I don’t know what it was about the afternoon games last week, but I really struggled with my picks. I had a great week going with the early games and then when the afternoon games struck, I started missing everything. Buffalo’s upset win in Carolina, the Bears’ collapse in Cincinnati, and Arizona’s victory against the Giants were the three biggest surprises to me. I went out on a limb and picked the Raiders — who had upset the Eagles the previous week — to beat the Jets and that limb snapped in half quickly as the Jets trounced them. I also thought the Falcons could defeat the Cowboys on the road and that did not happen.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 8-5
This Week: 11-2
Denver Broncos (6-0) at Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
This should be one of the week’s best games. I officially gave the Broncos my respect after they won their sixth consecutive game — I wasn’t willing to do so before they achieved some milestones first. But I like the Ravens in this one. I think they’ll get after Kyle Orton and stuff the run.
Prediction: Baltimore 20, Denver 17
Actual Score: Baltimore 30, Denver 7
Houston Texans (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills are giving me fits with their inconsistencies and they’re a hard team to figure out. They’ve won back-to-back road games against the Jets and Panthers. The Texans have a good offense and an okay defense. I don’t like this game at all, but I’m going to go with the road team.
Prediction: Houston 24, Buffalo 20
Actual Score: Houston 31, Buffalo 10
Cleveland Browns (1-6) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
If the Bears fall to the pathetic Browns, nobody should be spared. The Browns can’t throw the ball, can barely run it, are terrible at stopping the run and aren’t much better against the pass. The one thing they do well is return kicks and punts, so if the Bears score as much as I think — and hope — they will, they better have good coverage.
Prediction: Chicago 27, Cleveland 13
Actual Score: Chicago 30, Cleveland 6
Seattle Seahawks (2-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-2)
I was impressed with the Cowboys’ performance last week in a victory over a very good Falcons team. I like them again at home against an average Seahawks team. I don’t like how the Seahawks looked the week before their bye, getting pounded by the Cardinals at home.
Prediction: Dallas 23, Seattle 17
Actual Score: Dallas 38, Seattle 17
Miami Dolphins (2-4) at New York Jets (4-3)
A week ago, I would have said the Dolphins win this one running away. But then I saw the 38-0 shutout the Jets posted against the Raiders and now I’m less sure. Sure, it’s just a bad Raiders team, but it shows the Jets still have some fight left in them after dropping three straight. These teams played just three weeks ago and the Dolphins won in the final seconds. I was impressed with them in that game as well as last week’s loss to the Saints. I’ll take them again here.
Prediction: Miami 23, New York Jets 20
Actual Score: Miami 30, New York Jets 25
San Francisco 49ers (3-3) at Indianapolis Colts (6-0)
The 49ers still play tough defense and after making the switch to Alex Smith at quarterback, they looked a little better offensively against an okay Texans defense. But they’re not going to slow down a Colts team that is on fire this year.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, San Francisco 17
Actual Score: Indianapolis 18, San Francisco 14
New York Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)
I love NFC East battles and this one shouldn’t disappoint. This one is a rematch of the divisional playoffs last year when the Eagles knocked off the Giants. Although the Eagles lost to the Raiders a couple weeks ago, the Giants have dropped two straight and their arrow looks to be pointing downward.
Prediction: Philadelphia 26, New York Giants 23
Actual Score: Philadelphia 40, New York Giants 17
St. Louis Rams (0-7) at Detroit Lions (1-5)
Wow, this game could be ugly. Two of the league’s worst teams will do battle and I like the Lions to pick up their second victory of the season. They have the benefit of home field advantage and they’re a bit better both offensively and defensively. They’ve also been in some competitive contests this year.
Prediction: Detroit 24, St. Louis 19
Actual Score: St. Louis 17, Detroit 10
Oakland Raiders (2-5) at San Diego Chargers (3-3)
Both these teams were on opposite sides of blowouts last week. This is always a fun California rivalry, but I don’t think the Raiders will keep up with the Chargers in this one. Their defense has played better this year but their offense is still bad.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Oakland 14
Actual Score: San Diego 24, Oakland 16
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (0-6)
I can’t fathom the Titans falling to 0-7, especially coming off a bye week and playing at home. Even though they’ve made the switch to Vince Young, who could be even worse than Kerry Collins, I can’t see them losing to a bad Jaguars team.
Prediction: Tennessee 20, Jacksonville 17
Actual Score: Tennessee 30, Jacksonville 13
Minnesota Vikings (6-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)
This has got to be the best game of the week; at least the most hyped and anticipated. The legendary Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field in a different jersey… a hated jersey. He was a revered hero in the land of cheese, a guy after whom many Packers fans named their kids — mostly sons, but I’m sure there were some daughters named Brett, too. And now, after a decade and a half of serving the state well and bringing them a Super Bowl and years of excitement, these cheeseheads will boo to their hearts’ content, and with sincerity, not just a disdain for a player in a rival’s jersey. Thus, that’s the loyalty of a Packer fan. Anyway, I’m digressing. The Packers look improved from the last time these teams met, so I think the game will be a little closer, but that Packer offensive line is terrible and the Vikings’ defense is just too good.
Prediction: Minnesota 23, Green Bay 20
Actual Score: Minnesota 38, Green Bay 26
Carolina Panthers (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
The Panthers lost at home to the Bills. Enough said about them. The Cardinals are playing well and look to defy the Super Bowl-runner-up curse. They defeated the Giants on the road last week. I like them to hold off the Panthers at home this week.
Prediction: Arizona 27, Carolina 16
Actual Score: Carolina 34, Arizona 21
Atlanta Falcons (4-2) at New Orleans Saints (6-0)
Should be a fun game to watch, but I don’t see anybody slowing down this Saints team. They can run the ball, or if they’re behind like they were last week, they can air it out to catch up. And now, they can play defense, too. The Falcons, on the other hand, can play offense well but their defense is very average.
Prediction: New Orleans 30, Atlanta 23
Actual Score: New Orleans 35, Atlanta 27