If week eight taught us anything, it is that trying to predict NFL results is a mug’s game. I fell another game behind Dan last week, and this week’s lines look horrible. There seem to be three kinds of losses that I have each week: there’s the out by half a point to a point that I can live with, the surprise result that no one saw coming, and the frustrating second guess or I should have seen that coming. See if you can see which teams handed me what kind of loss last week.
Last week by this point of the intro I had picked three games, I don’t have any picked right now…
Gee: Week 8 7-8 Overall 59-62
Dan: Week 8 8-7 Overall 63-58
Saints @ Panthers (+2.5)
Sometimes when you are wrong, it’s good to be very wrong as it forces you to readjust. It appears that I was very wrong on the Saints last week, but I’m still undecided about them. They had taken care of the Bucs in Week Six, had a bye and got healthier, then only narrowly lost to the Lions. The problem is that they were leading the Lions game up until there was 01:54 left in the fourth quarter, when the Lions scored the last of their fourteen unanswered points to win the game. They had no such problems against the Packers, hanging with them in the first half and pulling away in the third quarter. The offence looked better with Drew Brees playing more like how we would expect, the rookie receiver Brandin Cooks picking up nearly one hundred yards, and Jimmy Graham beginning to look more like himself as he comes back from a shoulder problem. Meanwhile, the defence did enough, although Aaron Rodgers appeared limited by his hamstring problem and you can’t blame him for the way Eddie Lacy’s missed catch popped up for an interception. This team is also one that does not travel well so I don’t know what to make of them this week.
The Panthers lost an ugly game against the Seahawks. Cam Newton managed to throw an interception and lose a fumble, whilst trying to make something happen. The defence managed to look pretty good against a Seahawks unit that is top ten and leads the league in rush offence by DVOA. I have been confused by the Panthers all season, they have been up and down and I have struggled to make sense of who they are as a team. It was reasonable to expect a step back given their salary cap woes and the players they lost, but this means that I really don’t know what to expect of them in any given week. They don’t seem to be able to put together good performances on both sides of the ball at the same time. I really thought they were there for the taking against the Bengals.
I’m worried about the points given that the Saints don’t travel well, and I’m not convinced by either team, but I’m leaning towards the Saints as I feel like I have a better idea of who they can be if thing start to come together. This is a real shot in the dark, but here goes.
Gee’s Pick: Saints
Dan’s Pick: Panthers
Jaguars @ Bengals (-11.5)
The Bengals did enough to get their proper name back last week, although I think they were a little lucky to get the win given that I don’t think there was enough of push by Steve Smith to warrant his touchdown being called back. It will be interesting to see the offence once AJ Green gets back as Mohamed Sanu had another great game and the pair of them could really open the offence out again. The pass defence is very solid, although the rush defence is currently last in the league by DVOA. Still, I feel pretty confident coming into this week against the Jaguars at home. I’m just not sure I’m that confident.
Having got their first win in week seven, the Jaguars came back down with a bump against the Dolphins. Unfortunately Blake Bortles not only threw another interception, but one that was returned eighty-one yards for a touchdown. This team continues to hang in there as their defence is doing okay, but they just don’t have enough talent to do more than compete. That said, I don’t see this game being a blow out as I don’t think the Bengals are healthy enough so I’m worriedly backing the Jaguars to cover.
Gee’s Pick: Jaguars
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Buccaneers @ Browns (-6.5)
The Buccaneers are not good, and with the fire sale before the trade deadline the new management are trying to say it’s the previous regime’s players. Either way, I don’t see them doing well in Cleveland. The problem is that the Browns are struggling as well, the loss of Alex Mack really seems to have upset the line (which should not be surprising, I’ve seen myself what damage losing your starting centre can do to a team), so whilst I think they will win, the line makes me nervy. In the end though, the Bucs are ranked dead last in overall DVOA, and by a fair margin, whilst the Browns are solidly mid-table so whilst it’s another anxious pick, I’m going for the Browns.
