Last Week: 7-7 Season Record: 27-33
I’m still struggling in the NFL picks department, but how was I supposed to know that the Giants would somehow show up against the Broncos without any wide receivers and win? Or that the Chiefs would pull a 2016 Vikings and start at 5-0 then hit a losing streak (I did finally miss the Thursday night pick this week, I picked KC but Oakland pulled out the win). Both losses at home, no less. So I really have no idea how this week is going to play out, but my hopes at a winning week aren’t off to a great start. Let’s get picking.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) vs Buffalo Bills (3-2)
The Buccaneers have been really inconsistent this season. They looked great to start the year but have been really sluggish the last couple of weeks until Ryan Fitzpatrick led a crazy comeback attempt in relief of an injured Jameis Winston against the Cardinals that fell just short. The Buccaneers have said that Winston WILL start this game against Buffalo, who is coming off their bye after beating Atlanta and losing to Cincinnati. The defense for the Bills has been very good but the offense hasn’t quite matched that production yet. Tampa’s defense has been really banged up, especially at the linebacker position, so this game is going to be close. I think I’m going to go with Buffalo, I think their defense will create turnovers that put their offense in good field position.
Projected Score: Bills 27 Buccaneers 20
Carolina Panthers (4-2) vs Chicago Bears (2-4)
The Panthers have had some really good wins this year but are coming off a Thursday night loss to the Eagles, who all of a sudden have the best record in football. Defensively, Carolina has been sharp and while Cam Newton has been inconsistent, he’s also had some games where he has absolutely torched defenses. They face the Bears who are coming off a huge overtime win over the Ravens, the first win in the young career of Mitchell Trubisky. However, they still appear to be playing Trubisky in a manner that doesn’t put him at risk, as they limited his pass attempts and ran the ball over 30 times with Jordan Howard. It worked last week and they face another tough defense in Carolina, however they will be without superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly due to another head injury. I still think the Panthers will win it, as I think the Bears are playing it a little too safely with Trubisky.
Cam Newton needs to be more consistent if the Panthers hope to win the NFC South (photo credit: Heavy.com)
Projected Score: Panthers 21 Bears 7
Tennessee Titans (3-3) vs Cleveland Browns (0-6)
Tennessee looked really sluggish for most of the Monday Night game against the Colts but they REALLY turned it on in the second half, as Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, and Derrick Henry led the Titans offense to 36 points in the win. The Browns have given the starting quarterback job back to Deshone Kizer after the disastrous performance by Kevin Hogan against the Texans. Hogan’s performance was so bad, in fact, that he got dropped all the way to third string for this game. Hopefully for Browns fans, Kizer had a fire lit under him when he got benched and he will come out and put on a big performance against an underachieving Titans defense. Myles Garrett has been a beast in the first 2 games of his NFL career with 3 sacks in his first 2 games with limited playing time. I think Tennessee wins, but I have a gut feeling that Cleveland will compete this time around.
Projected Score: Titans 28 Browns 24
New Orleans Saints (3-2) vs Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Aaron Rodgers was officially placed on IR after breaking his collarbone last week against the Vikings, effectively ending his season. It will be up to Brett Hundley now to try and lead Green Bay in a suddenly wide open NFC North. He had his struggles against the Vikings, but I also saw some good things, like his TD pass to Davante Adams, where he baited the defense to come up on him like he was going to run before softly tossing the ball to Adams as he crossed into the end zone. While the Saints nearly blew a 35 point lead to Detroit last week, they have to be feeling really good about where their offense is. 52 points on any team is a feat in its own right but to do it against a solid Lions defense while Drew Brees only throws for 186 yards is pretty crazy to think about. Green Bay’s defense has been solid this season but I still think the Saints score plenty of points, as they have looked pretty good these last few games. I got the Saints in this one.
Projected Score: Saints 35 Packers 20
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) vs Indianapolis Colts (2-4)
The Jaguars have gone win-loss-win-loss-win-loss to start the year and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue the trend this time out against the Colts. Jacksonville’s defense has been fun to watch this season and they face a Colts team that has struggled without Andrew Luck. As I’ve said in the past, Jacoby Brissett has kept the Colts from being an embarrassment but that’s about it. Defensively they’ve been bad and will have a really hard time stopping Leonard Fournette, who is absolutely on fire right now after back-to-back big games against the Steelers and Rams. I got the Jags this week.
UPDATE: Leonard Fournette not expected to play due to a bum ankle. I’m still picking Jags,
Projected Score: Jaguars 38 Colts 14
Arizona Cardinals (3-3) vs Los Angeles Rams (4-2)
The Cardinals damn-near choked away a 31-0 lead against a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers team and that’s got to have them nervous going against the Rams. Adrian Peterson played really well in his first game with the Cardinals, showing that he still has some gas left in the tank and that the Saints were just a bad fit for him. Larry Fitzgerald also had a big game but as a team they got complacent with the huge lead and almost lost it. They face a Rams team that quietly has the second highest scoring offense in football as they’ve gotten a huge breakout season from Jared Goff and an MVP-caliber season out of Todd Gurley. I think the Rams win this on the strength of their offense.
