Jazz: After very nearly laying a goose egg in week 6, I said I would need to turn things around if I didn’t want to get washed out of the regular season. Don’t ask me how, but my guardian football angel must have been sitting on my shoulder when I made my picks because I managed to pitch a perfect game, going 7-0 for a season record of 26-23. That still leaves me three games behind Ed, but at least I’m back barely above the .500 mark as we enter the halfway point of the season. I only wish I could say the same for my Jets, but I’ll have a little more on that at the end of the post.
Ed: I didn’t pitch a perfecto, but I did manage to keep my head above water with a 4-3 mark in last week’s picks. My season’s at 29-20, still in good shape but always vulnerable to a bad week of picks. Sort of like the Steelers’ offense — heeeyyyy-yooo!
Jazz: The Jets visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (1:00 pm, CBS) this week and the outlook is not brilliant. After an unexpected win against Dallas, they completely collapsed again last week against the Patriots, with our “star” quarterback caught on mic saying he was seeing ghosts on the field. Meanwhile, the Jags’ defense has gotten beaten up a bit, but they still have a pass rush… something we seem unable to stop. At all. Hate to do it but I’ll predict the Jaguars over the Jets 24-13.
The Steelers host the Dolphins tomorrow night (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) Granted, Miami hasn’t won a game this year and are technically even worse than the Jets on paper. But without Big Ben, Pittsburgh hasn’t exactly been burning up the track either. This could be the opening the Fins need to finally put up a W and… who am I kidding? Steelers over Dolphins 27-13.
The Vikings already played on Thursday, so let’s check in on the Packers who visit the Chiefs at Kansas City in the late game tonight (8:20 pm, NBC). This should have been a fun game. The Chiefs are back on top in the AFC West while the Packers are similarly leading in the NFC North. But we recently learned that Kansas City’s QB is out for the week with an injury while Aaron Rodgers is in top form again. Giving this one to the Packers over the Chiefs 34-17.
Ed: Steelers at home on Monday night against the Dolphins? That’s about as easy a return as Mason Rudolph could hope for. Pittsburgh’s offense is fifth from the bottom in YPG but they still score twice as many points per game than Miami. Miami gives up 15 more points per game than Pittsburgh, too. Steelers 35-17 over the Dolphins. There’s a mid-range team trying to break out of the NY Jets, but it’s not yet breaking through. This might be a better game than Jazz thinks, but I’ll also pick Jags over Jets 23-17. If Patrick Mahomes was healthy, I’d pick the Chiefs in KC even over the Green Bay team that finally arrived last week at home. Without Mahomes, the Chiefs are competent on offense, but the Pack’s pretty good at holding opponents to lower scores, and they have Aaron Rodgers. I’ll go with Jazz on all three spotlight games and pick The Pack over the Chiefs 31-23.
- Buccaneers at Titans (1:00 pm, FOX) – I only found this game interesting because the Titans may be in last place in the south, but that division is so knotted up right now that one or two wins could put anyone, including the Titans, into first place. They’ll get their chance today with a win. Titans over Tampa Bay 27-20.
- Eagles at Bills (1:00 pm, FOX) – Buffalo has been on a bit of a tear. In fact, if it weren’t for the Patriots, their 5-1 record would have them up there respectably matched against almost anyone in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Eagles haven’t been quite as consistent. That will change today, however. I’m going with the upset and taking the Eagles over the Bills 17-12 in a defensive struggle.
- Broncos at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Broncos looked a lot more promising at the beginning of the year, but now they’re acting like it’s another rebuilding season. The Colts have kept things exciting (probably too exciting for their fans) with a series of close games. They’re still hanging on to first place in the AFC South and they’ll get the job done again today with another close win. Colts over Broncos 24-21.
- Raiders at Texans (4:25 pm, CBS) – Houston is a five-point favorite here, though the Raiders have run up a very similar record in their own division. The defenses look fairly evenly matched, but Houston tends to put more points on the board every week so I’ll just go with the favorite and take Texans over Raiders 31-21.
- Buccaneers at Titans (1:00 pm, FOX) – Tampa Bay has been up and down this season, but that Titan defense has been stingy, coughing up only 16 points a game. Tampa Bay has the #1 rushing defense, though (68 YPG), and Tennessee’s passing offense is sixth-worst in the league. I’ll pick the upset here — Bucs over Titans 27-14.
- Eagles at Bills (1:00 pm, FOX) – Buffalo has the third-ranked defense overall, fourth against the pass, and they’re playing at home against an inconsistent Philly offense and defense. With Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson both out and a bunch of injuries on defense, the Eagles will limp in and out of Buffalo. Bills over Eagles 28-17.
- Broncos at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Colts have been impressive at times, especially considering Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement. They’re mid-to-lower range on both sides of scrimmage, but they’re playing at home against a team that’s offense is even more disappointing. The home-field advantage will be the difference here. Colts 21-13 over the Broncos.
- Raiders at Texans (4:25 pm, CBS) – Neither team started off last week impressively, but only one collapsed in the second half, and it wasn’t the home team. Houston’s better statistically on both sides of the line too. Texans 31-20 over the Raiders.
Before we get on to the games, I wanted to share one pet peeve that’s been bugging me. At the beginning of last season, the Jets had Teddy Bridgewater on the roster. There were more than a few of us that suggested he should be kept around and perhaps even start while our new rookie, Sam Darnold, got his sea legs under him. It didn’t happen. Bridgewater wound up in New Orleans while Darnold has been climbing an awfully slow learning curve (when he’s not contracting mono).
Bridgewater wound up taking the starting QB position with the Saints. This season they are in first place with a 6-1 record. The Jets have won one game, and even that looked like a fluke. Just saying…