It was another strange week in the NFL last week. Last-second heroics, emotion, injuries and general chaos led to some unexpected results. The week ahead looks to have a few confusing ones as well, but that won’t stop me from picking straight up winners for every game this week:
Cincinnati at Philadelphia - The Bengals lost a tough one last week, and the Eagles won one. Both games were full of emotion, but I don’t think that they are particularly indicative of what will happen next. Dallas was riding high on emotion when they beat the Bengals, and the Eagles got some big late plays. The Bengals are in better shape overall, though, and have more on the line, so they should come out on top. Take the Bengals.
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Green Bay at Chicago - The Bears have lost two in a row and just haven’t been that impressive. Green Bay, meanwhile, has won two in a row and has a chance to all but clinch their division with a win here. They’ll do it. Take the Packers.
New York Giants at Atlanta - I’m not high on either of these teams, but I am particularly unimpressed with the Falcons right now. Their loss last week showed just how vulnerable they are. The Giants are fighting to hold on to their division, and they know how to handle pressure. Take the Giants.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans - Neither of these teams are particularly strong right now. The Saints, though, are in freefall, and nothing is going right for them at this point. I don’t like trusting either team, but the Bucs are far easier to trust. Take the Saints.
Minnesota at St. Louis - The Rams are making serious progress and have been impressive in winning three straight. Minnesota has the better record, but aside from Adrian Peterson there isn’t a lot I like about them — especially not how Christian Ponder is playing. Take the Rams.
Washington at Cleveland - It’s tough to pick this one because, as I write, the status of Robert Griffin III is unknown. Given that uncertainty I have to like Cleveland if forced to pick. They have won three straight and are playing like a team that has confidence and unity far exceeding their talent. That’s dangerous at this time of year. Take the Browns.
Jacksonville at Miami - Ugly game here because neither team is playing well at all right now. I’ll take the Dolphins only because they are at home, but I could certainly feel better about a game than I do about this one. I’m just glad I don’t have to watch it. Take the Dolphins.
Denver at Baltimore - The Ravens have lost two straight, and they made the strange — and panicky — move of firing their offensive coordinator this week. That would make it tough to trust them at the best of times right now, but when they are up against a team that is playing great and has forgotten how to lose I just can’t pick them. Take the Broncos.
Indianapolis at Houston - Very interesting game. The Colts could theoretically win the division if they win out and the Texans tank. That’s a big incentive here, but it’s not enough. Houston is tough at home, and will be looking to deliver a statement before the playoffs start. Take the Texans.
Detroit at Arizona - Ugliest game of the week by far. the Lions quit last week after opening an early lead, but they look like superheroes next to the Cardinals and their 58-0 debacle at Seattle. Arizona is just terrible, and they don’t stand a chance here. Take the Lions.
Carolina at San Diego - Cam Newton has woken up and remembered that he is Cam Newton. The Panthers have nothing to play for besides pride, but that should be a big motivator — and more than enough against a team that has very little pride. Take the Panthers.
Seattle vs. Buffalo - The fans in Toronto don’t exactly get a thriller this year — not that they are likely to at any point when they have to watch the Bills. Buffalo is just not good, and the Seahawks are playing more than solid football. This one should be relatively easy for Seattle. Take the Seahawks.
Pittsburgh at Dallas - I’m concerned about the Cowboys playing the week after such an emotional game — it certainly didn’t go well for the Chiefs last week. Still, the Steelers are in terrible shape right now, and I don’t trust them — especially not on the road where they have a losing record. Take the Cowboys.
Kansas City at Oakland - Rough game. The Raiders have lost six and are struggling badly. The Chiefs are emotionally exhausted and are struggling even more. I’ll take Oakland because they are at home, but if ever there was a game I wish I could pass on it’s this one. Take the Raiders.
San Francisco at New England - This one could potentially be a Super Bowl preview. I think that the AFC is stronger in general than the NFC this year, but the Niners are an exception. They are tough, and they are getting dialed in for the playoffs. This one will be a good one, and the 49ers will pull off the mild upset. Take San Francisco.
New York Jets at Tennessee - Truly, truly terrible Monday night game. The Jets have likely set a record for the least dominant two-game winning streak in the history of the game. Tennessee, meanwhile, has lost three in a row and have all sorts of issues. Coin flip. I’ll take the Titans because they are at home, and because they are less incompetent on offense. Take the Titans.
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