Jazz: Despite the fact that I’m kicking off the prognostication thread this week, last week really wasn’t all that hot for me all the way around. I managed a still respectable 4-3, bringing my season total to 40-30, but it still wasn’t good enough to keep up with Ed. I’ve been slagging off some of my work on him recently, however, so I’ll do the honors again today. It also wasn’t a particularly good week for the Jets, who somehow managed to lose yet again. My only consolation there was that Ed and I both picked New York or he’d have been even further ahead. The one bright spot is that the Jets have a bye this week, so at least they can’t lose again.
Ed: That was quite the game on Thursday night, but for the Steelers it was the tale of two halves. The offense couldn’t finish off their drives in the first half but then blew out the Titans in the second half. I’m only edging Jazz 42-28 at this point, so I’ll need to emulate the Steelers if I want to put some space between us in the next few weeks.
Jazz: Only one of our regularly featured teams is at bat today, so we’ll have to go to the bench and promote a couple of others. As I said above, the Jets have the week off and Pittsburgh already stomped the tar out of Titans on Thursday night. The Vikings welcome the Rams (1:00, FOX) to a stadium where fans actually still show up for games. The people mysteriously sitting in the stands may be such an unaccustomed sight for the Los Angeles team that they’ll stumble a bit here. But I doubt it. These teams are really evenly matched, and even though the Vikings are the favorite by a field goal, L.A. has been really good on the road. I’ll go with an upset and take Los Angeles 24-21. The Packers are playing at home against the Ravens (1:00, CBS) and believe it or not they’re a two point underdog against Baltimore. (Most likely because of the backup QB situation.) But Joe Flacco is currently producing the least yards per throw of anyone in the league and the Ravens have problems of their own. I’ll take another upset and pick Green Bay in a close, lower scoring game, 17-10. And finally, we’ll call on perennial favorites, Da Bears, who are visited by the Lions (1:00, FOX). The Lions are favored by three, but I don’t think the game is going to be as close as it looks on paper. Detroit finally has all their starters back from injuries and have been running up high scores for the past few weeks. The Bears… haven’t. I’ll take the Lions with an easy win 30-17.
Ed: That Vikings-Rams game should be a real dilly. Both have good defenses; the Rams give up quite a few more yards, but opposing teams score 18 on each. The Rams score eight more points a game on offense, but their running game sets up a lot of that offense, too. Minnesota’s got the 3rd-ranked run defense and can force LA to throw the ball a lot, and Minnesota’s also 11th against the pass. I’ll pick the Vikes by the same score as Jazz picked the Rams, 24-21. Baltimore has a solid defense but the third-worst offense by yardage in the league. Green Bay isn’t scoring many points against good defenses, so it won’t take much to beat them this week. As much as I hate to do it, I’ll take the Ravens in a 20-14 grinder. Chicago’s only scoring 17 points a game, ten points fewer than Detroit, and even home field won’t help Da Bears. Lions 28-17.
Jazz: Here’s the rest of the savage seven to fill out the week.
- Buccaneers at Dolphins (1:00 pm, FOX) – This the makeup game from week 1 when the Bucs had to cancel due to hurricane-related reasons. On paper, it’s about as close as it can be, but Tampa is missing Jameis Winston which is a big league ouch for them. The Dolphins are only averaging 15 points a game and their defense hasn’t looked all that great, but I think they’ll pull it off. Miami 21-17.
- Bengals at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) – Denver has been outscored by more than sixty points in just the past two games. They’re showing all the signs of a team in mid-collapse coming into the final stretch. And yet the Bengals aren’t exactly burning up the track either. Even if it’s based on nothing more than the home field advantage, I’ll take Denver 20-13 in this one.
- Eagles at Cowboys (8:30 pm, NBC) – Dallas is missing a lot of star power right now and Philadelphia has the best record in the league for a reason. The Eagles are also fresh off their bye week and tanned, ready and rested. Eagles win again 30-23.
- Falcons at Seahawks (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – The Monday Night Football game should be a decent match this week. Seattle’s home field advantage doesn’t seem quite as powerful as it was a year ago and Matt Ryan has been doing a great job for Atlanta. I think they’ll sneak away with a road win in a minor upset. Falcons win it in a close one, 24-20.
- Buccaneers at Dolphins (1:00 pm, FOX) – If Winston wasn’t sitting, I’d pick Tampa Bay. Miami’s offense and defense have stunk the last several weeks, but the offense has shown signs of life in the last two losses. I’ll also take Miami but 17-14.
- Bengals at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS) – What happens when two underachieving collide? The yawns will be spectacular. Denver’s defense gives up almost 27 points a game, but that’s because their offense leaves the D in bad field position most of the time. They’re #2 in the league for yardage allowed, and since Cincinnati has the worst-ranked offense in yardage gained, even a mediocre effort from the Broncos’ offense should carry the day. Denver 24-16.
- Eagles at Cowboys (8:30 pm, NBC) – Without Ezekial Elliott, the Cowboys look like a normal offense, and Philly has a better-than-average defense that gives up just under 20 points a game. Their O scores six points more a game than Dallas. Should be a close game and fun to watch, but I’ll take the Iggles, 33-20.
- Falcons at Seahawks (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – Seattle and Atlanta have very similar offensive and defensive rankings, both in yardage and in points. The Seahawks are still smarting from that home loss to the Redskins and have lots of reasons to prove themselves in the home of the Twelfth Man. With all other things being equal, I’ll go with the homefield advantage and pick the Hawks over the Falcons, 23-17.