Last Week: 11-3 Season Record: 69-46
Damn, 69 wins again. Just like with college football last week, I may try and sabotage my picks segment for the NFL just so I can stay at 69 wins. However that won’t end up happening because I won the Thursday night bout between the Steelers and Titans in NBC’s experiment with sky cam cameras for most of the game. I thought it was okay, I prefer the traditional camera view mainly because I can see everything, sky cam cuts off my view of the receivers. However I did appreciate sky cam on running plays more. But with that, let’s get to the picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) vs Miami Dolphins (4-5)
So this was the game that was supposed to happen in Week 1 but Hurricane Irma had other ideas. Personally, I liked Chris Long’s idea to move this game to a neutral site and donate the proceeds to relief efforts, but the NFL decided moving this game to the week where both teams have a bye would be a better idea, leaving these teams with having to play 16 straight weeks with no bye. Seems smart. The Buccaneers are coming off an odd week for them, beating the Jets on field goals, something that was a MAJOR issue for this team over the last couple years. Patrick Murray hit 5 through the uprights and it was enough to give the Bucs their first win since Week 4. The Dolphins’ spectacular defensive performance this season finally ran out of steam on Monday night against the Panthers. I think this will be a more defensive game, both teams’ normal starting quarterbacks are out and they’re pretty limited offensively as is. I’m going to give the edge to the Dolphins, I think they’re better suited to win a defensive game.
Projected Score: Dolphins 20 Buccaneers 13
Detroit Lions (5-4) vs Chicago Bears (3-6)
The Bears finally let Mitchell Trubisky loose last week against Green Bay and he looked solid. 21-35 with 297 yards and a touchdown. The problem was the Packers stacked the box to stop Jordan Howard and it worked, as Howard was limited to just 54 yards on 15 carries and Brett Hundley was able to have his best game as a pro, leading the Packers to victory. The Lions seem to be back on track, winning back-to-back games since falling below .500 a couple weeks ago. Matthew Stafford has been leading this team through thick and thin but this team goes where the defense is willing to take them. I think Detroit’s defense steps up and gets the job done.
Projected Score: Lions 24 Bears 14
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) vs Cleveland Browns (0-9)
I want to say the Jaguars broke their streak of good-bad-good-bad but they didn’t play too well in their victory against the Chargers. It just seemed like the Chargers wanted to win a little less, especially in that wildly unimpressive overtime period. By that logic, the Jaguars are slated to have a good performance and they face the perfect team to do so in the Cleveland Browns. Ahead of the game, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles gave some sound advice to Browns quarterback Deshone Kizer: “Try to throw it to your team as much as possible.” That’s good advice, Blake. The Browns offense has been abysmal this season and it’s going to be a looooooooooooooooong day against this explosive Jaguars defense.
Projected Score: Jaguars 35 Browns 10
Baltimore Ravens (4-5) vs Green Bay Packers (5-4)
This is a tough game to project because both teams have stout defenses but have had their struggles offensively. The Ravens are coming off their bye week following a narrow 23-20 defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans while the Packers won their first game under Brett Hundley on the strength of their defense. It’s going to come down to which offense can make a play because you can bet both teams’ defenses will be bringing a little something extra as they try and keep their playoff hopes alive. I’m going to pick the Packers this week. I think they’re riding a little more momentum right now and that can come in handy.
Projected Score: Packers 24 Ravens 20
Arizona Cardinals (4-5) vs Houston Texans (3-6)
Blaine Gabbert vs Tom Savage. A match made in heaven. The Cardinals are hovering around mediocrity and things don’t appear to be getting any better, however the Texans are in full tank mode with all the injuries to critical players they’ve had this season. If I’m Houston, I prepare for next year by having everyone get healthy while also testing out some young guys to see what they can do. They traded their first round draft pick in 2018 to the Cleveland Browns for the right to draft Deshaun Watson so playing for the high pick isn’t really an option. I think Arizona is going to win this game, however it wouldn’t shock me to see Houston compete simply because of how inconsistent the Cardinals have been.
Projected Score: Cardinals 20 Texans 17
Los Angeles Rams (7-2) vs Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
If I were to tell you at the beginning of the year that the best matchup in Week 11 would be Jared Goff vs Case Keenum, you’d laugh in my face and revoke my rights to talk football, and rightfully so. But that just goes to show the job that head coaches Sean McVay and Mike Zimmer have done this season. Goff has taken a HUGE leap in year 2 of his NFL career and the Vikings have been overcoming some injuries to key players. This is going to be a really good game. I think I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings. This is more a gut feeling than anything because these two teams do match up really well with one another and there isn’t a big enough edge for either team where I’d feel totally confident in a decision based on numbers or the eye test.
