Ed: Happy Veterans Day to all the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniforms and served the cause of freedom! Hope you have a wonderful day of honor and remembrance. I’m honoring our own veteran, Jazz Shaw, by finally taking over his NFL prediction-thread duties. My long streak of drafting in his wake ended last week when I went 5-2 last week to move my season record to 34-29, which also ties us for the year. It’s a whole new season, folks!
Jazz: Remind me to quit wishing for a streak to end. Yes, our month-long series of ties was finally shattered, but I managed to go 2-5 in the process. Being in a 34-29 tie isn’t the worst thing in the world since we’re at least both over .500 but I need to get back to some better picks this week. After the Jets suffered another embarrassing loss to Miami last week, it looks like the season is well and truly slipping away. But our $30M rookie QB Sam Darnold currently has his foot in a walking cast so perhaps we’ll stand a chance after all.
Ed: Can I get credit for two games from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 52-21 rout of the Carolina Panthers on Monday? I don’t think Jazz will agree to that, so let’s get down to the other prediction opportunities this weekend. The Vikings are on a bye this week too, but the Jets will play the Bills at home today (1 pm ET, CBS), looking to end a three-game slide. San Darnold has to sit this one out, so veteran Josh McCown will get the call. The Bills have lost four games in a row, averaging just over eight points a game. The line has the Jets as a seven-point favorite, which seems reasonable. Jets 20-13 over the Bills today.
Jazz: With the Jets putting Josh McCown in at QB, they might see some relief from the league-leading streak of interceptions and pick sixes we’ve been giving up. The bad news is that McCown has been out of the rotation all year and his receivers don’t have a lot of practice with McCown under center. Still, the Bills have looked so bad this year that they might be one of the only teams New York can beat. I’ll go with the Vegas line and take the Jets 24-17.
Ed: Let’s pick six more to get to our usual seven selections, focusing on games with some playoff potential … with one exception:
- Saints at Bengals (1 pm, Fox) – After watching the Saints demolish the Rams last week, I’m not sure there’s a tougher team to beat. Cincinnati certainly isn’t it, and their last-ranked defense is going to get a beating from Drew Brees. Saints 37-21 over the Bengals.
- Lions at Bears (1 pm, Fox) – This one matters big-time in the NFC North, where Da Bears are tied with the Vikings and the Lions are only two games back. Chicago’s defense will make the difference in this game, 29-19.
- Dolphins at Packers (4:25 pm, CBS) – The Pack is only 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC North and will need a win to keep pace. Miami’s winning despite being in the lower third of the league on both sides of the ball and they need a win here to keep pace with the Patriots. At home, though, it’s tough to bet against Aaron Rodgers, especially when he’s trying to keep from losing three in a row. Packers 30-23 over the Dolphins.
- Seahawks at Rams (4:25 pm, CBS) – The Rams come home after losing their first game of the season, and will no doubt be looking to vindicate themselves after a terrible first half in New Orleans. Seattle has a slightly better defense than LA, but their offense can’t keep pace. Rams 33-24 over the Seahawks.
- Cowboys at Eagles (8:20 pm, NBC) – This game features two underperforming teams as well as a big rivalry. They’re evenly matched on both sides of the ball, not scoring many points but not giving up many either. I’ll go with the home-field advantage and pick the Eagles 23-17 over the Cowboys. The winner of this game has a chance to make a real move on the injury-stricken Redskins in the NFC East, and the loser has a grand opportunity to look at 2019 draft charts.
- Giants at 49ers (MNF, 8:15 pm, ESPN) – How the heck did this game end up on Monday Night Football? Even last year, schedulers had to see that this was hardly a marquee matchup. The only way this could be less interesting would be if the Oakland Raiders showed up to play three-way football. 49ers QB Nick Mullen gets his second start after a dazzling and singular display of competence in his first start against the Raiders last week, so look for the 49ers to get an emotional lift while the Giants chew on each other some more. San Francisco wins 27-20.
- Saints at Bengals (1 pm, Fox) – Can Drew Brees and the Saints actually find a way to lose to the 26th ranked run defense and 32nd ranked pass defense in the league? Some ESPN reporters are warning this could be a trap game that New Orleans is overlooking. While it’s possible, I just don’t see it happening. I’ll go with the Saints in a closer than expected 33-28 win.
- Lions at Bears (1 pm, Fox) – This game would barely be more interesting if it were actual lions and bears fighting it out. Detroit has the potential to act as spoilers this season, but the two defenses here will decide the day. Even with Khalil Mack on the sidelines, Chicago will be able to shut down Detroit’s offense. I’ll take Da Bears 24-13.
- Dolphins at Packers (4:25 pm, CBS) – I still can’t believe the Dolphins have managed a winning 5-4 record this season, but their losses on the road have been spectacular. They definitely don’t have enough in the tank for Green Bay. I’ll take the Pack in a blowout 37-17.
- Seahawks at Rams (4:25 pm, CBS) -If this one was being played in Seattle I might think more of the Seahawks’ chances. But they’ve already been kicked around by the Rams on their home turf and the Rams’ rushing game looks like too much for a suspect Seattle ground defense. Give me Los Angeles in a high scoring offensive showdown, 31-24.
- Cowboys at Eagles (8:20 pm, NBC) – I can never tell which Cowboys team is going to show up week to week this season. But this game is absolutely do or die for Dallas. The Eagles have the 17th ranked defense in the league and they’ve allowed roughly the same number of points as the Cowboys. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and take Dallas in an upset, 24-21.
- Giants at 49ers (MNF, 8:15 pm, ESPN) – I don’t know why the Vegas line has this game as close as they do. To say the Giants have looked bad in their 1-7 performance this year is an understatement, though San Francisco’s record is barely better. But New York would have had a hard time on Monday even if they weren’t flying all the way across the country to play right after we changed the clocks. I’ll take the 49ers in a fairly easy matchup 24-10.