I forgot to publish my picks for Week 10 until after the fact, but I promise I didn’t change any of them from what they were before the games had actually been played, and the fact that I only went 7-7 on those picks is pretty good evidence of that. That brings me to 78-66 on the season, something I hope to improve on. Let’s get to it:
(NB: Having games on Thursdays now is throwing my schedule into a bit of confusion, because I normally do my prediction posts on Thursday night, so for right now, I’m simply going to have my prediction up for the Bears/Dolphins game and then repost it later tonight when I have completed the rest of the predictions.)
Bears @ Dolphins: The Dolphins are favored in this game by just two points and I think it’s probably going to be right around that close of a game. Oddly enough, both of these teams have played better on the road this year than at home, so from that angle the game being in Miami actually helps the Bears cause. Weather.com is telling me that the game will be in the mid to low 70s during the game with a 10% chance of rain. Anybody else remembering the last time the Bears played in Miami while it was raining? I sure do because the Colts won the Super Bowl on that night. The Bears o-line is terrible so look for Cameron Wake and Koa Misi to have big nights. I see the Bears struggling to get their offense going and falling just short. Dolphins win 21-20.
Bills @ Bengals: The Bills are winless on the road, and while the Bengals are a superbly disappointing 2-7, their last four losses were all within one possession and against good teams. Bengals corners Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall will be in charge of slowing Bill receiver Steve Johnson. Should be a good battle. Unfortunately for the Bills I don’t see Ryan Fitzpatrick being able to spread the ball around well enough on the plays that the Bengals corners stop Johnson. On the other hand I think the Bengals receiving threats will all catch a lot of balls. Bengals win it 23-17.
Lions @ Cowboys: The Cowboys are winless at home. The Lions are winless on the road. Something’s gotta give. The Lions run game is absolutely dreadful, which does not bode well for them. Though the Lions do have a positive turnover differential on the season despite a poor record, which does not bode well for the Cowboys, who have a dreadful turnover differential. Calvin Johnson has been on fire lately and has a huge height advantage over both of the Cowboys starting corners. I think Terence Newman could be in trouble with that matchup. However the Lions corners are also at a huge size disadvantage, but the difference is that they’re disadvantaged against three Cowboys receivers (Roy Williams, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant) and so even though Alphonso Smith has been a solid starter for the Lions with five interceptions, I think him and his fellow DBs will be over-matched. Cowboys win 27-20.
Redskins @ Titans: As much as I would like to see the Redskins win this game I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Randy Moss now has one game with the Titans under his belt and should be ready to now actually be productive. The Redskins also make the mistake of biting on play action too often and with a threat like Chris Johnson I see that happening even more, which will provide Moss with a lot of opportunities to catch the deep ball. The Redskins also have a very poor run defense, which isn’t good when facing Johnson. If the Redskins have any hope it’s in linebacker Brian Orakpo, who will need to get after the quarterback to disrupt the Titan offense. Unfortunately for him Michael Roos is a pretty darn good left tackle. Titans win this one 27-17.
Cardinals @ Chiefs: The Cardinals are only 1-4 while the Chiefs are undefeated at home and hungry for a win after back-to-back disappointing losses within the division. Dwayne Bowe has really turned it on lately as well (eight touchdowns in five games) and the Cardinals have been anything but good at defending the pass. The Chiefs defense on the other hand has developed into quite a solid unit. Eric Berry has definitely transitioned well into the NFL with 50 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and a forced fumble. Chiefs corner Brandon Flowers has been playing out of his mind and he will need to continue to do so facing Larry Fitzgerald this week. I just don’t see this one even being close. Chiefs win 27-13.
Packers @ Vikings: The Vikings are only 3-6 but all three of those wins have come at home, and their only home loss was by just four points. The Vikings o-line really needs to make sure they account for Clay Matthews though, who is leading the league in sacks. Favre is just a hit away from having all his limbs fall off. Look for the Vikings to make sure Adrian Peterson gets involved. AP will need to start putting this offense back on his shoulders like it was before Favre came to Minnesota, because with how poor of a season Favre is having this year, he might as well not be there. The Packers are favored and I think they should win but somehow I just see the Vikings getting the upset. Vikings win 24-23.
Texans @ Jets: Darrelle Revis against Andre Johnson. That matchup will play a huge role in this game. The Texans are struggling to get back into the playoff picture after losing three straight. The Jets are trying to separate themselves from the pack in the AFC. The Texans need to get a big game out of Arian Foster and they need to get rolling early. They don’t play well at all from behind. The Jets need to make sure they give Mark Sanchez time in the pocket and a key to that will be how well D’Brickashaw Ferguson does at blocking Mario Williams. On the other side of the equation y0u can expect the blitz-happy Jets defense to get after Matt Schaub who is trying to recover from a rib injury. I think this one proves to be too tough for the Texans. Jets win it 27-21.
Raiders @ Steelers: The Raiders have won their last three straight to climb into the playoff picture but are only 1-3 on the road and traveling all the way to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers is no easy task even for a good road team. The Steelers linebacking corp is a talented enough group to contain Darren McFadden. Without that rushing attack the Raiders will struggle. They drop too many passes and Jason Campbell just isn’t accurate enough to pick apart Troy Polamalu and company. The Raiders could also be without star corner Nnamdi Asomugha which would really hamper their defense. Steelers win 24-17.
