I had my worst week of the season last week and since the week prior was also not great, I decided that some drastic action was needed. So, this week I am fading myself. Yes, that’s right I went through and picked all 14 games, and then I went through and changed each of those picks to the opposite. This is certainly a bold strategy but that is necessary at this point. Hopefully, this is what will get me back on track. So here are my picks. Or more like my anti-picks.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) over New Orleans Saints
Think of this as a kind of get-right game for the Cardinals. After last week’s abysmal performance against the Seahawks where they only scored three points on offense, it has to be better this week. It does have to be better this week, right? Arizona is getting DeAndre Hopkins back which should help offset the injury to Marquise Brown, And maybe Kyler Murray just looks better when he’s playing with a guy like Hopkins. I am worried about the addition of Robbie Anderson and the negative energy he brings from the Panthers but hopefully, that won’t kick in until next week. The Saints are a talented team but with injuries piling up and Andy Dalton at quarterback, I’m just not sure they can get the job done on the road. The defense is pretty good but if the Cardinals’ offense is clicking then they have what it takes to put up enough points to win.
Dallas Cowboys over Detroit Lions (+7)
I’m a little nervous about this one because we’ve seen what a good defense can do to the Lions. But Detroit is coming off a bye and should have D’Andre Swift back and a fully healthy Amon-Ra St. Brown. Those two should elevate the offense back to the point where it is scoring quite a bit. The Cowboys’ defense is good but it’s not necessarily going to shut a team down. Micah Parson and Trevon Diggs will account for some big plays, but that unit will still let up some points. That should be enough for Detroit to keep it within a score. But the Lions are not going to win this game. This will most likely be the return of Dak Prescott and the last thing the Cowboys can afford is to lose this game and start up a quarterback controversy (although I bet First Take would love that). I’m expecting the Dallas offense to look a lot more fluid with Prescott under center, leading to a much better offense that will surely win this game.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) over Indianapolis Colts
This is actually the one fade that I’m happy about because I really don’t want to pick the Colts. I don’t care if Matt Ryan looked like his 25-year-old self last week, I’m still very nervous about what he can do. The Titans, on the other hand, will be rested coming off their bye week and motivated to get a big division win. The Titans have quietly been winning games this year and should do more of the same on Sunday. Their defense is legit and has superstars such as Kevin Byard and Jeffery Simmons. That defense should present a much more difficult test for Ryan this week, one he will probably fail. There have just been too many question marks when it comes to this Colts’ team, so it makes it hard to trust them. The Titans aren’t the flashiest team (considering Ryan Tannehill is their quarterback) but they are consistent. This team is going to play tough and play well and that is all you can really ask for. Also, I’m not sure if the Indy defense can physically stop Derrick Henry so I’m going to go with the team that has him.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) over New York Giants
At some point, the other shoe has to drop for the Giants and this feels like the perfect time for it to happen. People are finally starting to buy into them as an actually decent team and one that could even make the playoffs, so a loss here would be all too fitting. It’s also fitting that said loss would come against the Jaguars, a team that was thought of as a sleeper during the first couple of weeks of the season. Jacksonville has not played great lately, but something tells me they are going to turn it around this week. Trevor Lawrence is uber-talented and has the ability to shred the New York defense, we just haven’t seen that talent on full display yet. This could be the game that he lets it all out and completely dominates. He certainly has what it takes to outplay Daniel Jones. Saquon Barkley has obviously been the biggest reason for the Giants’ early season success but maybe he will struggle this week. The Jaguars do have a young and athletic front seven with guys such as Josh Allen, Travon Walker, and Devin Lloyd. I know Barkley looks unstoppable but at some point, he will have a bad game. Why not this week?
