TJRSports NFL Picks Week 10
John Canton: It's week ten of the NFL season. As always I'm joined by Bret Clev and Mike Maloney to go over every game this week.
Standings Straight Up After Week 9:
John 88-44 .667 (Last Week 12-2)
Bret 85-47 .644 (10-4)
Mike 84-48 .636 (9-5)
We're kicking ass. I'm 24-4 in the last two weeks. Dumb luck or am I figuring things out? I hope I'm figuring things out!
We all picked the Colts to win on Thursday and we got that right.
Byes: Cleveland, Green Bay, Arizona, Washington
All game times are Eastern.
NY Giants (6-3) at Cincinnati (3-5) 1:00 PM
Bret: This game has an interesting spread. It started at 4.5 and has moved down to 3.5 during the week. Usually mid-week movement is made by sharp bettors- which makes me think Vegas really likes Cincy to cover 3 or win outright. Typically, I'd go with that bet, but I have to disagree on this one.
New York is 3-1 on the road, with quality wins in San Francisco and Dallas. New York is better that Cincinnati in every meaningful statistic. Cincinnati's strength - their passing game - which is averaging 7.3 yards per pass - averages out to New York's defensive 7.6 yards per pass - meaning I expect a pretty standard day from Cincinnati offensively - but I expect Dalton to throw a couple of killer INT's (New York is 1st in the league in INT percentage), and New York to pull this game out. I don't know that Manning has an awesome day, but New York wins the game. New York Giants 28 Cincinnati 24
Mike: Cincinnati should get some relief from a tough stretch in their schedule next week with games against the Chiefs and Raiders. But that means they still have to play (and lose) to the Giants this week. Their defense just continues to be unable to stop anyone, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been largely disappointing at running back, averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season and only having one game where he averaged over 4 YPC (Week 1 against the Ravens).
One thing they can hope for is the continued deterioration of Eli Manning's passing game. He's now had five straight weeks of declining QB rating figures, bottoming out last week with a 10-24 day for 125 yards no touchdowns and 1 INT. He has 4 INTs in his last 3 games and only one TD. In his favor is the fact that the Giants are still 2-1 in those games thanks to some timely defense and a ton of field goals by Lawrence Tynes. But, with the Bengals defense I'd expect Eli to improve upon his 41.1 rating last week and put together a good game heading into their bye week. New York Giants 30 Cincinnati 20
John: The Giants had won four games in a row before last week's loss against the Steelers. The problem was they ran into a good defensive team that took away their biggest weapon on offense, WR Victor Cruz. He caught five balls for 67 yards, but it wasn't an impactful game for him. With Hakeem Nicks banged up he only got one ball for ten yards. Nicks still isn't healthy and even if he plays I doubt he'll be effective. Will the Bengals be smart enough to key in on Cruz by double teaming him and make QB Eli Manning beat them in another way? I would hope so.
I'm going with the Bengals here. You can throw the ball against the Giants and since the Bengals don't run it very well, I would expect them to throw the ball downfield quite a bit. It can be a very big game for star WR AJ Green too. Plus I like my home upsets. This one falls under that category. Bengals 27-26
Tennessee (3-6) at Miami (4-4) 1:00 PM
Bret: This is a dangerous game for Miami. Their defense has really worn down in recent weeks, and are now ranked near the bottom of the league against the pass - and aren't getting to the QB nearly as much as they should. If Locker is healthy and can add a little life to the Tennessee offense, they've got a chance to put up some big time passing yards.
However, Miami is second in third in the league in defensive yards per play - meaning they don't give up big plays - and Tennessee is worst in the league in sustaining long drives - a bad combination point wise. They're going to have to find a serious rhythm we haven't seen yet this year to win this game.
And really, it may not matter if the Tennessee defense continues to be mediocre. Miami is actually a very good team at sustaining a drive, and Tennessee has no play makers on that side of the ball and is worst in the defensive time of possession. I think that's the story of this game - Tennessee can't get Miami off the field, they control the tone of the game and win a boring game. Miami 27 Tennessee 20
Mike: Fun fact: Tennessee's three wins this season are by a combined 7 points. Their six losses are by a combined 133 points. Basically my thoughts here are that you either bet on Tennessee winning straight up or you bet the Dolphins to cover the spread. Despite Miami losing last week they were able to run well against a bad Indy run defense, and I would expect them to do more of the same this week against a Titans' defense that is 25th in the league in yards allowed per carry at 4.4. I do think it was a little ridiculous that Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas only got a combined 16 carries compared to Tannehill's 38 passing attempts considering the Dolphins were up for much of that game and never losing by more than four points.
