Last week the playoff picture became a whole lot clearer. The contenders have begun to hit their stride. The pretenders have started to regress to what they were projected to be. The Patriots went into Denver and stomped out the Broncos with almost as much ease as Cam Newton sauteed the Dolphins.
The Jaguars found a way to win against the Chargers. Well really Philip Rivers was just Philip Rivers so the Chargers blew a fourth quarter lead. The Jags are now in pole position in the AFC South, especially with the Titans getting mauled on Thursday. They are also one Tyrod Taylor release away from becoming a stealth Super Bowl contender.
This week projects to be one of the better weeks of the season. There will be no 49ers or Jets game so the quarterback play naturally elevates. Or does it? Don’t forget the Bills made the idiotic decision of benching Taylor for Nathan Peterman–no relation to J. Peterman–a fifth round draft pick from Pitt. The good news is the Chargers are naturally clowns so the Bills could just give LeSean McCoy the ball 30 times.
That game figures to be a stinker but there are some great games on tap for the home stretch of the season.
No column last week so let’s pretend I went 4-0. I definitely took the Pats, Colts and Rams. I also may have taken the Jets against the Buccaneers but I digress. This week the theme is road warriors. There are not many home favorites this week and it’s for good reason. Let’s break it down.
Ravens (-2) over PACKERS
The Ravens have managed to stay afloat despite possessing an offensive punch equal to a teddy bear. Joe Flaccid has been his usual docile self. Without many weapons that ineptitude has become an Achilles heel but their defense has been good enough and the offense is starting to pick it up. Alex Collins has been a pleasant signing, but this week Flacco gets his best weapon back, Danny Woodhead.
Woodhead injuries have become as sure a bet as taxes, but there is no debating how good he is when healthy. The combo of him, Buck Allen and Collins gives the Ravens a three-headed offense they can grind teams with. The Packers offense is simply not good enough to outscore its opponents without Aaron Rodgers. I think the Ravens simply run at the Packers’ face for 60 minutes and the Packers eventually relent.
Prediction: Ravens 20, Packers 16
Jaguars (-7.5) over BROWNS
Every year there is a team you like for no good reason and this year it’s the Jaguars for me. I still hate Blake Bortles but that defense is serious. That defense has been the team’s best offense and are easily favorite fantasy football pick in the last five years. The Browns suck and I’m not sure they even score in this one. Give me Leonard Fournette and that defense. Don’t even tell me the spread, it doesn’t matter.
Prediction: Jaguars 27, Browns 6
Patriots (-7.5) over RAIDERS
This will either be a classic game or a public massacre. Nothing in between. The way the Patriots looked last week against a good Broncos defense, I’m not sure anyone can stop them. Brady’s supporting cast continues to be filled out by misfits but it simply doesn’t matter. The GOAT will find a way to score on you.
The Raiders desperately need this game. They are right on the cusp of a playoff berth even at 4-5. They’re coming off a win against the Dolphins on Sunday night and Marshawn Lynch got going with a pair of touchdowns. If Beast Mode can make a return behind that Raiders line then there is something brewing in the Bay. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier so it’s now or never. Too bad they’re facing Tom Brady.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Raiders 24
Eagles (-6) over COWBOYS
Are the Eagles really the best team in football? Can they keep their hot streak up after having a week to cool off. Carson Wentz remains the frontrunner for MVP and gets greeted off his bye week with an exploitable (and familiar) opponent. The Cowboys with Zeke are like a neutered Rottweiler. They are not nearly as physical and as good as Dak Prescott is he can’t light it up like that.
The Eagles offense has looked really good all season and now Jay Ayaji has had another week to get integrated to the offense. If he can give Wentz a steady hand in the backfield the sky’s the limit for this team. They’ve given us no reason to pick against them so why ruin a good thing?
Prediction: Eagles 24, Cowboys 17
The Other Guys
Lions (-3) over BEARS
TEXANS (-1.5) over Cardinals
Rams (+2.5) over VIKINGS
SAINTS (-8) over Redskins
GIANTS (+10.5) over Chiefs
DOLPHINS (-1) over Buccaneers
Bills (+5.5) over CHARGERS
BRONCOS (-2.5) over Bengals
Falcons (-2.5) over SEAHAWKS
Last Week: 0-0