Jazz: It was another so-so week on the football front. I went 4-3, improving my performance on the season a smidgen to 53-33. At this point I’m almost daring to think I might finish the season above .500. Almost. It was a mediocre week all the way around, but we know there’s one bright spot coming now: On the Cleveland Browns #SkunkWatch, they’re absolutely not going to lose today. (They’re off this week.) On with the challenge!
Ed: Thanks to an overreliance on home-field advantage last week, I went 3-4 and am now at 48-38 for the season. That’s not bad, but I’m far off the pace from last season and falling far enough behind Jazz to where I have to worry about being too far back to catch up. With the bye week, I can’t even get an easy win with a Cleveland pick. I’d better start stepping up this week, eh?
Jazz: We once again only have two feature games this week because the Vikings already managed to drop one to the now apparently unbeatable Cowboys on Thursday. The Steelers welcome the Giants (4:25, FOX) in a game with big implications for both teams. The Steelers are tied for first in their division while the Giants are probably too far behind the Cowboys to catch up, but are currently barely in the lead for a wildcard slot. Pittsburgh is a six point favorite, but the Giants defense has the ability to hold Antonio Brown down when they’re on. Plus, I’ve watched my Steelers fan friends crying all season as if they were the Jets because they found a way to lose too many times. I’m going to take a flyer here and pick the Giants in an upset 29-23. The Jets have the Monday night game against the Colts in New Jersey (8:30, NBC) where they will try to further ruin their chances at a good draft pick. The Colts are a two point favorite, but they haven’t been doing all that hot lately themselves. The Jets will find a way to win at home under the lights and take this one cleanly 24-12.
Ed: I was a little surprised to see the Steelers as a TD favorite over the Giants, but I think that will be the gap in this game. The Giants have won six in a row, but five of those were against sub-.500 teams. The last tough game they won was against the Ravens six weeks ago, and they were playing at home. Their defense is only barely better than Pittsburgh’s, and the Steeler offense scores more per game. Steelers 27-20 over the Giants. Indianapolis got the heck beat out of it on Thanksgiving by the Steelers, but they have had 10 days of rest and Andrew Luck will be back behind center. Colts 24-17 over the Jets.
Jazz: Here’s five more to make up our full roster.
- Broncos at Jaguars (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Broncos are in danger of not only losing their division but being bumped out of the wildcard chase. But even on the road they should have enough in the tank for the 2-9 Jags who are on a six game losing streak. That continues today with Denver winning 27-19.
- Eagles at Bengals (1:00 pm, FOX) – Neither of these teams has looked all that great lately. The Bengals are a slight favorite, and Andy Dalton has put up some decent if not spectacular numbers. Given how the Eagles pass rush has been the past few weeks that should be enough. I’ll take The Bengals 24-21.
- Bills at Raiders (4:05 pm, CBS) – This game is almost a tossup on the Vegas line, but the Raiders have just been on fire. (So much for my early season prediction about them.) They’ll continue to roll this week, beating the Bills 31-28.
- Redskins at Cardinals (4:25 pm, FOX) – The Redskins are supposed to win this one, but the Cardinals seem to be in the mood to play the spoiler. It should be a close game either way, but I’ll take the home field advantage and pick Arizona 24-20.
- Panthers at Seahawks (8:30 pm, NBC) – I probably wouldn’t pick this one if it weren’t the Sunday late game. The Panthers have been a disappointment once again while the Seahawks have managed to hang on to first place in the west. It’s probably a boring pick, but I’ll take Seattle by a touchdown, 21-14.
- Broncos at Jaguars (1:00 pm, CBS) – Trevor Siemian will be inactive today due to a foot injury, which will put a dent in their offense, but Denver’s defense will make the difference. Broncos 23-13 over the Jags.
- Eagles at Bengals (1:00 pm, FOX) – Philly’s struggling, especially on the road. They’ve only beaten Chicago as visitors, and they looked disorganized at home last week against the struggling Packers. The Bengals, on the other hand, have to save Marvin Lewis’ job. Cincinnati edges the Eagles 21-17.
- Bills at Raiders (4:05 pm, CBS) – At first I was tempted to scoff at this matchup, but statistically the two teams are roughly equal. I don’t think Buffalo’s up for an upset on the road, though, and Oakland has been improving all season. Should be a good game, but the Raiders will prevail, 31-27.
- Redskins at Cardinals (4:25 pm, FOX) – Both of these teams have ties this season — could we get another? When was the last time a team had two ties in a season, anyway? Washington is ranked third in yards gained, and Arizona is best in the league at yards allowed. I still think the Redskins are playing better overall recently, though, and I’ll pick them for the 27-24 upset road win.
- Panthers at Seahawks (8:30 pm, NBC) – Seattle’s defense is just too tough at home for the Panthers, who play poorly on the road anyway. The over-under on this game is 44 points, but bet on the under. Seattle wins 17-10 in a dull defensive showdown.