After going 12-1 in the early games on Sunday last week, I missed the Sunday night and Monday night games to finish with a 12-3 record. Once again, I missed on Jacksonville as they lost to Miami. This week the Jaguars play on Thursday night against the unbeaten Colts, and of course I’m going to pick them to lose. So, Indianapolis beware! I can’t seem to correctly predict Jaguars games, so your team might lose.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Full predictions will come Saturday.
Last Week: 12-3
This Week: 9-7
Indianapolis Colts (13-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6)
Jacksonville is frustratingly inconsistent and that makes for a bad football team. But they do have an above-.500 record, and that’s mostly attributed to their run game, which is ranked No. 8. What the Jaguars don’t do well is defend the pass, so that could be their undoing in this division rivalry.
Prediction: Indianapolis 24, Jacksonville 17
Actual Score: Indianapolis 35, Jacksonville 31
Dallas Cowboys (8-5) at New Orleans Saints (13-0)
The Cowboys are, dare I say, the last roadblock for the Saints on their way to a perfect season? Okay, sure, it’s not impossible for the Buccaneers or Panthers to beat New Orleans, but the Cowboys stand the best chance at denying perfection. Only thing is, I don’t think they’ll get the job done. The Saints love to show what they can do in prime time games and Sean Payton would like nothing more than to show up the Cowboys.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Dallas 21
Actual Score: Dallas 24, New Orleans 17
New England Patriots (8-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-8)
The Patriots have had a little friction within the organization for some questionable disciplinary action by Bill Belichick. We could see Randy Moss was alienated last week against the Panthers by catching only one pass. When all is said and done, the Bills, although having played better since firing Dick Jauron, do not match up with the Patriots.
Prediction: New England 23, Buffalo 17
Actual Score: New England 17, Buffalo 10
Cleveland Browns (2-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-10)
There’s a whole lot of bad here. You know when the Steelers lose to both of these teams, they’re having a down year. I’m trying to figure out why I think the Chiefs will win this one and I guess it’s because they’re not as bad as the Browns and have homefield advantage.
Prediction: Kansas City 20, Cleveland 17
Actual Score: Cleveland 41, Kansas City 34
Atlanta Falcons (6-7) at New York Jets (7-6)
Unfortunately, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner likely will be game-time decisions after returning to practice this week and that doesn’t help with my prediction. I think they could probably beat the Jets if those two guys play, but since I can’t make a contingent prediction, I’ll go with the Jets in a close game.
Prediction: New York Jets 23, Atlanta 20
Actual Score: Atlanta 10, New York Jets 7
Houston Texans (6-7) at St. Louis Rams (1-12)
Gary Kubiak’s seat has to be getting so warm that he can’t sit still. The Texans have once again underachieved as they’ve been a perennial middle-of-the-pack team under his watch. They’re too talented a team to be below .500 and they’re too good to lose to the Rams… I would like to think so, anyway.
Prediction: Houston 28, St. Louis 16
Actual Score: Houston 16, St. Louis 13
Miami Dolphins (7-6) at Tennessee Titans (6-7)
After starting the season 0-6, the Titans have stormed back and now have a chance to pull even at .500. I don’t think the Dolphins will have an answer for Chris Johnson.
Prediction: Tennessee 24, Miami 23
Actual Score: Tennessee 27, Miami 24
Arizona Cardinals (8-5) at Detroit Lions (2-11)
After averaging 28 points per game with a 4-1 record over the five games prior to last week, the Cardinals put up 9 whopping points against the 49ers. Something tells me that number will go back up against a Lions team that can’t play defense.
Prediction: Arizona 27, Detroit 17
Actual Score: Arizona 31, Detroit 24
Oakland Raiders (4-9) at Denver Broncos (8-5)
Denver is in control of the No. 1 wild card spot in the AFC, but they want to catch up to the Chargers for the NFC West crown. The Chargers have a tough game against the Bengals, so the Broncos won’t be taking this game lightly against the Raiders for a chance to make up ground.
Prediction: Denver 23, Oakland 14
Actual Score: Oakland 20, Denver 19
Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) at San Diego Chargers (10-3)
I’m curious to see how big a factor emotion will play in this game and whether the death of teammate Chris Henry will put the Bengals over the top in this one. The Chargers are still the NFL’s hottest team — among teams that are not undefeated, that is — having won their last eight games. I have to stick with them but the Bengals could pull off the upset.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Cincinnati 24
Actual Score: San Diego 27, Cincinnati 24
Chicago Bears (5-8) at Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
The Bears are not good enough a football team to be delayed by a snowstorm, as is the case, and possibly show up late Saturday night or early Sunday in Baltimore and then win a big game on the road. They’ll have a hard enough time stopping Ray Rice and trying to keep Jay Cutler upright and breathing against a tough Ravens defense.
Prediction: Baltimore 23, Chicago 17
Actual Score: Baltimore 31, Chicago 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-12) at Seattle Seahawks (5-8)
I don’t think the Buccaneers have enough talent to go into Seattle, which has one of the loudest stadiums in the league, and walk out with a victory. Both teams are bad, the Seahawks less so.
Prediction: Seattle 23, Tampa Bay 16
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 24, Seattle 7
San Francisco 49ers (6-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
The 49ers pulled off the upset over a very good Cardinals team last week and should have a lot of confidence and momentum going into this game. But the Eagles are probably the NFC’s third-best team behind the Saints and Vikings and I don’t see another upset in the cards for San Francisco.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, San Francisco 17
Actual Score: Philadelphia 27, San Francisco 13
Green Bay Packers (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7)
Even though the Steelers have lost five in a row, and they have lost a few home games — including to the Raiders just a few weeks ago — I just can’t pick the Packers to win this one. I think the Steelers’ defense will harass Aaron Rodgers and propel the Steelers to the win.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Green Bay 20
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 37, Green Bay 36
Minnesota Vikings (11-2) at Carolina Panthers (5-8)
Brett Favre may have tanked in Arizona a few weeks ago but responded last week with an admirable game against the Bengals. I can’t imagine him losing a battle with Matt Moore this week.
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Carolina 17
Actual Score: Carolina 26, Minnesota 7
New York Giants (7-6) at Washington Redskins (4-9)
A battle between the NFC East’s worst two teams is still a better matchup than most other games. Ever since Jim Zorn came under fire earlier this season, the Redskins have played much better thanks to their defense. The Giants, meanwhile, are not playing as good defense as they have in years past. I like the Redskins in an upset.
Prediction: Washington 24, New York Giants 20
Actual Score: New York Giants 45, Washington 12