Last week I went an embarrassing 6-7 leaving me at 63-54 on the year, which is horrifically bad. Let’s hope I turn that around this week.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: The Buccaneers have a very subpar duo at safety and Roddy White is playing out of his mind lately, him plus Tony Gonzalez could make it a long day for the Bucs defense. Unfortuantely for the Bucs they can’t sell out too much on the passing game, because the Falcons also have a guy named Michael Turner who can pick up yards in a hurry on the ground if need be. On top of everything else the Bucs have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL, and Matt Ryan will pick apart a secondary, especially if he has time. Falcons win easy 28-20.
Chicago @ Buffalo: Buffalo just can’t win. As the lone winless team in the league they’ve lost their last two victories in overtime, on the road, against very good teams and earlier in the year they were within one possession of both the Dolphins and the Patriots. They’re capable of winning, they just can’t seem to make it happen. The Bears have lost three of their last four but are coming off their BYE week. A key matchup for the Bills will be their offensive tackle Demetrius Bell blocking Julius Peppers. That could spell trouble for the Bills. The Bears win this one 20-17.
New England @ Cleveland: I hate the Patriots with every fiber of my existence but the Browns just aren’t very good, though four of their five losses were one-possession games and they did go on the road and annihilate the Saints in their last game so who knows? The Browns are very solid when it comes to stopping the run, but are suspect in pass defense, which isn’t good in this matchup. On the other hand they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game thanks to their BYE week. In addition to that, the Pats have struggled at defending the run and Peyton Hillis has had a very good year so far, also look for Josh Cribbs to have big return or two. I’m going to regret this when I total up my record in a week but I’m calling the upset. Browns win 24-20.
NY Jets @ Detroit: The Jets are undefeated on the road but are coming off a horribly embarrassing loss last week when they became the first team to be shut out this season when they lost to the Packers 9-0. Fortunately for the Jets in this matchup they have Darrell Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The pair of them will be able to negate the Lions offense, which is also known as Calvin Johnson. The key for the Jets offensively is to slow the Lions pass rush. Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch have become quite the trio on that d-line but if the Jets o-line can give Mark Sanchez time he should be able to exploit the mismatches that his weapons have against the rest of the Lions defense. Jets win 24-17.
New Orleans @ Carolina: The Panthers only have one win this season and the Saints are coming off a nice win against the Steelers but have been winning/losing every other game since Week 2. The Panthers also have Chris Gamble at corner who matches up very well against Marques Colston. The Panthers need to get pressure on the quarterback and need to stop turning the ball over (both categories they rank in the bottom five of the league in) to win this game. Look for the Panthers to run the ball a lot and call short routes in the passing game. This will keep the pressure off of the quarterbacks, as they are the ones turning the ball over the most. The Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross should be able to slow Will Smith, which will help the cause. This may be another one I’m going to regret, but I have the Panthers winning 24-21.
Miami @ Baltimore: The Ravens are undefeated at home. The Dolphins are undefeated on the road. Something’s gotta give. The weather is projected to be in the 40s (maybe low 50s) for the game which does not bode well for the boys from Miami beach. Joe Flacco is good against man coverage which could hurt the Dolphins tendency to be aggressive on defense, but the Ravens will look to establish the ground game first with Ray Rice, and with the Ravens coming off a bye week they’ll certainly have a game plan in place to ensure that happens. That extra week should also have allowed the Ravens enough time to prepare in a way that would gain them an advantage on special teams. Ravens win 24-17.
San Diego @ Houston: This is a huge game in the AFC South. If the Texans lose they will drop to 4-4 on the season, tied with the Jags at the bottom of the division, and being one game behind the Titans, and potentially two games behind the Colts. The Chargers are minus-eight in turnover differential this year, which is something the Texans will need to look to take advantage of and the Chargers are also winless on the road, which helps the Texans cause. I would expect the Texans to implement a similar game plan to the one that they used against Peyton Manning and the Colts, but Philip Rivers isn’t as good as Peyton, so the Texans should see more success. The Chargers are three point favorites, but I don’t see why. Texans win this one 27-23.
