We’re in full football mode. We are officially 25% through the regular season, a mark that gets me ecstatic yet a little sad each year. I like to cherish the season and hate to see it go by so fast, BUT, this is when everything gets much more exciting. The NFL is in full bloom, and so far it’s not exactly what the “experts” thought. This makes it oh so fun, and oh so challenging to predict each week. I’m sitting at a record of 33-28-2 on my picks this year, and so far I’ve had more shock than anything with my selections. Bye weeks are here and they’re here to stay. This week Da Bears and the Bucs are on the bye. This means we’ll have a break from the oh-so-hot monsters of the midway and their whole new breed of animals in Trubisky and Khalil Mack, and we’ll have to wait another week to see Jameis Winston’s first official start of the year I’ll love you forever, Fitzmagic (the chest hair is mine). Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty!
Colts @ Patriots – Patriots
By now you all know my thoughts on the Patriots. It pains me to pick them, but without a doubt they win in Foxborough on Thursday night. Nyheim Hines looked great catching out of the backfield for the Colts, but besides that Houston outplayed them all game last week. Andrew Luck led a solid comeback but in a tight division game but the Texans finally got their first win even with the kicking issues. Many media outlets are bringing up the interview of Colt’s GM Chris Ballard where he stated “The rivalry’s back on” after McDaniels accepted the head coaching job in Indy then backed out to stay in New England (I lost the zero amount of respect I had for McDaniels, I have negative respect for him now), and it’s fun to hope that rivalry could be rekindled but I don’t see it happening on TNF. If it was at Lucas Oil, MAYBE, but it just won’t happen in Foxborough. T.Y. Hilton out, huge loss for the Colts, Julian Edelman returning, huge gain for the Pats.
Titans @ Bills – Titans
This will be a much better game than people think. Titans D has looked solid this year though, and they shouldn’t have any problems with the Bills O-Line and I see them shutting down Josh Allen for the most part. Corey Davis is a great football player, don’t be scared to put him in your fantasy lineups this week. Mariota is proving himself a great QB1 after so much consistent doubt. Winning against the defending champs is no easy feat, especially in OT. I’d like to see Derrick Henry show up at some point this year though… Shady McCoy is back from injury and could have a decent day, but I don’t think it’ll be anything wild as the Titans D should be able to hold him off. Titans.
Falcons @ Steelers – Steelers
It’s hard to believe both of these teams have the records that they do. Both of them have had nonexistent secondaries, so start Matt Ryan and Big Ben, and any of the receivers on either team. Both of these teams are coming off of losses that most likely have them fired up, both losses came at their house as well. Falcons on an extremely clutch A.J. Green catch with 6 seconds to go in the game, and Steelers against their bitter rival Baltimore on Sunday night. This game will be a shootout, and is very hard to pick a winner. Steelers have my advantage because Heinz is a steel trap for anyone in the league, and I don’t see them losing in the Pitt back to back weeks. Expect Ridley, Julio, Juju, and AB to all have big days. Steelers by a very small margin.
Broncos @ Jets – Broncos
*SPOILER* I will never bet against my Broncos. Ever. They had that Monday night game through four quarters and let it slip away at the very end. I was on the field and it made the pain even worse. (That clock read zero, and he was passed the line of scrimmage on that pass as well). They will bounce back in a big way though, they will unleash the wrath of a thousand stampedes on the Jets. They also just supplied 30 teams in the NFL with film on how to stop Mahomes (or slow him down a little bit, at least). Broncos in a BIG way at The Meadowlands.
Jaguars @ Chiefs – Jaguars
*Refer to blurb above* This is the best defense in football in my opinion. Closely followed by the Rams and sometimes the Vikes, but Jags still hold my number one spot. This is going to be Mahomes’ biggest test so far, and Chiefs Kingdom is lucky it’s at home. I don’t think that’ll be enough for KC though; Bortles, Yeldon, and the rest of the Jags offense have big days at Arrowhead against a very sub-par Chiefs D. Tyreek and Kelce vs. the elite Jags secondary will be very fun to watch though, best matchup of the weekend in terms of talented teams.
Packers @ Lions – Lions
I picked the Lions against Dallas, and still believe that was their game to win. The Lions have all the potential in the world, it’s just holding on late in close games they struggle with. The Packers snapped the Bill’s necks, just as I expected, but the Lions aren’t the Bills. Detroit has a history of getting bullied by Aaron Rodgers at Ford Field, but I don’t think that’s the case this sunday. These Lions receiving core is absolutely terrifying to defenses, I’ve stressed this time and time again, and when Stafford is on he is ON. Matt Patricia is helping the Lions even if it hasn’t been displayed in a grand way yet, but all three of the Pack’s starting receivers are banged up and so is Rodgers knee even if we’re not hearing about it. If they can get to Rodgers and force turnovers, Lions should sneak by with a win.
Ravens @ Browns – Browns
One of my dark horse picks. I picked the Raiders to beat the Browns last week for their first win, and I was correct, but boy oh boy the Browns know they let a dub slip away. The officiating crew absolutely robbed the Browns of a Derek Carr fumble that would’ve been taken to the house very late in the game, another massive mess up by our NFL refs. Baker dished four turnovers but that should’ve lit a fire in his belly. He looked real nice besides that. Carlos Hyde and Juice Landry look great, and Nick Chubb had a very explosive long TD run as well. Ravens are on their high horse after back to back wins against Denver and Pittsburgh, but a dark horse beats a high horse any day of the week. Browns get the win in the Dawg pound, and Flacco doesn’t know what hit him (He’s not used to losing against Cleveland).
