Last week, I improved my performance … but the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t. They dropped to 0-2 after falling to Cincinnati in an AFC North division game, 20-10. They’re back home this week against Chicago and the underdog in their second home game. So far, though, the Bears’ defense and offense are middling despite their 2-0 start, so Pittsburgh has a chance, and their pass defense is good. Still, the Steeler O ranks near last in passing and dead last in rushing (!), a status they have to remedy, and fast. I’ll pick against the spread and go with Pittsburgh in a low-scoring contest, 17-13 (8:30 pm ET, NBC).
I went 4-2 last week to get back almost to even for the season, 6-7. Let’s see what I can do this week:
- Packers at Bengals (1 pm, Fox) – Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh last week for its first win, but it was a tough slog — and the Pack has a much better offense. Aaron Rodgers will make the difference this week again, topping the Bengals 33-20.
- Texans at Ravens (1 pm, CBS) – The Ravens bounced back last week from an opening-night disaster, but their offense is mediocre and their defense not much better. Ray Rice is probably out, which means their rushing game will get sidelined, and the Houston D is 3rd in the league against the pass. Their offense is third rushing and ninth in passing, too. Texans over Ravens, 27-17.
- Browns at Vikings (1 pm, CBS) – This is the Hugh Hewitt vs Chad the Elder game, and Chad is giving Hugh 7 points. It won’t help. The Browns’ 4-th ranked rushing defense might contain Adrian Peterson for a while, but they can’t keep him off the field long enough to give their 22nd-ranked passing offense or 29th-ranked rushing offense enough time to outpoint the Vikes. The Browns have scored 16 points total in two games. Look for Christian Ponder to taste some success at the Big Marshmallow in Minneapolis with a 24-10 win.
- Bills at Jets (4:25 pm, CBS) – I’m just picking this to mess with Jazz’ head. The Jets are at home, and their defense has been impressive (6th against the pass, 3rd against the rush) even if their offense hasn’t been (26th and 12th, respectively). The only thing really working for the Bills is their rushing game (4th), while their rushing D only beats … the Steelers. Ouch. This should be a good game, but I’ll go with the Jets in a squeaker, 23-21, maybe on a last-minute field goal.
- Raiders at Broncos (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – This is a great rivalry, but probably won’t be a great game. Peyton Manning already has nine TD passes and 769 yards, and the Denver O has scored 90 points in its first two games. They have the top-ranked rushing defense (but are nearly last in passing D). Oakland has the third-worst passing offense and the second-best rushing offense, so that should be an interesting matchup, but the Raiders have scored only 36 points this season. That would have lost them either game the Broncos won. Broncos win at home easily over the Raiders, 35-24.