A full month is under our belts now so let’s take a look at the matchups for this week.
Predictions shouldn’t be done until the night before or even the day of a particular game because of game-day decisions as to which injured players are healthy enough to play, but I go ahead and pick the Monday night game as well since it’s just one game and a day after the Sunday contests. Nothing’s perfect (and neither are my predictions) but so far I’ve matched up well against the so-called “experts,” and besides…it’s kinda fun to do:
Cardinals at Rams:
Played yesterday…I had the Rams by 4; they won by 14. Starting the week 1-0, woot!
Eagles at Steelers:
Troy Polamalu is the single player that makes or breaks the Steelers’ defense. The Eagles are ranked in the top ten in both offense AND defense but turnovers have plagued them all season. Pittsburgh has some injuries on their offensive line and the Eagle defensive line is one of the top units in the game…if not THE top one. Big Ben is going to need RB Rashard Mendenhall to help balance their attack for them to have a chance, but the bye week gives them an advantage and time to heal. Very tough game to call for that reason, but I think home field and Polamalu’s return will make the difference here.
Steelers by 5
Packers at Colts:
Some sad news for Indy this week: Head Coach Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with Leukemia and won’t be on the sidelines for at least the next few weeks as he gets treatment. The Saints have been “treated” to the no-head coach business due to Bountygate and have yet to earn their first victory. Indianapolis is a much younger, developing team and this distraction will hurt them badly. Look for the Colts to be flat and more mistake-prone while the Packers tee off against a weak defensive team. The Packers should explode this week if they’re ever going to in 2012. Last week I said I’d call a 30-pointer if I thought one might happen? Here it is…
Packers by 35
Browns at Giants:
The poor Browns…they seem to play up or down to their level of competition, but never “up” enough quite to win. Trent Richardson looks like everything they wanted and his strength is truly impressive. While Giants’ defense is a bit soft in the middle but the Browns just don’t have the firepower to slug it out with Eli at home.
Giants by 16
Falcons at Redskins:
Atlanta should have a renewed sense of vulnerability as they were outplayed by the Panthers last week and should have lost that game if not for Cam Newton’s fumble. The Redskins are predictably unpredictable as they’re a young team with injuries on the defensive side of the ball. I know the Falcons can score on them, but I don’t think RG3 and their squad can keep up with a focused Atlanta team. Should be fairly high-scoring.
Falcons by 9
Dolphins at Bengals:
The Dolphins are surprisingly good statistically if not in the W-L column, having lost 2 straight overtime games. Cincy loves to beat up non-winning teams and can’t beat winning teams. They’re consistent at least. The fact that Miami leads the NFL in rushing defense shouldn’t be a huge problem for the pass-oriented Bengals, and Cincy at home should give them enough of an edge to win in another close one for Miami. I’m going with the Bengals, but caution people on taking the Bengals in “Eliminator” games this week – I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Miami wins it outright. Miami WR Brian Hartline leads the NFL in receiving yards…after everyone (myself included) belittled their group as being talentless. Tell that to rookie Ryan Tannehill as he loves his 6’5″ target.
Bengals by 6
Ravens at Chiefs:
The Ravens looked surprisingly human against the Browns last week as they just couldn’t shake them. It really came down to the last play, but the Chiefs have proven to be a weak team this year with little good to show for it.
Ravens by 21
Seahawks at Panthers:
Interesting matchup here with Marshawn Lynch running against a porous Carolina defense. He’ll see a big workload since the ‘hawks are dead last in the NFL in passing with rookie QB Russell Wilson struggling to put up a big game so far. The other side of that coin is that Carolina is a run-first team while the Seahawks are second overall against the run behind Miami, but the Panthers have unique and diverse ways of running the ball down the field with Newton being a dual threat. First team to 15 points should win this one, and that’s the Panthers at home.
Panthers by 3
Bears at Jaguars:
Both teams have their issues, but the Chicago defense should gloss over any mistakes they make on offense. The Jags don’t have that luxury, nor do they have much offense.
Bears by 22
Broncos at Patriots:
Here we have the best matchup of the week. We all know the history Peyton Manning has with the Patriots from back in his days with the Colts, and the Patriots have struggled against good defensive teams instead of scoring 30+ points no matter who they play as in the past. Last week’s 52 in Buffalo is an outlier against what now appears to be an overrated defense and this game should come down to the wire. Buffalo was 28th against the run while the Broncos are 9th, so no dual 100-yard games for Pats’ RBs. In fact, not a single one this week. I also like the way Peyton’s Broncos match up offensively with a porous Pats D.
Broncos by 2
Bills at 49′ers:
Now here’s an eliminator challenge shoo-in if you’ve not used the Niners yet. Hopefully you didn’t use the niners against the Vikings, and if you still have them available, now’s the game to use them…at home against a team that turns the ball over.
49′ers by 24
Titans at Vikings:
The Vikings are one of the surprise teams in the NFC while the Titans aren’t surprising anyone. Kenny Britt hasn’t helped and Kendall Wright, while talented and explosive, has played like typical rookie WRs – not until year 3 do most usually hit their strides. I think in this particular game, the Titans might be better off starting the experienced Matt Hasselbeck whether Locker is ready to go or not (he’s not).. Adrian Peterson faces the 27th-ranked rush defense, so I gotta go with the hot team at home.
Vikings by 11
Chargers at Saints:
Logic and a month’s worth of games tells us that the Chargers should handle the Saints without much of a problem. However, Drew Brees is ALWAYS a problem for opposing teams…even if their defense is not. With an 0-4 start in the books, I think the Saints will play with energy and a sense of purpose. This is one of those “I have a feeling” games – much like the Dolphins’ 3-pt win I called for last week which I lost, but made my point in making the choice in the first place. If the Saints lose THIS game, they’re the “Aints” again.
Saints by 13
Monday Night Football – Texans at Jets:
Looks like the Jets may just have another “bye” week against a stifling Texans’ defense. I think Matt Schaub will be the star and not the running game this week despite the issues the Jets have stopping the run so far. The Texans’ offense is actually slightly (only slightly) overrated, but they’re diverse and deep enough that if someone’s down or something isn’t working the way they planned, they can simply shift focus and still accomplish what they want. That’s why they’ve moved to #1 in my power rankings this week, and I see nothing from the Sparano-led “ground and pound” offense that helps – especially since the Jets will be playing from behind and the fact they’ve lost Santonio Holmes.
Texans by 19
Packers over Colts
Bears over Jags
Vikings over Titans
Niners over Bills
Texans over Jets
Ravens over Chiefs