Last Week: 10-3 Season Record: 50-38
Wow, back-to-back big weeks. Both have come after I lost the Thursday night game. Well, guess who lost the Thursday night game again? I had the Bills beating the Jets but New York was able to find some offense on Thursday and came away with the win. Last week my misses were Baltimore against Miami (which was probably my worst miss ever), Carolina vs Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh vs Detroit. Hopefully I can keep up my trend of good weeks following a Thursday night loss. Let’s get to the picks.
Indianapolis Colts (2-6) vs Houston Texans (3-4)
The Texans have had the WORST luck with injuries this season. Every team deals with injuries, that’s nothing new. But it’s WHO has gotten injured that separates the Texans from the other snake-bitten teams. Early in the season they lost JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year, two major cogs in their defense. Now they’ve lost rookie phenom quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season on a non-contact ACL tear during practice. Just devastating. Tom Savage is the quarterback again and he was a disaster in Week 1 against the Jaguars before getting benched for Watson. The Colts are nowhere near as good a defense as Jacksonville’s so I think it’s fair to expect Savage will be better. Indianapolis has yet to beat a team with a win this season (both wins are the 49ers and Browns) but I wouldn’t be shocked if they came out of this one. Losing Deshaun Watson will hinder the Texans offense greatly.
Projected Score: Colts 21 Texans 17
Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)
The Bengals nearly lost to the Colts at home last week so they’re not in the best shape right now. They continue to play well defensively but the offense has been maddeningly inconsistent. The Jaguars continued their trend of good-bad-good-bad performances but had a bye last week. So does that count as their bad week? I’m going to take a chance and say that it does. Leonard Fournette is back healthy and I think Jacksonville will beat this Bengals team.
Projected Score: Jaguars 30 Bengals 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) vs New Orleans Saints (5-2)
The Buccaneers look lost right now. This team had so much potential at the start of the season but things have just not gone their way. Last week they put up a poor showing against Carolina, only able to muster 3 points. They go into New Orleans against one of the hottest teams in football right now in the Saints, who are playing well in all facets of the game during their 5-game winning streak. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game ends in a bloodbath in New Orleans’ favor.
Projected Score: Saints 35 Buccaneers 14
Los Angeles Rams (5-2) vs New York Giants (1-6)
This game has the potential to be a trap game for the Rams. It’s a 1:00 game on the east coast, which historically does not bode well for west coast teams. The Rams have been a pleasant surprise this season and they come into New York to take on perhaps the most disappointing team in the NFL. The Giants are still dealing with injuries to major contributors and despite the time zone issues, I don’t envision the Rams losing this game.
Projected Score: Rams 27 Giants 13
Atlanta Falcons (4-3) vs Carolina Panthers (5-3)
This might be the game I’m most looking forward to this weekend. Both teams are inconsistent but have shown flashes of greatness at times. The winner may even take control of the NFC South depending on what happens in the Saints game. Atlanta has the high-flying offense, which has underachieved so far, while Carolina has the smashmouth defense, which has been great this season. In fact, in 4 of their 8 games this season, the Panthers defense did not allow a single touchdown. I like Carolina in this game, I think the Falcons will struggle to move the ball on them.
Projected Score: Panthers 24 Falcons 21
Denver Broncos (3-4) vs Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
Head Coach Vance Joseph has seen enough and benched Trevor Siemian in favor of Brock Osweiler. It’s important to note that it’s not former first rounder Paxton Lynch because he’s dealing with a bum shoulder right now. But Broncos fans have to be nervous for this because Osweiler couldn’t even crack the Browns’ roster (and we’ve all seen how much of a mess that quarterback room is). Though to be fair to Osweiler, it likely had to do with salary. The Eagles, on the other hand, have the exact opposite of a quarterback problem as Carson Wentz has been a man among boys this season. He’s my midseason MVP and when you combine his play with a physical defense, it’s no surprise the Eagles are 7-1. I think they drive the Broncos into the ground in this one.
