Houston “at” Jacksonville (London)
A critical AFC South matchup. Both of these teams head into this one on hot streaks. The Jags have been in every game with Gardner Minshew at the helm. The Texans will head into this one without JJ Watt, who is lost for the year with a torn pec. The Texans defense was not great with him, and now will likely devolve into outright bad without him.
The last time these two met, it was down to the wire, with the Jags failing on a two-point attempt. That was Minshew’s first start, and since then the offense has been formidable. The defense is also the type that can give the Texans fits. Houston again was carried by Deshaun Watson’s heroics, but if he’s running for his life and getting hit all game, that gets a lot more difficult.
Washington at Buffalo
Buffalo faced a real challenge last week, and was not ready for it. The Eagles ran all over the Bills defense, and they were unable to get much of anything going on offense. So, what a perfect get-right chance in facing the Redskins. The Redskins were giving the Vikings a game, but once Case Keenum went down with a concussion, they were unable to move the ball.
It seems as if Dwayne Haskins will be starting this week. While as a prospect he showed promise, in the action he has seen this year, he has been very bad. That’s not all on him, given the dumpster fire that is the Redskins’ organization. The Redskins defense has actually been fairly solid recently, and with the erratic nature of the Bills offense, that unit could keep them in this one. But the Bills’ defense versus a rookie-led offense is a huge mismatch, and tilts this one toward the Bills.
Tennessee at Carolina
The change to Ryan Tannehill has worked out great for the Titans so far. Tannehill did not have to do much Sunday, as Jameis Winston help set the Titans up in prime position for the Titans to cash in on, and the Titans defense was able to close the game out. Meanwhile, Carolina was absolutely dismantled by the Niners. Kyle Allen bottomed out, playing his worst game of the season. The normally stout defense was run down by Tevin Coleman. They had no shot in that game.
These two teams match up, being defensively oriented with suspect pass attacks that would rather rely on the ground game. This will come down to Kyle Allen rebounding from a bad outing. If he is that bad again, the Titans will take over this one. Carolina’s run defense has been leaky recently, so Derrick Henry could be in for a big game. The Panthers will need another huge effort from Christian McCaffery to right the ship.
Minnesota at Kansas City
Matt Moore filled in admirably for the Chiefs last week. Even the defense stepped up. With the way they had played recently, Sunday night’s effort against the Packers was a marked improvement, but they’re getting tested immediately again, facing the rolling Vikings offense. We may see Patrick Mahomes for this game. If not, Moore continuing to play the way he did last week gives the Chiefs a strong chance.
Minnesota is as hot as any team, playing great in all phases. However, we are getting overdue for a bad Kirk Cousins game. That’s about the only thing that could sink the Vikings. With the way their ground game works, the Chiefs offense may not have a chance to keep them in this. Dalvin Cook has been one of, if not the, best running backs in the league to this point.
Chicago at Philadelphia
One step forward for Chicago, and two giant slips back. They were able to move the ball against a weak Chargers’ defense, but they were unable to cash in on multiple red zone trips and totally mismanaged the end of the game. That’s the type of loss that torpedoes a season. It does not get any easier this week, heading into Lincoln Financial Field to face the team of their nightmares.
Philly is fresh off drubbing the Bills. The Eagles really unlocked the ground game. While Chicago has been good against the run, when they faced two great lines in Oakland and New Orleans, they were gashed. Philly has one of the best offensive lines in the league, plus Jordan Howard who is certainly going to want to show the Bears up. There is potential for this one to get as ugly as the Saints game for the Bears. The key for them will to be to commit to the run game like last week, and try and take advantage of the Eagles secondary. But with what we’ve seen, that feels unlikely.
New York Jets at Miami
Man, things have gotten incredibly ugly for the Jets. Sam Darnold played better than the Monday night affair against the Pats, but that would be setting the bar below the surface of the Earth. Darnold has not played well, but the Jets offensive line has been horrendous and allowed 8 sacks last week. The Jets reportedly were shopping stars Jamal Adams and Le’Veon Bell at the deadline, but did not make any moves. That type of activity can implode a locker room.
Fortunately for the Jets, they get to face the Dolphins this week. Miami was winning in Pittsburgh, but then pulled the rug on themselves and got shut out for three quarters. Despite this, the Dolphins are still far more competent than they were early in the year. The Dolphins do not want to win this, because that’s not the plan, but with the way the Jets have played recently, Miami could be in line to accidentally win this. In fact, our TPL betting expert, Money Max, loves the Dolphins this week. The Jets need to focus on getting Bell going and to try and have Darnold take steps back to the Cowboys game.
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
Indy played a tight one down to the wire but was able to gut out a victory against the Broncos. The Colts could not move the ball like they had been able to against the Texans, or even the Chiefs. Points have been a problem at times for the Colts, but the composition of the roster and coaching have made up for it. That said, they have been playing with fire, relying on these facets to steal close games.