Projected Score: Vikings 28 Rams 27
Washington Redskins (4-5) vs New Orleans Saints (7-2)
The Saints continue to be the hottest team in football, having won 7 in a row and last week may have been their most impressive performance of the season as they dropped 47 points on the Buffalo Bills through almost exclusively running the football. The Bills are no slouches defensively so it came as a shock to me to see the Saints score that many points on them, though if I had to pick one team that would do that, it would probably be New Orleans. I just would’ve guessed they’d be throwing the football some more, but six rushing touchdowns will get the job done every time. The defense has also been terrific and I think the Redskins will struggle to score points against them. I think the Saints win again and increase their win streak to 8.
Projected Score: Saints 35 Redskins 17
Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) vs New York Giants (1-8)
Ben McAdoo may get fired after this game.
Projected Score: Chiefs 42 Giants 0
Buffalo Bills (5-4) vs Los Angeles Chargers (3-6)
The Bills benched Tyrod Taylor after a lackluster performance against the Saints in favor of rookie fifth rounder Nathan Peterman. Peterman played okay in relief of Taylor late in the game, throwing the team’s only touchdown on the day for the first of his NFL career. The Chargers are a tough team to make your starting debut against, however. Defensively they’re quietly one of the top units in the NFL thanks in large part to the pass rush duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. I think the Chargers defense is going to frustrate this Bills offense and the Bolts will get the win.
Projected Score: Chargers 23 Bills 14
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) vs Denver Broncos (3-6)
This is a game between two struggling offenses and some stellar defenses that are probably feeling pretty frustrated considering how much they have to do to accommodate their offenses. Andy Dalton and the duo of Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have struggled this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if either coach goes to backup quarterbacks AJ McCarron or Paxton Lynch to try and get a spark. These are two teams with plenty of weapons on offense but the quarterback play has held them back. I’m going to go with the Bengals. I think they’ve shown me a little more this season than the Broncos have.
Projected Score: Bengals 17 Broncos 10
New England Patriots (7-2) vs Oakland Raiders (4-5)
This game will be played in Mexico. It’s the Raiders’ second straight year playing with our neighbors to the south, where they beat the Houston Texans last season. The Patriots are on fire right now, winning five in a row, including a beatdown of the Broncos on Sunday night where special teams were the main deciding factor, as the Broncos muffed a punt, let up a kick return touchdown, and had a punt get blocked all in a matter of 20 minutes of game time. The Patriots likely won’t get that kind of help against this scrappy Raiders team but I still think they will prevail, I just think Oakland is too unbalanced an offense to pose too much of a threat.
Projected Score: Patriots 27 Raiders 17
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
This is a fun game on paper, however the Cowboys are missing some key members of their squad. Sure, Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension hurt, but my god, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team miss an offensive lineman as much as the Cowboys missed Tyron Smith last week against the Falcons. Chaz Green was absolutely manhandled by Adrian Clayborn so bad that Clayborn nearly set an NFL record for sacks in a game with 6 (the record is 7 by Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas). Clayborn isn’t exactly the late-great Derrick Thomas, he had 2 sacks going into that game and came out of it has one of the league’s leaders. Smith is expected to miss this game as well so the Cowboys are going to have to find some way to give Green help on the left side because you can bet Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is going to be bringing the house against him. I have the Eagles in this one.
Projected Score: Eagles 24 Cowboys 7
Atlanta Falcons (5-4) vs Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
The Falcons, as mentioned in the previous game, absolutely ransacked the Cowboys offense in their victory last week, spearheaded by Adrian Clayborn’s 6 sacks. They face an even weaker offensive line in Seattle, though it has admittedly played a lot better since acquiring Duane Brown from the Texans. However the Seahawks lost both star defensive backs Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor for the season and that’s going to hurt badly. Those are two of the biggest leaders of this defense and their presence will be sorely missed against a Falcons team that appears to be regaining its confidence. I have Atlanta in this one.
Projected Score: Falcons 30 Seahawks 20
Teams on Bye: New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers
Those are my picks for this week. About five or six shots left at a perfect week, so fingers crossed I can nab one before the season gets out. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.