Jazz: After a couple of very strong weeks, I sank back to my more comfortable level of mediocrity in week 9. I went 4-3, barely staying above .500 for a season total of 37-26. However, if my math is accurate (despite being told there would be no math) it looks like that was just good enough to sneak into a tie with Ed. So here we are, more than halfway through the regular season and we’re basically right back where we started. I could have taken the lead if I hadn’t suffered from a moment of weakness and picked the Jets to beat what was arguably the worst team in the league. So much for that.
Ed: So … we’re back to a tie. I’d normally be upset about that, but hey, Pittsburgh has a three-game winning streak. There’s not much that will bother me under those circumstances, except the prospect of that streak coming to an end. Or the Ravens suddenly getting hot and beating an unbeaten — oh, wait a minute …
Jazz: The Jets play the Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) in the stadium they share. If last week Jets game was the Dud Bowl, this one may be the Toilet Bowl. Both these teams have looked simply miserable, and their fans aren’t pleased. Neither young QB is very good, but the Giants have a line that at least offers him some protection. Give me the Giants over the Jets 21-10. The Steelers welcome the Rams (4:25 pm, FOX) to Pittsburgh riding a three game winning streak and an even 4-4 record. Unfortunately for them, this Los Angeles team has the better passing game and they put up more points every week. Without Big Ben, I don’t see Pittsburgh making it four in a row. I’ll take the Rams over the Steelers 34-23. The Vikings head to Dallas (8:20 pm, NBC) to meet the Cowboys in a matchup of two teams that are both only one game out of first in their respective divisions. Minnesota had a rough time last week, but they still have plenty of weapons. Dallas seems to be peaking, however, so this should be a close match. I think it comes down to home field advantage at this point. Give me the Cowboys over the Vikings in a close one, 27-24.
Ed: You have to give it to the Jets — no really, you have to give it to the Jets. They’re the only team in the league — maybe besides Cincinnati — that could lose to the Dolphins. Their defense is playing better than the Giants, but the Jets are only scoring 12 points a game. Giants over Jets 20-13. The Rams are only getting by this season, while Pittsburgh is trying to cohere and find their identity without Big Ben. The Rams are only four-point favorites, and I’ll (predictably) predict an upset, Steelers over Rams 27-23. Which Vikings will show up in Dallas — the ones that blew out the Lions, or the ones who lost to the Matt Moore-led Chiefs? Both teams are evenly matched on defense, but the Cowboys have the top-ranked offense and are playing at home. I’ll root for Minnesota, but predict Cowboys over the Vikings 26-19.
Jazz: Our usual four more fun picks to make the day go by.
- Bills at Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) – I’m not sure how the 2-6 Browns wound up being a three point favorite over the 6-2 Bills, but here we are. I suppose it must have something to do with the way the Bills have barely beaten a bunch of really bad teams while the Browns have barely lost to some tough competition. That detracts from the fact that the Browns defense has allowed a lot more points. I think this is the game Cleveland has been waiting for. I’ll go with the Browns over the Bills 23-20.
- Chiefs at Titans (1:00 pm, FOX) – After the way the Chiefs handled the Vikings last week, I suspect this game isn’t nearly as close as the Vegas line would have you believe. Meanwhile, the Titans remain a lot better on paper than they have been on the turf. I’ll take the (hopefully) safe bet and pick the Chiefs over the Titans 33-19.
- Panthers at Packers (4:25 pm, FOX) – This is supposed to be a fairly easy matchup for Green Bay, but they didn’t look very good in Los Angeles last week, while Carolina’s rookies started showing signs of life. This is little more than a hunch, but I’m picking the upset here and taking the Panthers over the Packers 31-27.
- Seahawks at 49ers (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) – I’d like to make the MNF game sound more interesting, but the undefeated 49ers have that 8-0 record for a big reason. It’s not that their offense is performing that much better than their divisional rivals in Seattle, but their defense has allowed literally less than half the number Seattle has let slip away. They remain undefeated again after Monday night. 49ers over the Seahawks 34-17.
- Bills at Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Bills may not be as good as their record and the Browns may not be as bad as theirs. Still, Buffalo’s 3-0 on the road and they’re reasonably healthy. Bills over Browns 21-14.
- Chiefs at Titans (1:00 pm, FOX) – Patrick Mahomes is back. The Titans are still trying to figure out who their QB is. Chiefs over Titans 35-17.
- Panthers at Packers (4:25 pm, FOX) – The Pack looked weak on the road last week against the Dominguez Hills Chargers, but they’re playing at home in 32º weather against a warm-weather Carolina team. Packers over Panthers 27-20.
- Seahawks at 49ers (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) – San Francisco is the last unbeaten team in the NFL, but Seattle’s unbeaten on the road, too. The 49ers are coming into this game banged up, especially their key tight end George Kittle. San Francisco has a lights-out defense, though, and they’re playing at home, but it will be close. 49ers over Seahawks 24-21, maybe in OT. Should be a great game.