Tennessee really rolled over and died against the Bears last week, and I think if you can score early on them they'll fall apart. I don't expect them to turn the ball over five times like last week, but I think this is a tough game for them to win on the road against a good Miami team. Miami 27 Tennessee 18
John: I'm anti-Titans this year. I'm not sure how they've even won three games because of how awful they are on defense. They're giving up 141.6 yards per game on the ground, which is 30th in the NFL. The Dolphins like to run the ball with RBs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, which opens up the passing game for rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, who has performed very well of late. On the other side of the ball, the Titans like to run and the Dolphins have a top three run defense, so I don't see the Titans being that successful in that area. I think the Dolphins will win in an easy fashion. Dolphins 24-13
Detroit (4-4) at Minnesota (5-4) 1:00 PM
Bret: This, I think, is actually an unexpectedly low scoring game. Titus Young and Calvin Johnson are both banged up, and the Detroit offense still isn't running very well. Minnesota is going to struggle mightily without Percy Harvin. I think this game has as many punts as points, and it comes down to whether or not Peterson can score enough on his own. I think without Harvin, Detroit does enough to slow down AP - allowing Detroit to pull out a win late. Detroit 19 Minnesota 13
Mike: I'd probably make this our odd line of the week, with Detroit going to Minnesota as a one point favorite. Are people just that down on Christian Ponder that he can't even be a home favorite against a very average Lions team? I guess that I feel like even if Detroit is better, they're not that much better than the Vikings to deserve four points in its favor. Minnesota should be much more effective against Detroit's run game (Tied for 7th in the league allowing 4.0 YPC) than Jacksonville was last week, and conversely I'd expect the Vikings (4th in the league at 5.2 YPC) to be able to run on Detroit's defense, which is tied for 20th allowing 4.3 YPC.
So if we make this about the passing game, we see that while Matthew Stafford is on pace for another 4,500+ yard season, he's only thrown 8 TDs so far through 8 games, and only one game where he's had multiple TDs (Which was against Seattle oddly enough). Meanwhile, Ponder hasn't had a good game in a month, and it sounds like Percy Harvin is going to miss this week's game before next week's bye. If anything really pushes this game into the Lions' favor, it will be Harvin's missing playmaking ability, as Jerome Simpson and Kyle Rudolph are not going to be able to match that. Still, the Vikings have largely played well at home save for that Thursday night beatdown against the Bucs, and I like Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' run defense over anything the Lions have to offer. Minnesota 24 Detroit 20
John: I know the Lions are getting a lot of hype as a potential playoff team after two straight wins put them at 4-4, but look at their schedule. After playing the 5-4 Vikings, they have the Packers twice, Texans, Colts, Falcons and Bears. The only team they play with a losing record is at the Cardinals. The good thing for them is five of the last eight games are at home, which should help them. I don't see how they're going to finish with the likely ten wins needed to make the playoffs, though. The stretch run is too difficult.
I'm sure the Vikings feel a bit disrespected as home underdogs in this matchup, but when you give up over 30 points in three of your last four that were all losses that's going to happen. I think this is a game where they will establish the run with RB Adrian Peterson, which is something they're usually able to do. The problem is their passing game is mediocre. With WR Percy Harvin likely out for this game, I don't think QB Christian Ponder is doing to have a lot of success. It could be a situation where the Lions focus on Peterson and it will be difficult for the Vikings to score very much.
