Hello friends! One thing I’m noticing this week is that the lines in Vegas seem to be moving a lot more than usual. That Cleveland/Baltimore line was at 10 on Wednesday then down to 7.5 while I was working on this column Thursday afternoon. Houston was favored by 1 in the first game, then became a 2 point dog while I was working on the column. I’m not sure what all of this means…maybe the NFL execs who said the election was eating into their ratings and general fan interest were on to something? Maybe people are getting back into football now? Maybe some people are diving even more into football now to drown their sorrows? I dunno, but it might be something to keep an eye on. Perhaps the NFL isn’t going to plummet in popularity like we thought it had been doing, and maybe the numbers will even go further up now.
Or maybe the bookies & the bettors just don’t know what to make of this week’s slate. I’ll admit, there’s some confusing stuff going on here. Let’s break it down.
Sunday, November 13
Houston at Jacksonville (-2)
I have the same opinion towards the AFC South that a lot of people have towards the AFC North: I don’t want to watch any of these games with any of these teams because it’s just bad football. I feel like the Texans are the smart choice here, they got a week off and Jacksonville had to go up to Kansas City for a slugfest with the Chiefs. They did better than expected, but they still got physically beat up pretty good.
Kansas City at Carolina (-3)
I’ve seen a lot of people whining & complaining about various things this week, and among the people doing the most of it seem to be Kansas City Chiefs fans. They’re all hot & bothered because people that do NFL Power Rankings have the temerity, the unmitigated gall to put the Oakland Raiders ahead of the Chiefs in their power rankings. I don’t wish to bury the concept of the column, Dustin James does a great job with his and it’s one of our most popular features every week. But the only rankings that matter at the NFL at the end of the day are the standings. This isn’t college football where you can’t get in the playoffs if the committee ranks you too low. You build up a record and that record dictates where you go.
Sure, if I had a power rankings column I would rank the Chiefs ahead of the Raiders due to their head to head win. But I’m not going to go batpoop crazy because somebody else thinks the Raiders do a better job of passing the eye test. It seems like a silly thing to get mad about when there’s more than enough legitimate topics to get mad about. Can’t we go back to being mad at Cam Newton for no apparent reason? That always seemed fun.
Anyway, this interesting matchup pits two USB writers’ favorite teams against each other. I asked them for their predictions…Dustin thinks KC will win by 30.5 & Alex Smith will get 500 yards & 6 touchdowns. Jeremy Lambert didn’t dispute this. I will agree with them and pick the Chiefs, and it’ll be their fault if it doesn’t work out.
Denver at New Orleans (-3)
Interesting game here. Offensively the advantage obviously goes to the Saints and defensively the advantage obviously goes to the Broncos. If there’s a defense that can shut down Drew Brees & company in the Superdome, it would be Denver’s. “Shut down” will be a relative term, I’m sure. But I like the Broncos‘ chances of scoring enough points on an inept Saints defense to get the job done.
Los Angeles at NY Jets (-2)
I like the Jets in this one. I don’t trust their offense, but I really don’t trust the Rams offense on a cross-country road trip.
Atlanta (-2) at Philadelphia
The Eagles tend to show up big against teams perceived to be better than them at home. They blew out the Steelers and humbled the Vikings to the point that Minnesota’s season hasn’t been the same since. They’ve had some trouble recently on the road but haven’t exactly been getting blown out. The Falcons have gotten their season back on track recently and I think they’re a legit contender, but I like the Eagles to score the upset this week. Carson Wentz should do fine against the Falcons defense.
Minnesota at Washington (-2.5)
Nobody really thinks of Washington as a good team, but there they are at 4-3-1 and in playoff contention. We didn’t think they were a good team last year but they made the playoffs. Eventually we’re going to have to accept the facts that maybe something we didn’t believe in could actually happen. I see Washington advancing to 5-3-1 at the expense of a Vikings team looking for answers and not really having any at this point.
Green Bay (-3) at Tennessee
You know, someday we’ll look back at this period of time and be amazed that we thought that Aaron Rodgers was a much better quarterback than Marcus Mariota. Or maybe we won’t. The Titans are 4-5 with all of their wins coming against not very good teams. Are the Packers a good team? I’m really not sure, but they do have a solid run defense that might be able to slow DeMarco Murray down enough to make it a quarterback vs. quarterback situation. In that case, I gotta take the Packers.
Chicago (-1) at Tampa Bay
I like the Buccaneers here since Jameis Winston & Mike Evans are practicing fully and should be good to go on Sunday.
Miami at San Diego (-4)
The Chargers might have been unsuccessful in their quest for a taxpayer-funded stadium, but they’ve been pretty successful in their current home lately. They’ve won three out of four overall and I like them to continue that trend against a Miami team that’s yet to win a road game and has benefitted from playing their last four games at home.
San Francisco at Arizona (-13.5)
It’s a lot of points, but I really, really don’t trust the sorry, no-account 49ers to do anything positive against a rested Cardinals team.
Dallas at Pittsburgh (-2.5)
I like the Cowboys a lot this season. They’ve become one of my favorite teams to watch, which hasn’t been the case since whenever they won their last Super Bowl. Usually I’m complaining about how often Dallas is on national TV and wishing they could put somebody else on, but that isn’t the case this season. The more Dallas the better, I say. Exciting offense, solid defense, young rookies getting it done. HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS?
The problem this week is they’re going to Pittsburgh to play a PISSED OFF Steelers team. Pittsburgh got shut down by Baltimore last week in Big Ben’s return…he’s going to be a week healthier and more ready to play than he was then. When everybody starts counting out the Steelers is when they’re at their most dangerous, and that’s why I think they’ll surprise some people and beat the Cowboys.
Seattle at New England (-7.5)
Our SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT matchup features Rex Ryan’s favorite teams going at it. The Patriots have been running over everybody in their path since the return of Tom Brady, and the Seahawks were very lucky to escape Monday night with a victory over the Bills. I will say that Seattle is the one team I have a little bit of difficulty picking against in what is otherwise a perfect situation for New England. Especially if the Seahawks get to take their referees with them.
Ah heck, who am I kidding? Take the Patriots.
Monday, November 14
Cincinnati at NY Giants
It’s the Bengals in prime time.
We’ve discussed the Bengals in prime time under Marvin Lewis before. It isn’t pretty. All-time, the Bengals are 10-22 on Monday nights. The only bright side is that the Giants are 21-35-1 on Monday nights, so they’re not a heck of a lot better. As far as this season goes, both teams seem pretty evenly matched. They’re both in playoff contention in their conferences. I like what I’ve seen out of the Giants recently, and the Bengals seem to be heading in the right direction maybe possibly. Should be a good game.
Cincy is coming off a bye after their tie in London, so they got one of the longest rest periods of the season. Unfortunately, that’s more time for them to think too much and psych themselves out. I see the Giants winning a tight one.