So a little delayed, I present this week’s picks:
One of the things I love about the NFL is also one of the things that make the process of picking games so difficult. On any given Sunday you’ll get the unexpected and there are very few nailed on wins or losses. Last week I was five and eight, but I only dropped another game behind Dan so hopefully I can still turn this round. The reason we had such a tough week is that who could have predicted that the 0-3 Buccaneers would beat the Steelers; or that the struggling Vikings would batter the Falcons 41-28; or that the Eagles would block a punt to score a touchdown, return an interception for a touchdown, and return another punt for a touchdown, yet still lose to the 49ers. There are picks I feel good about that lost and some that I’d love to have back, but I think we’re beginning to get a better idea about some of these teams so let’s take look at the upcoming week.
Gee: Week 4 5-8 Overall 26-35
Dan: Week 4 6-7 Overall 28-33
Vikings @ Packers (-9.5)
The quality of the Thursday night games has been somewhat up and down again this season, and I’d love to see a close game at some point. I’m looking forward to this game a lot, the Vikings had a really good win on Sunday against the Falcons with Teddy Bridgewater in his first game taking care of the ball and throwing for 317 yards, whilst their defence held the Falcons enough to win. The worrying this is that Teddy Bridgewater sprained is ankle and is questionable for this game. It appears that the Aaron Rodgers was right when he told Packer’s fans to relax, as he threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns, shredding the Bears defence to win their game. I’m struggling a little with this game, as I don’t think that the Vikings will allow over 200 yards of rushing but they have been inconsistent and Teddy Bridgewater is a doubt I think that the Packers will win this game, although there are still questions about them, and this is me changing my mind, but the Thursday night games have been very one sided so I think the Packers will cover the points as well.
Gee’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Comments: – his one is pretty difficult because of the spread, but I think I’ll go for Packers on this one.
Falcons @ Giants (-3.5)
This is an interesting pairing of teams. The Falcons have been Jekyll & Hyde all season, although the Saints and Bucs are looking bad so I’m not sure how much faith to put in them at all. I’ve seen them a couple of times, the Bengals defence stifled them pretty well in that loss and the Bucs didn’t offer much resistance when the Falcons beat them. Their offence looks good when it is firing but they literally ran out of linemen on Sunday and had to use a tight end as a right tackle for an extended stretch., They lack a pass rush and depth in the middle of the defence although their corners are good. Overall, I’m not convinced by them against competent opposition and their o-line is going to remain a mess. The Giants have been improving all season, and whilst I need to be careful as Thursday night games have flattered several teams this year, I think that Manning is getting to grips with the new offence and looked really good against Washington. Now granted, that was against a defence that got very little pressure and looked horrible in coverage, but I don’t see the Falcons doing much better overall despite their corners. I like the Giants to win this game, and strongly enough that I’ll take whilst giving points..
Gee’s Pick: Giants
Dan’s Pick: Giants
Dan’s Comments: – Giants absolutely took Washington apart in week 4, while the Falcons were taken apart by the Vikings, so I’m going to go with Giants in this game.
Bills @ Lions (-7.5)
It has taken me for attempts to start writing this game up, which is because I am so confused by the Bills. They have a great defensive line, have played well in spurts, but EJ Manuel has been so inconsistent that they’ve dropped him. I think this is because of how open the division is this year, but I don’t think the Bills are going in the right direction. However, the Lions appear to be as they’ve been more disciplined and are good on defence. They racked up a solid win against the Jets despite Calvin Johnson being quiet and I see them beating the Bills fairly easily. I could be wrong as I’ve only picked one Bills game correctly all season, but I’m going for the Lions.
Gee’s Pick: Lions
Dan’s Pick: Lionss
Dan’s Comments: – Got to be Lions. While they didn’t run away with the Jets, I still think they’ve got enough to go over the Bills.
Bears @ Panthers (-2.5)
The Carolina Panthers lost heavily to a good Ravens team, but the worrying thing for them is that the defence that initially seemed so good is currently ranked twenty-eighth by DVOA and is beginning to show cracks as they are missing some pieces. The o-line is starting to look how many feared it would going into the season, and. I worry about this team going forward. The Bears are a flawed team, that to an extent are going to live and die on the difference between good Cutler and bad Cutler, because he has one of those arms that makes him think he can make every throw. In some games this will work and in others he’ll throw interceptions, but the Bears defence is not one that follows in the traditions of the club. In fairness, they held up pretty well in the run, which was the area of concern for many, but they were shredded by Aaron Rodgers. I’m wary of reading too much into team rankings, as match ups do matter, but there are thirteen places between them by DVOA and I think the Bears will recover in this game.