I like the Lions in this game. I think QB Matthew Stafford has done an excellent job of spreading the ball around the past few weeks, which is what he should have done early. Now that they are finding the non-Calvin Johnson receivers that is opening everything else up including the running game. The Lions lead the league in passing offense with 307 yards per game. What do we always see in the NFL? Teams coming back late thanks to a strong passing attack. I think it will be a close game that the Lions win on a drive in the final minute. Lions 27-23
Buffalo (3-5) at New England (5-3) 1:00 PM
Bret: It's very hard to find a way for Buffalo to win this game. I went to bat for them last week to stay close with Houston last week, and they let me down. They just don't seem very interested in their games. New England runs them over. New England 41 Buffalo 17
Mike: I don't think we need to spend a lot of time on this one. New England is coming off a bye, and they beat down the Rams the week before. Buffalo's in a tailspin, and if you look at their whole season their three wins are against bad teams (Kansas City, Cleveland, Arizona). New England already destroyed them earlier in the season at home, I see no reason why it doesn't happen again this time around in Foxboro. Buffalo should have some success on the ground, but they don't give the ball to CJ Spiller enough, and defensively they're not matchup for the Pats anyways. This should be another blow out. New England 44 Buffalo 21
John: The Bills defense is 31st against the run and 24th against the run. The Patriots offense is fifth in passing and fourth running the ball. When they played earlier this year the Bills blew a 21-7 lead and lost the game 52-28. Sometimes you don't need to go in-depth to pick these games. The numbers are there. Could the Bills learn from that game and keep it close for four quarters? Sure they could. I just don't think they will. At least they'll keep the Pats under 50 this time. Patriots 45-17
Atlanta (8-0) at New Orleans (3-5) 1:00 PM
Bret: I'm shocked by the line on this one. Even with holding the anemic Philadelphia offense to just 13 points, they're still giving up 29 points per game. Atlanta will easily match that number. New Orleans wont be able to keep up with that without Sproles ( and probably couldn't with him either.)
This will not be a one point game. Atlanta 38 New Orleans 24
Mike: Stupid Cowboys. I really felt good about that Atlanta upset last week. I'm really not sure how this game is going to play out. Yes, New Orleans has been playing better the last few weeks, however as we saw against Denver they are still not above being soundly beaten by a superior team. At the end of the day Atlanta is just better, and Matt Ryan should be able to carve up the Saints' defense. There is the pressure of Atlanta's undefeated record looming, and the game is in the Superdome, so I can at least see New Orleans pulling off the upset. But I need to see them actually beat a really good team before I'll buy any of the hype behind their recent run of three wins in the last four games. Atlanta 42 New Orleans 27
John: I don't think the Falcons will go undefeated. I think they'll lose two or three games. It won't be this one. The kind of team that will beat the Falcons is one that can be physical on defense and can rush the passer. The Saints defense is awful. Everybody knows it. How are they going to slow down Matt Ryan and this explosive Falcons offense? They can't. Ryan will have all day to throw the ball down field. The Falcons are also a smart team that knows the Saints are atrocious against the run where they rank last in the NFL by giving up 176.5 yards per game. I know RB Michael Turner is "old" in terms of running back years, but he can still gain yards against a bad defense like this.
With all of that said, this game has shootout potential. The Falcons defense is much improved thanks to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan doing a fantastic job of implementing the sense of toughness that they lacked. The thing is when the Saints are at home they always find ways to score. That's just how they roll with QB Drew Brees under center. You might stop them a few times, but all game? That doesn’t happen. I like the Falcons to win and cover in a high scoring game that should be a lot of fun to watch. Falcons 37-30
San Diego (4-4) at Tampa Bay (4-4) 1:00 PM
Bret: I'm very much still skeptical of the Tampa Bay is for real bandwagon - but I still think they're good enough offensively to put up 24 on the average San Diego defense, and the San Diego offense is just plain bad. Tampa Bay 24 San Diego 20
Mike: I am pro-Doug Martin. I am anti-Norv Turner. I am pro-Vincent Jackson. I am anti-West Coast team playing early on the East Coast. I can't come up with any more pros but I am also anti-Philip Rivers. Tampa has a lot of momentum right now, while San Diego has none despite their amazing Thursday night win over the Chiefs. So what am I missing here? The spread is only 3 points? Give me Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay 34 San Diego 24
John: I know everybody in the football world loves Doug Martin. I am too. He's fun to watch and is coming off two huge games in a row. I don't know if he'll have a third huge game in a row, though. He might score one or even two touchdown, but I don't see it being all about him. I think you'll see QB Josh Freeman hook up with WR Vincent Jackson, who is going up against his former team. Plus the Chargers have a good run defense and I think they'll likely key on Martin too much, which should open up the deep passing game for the Bucs.
The Chargers don't impress me much. Their four wins are against bad opponents like the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs twice. They've lost three of their last four. They're generally not a good road team against teams in the eastern time zone and I have a feeling the players have stopped listening to coach Norv Turner. I can't say I blame them. They shouldn't have brought him back for one more year. I don't see him lasting as head coach into next year, though.
