I'll admit it - I'm getting a bit tired of parts of this NFL season. I'm clearly not the only one - the TV ratings are in the toilet, or at least they are relative to what they have been. There have still been some real highlights, obviously - the play of the Patriots is profoundly impressive, the Raiders have mostly been great, and Dak Prescott is a great story, for example. For each of those things, though, there are about three things that are just annoying, frustrating, or incomprehensible. It feels like a funk has settled over the league this year. Well, here and now I am going to do my part to shake off that funk and return to brighter days. We're going to get all these games right. Or at least that's the plan. Your weekly office pools guidance:
Atlanta at Tampa Bay: The Bucs showed some good heart, taking a very good - though wildly undisciplined on the day - Raiders team to overtime. They are still far from a complete product, but they keep doing enough things well that they are clearly a team moving in the right direction. The Falcons beat the Packers, but Green Bay is not in a good place, so the impressiveness of that result is limited. I'm going to gamble here. Take the Bucs.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore: There are health questions on both sides here. It doesn't really matter, though. I'd feel a little better if the game was in Pittsburgh, but there is a big gap in the quality of these teams at the moment. Take the Steelers.
Dallas at Cleveland: The Browns are playing, so you pick against them. It's automatic. We did it last week with the Jets, and they are lousy. This time around the team is much better that they are playing against, and that isn't good news for the lowly Browns. Take the Cowboys.
Jacksonville at Kansas City: Nick Foles was a pleasant surprise last weekend. Playing in relief he was brilliant. Can he do it again? Will he need to, or will Alex Smith be okay? I'm not sure it matters. The Jaguars are a broken team right now, and they aren't going to accomplish anything close to all they should be. We are just playing out the final days of the Gus Bradley era. Take the Chiefs.
New York Jets at Miami: The Jets were playing at Cleveland, and they only won by a field goal. That is far from ideal. There are questions in them about bulk. The Dolphins are coming off a bye and seem to slowly be moving in the right direction. It shouldn't be that close. Take the Dolphins.
Philadelphia at New York Giants: The Eagles showed a lot of good things in their overtime loss at the Cowboys. Now they get another chance for redemption and a chance to get their 1-3 road record to a more respectable place. The Giants are fine but nothing special. Take the Eagles.
Detroit at Minnesota: The Lions really disappointed me last week, losing in Houston in a game that was there for the taking. I want them to be better than they are. The Vikings were an even bigger disappointment, though. Losing to the Bears?!? And it wasn't even close. They started off so well, but things are just ugly right now. Take the Lions.
Carolina at Los Angeles: The Panthers got a win over Arizona, but there are so many questions and issues out of that gate that I have no idea what to think about it. The Rams are coming off a bye and playing at home. I really don't like this game, but I have no choice but to take the Rams.
New Orleans at San Francisco: The Niners have all sorts of issues, and a week off is not going to be able to solve them. New Orleans is deeply flawed, but they showed last week that they are capable of winning a game that they perhaps shouldn't. They should win this one. Take the Saints.
Tennessee at San Diego: The Chargers are a better team at home than on the road, but I think that they are finally getting the idea that they are doomed under current leadership and change is on the horizon. Tennessee showed a lot of good things last week and have a long week to get ready for this one. Take the Titans.
Indianapolis at Green Bay: Which one of these disappointing and flawed teams is going to trip over their significant issues less? Hard to say - and harder to care about either of these teams in the big picture this year. Take the Packers at home.
Denver at Oakland: These teams have matching 6-2 records. For a number of reasons, though, I find it easier to respect the Raiders. Who would ever have guessed that that was possible? Oakland is playing with chemistry and belief. They need to get their discipline figured out, but when that happens - and it should here because I trust the coaching - they will be in good shape. Take the Raiders.
Buffalo at Seattle: The Bills are the Bills. That's not a compliment, and it won't change under this coaching staff. The Seahawks are troubled as well, though, and keep disappointing when I give them faith this year. Rough game. Take the Seahawks at home, though.
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