Ed: I woke up on Saturday morning and the air seemed a little fresher, the sun shining a little brighter, and I wondered: what might this be? Why, I actually had an above-.500 week in NFL picks! I goofed in picking the Vikes and the Pats, but otherwise had my best week at 5-2. Of course, that only brings my season record to 9-12 and puts me two games behind Jazz, so I’m not exactly measuring the drapes for the 2018 season winner’s circle. Yet.
Jazz: I’d like to announce my successful development of a working time machine. Sadly, I apparently used it last week to travel to another season and pick a different set of games. I went 1-6, bringing me to 11-10 on the year, only avoiding a shutout thanks to Da Bears. Combined with the Jets’ embarrassing loss it wasn’t exactly a week to stop and smell the roses. Here’s hoping I can manage a bit better this week.
Ed: The Vikings have already played this week, barely losing in a rare fun Thursday night game, so we’ll have two featured games again in this week’s slate. Baltimore comes to Pittsburgh tonight (8:20 ET, NBC) for a big rivalry game. The Steelers are favored by a field goal but have had a lot of problems on defense — which is how they almost gave up their first win last week at home. They’re going up against the top-ranked overall defense in the Ravens, but Pittsburgh’s got the #4 offense in the league, too. With home-field advantage, Pittsburgh wins 31-24. The J-E-T-S go to Jacksonville (1 pm, Fox) to square off against the Pats-beating Jaguars. The Jets’ O scores more points per game than the Jags, but Jacksonville gives up fewer points than the NYJ’s defense does, too. I’ll stick with homefield advantage and go with the Jags in a low-scoring win, 20-14.
Jazz: As far as the Pittsburgh game goes, they’ve managed to do the opposite of what I’ve picked every week so far. Against the Ravens, it will be interesting if nothing else. The Steelers haven’t looked that great, even in victory, so I was rather surprised to see them coming in as a three-point favorite. Baltimore has put up ten points more than Pittsburgh while allowing almost forty points less over three games. At the risk of letting the Steelers curse follow me for yet another week, I’m taking the Ravens in a close one, 30-24. As far as my Jets go, they’re facing one of the better teams in the league in the Jags. But the Jets have been on the edge of brilliance so far and our new QB is finding his comfort zone. We have the better defense between these two teams so I’ll take another upset and pick my Jets to get back on track with a 21-16 road win.
Ed: Here are five more games to make it lively:
- Bengals at Falcons (1 pm, CBS): Oddmakers have Atlanta up by four, but this might end up producing a surprise. The Bengals outscore the Falcons and they also don’t give up quite as many points on defense, although neither team’s D is particularly sharp so far this season. Devonta Freeman is still out for Atlanta at RB, while Cincinnati gets AJ Green back at receiver. As much as it pains me to say, I’ll take the Bengals in an upset, 29-26.
- Dolphins at Patriots (1 pm, CBS): The Pats are in trouble early this season. They’re back at home, but Miami is scoring a TD more per game and giving up almost nine fewer points per game than the Pats. New England’s pretty beat up already, with some significant gaps on a defense that’s already ranked 26th out of 32. I’ll pick Miami in an upset, 28-21.
- Eagles at Titans (1 pm, Fox): This might be the game of the week, or at least after Thursday’s Vikes-Rams shootout. Philly’s favored with Carson Wentz back behind center, but neither offense has been all that impressive so far in 2018. Both teams have gone 2-1 on the strength of their defenses, 8th and 10th respectively, both of which have limited opponents to under 20 points per game on average. Wentz will have to make the difference — and I think he will. Philly over Tennessee, 24-19.
- Saints at Giants (4:25 pm, CBS): This is the most interesting of the afternoon games, with New Orleans’ struggling defense and the New York’s struggling offense. Call it the Stoppable Force meeting the Movable Object. The Giants are averaging below 20 points a game scored, while the Saints score an average of almost 35 points a game — but it’s almost a mirror image on defense, where New Orleans gives up a whopping 14 points more per game. The Saints are favored by a field goal, but I have a hunch that home-field advantage and good defense beats a good offense. Giants 24-21 at home.
- Chiefs at Broncos (8:15 pm Monday, ESPN): Of all the teams in the league this year, the only one that looks unbeatable is the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs. The Broncos have been tough at home so far, but their defense is midrange in points allowed. KC is scoring almost 40 points per game, and even though Denver’s offense isn’t too bad, it’s not good enough to keep up in a shootout. Chiefs win 35-28 in what should be a fun game to watch.
- Bengals at Falcons (1 pm, CBS): I’m not entirely sure how the 1-2 Falcons are the favorite in this game, sitting in the basement of the NFC South. But the Bengals have been shipping players to the injured reserve list like a bus stop while the Falcons are getting some of their starters back. I’ll cross my fingers and take the favorites with an Atlanta win 27-20.
- Dolphins at Patriots (1 pm, CBS):Oh, joy. A game where I don’t want either of them to win, but somebody has to. The Dolphins have looked surprisingly strong this year and the Patriots have been showing some cracks. But this is still New England at home and Miamai hasn’t won there since 2008. I”ll go with the favorite and take New England 33-21.
- Eagles at Titans (1 pm, Fox): Philadelphia is only a slim favorite here and the Titans have been looking sharp. But not sharp enough for the defending champs, particularly with Carson Wentz back under center. I’ll go with the Eagles in a defensive battle, 19-13.
- Saints at Giants (4:25 pm, CBS): On paper this one should be almost a dead heat. The Saints haven’t done as well on the road over the past season, but the Giants haven’t entirely sprung back from the horror show of last year. While I wish New York well, I’ll have to go with New Orleans here 34-23.
- Chiefs at Broncos (8:15 pm Monday, ESPN): If only Denver had Colin Kaepernick! (Sorry.) The Monday night game should be interesting. At the beginning of the season, the Chiefs didn’t look all that promising, but Patrick Mahomes is quickly being billed as the next Joe Montana. Denver has looked dull thus far, so I’ll take Kansas City 30-19.