It is once again that time of the week. Time for me to make a fool of myself by making picks for every game that at least half of which will be wrong. But what matters is that I try my best, right? At least that is what all my elementary school teachers and little league coaches told me growing up. The players that take the field this week will also be trying their best. So let’s see whose best I think will be better than their opponent’s best.
Miami Dolphins (+3.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
Maybe I’m just buying into the Miami hype too much, but this game seem to be a lock for the Dolphins. The Bengals showed life for the first time last week by earning their first win, but it was against the Jets so take that with a grain of salt. The Dolphins, on the other hand, took down the unstoppable Bills, albeit in a bit of a fluky manner. These two teams are clearly coming into this game with different momentum, and I think that plays a huge role in who wins. If Miami’s offense continues to be as explosive as it has looked so far, the Bengals will have a hard time keeping up against a stout Miami defense.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) over New Orleans Saints
We are all aware of the ‘primetime Kirk Cousins’ narrative but what about the ‘playing in a game that kicks off at 6:30 a.m. on the west coast Kirk Cousins’ narrative? If Cousins plays horribly when all eyes are on him, then he should be amazing when football fans are still asleep. It also helps that he is going against a Saints team that doesn’t pose much of a threat at the moment, especially if Jameis Winston misses the game and they have to go with Andy Dalton at quarterback. The New Orleans defense will be a bit of a challenge because that unit is good, but a Minnesota offense with Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen should be able to score plenty. Weird stuff happens in these overseas games and although a Saints upset would be quite weird, a fantastic performance from Cousins may be even weirder, and therefore more likely to happen.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) over Tennessee Titans
You would think that the Colts would come into this game with more momentum after beating the Chiefs. But based on how sloppy that game was, particularly on Kansas City’s side, Indy isn’t exactly riding high at the moment. Fortunately for them, neither are the Titans, who finally got their first win of the season but it was at the expense of the winless Raiders. With two elite running backs in this matchup, Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor, this game should be a battle of rushing attacks. That is even more likely given that Ryan Tannehill and Matt Ryan have both been disappointing under center for their respective teams. I view these teams as being pretty even and think they will probably split the season series so I will give this contest to the Colts because they are at home and are playing better at the moment, though not by much.
New York Giants (-3.5) over Chicago Bears
Since this may be the only time this season that Daniel Jones is the superior quarterback in a game, I have to take the Giants in this one. I also am picking them because I believe they are the better team, although they are not without their flaws. New York was entirely unable to give Jones any time in the pocket last week against the Cowboys. That should be the Bears’ plan of attack this week, use Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith to get to Jones and force his receivers to make plays, which they don’t seem able to do. That would also help out a Chicago offense that has been borderline nonexistent this year. Justin Fields is, by all means, a talented quarterback but he has not been given the opportunity to throw the ball that much. That has led to an offense that fails to score points, which is vital to winning games. I don’t see the Bears’ approach changing this week so unless they can hold the Giants to around 10 points, which isn’t totally unrealistic, I don’t see them coming away from this matchup victorious.
Buffalo Bills (-3) over Baltimore Ravens
My heart really wants me to go with the Ravens in this one because I absolutely love the way Lamar Jackson is playing this year and it would be awesome to see him shred this impressive Buffalo defense. But if I remove emotions from the equation, I can’t see a way that the Ravens win this game without Jackson having one of the best single-game performances by a player ever. The Bills are sound in all areas of the game and should be looking to redeem themselves after last week’s loss to the Dolphins. The chances of this Bills team losing two games in a row feels very slim. They also have a very advantageous matchup with the Baltimore secondary, which has demonstrated a tendency to give up some yards and points. The Ravens gave up 26 points and 321 passing yards to the Patriots last week. Going up against Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Gabriel Davis just seems like a recipe for disaster for the Ravens’ defense. I don’t think the Bills win a blowout by any means, but I can see them winning by between four and seven points in a very entertaining clash of two potential playoff teams.
