Ed: Did we see the beginning of Duck’s dynasty in Pittsburgh? Eh, probably not, but at least I did go 5-2 last week with a bit assist from the Steelers … and from the refs in Green Bay, or so I hear. That puts my season total at a more respectable 25-17 and gives me a bit of a winning streak here. Just like the Steelers! (I hope.)
Jazz: I’ll confess that after my previous substandard 3-4 performance I was worried I might repeat it again. The good news is that I didn’t. The bad news is that I managed to go 1-6, taking me to an anemic 19-23 on the season. I can barely see Ed’s taillights in the distance ahead of me. If it weren’t for the Packers I would have set a Hot Air game record shutout. Just my luck that I picked against my own team when they finally managed to beat the odds and win their first game. I’ll need to find a way out of the wilderness this week or the whole regular season may be slipping away.
Ed: Speaking of the Steelers, their one-game winning streak is safe — they have a bye, and Mason Rudolph has another week to step back into the starting role for the sad-sack Dolphins on the 28th. Devlin “Duck” Hodges will step back to the bench but with a lot more confidence after last week’s performance. The Vikings go on the road to take on the angry Lions (1 pm ET, Fox), who are still complaining about the referees in last Monday’s loss. They should be more worried about their 28th-ranked D and especially their 26th-ranked rushing defense. Minnesota has not looked great on the road, but this is an indoor game and Dalvin Cook should open up the play-action pass all day long. Minnesota 30-20 over Detroit. The Jets host the unbeaten Pats on Monday night (8:15 pm Monday, ESPN) after having stunned the Cowboys — and pretty much everyone else. Sam Darnold makes a big difference, but not big enough against the undefeated Patriots. As much as I’d like to see the Patriots take a licking, Tom Brady will keep on ticking with New England 33-17 over NYJ.
Jazz: Okay. Once more into the breach and here we go. Thankfully I don’t have to pick against the Steelers again. The Lions have shown the ability to surprise the experts when the chips are down, but they’ve really been running up some bad numbers. Even with home-field advantage, I’ve got to go with the Vikings over the Lions 25-20. That leaves us with my Jets. Yes, it was an impressive win over the Cowboys last week, but that was an uneven opponent who dipped in the wrong direction just when the returning Sam Darnold put together some magic. The Pats are too strong, even in an away game. I’ll sadly pick New England over my Jets 34-17.
Let’s pick five more to get us to seven again for this week:
- Raiders at Packers (1 pm, CBS) – These are two teams still struggling to set an identity for themselves this season. Green Bay has a decent defense, while Oakland gives up a few less yards but five more points a game. The Pack scores three more points a game too, plus they’re at home and need to protect their division lead. Should be a good game, but let’s hope that’s especially true for the refs. Packers 27-20 over the Raiders.
- Texans at Colts (1 pm, CBS) – The two defenses are almost even in terms of performance this season, but Houston’s offense is ranked 6th in the league. Indy’s O ranks in the bottom third. The Texans are more vulnerable against the pass, but the Colts rank 26th in passing offense. The Colts are a slight favorite, but I’ll take Houston 23-21 over Indy.
- Saints at Bears (4:25 pm, Fox) – Teddy Bridgewater has done a fine job leading the Saints in Drew Brees’ absence, but he’s losing two of his top three targets today — Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, both out with injuries. That puts a backup on the road against the league’s third-stingiest defense on points, giving up only 13.8 per game. Da Bears are more middling against the pass, but with Kamara and Cook out, Chicago might have an easier time against Bridgewater’s arm. The Bears’ O hasn’t been all that impressive, but they’re playing at home, too. Chicago 21-17 over New Orleans.
- Ravens at Seahawks (4:25 pm, Fox) – Both teams’ defenses have seen better days, but both offenses more than make up for that. The Ravens rack up more yards per game than anyone else, and they only fall a point short of the Pats for best in points scored at 30.7 per game. Seattle scores three fewer points per game and give up a point more per game than Baltimore, but they’re also playing at home — and they have played more consistently this season. Seattle 35-31 over Baltimore.
- Eagles at Cowboys (8:20 pm, NBC) – Both of these division rivals have played disappointing football this season, and they have identical 3-3 records. The Cowboys are getting healthy, though, especially on offense, while Philly has six players ruled out of this game. Dallas racks up a lot more yards on offense than Philly does, but the Eagles score 1.3 more points per game. The real differences here will be the Cowboys’ stingy defense and home-field advantage. Dallas 24-19 over Philadelphia.
- Raiders at Packers (1 pm, CBS) –The Raiders have started to look surprisingly good recently. Sadly, it’s mostly on offense. Their defense doesn’t have what it takes against Aaron Rogers and company. I’ll take the Packers over the Raiders 30-21.
- Texans at Colts (1 pm, CBS) –Houston has a lot going for them here, but on paper they aren’t quite as good as the Colts. If only for home field advantage, give me the Colts over the Texans, 24-21 in a close one.
- Saints at Bears (4:25 pm, Fox) – I know everyone sees the Bears’ moment finally arriving, but people keep underestimating Teddy Bridgewater. He’s going to have to improvise with some of his targets, but I’ll go with the slight upseat and take the Saints over the bears 21-17.
- Ravens at Seahawks (4:25 pm, Fox) – This is another one of those games that could come down to one good (or bad) call. Seatlle has racked up some good wins, but most of them were nailbiters settled on the last drive. Their luck runs out here. Ravens over Seahawks 37-31 in a shootout.
- Eagles at Cowboys (8:20 pm, NBC) – Is anyone really picking the Cowboys after they lost to the Jets last week? Yep. I am. Cowboys over Eagles 24-17.