Jazz: The mediocrity continued for me again last week with yet another 4-3 showing. That puts me at 51-40 on the season and still three games behind Ed with only three weeks to go. It may be time for something drastic. If there was any significantly better news coming out of last weekend it was a shocking victory by the Jets who played like they needed to in the previous three games against weaker opponents. Sadly, it’s too late for a playoff berth but there’s always pride to play for, right? (*cough*)
Ed: We’ve finally gotten to the point where I am almost assured of a winning season. Almost, that is, because counting this week we’ll be making 28 picks, and I’m 17 over .500 at 54-37. Can I snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Oh, let’s hope not …
Jazz: The Jets are visiting the Broncos (4:05, CBS) and if you’d asked for a prediction at the beginning of the season I’d have predicted New York would just stay home. But as bad as the Jets have been, Denver has been worse and New York is somehow a slim favorite going in. They’ve put up 65 points over the past two games while the Broncos have been averaging less than 20 even at home. I’ll take the Jets again this week 23-17. The Steelers welcome a tough divisional rival in the Ravens for the late game tonight (8:30 pm, NBC) and Baltimore has their eyes on a wildcard slot. Taking down the big dog in their division would be an impactful statement that they’ve earned that right. Pittsburgh and Big Ben have an excellent record against Baltimore at home and they’re in good shape, but I think Baltimore wants it more. In a serious upset, I’ll pick the Ravens in a tough match 27-24. The Vikings travel to meet another tough team in the Panthers (1:00 pm, CBS) and they’re a slim favorite coming off a shocking win against Atlanta and riding an eight-game streak. It won’t be easy and it won’t be high scoring, but the Vikings get it done again and lock up the NFC North, 20-13.
Ed: The Jets have played over their heads this season, while Denver has been a huge disappointment. They’ve scored 40 points in the last three games, and it looks as though the whole team has checked out several weeks early. I usually jinx the Jets when I pick them, but I’ll go with them again this week anyway, 24-13. The Steelers are riding a big winning streak but are missing Ryan Shazier, possibly permanently, after a career-threatening injury last week. They’ll also be missing JuJu Shuster-Smith for a suspension, but you know that the Steelers will be looking to win one for #50 in prime time at home. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have top-flight defenses, but the Steelers are far more powerful on offense. Steelers over Ravens 27-17. Speaking of defense, Minnesota’s looked amazing last week against the Falcons, and their offense is looking unbeatable too. Vikings over the Panthers, 28-16.
Jazz: Here’s four more. Perhaps we can find some exciting, contested matches to call.
- Lions at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, CBS) – Detroit comes in as a one point favorite but Matthew Stafford banged up his throwing hand this week to the point where he either won’t play or will be questionable in his effectiveness. That opens the door for an otherwise lackluster Tampa Bay team. I’ll go with the Bucs in a close one, 23-20.
- Packers at Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) – The big problem with Cleveland (okay… one of the big problems) is that they’ve been coughing up the ball like cats cough up hairballs. If they do that again when Green Bay shows up it won’t end well. But the Packers are one of the Browns’ best chances to put together a good showing without their star QB. I think they’re overdue. I’ll take the Browns in an upset, 16-14.
- Eagles at Rams (4:25 pm, FOX) – This has to be the game of the week. The 9-3 Rams face the 10-2 Eagles and they both would like a first week bye in the playoffs. The Eagles can almost lock that up with a win while the Rams will still have some work to do. I can’t see the Eagles dropping two in a row at this point and I’ll take Philadelphia in a shootout, 33-30.
- Patriots at Dolphins (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – I would dearly love to see the Dolphins give the Pats a black eye on Monday night but it’s just not in the cards, even at home. New England is back on their usual, annoying track and will win this one as well, 27-13.
- Lions at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Bucs are another team that has underperformed, but they have had flashes of competence this year, too. Their problem is their 31st-ranked defense, although they only give up 24 points a game. The Lions, however, haven’t beaten a quality team this year except for the Vikings in week 4. With Stafford’s hand banged up, it’s tough to see them prevailing in a road game. Tampa Bay 27-24.
- Packers at Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) – Cleveland just announced that 1-27 head coach Hue Jackson will return in 2018. Is this the game that finally puts the Browns in the win column this year? They’re at home playing against backup Brett Hundley and … naah. Packers 27-20 over the Browns.
- Eagles at Rams (4:25 pm, FOX) – Before last week, I thought the Eagles were well-nigh unbeatable. The Rams and the Eagles score exactly the same number of average points per game (30.1), and LA only gives up a point more per game on defense. I’ll go with home-field advantage and take the Rams in a tougher defensive battle, 23-19.
- Patriots at Dolphins (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN) – Oh, come on. I don’t care if the Dolphins are playing at home; they only score 19 points a game. In the first 13 weeks, Miami has only scored 29 or more points in a game once, against the Jets in week 7. The Pats average 29 points a game on offense. As much as I’d love to see New England drop behind in the playoff home field race, Pats win this one easily, 33-17.