Last Week: 8-5 Season Record: 58-43
I was killing it last week up until the 4:00 games, where I missed every single one, but my performance before that was good enough where it didn’t hurt me overall. 8-5 is roughly where I expected to be when I started doing this and after a few really strong weeks, I finally have a good record. However those good weeks came after losing the Thursday night game, and I finally broke my 3-week Thursday Night losing streak when the Seahawks beat the Cardinals. So let’s see if Thursday Nighters really do correlate with my performance, or if I’m just getting better at picking.
New Orleans Saints (6-2) vs Buffalo Bills (5-3)
Believe it or not, this is the only matchup this week between two teams with winning records, which comes as a surprise to me based on the perception of these teams at the beginning of the year. But the Saints have been one of the most well-rounded teams in football, as defensively they’re 10th best in points per game allowed and 15th in total yards allowed in addition to their typical offensive prowess. Buffalo has also been impressive defensively, as they rank 6th best in points and 23rd in yards. The reason for Buffalo’s high ranking in points but low ranking in yards is because the Bills have been a turnover machine defensively, as they’re second in the NFL in interceptions and first in forced fumbles. This could potentially be a low-scoring game but I think the Saints will prevail, as I trust in Drew Brees’ ability to put up points on a tough defense more than I do Tyrod Taylor’s.
Projected Score: Saints 27 Bills 17
Green Bay Packers (4-4) vs Chicago Bears (3-5)
The Packers have struggled mightily with Brett Hundley under center, as they’ve lost 3 in a row since losing Aaron Rodgers (I’m counting the Vikings game that Rodgers went down in because he was injured pretty early in that game). In that stretch they’ve only been decent defensively so despite the fact that they’re going up against a very one dimensional offense in Chicago, I’m not so sure they’ll be able to leave Soldier Field with a W. The Bears have won two in a row with Mitchell Trubisky under center despite the fact that he’s hardly thrown any passes. Defensively during this stretch the Bears defense has been sensational and I think they will fluster Hundley to no end and allow the Bears to win, even if Trubisky hardly throws.
Projected Score: Bears 17 Packers 10
Cleveland Browns (0-8) vs Detroit Lions (4-4)
I’ve got a strange feeling about this one. The Browns are coming off a much-needed bye week and they face a Lions team that has been pretty inconsistent overall. The Browns are likely going with Deshone Kizer at quarterback and they’ve been terrible offensively and the Lions defense has been pretty good. But the Browns looked pretty solid for three quarters against the Vikings in London so maybe the bye will have them on the right track. I’m going to go with the Lions because I think Matthew Stafford will be too difficult for Cleveland to stop, but I do have a funny feeling that this may be the week for the Browns.
Projected Score: Lions 27 Browns 20
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) vs Indianapolis Colts (3-6)
The Steelers, like the Browns, are also coming off a bye and had been trending in the right direction leading up to it, winning three in a row. In fact, those three consecutive wins have come following Ben Roethlisberger’s 5 interception game against the Jaguars. They face a Colts defense that struggles to get takeaways and after cutting Vontae Davis, the Colts have nobody they can trust to cover Antonio Brown. I think Brown has a field day in this game and the Steelers win easily.
Projected Score: Steelers 42 Colts 14
Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
The Chargers are also coming off their bye week after being competitive with the Patriots for four quarters. The defense has been really good this season, as they haven’t allowed more than 26 points in any game this season, which includes a shutout of Denver. The Jaguars were able to beat the Bengals despite suspending Leonard Fournette for the game for violating team rules (allegedly, he missed a team photo, which seems like a silly reason to suspend someone an entire game for. A fine probably would’ve gotten the point across) and will likely have him back this week. I feel like on paper the Jaguars should win this game, but based on the good-bad-good-bad performances they’ve given, this is scheduled to be a bad week, so I’m going to go with LAC.
Projected Score: Chargers 20 Jaguars 14
New York Jets (4-5) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
The Jets are coming off an impressive Thursday Night victory over the Bills and Josh McCown has quietly been really good this season, especially considering his best receivers are Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson. The defense has also been pretty good and they face a Buccaneers team that will be without Jameis Winston and possibly Mike Evans. Winston injured his shoulder in Tampa’s blowout loss to the Saints last week and Evans is appealing a one-game suspension for a cheap shot on Marshon Lattimore (probably will play this week due to appeal rules). Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start for the Bucs but I don’t think he’ll make much of a difference. I have the Jets.
