Jazz: First the good news: I had my first winning week of the regular season, going 4-2 on my picks last week, bringing me to 11-15 on the year. The not so great news is that the effort did nothing to catch me up with Ed, who apparently operates like a machine when he’s “not paying attention to the NFL” because he’s too busy. Let’s hope he starts paying attention soon or I’m doomed. I need a knockout round this week just to break the .500 mark.
Ed: I’m just as mystified as Jazz is about my hot streak. I got another perfect slate of predictions last week to go 6-0 and move my season record to 22-4, which is … insane. I swear I didn’t invent a time machine to jump ahead a week and get all the scores. I did get a visit from some old guy with a cane who kept calling me “butthead” and gave me this weird sports almanac, but since it’s already 2015, I just humored ‘Tannen’ and said I’d keep it safe. I haven’t even opened it up. I swear.
Jazz: We are spared having to pick the Jets game this week since they pulled a bye at just the right time. (They’re still recovering from jet lag because the NFL keeps stupidly sending teams to play in England.) Same for the Vikings since they have the week off. The Steelers are the Monday night feature this week and they’re vising the San Diego Chargers. (Monday, 8:30 pm, ESPN) The Chargers come into this a three point favorite but it might be worse than that for Pittsburgh. Philip Rivers has Antonio Gates back and Michael Vick is… well, he’s still Michael Vick. While it pains me to do it to Ed, I’ll go with the favorite and take San Diego 28-23.
Ed: All right, time to get serious. The Steelers darn near beat the Ravens last week, and they should have beaten them except for a lousy kicking game and some poor decisions by Mike Tomlin late in the game. The Steelers and the Bolts match up pretty well; San Diego’s offense is ranked 4th and the Steelers’ 11th, while Pittsburgh has the 12th-ranked defense against the Chargers’ 15th. Normally I’d pick the home team in these situations, but I’m going with Pittsburgh in an upset, 27-24.
Jazz: Here’s five more games just so we get a nice, round number.
- Jaguars at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, CBS) – Tampa Bay is a 3 point favorite, but until Jameis Winston gets some new glasses and figures out which color uniform his own team is wearing I think the Bucs are still in trouble. (He’s had six picks in two home games.) The Jags didn’t look that bad last wee so I’ll take Jacksonville in an upset 24-21.
- Bills at Titans (1:00 pm, CBS) – This game is essentially a toss-up on the odds board. The Bills have been looking strong, but they sucked up a lot of injuries in the last two weeks. Plus, I really need them to lose to help out the Jets’ in conference record, so I’m going with the Titans, 30-28.
- Seahawks at Bengals (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Bengals are not the Bungles this year, as one of the five remaining undefeated teams and they are a slight favorite to win at home today. But we still live in the normal universe last time I checked and there’s just no way this team is going all the way. I’ll take Seattle 18-14.
- Cardinals at Lions (4:05 pm, FOX) – The Lions haven’t managed a single win yet and I’m afraid that’s not going to be changing this weekend. Carson Palmer looks too good and his front line gives him all day to play. I’ll take the Cardinals 20-17.
- 49ers at Giants (8:30 pm, NBC) – I’m only taking this one because it’s the Sunday night game and we already have Monday covered with the Steelers. The Giants are a seven point favorite for good reason because San Francisco has been stinking up the joint. I blame Nancy Pelosi, so I’ll take New York 24-14.
- Jaguars at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, CBS) – This is another good matchup, and should produce an exciting game. The difference will be in the passing game, with Tampa Bay’s 4th-ranked passing defense going up against Jacksonville’s 24th-ranked passing defense. Their passing offenses are both mid ranked, but Tampa’s defense will shut down the Jags. 24-17, Tampa Bay.
- Bills at Titans (1:00 pm, CBS) – Tennessee’s got the top-ranked defense, but their offense is somewhere between slim and none at the dead-last 32nd position. Buffalo has a bit more balance, plus has one road win already while Tennessee’s only home game was a loss to the Colts last week. I have to go with the Bills on the road here, but not by much — 17-14.
- Seahawks at Bengals (1:00 pm, FOX) – Man, I’d love to see the Seahawks beat the Bengals at home. The Seahawks simply aren’t the same team from a year ago, though, and the Bengals are going to be too tough at home. Cincinnati 30, Seattle 20, and howdy to all the folks at Price Hill Chili.
- Cardinals at Lions (4:05 pm, FOX) – Detroit will win a few games this year. This won’t be one of them. The Cards have the fifth-ranked offense and the seventh-ranked defense, while Detroit’s rankings for both are in the lower third of the league. 35-17, Cardinals.
- 49ers at Giants (8:30 pm, NBC) – The Giants may be one of the teams we’ll see break out later in the season. A win here gives them at least a share of the division lead early in the season. San Francisco has stunk up the joint this season, coming in 30th on offense and 22nd on defense, and now they’re going on the road. The Giants rankings aren’t much better (20th and 25th respectively), but they’ll be good enough to eke out an ugly 28-23 win.