Pittsburgh started out sloppy against the Dolphins, but locked in and cruised to an easy win. The record is not reflective of the Steelers. They have been in every single one of their games since the opening night drubbing from the Pats. Losing Ben Roethlisberger has not derailed them in the way many would have thought. The defense has thrived, albeit against weak competition, and the offense has been mostly efficient. The Colts cannot roll into this one thinking they are facing a dreg, who they can play poorly against and steal it at the end. The Steelers ground game allowing them to control this one, plus an opportunistic defense, gives them good odds for this one.
Detroit at Oakland
Two teams in interesting positions. There were a good deal of rumors on the Lions about shipping out players like Darius Slay, but also acquiring Devontae Freeman or Melvin Gordon. Either, the Lions do not think they are going to contend this year and were loading up for next year, or they were trying to improve. Confusing signals coming out of Detroit. Those types of rumors coming out could create a funk in the locker room, similar to the Jets. The Lions are a solid team, but they aren’t at the level of their top divisional competitors.
For the Raiders, they were in rumors as well, but firmly as buyers. As with basically the rest of the league, nothing materialized. The Raiders have forged an extremely efficient offensive group this year, but the defense leaves a lot to be desired. The Lions jumped out against the Giants early last week, but weren’t able to put it away until late. Oakland, on the other hand, was winning late but fell victim to Deshaun Watson. Both these crews have suspect defenses. The Lions run game has been really bad recently, while the Raiders have been highly efficient. This could come down to who has the ball last, but if the Raiders can control the ball, they have a better chance.
Tampa Bay at Seattle
This one is going to be an air show. Tampa has one of the most under-the-radar run defenses in the league, but are not great at rushing the passer and feature awful back coverage. Seattle, despite a relatively soft schedule, has just a +12 point differential, and the defense is leaky, a far cry from the Legion of Boom. While Jameis Winston is prone to mistakes, he still does a solid job of moving the ball through the air and has two stud wide receivers. Of course, the other half of this is Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks were able to rebound from a loss to take a huge lead on the Falcons and then sit back in cruise mode. They won’t be able to do that this week. The Seahawks capitalized on all Falcons mistakes last weeks, and the Bucs are certain to offer up many of those same opportunities. However, while Jameis Winston is what he is, he is still an upgraded challenge over Matt Schaub. Seattle should have the advantage in this one, but it should be close, and if it evolves into a true shootout, the Bucs have a shot here to steal one on the road.
Cleveland at Denver
Oof this is getting ugly for Cleveland. No one truly expected them to go into New England and pull out a win, but that early stretch in the game was so incredibly ugly. Then in the end game, Freddie Kitchens stupidly challenging a penalty he had no shot at winning really encapsulates what we’ve seen of Cleveland so far. On the other side, Denver yet again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Now, Joe Flacco heads to IR, and Brandon Allen, with a grand total of 0 NFL snaps under his belt, will helm the offense starting Sunday. Denver’s defense, albeit inconsistent, is no joke, despite not being the unit expected prior to the season. Cleveland’s offensive line remains highly suspect.
The Browns need a win here to keep things on track. Going against a total unknown QB should help that, but with this being the year of the backup, who knows. Further, going into Denver is never an easy game. Both of these teams have shown a propensity for horrible mistakes at the worst times, and questionable coaching. The Browns need to rely on Nick Chubb, and for Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon to attack Allen and force mistakes.
Green Bay at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers pulled out a huge win and saved their season. Their reward for that is heading “home” to face the red-hot Packers and a crowd that is going to end up being 70/30 Packers fans. Such it is. The Chargers were fortunate to face a Bears crew that was so alien to scoring, they biffed multiple red zone chances, allowing the Chargers to stay in the game. Not enough can be said about how stellar Joey Bosa is as a player, and Melvin Ingram across from him. For LA to stay in this one, those two will have to play out of their mind.
On the flip side, Philip Rivers will be going against a Packers defensive crew that has made Aaron Rodgers’ job easier than it has been in years. The Packers held on for a big win in Kansas City with Aaron Rodgers making multiple crazy throws and getting help from all the skill players around him. This team is rolling and will probably overwhelm the Chargers.
New England at Baltimore
The game of the week. This will be an excellent Sunday showcase. New England’s defense remains incredible, something the NFL has never exactly seen. The Patriots took three straight Cleveland offensive snaps and turned it into 14 points. The Patriots’ offense is suspect, but there is no betting against Tom Brady, especially when supplemented with the defense he is. This week, the Patriots will get their first true challenge of the season.
Baltimore comes off their bye to face the Pats at home. Lamar Jackson has been one of, if not the, most dynamic players in the entire league. He has carried the Ravens’ offense and is almost a one man show. The matchup here is obvious: Jackson’s running versus whatever Bill Belichick is going to throw at him. That will likely be seven to eight men in the box, forcing Jackson to win this one with his arm. Can he do it? Even with a stacked box, Jackson is so spectacular running, he may just break that plan. The Ravens’ defense played great against the Seahawks, so that effort carrying over would be a great boon.
- New York
- Green Bay
- New England