The Bucs have serious playoff aspirations that I believe are attainable if everything goes right for them. You have to win games like this to make the playoffs. I think they'll win this one easily. Buccaneers 31-17
Denver (5-3) at Carolina (2-6) 1:00 PM
Bret: Expect a big game from Willis McGahee here. This is exactly the kind of average defense he eats up. Carolina struggles to do much offensively, and I don't think they're technically sound enough defensively to stop Denver. Cincinati is a better team than Carolina, and the only reason that Cincy game was close was a couple of bad choices by Manning. I don't expect that to happen 2 weeks in a row. Denver goes up in the 1st half, and takes apart the Carolina passing game in the 2nd half to win by several touchdowns. Denver 31 Carolina 14
Mike: Word on the street is that Carolina's maybe not as bad as their 2-6 record indicates. In their defense, they are actually 8th in the league in DVOA, so there's at least some truth to that I suppose. The problem is their offense. They're a good rushing team (10th in the league at 4.4 YPC) but not a great rushing team, which they should be given the strengths of their quarterback and the amount of money they spent on their backfield. They are only averaging 229 yards per game through the air. Cam Newton has one of the lowest passing completion percentages in the NFL at 57% to go along with only 6 passing TDs and 8 INTs on the year.
I like Denver in this game, but I don't love them. The Broncos haven't actually played in many close games this year, but the Panthers have played in four games in a row where they lost by 5 points or less, and it was at Atlanta, vs Seattle, vs Dallas, and at Chicago, so they kept it close against superior teams. I could see the Panthers keeping this game close, but ultimately I like Peyton Manning here to come through and find a way to win. Denver 20 Carolina 16
John: This has home underdog upset potential written all over it. I'm mad at myself for not picking the Panthers against the Redskins last week because I saw it coming. Their start to the year was bad record wise, but if you look at their games closely they generally play tight games. Their defense isn't that bad and while their offense isn't explosive they do have a dynamic young QB in Cam Newton that is tough for defenses to deal with.
The reason I'm not picking the Panthers is because of Broncos QB Peyton Manning. The guy is too good. He's reached the point now where he has that chemistry with his WRs Eric Decker and Demaryious Thomas to where you know the receiver is going to be in the right place while the ball floats in there in the perfect spot. They did it last week against the Bengals too. I think the Broncos are going to finish the year very strong and they're not going to lose their focus here. Plus their defense is pretty good too. I just think they're the better team in every way. Broncos 26-17
Oakland (3-5) at Baltimore (6-2) 1:00 PM
Bret: Baltimore is just being handed gifts by the scheduling gods. There won't be a worse rushing team playing this weekend - and Carson Palmer putting it all on his shoulders to win in Baltimore is not a good recipe for success. Easy win for Baltimore, but not a blow out. Baltimore 24 Oakland 16
Mike: Change the names around and most of the things I said about the Chargers/Buccaneers game apply to this game too. I don't like the Ravens quite as much as I like the Bucs, just because Joe Flacco is infuriating. The Raiders are probably without their top two running backs this week, so any advantage they might have of being able to grind it out against the Ravens is probably gone. So if you like the Raiders to upset Baltimore you'd basically be betting on Carson Palmer to lead them to victory. Good luck with that. Baltimore 24 Oakland 13
John: The Raiders have surprised me this year because their offense is better than I thought they would be. They can score against bad defenses. As weird as it is to say, the Ravens defense is closer to bad than it is good. The problem with the Raiders is their lack of a run game, which has been mediocre even when Darren McFadden was healthy. Carson Palmer can put up the yards, but he'll turn the ball over too. A good team like the Ravens will capitalize on those mistakes and put points on the board. The Ravens offense plays a lot better at home, especially QB Joe Flacco. I like the Ravens to hold on for the win, but it wouldn't surprise me if it comes down to the wire. Ravens 27-24
NY Jets (3-5) at Seattle (5-4) 4:05 PM
Bret: This is my lock of the week. Seattle is a different team at home, and this Jets team is not built to go into the toughest place in the league to play and come out with a win. New York gets beat up physically - we might even see Tebow due to injury here - and Seattle wins easily (unless we see our first Tebow miracle - which winning in Seattle would be.) Seattle 17 New York 10
Mike: The Jets have had four games this season where they have scored 17 points or less. Those games came against Houston (2nd in DVOA), San Francisco (4th), and Miami (11th) (Pittsburgh is ranked 19th so I'm ignoring that game). Seattle just so happens to be 3rd in the league in DVOA. I said Cam Newton had one of the worst completion percentages in the league? Mark Sanchez is the worst. 52.9% on the season. The Jets' leading receiver is Jeremy Kerley, a solid if unspectacular slot receiver whose biggest attribute is his ability to return kicks. Is there any way this game isn't really, really ugly? I like Seattle a lot here, and I'd be surprised if they didn't cover. Seattle 23 New York Jets 6
John: If I see Seattle at home I pick them. They're 4-0 at home and 1-4 on the road. They're even 4-0 against the spread at home too (sorry Packers fans). I don't see the Jets having the kind of team that can go in there, be more physical than the Seahawks and put up enough points on the board to get the win. I think the Seahawks will win with their ball control offense built around RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson will find a way to make enough plays to get his team the victory.
