When taking point spreads into account, last week featured two of the biggest upsets in recent NFL history. Two double-digit underdogs won outright. My 6-8 record was okay, but not great. My season record now sits at 38-50-3.
The good news is the season is still fairly young. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.
Chiefs (-3) at Raiders – Do not read too much into Kansas City’s first loss last week. Pittsburgh is just a bad matchup for them. The Chiefs won both meetings with Oakland pretty convincingly last year. The Chiefs are better than last year and the Raiders are worse. Why would this meeting be any different? KC 24 Oak 13
Cardinals at Rams (-3.5) (London) – Adrian Peterson’s Cardinals debut wildly exceeded expectations. It appears he will make this team much more dangerous going forward. However, the NFC is now wide open, and it can be argued that the Rams are the most complete team in the conference. They can hurt you on the ground and through the air. Additionally, their defensive front seven is as good as you will find anywhere. LAR 28 Ari 21
Ravens at Vikings (-5.5) – Both these defenses are really good. Both offenses make my head hurt at times. Despite quarterback chaos, Minnesota has been finding ways to win lately.
For Baltimore, Joe Flacco has four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Everything is dink and dunk. They have no vertical passing game to speak of. It is hard to win that way. Min 20 Bal 13
Panthers (-3) at *Bears – With Mitch Trubisky now at quarterback, Chicago seems to have simplified the offense. They ran Jordan Howard until his legs just about fell off last week, but did so effectively. If that continues, Trubisky is capable of making a few big throws to win some games. The Bears may become the most underrated team in the league before long.
Carolina is weird. Just when it looks like they are back to the 2015 version, they lay an egg like they did last week against Philadelphia. I have no clue what to expect from them here. However, I suddenly really like what Chicago is doing. Chi 24 Car 20
Jaguars (-3) at *Colts – Leonard Fournette is unbelievable, and the Jacksonville defense is playing its guts out. Even so, until the Jags show they can win a game because of Blake Bortles rather than in spite of him, putting any faith in them makes me nervous. Ind 24 Jac 21
*Jets at Dolphins (-3) – The Dolphins offense is still sputtering. To their credit, they have managed to win in spite of that the last two weeks. The problems persist though. Jay Cutler has not even thrown for 300 combined yards in those games. Miami is also facing the same defense that dismantled them just a few weeks ago. Also, the Jets are a pretty good football team. Playing New England to the wire last week should erase any lingering doubts about that. NYJ 20 Mia 17
Buccaneers at Bills (Pick em) – Jameis Winston is a question mark with a shoulder injury. So a pick ‘em line is all you are going to find until that gets clearer. As a whole though, the Bucs just do not seem ready for the big time. The roster may just be too young or lack leadership.
Either way, something is missing. In two road games this year, they have been dominated by Minnesota and Arizona. The Bills are on par with those teams and a decent home team in September and October. Buf 28 TB 21
Titans (-5.5) at Browns – Marcus Mariota may still not be fully healthy, but the Browns are just awful. It felt like the organization had made strides this offseason. Sadly for Cleveland fans, it is more of the same. Ten 21 Cle 10
Saints (-5.5) at Packers – This line has moved ten points since the Aaron Rodgers injury. If it turns out that Brett Hundley can play, the NFC North is still there for the taking. Despite that, having to score enough to keep up with Drew Brees and deal with a Saints defense that is suddenly getting sacks and turnovers is a tall order for your first full game as the starter. NO 34 GB 20.
Cowboys (-6) at *49ers – The Cowboys defense has been torched for over 30 points in each of its last two games. The 49ers string of close losses continued last week. Dallas just isn’t playing that well right now. The spark of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard gets the 49ers over the hump and in the win column. SF 27 Dal 21
Bengals at Steelers (-5.5) – After winning in Kansas City last week, it appears reports of the Steelers demise were greatly exaggerated. Force-feeding Le’Veon Bell is the formula for this team. They finally got back to that.
The Bengals have played much better since changing offensive coordinators. However, the Steelers are 27-9 against Cincinnati since 2000. It is foolish to ignore that. Pit 27 Cin 20
*Broncos at Chargers (-1.5) – This line is shocking to me. Denver was humbled last week, and the Chargers are on a two-game winning streak.
Even so, outside of quarterback, the Broncos can at least match Los Angeles at every position. Denver is an easy team to figure out. If they run the ball effectively they win. If they do not, they lose. The Chargers rank dead last in rush defense.
Also, it was not a coincidence that the Chargers got their first wins on the road. Bronco fans always travel well. Thus, playing in a 27,000 seat soccer stadium in a market where the fans have yet to embrace the home team is once again a disadvantage for the Chargers. The Broncos have issues, but Vegas was too quick to bail on them here. Den 24 LAR 17
Seahawks (-5.5) at Giants – The Giants scored a big upset last week, but they are still a banged up mess. Coming off a big divisional win and a bye, Seattle appears to be finding its groove. The Giants defense is good enough to keep this relatively close. Big Blue managed to move the ball on a great defense last week, but lightning will not strike twice. Sea 20 NYG 13
Falcons at Patriots (-3.5) – The Patriots are still not clicking on all cylinders. They were fortunate to escape the Jets last week. Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off consecutive home losses to Miami and Buffalo. Given that, it is hard to imagine them keeping it close on the road in New England. This is just not the same team as last year, particularly on offense. The Pats continue to win while being a work in progress. NE 31 Atl 20
*Redskins at Eagles (-4.5) – The Eagles are very good and will remain a factor all year long. However, they are still a relatively young football team. Once the public starts singing a team’s praises, they become vulnerable to getting tripped up.
Also, the Redskins offense will trouble any defense it faces. They have taken much better care of the football after Philadelphia held them to 17 points in the season opener. Washington’s ground game has been better this year, but the passing game is their strength. That is Philadelphia’s defensive weakness. Was 23 Phi 17
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