. The Bengals just won’t go away. They beat the Titans last week to improve to 6-2 overall and a tie for first atop the AFC North. Andy Dalton isn’t playing like a rookie. If it wasn’t for Cam Newton, he would be the Rookie of the Year in the NFL hands down. And the defense is playing great football as well. They haven’t allowed more than 24 points all year in a game, which is outstanding considering some of the high scores we’ve seen in the league so far this year. The Steelers are coming off a disappointing home loss to Baltimore which saw them blow a lead with less than 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. You have to think that this will motivate the Steelers a bit here. Ben Roethlisberger, no matter who he plays, has found his WRs with ease and that should continue here. There are just too many weapons at Pittsburgh’s disposal for Cincinnati to stop, so I’m taking the Steelers here. The Bengals downfall begins.
Pittsburgh 27 Cincinnati 20
Baltimore Ravens vs Seattle Seahawks
Just when you think the Ravens are falling apart, they rebound and beat the Steelers for the second time this year. You have to now consider them the favorites in the AFC North, especially since they have the tiebreaker over the Steelers. Joe Flacco looked terrible for two weeks, then he lead a game winning drive to win the game against Pittsburgh. Ray Rice should still be the focal point of the offense, but if Flacco continues to improve the Ravens may become the favorites in the AFC again. Seattle has pretty much lost all of their home field advantage with their terrible play this year. They have no NFL QB on their roster. No WRs, and the defense can’t stop the pass. This should be an easy one for Baltimore, even though they struggled against Jacksonville and Arizona. But the Ravens have turned a corner starting with last week’s win.
Baltimore 38 Seattle 21
New York Giants vs San Francisco 49ers
The Giants started the rough stretch of their schedule exactly how they needed to, with a win at New England. Eli Manning lead another late comeback and the Giants continued to maintain a two game lead in the NFC East. The defense pressured Tom Brady and there’s no reason to think they can’t do the same against Alex Smith. The Giants also beat the Patriots without RB Ahmad Bradshaw and WR Hakeem Nicks. Both of those men may be out again this week, and they may actually hurt the Giants because the 49ers have a much better defense than the Patriots do. San Francisco has matched every challenge thrown at them this year, with their only loss coming in overtime to Dallas. The 49ers are for real, and not just a by-product of the terrible NFC West. Jim Harbaugh has lit a fire under these players and they seem to be taking to his coaching style. But Frank Gore has been limited in practice all week with an ankle injury. If he doesn’t play because that hurts the 49ers, because then the Giants can focus even more on shutting down Alex Smith. I really like how the Giants have come together and think they pull off another big win on the road here.
NY Giants 24 San Francisco 20
Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
Just when you think the Bears are done, they come back and win a big game in Philadelphia. The Bears are playing some good football in recent weeks. They’ve won 3 in a row since losing to Detroit in Detroit on Monday Night Football. The offensive line has done a better job of protecting Jay Cutler in recent weeks, and the team continues to rely on Matt Forte who leads all NFL players in yards from scrimmage. I didn’t think the Bears would be good at all this year, but they are quickly proving me wrong. The Lions had a bye week to rest up and prepare for this big game. They dismantled the Broncos the week before their bye, which is something they needed after losing two straight home games. Matthew Stafford continues to rely on Calvin Johnson the most, but he has also spread the ball out more to some of his targets. The Lions defense, specifically their pass rush, is also improved. This game is a real toss up to me. The Bears are riding the momentum of their huge win in Philly, but the Lions have had two weeks to prepare for this one. I think the Lions are the better team, but the Bears win here because they have played the better football in the last month.
Chicago 23 Detroit 20
New England Patriots vs New York Jets
How the tides have turned since these teams last match-up. The Jets had lost two in a row while the Patriots were 3-1. Now, the Jets are on a three game winning streak and the Patriots have lost two in a row. This is not the same Patriots team we have seen in recent years. Sure, they still have Tom Brady and Bill Bellicheck, but the defense is nothing like it was during the Championship years. They can’t stop anything in the secondary at all. The organization has missed on several of their defensive draft picks in recent years. Tom Brady can’t do everything for this team. Lots of people know that the offense is now one dimensional. Defenses don’t need to worry about stopping the run game because they don’t have won. You can’t win games in January with no running game. The Jets have rediscovered their run game in recent weeks and that has helped ease the pressure on Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has played better in recent weeks and so have his WRs, specifically Plaxico Burress. This has helped ease the pressure on their defense. The defense didn’t have to worry about staying on the field long against the Bills as the offense was able to continue drives and not go with quick 3-and-outs. It’s rare that the Patriots lose three games in a row, but I think it happens here. The Jets are the better team and the Patriots are struggling. Hell, they may MISS the playoffs.
NY Jets 31 New England 28
Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers
The Vikings have had two weeks to prepare for this one. Christian Ponder had one week last time and almost beat the Packers. Of course that was at home. This one is in Lambeau, on Monday night. Aaron Rodgers is throwing touchdown passes at will and is easily the favorite for MVP. Rodgers just has so many weapons at his disposal and defenses have a hard time focusing on just one to stop. Teams can beat Green Bay if they have a good secondary and pass rush, which is something the Vikings do not have. They also need to have an offense that can put up points in bunches, which is again something the Vikings don’t have. Adrian Peterson will score a couple touchdowns, but this one is all Packers.
Green Bay 42 Minnesota 23
My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week’s Record: 3-1
Year to Date Record: 22-13-1
Buffalo +5.5 at Dallas: Cowboys aren’t that good, Bills aren’t that bad.
Green Bay -13.5 vs Minnesota: Packers are two TDs better than Minnesota, especially at home.
Carolina -3.5 vs Tennessee: Titans offense can’t hang with Panthers.
Indianapolis +3 vs Jacksonville: If the Colts don’t win this week, then they might not at all.
That’s it from me today.
Until Next Time,
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