Meanwhile, people will continue to speculate when "Tebow Time" begins for the Jets because they have nothing better to do than to talk about the potential playing time of a backup QB. You have my sympathies, Jets fans. Seahawks 23-14
Dallas (3-5) at Philadelphia (3-5) 4:25 PM
Bret: Wow. Whoever loses this game is in a world of hurt. Philadelphia is playing at home, and is the better team. I honestly have no idea how to judge either of these teams right now, so I'll have to go with that. Philadelphia 28 Dallas 27
Mike: Good news everyone, it's FOX's game of the week between a couple of 3-5 teams destined to not make the playoffs! GET EXCITED. Actually the most exciting things about this game is that both teams are kind of train wrecks and we get to root for some heartbreaking loss by one team or the other. The Cowboys keep finding new ways to blow games, losing winnable games against the Ravens, the Giants and the Falcons. The Eagles are a different kind of train wreck, with a struggling quarterback trying not to get benched and ultimately cut/traded after the season, and a head coach who looks to finally be on his way out after being in Philly for forever, but still clings on to the hope that he can keep his job.
Logically you'd expect Dallas to win this game, as Philly is a few plays away from being 0-8 and Dallas has at least played some of their tougher opponents close before losing. The Cowboys have to be hoping that they can get DeMarco Murray back in some form, as Felix Jones has been pretty hit or miss in substitute duty. I think ultimately Philly's offense is rendered fairly ineffective (They lost another offensive lineman last week) and Dallas is able to squeak out a close win, but I fully expect this to be a pretty ugly game. Dallas 17 Philadelphia 14
John: The two most overrated and overhyped teams in the NFL meet in the prime late game on Fox. I'm so tired of hearing about these teams. I think both head coaches will be gone after the year. I don't think both QB's will be gone, but it wouldn't surprise me if either organization went in another direction. During this game you'll hear the announcers talk about how the winner of this is in playoff contention at 4-5. No they're not. Neither team is consistent enough to be in the playoffs and no matter who wins they are both destined to be disappointing teams this year. Their mistakes define them. The Eagles are -9 in turnover differential and the Cowboys are -11. If you turn the ball over you're going to lose. Those numbers don't lie.
I'm going with the Eagles. I think their defense will force QB Tony Romo into some mistakes and they will capitalize on them although they may not get touchdowns out of them because their play calling inside the red zone is awful. One of these games the Eagles will realize how good RB LeSean McCoy is and he's going to have a three TD type of game. It should have been last week. Maybe it will happen this week. Eagles 23-17
St. Louis (3-5) at San Francisco (6-2) 4:25 PM
Bret: St. Louis continues to suffer from a lack of offensive weapons and stagnant development at QB. I don't see how they can win in San Francisco - or keep it close for that matter. San Francisco 28 St. Louis 9
Mike: And for those of you that don't get the GAME OF THE WEEK, congratulations, you'll be stuck watching the Niners run all over the Rams. C'mon FOX, the World Series is over, can we go back to actually getting some legit late games on the schedule?
