Ed: I’m still on vacation, but I’m still on a bit of a roll, too. Only a surprising upset — nay, thumping — by the Jets over the Raiders kept me from having a second perfecto in a row. I feel as lucky as the Falcons must have felt on Thursday when they made three successful onside kicks in a row against the Saints, more than the whole league had made up to that point. My 6-1 result pushed my season record to 52-32, almost guaranteeing a winning record for 2019. Of course, I’d prefer not to skate on that, so if I do this well on vacation, maybe my colleagues at Hot Air won’t mind if I take the rest of December off. Jazz, AP, John …?
Jazz: Since I will be filing for Social Security soon, Ed’s hopes of any time off are officially dashed. Sadly, so are my hopes of taking back the lead in our game. I really can’t complain, having also had a 6-1 week, taking me to 49-35 on the season with a decidedly winning record. Sadly, not good enough to catch Ed. The Jets shocked the world last week and I picked them, so I’m returning to my normally manic pattern of picking them. Let’s see how that works out this week.
Ed: While I indulge that fantasy, let’s look ahead to some real games. Revenge might be on both teams’ minds with Browns at Steelers (1 pm ET, CBS), but Mason Rudolph’s benching might allow cooler heads to prevail. Cleveland comes in a field-goal favorite, but Pittsburgh’s playing at home and still have a realistic playoff chance. Steelers 23-17 over the Browns. Next, Sam Darnold looks to keep his hot streak going with the Jets at Bengals (1 pm, CBS), while Cincinnati’s looking for their first win of the season. Andy Dalton returns to the starting role, but it seems doubtful that will change much for the hapless Bungles. Jets 27-14 over the Bengals. Minnesota comes off a long bye with Vikings at Seattle (8:15 pm ET Monday, ESPN) and face a pretty hot Seattle team. Both teams need wins to stay in playoff contention, but the Seahawks are playing at home and the Vikings are not a great road team. The defenses will keep this close, but I’ll go with Seattle 24-20 over the Vikings.
Jazz: Any Steelers-Browns game is going to be a grudge fight. But this time around, the QB situation is probably the deal maker/breaker. I’m going with the Browns over the Steelers 24-17. As far as the Jets game goes, last week convinced me. New York has given up on a good draft pick next year and is actually trying to win. And they’ll do it again against the hapless Bengals. Jets over Cincinnatti 24-21. I don’t know what to make of the Monday night game, honestly. On paper, Seattle shouldn’t be doing as well as they are but the Vikings have been kicking some serious butt. If this game were being played in Minnesota, I’d probably take them, but I can’t see Seattle losing at home. I’ll go with the Seahawks over the Vikings 27-17.
Let’s pick four more to round out the week:
- 49ers at Ravens (1 pm, Fox) – The 49ers haven’t lost on the road yet this season, but … there’s a first time for everything. Baltimore and Lamar Jackson have looked as though they’re in another league altogether last few weeks, and right now they can only beat themselves. I’ll be rooting the other way, but Ravens over 49ers 35-17.
- Titans at Colts (1 pm, CBS) – This one looks like the game of the week. Both teams are 6-5, both need this game badly, and both teams have the ability to surprise. They’re so evenly matched that I’ll have to go with home-field advantage, in a game that may well end up in OT. Colts 24-21 over the Titans.
- Raiders at Chiefs (4:25, CBS) – Oakland/Las Vegas just got scorched by a subpar Jets team at home, and they’re going on the road against a good team with something to prove. Get ready for another shellacking, Raider fans. Chiefs 33-20 over the Raiders.
- Patriots at Texans (8:20 pm, NBC) – This one should also be interesting. The Pats haven’t scored more than 20 points in four weeks and haven’t scored 20 against a >.500 team since their Week 1 blowout of the Steelers (ugh). Seventeen players on their squad got listed as questionable this week because of the flu, and they’re on the road against a decent Houston team with the seventh-ranked offense by yards per game. The Pats are favored by a field goal, but I smell an upset. Texans 24-17 over the Patriots.
- 49ers at Ravens (1 pm, Fox) – This is probably the game of the week. (Sorry, Ed.) The 49ers have been looking great, but Baltimore has racked up more than 200 points in just their last five games. The streak continues today. Ravens over 49ers 31-27.
- Titans at Colts (1 pm, CBS) – Assuming that the Texans lose to the Patriots, the winner of this game will be moving into a tie for first place in the AFC South. The colts are favored by a field goal, but I have a hunch that Tennessee will once again sneak through. I’ll go with the upset pick here and take the Titans over the Colts 21-19.
- Raiders at Chiefs (4:25, CBS) – The Raiders need this game to move into a tie with their opponents for the lead in the AFC West. Sadly for them, they won’t fare much better than they did against the Jets when facing this year’s Kansas City team. Chiefs over Raiders 34-21.
- Patriots at Texans (8:20 pm, NBC) – If anyone has a chance at delivering the Patriots another body shot, you might think it’s it’s the Texans. Beating Tom Brady is never a given, but I’m going to throw caution to the wind and go with the upset pick here. Texans over Patriots 21-19.
Ed: Just for fun, here’s the official NFL Films look at those onside kicks. Sean Payton looks pissed off, and … for good reason.