I had a fantastic Week 9, finishing 11-3 and losing three upsets with the Bengals over the Jaguars, Jets over the Bills, and Dolphins over the Broncos. And speaking of the Broncos, this week’s predictions are coming out early because the Broncos and Browns are playing Thursday night. Come back Saturday for the full schedule of picks.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Originally published Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. to cover the Thursday night Denver at Cleveland game.
Last Week: 11-3
This Week: 10-4
Denver Broncos (4-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
I don’t like the Browns at all. I think they’re a very below-average team. With that said, though, they’re playing much better than the Broncos, who’ve lost 4 of their last 5 games, including three in a row. While I don’t feel comfortable picking the Browns because Brady Quinn will be making his first career start, I don’t like the Broncos on the road playing in the rut they’re in.
Prediction: Cleveland 23, Denver 21
Actual Score: Denver 34, Cleveland 30
New Orleans (4-4) at Atlanta (5-3)
Atlanta seems to play much better at home than on the road and they could use that extra boost against their division rival. I think the defense will step up and put enough pressure on Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off the victory.
Prediction: Atlanta 23, New Orleans 20
Actual Score: Atlanta 34, New Orleans 20
Tennessee (8-0) at Chicago (5-3)
If Kyle Orton was healthy and was playing in this game, I’d say go ahead and throw all your chips on the table and bet the farm. But with a backup quarterback coming into this big game with only a half of action under his belt this year, it doesn’t bode well. I still think the Bears have a shot at knocking off the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Prediction: Tennessee 23, Chicago 20
Actual Score: Tennessee 21, Chicago 14
Jacksonville (3-5) at Detroit (0-8)
I say it every week, but this Jacksonville team is tough to figure out. They lose two tough games to open the season, they win three of their next four, but then lose two straight to bad Ohio teams. I want to say this is a game the Lions can steal because they’ve been playing better, but I just think Jacksonville is too talented to let that happen.
Prediction: Jacksonville 24, Detroit 20
Actual Score: Jacksonville 38, Detroit 14
Baltimore (5-3) at Houston (3-5)
Finally, 8 weeks after Hurricane Ike postponed the Ravens-Texans game, these two teams will meet up in an important AFC battle. It’s a must-win for the Texans in order to stay competitive and the Ravens need it to keep pace with the Steelers in the AFC North. If this game turns into an offensive slugfest, the Ravens probably can’t keep up with the Texans’ No. 4 offense. I think the Ravens’ defense slows them down, though, and wins the game.
Prediction: Baltimore 24, Houston 21
Actual Score: Baltimore 41, Houston 13
Seattle (2-6) at Miami (4-4)
The Seahawks have been simply awful this year while the Dolphins have been surprisingly competitive. I think Miami wins this one to keep pace with the other three teams in the AFC East.
Prediction: Miami 23, Seattle 17
Actual Score: Miami 21, Seattle 19
Green Bay (4-4) at Minnesota (4-4)
I obviously will be watching this game on the other TV during the Bears game. The loser of this game could drop two games behind the Bears — if the Bears can pull off a big win against Tennessee. If not, the Bears will be tied with the winner of this game. As well as the Vikings have played the last few weeks, and despite it being a home game, I think the Packers prevail.
Prediction: Green Bay 24, Minnesota 22
Actual Score: Minnesota 28, Green Bay 27
Buffalo (5-3) at New England (5-3)
Who would have thought either one of these teams would be 5-3 at this point? The Bills are off to a great start, even though they’ve dropped two in a row. The Patriots lost Tom Brady and could have been 6-2, 7-1, or even 8-0 with him. I think the Bills will lose to their third straight AFC East opponent.
Prediction: New England 21, Buffalo 17
Actual Score: New England 20, Buffalo 10
St. Louis (2-6) at New York Jets (5-3)
The Rams have been competitive the last four weeks but have dropped two in a row. The Jets are fourth in the league against the run so the Rams will have to be pass efficient to pull off an upset. The Rams, on the other hand, are fourth-to-last against the run, so I like the Jets’ chances of controlling the clock and winning the game.
Prediction: New York Jets 24, St. Louis 16
Actual Score: New York Jets 47, St. Louis 3
Carolina (6-2) at Oakland (2-6)
It’d have to be a monumental upset for the Panthers to walk out of Oakland with a loss, and I just don’t see that happening. The Raiders released DeAngelo Hall, one of their best players, and are completely dysfunctional right now. DeAngelo Williams should have a big game on the ground and the Panthers should win big.
Prediction: Carolina 26, Oakland 14
Actual Score: Carolina 17, Oakland 6
Indianapolis (4-4) at Pittsburgh (6-2)
Normally, the Colts would get my nod here but they’re not playing as well as they have in the past. The Steelers have the top defense in the league as well as the best pass defense, making it difficult on the pass-happy Colts to get anything done. Pittsburgh is also No. 3 against the run.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Indianapolis 17
Actual Score: Indianapolis 24, Pittsburgh 20
Kansas City (1-7) at San Diego (3-5)
I think I would have gone out on a limb and predicted a Chiefs upset had this game been in Kansas City. The Chiefs are playing surprisingly well despite having only one victory. The one thing that will hurt them is that they have the worst run defense in the league and they’re facing the NFL’s best running back.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Kansas City 20
Actual Score: San Diego 20, Kansas City 19
New York Giants (7-1) at Philadelphia (5-3)
Fantastic Sunday night matchup between these NFC East rivals. The Giants have been nearly unstoppable this year but I think the Eagles’ defensive scheme might shake up the Giants’ offense and as long as the Eagles’ offense can move the ball and take time off the clock, they come up with the victory.
Prediction: Philadelphia 21, New York Giants 17
Actual Score: New York Giants 36, Philadelphia 31
San Francisco (2-6) at Arizona (5-3)
Who the heck thought this would be a good Monday night game? That guy needs to be fired. Even if he knew Arizona would be as good as they are — and nobody could have forseen this offensive explosion — an NFC West contest between two perennial bad teams? This could be one of the lowest ratings nights for MNF all season. Oh, and Arizona will trounce the 49ers.
Prediction: Arizona 31, San Francisco 17
Actual Score: Arizona 29, San Francisco 24