Last Week: 13-2 Season Record: 40-35
Wait what the Hell? That can’t be right, there’s no way I went 13-2 last week after all the picks I’ve missed. Turns out that is indeed the truth, the only games I missed were the Thursday night game between Oakland and Kansas City (which was a play away from being correct) and the Bears-Panthers game, but how was I supposed to know the Bears would revert to their Lovie Smith era form? So for this Thursday night game…I missed a little badly…I may or may not have picked the Dolphins to beat the Ravens…and they maybe lost 40-0…Not great. So before I embarrass myself further, let’s get to the picks.
Minnesota Vikings (5-2) vs Cleveland Browns (0-7)
Teddy Bridgewater is still working his way back but Case Keenum has been solid in relief of him and Sam Bradford. The run game has stepped it up since losing stud rookie Dalvin Cook and the defense has been as good as ever. They face a Browns team that is willing to try anything to get a win. They nearly did against Tennessee last week, losing 12-9 in overtime. But they couldn’t get out of their own way once again. Defensively the Browns are actually pretty solid, it’s just the quarterback play has been abysmal whether it’s Deshone Kizer, Kevin Hogan, or Cody Kessler. Kizer is going to start this game, lord knows who finishes it. Hue Jackson is pretty much throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks at this point. That’s not a good strategy against a very tough Vikings defense and I think Minnesota will come out of this London game with a handily won game.
Projected Score: Vikings 28 Browns 10
Oakland Raiders (3-4) vs Buffalo Bills (4-2)
The Raiders have been really inconsistent all season even when Derek Carr has been healthy but they have to be feeling really good about themselves after the wild finish to their Thursday night win over the Chiefs last week. They’ve had a few extra days to prepare for the Bills, who just traded stud defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars. Dareus had been having personal issues and I think the Bills had had enough with the former third overall pick. The loss might hurt, but the Bills have the depth to compensate. I think this will be a low scoring game, as Buffalo does well at stopping offenses but has trouble moving the ball themselves. But I think they beat the Raiders at home.
Projected Score: Bills 23 Raiders 17
Indianapolis Colts (2-5) vs Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
The Colts were god-awful last week against the Jaguars, failing to score a single point in their 27-0 loss. Jacoby Brissett looked scared to throw against the aggressive Jaguars defense. Cincinnati might not be as assertive a defense as Jacksonville, but they’re another tough defense in their own right and I think Indy will once again struggle to score points. Cincinnati is starting to get the hang of things and while they are coming off a loss to the Steelers, they definitely have more life in them than they did at the start of the season, which went about as poorly a start as you can find. I’ve got the Bengals in this one.
Projected Score: Bengals 27 Colts 14
Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) vs New England Patriots (5-2)
The Chargers defense looked really impressive in their shutout victory over the Broncos last week. However the Broncos offensively are still in search of their identity, which is certainly not the case with the Patriots. New England is coming off their best all-around performance of the season in their 23-7 win over the Falcons in the fog, however they will be losing Dont’a Hightower for the season with a torn pectoral, which is a huge blow for a defense that was just beginning to figure things out. But the Chargers offense is still working out the kinks so I think the Patriots will be okay this week right before their bye. I have the Patriots in this one but I think the Chargers will compete.
Projected Score: Patriots 28 Chargers 20
Chicago Bears (3-4) vs New Orleans Saints (4-2)
The Bears have won 2 in a row even though Mitchell Trubisky has barely thrown any passes. They’re playing it extremely safe with him and it seems to be getting the job done, though most of that is thanks in large part to the fact that the defense has been really impressive since Trubisky took over for Mike Glennon. They scored both touchdowns for the Bears in their win over the Panthers (more specifically, Eddie Jackson scored both touchdowns) as they stifled Cam Newton and company all day. The Saints are a much more refined offense and they are really rolling right now, convincingly beating the Packers in Lambeau last week. The Bears will need to do more than hand the ball to Jordan Howard and get out of the way if they hope to beat the Saints and with how the defense has been attacking this season, I think it’s a New Orleans victory.
Projected Score: Saints 30 Bears 13
Atlanta Falcons (3-3) vs New York Jets (3-4)
The Falcons are reeling right now. Three straight losses, all against AFC East opponents and they got dominated for 60 minutes in the fog against the Patriots last time out. They face an AFC East opponent for the fourth straight week and they really need to turn things around if they want to get back on track this season. The Jets have lost 2 straight close games to the Patriots and Dolphins and they look to regain some of that early magic against the Falcons. The defense has been sharp and Josh McCown has been playing his best football since he came in relief of Jay Cutler with the Bears a few years ago. I think the Falcons get back on track, though, they are just too good a team to lose 4 in a row.