Both teams are coming off a bye, the game is in San Francisco, and the Rams have lost three in a row after winning three of their previous four. So far they've shown nothing to imply that they can hang with the top teams in the conference. Sam Bradford has notably struggled this season against the tougher defenses he's faced, so I think St. Louis is going to be in for a long afternoon. They should be able to score some points, but overall the Rams have no chance. San Francisco 24 St. Louis 9
John: I'd love to forecast a victory for my Rams, but I don't think it's going to happen. Both teams are coming off the bye and the Rams have some key guys coming back from injury, namely their best WR Danny Amendola. Even with Amendola coming back it's going to be hard to move the ball against this stingy Niners defense that 2nd against the pass and 5th against the run. I don't think the Rams will be that effective in terms of moving the ball.
On the other side of the ball, I've been impressed with QB Alex Smith and the emergence of WR Michael Crabtree, who is playing like the top pick that he was three years ago. The Rams pass defense is pretty good, so I don't see Smith being as effective as he was against the Cardinals two weeks ago when he went 18 for 19.
It should be a physical football game. The Niners will likely be in control for the majority of it. Their defense is too good to lose this game and the Rams offense just isn't good enough to score the points needed to win this game. 49ers 24-13
Houston (7-1) at Chicago (7-1) 8:20 PM
Bret: Here's your big one. What a great game - maybe game of the year so far. Both teams are ultimately defined by their defense, and I see this game as a conservative - feeling out - sort of game. The first half will feel like the first 5 rounds of a heavyweight fight, with both teams staying conservative, trying to keep from making a mistake that tips the scales the other way, and hoping to catch the other team in that mistake.
Halftime adjustments may make or break this game then. I trust Kubiak to make better adjustments - and I trust his offense to make those adjustments more - so I'm going with Houston to win an awesome game in the 4th quarter. Houston 20 Chicago 17 (Houston 7 Chicago 7 at halftime)
Mike: Finally, a good game! This will be an interesting measuring stick game for the Bears, who have looked very impressive defensively, but their offensive struggles have gone largely unnoticed thus far because they're winning games. It's also arguable how good their competition has been this year as well, with only one, maybe two games coming against playoff teams, and they lost to the Packers. People have tried to make the same argument for the Texans, but I'm not buying it. They've played Denver, Green Bay, and Baltimore so far, and really, other than New England and this game, their schedule is pretty much cake the rest of the way. So yes, they have a fairly easy schedule this year, but they have had some tough games on their schedule.
Offensively this seems like a pretty similar team as last season. Jay Cutler's operating at a 60% completion percentage, projecting to throw for around 3,500 yards and 25 TDs with 15 INTs. Basically your typical Jay Cutler season, which is interesting since Brandon Marshall has looked so good at times. How are they going to matchup against a very good pass defense that the Texans can throw out there? Matt Forte is great, but he hasn't seen a ton of carries this year (107 through 8 games), and he is much less effective if the passing game isn't working.
I just think the Texans have more weapons. I don't think there's a huge difference between either's defense (Chicago's gets all the press because they're more flashy with all the TDs they score), and I think Houston's offense is clearly better than Chicago's. Chicago has Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall and that's about it. Houston has Arian Foster, but also has a great offensive line, to go along with Andre Johnson and the criminally underrated Owen Daniels (39th in the league in receiving yards, 4th among TEs). Nothing is showy about the Texans outside of maybe JJ Watt, but they just get down to business and beat teams with both of their lines. And ultimately, I think the biggest difference is in the quarterbacks. Jay Cutler is amazing at times, and he is a train wreck at times. Against the Packers, he threw four interceptions, was sacked countless times, and played a terrible game. Matt Schaub has thrown four interceptions all year, and even in the game they lost against the Packers, he still completed 60 percent of his passes and didn't look anywhere near as rattled as Cutler did. I think the Texans are the better team and I give them the edge in this game. Houston 30 Chicago 27
John: Here's your game of the week. I'm glad it's happening on Sunday night because it deserves the biggest audience of the week. It will be a big test for both teams. Both of them suffered a loss at the hands of the Packers. Other than that, they've run the table. For the most part their wins have been decisive.
I think defensively they're similar. The Bears are great at forcing turnovers while the Texans excel at rushing the passer. Both teams are excellent at running the ball, yet they are both good at stopping the rung too. So will this turn into a passing game more than a running game or will be a balance. There are a lot of questions to think about.
