Last Week: 6-8 Season Record: 20-26
I still suck at NFL picks but I will still make them nonetheless. Last week was particularly brutal. I literally picked ONE of the 1:00 games accurately (Eagles over Cardinals). Really need to re-evaluate how I pick these games. Except for the Thursday night games. I’m undefeated there. I did pick the Eagles on Thursday. Yes they were unpublished, but I promise that I make these picks shortly before gametime and if I am wrong I will include it in the blog. Besides, I need to pad my stats somehow. Let’s get picking.
Miami Dolphins (2-2) vs Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
The Dolphins offense under Jay Cutler is terrible but their defense has quietly been very solid and has kept Miami from being an embarrassment to start the season. I’ve never seen a quarterback look less invested in his team than Cutler does with the Dolphins yet somehow they’re 2-2 with wins over the Chargers and Titans. But again, the defense has a lot to do with that. A defensive touchdown on a close fumble call was the difference in last week’s win over Tennessee. They’re going to need much, much more than that to beat this Falcons team coming off a bye. Atlanta has to be PISSED they lost to Buffalo on their home turf and they’ve had a whole extra week to dwell on it. I think they come out guns blazing against Miami and take this one big.
Projected Score: Falcons 35 Dolphins 14
Chicago Bears (1-4) vs Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
Mitchell Trubisky looked decent in his debut on Monday Night Football. His overall numbers weren’t impressive (12-25 for 128 yards with a touchdown and a pick) but a lot of that has to do with the fact he was playing with what was clearly a simplified version of the offense against a really tough Vikings defense. But I liked what I saw out of him. He was putting a lot of tough throws right on the money and his receivers didn’t always do him any favors. His interception was a bad one as he telegraphed his throw to a guy who was never once open, but that’s part of the growing pains you get with any rookie QB. He’s going to be good, the Bears just need to get some more talent around him. They face a Ravens team that quite frankly I still can’t tell if they’re good or not. There are times where they look downright dominant (Week 1 vs the Bengals) and others where they look like the worst team in football (London game against Jacksonville). The Bears still have a lot of issues and I think the Ravens defense will do enough to help the offense win the game. Mitchell Trubisky will show improvement, but his first win will elude him.
Projected Score: Ravens 23 Bears 10
Cleveland Browns (0-5) vs Houston Texans (2-3)
The Browns still suck. This is a team that actually has some raw talent but they are constantly shooting themselves in the foot. Deshone Kizer has been frustrating as he will sometimes make a beautiful pass but then turn right around and throw a horrible pick. He’s been benched in favor of Kevin Hogan in this matchup against a Texans team that really competed with the best team in football in the Chiefs on Sunday night. Deshaun Watson has gotten better every week and he has the look of a bona fide stud. Bill O’Brien may finally have stopped the carousel of QB’s the Texans have been on since he’s been in Houston. However they took a BIG blow last week when they lost both JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the season. That’s two of their three best defensive players lost at the same time. Lucky for them, a Big 12 defense could stop Cleveland’s offense right now. The Texans will win fairly easily, though the Browns defense will show some flashes. That’s the one unit they have that doesn’t suck.
Projected Score: Texans 27 Browns 7
Green Bay Packers (4-1) vs Minnesota Vikings (3-2)
It really doesn’t feel like the Packers are 4-1. They’ve had their struggles both on offense, defense, and with injuries, yet here they are. Aaron Rodgers was an animal in last week’s game in Dallas, leading a terrific final drive to win the game. Rookie runningback Aaron Jones had a huge game, which is big for Green Bay considering Ty Montgomery isn’t healthy right now. The Vikings looked really sluggish in their win over the Bears on Monday night. Sam Bradford was clearly rushed in his return as he looked like his leg was bothering him all night. They managed to pull him for Case Keenum before it was too late, as Robert Griffin III suggested in a candidate for Depressing Tweet of the Year:
The Vikings defense is really tough, though and I think they cause a lot of problems for Rodgers and company. I actually think they steal this one away from Green Bay on the strength of their defense.
Projected Score: Vikings 24 Packers 20
Detroit Lions (3-2) vs New Orleans Saints (2-2)
The Detroit Lions have suffered two heart-breaking losses against NFC South opponents this year and could very easily be 5-0. First came the 10-second runoff game against Atlanta, then last week against Carolina they fell behind early but Matthew Stafford nearly pulled an incredible comeback out of his ass. It wasn’t enough, though, as Carolina was able to get a critical first down and Detroit couldn’t stop the clock. They face a Saints team coming off a bye that looks like they could be sneaky this year. They’ve had impressive performances against the Panthers and Dolphins in their two victories this year but their losses have not been so great, as they got torched by both Tom Brady (can’t blame them for that one) and Sam Bradford. The pass defense has been pretty weak this year, but as I mentioned in a previous picks segment, Marshon Lattimore looks like he’ll be a good corner for them. I think the Lions will win, as their defense will get the stops they need. New Orleans’ defense will struggle to stop Stafford.
Projected Score: Lions 38 Saints 21
New England Patriots (3-2) vs New York Jets (3-2)
As I’m sure you’ve read ad nauseam, the Patriots and Jets are tied for first place over a month into the season, something that was unthinkable in preseason. But the Jets are riding a three game winning streak on the strength of a defense that surprisingly isn’t terrible. They still leave plenty to be desired offensively but their defense is keeping them in games. That hadn’t been the case for the Patriots up until their Thursday night game with the Buccaneers, where they won 19-14 thanks to Nick Folk missing 3 field goals. The Patriots offense struggled without Rob Gronkowski in that game but he is likely to play this game, as he was a full participant in practice on Friday. I think the Patriots will win this but the Jets defense will make things interesting. Also, prayers go out to Patriots linebacker Harvey Langi and his wife, who were involved in a bad car accident on Friday night. The injuries suffered don’t appear to be life threatening but they are being called “serious.”