Todd Gurley has had a nice bounceback season with the Rams (photo credit: LA Times)
Projected Score: Rams 34 Cardinals 21
New York Jets (3-3) vs Miami Dolphins (3-2)
I’m not going to sit here and defend the non-touchdown for Austin Seferian-Jenkins against New England last week. I’ll let it be known that I’m a Pats fan, and even I think the Jets got screwed on that call. Sure he bobbled it as he was going out but he never lost the ball, it’s not like he didn’t complete the process of a catch or anything. But I digress, the Jets looked really bad in their first 2 games but in their most recent 4 they’ve been really scrappy, including a 3-game win streak and taking the Patriots to the brink last time out. They’re facing a Dolphins team that erased a 17-0 halftime deficit against the Falcons and came away from Atlanta with a victory. Atlanta really just needs to stop getting out to big leads. Both offenses have struggled this year while their defenses have been really impressive. This is going to be close but I think the Dolphins will win.
Projected Score: Dolphins 20 Jets 17
Baltimore Ravens (3-3) vs Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
The Ravens are coming off a loss to the Bears where their offense and defense struggled but it was their special teams that kept them in the game, scoring two TDs from their return units. The Vikings have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after beating Green Bay and knocking out Aaron Rodgers. Teddy Bridgewater is practicing again for the first time in over a year after it was at one point thought he would never play again. Sam Bradford is still banged up but Case Keenum has been serviceable for the Vikings. Despite losing Dalvin Cook to a torn ACL, the Vikings have gotten solid contributions out of the duo of Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray. I think the Vikings win this, I just trust them a little bit more than this Ravens team.
Projected Score: Vikings 27 Ravens 20
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) vs San Francisco 49ers (0-6)
The Cowboys are basically playing week to week as to whether or not they will be without Ezekiel Elliott, as he gets another restraining order on his suspension. Elliott has yet to miss a game this season but it hasn’t led to victories for the Cowboys, as they’ve already matched last season’s loss total. They face a 49ers team that just have to be frustrated beyond belief right now. That’s 5 straight losses of 3 or fewer points with their 26-24 loss to the Redskins last week. As I said last week, this isn’t a talented roster but they’re in every game. A lot of credit has to go to Kyle Shanahan but it has to be a matter of time before these guys either get discouraged, or get really pissed off with these losses and blow up on a team. I’m not confident that this will be the game, though and I’m leaning towards the Cowboys this week.
Projected Score: Cowboys 31 49ers 27
Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
The Bengals are coming off a bye after 2 straight wins over the Bills and Browns. While those aren’t the greatest teams in the world, the offense has shown a lot of improvement since they changed offensive coordinators. They face a Steelers team that was the first team all season to beat the Chiefs, as they fed Le’Veon Bell over and over again as he wore down the KC defense. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try more of the same against the Bengals, who have a tough defense like KC’s and have a knack for turnovers. This will be a tight game, but I’m going to go with the Steelers.
Le’Veon Bell has been the workhorse for the Steelers for the last few years (photo credit: Inside the Star)
Projected Score: Steelers 34 Bengals 30
Denver Broncos (3-2) vs Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
The Broncos have to be kicking themselves for wasting a big opportunity against a hurting Giants team by laying down to the boys in blue. Trevor Siemian has been inconsistent with the Broncos and they’ve had a hard time finishing drives. Despite being above average in yards per game, they’re below average in points. The Chargers have to be on cloud 9 right now after back to back big wins against the Giants and Raiders. I did say that the Chargers didn’t have the look of a bad team and they’ve finally shown some life these last couple weeks. I think this game will come down to the final drive and I actually am going to go with the upset pick in the Chargers, just a gut feeling.
Projected Score: Chargers 24 Broncos 17
Seattle Seahawks (3-2) vs New York Giants (1-5)
The Seahawks are a talented team that hasn’t quite played up to that talent this season. Sure they have some games where they look downright dominant but they’ll also have these games where they just flop. They will need to be on their game against this Giants team, which has to be feeling good about itself after finally getting into the win column in prime time against the Broncos. The Giants defense played extremely well last week and they will need a repeat performance if they’re going to take down the Seahawks. I think the defense will play well, but not well enough to stop Seattle for four quarters.
Projected Score: Seahawks 27 Giants 13
Atlanta Falcons (3-2) vs New England Patriots (4-2)
The Falcons have back to back losses where they lost at home to AFC East opponents. That’s uncharacteristic of this Dan Quinn team that thrived at home last season. They blew a 17-0 halftime lead and now they face the team who they infamously blew a 28-3 third quarter lead in Super Bowl 51 against in the New England Patriots. The Patriots defense has been trash this season, however they do flash the occasional spark, such as their last two outings against the Jets and Buccaneers where they were more of a bend but don’t break type of defense. Atlanta’s offense is a lot more explosive than what they faced against the Bucs and Jets and I think this will be a shootout. I think Tom Brady is going to be the difference, though, as Matt Ryan has struggled the last couple games.
Projected Score: Patriots 45 Falcons 42
Washington Redskins (3-2) vs Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
This Monday night game features two NFC East opponents that played each other in Week 1, which the Eagles won 30-17. Carson Wentz has been a stud this season and has arguably been league MVP as we approach the season’s halfway point. After the Chiefs lost on Thursday, the Eagles now own the best record in football. Washington is going to be without stud rookie defensive tackle Jonathan Allen for the remainder of the season, which is going to hurt but I think this Redskins defense is tough enough to survive without him. However I think Carson Wentz makes too many plays and the Eagles win.
The combination of Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz has been deadly this season (photo credit: Philadelphia Magazine)
Projected Score: Eagles 34 Redskins 24
Teams on Bye: Detroit Lions, Houston Texans
Those are my picks this week, I pray that I finally have a good week. The NFL has not been kind to me this season. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.