Most teams have already had their bye if they don’t have it this week, and at this point, we know which teams can contend and which teams will sit in the league’s basement. There are probably about 20 teams capable of making the NFL playoffs, but there are only 14 spots available. Teams will need to gain momentum in this last handful of weeks in order to make the playoffs. Which teams will pick up crucial wins this week, and which teams will suffer tough losses? Keep reading to find out what I think. Last week I went 7-7 in my picks, bringing my overall record to 89-57-1 (90-57-1 including TNF). I’m hoping to beat that this week and be above .500.
Lock of the Week
This won’t even be close. Sure, James Robinson has kept Jacksonville’s offense alive thus far. He still hasn’t had to face Pittsburgh’s dominant front seven. This defensive front will also be too much for young QB Jake Luton. Meanwhile, QB Ben Roethlisberger should perform at an elite level against a flawed Jacksonville defense.
Upset of the Week
So far, QB Drew Lock has been a major disappointment, while QB Tua Tagovailoa is off to a 3-0 start. That won’t matter this week. I think the Broncos RB duo of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will be too much for the banged up Miami front seven to handle. Meanwhile, Miami’s depleted backfield will struggle. Though Tua will outplay Lock, the Broncos will pull off the upset due to a much more effective run game.
The Other Games
|TNF (Posted to Social Media Thursday)||After a couple of rough games, QB Russell Wilson will be motivated for a bounce back. I expect Wilson and his receivers to overcome a pesky Arizona secondary. QB Kyler Murray will stay right on Wilson’s tail throughout the game, connecting well with WR DeAndre Hopkins. However, it’s hard to beat the same team twice in a season, and the Cardinals will fail to do so here.|
|The Pats are coming off a big win against Baltimore. With momentum in their favor, I think they’ll take down the Texans this week. QB Cam Newton will continue to rely on second year RB Damien Harris and WR Jakobi Meyers. QB Deshaun Watson should be able to keep it competitive with help from WRs Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller V. I think Bill Belichick’s defense will shut down Houston’s run game though. That will make the difference in a Pats victory.|
|This will be a close one, especially considering what RB Derrick Henry did to this Ravens defense a year ago. Henry could have another dominant game, but I think Baltimore’s front seven has improved and should be able to prevent Henry from a complete encore. I think QB Lamar Jackson will be supported by WR Marquise Brown and a big day from K Justin Tucker in a crucial Ravens victory.|
|The Browns RB duo is hard for any defense to stop, and Philly is no different. QB Carson Wentz’s offense is definitely in better shape than it has been, but Cleveland has capitalized on favorable matchups and I expect that to continue here.|
|Washington’s offense has improved with Alex Smith back under center. I expect the success to continue as they host the Bengals. QB Joe Burrow and the Bengals will make it close, but the underrated Washington defense will come up clutch, limiting Burrow enough to defeat Cincinnati.|
|The Lions will be missing RB D’Andre Swift and WRs Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. It was one thing when Golladay sat, but half of QB Matthew Stafford’s weapons are now hurt, and even Stafford is a little banged up. This will allow Carolina’s offense to outperform Detroit, even with P.J. Walker under center.|
|It’s Taysom Hill season in New Orleans. Expect Hill to rely on RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas in addition to his own legs in his debut under center for the Saints. I think QB Matt Ryan and his receivers will make this close, but Hill has the tools in this offense to lead New Orleans to victory.|
|I’m expecting a big game from RB Kalen Ballage against one of his former teams. He’s now the lead back for the Chargers and has had more success in LA than he’s had anywhere else. QB Justin Herbert will also rely on WR Keenan Allen (as always) to give the Chargers a substantial lead. The Jets offense will struggle to keep up, and Herbert should finally win his second game.|
|I’ve been skeptical about this Colts team all season, but after the win in Tennessee, they’ve proven themselves as a legitimate contender. I think their RB committee will thrive against a flawed Packers front seven. QB Aaron Rodgers will struggle to keep up due to the lack of weapons aside from RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams. Philip Rivers is by far the lesser QB in this one, but that won’t stop the Colts from a victory. A victory here in addition to a Titans loss could give the Colts a firm hold of the AFC South lead.|
|With QB Andy Dalton back and the Cowboys facing one of the NFL’s worst secondaries, I’m expecting a classic Cowboys pass heavy shootout. Dalton and his receivers will dominate, making for one of Dallas’ best offensive games this year. I still the Vikings will keep up through it all and snag the victory. Expect RB Dalvin Cook and WRs Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson all to post strong showings for the Minnesota offense.|
|SNF||This Raiders defense wasn’t anything special at full health. Now, a large amount of the Raiders D has COVID-19 after a failure to follow protocol. Vegas may have won the first round of this match-up, but a banged up Raiders D is the recipe for a dominant game from QB Patrick Mahomes. QB Derek Carr will impress once again and make this close, but it won’t be enough for victory this time around.|
|MNF||This will absolutely be an exciting Monday Night game. I think QB Jared Goff and his receivers will impress against an inexperienced Bucs secondary, but QB Tom Brady will post a big game of his own. The Rams can put CB Jalen Ramsey on WR Mike Evans and they’ll have DT Aaron Donald applying pressure at the line of scrimmage. However, Brady has a plethora of weapons in this offense and the Rams will fail to stop them all. That should be enough for a Bucs victory in an important game.|
That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage, including coverage of the Thanksgiving Day NFL slate. In addition, I may have some college basketball content out in the coming weeks.