Gee’s Pick: Browns
Dan’s Pick: Browns
Cardinals @ Cowboys (-4.5)
I don’t think it’s time to panic yet, but back injuries make me nervous and we don’t know what is going to happen with Tony Romo yet. More surprising to me is that the given the injury situation with Romo, and that they lost to Washington last week, I can’t see why they are giving so many points to the Cardinals. It is pretty amazing that DeMarco Murray has already run for over one thousand yard, and now has eight straight one hundred yard games to start the season. However, the o-line that has been talked about by some as the best in the league this season, couldn’t protect the quarterback last week against Washington, yet this week go against one of the most blitz heavy defences in the league. It could a very tough time for whoever starts at quarterback this week.
Bruce Arians and his staff are doing a great job this season. Having lost so many of the starters from last year’s stellar defence, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Cardinals might struggle, but somehow they are still top ten. They are getting by on offence, although I thought that the observation about their likely unsustainable good play on third down in Aaron Schatz’s Football Outsiders DVOA column was interesting. Still, whilst they may regress at some point, they have enough play makers and seem to be playing well home and away. This is one of the few games that I’m beginning to feel comfortable with this week, which means you should all back the Cowboys to bounce back, but I’m sticking with the Cardinals.
Gee’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Pick: Cowboys
Jets @ Chiefs (-9.5)
Oh dear Geno. A stat line of two completions in eight attempts for five yards and three interceptions is something the like of which we will not see for quite some time. I wrote that I thought this would be a close game, but I underestimated the Bills’ defence, and for the first time I feel like the Jets really let the game get away from them. Sadly, I really don’t see that Michael Vick will be the solution as the new starter given that Geno Smith was pulled in the first quarter, giving Vick plenty of time to secure the starter role through good play. I don’t think an interception and three fumbles, which luckily only once was recovered by the Bills, was really enough to win him the job.
This week the Jets travel to the Chiefs and I think it could be a long day. The Chiefs are a very well coached side, that often win the line of scrimmage battle on both sides of the ball and have playmakers on offense. They took care of business against the Rams last week, and have another bad team this week and whilst the points are high, I think the Chiefs will win big for a second week in a row.
Gee’s Pick: Chiefs
Dan’s Pick: Chiefs
Chargers @ Dolphins (-1.5)
This should be a cracking game. The Dolphins did a solid job against the Jaguars last week, with their defence continuing to play well, and the offence looking like it is making progress. The Chargers are probably gasping for the bye to try and get healthy, but they didn’t disgrace themselves in the loss to the Broncos, and what are the chances that they would win two years in a row in Mile High stadium? I think the Chargers will do well with the extra rest, even having to travel across the country. This is a risky pick as I have no doubt that Dan will be picking the Dolphins, but I think they’ll come a cropper in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Chargers
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
Washington @ Vikings (-1.5)
This is a meeting of two 3-5 teams who both found ways to win last week. The Vikings required an overtime Anthony Barr fumble return for a touchdown to beat the Buccaneers, whilst Washington managed to kick a field goal in overtime to win. This is the battle of last year’s Bengals’ coordinators, and whilst I think that Mike Zimmer is the better coach, I don’t know that he has the players right now. I’m more impressed with Washington beating the Cowboys and I’m getting points so I’m backing Washington for a second week in a row, but I would run a lot of miles before I put any money on this game.
Gee’s Pick: Washington
Dan’s Pick: Washington
Eagles @ Texans (+2.5)
The Texans came through for me last week, but I’m not sure they have what it takes to win or cover in this game. The defence did well and Arian Foster has rushed for one hundred yards in six of the team’s seven games, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a worry and I don’t think that they will have enough in this game.
I don’t think that I overestimated the Eagles but underestimated the Cardinals. There are still questions about what is going on with the offence and LeSean McCoy, but the defence is top ten by DVOA and I have a feeling that they will get back on track this week. I don’t think they were as good as their winning start to the season led some people to think (myself included), but I think they are a better team than the Texans, and whilst I might have picked too many away teams last week, I don’t appear to have learnt my lesson.
Gee’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Rams @ 49ers (-9.5)
The 49ers were on a bye last week, which they probably really needed given their injuries, but couldn’t have been much fun with the big loss to the Broncos in week seven hanging over them. I think that they have enough to win this game, but they are not the team from last year and this number worries me.
Having got the great win against the Seahawks in week seven, the Rams just got battered away to the Chiefs last week. Poor Austin Davis took seven sacks, and could only muster one touchdown and an interception in the 7-34 loss. They also look to have lost left tackle Jake Long for the season to an ACL tear, with receiver Brian Quick possibly following Long to IR with a shoulder problem, as well as listing right guard Rodger Saffold and centre Scott Wells as questionable with them also having left the game on Sunday.
