According to NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison, it’s rivalry week. That means that for the first time in a while, there are some watchable games. There are also some games that I actually feel comfortable picking an upset in. Last week was another good week for me. Hopefully this week will be the same for me. Who will win this week’s games? Comment your thoughts.
Lock Of The Week
Bengals, 24, Browns, 12
I know the Bengals aren’t doing great, but the Browns aren’t winning any games until they have a rare somewhat favorable match-up. The Browns aren’t the kind of team that pulls many upsets. With the Bengals at home, how can Cleveland win. The defense will overwhelm the Browns, whether they play dirty or not, and the offense could do dangerously good against the Browns defense, especially with Tyler Eifert possibly coming back. With a big lead, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard could go wild. The Browns defense can’t begin to cover to dominant Bengals offense. The Browns cannot win on the road this season, especially without RG3, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon and likely Josh McCown. Even if the Bengals offense only does okay, the Browns’s inability to score against tough defenses is serious enough that it’s not the Bengals that will win the game, it will be the Browns that lose it.
Upset Of The Week
Texans, 33, Broncos, 23
Okay, I know how well the Broncos have been, especially early in the season, but even with their defense at its best, they have two problems. First of all, Trevor Siemian just didn’t look the same last week, returning from an injury. Will he bounce back? This comes as bad news for the Broncos if Siemian loses his stuff. It’s good for the Pats though, as the likely result would be the Broncos falling to a wild card slot, and the Raiders scooping up the division title. Against a mediocre defense, the Broncos offense may struggle. The Texans do have a pretty good pass rush, even without J.J. Watt. Second, the Texans revamped offense could strike, even against a tough Denver defense. Lamar Miller and Will Fuller have both proven to be great additions, and Brock Osweiler is just making the entire offense better. In the end, I think the Texans can win this game. They have two advantages, even against the tough Broncos defense, they just have to use them the right way.
The Other Games
Giants, 27, Rams, 26
This game is in London, so it’s pretty neutral. I know the Giants are on a decline, and have now lost Shane Vereen for the year, but can you realistically see a Case Keenum run Rams team beating the New York Giants in London? The defense is now nearly as strong as the offense on this team, restoring their balance, and their playoff hopes. I don’t think the Giants defense will make it easy for the Rams to score. Todd Gurley hasn’t even quite been himself, and that hurts. The Giants still have plenty of offense too. Rashad Jennings is back, and with Vereen out, there’s more of a chance for Paul Perkins to show his skills as an RB2. OBJ is joined by two more great receivers in Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, who has finally reached the point where he’s healthy enough to play regularly. So, Rams believers, watch out before you say that your team will win today.
Chiefs, 24, Saints, 20
The Saints don’t have many advantages in this game. Their defense needs to be at its best against a strong Chiefs offense. Jamaal Charles and Spencer Ware are now sharing the backfield, and that could be dangerous for defenses. Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce should also factor in. It will be very hard for the Saints D to keep things under control. In addition, even with the Saints offense doing well, Justin Houston or not, the Chiefs defense is unbelievably good, and their young stars are just getting better while their veterans are consistent. They could really give Drew Brees and his offense a hard time. The Saints don’t have a disadvantage here because of a usually dominant offense, but being evenly matched with the opposing defense while your own defense is terrible does not help you win games. They need to put up a good amount of points on this defense, or they’re done for.
Jets, 20, Ravens, 19
If Flacco plays, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him. The Jets pass rush specializes in stuffing QBs. The Ravens offense will be highly overwhelmed by this strong, growing defense. The secondary is still very good, as well. The Jets may have some problems with the Baltimore D, especially with Geno Smith back under center. That’s right, Geno Smith. Why, Jets, why. Fitzpatrick was doing badly, but this guy has proven he’ll just do worse. What, do they expect him to improve from 2014?! No way is that going to happen! If you want to replace Fitzy, give Bryce Petty a chance! Or keep Christian Hackenberg as a backup plan and call on him. No way in my book do you go to Geno Smith! Biggest mistake this year by any team! That doesn’t mean the Ravens will win, though. They can give it to Matt Forte, and Bilal Powell. When Smith does happen to be ready for a pass, he has Brandon Marshall now waiting for him. The question is, will he develop good chemistry with these guys? Maybe not, the offense was built off Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Eric Decker (who’s hurt, right now of all times), Percy Harvin and Jace Amaro. This team is turning in to the 2014 Bears on offense, seriously. But the better defense is going to help. My ultimate prediction is that they won’t need to worry about a collapse on offense, the defense will be good enough to keep the Ravens down to less points than even the Jets get, against a mediocre Ravens defense. The Ravens have no secondary though.