Projected Score: Patriots 27 Jets 17
San Francisco 49ers (0-5) vs Washington Redskins (2-2)
The 49ers may be 0-5, but they’ve actually been in every single game. Since losing 23-3 to Carolina in Week 1, they haven’t lost a single game by more than 3 points. That surprises me considering that in preseason I felt this was arguably the least talented team in football. Kyle Shanahan is doing a good job with what he has. The Redskins are coming off a bye after a really strong showing against Kansas City. Had Josh Doctson held on to that ball in the endzone, they may have become the first team to beat the Chiefs all season. The Redskins defense has been impressive and the offense appears to finally be figuring things out. I think the Redskins will win this, but the 49ers will compete from start to finish.
Projected Score: Redskins 24 49ers 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) vs Arizona Cardinals (2-3)
How would this Buccaneers team look if they didn’t have the worst luck with kickers? They’d probably have beaten New England last Thursday, for starters. These guys are trying to compete for a division title this year and poor special teams play has held them back. They replaced Nick Folk with Patrick Murray in the hopes of ending those kicking woes. The Cardinals just can’t seem to figure things out this year. It appears that getting blown out by the Panthers in the NFC Championship a couple years ago really did a number on these guys as they have been a shell of that squad ever since. The roster really hasn’t changed that much between then and now, however Carson Palmer’s regression has definitely been part of the problem. They got smacked around by the Eagles last week and it doesn’t get much easier, as Tampa is a better team than their record and recent play might indicate. Tampa will win this one.
Projected Score: Buccaneers 28 Cardinals 20
Los Angeles Rams (3-2) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m pretty excited for this game between the Rams and Jaguars. Both teams have been pleasant surprises this season. The Rams are coming off a loss to the Seahawks but they battled to the very end in that. The Jaguars are coming off a defensively dominating performance over the Steelers where they picked off Ben Roethlisberger 5 times. That’s how you win 30-9 when your quarterback doesn’t even throw for 100 yards. Leonard Fournette had his best game as a pro, the highlights of which I’ve attached below.
As I noted last week, the Jaguars have alternated good and bad performances all season. Last week was a great performance. That leads one to guess they won’t be so lucky this week. Rams win.
Projected Score: Rams 31 Jaguars 21
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) vs Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
Ben Roethlisberger just doesn’t look like his heart is in it. He wasn’t himself last week in Jacksonville and he made it very clear this offseason that he was heavily considering retirement. 5 interceptions is very uncharacteristic of him and it gets a lot tougher as the Steelers take on the unbeaten Chiefs. Kansas City has succeeded in pretty much every facet of the game this year and they are clearly the team to beat in the NFL right now. Based on what I saw last week, I can’t imagine a whole lot changing for these two clubs. Chiefs win big.
Projected Score: Chiefs 42 Steelers 17
Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) vs Oakland Raiders (2-3)
The Chargers miraculously got their first win over the Giants last week but they needed some help from the football gods, as literally every single Giants receiver went down in that game. But a win is a win and that’s got to give them some momentum against a Raiders team that has struggled these last few weeks and that has a lot to do with Derek Carr’s health. He’s going to start this game after suffering a back injury a couple weeks ago that I figured would sideline him for a large chunk of the season, yet it appears he will only miss one game. I would monitor his health throughout this one, but if he’s fine, Raiders should win this handily. If not, the Chargers may find themselves in prime position to steal another victory. I gotta give the edge to the Raiders here just on faith in Carr alone.
Projected Score: Raiders 27 Chargers 14
New York Giants (0-5) vs Denver Broncos (3-1)
Literally everything has gone wrong for the Giants and those issues came to a head in their loss to the Chargers last week. ODell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Dwayne Harris ALL went down with injuries. And it’s not just them. Here’s a list of players who will not be playing in this game due to injury: Olivier Vernon, Jonathan Casillas, Paul Perkins, and Weston Richburg. On top of that, the team suspended Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for an unknown period of time. I’ve never seen a team that had as much preseason hype as the Giants have so much go wrong for them so fast. The Broncos are coming off a bye and even if they don’t play their best football, they shouldn’t have much of a problem against the Giants the way this team is reeling. It’s a shame this is the Sunday Night Football game this week. No team deserves to get embarrassed on primetime the way it appears the Giants are setting themselves up for.
Projected Score: Broncos 45 Giants 7
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) vs Tennessee Titans (2-3)
This game is going to get interesting. The Colts are still without Andrew Luck, but he is practicing a little bit on the side. Jacoby Brissett has been okay, doing just enough to keep the Colts from being a laughingstock in Luck’s absence. The Titans have been pretty banged up this year and those key injuries are going to play a huge part in this outcome. Marcus Mariota is questionable for this game and his presence is going to be a huge factor because Matt Cassel was just downright bad against Miami in relief of him. I think if Mariota plays, the Titans win this. If he doesn’t, I’ll take the Colts. I have a gut feeling that Mariota is going to give it a go, though.
Projected Score: Titans 20 Colts 17
Teams on Bye: Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks
Those are my picks this week. If you are a gambling man, I recommend betting the exact opposite of what you see here, as it’s just not going to work out well for you if you listen to me based on my track record this season. Let me know your frustrations with my picks in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.