Last Week: 12-4 Season Record: 103-58
Last week my misses were Giants-Redskins, Lions-Ravens, Buccaneers-Packers, and Eagles-Seahawks. For the Thursday night game, I picked the Saints, who of course lost to the Falcons. So my shot at a perfect week in the NFL still eludes me regardless of how this week goes. Let’s get picking.
Indianapolis Colts (3-9) vs Buffalo Bills (6-6)
With a Bills loss, the Patriots will clinch the AFC East for the ninth consecutive season. They face a Colts team that has been pretty disastrous this season so I don’t think it will be likely, the Patriots will have to earn that division crown with a win on Monday Night against the Dolphins. The Colts have the worst offensive line in football and this potent defense will be living in the backfield.
Projected Score: Bills 27 Colts 10
Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs Carolina Panthers (8-4)
The Panthers are in a fight for a wild card spot right now, as the Falcons and Seahawks are in a slugfest with them for the final two spots with the Packers potentially lurking with a potential Aaron Rodgers return. The Vikings are about as difficult a team in football to beat, which hasn’t been done since Week 4, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. Both teams pride themselves on tough, physical defenses but I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings. They’ve been much more consistent offensively than the Panthers and I trust them a little bit more to move the ball against a good defense.
Projected Score: Vikings 23 Panthers 20
Chicago Bears (3-9) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)
That was quite an embarrassing loss for the Bears last week. Not only did they lose to the 10-loss 49ers, but all of the 49ers points were scored via field goals kicked by a longtime kicker they had cut in Robbie Gould. Not a good look. The Bengals are also coming off a tough loss against the Steelers that is better remembered for how brutal it was, prayers go out to Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his family. The Bengals blew a 17-0 lead and lost 23-20 on a last-second field goal. They nearly lost safety George Iloka to a suspension for this game but he was able to get it reduced to a fine upon appeal. However they will be losing Adam “Pacman” Jones for the rest of the season due to injury. Vontaze Burfict and Joe Mixon will also miss this game due to injury. So a lot to deal with for the Bengals at the moment and for that reason I’m actually going to pick the Bears to get the win.
Projected Score: Bears 17 Bengals 13
Green Bay Packers (6-6) vs Cleveland Browns (0-12)
This game is interesting mainly because of the shit people in the Browns organization are talking. New GM John Dorsey has gone as far as to guarantee a victory this week! Pretty bold claim coming from a team that’s 0-12. They wouldn’t dare make this claim if Aaron Rodgers were healthy, but Brett Hundley has had a couple nice games during his stint in the starting role. We also saw the Browns compete against a hot Chargers team last week and Josh Gordon looked pretty good in his return from suspension. But I’m still going with the Packers to win. They’re just all-around better than the Browns. Yes I know, any given Sunday, but come on now. Of course, any time I make a comment like that, it bites me in the ass. Sooooooooo…
Projected Score: Packers 35 Browns 17
San Francisco 49ers (2-10) vs Houston Texans (4-8)
Jimmy Garoppolo won his first start as the 49ers quarterback over the Bears but it came without San Francisco reaching the end zone. That’s going to be an issue because even though the Texans are without many of their stars on defense, they still hold their own very well. I think this is going to be a low-scoring game, both teams have had their struggles on offense and I can’t imagine either team really exploding on the scoreboard. I’m going to give the advantage to the Texans in this one, I trust their defense to make more plays, plus they have more weapons on offense to go to, namely DeAndre Hopkins.
Projected Score: Texans 20 49ers 13
Oakland Raiders (6-6) vs Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)
The last time these two teams met, Derek Carr found Michael Crabtree by the pylon for the win in their fifth attempt at a victory to end that game. Since then, the Chiefs have been in an absolute tailspin, as overall they’ve lost 6 of their last 7 after having started the year 5-0. They haven’t been able to make the needed adjustments and it’s really hurting them. Marcus Peters was suspended by the team for this game after throwing the official’s flag into the stands and that’s going to hurt because they struggled to cover Robby Anderson last week, now you’re asking them to cover Amari Cooper and Crabtree without their best corner. I’ve got the Raiders taking the division lead.
Projected Score: Raiders 30 Chiefs 20
Detroit Lions (6-6) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)
The Lions come off a bad loss to the Ravens and will look to get back on track against the Buccaneers. They’re on the outside looking in on the playoffs as they’ve lost 6 of their last 9 after a promising start to the season. Tampa Bay has Jameis Winston back but it didn’t matter as they still lost to the Brett Hundley-led Packers. This season hasn’t gone the way either team would’ve liked and they’re both looking for some sort of redemption. I’m going with the Lions this week, Jameis Winston hasn’t been taking good care of the football this season and I think this Lions defense will have ample opportunity to take advantage.