Projected Score: Falcons 35 Jets 27
San Francisco 49ers (0-7) vs Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)
The 49ers are one of two winless teams remaining and unlike the Browns, these guys have been playing their asses off and losing heartbreakers. Last week they got demolished by the Cowboys but prior to that they had lost 5 straight games by 3 points or fewer. They go up against the Eagles, who have the best record in football thanks to the wizardry of Carson Wentz. If you watched the Monday Night Football game against Washington last week, you saw exactly what I’m talking about. The Redskins struggled to bring down the Eagles signal caller and everytime they came close, Wentz would find some way to escape. The 49ers are going to struggle to contain Wentz and the Eagles will expand on the best record in the NFL.
Projected Score: Eagles 31 49ers 14
Carolina Panthers (4-3) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
The Panthers are winless since Cam Newton’s ill-chosen words about women and routes and last week the offense looked clueless against the Bears. These struggles couldn’t come at a worse time because the Saints are on a tear right now and seem to have wrestled away control of the division from Carolina. They face the cellar-dweller in Tampa Bay, who has been wildly inconsistent this season. Patrick Murray seems to be the answer they’ve been looking for at kicker but they still keep shooting themselves in the foot in other ways, like they did against the Bills. It’s basically a matchup of two teams who have no idea what they’re doing right now so this could either be a really fun or really terrible game. I’m going to give the edge to the Buccaneers because I feel like they’re due.
Projected Score: Buccaneers 21 Panthers 10
Houston Texans (3-3) vs Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
The Texans have their answer at quarterback in Deshaun Watson as he continues to get better and better every week. There is some controversy in the organization, however, and it all stems from owner Bob McNair’s comments about the protests, which were “You can’t let the inmates run the prisons.” That’s about as extreme of poor word choice as you’re going to see and superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins skipped practice because he was so infuriated by the comments. The Texans have had group discussions over the matter and that can go one of two ways: either it’s a distraction or a team bonding thing. The Seahawks are a tough team to face right after controversy, but it didn’t seem to matter for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX and I think the Texans will be okay in this one. However this game is in Seattle, where the Seahawks just do not lose. I’m going with the Seahawks but I think the Texans will give a strong performance.
Projected Score: Seahawks 31 Texans 28
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) vs Washington Redskins (3-3)
Wait, this is the only other 4:00 game? Damn, bye weeks are a bitch. NFL redzone is going to be really dull for this slate. But we do have another solid matchup between the Cowboys and Redskins. The Cowboys are coming off a dominating victory over the 49ers while the Redskins are coming off a tough loss to the Eagles and are just riddled with injuries, including losing middle linebacker Mason Foster for the season. Ezekiel Elliott is still active and I think he will have another big game and the Cowboys will jump into second place in the NFC East.
Projected Score: Cowboys 24 Redskins 14
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) vs Detroit Lions (3-3)
The Steelers have been hot since Ben Roethlisberger threw five picks against the Jaguars, defeating the Chiefs and Bengals in that time. They face a Lions team that is coming off a bye and has been really up and down this season. At times, Detroit looks like the class of the NFC. At others, they look completely lost. Last time out they nearly overcame a 35-point deficit against the Saints but their comeback attempt fell short. The Steelers have been riding Le’Veon Bell and it’s been working great. Martavis Bryant has been a distraction, however, as his lack of targets have led him to not only request a trade from the Steelers, but he also went and bashed rookie teammate Juju Smith-Schuster, whose targets have increased the last few weeks. I think the Lions will come out on top this week as there are just too many question marks surrounding the Steelers this week.
Projected Score: Lions 31 Steelers 21
Denver Broncos (3-3) vs Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Both teams are reeling heading into the Monday Night game this week. The Broncos last two games have been a loss to the previously winless Giants and a shutout against the last-place team in the division in the Chargers. The Chiefs have lost two in a row to the Steelers and Raiders but are a much better team than the teams the Broncos have been losing to. Trevor Siemian has not gotten the job the last couple of weeks and now he faces a defense that can obliterate a struggling quarterback. I have the Chiefs getting off the snide in this one.
Projected Score: Chiefs 35 Broncos 14
Teams on Bye: Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans
Wait, that’s it? That’s all the games this week? Damn, light load. Makes for a quicker blog, which works out for me considering I have to do my World Series recap as well. Last week is going to be really tough to top, especially since I’ve lost the Thursday night game, but as long as my season record doesn’t dip below .500 again, I’ll be satisfied. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.