Last week: 9-7, bumping up the season forecast to 40-24
– New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons (-3) in London: No sane American would pay for this game between two of the NFL’s five worst teams, so why not ship it across the pond to England? Sorry, London, we can do better. In the spirit of the game being played in a soccer stadium, I’ll pick the team with the better kicker.
Falcons 23, Jets 20
– Miami Dolphins at Tamp Bay Buccaneers (-10): Is there any chance of a TB12 letdown after the emotional, record-setting win on Sunday night? Don’t bet on it…
Buccaneers 25, Dolphins 14
– Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (-3.5): Random stat that stunned me in looking at this matchup: The Eagles lead the NFL in yards per carry at an impressive 5.4. And while much of that comes from QB Jalen Hurts (34 carries, 226 yards), RBs Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell are also above 4.4 YPC. As long as the Eagles defense can keep the game script neutral enough to not be forced to pass, they can find success against Carolina’s 25th-ranked (in YPC) run defense. Weirdly enough, the Eagles rank near the bottom in run percentage and the Panthers rank near the bottom in facing runs.
Eagles 27, Panthers 24
– New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team (+1): If it’s an odd-numbered week, the good Saints come marching in. Their bizarre week-to-week roller coaster of schizophrenic play from New Orleans is truly wild. On the flip side, the Football Team has not won on odd weekends but is unbeaten on even ones. Who am I to fight the forces of nature?
Saints 30, Football Team 21
– Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4.5): The Urban Meyer traveling circus heads back to Duval. Weirdly enough, his Jaguars have a real chance to get their first victory. A full 19 players appeared as either out or limited on Tennessee’s injury report on Wednesday, and it wasn’t just some random players. Julio Jones is out, and Taylor Lewan, A.J. Brown, Bud Dupree, Chris Jackson and even punter Brett Kern are among those who will not be at 100%. Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars can beat them if they can put the Urban shenanigans behind them. Easier said than done…
Titans 24, Jaguars 21
– Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (+9.5): The Lions could be without their three best offensive linemen if rookie OT Penei Sewell doesn’t play, and he might not. Losing Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow and also top pass-rusher Romeo Okwara last week was a massive blow to the winless Lions. Not that they’d have much of a chance to snap the seven-game losing streak against the Vikings fully healthy, but seven of Detroit’s 10 most important players might not play in this one due to injury. Tough to see this one being competitive.
Vikings 34, Lions 14
– Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1): There’s no way the Steelers should be favored in this game. Aside from the visiting Broncos being 3-1 and Pittsburgh being 1-3, the Denver defense is a terrible matchup for what’s left of Ben Roethlisberger and the decrepit Steelers offense. Pittsburgh’s defense will give them a chance, but they’re not the better team here, not even at home.
Broncos 24, Steelers 12
– Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals (+3): Probably a tighter matchup than you might expect based on the sizzle surrounding these two teams. Both are 3-1. The Bengals haven’t exactly faced the top competition, and I think that trips up the young Cincinnati team. The only team they’ve faced with more than one win on the season (Chicago) beat them. Good litmus test for the Cincinnati defense, which gets almost no attention. I expect them to be close but not quite able to light the victory cigar.
Packers 26, Bengals 24
– New England Patriots at Houston Texans (+9): Expect the Texans to gain more than 109 yards and have fewer than five giveaways, as they did a week ago in one of the most inept displays of offense in quite some time. Don’t expect them to have enough improvement to beat the Patriots, however. Those halcyon days of the Texans’ lettermen jackets sure seem a long time ago.
Patriots 27, Texans 13
– Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5): Now that the Raiders have been knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, they face a short turnaround against a Bears team that picked up some much-needed confidence with QB Justin Fields taking over. Don’t forget about Khalil Mack, either. It’s almost hard to remember he once played for the Raiders.
Bears 23, Raiders 21
– Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers (-1): Cleveland’s defense has been on fire the last two weeks. They’ll need to stay en fuego in Los Angeles, because the banged-up Browns offense is going to require the boost. Baker Mayfield’s injury to his non-throwing shoulder is a problem, as is left tackle Jedrick Wills’ bum ankle. Not having first-round CB Greg Newsome is problematic, too. It will be tough for the Browns to match big plays with Justin Herbert and the fun Chargers offense unless Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward & Co. can bring the pain again.
Chargers 20, Browns 17
– New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5): Dak Prescott keeps the MVP candidacy alive and kicking. The Nonpoint version of that song title, not the Simple Minds classic. The angry nu-metal tone suits the Cowboys better than the saccharinity of the ’80s pop.
Cowboys 35, Giants 24
– San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-5.5): The Cardinals are the last unbeaten team. Only four weeks into the season and every team except Arizona has a loss already. The 49ers aren’t apt to hang the loss on them. San Francisco is 2-2 but the two wins are narrow victories over bad teams on the road, and their losses were to good teams at home. Now they hit the road to play the NFL’s (current) best team. I don’t see that ending well for Trey Lance and the 49ers.
Cardinals 30, 49ers 20
– Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5): A rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, a matchup that featured 53 combined first downs and nary a single punt after halftime. Kansas City won that game 38-24, but this is not the same Chiefs defense. They’ve given up at least 29 points in every game, and that’s bad news against a Bills team that hasn’t scored less than 35 in a game since Week 1. Oh yeah, the Bills defense has pitched two shutouts in three weeks, too. They’re not going to blank the high-flying Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, but they have more than enough to balance with their offensive success.
Bills 37, Chiefs 31
– Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7): Carson Wentz in prime time against the crafty and talented Ravens defense? Yeah, don’t overthink this one…
Ravens 30, Colts 16