Projected Score: Jets 27 Buccaneers 14
Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) vs Tennessee Titans (5-3)
The Bengals offense got shut down by Jacksonville last week and couldn’t beat the Jaguars despite not having to face Leonard Fournette. It also didn’t help that they lost AJ Green in the second quarter for putting Jalen Ramsey in a chokehold. Neither player got suspended for the exchange, which surprises me given Mike Evans did get suspended for his shot on Lattimore. Hell, Green threw punches! But regardless, they face a Titans team that has been really inconsistent this season yet still somehow find themselves on pace for a 10-win season. This is a tough game to project because I just have no idea what to expect out of either team. I’m going to give the edge to Tennessee because I don’t trust Cincinnati’s ability to score points.
Projected Score: Titans 28 Bengals 17
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) vs Washington Redskins (4-4)
The Vikings defense has carried this team this season but don’t discredit the play of Case Keenum. He’s been pretty effective as Sam Bradford deals with an injury. Mike Zimmer will have an interesting decision on whether to bring in Teddy Bridgewater when he’s fully healthy, but thanks to Keenum’s play, he’s able to wait until the former first rounder is 100%. They face a Redskins team coming off an exciting victory in Seattle. The defense looked really good and I think this has the potential to be another low-scoring game. I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings, as they’ve been more efficient this season.
Projected Score: Vikings 23 Redskins 16
Houston Texans (3-5) vs Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
Losing Deshaun Watson for the season has very visibly hurt this Texans team, as they were only able to muster 14 points against a poor Colts defense under Tom Savage. They go back to Savage again against a really tough Rams defense. It won’t be a fun day for Savage. The Rams are coming off an absolutely DOMINANT performance against the Giants, where they went into East Rutherford and won 51-17. They face another team that appears to be playing for next year and I think they get another win. Don’t look now, but the Rams may be 7-2 after this weekend.
Projected Score: Rams 34 Texans 10
Dallas Cowboys (5-3) vs Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
So it looks like Ezekiel Elliott is finally going to serve that suspension after being denied an injunction (or an appeal, or objection, I don’t know legal talk. You’d think I would’ve learned after following Tom Brady’s case so closely). I do anticipate a drop off in the team’s rushing performance, as Elliott is a hard guy to replace, but I also think they will be okay. Alfred Morris is a capable back and he’ll be running behind the best offensive line in football. Where Dallas will be hurt is in big play ability because Morris lacks Zeke’s explosiveness. The Falcons have been a disappointment at this stage in the season but if they were to pull off a big win, I think this would be where they’d have to do it. The Cowboys will be without Zeke and Dez Bryant isn’t totally healthy. I think the Cowboys offense will struggle some and I think Atlanta takes it at home.
Projected Score: Falcons 31 Cowboys 24
New York Giants (1-7) vs San Francisco 49ers (0-9)
It’s hard to get embarrassed on your home field as badly as the Giants were embarrassed by the Rams last week. This team appears to have quit on head coach Ben McAdoo and I don’t anticipate things going any better as they face the winless 49ers. The 49ers have played hard all year and haven’t had things go their way and I think this is the week they are finally rewarded for their efforts. The Giants seem like they’re phoning it in and I think Kyle Shanahan will have his guys ready to pounce. But this will also be my third time picking the 49ers this season and they’ve let me down each time. Third time’s the charge I guess?
Projected Score: 49ers 27 Giants 10
New England Patriots (6-2) vs Denver Broncos (3-5)
The last team you want to face coming off a bye is the New England Patriots and the Broncos themselves are coming off a blowout loss to the Eagles. Bill Belichick and his guys have had two weeks to prepare for this Broncos team and while they do have a good defense (ignoring the fact they let up 51 points to the Eagles), they have a ton of issues on the offensive side of the ball. I think Brock Osweiler will struggle to move the ball against the Patriots. I don’t anticipate this being a close game.
Projected Score: Patriots 35 Broncos 10
Miami Dolphins (4-4) vs Carolina Panthers (6-3)
This has the potential to be a good game. The Dolphins defense has been impressive this season and Jay Cutler is coming off his best performance as a Dolphin in the loss to the Raiders last week. Carolina has been inconsistent offensively but dominant on defense, so I think this could be a tightly-contested ball game. Despite not having Kelvin Benjamin after shipping him off to Buffalo, they were still able to put up enough points to beat the Falcons (though some self-inflicted wounds by Atlanta certainly contributed). I do think Carolina comes out and wins though, I don’t think Miami is good enough offensively to overcome Carolina’s defense.
Projected Score: Panthers 21 Dolphins 17
Teams on Bye: Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders
Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully I don’t make a damn fool of myself. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.