Did you know that 5 of this week’s 14 games are rematches of previous Super Bowls? In addition, we’ll have some revenge games (like Stephon Gilmore facing off against the Patriots) and crucial divisional matchups (such as a cross-state battle between Cincinnati and Cleveland). This week’s games are going to draw from many old rivalries, and it should make for some loud crowds and a lot of close matchups. Who will benefit from all this? I have broken down each matchup below. Last week was a rough one for me, as I only picked 7 games correctly, but my overall record stands at 77-46.
Lock of the Week
In recent history, matchups between these two teams have been close. While the Bills might not play at their best in the warm Jacksonville weather, they should still win this game comfortably. I don’t see this Jaguars defense making it very difficult for QB Josh Allen to post another multi-TD game. Expect Allen to thrive both as a runner and a passer.
Upset of the Week
It remains unclear whether Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is truly 100%. I expect his offense to be less explosive than usual against a Denver defense that still has plenty of talent despite trading star edge rusher Von Miller. Meanwhile, look for QB Teddy Bridgewater to lead the Broncos to victory by relying on the run game as well as revitalizing his chemistry with WR Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy is in his second game back from an extended IR stint.
TNF (Actual Score: 45-30 Colts)
While QB Mike White posted a rather impressive game against the Bengals, this Indy defense is a big upgrade compared to Cincinnati’s, and it’s been on a good stretch lately. Look for the Colts to come out on top in a low scoring affair under the lights.
The Other Games
|After a couple of higher scoring games by the Patriots, I’m expecting a more defense-heavy battle in this one. This Carolina defense has been sneaky good all year, and the trade for ex-Patriot CB Stephon Gilmore has only helped matters. The return of RB Christian McCaffrey should also give the Panthers offense a boost. However, I have QB Mac Jones and the Pats edging out a victory as they maintain some of the offensive momentum they’ve gathered over the last two weeks.|
|I’m surprised sidelined Texans QB Deshaun Watson was interested in heading to Miami, because I don’t feel the Dolphins are miles ahead of Houston this year. However, I don’t see QB Tyrod Taylor and the Texans offense putting up many points in this one. The offense was already struggling before RB Mark Ingram was traded to New Orleans. Without Ingram, Houston’s offense will likely be borderline anemic for the remainder of the season.|
|I think the Browns are ready to move forward after a drama-filled week headlined by the release of WR Odell Beckham Jr. Quite honestly, the Browns have performed better without OBJ as the offense just meshes better. QB Baker Mayfield is continuing to play through numerous injuries, but I think he’ll rely on RB Nick Chubb against an inexperienced Bengals front seven to get out to a lead in this one. QB Joe Burrow should make this one close, as he’s been able to compete in just about every game this year. However, I think this week will be remembered as a turning point for Cleveland’s season.|
|I’m expecting a close, run heavy game here. While the Ravens have one of the most effective overall backfields in football, they lack a star running back to compete with Vikings RB Dalvin Cook. I have this Ravens team holding onto the AFC North lead with a victory, but Minnesota should provide them more of a challenge than one would expect out of a .500 team.|
|Until this New York offense is closer to 100%, it’s going to be difficult for the Giants to win games. I do expect RB Devontae Booker to impress against his former team though, and I could see his strong performance making this close. In the end, I do have the Raiders winning as QB Derek Carr relies on slot WR Hunter Renfrow and his star TE Darren Waller. This trio will maintain a high level of production for the offense in the wake of WR Henry Ruggs III’s arrest and release from the team.|
|This game will come down to which offense can get into a better rhythm despite key players missing. With both QB Jameis Winston and WR Michael Thomas done for the year, the Saints are going to have to make the most of what they have. Against a struggling Falcons defense, I think their current offensive corps will impress. Atlanta’s offense has some of their own challenges as WR Calvin Ridley takes some time away to focus on mental health. As a result, QB Matt Ryan will have to develop chemistry with some unfamiliar faces in his effort to keep up with the Saints.|
|I have the Chargers coming out on top here as QB Justin Herbert leans on his three main targets: RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen, and WR Mike Williams. If I’ve learned anything this season though, it’s that you can never count out QB Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense from a game. Hurts has been unstoppable late in games. I expect the Eagles to have a late charge against Los Angeles, but it won’t be enough.|
|Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is out this week with COVID, so it will be up to backup QB Jordan Love to outperform a flawed Chiefs defense. Love has a talented supporting cast to rely on including RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams. Despite another poor showing by the Chiefs D, I believe QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will come out on top in the end, winning by a field goal.|
|If QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins both end up having to sit this one out due to injuries, the Cardinals could be in trouble. However, with or without them, in contrast to the low scoring win against San Francisco earlier this season, the Cardinals should win in a shootout. The Cardinals still have several reliable weapons including WR Christian Kirk, WR Rondale Moore, and TE Zach Ertz. The 49ers should see the return of TE George Kittle, but I think it’s the run game that will stand out for the Niners offense as they make this close.|
|Without RB Derrick Henry, this Titans offense could take a major step back. Tennessee will have to rely on the WR duo of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, who will face an elite duo of corners, Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. Considering this, I expect a smooth sailing victory for QB Matthew Stafford and the Rams against a much weaker Titans defense.|
|This Bears offense has underperformed for just about the entire season, regardless of match-ups. Facing a highly experienced Steelers defense is likely to be too much for them to handle. QB Ben Roethlisberger won’t need to have a field day to win this one on Monday night.|
Feel free to comment with your thoughts on these picks, and stay tuned for more content in coming weeks.