The Pittsburgh Steelers return to action today after a much-needed bye week, in which head coach Mike Tomlin banned games from the facilities of the 0-4 team until they win a game. They go back on the road to play the 3-2 New York Jets, who are undefeated at home. Can they finally break out and get their first win? Surprisingly, the line has the Jets only by a point, so I’ll take the upset and pick the Steelers in a 20-14 win. Jazz Shaw will no doubt feel differently, but I won’t be home for this one (family obligations), so I’ll know how we’re doing by following Jazz’ Twitter feed. If it gets ugly for the Steelers, I’m pretty sure my timeline will start filling up with Jazz’ taunts … and perhaps a few of your own, too.
Last week, I went 4-3, which still leaves me under .500 at 15-18. Let’s see whether I can make up more ground this week (all times Eastern):
- Packers at Ravens (1 pm, Fox) – The Pack hasn’t won on the road and the Ravens haven’t lost at home, but the line has the Packers by three. On paper, Green Bay has a far better team, with its passing and rushing offense and rushing defense in the top 5, but a suspect secondary. Since we need some Baltimore losses to get the Great Steeler Comeback in motion, I’ll take Green Bay at 27-21, but I’m pretty skeptical on this choice.
- Panthers at Vikings (1 pm, Fox) – I’m only bothering to pick this game because I live here. Adrian Peterson will play today despite his personal tragedy*, and AP will give the Panthers’ 7th-ranked rushing defense a big test. Since the Vikes will give the ball to Matt Cassel rather than Christian Ponder, I’ll go with the Vikes at home, 24-14.
- Saints at Patriots (4:25 pm, Fox) – The Saints are one of three undefeated teams playing this week, but the only one at risk of losing their first game. (Denver hosts the winless Jaguars, and Kansas City hosts 2-3 Oakland.) New Orleans is coming off three strong wins in a row, and the Patriots look more ordinary than their 4-1 record. New England is favored by three, but I think the Saints extend their streak with a 33-28 win on the road.
- Titans at Seahawks (4 pm, CBS) – This should be a better game than the line indicates (Seattle +14), but the Seahawks should win at home regardless. Seahawks 31-24 over Titans.
- Barrycaders at Cowboys (8:30 pm, NBC) – Washington is in the middle of shutdown, and then there’s that whole mess with Congress, too. Maybe the shutdown should sideline the Barrycaders, who are off to a 1-3 start, and now have to take on a Dallas team that very nearly shocked Peyton Manning and the Broncos last week. Dallas is 2-3, but they’re 2-1 at home with the Broncos their only loss in Big D. RGIII might have a shot against the worst-ranked passing defense in the league, but Washington’s road win against Oakland last week won’t be the start of a streak. Cowboys over the Barrycaders (just like in Washington!), 35-27.
- Colts at Chargers (MNF 8:30 pm, ESPN) – ESPN lists the line as SD+3, but the Colts are 2-0 on the road and the Chargers are only 1-1 at home. Indy’s beat both the 49ers on the road and Seattle at home, while San Diego hasn’t even played a team that’s at .500 or above now. Colts over the Chargers in a close 27-24 win, maybe in OT.
* – Sadly, Adrian Peterson’s son died this week, allegedly the victim of a physical attack by his mother’s boyfriend. The two-year-old child, his parents, and all their family and friends will be in our prayers.