Ed: Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and I had quite a reversal of fortune last week. They won their first game of the season on Monday night, dominating the Cincinnati Bengals, and I won my first week of the season by going 5-2. That puts me at 15-13 for the season — not a great record, but perhaps a springboard for glory. Or at least one or two other weekly wins against Jazz, whom I suspect will bounce back this week.
Jazz: Well, if I “bounce back” this week I should be flying high because I certainly flew quite a ways. After four weeks staying above the .500 mark, I managed to go 2 and 5. Having been slowly building a slow lead over Ed through the beginning of the season, it all evaporated in one weekend leaving me at 15-13 also. Plus, my relief from Jets Anxiety Syndrome if over, with the team coming back from the bye with our quarterback still missing in action from a case of mono. If nothing else, at least curling will be back soon.
Ed: Can Mason Rudolph keep up his progress against the Ravens in Baltimore (1 pm ET, CBS)? The Ravens got humiliated by the Browns at home last week and don’t look very sharp at 2-2. Rudolph hasn’t lost in a blowout yet and he’s picking up confidence, plus Pittsburgh’s acquisitions have improved matters on defense. Steelers 27-23 over the Ravens. The J-E-T-S Jets fly to Philly (1 pm, CBS) seeking their first win. The Eagles have been inconsistent this season, but should take care of business at home. Philly 24-12 over NYJ. Speaking of inconsistent, Minnesota travels to the Meadowlands to take on the suddenly revitalized Giants (1 pm, Fox). How the Vikes are five-point favorites on the road after last week’s embarrassment in Chicago might seem somewhat mystifying, but it likely has something to do with NYG’s middling rush defense and Dalvin Cook’s ability to dominate. The Giants are even worse defending against the pass, so Kirk Cousins might earn a bit of his $84 million salary on the road for once, assuming Stefon Diggs makes it into the lineup. I’ll go against my better judgment about the Vikes on the road and pick Minnesota over NYG 28-20.
Jazz: The Steelers finally turned their fortunes around last week, but I wouldn’t get too comfortable. While they definitely have the better defensive line, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson is looking far more seasoned than last year. The Ravens are coming off two rough weeks, but they turn it around today. Ravens over the Steelers 30-23. The Eagles have definitely looked a bit shaky at times so far and this could provide the opportunity the Jets needs to… oh, screw it. Who am I kidding? Eagles over the Jets 33-9, assuming we can make it into field goal range three times or maybe force a fumble. As for the Vikings, I don’t know what Ed is worried about. The Giants have been showing some signs of life lately, but Kirk Cousins will have a lot of options to throw to today with New York’s depleted secondary. I’ll also take the Vikings over the Giants 24-14.
Let’s look at a few more games this week to see if I can extend my lucky streak:
- Buccaneers at Saints (1 pm, Fox): Before Drew Brees went out with a hand injury, this would have been a no-brainer. That was also before Tampa Bay beat a healthy Rams team in LA too, as they did last week. The Saints are tough to beat at home, though, and they corralled the Cowboys in the Superdome last week. Saints 30-27 over the Bucs.
- Packers at Cowboys (4:25 pm, Fox): Even after last week’s loss to New Orleans, Dallas rolls up nearly 100 more yards a game on offense than Green Bay. The Pack plays better on defense, but Dallas is even stingier, giving up 3.3 points fewer per game. Add in home-field advantage and it adds up to Dallas 20-17 over Green Bay in a grind.
- Colts at Chiefs (8:20 pm, NBC): The last two games this week feature two of the three remaining unbeaten teams in the league. (The Pats should win easily against the hapless Redskins, even on the road.) KC’s favored by 11 points at home, and they’re playing against a defense that gives up slightly more than 25 points per game. The Chiefs’ D is third-last in the league but they only give up 23.5 points per game, so it’s their quick-strike offense that’s keeping the D on the field. Chiefs 33-24 over the Colts.
- Browns at 49ers (8:15 pm Monday, ESPN): San Francisco is a surprising member of the undefeated club, but they’re no fluke. They have the fourth-ranked offense and score 32 points per game, and they also have the third-ranked defense while only giving up 18 points per game. The Browns are in the upper half of the league on both sides of the ball too, and have both of their wins on the road. They blew out Baltimore on the road last week, so they’re playing seriously good football at the moment. Still, home-field advantage will make the difference here, plus the 49ers’ superior play on both sides of the line. San Francisco 30-20 over Cleveland.
- Buccaneers at Saints (1 pm, Fox): The Saints are a slim favorite here, but Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t have many reliable targets and Tampa Bay’s run defrense is turning out to be surprisingly tough. I’m going to go with the Buccaneers over the Saints 27-24 in a mild upset
- Packers at Cowboys (4:25 pm, Fox): I don’t believe this game is as close as it looks on paper. The Packers have taken some key injuries in the past two weeks and the Cowboys have upped their running game. They’re both off to strong starts at 3-1, but Dalla should handle this home game I’ll take the Cowboys over the Packers 33-24.
- Colts at Chiefs (8:20 pm, NBC): The late game should be a snoozer. The Colts haven’t shown anything indicating that they can handle a Chiefs offense that has racked up 46 more points than theirs over four games. Chiefs over Colts easily 35-17.
- Browns at 49ers (8:15 pm Monday, ESPN): I’m not buying the San Francisco hype for this game. It shocks me to say it, but Baker Mayfield is really coming along and his offensive line has been giving him a ton of time to pass. And the 49ers have run hot and cold on offense. I’m going to go out on a limb here with another upset pick and take the Browns over the 49ers 24-20.
Ed (addendum): Steeler fans know full well just how dirty Vontaze Burfict is. It looks like the league has finally caught up to that, suspending him for the rest of the season after a deliberate helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless Colts player last week. Or two of them, as it turns out:
The NFL has informed Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict that he hit another defenseless Indianapolis Colts player in last Sunday’s game, agent Lamont Smith told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
Smith said Burfict was notified by letter Thursday about the unflagged hit, three days after the league suspended him for the rest of the season for repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules.
Burfict hit Colts running back Nyheim Hines in the head away from a play — a scramble by quarterback Jacoby Brissett — early in the second quarter.
This YouTube compilation after the ejection of Burfict’s catalogue of plays shows that the league should have done something about Burfict years ago, if they’re serious about protecting against needless concussions. It also includes the Brissett hit, but not the Hines hit. Enjoy, er, I guess …