Jazz: So I guess I…. “won” the prediction game last week? Let’s just say that it wasn’t our most shining moment here in the Hot Air man cave. I wound up going 3-4, for once taking a loss by betting against the New York Jets who mysteriously routed the Dolphins. But that wasn’t all. I was thwarted by the Steelers, the Broncos and the Raiders as well. That brings me to 13-8 on the season, still well ahead of the .500 mark, but a few more weeks like that one and I won’t be able to say it for long. Let’s see if I can turn things around with some better choices today.
Ed: If you think Jazz had a bad week, think again. I went 1-6 on my picks, dropping myself to a 11-10 record on the season and setting a new personal low. It could have been worse, I suppose. At least I didn’t have a major candy bar brand trolling me during the weekend. If I can’t right the ship this week, though, I may have to keep an eye on Snickers’ official social media accounts. You’re not yourself when you pick hungry …
Jazz: The 1-2 Jets host the 2-1 Jaguars this week (1:00, CBS) in a game with decidedly low expectations. Jacksonville has had two great games and one horrible one, while it’s vice versa for New York. I was happy for the boys in green last week, but the Jaguar’s defense is on fire right now and our offense, well… isn’t. Particularly if we aren’t going to have Matt Forte this could be a long day. Even with the Jets having home field advantage I’m taking the Jaguars 24-16. The Steelers travels to Baltimore (1:00, CBS) in a divisional rivalry between two teams tied for first place in the AFC North at 2-1. On the Vegas line Pittsburgh is the favorite by a field goal, but they’ve been cursed playing against the Ravens for the past couple of years, particularly on the road. Plus, the Steelers have that whole National Anthem thing roiling the locker room. I’m going to break from normal form and take Baltimore in a slight upset 27-17. And finally, the Vikings host the Lions (1:00, FOX) and only one of them will be able to catch up to Green Bay with a 3-1 record after today. (Barring a draw.) Both teams are plagued with injuries at this point, but Matthew Stafford has really been delivering like a seasoned veteran this year. Minnesota is a two point favorite, but I’m playing a hunch here. I don’t think I’ve ever picked against all three of our feature teams in the same week before, but I’m going to go with another minor upset and pick the Lions in a close one, 17-14.
Ed: All right, let’s get serious here. Jacksonville should easily outclass the Jets in this game, especially with the #3 defense in the league matching up against the 28th-ranked New York offense. Jaguars win 31-14. The Steelers had a near-meltdown over their anthem strategy, into which they put more thought than their strategy against the Bears in Chicago. Art Rooney says the team’s now focusing on football, visiting what looks to be a pretty hapless Ravens team. Baltimore is only scoring 17 points a game, and the Steelers have the league’s 4th-ranked defense and an offense that scores 21 points a game. Pittsburgh 21-13 over the Ravens. The Minnesota-Detroit game may be one of the best of the day. Both defenses are middling, giving up around 21 points a game, but their offenses are where we see dramatic differences. The Vikes have the 4th-best O in the league in yards gained, but score nearly five fewer points a game than the Lions, which come in 17th in yards gained. That’s a field-position difference, and home field may impact that significantly. Vikes in a nailbiter, 27-24.
Jazz: Here are four more games to round out the week.
- Bengals at Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) – I’m only picking this one because you have to love a pair of 0-3 teams where one of them is finally assured of getting a win. Both have looked terrible, but the Bengals look a little less bad. I’ll go with the Vegas spread and take Cincinnati in a nail biter, 21-20.
- Eagles at Chargers (4:05 pm, FOX) – Even though the Chargers can’t seem to fill up the soccer stadium they play in, they’ve got to win a game eventually. The Eagles lost some key players last week and I’m a little ticked at them for beating the Giants, so I’ll take Los Angeles to win this one convincingly 24-16.
- Raiders at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) – Everyone seems to think this is going to come down to Oakland’s rushing game against Denver’s run D. The Broncos are a three point favorite here, but I think Oakland bounces back from last week’s disappointing showing with a road upset 24-21. And if they don’t maybe I’ll finally learn to stop picking the Raiders.
- Redskins at Chiefs (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – The Monday Night Football game should be a good one and closer than the spread would have you believe. While Washington has a great ground defense, I think it’s going to come down to the Chiefs throwing huge bombs down the field and connecting with enough of them to run up the score. I’ll go with Kansas City in a convincing win, 31-19.
- Bengals at Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) – I wouldn’t mind if both lost, given that the Steelers lead this division, but someone has to win it. Cleveland’s offense has improved but they’re not scoring points yet, while Cincinnati’s offense is even worse (at 11 points a game, dead last in the league). DeShone Kizer’s getting better every week, and this is the home game where he finally gets his first W. Browns 17-13 over the Bengals.
- Eagles at Chargers (4:05 pm, FOX) – The two teams give up almost the same number of points each week, but Philadelphia outscores Los Angeles Jr by nearly ten points a game. The Chargers are tied for 26th in the league on that measure, while the Eagles rank tenth. Philly 26-17 over the Bolts.
- Raiders at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) – Two big offenses (27 points a game each), two similar defenses (21 points a game each). With both teams pretty evenly matched, I’ll have to lean toward the home team in this case, especially since the Broncos are undefeated at Mile High. Denver 27-21.
- Redskins at Chiefs (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – The Redskins played better than expected last week, but the Chiefs have been dominating both at home and on the road. Kansas City 35-21 over Washington.