We are not even halfway through the regular season, but we are very deep into the survivor pool season. Because we are down to the nitty gritty, we’re going to change the format a little bit and look for the best and worst picks of the week regardless of what the odds happen to be.
The most attractive games
Green Bay vs. Jacksonville
For several weeks now I have been lukewarm at best about the Packers. They just haven’t seemed worth risking a pick on. That changes here, though. The last two weeks have been a rebirth of sorts for Aaron Rodgers. After a rough start to the season he is back to his old self, and that’s having a major impact on his team around him. The loss of Charles Woodson hurts this team, but they can overcome that — especially against a team with as many troubles as the Jaguars have. They face Arizona and then a bye in the next two weeks, so this is by far the best spot to use this team that we have seen. Unless you have used them already this is clearly and obviously the pick for this week.
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Chicago vs. Carolina
I have been very skeptical of these Bears this year. I don’t like Jay Cutler’s game, I wasn’t sure what Matt Forte would bring to the table, and I didn’t trust the makeup of the defense. Their dismantling of the Lions on Monday night, though, showed that this defense is playing for keeps and that the offense can do their part. Carolina made the odd decision to fire their GM this week. Good teams playing well don’t do that. The Panthers are a total mess and they can’t get out of their own way. It would be a real shock if the Bears lost this one. I’d rather pick the Packers, but this is a very comfortable choice as well.
The next best
Atlanta at Philadelphia
The Falcons would be a no-brainer if this was in Atlanta. They still should be able to win easily because Philadelphia has significant problems on both sides of the ball — problems that Atlanta is well-positioned to exploit. Atlanta hasn’t taken a misstep yet, and I don’t feel like this is the spot that they will.
San Diego at Cleveland
The Browns have not been very good, and there is turmoil surrounding the team regarding the ownership change and the front office overhaul and general uncertainty that has accompanied it. The Browns are playing tough, but they just aren’t talented enough to be truly competitive. There are certainly teams I would trust more than the Chargers given their general, frustrating inconsistency. They are 2-1 on the road, though, and certainly have the talent to come out on top. They also need to redeem themselves after a horribly embarrassing collapse against the Broncos last time out, and they need a win to stay in the hunt in their division. They should be very motivated.
Just plain bad ideas
New England vs. St. Louis
For starters, this game is being played in London. We can never really know how people will handle the travel, what the crowd will be like, and what condition the field will be in, so messing with these games seems like a lousy idea. Beyond that, though, the Patriots have been so inconsistent that they are hard to trust, and the Rams are a solid and improving team that is capable of a surprise. I have no interest in this game, and I think picking the Patriots would be a major mistake.
Pittsburgh vs. Washington
The Steelers are solid five-point favorites, and they are getting a lot of attention here. I don’t buy it. The Redskins suffered a big loss when Fred Davis went down. However, that can be overcome, and RGIII keeps finding ways to be dangerous. The team is also 2-2 on the road, so they have proven to be capable of handling travel. The Steelers have issues on both lines, and I still don’t believe that they are legitimate. I would give the Steelers an edge in this one, but not enough to trust them with a pick.
Minnesota vs. Tampa Bay
Minnesota is the biggest positive surprise of the season, and they keep finding ways to impress people. They are tough at home — unbeaten in four games — and have won four of their last five. Still, I don’t like them in this spot. Tampa Bay is playing better than their record and is just a few breaks away from being in the playoff hunt right now. They are physical and are still very motivated despite the losses. Minnesota’s two losses — to Washington and Indianapolis — came in games they really should have won, so they are vulnerable against more struggling teams. The Vikings should win, but I don’t trust them.
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