As bad as the NFC East is right now, it’s still a very competitive playoff race. That’s not the only playoff race on the line this week either. My NFL picks are here, and I’ll be discussing each game and any playoff implications it might have. Last week I went 11-5, bringing my overall record to 110-66-1. Keep reading for my predictions for this week.
Lock of the Week
For my lock this week, I’m taking the undefeated Steelers over another NFC East squad in Washington. Sure, Washington has looked impressive the last few weeks as RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin improve with Alex Smith under center. However, Pittsburgh took down all three of the division’s other teams and I cannot see Washington doing any better and ending Pittsburgh’s undefeated run. The win here will keep Pittsburgh in line for the #1 seed, and prevent Washington from pulling ahead in their division.
Upset of the Week
The Cardinals offense has impressed all year, and I’m expecting that to continue here. The Rams strong defensive performance has allowed them to overperform in the NFC West. I still don’t see them slowing down Arizona too much. Even if they put star CB Jalen Ramsey on WR DeAndre Hopkins, QB Kyler Murray still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. This will be close though as QB Jared Goff and his receivers post a respectable performance in Arizona.
The Other Games
|Without QB Joe Burrow, it’s hard to see Cincinnati winning this. The Bengals offense will be at a significant disadvantage without Burrow. Meanwhile, Miami will get QB Tua Tagovailoa and RB Myles Gaskin back from injury. I have Miami winning, guaranteeing them a winning percentage of .500 or better.|
|Heading into the season I was a non-believer in Vegas. Originally, I had the Jets winning this one as I was under an impression that these would be the league’s worst teams. The Raiders haven’t been amazing, but I think they’re capable of taking down the Jets here. RB Josh Jacobs may be out, but RB Devontae Booker is a reliable replacement. I think the entire Raiders offense will thrive here and the anemic Jets offense will struggle to keep up.|
|The Browns may be 8-3, but they haven’t been able to take down elite teams. I think they will make it close against Tennessee, but once again fall short when it matters. Without WR Odell Beckham Jr. in the picture, QB Baker Mayfield lacks the weapons to keep up with a strong Titans offense. The Titans will solidify themselves as a legitimate contender while the Browns hold out hopes for a wild card considering the fact that they will be 3-4 games behind Pittsburgh.|
|I think Houston would win this if their WR corps wasn’t missing Will Fuller and Randall Cobb. Without those two, the Colts secondary can focus in on WR Brandin Cooks and make it difficult for this Texans offense to succeed. Even with QB Philip Rivers banged up, I think the Colts will win this one with Houston’s offense decimated by injuries as well as Fuller’s suspension.|
|Considering how much this Vikings secondary has struggled, I think QB Mike Glennon and his receivers will be able to keep this close. Minnesota should be able to win in the end though. The Vikings entire offense should thrive against Jacksonville’s D. I expect RB Dalvin Cook as well as WRs Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to dominate once again.|
|Though I have the Bears blowing out Detroit, I could see a wide range of outcomes occurring here. The Bears can pull off a blowout if QB Mitch Trubisky connects well with WR Allen Robinson and stop WR Marvin Jones and TE T.J. Hockenson. I think they’re capable of doing all those things. The Bears D has thrived in favorable matchups like this one, and I see them preventing the Lions from keeping up with Chicago here.|
|The Falcons run D has been surprisingly impressive. I don’t think they’ll be able to handle the trio of mobile QB Taysom Hill and RBs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. In addition, WR Michael Thomas should have a big day against a struggling Atlanta secondary. Even with WR Julio Jones back, I can’t see the Falcons offense keeping up with that. The Saints D has been one of the NFL’s best this year. I think the Saints hold on to the top seed in the NFC despite Drew Brees’ absence.|
|With a win here, the Seahawks can truly pull ahead in the competitive NFC West. I think the Giants offense will post a respectable performance here despite the absence of QB Daniel Jones. Seattle’s struggling secondary has made for some nail biters and I expect the same here. However, I think QB Russell Wilson and his receivers will step up to lead Seattle to victory. Even in a matchup with CB James Bradberry, I think D.K. Metcalf will post a strong game. I think the Giants will stay on top of the NFC East after this week, but they won’t pull ahead by any means.|
|Originally I thought QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers could win this one. The Pats are coming off a win against Arizona though, so I think they can handle a 3-8 Chargers squad. Don’t get me wrong, the Chargers are no joke. With a stacked offense that includes RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen, and TE Hunter Henry, they will stay competitive here. However, I think QB Cam Newton will come up clutch against an inconsistent Chargers D and lead New England to victory, keeping their playoff hopes alive.|
|QB Carson Wentz owned up to his struggles this week, and I think he’ll be motivated to bounce back in an important game against Green Bay. I think Wentz will throw for 300+ yards and several TDs here, looking a little bit more like a 2nd overall pick and giving Green Bay a difficult matchup. I think QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take this one in the end though, as he comes up clutch in the offensive shootout.|
|SNF||If the Chiefs want a chance to take the 1 seed away from Pittsburgh, they need to win this primetime game. Even with QB Drew Lock back, I don’t see the Broncos making this a competitive game. QB Patrick Mahomes should dominate as usual, even against an above average Denver defense, allowing the Chiefs to win with ease and remain 1 game behind Pittsburgh.|
|MNF||The 49ers can stay competitive this season after taking down the Rams last week. They’d need to win this game though. TE George Kittle is still out, but QB Nick Mullens can rely on WR Deebo Samuel, who posted a dominant game last week. Neither of these defenses are the powerhouses they were last year. I still expect a close, low scoring affair here, and I have the 49ers coming out on top to keep their season alive.|
|Tuesday||Even against the Ravens D, I think the Cowboys will post a strong offensive performance as usual. However, the Ravens should be getting plenty of players back from COVID, including rookie RB J.K. Dobbins, who had a strong game and led the backfield the last time he played. That will allow them to come out on top against a flawed Dallas defense and stay in the playoff race as the Cowboys and all three of their division rivals take another loss.|
That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more next week when the playoff race intensifies.