Here is where I would brag about getting two straight Thursday night games right, but considering I only got three games right last week I think I’ll hold off on any bragging of any kind. Here’s the main takeaway from last night’s game however.
The Seahawks will struggle to make the playoffs. They didn’t play that great, and they have major flaws offensively. Their offensive line is inconsistent, they can’t run the ball against good teams, and their weak receiving core is highlighted when they have to make plays. This is a classic case of a young team, with everyone trying to make it, coming together with a driving force to prove themselves, and they were very successful the last three years. Now that’s worn off, they’ve gotten paid, and the hunger is gone. Right now they have seven guys, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Bobby Wagner taking up approximately 762% of their salary cap (again, that’s an approximate number). So what’s occurred as a result? They have no depth. And believe me, it’s only going to get worse. Their going to have to let some of these guys go in the near future, and Pete Carroll might start thinking that the Legion of Boom isn’t as formidable as it once was, and that USC job is there for him again and he avoided all of the penalties. On to this week’s picks, which can’t possibly be worse than last week.
JAGUARS (+4.5) over Bills
Leave it to Rex Ryan to ruin a potential Super Bowl contender. The Bills are littered with talent, and it looked like they found a quarterback that could get them somewhere. Rex sprinkles his magic, they think they’re going to win the Super Bowl after three games, they scuffle a little bit, and now Sammy Watkins, Mario Williams, and Marcel Dareus are all complaining. Way to go Rex. Meanwhile the Jets seem to be doing just fine without you. Also, here’s to hoping for Gus Bradley’s sake he doesn’t get left in London with Joe Philbin. Maybe the FFCA (Fired Football Coaches Association) can open a location out in London if he does. You hear that Jon Gruden? I’m expanding your corporation for you. Your welcome.
REDSKINS (-3.5) over Buccaneers
I stand by everything I said about the Redskins last week. They were banged up and still were going to cover the spread against the Jets, who will be a playoff team this year, until late in that game. This week they’ll be a little healthier and I like them a lot at home against a very shaky Tampa team.
Falcons (-5.5) over TITANS
I’m not at all worried about this Falcons team. Any Thursday night loss I think can be explained away as being a weird short week where most teams don’t play well. Julio Jones played hurt last Thursday but now he’s had ten days to heal up (and he still had almost 100 yards receiving last week), and this team is stacked with offensive talent. The Titans were dominated last week and it sounds like Mariota won’t play. I love the Falcons in this one.
COLTS (-4) over Saints
I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the Colts last week. Other than Chuck Pagano stupidly trying to outcoach Belichick, they had a great gameplan for a compromised Andrew Luck and played with some pride. I think their gameplanning with Luck’s shoulder being hurt actually helped them. They ran a lot of three and five step drops with him with timing routes designed for him to get rid of the ball quickly. That’s a lot better than just letting Luck drop back, have everyone go deep, and let that horrible offensive line get run over while Luck tries to buy time and chucks it down the field as he gets clobbered. Maybe they’ll do more of this, and I’m expecting no horrible fake punts in this one.
Vikings (-2) over LIONS
Perhaps the Lions figured out that their best offense is to just have Stafford throw 60 yard bombs to Calvin Johnson every play, but I expect them to lay an egg offensively this week against a decent defense as they’ve done so many times this year. I can’t tell if this Vikings team is good or not, but I know the Lions aren’t, and I’m happy to only give two points to Jim Caldwell in this one.
Steelers (-2) over CHIEFS
The Steelers have done an excellent job of surviving without Big Ben, and have actually gone 2-1. Now they play a putrid Chiefs team with no running game to speak of, and no deep passing game. Maclin probably won’t play, and the way to beat the Steelers is through the air. Landry Jones looked good in relief of Vick last week, I expect him to be a little better with a full week to prepare. Also, the AFC stinks, and you can pretty much write the Steelers in as a Wild Card team at this point, and if Roethlisberger can play against the Bengals next week, then there’s still a lot to be decided in this division.
Browns (+6.5) over RAMS
The Browns are not a very good team, but they are a tough out. They have a good defense, can run the ball a little bit, and have some decent receiving threats in Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge. I also like the Rams a lot. They have a lot of deficiencies, but they know what they do well and what they do well they do really well. They run the ball well, Todd Gurley is a beast, and they have a stout defensive line that gives opposing quarterbacks problems. I expect this to be a low scoring game and I’m taking the points.
DOLPHINS (-4) over Texans
The Dolphins are a different team post-Joe Philbin. As I accurately predicted last week, they are a talented team, capable of being the playoff contender we all thought they’d be before the season, they just need to play like it. Also, the Texans are horrible. I’m not impressed with a 31-20 win over the Jaguars. They are offensively challenged, and one week doesn’t change that. I expect the Dolphins to roll at home.
Jets (+7.5) over PATRIOTS
The Patriots are the superior team, but they don’t have a great defense. Their pass rush is good, but the Jets strength is running the ball, and they will try and shorten the game and control the clock. It’ll be interesting to see if the Patriots are able to take away the run, and force Ryan Fitzpatrick to beat them. If they can, then it is going to be an ugly day for the Jets. But if the Jets can control the line of scrimmage and do well running the ball, then they’ll keep the game close, and I’m grabbing the points.
Raiders (+3.5) over CHARGERS
The Chargers are extremely reliant on Philip Rivers, and now his best weapon, Keenan Allen, is banged up. They have no run game to speak of, and their defense is shaky at best. Oakland is coming off of a bye, and should play a lot better against a Chargers defense that is giving up nearly 27 points per game.
GIANTS (-3.5) over Cowboys
I think there might be a little bit of a revenge game factor in this one. The Giants had the Cowboys beat in Dallas until they wet the bed on the one-yard line and gave Tony Romo the ball back. Now the Cowboys are starting Matt Cassel due to Brandon Weeden’s horrible play. We have no idea whether Cassel has any sort of grip on this offense, and he just got cut by Buffalo this year. I like the Giants to bounce back from an awful Monday night game in this one.