I know I said the number worries me, but I think the 49ers will be raring to go this weekend, and are catching the Rams at a difficult point in an already horrible season.
Gee’s Pick: 49ers
Dan’s Pick: Rams
Broncos @ Patriots (+3.5)
It’s time for another Brady Manning Bowl, and we should enjoy it whilst we still have them, because there can’t be many of these left.
The Patriots did a real number on the Bears last week, and I’m cross with myself for picking against them. I could write an essay about the way that Patriots attack the centre of the field when Gronkowski is healthy, and how this worked perfectly in attacking the Bears defence, but my focus is actually on Brady as something occurred to me this week. I stand by what I wrote about the ball not coming out like it did, and I did see him miss some throws in that Jets game, but we’ve been watching Peyton Manning throw wobbly passes for two seasons now and he has been incredibly effective. I should have know better than to forget the brains and the will of a Tom Brady, he is past his prime, but still is an incredibly effective quarterback and it looks like the offence is coming together now. He looks to finally have got another receiver in Brandon LaFell and they scored a lot of points last week.
That said, the Broncos right now look like the best team in the league. Their offence is still the best in the league by DVOA, but their defence is improved from last season and is currently ranked second in the league. I should be worried about taking another road favourite, but as good as the Patriots are, I think the Broncos will win this one. I’m really torn on this number, logic dictates that I should take the points and the Patriots at home, but I’m an idiot and if I am going to catch Dan then I need to take the occasional risk.
Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Broncos
Raiders @ Seahawks (-14.5)
One team is 0-7 and the other is the reigning Super Bowl Champions and so you might think this is a reasonably large line to get action on both sides, but I’m not so sure.
As defending champions the Seahawks could well be dealing with Pat Riley’s disease of more, but they are certainly having a difficult season. The defence is not playing as well as last year, the offence is not quite firing, they’ve just traded Percy Harvin, there are rumours of discord in the locker room, and they are coming off an unconvincing win. They only scored thirteen points against the Panthers and even Russell Wilson had a drop in play last week, and otherwise he has been excellent this season.
The Raiders are not a good team, but in the majority of their games they are hanging tough. Their rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw for over three hundred yards and a touchdown without an interception, which offers some hope for the future. I don’t see them winning this game, especially in Seattle, but I think that they could keep it within fifteen points. I could be wrong, and the Seahawks could get themselves back on track this week, but I wouldn’t bet on it being by fifteen points or more.
Gee’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
Ravens @ Steelers (-0.5)
This will be a fascinating game for those of us invested in the AFC North, but possibly not a great spectacle. Although the Ravens lost to the Bengals last week, with a different penalty call they could very easily have won, and they still look like a good team. They are now the only team ranked in the top ten in all three phases of the game by DVOA, and I continue to feel confident about them.
The problem is that I do not know what to make of the up and down Steelers. Playing in their eye catching bumble bee throw back jerseys, they put fifty-one points on a Colts defence that had shut out the Bengals the week before. It is probably worth remembering that if a team’s offence is not scoring points, but has solid line play, good receivers including on of the best in the league, and a very good looking running back, then maybe they are due some points. That said, the Colts still managed to put up thirty-four points against a defence that is really not what you would expect from a Steelers team.
I do think that the Ravens are a level above the Steelers, but divisional games can be tricky so I expect a closer game than earlier in the season, but the same end result.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Steelers
Colts @ Giants (+3.5)
The Colts had been playing so well that maybe they were due a bad game, but the defence that has looked so good recently, were bad against the Steelers as detailed above. However, even under these circumstances Andrew Luck was good enough to keep them hanging around. I am not going to over react to the last game, but the Colts defence plummeted down the rankings by DVOA and it will be interesting to see how that side of the ball goes over the next few weeks.
The Giants are coming off a bye week that followed two difficult losses. There’s no shame in losing to the Eagles and Cowboys this season, but the loss to the Eagles was pretty awful and the Cowboys beat them fairly easily as well. They are pretty much mid table in all three phases of the game by DVOA and I don’t think they have enough to win this game. I seem to be picking a lot of road favourites again, and I am a little bit torn on this one, but in the end I’m sticking with my instincts.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Colts