Los Angeles Chargers over Houston Texans (+5.5)
I have some major concerns about the Chargers right now. Specifically on the injury front where Rashawn Slater and Jalen Guyton are already out for the season while Justin Herbert, Joey Bosa, and Keenan Allen are all banged up as well. Those concerns are not enough for me to pick them to lose this week but they are enough for me to pick the Texans to cover the 5.5-point spread. That is more due to how I feel about Houston, which is that they are a bottom-tier team in the league that won’t win too many games this year. On the other hand, the Chargers were my preseason Super Bowl pick, so I’m obviously very high on them. This game is going to say a lot about the viability of Los Angeles’s status as a contender. A convincing win over the Texans may be enough to get rid of most of the stench of last week’s bad loss to the Jaguars. But another game of struggles, especially against a team like the Texans, could indicate that there are some serious issues with this Chargers team.
Detroit Lions over Seattle Seahawks (+4.5)
The Lions play in close games, that has been their thing so far this year. I don’t see that stopping this week with a contest against an evenly-matched Seahawks team. Seattle will not be able to stop Detroit’s offense, even with injuries to D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Detroit’s defense may not be able to stop Seattle’s offense if the good version of Geno Smith shows up (as a Seahawks fan, that was a very depressing thing to write). Neither defense is exceptionally talented, but the Lions seem to be in a better place on that side of the ball. Jeff Okudah has been locking receivers down and will now get to test himself against D.K. Metcalf, who might take these corner-wideout clashes more personally than any other player in the league. Detroit also has some promising players up front, particularly Aidan Hutchinson, that should be able to take advantage of a young Seahawks o-line. Thanks to the bad defenses this game should be exciting, and will probably be even more exciting for Lions fans who get to watch their team earn another win.
New York Jets (+3) over Pittsburgh Steelers
When two quarterbacks in a game are both bad, take the one with more uncertainty because maybe that uncertainty will lead to greatness. That may not be the most insightful proverb (that I clearly just made up), but I do think it is very applicable to this matchup. Mitch Trubisky is proven that he is not a starting quarterback and is clearly just a bridge for future starter Kenny Pickett. Zach Wilson still has the benefit of potential on his side and since he missed the first three games of the season, we can still hold onto the idea that he may be good this year. The possibility of Wilson being solid is the main reason why I am picking the Jets in this matchup. I also like the weapons that he will have at his disposal, with rookies Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson having been added to Michael Carter, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis. The Jets were a scrappy team under Joe Flacco so they should be more competitive with Wilson. The Steelers do have a roadmap to beat the Jets, particularly by picking him off multiple times, which is something Minkah Fitzpatrick may actually do in this matchup. But I predict that New York will surprisingly be the more competent team, which says more about Trubisky than it does about anyone else.
Philadelphia Eagles over Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5)
The Eagles are absolutely on a roll at the moment and I don’t think that roll stops this week. Although I do really like the Jaguars and do think they manage to keep this game close. Both of these teams have really solid defenses and impressive offenses, but the Eagles have the better unit on either side of the ball. An upset is not outside the realm of possibility, though. Could we see Doug Pederson go on an absolute heater against the team that fired him despite him winning them a Super Bowl? Definitely. He has the players to do so, with Trevor Lawrence playing at a very high level and complementary pieces such as James Robinson and Christian Kirk also stepping up. Jacksonville probably loses this game up front, where Philly’s defensive line should be able to win against a decent Jacksonville o-line and where the Eagle’s offensive line is one of the best in the league and will give Jalen Hurts enough time to do his thing. This will be a very fun game and another impressive showing for the Jaguars but it will end with the Eagles moving to 4-0.
Atlanta Falcons (+1.5) over Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has been one of the surprise teams so far, getting out to a 2-1 record that would be 3-0 if it wasn’t for that epic collapse in week two against the Jets. But the Falcons are a very feisty team and will probably win around four or five games, and this game seems like one of them. The Browns have mainly won their games by being less bad than their opponents but that strategy may not work this time around. Atlanta looks to be finding a groove on offense with Marcus Mariota, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Pitts hitting their stride. That trio should be capable of scoring on the Browns, especially if they attack the secondary as little as possible since Cleveland has one of the best secondaries in the game. This may not be an exciting game, probably ending up with both teams in the low 20s in terms of points, but it could at least feature a close finish, which is always entertaining.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) over Washington Commanders
Cooper Rush versus Carson Wentz is not the most enthralling quarterback battle, but the talent surrounding those two may make this game worth watching. The Commanders’ receiving group has been impressive this season, sometimes in spite of Wentz, with Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson all looking very good. They will get their chance to test Trevon Diggs, who is one of the biggest boom-or-bust corners in the league and always poses a threat to make a big play. But the real question is whether Wentz will have enough time to even get those guys the ball. Washington gave up nine sacks last week against the Eagles and now has to go up against DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons, who is one of the scariest defenders in the NFL. I expect the Commanders’ offensive line to be ravaged by that duo, which means the Cowboys won’t have to score too many points to get the win. If Dallas just leans on Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and CeeDee Lamb to make Rush’s life as easy as possible, this should be a win for them.
