Last week’s action was ugly. There’s no other way to put it, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. When a week doesn’t turn out as you hope, you can sit around and mope or you can just do much better the next week. Let’s choose the latter, shall we?
Denver at Oakland - The Broncos have won seven in a row. No team is hotter. Oakland is the opposite of hot — they have lost five straight, and that’s about what their play has deserved. Denver has already clinched the division, but if they keep up their torrid pace they could earn a bye week as well. Take the Broncos.
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Baltimore at Washington - Baltimore had a heartbreaking loss on Sunday. Actually, it was a horribly frustrating loss. They are the better team in this one, and I trust they will be highly motivated to prove it. Take the Ravens.
Kansas City at Cleveland - Tough game. The Chiefs played by far their best game of the year last weekend, but it was fueled by emotion. Now they have a week to come back to earth and face a tough reality. That’s a lot to overcome, and they won’t have a home crowd to help them. Take the Browns.
San Diego at Pittsburgh - The good news for the Chargers is that they are in second place in their division. The bad news, of course, is that they are 4-8 and five games out of first. Terrible team, terrible division. Pittsburgh showed a lot of guts last week, and they are clearly better here. Take the Steelers.
Tennessee at Indianapolis - At this point there is no reason to doubt the Luck legend. It’s bigger than all of us. The Colts should have lost on Sunday, but then Andrew Luck stepped up, led two late touchdown charges, and showed the world he is boss. I don’t dare bet against him. Take the Colts.
N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville - It’s quite possible that no team in NFL history has ever played worse than the Jets did last week while still winning. That was hideous, and there is no reason to think they’ll get any better. Take the Jaguars.
Chicago at Minnesota - Chicago is falling back to earth. Minnesota is strong at home. I’ll gamble on the home team here. Take the Vikings.
Atlanta at Carolina - I keep picking against the Falcons and they keep disappointing me by winning. Last week they looked very good defensively as they manhandled Drew Brees. Cam Newton has been playing very well lately, but at this point I can’t pick against the Falcons. Take Atlanta.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay - Nick Foles impressed me on Sunday night. For the first time I got a good hint of why the Eagles are into him. Still, the Eagles are not a good team, and they are going to struggle to score points against Tampa Bay. The Eagles are not tough, and they will not react well to Tampa Bay’s toughness. Take the Bucs.
St. Louis at Buffalo - The Rams look great against the Niners and not nearly as good against other teams. Buffalo looked better last week than they have recently. I’ll take the Bills at home, but I certainly feel better about other games than I do about this one.
Dallas at Cincinnati - For much of Sunday night’s game I was sure I would take the Bengals in this one. I really liked the intensity and fight the Cowboys showed late against the Eagles, though, so I’ll gamble that they show their best here, too. Take the Cowboys.
Miami at San Francisco - St. Louis is San Francisco’s kryptonite. Lucky for them they can’t play the Rams again, and St. Louis isn’t likely to make the playoffs. Miami showed some nice moves against the Pats, but ultimately they weren’t good enough. They won’t be good enough here, either. Take the 49ers.
New Orleans at N.Y. Giants - I have given up on the Saints. More specifically, I am relieved that finally the Saints are performing like I expected them to all the way along because of all they had to overcome this year. Take the Giants.
Arizona at Seattle - Arizona is playing really, really badly. They have no offense. None. Nothing at all. Seattle is playing pretty well, and if they keep it up they are a wild card team. This should be a mismatch if the Seahawks are what they think they are. Take the Seahawks.
Detroit at Green Bay - Detroit’s collapse against the Colts should be the end of them for this year. It has been a disaster, and now there is nothing left to play for. They aren’t very tough, so I expect them to quit. That means the Packers should win easily. Take Green Bay.
Houston at New England - This is the best AFC game of the year so far. Or at least it should be. Both teams have clinched their divisions, but home field advantage is on the line. If the Pats lose they aren’t going to have home field throughout. With a win they could. Stakes are high, and this will give us a very good sense of how things stack up at this point. This one is a tossup, but I’ll take the home team. Take New England.
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