Jazz: I’m back to kicking off the NFL thread after returning to my previous winning ways. I managed to finish last week with a 4-2 record after the Seahawks somehow figured out a way to tie the Cardinals. That brings me to 29-19 on the season for my best record ever going into the halfway mark. On top of that the Jets scraped up a win so it was a red letter Sunday. Let’s see if I can keep the W train rolling.
Ed: There’s no tying in football! Except when there is, of course, which is when two teams are so inept that (a) they can’t score a touchdown, and (b) they both miss chip-shot field goals in OT that would have won the game. The only sudden death was in fan interest in that Seahawks-Cards game. All of that is to avoid the fact that I went 2-4 in games that actually counted for something last week, bringing my season record to 24-24. I’d better get my rear in gear here if I plan to be above .500 for the season, let along challenge Jazz for the lead.
Jazz: We only have two feature games this week because the Steelers are taking time off to mourn both the injury of Big Ben and the tragic beating they took at the hands of New England. The Jets travel to Cleveland (1:00, CBS) to play the only team in the NFL without a win. The Browns have looked bad on both sides of the ball and the Jets recovered their QB after a brief flirtation with Geno Smith. Cleveland probably figures this is their best chance to finally bring home a win, but I’ll take the Jets to go two in a row, 24-13. The Vikings visit Da Bears for the Monday night game (8:30, ESPN) and they are a six point favorite even coming off a tough loss to the Eagles. I think that’s an underestimation, personally, so I’ll take Minnesota to bounce back with a big 31-17 victory.
Ed: With the Steelers on a bye, the other two regular picks seem pretty straightforward. The Jets should handle the Browns, especially given Cleveland’s 31st-ranked defense. Jets 24-19 over the Browns. Minnesota’s defense is top-ranked, which is why their offense doesn’t have to gain much yardage to be 19th in points scored while going 5-1. Chicago, by the way, is dead last in points scored. Vikings 24-10 over Da Bears.
Jazz: Here’s five more to see if we can actually get in seven games without anyone pulling off a tie this time.
- Lions at Texans (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Lions started out slow, but they’ve racked up three in a row to go over .500 for the season. The Texans are at the same 4-3 record coming off a loss. The Texans are the favorite, but I’m going out on a limb again and guessing Detroit will continue the streak. Give me the Lions 26-17.
- Seahawks at Saints (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Seahawks have the better record and they’re probably still stinging from the missed OT field goal in last week’s tie. The Saints are, well… the Saints. Seattle has been burning me on picks this year but I’m going to grit my teeth, take the spread and pick the Seahawks in a defensive battle 13-9.
- Chiefs at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS) – This may be one of the toughest calls of the week. Both teams are on a winning streak and each is one game out of first place in their respective divisions. Kansas City is a slim favorite here, but I think the Colts are due. I’ll take Indianapolis in a slight upset on a shootout, 33-30, possibly in OT.
- Packers at Falcons (4:25 pm, FOX) – The Packers are one game out of first while the Falcons are leading in the South. Given the weather forecast, if this game was at Green Bay I’d take the Pack in an upset, but since it’s in Atlanta I’ll pick the Falcons to hold on to their first place standing 32-25.
- Eagles at Cowboys (8:30 pm, NBC) – The Sunday night game may be the match of the week. Dallas is in first place in the NFC East, but the Eagles are only one game behind them. I’m still ticked off at Philadelphia from the last time I picked them so I’ll take the home field advantage and pick the Cowboys to win 27-24 in a nailbiter.
- Lions at Texans (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Texans have been tough at home, and Detroit is 1-2 on the road, which is why the Texans are a slight favorite. After last week’s inconsistent play in Denver, I’ll pick Houston to bounce back, 27-21.
- Seahawks at Saints (1:00 pm, FOX) – New Orleans has the big offense, and Seattle has the big defense. The Saints D is more like the Ain’ts, dead last in points allowed, but the Seattle O looked awful last week in Arizona. If the Saints can take a page from the Cards’ D and keep a dinged-up Russell Wilson (knee, pectoral) in the pocket, Drew Brees can pick apart a Seahawks secondary playing without Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor. Saints 27-19 over the Seahawks.
- Chiefs at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Colts lost a game they had won against their division rivals in Houston. KC scores five fewer points a game than Indy on offense, but the Colts give up eight more points a game than the Chiefs on D. Kansas City should win in a close 24-21 battle.
- Packers at Falcons (4:25 pm, FOX) – The differences between offenses and defenses pretty much wash out in this matchup. While I like to root for the Packers, both home field and more consistency give the Falcons the edge here, 31-27. Should be a fun game.
- Eagles at Cowboys (8:30 pm, NBC) – Same goes for O & D balance in this game, too, so let’s look at the intangibles. Eagles’ rookie QB Carson Wentz lost two on the road before beating the Vikes at home. Dallas’ rookie QB Dak Prescott will be playing at home on a five-game win streak and making the case for keeping Tony Romo on the bench. Cowboys 28-21 over the Eagles, and that will give Jerry Jones a Texas-sized headache when Romo’s ready to return.