Arizona @ Minnesota: The Cardinals are 1-3 on the road and might as well be 0-4, with the one win coming by only three points against the Rams in Week 1 when they stole a victory from the rookie Sam Bradford. The Vikings are teetering on being out of the playoff race with their 2-5 start, but a lot can happen with nine games left on their schedule, four of which are division games, and all but one are conference games. And despite their poor records, the Vikes only have a -15 point differential, which is a good sign. The Cards defense 29th in the league against the run, so look for a big game out of Adrian Peterson. Vikings win 28-17.
NY Giants @ Seattle: If this game were in New York it would be a no-brainer that the Giants would win, but it’s in Seattle and the Seahawks are undefeated at home this year, and that’s a long trip from coast to coast that the G-Men have to make. On the other hand the Giants are coming off their bye week and have been playing extremely well against the run, while the Seahawks are coming off a blowout loss where they had not ground game. I expect the Seahawks to be forced to throw the ball due to the Giants ability to stop the run, and I just don’t know if the Seahawks offense will be able to find any success without any threat of a run game. Giants win 27-17.
Indianapolis @ Philadelphia: Andy Reid is undefeated in his coaching career when coming out of bye weeks, but is winless against the Colts. The Colts are hurting from injuries but proved last week that they can still play at the same high level with backups. The Eagles defense has not been good at defending the long ball, and has given up 13 touchdowns through the air. On the other hand they’ve been superb at generating sacks, averaging three per game. The problem is that they get those sacks by being such a blitz-happy defense, and Peyton Manning absolutely thrives against the blitz. Also the Eagles offensive tackles, King Dunlap and Winston Justice will be no match for Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis even if Mathis is playing hurt. I know Vick is good at making plays with his legs but he has also taken a ton of sacks: 11 in just three games. Look for the Colts to get to him at least three times. Colts win it 31-23.
Kansas City @ Oakland: This game is tough because of how hot the Raiders have been in the past two weeks and if they win they would pull to within a half game of the Chiefs for the division lead, rather than falling to a game and a half back with the Chiefs holding the key to the primary tiebreaker against them. Also the Chiefs have struggled on the road (1-2) while the Raiders have been playing well at home (3-1) but the Chiefs are the top in the league in rushing yards per attempt and rushing yards per game, while the Raiders are one of the worst in the league when it comes to stopping the run. The Raiders also run the ball well (and a lot) but not quite as efficiently or consistently, plus the Chiefs rank as one of the best in the league at stopping the run. Either way you can expect a lot of pounding the football during this game, but the Chiefs are better at running on offense and better at stopping the run on defense. Chiefs win 20-17.
Dallas @ Green Bay: The Cowboys just clearly aren’t the team that anybody thought they were. They are now sitting at the very bottom of the NFC with a 1-6 record. This is going to be a cold, night game up in Green Bay, which plays into the hands of the Packers even more. The ‘Boys could be dangerous next year with a high draft pick and if they can get a coach that manages to utilize all of the talent they have, but for now they just seem dead in the water. Clay Matthews of the Packers leads the league in sacks right now, and Jon Kitna isn’t exactly known for his ability to get out of trouble. With Kitna at QB the Cowboys will look to run the ball a lot but the Packers are a difficult team to run against. Without a ground attack the Cowboys will be in trouble and being one-dimensional against the Packers is not good. Packers win it 28-17.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati: This is going to be a great matchup on Monday Night Football. The Bengals must win this game if they want to try and get back into the race for the division. The Steelers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Saints and the Bengals are coming off a disappointing loss to the Dolphins. If the Bengals want to win this game they’re going every single one of their players to bring their A-game. I would anticipate for the Bengals to use a fast-paced, no-huddle offense to get Carson Palmer into a rhythm and to dictate what the Steelers are able to do on defense. The Steelers defense isn’t near as threatening when they’re forced into a vanilla scheme. With Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco spreading out the defense the offensive line should have an easier time protecting Palmer. I have the Bengals winning 20-17.