I went into the Thursday night game with a renewed interest in the Jets taking on the Colts, but unfortunately the hope for a true contest was dashed after the Jet’s former practice squad quarterback Mike White (fresh from a four-hundred-yard game in his first start last week) returned to the side-line in the first quarter having scored an equalising touchdown with a forearm injury that ultimately saw White miss the rest of the game. For a third string quarterback Josh Johnson had a pretty decent game in place of White, but while the Jets were able to come back late in the game, they had really already lost by half time and this was largely due to calamitous run defence. For all the talk of Carson Wentz this season, this game belongs to Jonathan Taylor who ran forh one hundred and seventy-two yards and two touchdowns including a seventy-eight-yard touchdown run. The Colts as a team ran for two hundred and sixty yards and will face sterner tests this season but having now got four wins out of six after starting 0-3 they are dragging themselves into the playoff the picture. The playoffs were never an option for the Jets this season, and in the last couple of weeks they have shown some good moments on offence, although you’d really want them from your second overall pick Zach Wilson but the defensive woes are definitely a concern. Rookie running back Michael Carter has now impressed me for two weeks in a row and if the Jets can keep finding players to build around then they could finally start to be truly competitive again.

Early Games:

The early games are a bit of a mixed bag this week and so with no game particularly leaping out at me I shall cheat a little and go with my own team. The battle of Ohio is always a physical game, and you can’t trust the Bengals yet, but at home following a three week streak of road games they will be hoping to pounce on a literally wounded Browns team who are struggling with injuries. The Browns might well rally around the departure of disgruntled receiver Odell Beckham Jnr, but whilst I think Kevin Stefanski is likely the better head coach, the Bengals have the better quarterback (to be fair Baker Mayfield is playing through a tough injury in his non-throwing shoulder) and I would like to think they should get back to winning ways after last week’s loss to the Jets. If they lose again though then questions will need to be asked, but let’s not worry about them reverting to type before they lose a fourth game.

Points from the rest:

  • The Cowboys had the luxury last week of taking their time with Dak Prescott coming back from a calf strain thanks to their hold on the NFC East, and then still got the win thanks to a solid performance from Cooper Rush. It looks like Prescott will be back this week and with the Broncos trading away Von Miller they are making some long term moves while trying to stay competitive. It’s hard to see the Broncos getting the upset on the road given the way the Cowboys have been playing this season.
  • The Dolphins hosting the Texans sees two teams looking at an opportunity to break their seven game losing streaks, but whilst the Dolphins go into this game as favourites, I do wonder what the return of Tyrod Taylor will do for the Texans as he has not played since week two.
  • The New Orleans Saints lost Jameis Winston for the season last week, but while the driver of conversation this week was whether Trevor Siemian would get the start at quarterback over utility QB and special teams player Taysom Hill, the driver of the Saints success this season is their defence. The Falcons are rock bottom in the NFL by DVOA so they have done pretty well to get three win but despite it being a divisional game, it is hard to see the Falcons triumphing, although not impossible.
  • The Raiders’ players must be reeling given that fresh off the revelations and resignation of Jon Gruden, Henry Ruggs as been involved in a DUI that cost someone their life. The important thing about that whole situation is the family who are grieving for their lost, but the NFL stops for very little so it’s hard to predict how the Raiders will react in their game against a Giants team who are a team I don’t feel I have a handle on at all this season.
  • The Panthers look like they might get Christian McCaffery back this week, but Sam Darnold hasn’t cleared concussion protocol and has a shoulder problem. After a strong start to the season, the Panthers have fallen back to 4-4 whilst the Patriots have the same record but have built back from a 1-3 start and surely must be the favourites coming into this game.
  • The Jaguars are a bad football team and even first overall pick Trevor Lawrence looked poor last week so whilst you can’t absolutely rule out a surprise result, it’s very hard to see anything other than a Bills win in a game that pits the first overall team by DVOA against the thirtieth.
  • The Ravens host the Vikings in a game that has potential to be competitive, but the Vikings are a hard team to predict. Yes Kirk Cousins is playing well, but it seems you can’t trust him in the big moments and the Vikings are a team who seem to struggle to put all phases of the game together on the same day. The Ravens might have some issues in their secondary but are coming off a bye following their loss to the Bengals and will be desperate to get back to winning ways.

Browns @ Bengals (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Broncos @ Cowboys (-9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Texans @ Dolphins (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Falcons @ Saints (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Raiders @ Giants (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Giants
Dan’s Pick:      Raiders

Patriots @ Panthers (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Patriots

Bills @ Jaguars (+14.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

Vikings @ Ravens (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Vikings

Late Games:

It’s a small slate of games in the late slot this week and a slightly curious bunch. The Packers visiting the Chiefs should have been a game of the week contest between Aaron Rodgers against Patrick Mahomes except the Chiefs are struggling on both sides of the ball whilst Rodgers has tested positive for Covid-19. It has been revealed that Rodgers is both unvaccinated and listening to well know medical ‘expert’ podcast host Joe Rogan so there could well be wider consequences, but for this game we get a chance to see Jordan Love get his most meaningful game time in his first NF start. It is hard to predict how that will pay out but given the swing in line with Roders out it is hard to back the Packers with the line we have.

Meanwhile, the divisional matchup between the Cardinals and 49ers is something of a different contest than their week five meeting now that JJ Watt is done for the year and Kyler Murray is dealing with an ankle injury. The 49ers got their first win since week two last week as Jimmy Garoppolo looked a lot better in his second week back from his own injury problem. I don’t think it is time for the Cardinals to panic, but after a 7-0 start they will be hoping that things are not falling apart as they approach the halfway point of their season.

Points on the Rest:

  • The Eagles made anyone predicting a Lions win last week look very silly as they remembered how to run the ball and utterly dominated that game. The Chargers have lost two straight games and the talk is that they need to do something to tweak their offence and certainly a loss to the Eagles would raise questions given how they looked early in the season.

Chargers @ Eagles (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Packers @ Chiefs (-2.5)\

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Cardinals @ 49ers (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      49ers
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Sunday Night Football:

Titans @ Rams (-7.5)

With the loss of Derick Henry this isn’t the game we would have been hoping for a week ago. We shall have to see how the Titans remake their offence and the Rams are not an easy team to do that against. The Rams had a top ten defence before adding Von Miller to their pass rush, and the offence has been scary to the point that they felt comfortable releasing DeSean Jackson this week as he was not happy with his playing time. There will be things to take away from this game, and head coach Mike Vrabel has a real knack for making the Titans competitive, but it’s hard to look past the Rams in this one.

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

Monday Night Football

Bears @ Steelers (-6.5)

The final game of the week is a bit of an odd contest. For all the noise and angst about quarterbacks the Bears are 3-5 going into their game with a Steelers team who have won three straight but have not looked like a true contender. That said, you are always going to be in a tough game playing the Steelers and their defence ranks tenth in the league by DVOA even if offence is a struggling twenty-first. The Bears might have found their quarterback of the future, but the current combination of GM and head coach has not convinced and it’s one thing to beat a Lions team by thirty-eight and another to go against a team coached by Mike Tomlin, even if Ben Roethlisberger is nothing like the quarterback he used to be. I think the Steelers are very likely to win this game but the number is definitely giving me problems.

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Steelers

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.