I like the visitors to win this game. Why? That Bears offensive line is very questionable and I don't think they'll do a good job of protecting QB Jay Cutler, who has struggled mightily this year when he faces an elite defense. I think Texans DE JJ Watt and company will wrack havoc on the Bears inconsistent offense. If they can force Cutler into making mistakes and capitalizing on them with their play action passing game, I think they'll win the game. The key for the Texans offense will be to hold onto the ball. Don't fumble or throw picks and you can win this game.
It will have a playoff atmosphere to it. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. Give me the road team in a tight game that goes down to the wire. Texans 23-20
Kansas City (1-7) at Pittsburgh (5-3) 8:30 PM (MON)
Bret: Kansas City is done. Finite. Kaput. and if Pittsburgh loses this game, I'm calling their season Kaput too. I don't expect them too - and I expect a vengeful Todd Haley to score as much as he possibly can.
Specific predictions - 4 turnovers for KC, one pick 6, 38 minutes of possession for the Pittsburgh offense. Pittsburgh 35 Kansas City 6
Mike: And let's just finish this week off with another crap fest. I'm still trying to decide which team is the worst team in the NFL, I really like Kansas City, but man, Jacksonville put in a strong effort last night. Pittsburgh looks to have a little momentum on their side with three solid wins (two on the road) even if they were a little fortunate to win against the Giants. The Chiefs are, well, the Chiefs, so there's nothing new there. They are still awful, the fans still hate everyone in charge of the organization, and Romeo Crenel still has no idea what's going on. I like the Steelers big here. Pittsburgh 35 Kansas City 17
John: This will be a blowout of epic proportions. Not only are the Chiefs the worst team in the league (them or the Jags at least), but the Steelers are getting hot. Last week's win over the Giants was huge for them and with a 6-3 record coming after a win here they're back to being the perennial playoff team we know them to be.
The Chiefs are one of the worst teams in the last ten years and I'm a Rams fan, so I'm a good authority on that! They barely run the ball with their best player Jamaal Charles and their QB options are so bad that they make any defense look great. The Steelers have the best pass defense in the NFL (ask the Giants last week), so I'm wondering how will the Chiefs score in this game?
The other factor is offensive coordinator Todd Haley is the former head coach of the Chiefs, so you know he's going to want to run the score up on them. Look for a huge game from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Mike Wallace, who will likely hook up on a few big plays. Thanks to their improved offensive line play and depth at the running back position they're a team that's a threat once again. This is a good appetizer before next week's big home game against the Ravens. Steelers 34-6
The Degenerates Dungeon
This is where we give you some picks for our best bets of the week. Note that lines moves from the time we write this (Friday AM) to the time the games kickoff. We keep track of the odds and we'll use that to write down our records too.
Records so far:
Bret 23-20-2 (2-3)
Mike 22-23 (2-3)
John 20-25 (3-2)
1. Atlanta -1
Are you kidding? An 8-0 team with a potent offense against the worst defense in the league? I'll take it!
2. New York Giants -3.5
Get it now. By Sunday I expect that line to be up around -7 (Great chance for a middle there).
3. Denver -4
Does a Peyton Manning team really go through those typical mid-season struggles?
4. Oakland +9
Wait for this line to move past 10 on Sunday morning, then take the points expecting a low scoring game.
5. Dallas/Philly over 44
Too many weapons on the field to not get past 44.
Gambling warning: Beware all these heavy favorite, they all hit last week, but that almost never happens. Don't expect lighting to strike twice!
New York Jets @ Seattle -6 - Wait, I'm betting FOR Russell Wilson this week? Crap.
San Diego @ Tampa Bay -3 - Okay, betting against Norv Turner, this feels better.
Dallas @ Philadelphia Under 44.5 - Both have decent defenses and struggling offenses. Seems like the under is the way to go.
Atlanta -1 @ New Orleans - The Saints still don't have a defense and the Falcons are still undefeated.
Buffalo @ New England Over 52 - New England might score 52 points on their own.
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh -11.5 - Even at 14 I think I'd go with the Steelers. Or is it against the Chiefs?
San Diego @ Tampa Bay -3 - Spread should be higher, I think. I like the Bucs a lot in this game.
Oakland @ Baltimore Over 46 - Neither defense is that impressive, so there should be a lot of points by both sides.
Tennessee @ Miami -6 - Clearly the better team. Should win by a touchdown or more.
Atlanta -1 @ New Orleans - This is the Falcons sending a message. Lots of points.
That's all from us for this week. Follow us on Twitter:
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