No separate Thursday game pick post this week. I got them all here.
(7-2) Steelers over Titans (6-3)
I think the Titans can give the Steelers a scare here if they can jump out early like the Colts did last week. I think if a team like the Colts can play a top team like the Steelers down to the wire, a 6-3 Titans team certainly can the following week. But I just think the Steelers are on a run right now and it’s not going to end anytime soon. They have the passing game that can carve up a not-so-good Titans defensive secondary. And they have the running game and O line to hit the Tennessee front seven in the mouth and overpower them the whole game. If the Steelers can keep the Titans’ early drives unproductive, I like them to win this game soundly. If it becomes a dogfight in the trenches, we could see an upset. But I think the better team in the Steelers ultimately survives.
(3-6) Bears over Lions (5-4)
I’m going to go with the upset here. The Lions just allowed the Browns to play them close for three quarters at home. Chicago lost a very winnable game to an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team, but I still like their running game to pound Detroit’s front seven. It’s going unnoticed, but Detroit’s defense really isn’t anything special, and they have been getting merked week after week, even by DeShone Kizer last game. I like the Lions, but if their offense goes sour, their defense can’t get it done. I see the Bears hitting these guys in the mouth early with the run game, tiring out Detroit’s defensive front, and then Mitch Trubisky hitting dump-off passes in the flats to the running backs for big gains. This will be a close game, but I think the Bears come through and get a tough divisional win.
(4-5) Ravens over Packers (5-4)
You know, I really don’t know what to expect in this game. I’m going to go with the Ravens because it just looks right to me. The Packers without Aaron Rodgers are just not the same team, even though they won in Chicago last week. But the Ravens are so inconsistent and frustrating, so it’s almost impossible to make a pick for this one. The Ravens have been following a path where they show up one week, and then wet the bed the next. They got mauled in Tennessee last week after winning 40-0 against Miami, so this would be a “good” week for them. I think they find a way to win this with the defense.
(6-3) Jaguars over Browns (0-9)
This game is screaming upset to me because the Jags going 7-3? Come on. No way. And you would think the Browns have to win one at some point. But I’m not going to go overboard here, so I’ll just stay with the better team. I see the Jags getting Leonard Fournette more involved than they did last week in their comeback win against the Chargers. Their secondary is tops in the league as far as the eye test is concerned and Cleveland’s quarterbacks are turnover machines. I think even if the Browns make this scary for the Jags, that Jacksonville secondary will find a way to turn their luck around with a pick or two. If Blake Bortles can just not turn the ball over himself, the Jaguars will be fine.
(4-5) Cardinals over Texans (3-6)
I’m so bummed about this Texans team now that Deshaun Watson is out. This was a playoff team, and now they’ll be lucky to win 3 more games. That being said, I see them putting up a good fight in this one at least. Arizona’s offense tends to be very slow and run-oriented, so if Houston can make some stops, and if Tom Savage can just get the ball to DeAndre Hopkins, we could be in business. But I don’t think it will happen. I see Adrian Peterson having a huge game because he’s gone up-and-down with his games, scoring big one game, and then nothing the next. If the trends are right, this would be a “good” game for him. So I expect at least 100 yards for AP. I think Houston plays these guys tough the whole way and not fall off the second half like they did last week against the Rams. But ultimately, I see the Cardinals inching ahead early in the fourth quarter with a couple field goals and moving to 5-5.
(7-2) Vikings over Rams (7-2)
Now this is going to be my favorite game of the week. It’s a complete tossup as far as I’m concerned. On one hand, the Vikings are absolutely cruising with Case Keenum, even though he looked a little like the backup he is last week. On the other hand, the Rams have the best offense in the league and are undefeated (5-0) on the road, and here we are in Minnesota. The Vikings are also a pretty good home team themselves, so something has to give. Since the Seattle game, the Rams haven’t really faced a top-level defense, which is why I’m going with the Vikes in this one. I think their defense can effectively shut down all of Goff’s options, much like Seattle did and grind out a win on the offensive side of the ball. He won’t make many, but I think Goff will throw the ball to the Vikings at a very inopportune time, and that will ultimately seal the game for Minnesota. This is going to be a fun one, but I think the Vikes knock off the hottest team in football.
(7-2) Saints over Redskins (4-5)
This is another fun one, and the Saints are not walking through Kirk Cousins’ Redskins. The Saints have been pounding teams left and right for weeks now, but this week, I see them getting a scare. Washington is one of the scrappiest teams in the league. Just when I thought they were done, they come back and beat the Seahawks in Seattle. They have an extremely underrated defense with Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan, and Kirk Cousins can light any defense up. Ultimately, I see this being a shootout, something Drew Brees has enjoyed in the past, but something he hasn’t had to do this year. I believe he only has 13 touchdown passes this year, so that means the Saints are winning these games by running the ball, which is something I think Washington’s front seven can neutralize, and playing defense, which could be in for an unpleasant afternoon if Cousins heats up. So I’m going to go with a shootout here and the Saints barely escaping, but moving to 8-2 after starting 0-2.
(4-5) Dolphins over Buccaneers (3-6)
I want to pick the Bucs because I’m still holding out hope on them, but I just don’t think after winning a field goal fest against the Jets last week, they’re going to overcome a slightly better Dolphins team. Miami was a first half ill-ly timed Jay Cutler interception away from giving the Panthers a game last Monday. I can see they still have some fight in them, so I think they grind this one out at home against a pretty disappointing Bucs team. Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick brings a veteran presence and comfort to the team, but let’s not ignore the defense is not good at all. I thought it would be way better, but they get picked apart every week. I think Jay Cutler will be able to find his guys over the middle and pick up big yardage, and Miami’s defense will be able to turn the Bucs over a couple times. If the Jets can hold them to field goals for the whole game, I’m pretty sure the Dolphins can have similar results. I see Miami taking this after a tightly-contested three quarters.