Gee’s Pick: Bears
Dan’s Pick: Bears
Dan’s Comments: – Two teams who struggled last week, but let’s go with the Bears.
Browns @ Titans (-2.5)
Oh dear, the Titans gave up nearly 500 yards to the Colts last week, and after winning against the Chiefs in week 1, they have lost three straight. They are uncertain at quarterback, and so whilst they have some good looking receivers, they have no one to throw them the ball, yet somehow they’re giving points to the Browns. Mike Pettine has the Browns playing pretty well, their defence is not ranked as highly as I thought they would be, but their offence is doing surprisingly well despite missing some parts and I think they will have too much for the Titans as they come off their bye week.
Gee’s Pick: Browns
Dan’s Pick: Browns
Dan’s Comments: – Can’t see any further than the Browns against Titans this week
Texans @ Cowboys (-4.5)
This is a really hard game for me to pick. The Cowboys have surprised everyone by playing okay on defence, and running the ball behind a good young offensive line. There is a worry about DeMaroc Murray as although he’s been superb in four games, already racking up 534 yards, he has never played sixteen games, but right now they are doing well. I haven’t got a full read on the Texans. They’re not the most amazing team on either side of the ball, but they find a way to win and they have the best defensive player in the league. I’ll try not to get boring on the subject of JJ Watt, but last week he returned an interception for a touchdown, and did not look like a 3-4 defensive end whilst doing it, as well as racking up nine quarterback hits. I think this could be a close game, but I’m taking the points and going with the Texans.
Gee’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Comments: – Two in form teams. I can see the Texans D controlling the Cowboys O, so I’ll go for the Texans.
Ravens @ Colts (-3.5)
The Colts have got themselves back on track with two straight wins, but they were against the Jaguars and Titans. When people are making comments about even Trent Richardson scores against the Titans, it is bad for the Titans, but it is also not great if you’re the team that traded a first round pick to get him. I am not convinced by this team, although Andrew Luck is excellent. However, they are facing a Ravens team that steamrollered the Panthers and have looked good for most of the season. The defence is playing well, and the offence is really coming along. I don’t expect Steve Smith Snr, who has been good all year. to be quite as fired up as he was when facing his old team, but I fancy the Ravens to at least cover in this game, if not win.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Comments: – I think the Ravens are the obvious choice here, but I just can’t help but thinking the Colts will take it for some reason!
Rams @ Eagles (-7.5)
The Eagles have problems with their offensive line, which they have been working round for most of the season, but it was too much to overcome on Sunday. The 49ers defence did an amazing job on the Eagles offence, and it was only their special teams play and a pick six that kept the Eagles in the game. I wrote last week that I thought they could lose, but they wouldn’t by more than six and I was right. This is a game that I can see them winning, but I’m not sure that they will by eight or more. There is still a lot of talent on the Rams defence that hasn’t clicked yet this season, but in Austin Davis they found a quarterback that moved the ball against the Cowboys, and the Eagles are not good on defence. I think they might do okay in this game coming off a bye, although I might be wary of large lines after last week, but I’m backing the Rams to cover.
Gee’s Pick: Rams
Dan’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Comments: – I think the Eagles will have this one pretty easy this week. I’ve not liked much of what I’ve seen of St. Louis so far this year.
Buccaneers @ Saints (-10.5)
Now this is a line to worry about. I’m really pleased that the Bucs proved me wrong, and having said that I couldn’t see where they were going to win a game, they promptly beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They got Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson back on the defensive line, which did much better than against the Falcons, and Mike Glennon gave them better play than McCown at quarterback. The reason that this line bothers me is that both teams are 1-3 and whilst I don’t exactly trust the Bucs, I don’t see why the Saints are giving 10.5 points, even if they are back home. The Saints have not been clicking on offence, and might really be regretting trading Darren Sproles to the Eagles. Their defence, that improved so much last year, seems to be returning to average, with Rob Ryan blitzing a lot and not winning on his gambles. This Saints have struggled this season and I hate the points spread even if they do beat the Bucs, which I’m not convinced they will.
Gee’s Pick: Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick: Buccaneers
Dan’s Comments: – Another one I’ve struggled with when picking, as I think given the spread it could go either way.
