First, the good news: I can confidently predict that the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t lose today. The bad news: They’re not going to win, either. The Steelers got an early bye in week 5, and they may be the team most in need of it. They’re one of two 0-fer teams in this week’s byes (Tampa Bay being the other), and that gives them a week off to look hard at the New York Jets, who got trounced by Tennessee last Sunday. That will be the Ed & Jazz Bowl, but don’t expect any halftime entertainment, unless you find mutual commiseration to be entertaining.
Also on a bye this week – Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Barrycaders.
Last week my sad season of predictions continued on course, with a 3-4 slate last week and an overall 11-15 record. I’m getting as desperate for a good week as Pittsburgh, so let’s see if I get a bye from losing today (all times ET):
- Saints at Bears (1 pm, Fox) – The Saints are back, but Da Bears has won both of their home games and are coming off of a tough loss in Detroit. The big difference in this game will be New Orleans second-rated passing attack against Chicago’s 23rd-ranked pass defense. Saints 27-21 over Chicago.
- Lions at Packers (1 pm, Fox) – Green Bay just got its bye week, and the Lions just came off that emotional win against Chicago. Stafford and the Lions will play the Pack tough, but expect Aaron Rodgers and his offense to come out roaring. Packers 31-27 over the Lions.
- Seahawks at Colts (1 pm, Fox) – Indy’s put up a quiet 3-1 record, but I’m not going to pick against the Seahawks until they lose. Expect a squeaker, though, and maybe a second straight OT for Seattle, but a 27-24 win in the end.
- Chiefs at Titans (1 pm, CBS) – Can you believe that Andy Reid has Kansas City at 4-0? Looks like Reid wasn’t the problem in Philly, or at least not most of it. They play the 3-1 Titans in Tennessee, who just beat the Jets. KC has been doing it on pass defense, but they’re 25th against the rush, which is a relative strength for Tennessee. I’ll pick the Titans in an upset, 23-17.
- Broncos at Cowboys (4:25, CBS) – Do Cowboys bust Broncos? Everywhere but in the 2013 NFL season, when the biggest Bronco of them all is Peyton Manning. Denver’s only real weakness is their pass defense, which is second-to-last in the league. Unfortunately, Dallas is only 20th in passing offense, and their passing defense is … 27th. The Cowboys are 2-2 and playing at home, but they’ve only beaten the 0-4 Giants and the 1-3 Rams. Denver in a romp, 42-20.
- Texans at 49ers (8:30 pm, NBC) – Both of these teams looked tougher at the beginning of the season, but have struggled since. Colin Kaepernick’s passing game has been derailed, and Houston has the best pass defense in the league. SF will have to make it on the ground, but Houston has a more balanced attack, and they’ve beaten stronger competition. The Texans win an upset on the road, 28-24.
- Jets at Falcons (MNF, ESPN) – I picked both of these teams to win last week, and both flopped. The line has Atlanta by double digits, but that is hard to square with past performance. The Falcons have only beaten the Rams, while the Jets at least beat the mediocre Bills. This is going to be a closer game than the line, I think, and the Jets defense might be the difference. I’ll pick the Jets in a 16-10 upset.