(6-3) Chiefs over Giants (1-8)
I look at this game and I think this is one of the best teams going up against probably the worst team in the league. And yes, I’d say they’re worse than Cleveland. The only reason I’d put them ahead of Cleveland is because they’ve actually won a game. But that one win is what makes this game against the Chiefs so interesting. Back when the Giants got their first win against the Broncos in Denver, and this is when Denver was rolling, I said on this site there’s no way the Giants were going to win that game because all their receivers were out. But they actually won that game to my bewilderment. I’m not going to underestimate them in the slightest facing a similar situation. This is a team that just basically quit against the then winless 49ers. Now the whole organization is in flux and firings are coming. With all that coming down on them, I see them giving the Chiefs a pretty good game here. The effort will be there and nobody is going to quit on plays. But ultimately, I think the matchup problems Travis Kelce gives them in the secondary will be too much, and the Tyreek Hill threat down the field won’t help much either. And Kareem Hunt can run all day on these guys, plus go out to catch passes. But for some reason, I think the Giants are going to almost win this. Ultimately, I think the Chiefs pull it out, but wouldn’t it be something if Big Blue comes in and play like last year’s Giants team and beats these guys?
(3-6) Chargers over Bills (5-4)
The Bills just benched Tyrod Taylor, who’s been okay for them, but let’s face it, he’s quietly gotten them nowhere since he’s taken over the starter role. Is he the best option for them now? Yes. But is a change at the position the worst thing for a team that just lost 47-10 at home? Absolutely not, and I actually like the gutsiness of the call by Sean McDermott. Maybe Nathan Peterman can put some drives together and play better than Tyrod. Maybe he’s the diamond in the rough nobody saw coming. If that’s the case, Buffalo is going to win this game because their playing an absolutely fraudulent team that finds new ways to lose week in and week out. I’m going to bet on Peterman not being the second coming and go with the Chargers at home for this one. I’ve held onto this team way longer than I should have, and I’m not letting go yet. The AFC is so bad, the Chargers can still pull this together at 8-8 or 9-7. I think they play a typical Chargers game- they jump out to a lead, then Philip Rivers coughs the ball up inexplicably, then it comes down to the final minutes. But I say they come through with a rare win in this close game. Buffalo’s defense hasn’t played well at all the past few weeks after starting out red hot, so I can see the Chargers scoring pretty easily. I think we see a close Charger win in which they luck into a defensive stop or turnover.
(3-6) Broncos over Bengals (3-6)
The Broncos should pummel these guys, if they weren’t in such disarray. But unfortunately they are, so I see an extremely close contest. Cincinnati is going to have a lot of success. Denver’s defense is still great, but the confidence has to be shaken because of all the losing they’ve been going through. It looks to me like some of those guys are packing it in. But somehow, someway, I think the Broncos find a way to win this game, most likely due to the defense. If they can hang around and turn Andy Dalton over at the right time, their going to move to 4-6. If they allow Dalton to go to AJ Green with no repercussions, it’ll be time to clean house in Denver (on the offensive side of the ball).
(7-2) Patriots over Raiders (4-6)
This could be a fun one, but ultimately, I think Tom Brady absolutely shreds the worst defense in pro football as far as I’m concerned. Derek Carr and company can keep pace, but once New England’s defense makes a stop or forces a turnover, it’s over because Oakland isn’t stopping anybody on defense. The Patriots are rolling right now, and a defense-less Raiders team can only tread for so long on offense until the defense gets walloped. I see the Patriots taking care of their business and winning this game smoothly.
(8-1) Eagles over Cowboys (5-4)
I’ve been looking at this game for weeks now, and I was with the Cowboys to get the upset. But after what I saw last Sunday from them, without Zeke, without Sean Lee, and without Tyron Smith, they’re going to have a rough night here. I believe all three of those guys will be out for this game. Maybe Tyron Smith can play, but even if he doesn’t, I don’t buy too much into the O-line troubles they had against the Falcons. To me, that was just a freak occurrence. Chaz Green is not that bad, and I’m sure they’ll make the adjustments necessary to get Dak more protection. I just think defensively, with Sean Lee out, they won’t have that ball-hawking leader to call out the plays and take control. I think Philly will be able to score all over them. Dallas’ pass rush is not going to give it to Carson Wentz with the O-line he has. I see them running all over Dallas to neutralize that pass rush. And the Cowboys won’t have that Zeke run game to set up their passes and use the clock. It doesn’t look good for the Cowboys, but you never know.
(6-3) Seahawks over Falcons (5-4)
I don’t think we should buy too much into the Falcons’ win last week against Dallas because of all the injuries that team had and how “off” they were without their best players. Yes, it was a big win blowout, but the Falcons didn’t turn a page on their season in the slightest. They still can’t hold onto leads, and Matt Ryan is still turning the ball over. And now Devonta Freeman is probably down for this game, so the running situation is down a stud. Seattle is also a little fresher after playing last Thursday, so those extra days of rest will play huge for them. The only chance I give the Falcons here is the fact that they got hosed in Seattle last year, and maybe they’ll come out with revenge on their minds (even though they really got them back in the playoffs, but you get the point) and play their best game of the year. It’s not crazy with Richard Sherman out and Earl Thomas still iffy. Matt Ryan could very well come out and torch this Seahawks team and find Julio and Mo Sanu and beat these guys down. I just wouldn’t bet on this year’s Falcons team making that happen.