Ed: It’s been a wild season so far, at least once you get past the self-important pregame stunts. Who’d have guessed that the Jets would be two games up on the Giants after six weeks, or that it would take until week 6 for the Giants to get in the W column? Who’d have guessed that the Rams would be 4-2? And who could have guessed that I’d have three straight 4-3 weeks? That gives me a 23-16 record for the season and the posting honors once again.
Jazz: Last week I foolishly bemoaned the fact that I’d gone 3-4 for three straight weeks and predicted a change. Turns out I was correct! Except I went 2-5. Of course, I’d have had my usual 3-4 if the replay officials hadn’t handed the Jets game to the Patriots in the 4th quarter, but that’s a whine for another day. In any event, that brings me to 21-21, slipping behind Ed for the season and leaving me with some work to do.
Ed: Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati today (4:25 pm ET, CBS) in a game that’s always physical and usually nasty. Both defenses play tough, but the Bengals offense is ranked 30th in the league. That plus the home-field advantage should give the Steelers the win, 23-16. The Jets travel to Miami (1 pm, Fox) contending for the division, with the Dolphins favored to win. Miami has the lowest-scoring offense in the league (12.8 ppg), but their defense has been impressive and they’re playing at home — and looking for revenge for an earlier loss in New York. Dolphins 20-14 over the Jets. The Ravens visit Minneapolis (1 pm, CBS) looking to keep pace with the Steelers in the AFC North, but the Vikings are always tough at home and Baltimore’s in the lower half of the league on both sides of the line. Vikings should win this one 28-17.
Jazz: The Steelers – Bengals game is always a tough call. The Vegas line has Pittsburgh up by 5 at home, but the last time the Steelers played on their home turf against a tough defense Big Ben through five interceptions. Was that a freak accident or a sign that the Steelers are vulnerable? I’m going to take a chance on the latter and take the Bungles, 17-13. The Dolphins may be slight favorites to win at home and there’s a bushel of reasons to think the Jets might begin to fade at this point. But, this is also the first time since week 1 that we’ve got all of the offensive starters back. The Jets will find a way to win this one 20-10. As far as the Ravens go, I have no idea what happened to them but they’ve only been averaging one TD per game for the past month. This should be an easy cruise to victory for the Vikings, 24-7.
Let’s roll the dice on four more:
- Cardinals at Rams (1 pm, CBS) – The Rams have looked surprisingly strong this year, while the Cards have looked shaky — until last week, when Adrian Peterson finally got a chance to turn on the jets. LA’s favored by a field goal, but AP may be a game changer for Arizona. I’ll pick the Cardinals in an upset, 27-24.
- Saints at Packers (1 pm, Fox) – A week ago, picking against the Pack at home would have been crazy. With Aaron Rodgers out, though, it’s tough to pick them to win. If Green Bay had a better defense, maaaaybe, but they’re ranked 17th and give up 22.5 ppg. That’s a lot of points to give up even with Rodgers controlling the ball, and it’s doubtful that Derek Hundley can rack up that much possession. Saints 29-20.
- Falcons at Patriots (8:30 pm, NBC) – Fun fact: New England has lost two of their three home games this year. The Pats have the second-worst defense in the league, and is dead last against the pass. Atlanta has the third-ranked defense overall and the 7th-ranked passing offense. After getting embarrassed the last two weeks, Matt Ryan and Co will be looking for some vindication. I’ll take the Falcons in an upset, 30-24.
- Redskins at Eagles (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – Kirk Cousins has played well this season, but Philly’s better ranked on both sides of the ball and playing at home. Should be a good game, but I’ll go with Philly on the spread, 24-19.
- Cardinals at Rams (1 pm, CBS) – This game is being played in London, which tends to throw all the teams off. The Rams will probably have as many fans showing up there as they would at home though, and they’ve been putting a lot of points on the board. I’ll take Los Angeles 30-21.
- Saints at Packers (1 pm, Fox) – With Aaron Rogers this game would have been a joke. With a guy making his first NFL start in his place and a Saints defense that’s at the top of the league standings… not so much. Give me New Orleans, 31-17..
- Falcons at Patriots (8:30 pm, NBC) – The re-run of the Super Bowl is supposed to be where the Falcons get their revenge, but I’m just not seeing it. New England is only a three point favorite, but they’re getting desperate at this point. While it kills me to pick them, I’ll take the Patriots in a big win, 38-20.
- Redskins at Eagles (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – This is another “trap” game in the making, with Philadelphia having all sorts of chances to choke. But based on nothing more than the fact that Kirk Cousins never wins on Monday night, I’ll take the Eagles in a relatively close, low scoring 17-14 win, possibly in OT.