Jazz: Ed and I both turned things around a bit last week and I managed to go 5-2 even with the Jets’ loss. That brings me to 26-23 on the season with a little breathing room above .500 but still a couple of games behind Ed. This is the week where I pick up the shutout, however. I can almost guarantee it. Will anyone else be watching besides us? Judging by the ratings and some of the half empty and largely quiet stadiums we’re seeing around the league every week it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
Ed: We both went 5-2 last week, with my record improving to 28-18. Thankfully we didn’t have to pick the Thursday night game; I would have been rooting against the Ravens, who wound up clobbering the Dolphins in a sloppy and nasty contest (mostly by Miami), 40-0. Hopefully we’ll see better games this week, at least those of us who are still watching the games.
Jazz: We only have two feature games this week because the Vikings will have already played the Browns in London by the time you read this. The Jets host the Falcons (1:00, FOX) and they’ll certainly be fired up after that incredibly disappointing loss to Miami. Sadly, revenge isn’t enough of a motivator to overcome a deficit in the talent department. Atlanta’s offense is good both in the air and on the ground while we’re weak at the corners on the passing defense. I’ve got to take the spread here and pick the Falcons to win on the road, 34-17. The Steelers have the Sunday night game against the Lions in Detroit (8:30, NBC). Detroit is still beat up, even after the bye and the Steelers defense is back to being one of the best in the league against both the run and the pass. Pittsburgh is a three-point favorite, but I think they’ll overperform on the road. Steelers win it 28-19.
Ed: The Falcons played terribly last week, and they seem to be struggling to keep pace from last year. The Jets played New England tougher than Atlanta did, and they’re playing better at home, too. I’ll go with an upset and take the Jets, 21-17. The Steelers come into Motor City off of an impressive win against the Bengals, and Detroit simply won’t have enough on either side of the ball to keep up. Steelers 27-17.
Jazz: We still want an odd number of picks, so here’s five more games.
- Panthers at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, FOX) – This game is almost a tossup on paper, but the Bucs have simply been awful lately, dropping three in a row and giving up more than 400 yards per game. That weak D will be the difference here. Give me the Panthers 23-17.
- Raiders at Bills (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Raiders are technically in last place in their division, but the good news is they’re only two games out of first and the Bills are only one game better than them. The Bills have had a lot of injuries and have been giving up an average of 350 passing yards per game over the past few weeks. That combination sets up well for Oakland, so I’ll take the Raiders 30-20.
- Texans at Seahawks (4:05 pm, CBS) – The Texans have been surprisingly strong, but they’re going to face Seattle in the loudest stadium in the league. (Even if attendance is down a bit.) Also, the Seahawks have the stingiest defense in the league in giving up points in the air which will probably restrict Houston considerable. I’ll go with Seattle in a bit closer match, 24-20.
- Cowboys at Redskins (4:25 pm, FOX) – This is a classic matchup and the oddsmakers have it almost dead even.
It’s almost a coin toss to me on paper as well, but Dallas has been strong on the road so I’ll go with the Cowboys in a nailbiter, 31-28.
- Broncos at Chiefs (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – There’s not all that much to say about the Monday night game. The Chiefs have hit a two game slump after starting off incredibly strong and the Broncos have mostly been mediocre. Expect Kansas City to return to their winning ways this week, 27-13.
- Panthers at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, FOX) – Will we see Good Cam or Bad Cam in Tampa Bay? It may not matter; Carolina’s defense will probably be too tough for the Bucs, especially the way they’ve been playing of late. Carolina 31-20 over Tampa Bay.
- Raiders at Bills (1:00 pm, CBS) – Buffalo may be hurting, but Oakland is having its share of difficulties as well. The Raiders will be without Marshawn Lynch, who got suspended for coming off the bench and “laying hands” on a referee, and it wasn’t to perform a healing. Without Lynch, the Raiders will have a tougher time getting space to run and in short-yardage situations, plus the Bill’s D is still only giving up less than 17 points a game. Call it 20-17 Bills in a defensive tussle.
- Texans at Seahawks (4:05 pm, CBS) – The Texans nearly decided to strike this game after owner Bob McNair referred to them as “inmates” in talks this week. McNair apologized, but I suspect that the banged-up Texans have other things on their minds. That and Seattle’s home-field advantage should make it a pretty easy 30-17 win for the Seahawks.
- Cowboys at Redskins (4:25 pm, FOX) – Kirk Cousins came up a little short last week against the Eagles on the road last week, while the Cowboys have had a tough time winning against good teams. I’ll go with the Redskins at home, 28-24.
- Broncos at Chiefs (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – The Broncos have barely put any points on the board at all since scoring 42 at home against the Cowboys. Ever since, they’re averaging nine points a game. Their defense has kept them in games, but that’s not going to work against the second-ranked scoring offense in the league. Expect a yawner, with KC getting back on track with a 33-14 win.