I have a point of pride from last week's selections - I picked the Chargers to win at Atlanta. It was a nice pick - a risk, but the kind that you need to do every once in awhile when it's been a long season of highly average office pool picks and you need to shake things up a bit. The flip side of this story, sadly though, is that I took a good handful of other similar risks last week and, aside from the Chargers, they all sucked. Awful. This week it feels like there are fewer risks. It feels like a more straightforward week. Hopefully that's a good thing:
Jacksonville at Tennessee: Tennessee isn't a great team, but they seem to at least be moving in the right direction. They are doing some good things. Jacksonville, meanwhile, is hurtling towards the head coaching job market, and they are incapable of stopping the train. This will not be a good game. The Jaguars have more talent, but are wasting it in bulk. Take the Titans.
Washington vs. Cincinnati: London has had two really terrible games so far this year, and there is a chance that this one will be lousy, too. Both teams are have real issues. I'll take the Redskins - but mostly because I'll avoid taking Marvin Lewis unless I absolutely have to.
Kansas City vs. Indianapolis: This should be one heck of a game - on paper it is. It will likely disappoint, though. The Chiefs are inconsistent, and the Colts are flawed and frustrating. I won't feel good about it - especially on the road - but I'll take the Chiefs.
Oakland at Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay had a big win and looked good last week. You could be impressed - until you saw it was against the hapless Niners. Oakland also looked good last week, and they are the much better team. They are also 4-0 on the road, so they are in a good spot here. Take the Raiders.
Seattle at New Orleans: Seattle played one of the worst games in NFL history on Sunday night. It was a stout defensive game and a debacle from an offensive and special teams perspective. We have to have faith, though, that they are better than they showed - and better than the Saints. Take the Seahawks.
Detroit at Houston: Heading into the season if I had looked at this specific matchup making a pick would have been easy. It still is. The twist, though, is that it's Detroit I like now, and that wouldn't have been the case then. They are a tougher team than we could have imagined, and Matthew Stafford is playing his best football - and is the better QB by far here. Take the Lions.
New York Jets at Cleveland: I don't like much about the Jets, and they have a mess at quarterback. There is only one thing that could make me trust them and pick them this week - playing Cleveland. This will not be a classic, but we have to take the visitors. Take the Jets.
New England at Buffalo: The last game between these two was a surprise. It's particularly telling that the result was a shock despite New England playing with a banged up third-string QB. This game won't be a surprise. Buffalo showed some real flaws last week. New England has looked close to perfect since Tom Brady returned. And they will be hungry for revenge. There will be blood. Take the Patriots.
Arizona at Carolina: Arizona was the other half of that Seattle debacle of a Sunday night game. Carolina is in the midst of a horrible season. I have real concerns about Carolina, but I hate everything about their season, and I'm not convinced that a bye week was going to fix that one. Take the Cardinals.
San Diego at Denver: The Chargers worked out well for me last week, and I am tempted to go with them again. Denver's offense is not a thing of beauty, and they are coming off a short week. I can't quite pull the trigger, though - this is a second straight tough road game, and this defense will test them. Take the Broncos.
Green Bay at Atlanta: The Packers still have issues and are still a shell of themselves. The Falcons are the Falcons, though - and that's not a compliment. They are soft, and it has haunted them lately. As it always does. Take the Packers.
Philadelphia at Dallas: Philadelphia got an impressive and meaningful win against the Vikings last week, and they did it despite a really lousy performance by Carson Wentz. I don't think that they'll get away with the same thing here. Dallas is coming off the bye, so they will be rested, and they are well rounded and confident. Take the Cowboys.
Minnesota at Chicago: I'm willing to give Minnesota a mulligan for their lousy last outing. It was bad, and the offensive line is an ongoing concern, but they are far the better team here. It's not close. Take the Vikings.
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