Jazz: We had a push last week, with both Ed and I going 4-3. That doesn’t get me any closer to taking back the lead, but I’ve edged slightly further ahead of the .500 mark at 47-37. As for the Jets? #SIGH. Too many wins for a good first round draft pick and pretty much out of the hunt for a wild card slot, to say nothing of the AFC East championship. As Kermit the Frog famously said, it’s not easy being green.
Ed: Jazz and I seem to be constantly stuck in the 4-3 or 3-4 outcomes this season. I improved to 50-34 and can avoid dipping into negative territory this season simply by coasting out that way for the next five weeks, but … isn’t that what Pittsburgh tried doing last week against Green Bay? They seem to have trouble maintaining focus off of long breaks this season as well as playing down to the competition. Looks like we both have a focus problem …
Jazz: This week the Jets welcome the Kansas City Chiefs (1:00, CBS) to New Jersey. If we were looking at this game during the first half of the season it would be a joke, but the Chiefs have collapsed to the point where they’re starting to look like, er… the Jets. They’ve managed to lose three in a row and only scored 9 points against the Giants and 10 against the Bills. I’m taking a flyer on Gang Green this week and predicting an upset in a low scoring, error-filled debacle. Jets win it 17-14, possibly in overtime. The Steelers are in the Monday night matchup against the Bengals (Monday 8:30 pm, ESPN). They’re a solid five-point favorite after winning six straight, but I’m not buying the hype. Some of their recent matches have required a last-second field goal to get them past some fairly mediocre teams. I’ll break form again here and take the Bengals in an upset, 21-17. The Vikings travel to Atlanta to meet the Falcons (1:00, FOX) as a three-point underdog. Atlanta looked rough for a few weeks, but after the beating they gave the Cowboys last week I think they’re back on track. I’ll go with the spread and take Atlanta 27-21.
Ed: What the heck has happened to the Chiefs? They’ve dropped three in a row and five of their last six since starting the season 5-0. The offense has suddenly come up dry, averaging 12 points a game over the last three weeks, when they averaged 34 points a game in their first five games. With the Chargers and Raiders now just a game back, though, expect Kansas City to regain its composure against the Jets, whose defense gives up 23 points a game while its offense only scores 20. Let’s call it 24-21 Kansas City. The Steelers got a scare from Green Bay at home last week, which should wake them up against the league’s least productive offense in Cincinnati. The Bengals’ D is pretty impressive, but not as much as Pittsburgh’s. The Steelers love Monday nights too, so they should win it 30-20. The Vikings-Falcons game might be the best all day, but an outstanding defense will beat a good offense, and the Viking’s offense is actually higher ranked than the Falcons’. Vikings 28-17.
Jazz: Here’s four more to round out a week which should begin finalizing the playoff picture.
- Lions at Ravens (1:00 pm, FOX) – Close match. The Ravens have a great pass defense but a terrible passing game. But the Lions have it worse in the ground game. I think this winds up being a low scoring one and Baltimore thinks they’re in the hunt for the post-season. I’ll take the Ravens 17-12.
- Buccaneers at Packers (1:00 pm, FOX) – Green Bay’s backup QB may not have beaten the Steelers, but he put up some excellent numbers. He’ll have an easier time of it against the Bucs who have Jameis Winston back, but he’s probably rusty. Green Bay comes back from the grave and wins this one 28-20.
- Panthers at Saints (4:25 pm, FOX) – The Saints absolutely spanked the Panthers last time they met. It’s not going to be such an easy task this time, but they’ll still pull off the win at home. New Orleans take it 30-24.
- Eagles at Seahawks (8:30 pm, NBC) – The Sunday night match could be the game of the week and will probably be closer than some of the oddsmakers are saying. Philadelphia lost in Seattle the last time they played there, but they’ve been looking much sharper this year and have fewer injuries. I’m going with the Eagles in a slight upset, 21-17.
- Lions at Ravens (1:00 pm, FOX) – Detroit has a mediocre defense, but Baltimore’s offense ranks 31st in productivity. The Lions might not need much defense to contain the Ravens, and their offense scores 27 points a game. Baltimore hasn’t beaten a first-string QB since the Raiders in week 5. The Lions will keep pace in the wild-card race with a 27-16 win.
- Buccaneers at Packers (1:00 pm, FOX) – I agree with Jazz about the Packers’ Brett Hundley — he looks like he’s figured out the game. Tampa Bay’s D is the worst on yardage allowed, and they only average 20 points a game on offense. The Pack comes back with a win, 24-20.
- Panthers at Saints (4:25 pm, FOX) – Carolina’s defense is tough to beat either against the run or the pass. New Orleans’ offense excels in both phases, though, and Drew Brees is playing at home and needs to beat Carolina for the NFC South lead. New Orleans in a 35-31 shootout.
- Eagles at Seahawks (8:30 pm, NBC) – Can anyone beat the Eagles right now? Seattle’s defense is hurting badly, and they’re rolling out a new offensive line combination for the fifth time this season. Their last win against a quality opponent came seven weeks ago in a 16-10 quieting of the Rams. Without both Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman and with Earl Thomas nursing a sore heel in the Seahawks secondary, Carson Wentz should have a field day in Seattle. Eagles 35-24 over the Seahawks.