Steelers @ Jaguars (+6.5)
I feel sorry for the Jaguars this week. They’ve played well in stretches, but haven’t been able to put together a whole game, although it does look like there are promising signs that they’ve found their quarterback. The worrying thing for me is that they are ranked thirty-first in defence by DVOA and that is Gus Bradley’s side of the ball. It might be that they can turn it round as the season goes on, and let’s hope they do for the London game, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The Steelers are another Jekyll & Hyde team, alternating wins and losses. They have one the best receivers playing at the moment in Antonio Brown, and have been looking pretty good on offence, but their defence is struggling. It’s looked a bit old at time and they were missing players last week against the Bucs. I really liked what I saw of Ryan Shazier so they’ll be hoping to get him back soon. I think that this is an experienced team who are going to be furious after last week’s result and in the Jaguars, they are playing against a good team to help them get back on track. I might be wrong, but I think this is another big loss for the Jaguars.
Gee’s Pick: Steelers
Dan’s Pick: Steelers
Dan’s Comments: – Steelers to bounce back this week. Sorry Jags fans – this is becoming a long season for you!
Caridnals @ Broncos (-7.5)
This is a cracking game, with both teams playing well and coming off a bye. The Cardinals have been excellent on defence, but Carson Palmer is still having problems with a nerve issue in his shoulder and so I’m worried about them on offence. The Broncos are not playing as well as last year on offence, but they don’t need to with the bolstering of their defence during the offseason, and they may well be a better overall team as a result. I think this game is almost impossible to call, I think it will be close but I could see either side winning handily. This pick is coming down to points, and whilst the Broncos are at home, and traditionally have a good home field advantage due to the altitude, I’m wary of the 7.5 number.
Gee’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Comments: – Arizona to continue their winning streak after their Bye last Sunday.
Chiefs @ 49ers (-7.5)
There are times when you should follow your convictions, and my first instinct was to pick the Chiefs last week. I was backing the Brady, Belichik combination on Monday night, which I said was a bad reason to pick a game and so it proved to be. The Chiefs played well on defence, moved the ball on a Patriots defence, which was ranked highly and beat the Patriots convincingly enough that some are question if it is the end of an era in New England. I’ll save talk of that for when I write about the Patriots, but clearly the Chiefs are heading in the right direction. The 49ers did it with defence last week against the Eagles. There still seem to be some issues with their offence, but they did well to overcome their special teams miscues and get a much needed win. I’m really not sure how this one is going, so I am again running away from giving this many points in a game I don’t have a strong opinion on.
Gee’s Pick: Chiefs
Dan’s Pick: Chiefs
Dan’s Comments: – It’s got to be the Chiefs after their fantastic result on this week’s MNF.
Jets @ Chargers (-7.5)
The Jets are currently ranked seventeenth on defence by DVOA, which when you consider their secondary is possibly not that bad, but if your identity as a team is one of defence then it is a problem. There are signs that Geno Smith is making progress, but not fast enough, and there were ugly scenes when the Jets fans starting chanting for Michael Vick. They have only one win and I don’t seem them getting a second this week. I’m not sure if there is a quarterback playing better than Phil Rivers at the moment, who is doing it without a good running game and a defence that is holding its own. I’m a little bit worried about the points, but in this game I’m prepared to give them as the Chargers are a team that I’m 3-1 with across the season.
Gee’s Pick: Chargers
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
Dan’s Comments: – The Chargers are on fire at the minute, and the Jets aren’t making things easy for themselves. San Diego win.
Bengals @ Patriots (-2.5)
I wrote about Patriots line last week and I only backed them as they were on Monday night football. We’ve had too many games now for this to be an aberration, but whilst I still have nagging doubts about picking against them on a nationally televised game I can’t back them in this one. The line might improve, but it seems a mess at the moment, and the skill players can’t get open. The Bengals have looked pretty good on offence despite missing some parts, whilst the defence has looked great even with Burfit missing time with a concussion. I’m worried about jinxing this, but I think the Bengals will win without the aid of a thunderstorm this time.
Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Comments: – The Patriots are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league this year, and the Bengals are scoring an average of 27 points a game without letting much past them. Easy
Seattle @ Washington (+7.5)
I wrote about how bad the Washington defence against the Giants last week, which actually worries me more than the wobble Kirk Cousins had forcing the issue as he tried to get them back in the game. I don’t think he will be as bad, but I don’t see him coping with the Seahawks defence, even if they don’t have the amazing Seattle crowd helping them. The Seahawks are fresh of a bye and are looking like there are going to go deep again this season, making this a fairly straight forward pick.
Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Comments: – I think this one’s got to be the Seahawks. I don’t think Washington have it in them this week.
I feel pretty good about this weeks’ picks, but then I do most weeks. Sadly I’m only picking against Dan twice this week so I’m not sure I’ll be making much ground up on any time soon.