I don't know what to say about what happened last Sunday.
Back in Week 2, I know a lot of people took a double-digit favored New Orleans team at home as their Survivor Pool pick against a Tampa Bay team that was 2-14 last year and was starting a rookie quarterback. The Saints lost by a touchdown and knocked out several of you. That week, I warned against that pick.
In Week 9, the Saints were more than touchdown home favorites against a Tennessee team that was 2-14 last year and was starting a rookie quarterback. So of course New Orleans lost by a touchdown, this time in overtime (no extra point included this time, however). The Saints were my top recommendation last week -- I did warn it might be a letdown game for New Orleans and that the Titans might play harder after a coaching change -- so hopefully you looked elsewhere or had used them before Week 9 and other than Week 2.
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My three Pretty Confident picks all hit: Patriots over Redskins, Bengals over Browns and Jets over Jaguars. New York ended up as my choice in my leagues once I learned Ryan Fitzpatrick would start at quarterback. The Jets did nearly blow that game, though. Titans over Saints was the only huge upset of Week 9 as home teams generally held serve. San Francisco over Atlanta and Indianapolis over Denver were minor upsets.
Don't rule out the team you back making the playoffs even if it's below .500 at the halfway mark of the season (every club has now played at least eight games). In every season since 1987, at least one team with a .500-or-worse record through eight games has advanced to the postseason. Carolina did it last year in winning the NFC South.
On the bye in Week 10 are the Falcons, Colts, Chargers and 49ers. As usual, first teams listed are the pick.
Top Choice Of Week
Green Bay vs. Detroit: I'm sure the Packers have been used by everyone at this point, but they are easily the biggest favorites of the week. True, the Pack have lost two straight games, but those were on the road against unbeaten teams. A return to Lambeau against a Lions franchise in disarray should solve things even with Detroit off its bye week. The Lions haven't won in Wisconsin since 1991.
St. Louis vs. Chicago: Could be the Bears' final trip to their neighbors to the south with the Rams pushing to move to L.A. I'll admit I didn't expect Chicago to win in San Diego on Monday, but the Chargers are so battered -- including during that game -- that the Bears should have won. Jay Cutler actually looks like an NFL quarterback these days. But he's going to struggle on a short week in the dome against the ferocious Rams defense.
Denver vs. Kansas City: This does smell a tad like a trap game. The Broncos are off their first loss of the season on Sunday night in Indianapolis, and they have lost star pass-rushing linebacker DeMarcus Ware to injury and top cornerback Aqib Talib to a one-game suspension. The Chiefs, meanwhile, should have beaten the Broncos in Week 2 in K.C. and are off their bye week.
Seattle vs. Arizona: Both teams off the bye week, so no advantage there. I still think Seattle is a Super Bowl-caliber team when it plays at home despite losing its last game there to Carolina. The Seahawks totally shut down Arizona in two wins last year, although Cards QB Carson Palmer missed both.
Cincinnati vs. Houston (Monday): The Texans are off their bye week, but the Bengals practically are too as they routed Cleveland last Thursday. Maybe the new-and-improved Andy Dalton is good even in prime-time now. He hadn't been entering this season. If it matters, and I don't think it does, Texans QB Brian Hoyer was 2-0 as a starter vs. the Bengals the previous two years while with Cleveland.
Baltimore vs. Jacksonville: The Ravens are off their bye week and still think they can make the playoffs at 2-6. They would have to win out almost surely. Remember, they now begin life without injured No. 1 receiver Steve Smith. The Jags are getting there as a franchise but can't see them winning this on the road.
Could Go Either Way
Buffalo at NY Jets (Thursday): It's the Rex Ryan Bowl as the loudmouth but entertaining coach faces his former Jets team for the first time. I find it hilarious he named IK Enemkpali as a captain for this game after he busted Geno Smith's jaw this summer while with the Jets. Might we see a brawl at the coin toss? The Jets look to be missing a few key defenders and are struggling on that side of ball. Bills are pretty healthy.
Washington vs. New Orleans: Stupid Saints! While I give myself a pass for trusting Drew Brees and Co. in their dome against a bad team, I don't whatsoever trust them out in the elements. New Orleans' only road win this season was in the dome in Indianapolis.
Philadelphia vs. Miami: All that excitement over Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell has disappeared rather quickly. The Fins routed two bad teams (Titans, Texans) in their first two games under him but have lost one-sided games against two good teams (Patriots, Bills) in the past two. Philly starts a three-game stretch where it could take control of the NFC East, with the Bucs and Lions up next on the schedule.
Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland: I might have put this game in the Upset Of Week category, but have tried this twice with the Browns already and they failed me. I don't trust the Steelers much here with Landry Jones expected to start at quarterback because Ben Roethlisberger is hurt again. I give the Browns even more of a chance if starting Josh McCown is back after missing last week.
Oakland vs. Minnesota: Don't laugh, but this might be a Super Bowl matchup after next season. Two teams with good second-year quarterbacks and defenses clearly on the rise. I lean Oakland simply being home -- also Derek Carr is better than Teddy Bridgewater -- and because Bridgewater is no sure thing coming off a concussion.
New England at NY Giants: Wouldn't it be fitting if the Giants ruined the Patriots' chances at an unbeaten season as they did in the Super Bowl following the 2007 campaign? The Pats visited the G-Men in Week 17 of that regular season as well and were nearly upset. I can totally see a New York win here, especially after the Pats lost running back Dion Lewis for the season in Week 9. He was a key part of the passing game.
Upset Of Week
Tennessee vs. Carolina: That Titans offense looked vastly different in New Orleans under interim head coach Mike Mularkey and with rookie QB Marcus Mariota back after missing two games due to injury. This smells like a trap game for the Cats off three straight home wins over playoff contenders (Eagles, Colts and Packers).
Tampa Bay vs. Dallas: No reason to think the Cowboys will end their losing streak -- now at six -- until Tony Romo returns. Dallas also likely without excellent middle linebacker Sean Lee in this one due to a concussion. Tampa might be on a two-game winning streak right now if receiver Mike Evans didn't drop a whopping six passes last week in a loss to the Giants. That's the most of any player in 10 years.
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