Hello friends! It’s been an exciting week in the sporting world & it’s time to wrap it up with some great NFL action. Probably the best news for me this week is that the Bengals are on a bye, so they won’t be able to lose. There are plenty of other games to talk about though, so let’s get right to it.
Sunday, November 6
Jacksonville at Kansas City (-7.5)
This line was as high as nine points before KC announced that Alex Smith would be out this week & Nick Foles would be at quarterback. Which leads to the following question: Why would that make much of a difference? Foles stepped in on Sunday against the Colts and delivered pretty much the same production Smith would give the Chiefs on any given week, and as long as he can do that (which, let’s be honest, isn’t asking a whole heck of a lot), they should be fine. Jamaal Charles on IR? He hasn’t done a thing this season anyway. If the Chiefs are as good as Dustin James & the experts are telling me they are, they should have absolutely no problem with the Jags at home.
Detroit at Minnesota (-5.5)
Just a couple of weeks ago, things were looking pretty darn spiffy in Minneapolis. The defense was historically good, Sam Bradford wasn’t making mistakes & the Vikings were beating everybody. They went on a bye in Week 6, and the wheels fell off. Embarrassing losses to the Eagles & Bears sent Norv Turner on his way home, and now we can add “offensive coordinator” to the list of positions the Vikings have needed replacements at this season.
There’s some reason for optimism going forward. Pat Shurmur was Sam Bradford’s offensive coordinator in St. Louis & Philadelphia, and should be more equipped to make an offensive scheme Bradford fits into than Turner was. These things take time though, and the Lions might not be on a winning streak anymore but I can still see them keeping it close in Minnesota.
Philadelphia at NY Giants (-2.5)
The NFC East is a pretty big logjam right now with three teams at 4-3 & two games behind the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles & Giants both need a win here to keep up with the Cowboys and ahead of the other teams for wild card consideration. The Giants got a much-needed bye week after their game in London to settle things down, but I don’t see it helping Eli Manning get anything done on offense. The Eagles have shown enough on defense lately to tell me they can take care of business in East Rutherford.
Dallas (-7) at Cleveland
Nah, I’m not going to say anything. No need to pile on Cleveland right now. I’ll just say the Cowboys should be able to beat the Browns pretty good and move on to the next one.
NY Jets at Miami (-3.5)
Two evenly matched teams here. I like what I’ve seen out of the Dolphins ever since their troubles with Cincinnati and Tennessee. That being said, this feels like a close one & I think the difference could be the Jets‘ solid rush defense managing to contain Jay Ajayi more than other teams have recently. Miami gives up nearly double the rushing yards the Jets do, and Matt Forte or Bilal Powell or whoever should be in line to take advantage of it. It’s not like the Jets want anybody throwing the ball.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-2.5)
Remember when Steelers vs. Ravens was a big deal? It’s still kind of a deal since Baltimore’s only one game behind Pittsburgh for first place in the AFC North, but it’s not like the old days when we thought these were the top two teams in the conference most times they played. The Ravens looked pretty good early on against lesser competition, but now they’ve lost four straight and are looking for answers. They won’t find them this week. Ben Roethlisberger should be back this week well-rested and ready to go, and I have no idea why the Steelers are the underdogs here. Go ahead and take the money.
New Orleans (-3.5) at San Francisco
I always worry about Road Drew Brees, but if there’s a week not to worry about him it’s this week against the sorry, no-account 49ers. The Saints feel like the easy pick here.
Carolina (-3) at Los Angeles
Seems pretty obvious that the Panthers are on their way to 11-5, doesn’t it?
Indianapolis at Green Bay (-7.5)
The Packers had a tough loss last week in Atlanta, but I was more impressed with their performance in that game than I have been by anything else I’ve seen from them this season. They’re headed on the right track. The Colts…well, I’m not sure where they’re headed. Both these teams have great quarterbacks with questionable supporting casts, but Aaron Rodgers has more experience and his supporting cast is pretty darn good compared to what Indy surrounds Andrew Luck with.
Tennessee at San Diego (-5)
Are the Titans actually playoff contenders? It seems impossible to believe, but the competition in the AFC South is such that you can’t count them out at 4-4 and one game behind the Houston Texans. The Chargers are only one game behind the Titans but are looking up at three teams with two losses in the AFC West. If I were them I’d petition for placement in the AFC South because San Diego is further south than Nashville & Indianapolis. I like the Titans to at least keep it close.
Denver at Oakland
It’s getting pretty crowded on the Raider bandwagon. We here at the USB have been telling y’all about the Raiders since last season. They got a lot of good young talent…the defense has taken a step back this season, but Derek Carr and the offense have more than made up for it. They get their toughest test this week, as the Broncos defense continues to be no joke.
The question here is if the Broncos offense can take advantage of the Raiders’ lack of defense, and if the Raiders can stop their trend of having disappointing performances at home against AFC West teams. They’re undefeated on the road against inferior teams, but laid an egg at home against Kansas City & barely beat the Chargers. The Broncos typically come up big in these situations. They might have quarterback questions and they’re on a backup running back, but that can still get it done against a Raiders team that needs to take a step forward defensively to join the elite teams in the AFC.
Monday, November 7
Buffalo at Seattle (-7)
Instinct tells you to take the Seahawks here. It’s a home game. It’s Monday Night Football. They’re the better team. But we’ve seen this before. In 2015 they only beat the Lions by three points on Monday night in Seattle. 2012, of course featured the controversial Fail Mary win for the Seahawks over the Packers. The Seahawks typically win on Monday night, but it’s usually pretty close. That’s why I think the pesky Bills are the bet here.