Giants @ Panthers – Panthers
As much as it pains me to say it because Eli handed Tom Brady ⅔ of his Super Bowl L’s, his time in this league has passed. The offense has so much potential but they need a better O-Line and a younger quarterback. It would even change the morale of the defense and give them more time to rest. The Giants could be a good contender if they had an agile quarterback with some hudspuh, but I just don’t see it in my man Eli anymore. Panthers are young and fresh, and the defense looks much better than the last couple of years. Cam and CMC are a deadly 1-2 punch, especially at home. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for the G-Men, and I know for a fact Ron Rivera got them more than ready. As long as they keep the Giants offensive studs to an average day, the Panthers win this with ease.
Dolphins @ Bengals – Bengals
The undefeated Dolphins finally cracked, and I can’t believe it took four weeks. Although I’m impressed the Fins are 3-1, I’m more shocked than anything. The Bengals are looking much better than last year, the involvement of John Ross and Tyler Boyd have a lot to do with that. Mixon and Gio Bernard are a great RB duo if Mixon can stay healthy, and we wish for a speedy recovery for a very underrated tight end in Tyler Eifert. This defense is also very underrated, with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Dre Kirkpatrick leading the way (Just to name a few names). For Miami, it would be really cool to see Tannehill finally back and healthy with their two best offensive weapons Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry, but oh wait! Adam Gase went ahead and shipped them out for nothing! Bengals get a big win at home.
Raiders @ Chargers – Chargers
We finally saw flashes of what the Raiders can be on Sunday. This without Khalil Mack who they should’ve kept by any means necessary, (hard to do when you pay your coach this much) But nonetheless, they looked good. Although they let up 42 points, Derek Carr really showed the leadership he has and lead a commanding drive down the field in crunch time to send it into OT. Chargers are hurting on defense, literally, and it showed against the 9ers even though they just barely pulled out the win. They need Joey Bosa in a big way, but what the defense has been lacking the offense has picked up for. Rivers is a man on a mission, and his partner in crime Melvin Gordon is absolutely stellar. Melvin Gordon is a top 5 back in this league, and there is no question about it. Chargers get an important divisional innerstate win.
Cardinals @ 49ers – Cardinals
This should be a great football game. Both teams are incredibly desperate to win at this point, but the 49ers have a win under their belt, the Cards to not. Something about a winless team, they always play with so much heart. You can tell they’re fed up beyond explanation which is completely understandable. Beathard looked good replacing Jimmy G in LA last weekend, and Rosen looked good too. Both could have come away with wins. I give Arizona the advantage because I like their defense a little better, and the veteran leadership they have behind Rosen. This game could really swing either way though. Both teams have a long offseason ahead of them, and an even bigger draft.
Vikings @ Eagles – Eagles
Ohhhh man. This is tough to say the least. NFC championship rematch, this will be a great football game. The Vikings played a good football game against the Rams who I think is the current best team in the league, and it was in LA. Both teams playing this week are coming off of close losses, and both teams are stacked across the board with talent. Philly takes this game because we’re going to see Carson Wentz back in playoff form. If the defense can hold the Theilen-Diggs show to a minimum the Eagles have a real chance here. Alshon had a great season debut for the Eagles off the injury. Ertz looks awesome this year too. Slight advantage to the birds only because they’re at home, but oh man that Minnesota D and Kirk Cousins are a hard nut to crack. This should be the second best game of the weekend in terms of talent, oh man this weekend is going to be very interesting everyone tune in if you know what’s good for you.
Rams @ Seahawks – Rams
Rams. Best team in the league. They look like a Pro Bowl team. Hawks looked good the last couple of weeks but their division rival LA should have no trouble with them this week. Goff and Gurley are insane together, not to mention Cooks, Cupp, and Woods. I genuinely can’t believe this team looks the way it does, and the defense is easily top three in the league if not number one. Rams are my Super Bowl pick, and if anyone can shut down Russell Wilson, it’s the new greatest show on turf.
Cowboys @ Texans – Texans
Oh baby. Prime time under the lights, and everything is bigger in Texas. This is Houston’s chance to show us what they can really do when they put the pedal the the metal. Foot on the gas, full throttle H-Town action. The battle of the Lone Star state, I’m ecstatic. Dallas is coming off of a red hot win, but so is Houston. If the elite D-line and linebackers of Houston can hold off Zeke to some extent, and the O-line can give Deshaun Watson enough time to do what he can do, the Texans have a big chance at this game. It’s all about rushing Dak and getting him to make risky decisions. If the Houston D does their job, Hopkins will be given a spotlight to get it done on offense, which I have full confidence he can do. If Fuller is good to go with the hamstring issue, the double threat will be unleashed upon this Dallas defense. NRG Stadium is going to be rocking on NBC.
Redskins @ Saints – Saints
Being from D.C., and having most of my family living there, I’d love to see the skins pull this off, but it just won’t happen. Kamara is a freak of nature. Mark Ingram is back, and Drew Brees has never wanted another ring so bad. Michael Thomas is having a record breaking year so far and it’s not looking like he’s going to slow down. The Saints defense has been very generous so look for this game to be high scoring, but Washington just won’t be able to keep up with the red hot saints offense. Sean Payton knows exactly what he’s doing. He wants another ring too, and knows it’s only fair for Drew Brees who’s about to shatter every record in the book. Superdome is about to be loud as hell Monday night, and the energy will flow through the saints like a river as they go off once more.