Projected Score: Eagles 38 Broncos 14
Baltimore Ravens (4-4) vs Tennessee Titans (4-3)
Joe Flacco suffered a concussion last Thursday on a dirty hit by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso. It is fortunate for the Ravens, though, that it was on a Thursday night, as it gives Flacco an extra couple days of recovery. He’s currently listed as questionable for this game and if he’s able to go, I would give the edge to Baltimore. But if he’s not and the Ravens have to go with Ryan Mallett, then I think they will have some problems. The Titans have been underwhelming this season, especially on defense. This game really is a toss up because neither team has shown much consistency on offense, even with healthy quarterbacks. I’m giving the edge to Baltimore because their defense has been impressive this season.
Projected Score: Ravens 20 Titans 13
Arizona Cardinals (3-4) vs San Francisco 49ers (0-8)
It took overtime for the Cardinals to beat the 49ers earlier this season and I think we get another valiant effort from San Francisco this week. The 49ers gave a second round pick to the Patriots for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but they have said he won’t play in this game. In fact, Kyle Shanahan said he may not even play this season. CJ Beathard has been mediocre but the rookie third rounder has been better than I would have expected. If you were to tell me at the beginning of the season he’d win the starting job from Brian Hoyer (who is now on the Patriots) and gave me his current numbers, I’d be impressed. Arizona has been frustrating this season because you can see the talent they have but week-in and week-out they find ways to waste it. I’m going to make a bold pick here and say the 49ers finally get into the win column this week.
Projected Score: 49ers 21 Cardinals 19
Washington Redskins (3-4) vs Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
Russell Wilson was phenomenal last week against the Texans and he needed to be, because Deshaun Watson was just as good on the other side. The defense has to be a little nervous about their ability to stop the Washington offense but Wilson has to be feeling a little more confident, especially after the Seahawks finally went out and got a left tackle in Duane Brown. I should also note that in my trade deadline blog, I said that Seattle corner Jeremy Lane was a part of the trade. Well, he didn’t pass his physical with the Texans, so he will remain in Seattle and the Seahawks sent Houston an extra draft pick instead. They face a Redskins team that competed for three quarters in bad weather against the Cowboys last week but they faltered down the stretch. Now they come into Seattle to face a suddenly explosive offense. I like Seattle’s chances in this one.
Projected Score: Seahawks 38 Redskins 20
Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) vs Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
So Ezekiel Elliott is unsuspended again, and I’m not going to try and bore you with the logistics of the case because I have no idea how it works either, all I know is that he can play this week. Which is big news for the Cowboys because they will need him if they want to beat this Chiefs team. After starting out 5-0, Kansas City hit a rough patch losing back-to-back games before an impressive performance last time out against the Broncos. Alex Smith has still yet to throw an interception this season, which is a big reason why this offense is still so potent despite Kareem Hunt coming back down to Earth in the last few weeks. I think KC will win this game, but I think the Cowboys will keep it tight.
Projected Score: Chiefs 28 Cowboys 23
Oakland Raiders (3-5) vs Miami Dolphins (4-3)
The Raiders fell flat against Buffalo last week, which was kind of surprising to me after their performance against Kansas City the week prior. Yes I did predict Buffalo to win that game, but I expected the Raiders to put up a better fight. The Dolphins are another tough defense, despite letting up 40 points last time out, but that’s also got a lot to do with the fact their offense gave them NO help. I don’t see things improving for Miami offensively, especially after trading runningback Jay Ajayi. I’ve got the Raiders bouncing back this week.
Projected Score: Raiders 27 Dolphins 17
Detroit Lions (3-4) vs Green Bay Packers (4-3)
Out of all the injuries we’ve had in the NFL this season, I don’t know if any is more devastating than Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone. The offense has looked flat under Brett Hundley in the last game and a half and they face a Lions team that defensively has been impressive (aside from letting up a 93-yard touchdown to Juju Smith-Schuster last week). The offense has had its issues and I think Green Bay has a quietly good defense. I anticipate a low-scoring game but I trust Matthew Stafford more than I do Brett Hundley.
Projected Score: Lions 20 Packers 14
Teams on Bye: New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears
Those are my picks for this week as I look to keep the good times rolling. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.