Arizona Cardinals (+1.5) over Carolina Panthers
I don’t know why, but I have a weird sense of confidence in the Cardinals this week. That is absolutely insane considering they failed to score a touchdown last week against the Rams but here I am. Maybe it is just because I am not a believer of the Panthers. Yeah, that is probably it. I just feel like the Cardinals are the better team and that should show up on the field. I simply believe in the talent of Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown and don’t have that same feeling about Baker Mayfield and D.J. Moore. There is a very high likelihood that Carolina wins. In fact, the oddsmakers think they will win. But I disagree. Murray is the x-factor here and if his line can keep Brian Burns and the rest of the Carolina defense from causing him too much trouble, then the Cardinals could use their explosive offense to win this matchup.
Denver Broncos (+2.5) over Las Vegas Raiders
The fact that the Broncos are underdogs in this contest goes to show how uninspiring they are this year despite their 2-1 record. The Raiders are at home, which is probably why they are the favorite, other than that have provided no reason to be the presumed winner. Sure, Denver has definitely struggled this year, a lot, but the defense is legit. They are one of the staunchest units in the league and for that reason should be able to hold Derek Carr and company off the board. The same thing can’t be said for the Raiders’ defense, which has not been impressive. If there was ever a time for Russell Wilson and the Broncos to figure out the offense, it would be this game. There shouldn’t be much resistance from the Raiders’ secondary or pass rush, giving Wilson the chance to finally give Denver fans a reason not to boo him. The team that scores more than 20 points will likely win this game, and although the Broncos have yet to reach that mark this year, there is a first time for everything.
Green Bay Packers (-9.5) over New England Jones
Mac Jones’s ankle injury doesn’t really change who I think will win this game but it does change how I feel about the spread. I just don’t see a way for the Patriots to cover 9.5 points with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. The Packers’ defense is really good and the front seven especially should be able to handle Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson in the run game, which is the only shot New England has at generating offense. The Patriots’ defense also doesn’t stand much of a chance against the Packers’ offense. Aaron Rodgers is far enough removed from week one to be good again and is starting to actually mesh with his offensive weapons again. This game will not be fun, this game will not be close, and this game will not be a win for New England.
Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Unlike last week’s slog of a Sunday Night Football game, this matchup seems like one that will be fun to watch. But that may not end up being the case if Tampa Bay’s offensive woes continue. The Buccaneers have struggled to get the ball into the end zone, which I am told matters in football, and since the Chiefs’ defense is no longer a complete pushover, their struggles may continue. Their only hope is that the defense, which has been awesome, can slow down Patrick Mahomes. The Bucs are loaded on that side of the ball and since the Chiefs are not the same offensive force, that battle should be interesting. Kansas City has crucially lacked a run game recently so that must change in this game. The ability to pick up some yards on the ground is necessary to defeat a team like the Bucs. I have faith in the Chiefs’ offense, certainly much more than the Bucs’ offense, so that is why I give them the edge in this primetime matchup.
Los Angeles Rams (+1.5) over San Francisco 49ers
There are many reasons to like the Niners in this matchup. The game is in San Francisco. The 49ers’ defense has been dominant this year. Georgie Kittle is back and healthy and forms a very dangerous duo with Deebo Samuel. But this is one major reason to not like the Niners in this matchup: Jimmy G. Garoppolo looked absolutely horrible in last week’s game and it won’t get any easier this week against the Rams. These two teams, and coaches, know each other extremely well and that usually has led to the 49ers having the advantage in schemes. But I have serious doubts that Garoppolo will be able to fully execute whatever offensive gameplan Kyle Shanahan comes up with. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has some concerns of their own. Specifically, the run game, which is one of the worst in the league, the offensive line, and Allen Robinson’s inability to succeed in the offense. But last year the Rams won this matchup when it mattered most in the NFC Championship Game and although this Monday night game doesn’t feature as high of stakes, I think the same outcome happens.