We’re about halfway through the season, and most teams are aware of whether they’ll be able to contend for the playoffs. However, with an expanded postseason, there are some lower end playoff spots that could be up for anyone’s taking. With a strong second half, any team could take them. Check out my picks this week to find out which teams I think that could be. Last week I went 7-7, bringing my overall record to 74-44-1 (75-44-1 including TNF). Can I beat that record this time around?
Lock of the Week
The Patriots had a disappointing month. Now, they take on the AFC East basement dwellers, and I’m expecting a big victory despite the absence of WRs Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry. QB Cam Newton and RBs Damien Harris and James White will make things difficult for the Jets D. Meanwhile, I’m expecting the Jets offense to appear anemic as usual.
Upset of the Week
Both of these teams overperformed a bit early in the season. I still have faith in the Bears D to slow down QB Ryan Tannehill and his receivers, even if they cannot stop RB Derrick Henry. Chicago’s offense won’t be great either, as they have QB concerns, but they can pull off the upset here by limiting a Titans offense that has posted a strong season thus far.
The Other Games
|TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday)||The 49ers are extremely depleted right now. They’ve been missing two of their best defensive players. Now they’ll also be without majority of their best skill players and QB Jimmy Garoppolo for a significant period of time. Look for RB Aaron Jones to post a strong game in his return and for QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams to connect well in a Packers victory.|
|I think the Bills are one of a few teams that may be able to figure out how to defeat the Seahawks. They can put CB Tre’Davious White on WR D.K. Metcalf and the Seahawks run game is missing key pieces right now. Meanwhile, QB Josh Allen has connected well with his receivers all year, and could be in for a field day against a weak Seattle secondary. QB Russell Wilson can rely on WR Tyler Lockett, but the Wilson-Lockett connection might not be enough here.|
|People are framing this as a close game, but I don’t think so. The Colts are on the verge of taking over the AFC South, but I think they have overperformed thus far. With WR T.Y. Hilton ailing, QB Philip Rivers will struggle to connect with his receivers as the Ravens D puts him under pressure.|
|This one should be close. Neither of these teams have looked good so far. I think QB Deshaun Watson is far better than this week’s Jaguars starter, Jake Luton, so that should make the difference even though Luton has similar surroundings.|
|Carolina’s offense has impressed all year and I expect that to continue with RB Christian McCaffrey back in the lineup. However the Panthers are still no match for QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.|
|I could see another Falcons choke happening here. The Broncos offense is the closest it’s been to full health since the season started. I think this young offense will post an impressive game against a severely flawed Falcons D. Atlanta will struggle to keep up with WR Calvin Ridley banged up.|
|QB Daniel Jones is 3-0 against Washington in his career. I think that streak comes to an end today as RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin post impressive games. It’ll be a strong Washington defense that makes the biggest difference here though.|
|When WR Kenny Golladay sits, the Lions offense has struggled. I don’t expect that to change here. The Vikings offense is gaining momentum after a strong game from RB Dalvin Cook last week. I think he goes for an encore this week as the Vikings win again.|
|QB Justin Herbert fell short again last week despite a strong game. I think they’ll have an easier time holding on for victory against an inconsistent Raiders D. This will be close though, as the Vegas offense has been impressive too.|
|RB Chase Edmonds comes into this game with the chance to prove whether he deserves the starting job. I think he’ll take full advantage of that opportunity. He’ll supplement a Cardinals offense that has already looked good thanks to the duo of QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins.|
|I think Garrett Gilbert will look better than Ben DiNucci did under center in the Cowboys offense. They are still no match for the undefeated Steelers, at least as long as QB Dak Prescott is out. Pittsburgh should dominate against a Cowboys secondary that has struggled all year.|
|QB Tom Brady’s tenure in Tampa began with a loss in New Orleans. I think Brady has gotten used to his new offense and should get revenge here in a shootout victory. Brady will rely on former Pats teammates in WR Antonio Brown and TE Rob Gronkowski as well as long time Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.|
That’s all for this week’s picks. After a long week, it will be nice to sit back, relax, and watch some football.