Baltimore Ravens over Cleveland Browns (+6)
This pick hurts because I really don’t like the Browns but I can see a scenario in which they cover. The Ravens’ defense, particularly the secondary, has definitely struggled this season. That could be something that the Browns can exploit with talented players such as Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper. Sure, Jacoby Brissett is the greatest quarterback in the world but he can manage a game well enough to maximize his team’s potential. But in all honesty, I expect Lamar Jackson to go off this week. The Browns have struggled against the run and Jackson is good at running. Alright, that might be an understatement, Jackson is phenomenal at running. It also seems like it has been a while since we have witnessed a huge game from Jackson so this would be the perfect time for him to remind the fans that he’s still here and he’s still awesome. I don’t have a lot of faith in the Browns’ defense to stop the Ravens at all, but maybe their lack of wide receivers will cause them to not score on a few drives. If that is the case, then Cleveland could keep this game just close enough to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5) over Atlanta Falcons
I was always going to pick the Bengals to win this game because they have the far superior offense. But picking them to cover is a bit risky considering the Falcons have covered in all six of their games this season. It is an incredible stretch that is made even more impressive when you realize they have only won three of those games. The Falcons are experts at covering while still losing the game but unfortunately that streak stops this week. The Bengals seemed to get their groove back on offense last week when Joe Burrow finally remembered that Ja’Marr Chase is one of the most unfair weapons in football and threw him the ball. That strategy is largely what got them to the Super Bowl last year so it was wise to reemploy it. Assuming they use that strategy again this week, they should have similar success. And if the Bengals’ defense just realizes that the Falcons plan on running the ball every play, they should be able to stop them and secure the victory.
Washington Commanders (+4.5) over Green Bay Packers
I really, really, really didn’t want to make this pick. But since I’m fading all of my picks, here I am. The Packers have been struggling real bad lately. It can’t get much worse than back-to-back losses to the Giants and Jets but it would be a lot worse if they lost this game to the Commanders. But hear me out, maybe Washington will be reinvigorated with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback in place of the injured Carson Wentz. We have already seen Cooper Rush and Bailey Zappe have success this season despite starting as backups. Throw in Geno Smith, who is essentially a career backup, and maybe this is the year of the second-stringers. I can envision a scenario where Heinicke comes in and gives this team a much-needed jolt and gets them to play their best game of the year. Will that level of play last? Certainly not, but it could last for one game. And if Green Bay’s issues from the past few weeks are present once again, particularly on defense, then they could be vulnerable to another upset.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Carolina Panthers (+10.5)
I picked the Panthers to cover this same spread last week against the Rams and it did not work out. But what I failed to factor in was the lack of intensity from Carolina in a non-division game. In this week’s matchup against the Bucs, the Panthers will be even more fired up to win because it’s against a division rival. I also forgot to factor in the bad vibes from Robbie Anderson and now he is gone, so this team should take a step forward. But really I don’t believe any of that. The Panthers are bad and are probably going to play badly on Sunday. But I do believe that the Buccaneers are concerning this year and are fully capable of not covering in this matchup. The Bucs’ offense has looked downright bad at times this year. The offensive line is a serious weakness and Tom Brady doesn’t seem to be on the same page as all his receivers. With Brian Burns and Derrick Brown on the Carolina defensive line and Jeremy Chinn and Jaycee Horn in the secondary, the Panthers can be feisty on defense. This game won’t be pretty but as long as it is like 17-7 then the Panthers will still get the cover.
Las Vegas Raiders (-7) over Houston Texans
I believe the Raiders are a better team than their one win this season suggests. I believe the Texans are just as good as their one win this season suggests. So, if I add those two beliefs together and my math is correct, then I think the Raiders will win this game. Yep. Checks out. Las Vegas may have the seven best players in this game, and something like that should manage. Davante Adams will probably be matched up with a rookie corner, and although Derek Stingley is good, he’s not at defending Davante Adams level good yet. The Raiders have also been riding Josh Jacobs on the ground lately and he has been rewarding them with excellent production. That should continue this week against a pretty porous Houston defense. Maybe the Texans will be able to keep this game close, especially considering all of the Raiders’ games have been close. But at some point, the Raiders are going to have to separate themselves from the other teams that are struggling to win games and this would be an opportune time to do so.
New York Jets (+1) over Denver Broncos
This pick is pretty simple. It’s just too hard to trust the Broncos right now. Their offense has been consistent, but only in the fact that it sucks. Surely, Russell Wilson should be able to beat Zach Wilson in a matchup, but it doesn’t actually seem like that is going to happen. The Denver defense is fantastic and should have very little trouble slowing down the Jets’ offense, but 14 points may be enough to win this game. The Jets have a pretty good defense on their own, so they should be able to slow down the Broncos’ offense. Quinnen Williams is blossoming into a superstar on the defensive line and Sauce Gardner is one of the most impressive rookie corners we have seen in quite some time. This game seems like a guarantee to have the least scoring because it features two inept offenses and two good defenses. And because I actually have more faith in the Jets’ offense, thanks to Breece Hall and Michael Carter on the ground, I’m going to go with them to win this game.
Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) over Seattle Seahawks
Does this qualify as a Geno Smith revenge game? He only threw four passes during his one-year stint in Los Angeles but maybe he’s out for revenge because they didn’t give him a chance to prove himself. Well, he can prove himself to the Chargers on Sunday if he lights up Khalil Mack, Derwin James, and the rest of that defense. Unfortunately for Smith, I don’t think that is going to happen. He looked pedestrian last week against the Cardinals, who do not have a great defense, so he will probably play like that this week. But it may not matter what Smith does in this game because the Chargers might just score a touchdown every time they touch the ball. Justin Herbert should have a field day against A Seattle defense that has not been good at stopping teams this year. Austin Ekeler should also have a fantastic day considering he is one of the most dynamic running backs in the league. Will Tariq Woolen get an interception and extend his streak to five straight games with a pick? Hopefully. But other than that, there isn’t much that this defense can do to stop Herbert other than hope that his receivers’ hands get sore from catching too many passes and start to drop them instead.
Kansas City Chiefs over San Francisco 49ers (+3)
Picking an underdog to cover and still lose is always a tough call when the spread is this low, but I think it could happen in this game. The 49ers have a similarly strong defense as the Bills and the Chiefs just played a very close game against the Bills last week. Patrick Mahomes had the ball with a chance to score and go up by three but unfortunately threw an interception to end the game. A similar scenario could play out this week but with Mahomes getting the touchdown and winning the game this time. This will be an incredibly interesting matchup because the Chiefs’ offense and the 49ers’ defense are both so good. San Francisco has had injuries on the defensive line, which is partly why they lost last week, and that could be the difference between them winning and losing this week. The Niners will need a completely healthy defense in order to stop Mahomes and company. Fred Warner is crucial to this team with his play in the middle of the field but Nick Bosa is just as important up front. Even with all hands on deck, it may not be enough to stop the Chiefs. And if it comes down to Jimmy Garoppolo needing to go touchdown for touchdown with Mahomes, I’m going to lean toward Mahomes. This should be a great game to watch and as long as the Niners’ offense shows up, it should be a close game as well.
Miami Dolphins over Pittsburgh Steelers (+7)
There really isn’t much reason to believe in either of these teams right now, but the Dolphins are clearly the better team. There is still uncertainty over who will start for them under center, although it does appear that Tua Tagovailoa is in line to start right now. That would make him the third straight different quarterback to start for Miami and hopefully, it also ends their three-game streak of having the starting quarterback leave the game due to injury. Speaking of quarterbacks, Kenny Pickett finally gets a chance to play against a defense that isn’t one of the best in the league. After facing the Bills and Buccaneers, it will be a relief for Picket to only have to go up against this Dolphins’ defense. That gives the Steelers a shot to cover and keep it within a touchdown. We still aren’t sure how well Pickett will play against a non-elite defense, so there is hope that he can play pretty good. But in the end, Miami has the superior playmakers on both sides of the ball so them winning isn’t really in question.
New England Patriots over Chicago Bears (+7.5)
There is zero chance that this matchup leads to an entertaining football game. Unless you like bad football, I guess. The Patriots and Bears have two of the most uninspiring offenses in the league, but the Patriots do have the better unit. At least the Patriots have Rhamondre Stevenson, who is a pretty good running back, and Tyquan Thornton, who is an intriguing rookie with some big-play potential. The Bears’ offense is just so blah. David Montgomery, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Equanimeous St. Brown. It’s all just so blah. Even Justin Fields, who should be an electrifying young quarterback by now, has been turned into blah by this franchise. But just because they are blah doesn’t mean they can’t keep this one close. The main reason I think the Bears can cover the 7.5 points they are getting in this game is that I don’t have faith in either team scoring that much. If the Patriots only score around 20 points, all the Bears need to do is score 13 points to cover. They can do that in their sleep. Oops, sorry, I meant my sleep because I will inevitably doze off during this game.