Ravens @ Panthers: The Ravens have been a very good team yet again this year, but have struggled on the road, with all three of their losses coming in away games. Lucky for them the Panthers are absolutely terrible. I expect the Ravens defense to attack Jimmy Clausen, and control every aspect of this game. Ed Reed will cheat to the side of the field that Steve Smith is lined up on, which will effectively eliminate Clausen’s only legitimate target and force them to look to the ground game. The Ravens though held the Falcons to just 60 yards on the ground last week and Atlanta has one of the best ground games in the league. Ravens win this one easy 27-12.
Browns @ Jaguars: Both of these teams have been hot (by their standards) lately. The Jaguars find themselves back in the chase for a playoff spot and the Browns have found a great running back in Peyton Hillis. The Jaguars will need to crowd the box to try and slow down Hillis, but the Jags are also bad at defending the pass which will give Colt McCoy opportunities to take shots down field to stretch the defense. The Jaguars have also struggled in pass protection giving up 20 sacks already this season. I expect the Browns to find a way to take advantage of this weakness. I have the Browns getting the upset 23-20.
Buccaneers @ 49ers: All three of the Niners wins have come at home, but the Bucs have been solid on the road (3-1) though they have yet to travel quite this far, though Arizona was close. The 49ers have been on a roll though, winning three of their last four and I see the Tampa Bay o-line struggling to block Aubrayo Franklin, who dominates the middle of the line and stuffs the run in the process. San Fran will need to have safety help and double-teams on Mike Williams, but they’ll be able to afford doing so because of the Bucs lack of any other receiving threat. The Bucs also struggle to stop the run, so I anticipate a big game from Frank Gore. I also expect Michael Crabtree to be too much for Aqib Talib to handle. The 49ers win this one 21-14.
Seahawks @ Saints: The Seahawks are not good on the road and traveling to New Orleans won’t help that cause. The Saints have been a little up and down this year, losing games they shouldn’t have (Browns and Cardinals) but are still a very good team and they’re coming off their BYE week which will help their cause a ton. If the Seahawks want a shot at this one they have to keep Matt Hasselbeck on his feet, so that he can lob high passes to Mike Williams, who has a big size advantage over the Saints DBs. The Seahawks also need to make sure they get both Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch a lot of touches. But with the Saints coming off of a BYE and likely getting Reggie Bush back will be too much for the Seahawks to handle. Saints win 31-14.
Falcons @ Rams: Both of the Falcons losses have come on the road this year and the Rams haven’t lost at home since Week 1 when they all but beat the Cardinals. The Rams are really going to have to be on their A-game if they want to top the Falcons though. Atlanta has been arguably the best team in the league this year with Matt Ryan leading that dangerous offense with Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. The Rams have been good at collapsing the pocket this year though with Chris Long and James Hall combining for 13 sacks so far. Steven Jackson will be going against the Falcons stout run defense but Sam Bradford has also proven that he can put the offense on his shoulders if the situation calls for it. I think the Rams have a few matchups that help their cause and they get the upset. Rams win 27-24.
Colts @ Patriots: The Patriots are not good at defending the pass and with Austin Collie likely returning this week that is disastrous. Joseph Addai will also hopefully be returning which will give Peyton a little more confidence in the pocket to hold on to the ball a split second longer, which is all he needs. Also, if Jacob Tamme can go, I think that will help spread out the defense. With Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Collie, Addai and Tamme all on the field at the same time the Patriots weak secondary will struggle to slow down that passing attack. Also without Randy Moss the Patriots receivers have been struggling to get open quickly enough for Tom Brady to avoid taking hits so look for Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to harass him all day, especially Mathis who will likely be blocked one-on-one by Sebastian Vollmer, who just isn’t good enough to stop Mathis. Colts win 31-21.
Giants @ Eagles: The Giants have been successful on the road this year, only losing once in away games but the Eagles have been flying high with Michael Vick. This is definitely going to be a game worth watching as these two teams will be fighting for the top spot in the NFC East. The Giants are coming off an embarrassing home loss against the Cowboys so look for them to come out fired up with something to prove. The Eagles on the other hand are coming off one of the most dominating performances I’ve ever seen when they thrashed the Redskins 59-28. If Vick can hit DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on some deep routes early that will be problematic for the Giants because it will stretch the defense, giving Vick more room to make plays with his feet. However I also expect Ahmad Bradshaw to have a big game on the ground, opening up the play fake for Eli Manning. The Eagles are at home so I’ll give this one to them, but I expect the Giants to get revenge when they host the Eagles in Week 15. Eagles win 28-24.
Broncos @ Chargers: I’m extremely disappointed that this is the Monday Night Football matchup. The Broncos have not been good this year and the Chargers have just started to turn it on so I fully expect the Chargers to blow this one out of the water. The Broncos secondary has been stumbling and the Chargers have great size at the receiver position which is a formula for success from the Chargers perspective. Also look for Shaun Phillips to abuse the Broncos right offensive tackle, Ryan Harris, once the Broncos fall behind and are forced to throw the ball to catch up. This game is going to be a joke. Chargers win 31-17.