Ed: After the Steelers lost in OT last week in Pittsburgh, I gave up all hope of winning the week in our open-thread competition … among other things. It wasn’t until today that I realized I’d gone 5-2 in my picks, running my season total to 20-15. That brightened my day, at least until I saw that the Steelers are on the road this week against the Chargers in San Diego, er, Los Angeles, er, Carson. Can a Duck Dynasty spark a comeback for Pittsburgh, or do I have to lose hope all over again?
Jazz: Did someone say something about me bouncing back last week? I bounced alright… straight into a faceplant on the concrete with a 3-4 showing. This dumped me at 18-17, trailing Ed and barely above .500. I hate playing catch-up. On the “good news” front, the Jets are getting their mono-plagued sophmore quarterback back under center this week. The bad news is we lost a bunch of other people to injuries and suspensions, plus we’re playing the Cowboys. I should buy stock in Hendricks Gin. Also, I apologize if some of my picks are kind of short today but I’m filling this out while dealing with a computer crisis.
Ed: Let’s get to our main picks. As I’m writing this post, Carolina’s up over Tampa Bay in London 10-7 early in the second, so it’s off the board for predictions. That might turn out to be one of the better games today, though, so keep an eye on it. As mentioned above, the Steelers visit the Chargers in SoCal in the late game (8:20 pm ET, NBC) with the Chargers favored by a TD. Devlin “Duck” Hodges gets the start today for Pittsburgh after a credible relief last week of reliever Mason Rudolph, who remains stuck in the concussion protocol. LAC’s offense racks up more yards but only scores a point more a game, although their D is four points stingier than the Steelers. Still, Duck might be even more effective after a week fo reps, so I’ll take Pittsburgh over Dominguez Hills (or whatever) 23-20. The inconsistent Eagles come to Minnesota (1 pm, Fox) after Kirk Cousins’ belated realization that he has receivers downfield. The Vikings’ D will make all the difference here — that and Dalvin Cook’s ground game. Minnesota over Philly 28-19. The J-E-T-S play host to the Cowboys, whose coach Jason Garrett needs a win. He’ll get it easily. Dallas over NYJ 33-14.
Jazz: Philip Rivers can’t be as bad as he looked last week and Pittsburgh still has more problems to solve than just a questionable offensive line. I’d like to see Ed’s team do well, but think the other team (whichever city they are from) has enough in the tank for this. Chargers over Steelers 27-19. Don’t even ask me why, but Philadelphia is either way up or way down this year. I think they’re due for an up week so I’ll go with the upset and pick the Eagles over the Vikings 20-16. The Jets have Sam Darnold back but there’s a lot more broken in that offense than just using a literally fourth string QB last week. Dallas may look weak, but they’re good enough for this matchup. Cowboys over Jets 24-14.
Let’s take on four more games:
- Texans at Chiefs (1 pm, CBS): Suddenly Patrick Mahomes and KC look vulnerable after last week’s throttling by the Colts. The Texans have a weaker pass defense, though, and Mahomes will have made the necessary adjustments. Kansas City over Houston 30-23.
- Redskins at Dolphins (1 pm, Fox): Why pick this game? It’s pretty unusual to have two undefeated teams meet up in week 6, but maybe even more unusual to have two skunked teams showing up this week. In a case like this, I’d normally lean toward the home team, but Miami is scoring only 6.5 points per game — and giving up 40.8 PPG. The Redskins may be bad, but they’re not that bad. Washington over Miami 22-10.
- 49ers at Rams (4:05 pm, Fox): Speaking of looking vulnerable, the Rams suddenly have problems. They have lost their last two games and won’t have RB Todd Gurley today to take on the undefeated 49ers. San Francisco’s defense is already second in the league overall and only gives up 14.8 PPG. San Francisco over LAR 27-17.
- Lions at Packers (MNF, 8:15 pm, ESPN): This should be an excellent defensive battle between division rivals, but home field advantage will make the difference. Green Bay over Detroit 24-17.
- Texans at Chiefs (1 pm, CBS): This should be all fireworks. Give me the Chiefs over the Texans 35-28.
- Redskins at Dolphins (1 pm, Fox): How do I know which loser will be the loseriest? I’ll just go crazy this week and take the Dolphins over the Redskins 24-21.
- 49ers at Rams (4:05 pm, Fox): Put me down for the Rams over 49ers 29-21.
- Lions at Packers (MNF, 8:15 pm, ESPN): This should have been a much easier pick, but it’s not looking that way anymore. I think I’ll just go with the favorite here and say Packers over Lions 28-24.