Projected Score: Lions 24 Buccaneers 17
Dallas Cowboys (6-6) vs New York Giants (2-10)
The Giants fired Ben McAdoo shortly after the Giants loss to the Raiders last week and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo’s first move at the helm was reinserting Eli Manning into the starting role. So basically benching him for Geno Smith was pointless. It’s just a disastrous situation in East Rutherford. The Cowboys are coming off a thrashing of the Redskins but that was more the Redskins playing like shit than the Cowboys being particularly good. I am going to take them this week, though. Say what you will about this season for them, at least there’s some functionality in Big D.
Projected Score: Cowboys 35 Giants 14
Tennessee Titans (8-4) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-7)
Like I said last week, the Titans are probably the weakest team with this good a record I’ve seen in a long time. There’s just no way they should be the 3-seed right now. And now they get a Cardinals team that just got their asses curb stomped by the Rams. But I actually think Arizona is going to win this game. They’re a feisty group that is capable of beating up on the likes of Tennessee, which they did against Jacksonville a couple weeks ago.
Projected Score: Cardinals 27 Titans 24
New York Jets (5-7) vs Denver Broncos (3-9)
The Jets have to be the worst tankers ever. They continue to win their way out of a high draft pick. A lot of credit has to go to Todd Bowles for this season because even though they have a losing record, they’ve far exceeded all expectations. Hell, people were predicting them to go 0-16 for crying out loud. Now they take on the Broncos, who offensively have been an utter trainwreck this year and at this point are playing to try and land either Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. I’m taking the Jets to come out of Mile High with this one.
Projected Score: Jets 21 Broncos 14
Washington Redskins (5-7) vs Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
The Redskins were absolutely god-awful on Thursday Night Football last week and they promptly got their asses whipped by the Cowboys. It gets a lot tougher this week when they face the Chargers, who are suddenly one of the hottest teams in football. After starting the year 0-4, they’ve won 6 of their last 8 and are suddenly in a 3-way tie for first place in the division. In fact, the Chargers’ 2 losses during their stretch run were the Patriots and the Jaguars, two teams that will be playing in January. The defense has quietly been one of the best in football, which is a big reason for this in-season turnaround. I’ve got the Chargers winning this one.
Projected Score: Chargers 28 Redskins 24
Seattle Seahawks (8-4) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)
This is going to be a really fun game. Both teams have physical and opportunistic defenses that create a lot of turnovers and can deliver some brutal shots. The Seahawks got a big win over the Eagles last week, as Russell Wilson officially entered his name into the MVP discussion. He played out of his mind in that game. The Jaguars have been a ground and pound team all season with Leonard Fournette and have been winning these games despite Blake Bortles not having a particularly strong season. I am going to give the edge to the Seahawks in this game, quarterback play being the deciding factor.
Projected Score: Seahawks 27 Jaguars 21
Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) vs Los Angeles Rams (9-3)
Brace yourselves, commentators comparing Carson Wentz and Jared Goff is coming. But that’s only natural, as Goff and Wentz went 1 and 2, respectively in the 2016 NFL Draft. Their careers will forever be linked, just as Winston and Mariota’s are, or Manning and Leaf’s. Both guys have taken huge leaps forward this season as Carson Wentz is a leading candidate for MVP while Sean McVay has saved Jared Goff’s career after a really poor rookie season. Both teams also have really good defenses so I expect this thing to come down to the wire. But I’m going with the Eagles this week, bouncing back from a loss. This is a gut feeling, as I can really see this thing going either way. Plus, a win here wins the division for the birds.
Projected Score: Eagles 31 Rams 28
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2)
The Ravens are coming off a beatdown of the Lions while the Steelers are coming off a Monday Night brawl with the Bengals. Both teams seem to be at their best when they play each other so I’m expecting another good, hard-fought contest between them. The Ravens defense is back to their usual tricks, beating up on the rest of the league as Terrell Suggs continues to defy father time, as he’s over 10 sacks again in his age-35 season. But it’s their offense that worries me. I just don’t think they have the consistency or the weapons to keep up with this explosive Steelers offense, even without the aid of Juju Smith-Schuster, who is suspended for a hit on Vontaze Burfict. I’m going with the Steelers.
Projected Score: Steelers 24 Ravens 13
New England Patriots (10-2) vs Miami Dolphins (5-7)
The Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski this week, who is serving a 1-game suspension for his cheap shot on Bills corner Tre’Davious White. A lot of people are calling bullshit on that decision and are saying he should’ve gotten more games because his late and clearly intentional hit gave the Bills rookie a concussion, but I’m going to say simmer down to those people. While yes, the hit by Gronk was totally uncalled for and has no place in the game, I think 1 game was the right call. It’s to make up for the fact that the officials didn’t eject him (which they should have). Besides, where were all these calls for heads when AJ Green choke slammed Jalen Ramsey? It’s because Green was ejected in that game (also because Gronk is a member of the Patriots, people will feel that the punishment handed down is never enough). I’m still going to go with the Pats in this one. They’re just the Dolphins’ daddy. If my predictions come true, then the Patriots and Steelers will clash next week with both teams at 11-2. Too hyped.
Projected Score: Patriots 38 Dolphins 17
That’s it for my picks segment this week. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.