Jaguars, 30, Raiders, 19
So far, of these two teams expected to rise, the Raiders have done better than even expected and the Jags have failed. But today, in a home game for the Jags, I think they can win. The Raiders may be an easy target for Jacksonville, because these two teams are used to having easy match-ups against each other that mean nothing and either the home team or team that stinks up less wins. This game does matter, and it won’t be unwatchable. The Jags offense is getting really good, better than the Raiders, while the Raiders defense is slightly more star-studded. This game for the first time, will be a good game. Especially at home, I think it will be the Jaguars offense that shows up most, making the biggest difference in this game. I don’t know why they haven’t really come through yet, but I think this match-up is somewhat favorable for them, and could be the time for the offense to really break through. This could be where a break through year that the Raiders already have going could also start for the Jags. Even though the Raiders are losing, making them 4-3, it’s almost as if their sharing the power. The Jags have the power to be good, they just need the right conditions, and a lot of those fall in place for this match-up.
Lions, 30, Redskins, 27 OT
The Redskins have been very strong lately, but trust me on this one. Between it’s ups and downs, this Lions offense has something in it that could be the deciding factor in Detroit’s playoff status. Josh Norman may be good, but the rest of this Redskins defense isn’t so much, and Golden Tate is the kind of receiver to overcome big match-ups like this. He was on the Seahawks for a while, where he faced tough match-ups. So I think the Redskins offense will definitely put up a fight against the easy target Lions D, maybe even take the game to overtime, but against a defense at about the same level, despite being better in the pass rush, when the Lions were passing more. You saw what happened. They fought and fought, and eventually got the win. This week, even with a thin run game, they could run the ball, and try and work around defense. They could pass, and try and work through the defense. But mark my words, the Lions will come out winning this game, and Matthew Stafford will throw at least 3 TDs. Stafford and his receiving game are boosting and changing this team, and if they do well as expected, the Lions can take a somewhat easy win.
Dolphins, 30, Bills, 26
This game could really depend on the health of LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster. The Bills have done well, but on the road against a mediocre Dolphins offense, it would be tough to decide with all their players healthy. But Sammy Watkins is on IR, which could be a setback for Buffalo. Both teams also have an injured starting running back. Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy are both questionable. On Friday, reports said that McCoy is unlikely to play, but it hasn’t been decided yet. Yesterday, it said it would be a game time decision. Today, it said that he’s expected to play, but Mike Gillislee will make more of an impact and he will be limited, so don’t start him. I’m depending on him playing, he’s one of my fantasy football team’s best players. Arian Foster also showed up questionable on the injury report with his hamstring injury, even after being a full practice participant this week. I actually think the Dolphins can still win this if McCoy is out or limited, but if Foster is ruled out, and McCoy is good to go, that is where the Bills could win. I’m not counting on McCoy going wild today and Foster or no Foster, if McCoy isn’t at full health, with Sammy Watkins already out, the Bills will not win.
Vikings, 37, Eagles, 36
I know the Vikings defense has been amazing, but their offense will need to score a lot. Especially at home, at their best, this Eagles offense, surprisingly, has been so good, it’s scary. I don’t know if the Vikings defense will hold up this week, and that will put the Vikings behind. But Sam Bradford has brought something to this offense, and he’ll want revenge on his old team, in which he didn’t fit the system and they didn’t use him right. i think he fits the Vikings scheme a lot better. Even without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings can put up a lot of points. They have two young receivers, a good tight end, and even some decent backup at running back in Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. If they want to thrive against tough offenses, their own offense has to do something without Peterson, and I think they’ll win, because Carson Wentz hasn’t looked extremely impressive lately, and I know the Vikings can do this. They just need to execute.
Titans, 29, Colts, 23
The Colts would typically win this game, but their defense is still not good enough, and the Titans are on the rise, especially on offense. this will be a battle of which offense is more productive. I think with Donte Moncrief out, and DeMarco Murray on top of the world right now, the Titans offense has more options that are reliable, and they will outplay the Colts offense. Marcus Mariota is getting better, Tajae Sharpe and their other receivers are ready to break out, and Delanie Walker is consistent as usual. With how open this division is, and how well the Titans have done, something tells me the Titans will win and jump into playoff contention for the first time in years. I think they finally have the skills to rise to a decent record, and this game is winnable.
Falcons, 26, Chargers, 24
The Falcons have been very good this year, and I usually like to pick against them, but honestly, the Panthers kind of suck this year, and the Falcons have good, revamped offense and defense. This match-up is favorable for them. Matt Ryan should thrive against easy Chargers defense, and San Diego’s banged up offense won’t score easy against Vic Beasley and Desmond Trufaunt. It will be close, and the Chargers will definitely be in it the whole time, but the Falcons should keep the lead the whole time, making things look easy and take the win. Is this finally Matt Ryan’s year? Maybe. He has plenty of receiving weapons breaking out, and what Devonta Freeman is failing to do this year, Tevin Coleman is filling in for. Freeman and Coleman actually make a good backfield as co-starters. This Falcons team is finally getting good again, and for the first time since the eras of Steven Jackson and Tony Gonzalez.
Buccaneers, 13, 49ers, 12
Even after what has happened so far this year, I still think the Bucs defense has the power to take it to the next level. Against an inconsistent 49ers offense with Colin Kaepernick at starting QB, it should be easy. Also, even without Doug Martin, I think the match-up is favorable for Jameis Winston’s revamped offense. In a low scoring game, I think the Buccaneers will take the win. There won’t be too much offense, as both defense step up. But the 49ers will be held to not a single TD scored, while the Bucs score a decent amount, at least enough to beat the Bucs defense annihilated 49ers.
Patriots, 37, Steelers, 30
I like the match-up for the Pats. With no reliable QB in Pittsburgh, the entire offense declines, and the Pats defense would already be tough on them with Big Ben healthy. Meanwhile, Brady has dominated his first two games, and that should continue. He will be extra-motivated because of the rivalry, because of the fact that they have an easier win with Roethlisberger out, and because Blount is seeking revenge on his team for the start of the 2014 season that cut him after half the year. He was determined to get back to New England anyways, because that is where he truly fit best. He’s stayed there since. I think the Steelers defense is a little overrated too, so Gronk, Bennett and Edelman may have it easier than you think as well. The Pats should definitely win this game. If Big Ben was active, they would admittedly just barely lost to the Steelers, but they’re highly favored right now.
Cardinals, 23, Seahawks, 17
Carson Palmer isn’t at full health, I know, but either way, even against a tough defense, this offense is really good. The Seahawks offense isn’t actually that good, so the Cardinals defense shouldbe able to take advantage of them more. The Cardinals do have no reliable tight ends, but the Seahawks’ core offense isn’t great. They have problems in the running game with Lynch retired and Rawls hurt, and not much receiving depth beyond Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. I don’t see Jermaine Kearse as a receiver who does much. Baldwin should also be outplayed by star corner Patrick Peterson. So, at home, with better offense in a battle of two tough defenses, the Cardinals should win this game.
Thursday Night’s Game
Packers, 34, Bears, 13
I’m not surprised by the outcome of this game. Aaron Rodgers began to come out of his “slump”, and the Bears offense couldn’t do much about it. One thing I didn’t see coming was Hoyer’s injury, and that’s not good for them. Who needs another injuryt filled season in this league? At least it’s not as bad as last year, when practically everyone was injured at some point. Jordy Nelson missed the whole season, which put a strain on the Packers’ performance. Now Nelson’s back, and against easy defenses like the Bears, they should dominate. They did come close to that, it’s tough with Eddie Lacy and James Starks now headed for the IR. The Packers can’t afford another injury to their Big 3 that ends thjat player’s season. For now, they have to pray for Lacy and Starks, and the also injured Don Jackson, and do what they can with newly acquired Knile Davis.
This week finally has some watchable games. It’s a big week full of rivalry games. Will I be right, or will I fail to pick these tough games?