Last week’s picks were very good to me, I have to admit. It’s been a while since I’ve only had 2 losses on the record, but I’ll certainly take it. Of course a few of those games were difficult to watch because teams like to let others make comebacks when they’re up big (Oakland, Carolina), but both of those teams took care of business in the end. Cincinnati did its job on the road against Pittsburgh, Baltimore tiptoed past San Diego, and the Saints won a Wild West-style game vs. the New York football Giants.
We’ll see if I can duplicate those efforts this week, but it’s not going to be easy. Luckily, I’m off to a good start at 1-0 after the Bengals took care of business on Thursday night. There are way too many contests that should be close, and could go either way. It’s time for Ace Picks…
Oakland @ PITTSBURGH – I’ve been trying my best to find chink in that Oakland armor, but the only thing I can find is that once they’ve up big they tend to relax and let the other team back in it. Yet, they’ve still won the games when all is said and done. I feel like this one sets up for the same type of outcome. Going in Pittsburgh is always tough, but I’m sold on Derek Carr and his receiving crew, not to mention Latavius Murray on the ground. They will finish off this one too, and put themselves firmly in the wild card mix. Pick: OAKLAND.
Green Bay @ CAROLINA – Did I see anything at all from Green Bay’s offense last week that would lead me to believe they’ll knock off an undefeated team with a great defense this week when they couldn’t manage it last week? Sorry, Aaron Rodgers, but I’m not going to R-E-L-A-X after you threw for only 77 yards last week. Great defenses expose good offenses, and with Jordy Nelson out, and on the road, that’s what this Green Bay team is. Pick: CAROLINA.
Washington @ NEW ENGLAND – No matter how many ways I look at this one I can’t get past one thing: the Redskins have been abysmal on defense against the run, and New England has a dynamic running duo who can hit you hard, and can make you miss in Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount. That’s where this game will be won, not on the arm of Tom Brady. Kirk Cousins will make a few big plays, but in the end the Patriots take it. Pick: NEW ENGLAND.
Tennessee @ NEW ORLEANS – This is the tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. While I’m not sold on the Saints defense (they did give up 49 points last week), I like what I’ve seen from the offense, particularly from Willie Snead and Benjamin Watson. While I knew Cooks would spread out defenses, I didn’t realize the recipients would be so dominant in the red zone, but they have been lately, and that continues against a poor Titans defense. Pick: NEW ORLEANS.
Jacksonville @ NY JETS – Some are calling this a get-right game for the Jets, but I don’t see it. Jacksonville was efficient in getting the Bills down early in London two weeks ago by throwing receivers open, by running the ball early and often, and by dominating on the line of scrimmage. The Jets were exposed by the Raiders last week, and I think it continues here, even at home. If Geno Smith starts it won’t even be close. Pick: JACKSONVILLE.
St. Louis @ MINNESOTA – Everyone is looking at the two running backs in this one, and for good reason. Do I think it’s a passing of the torch type of event? No. Peterson has too much left in the tank for that. But I do see both defenses scheming to take away the running game, which means which passer do I trust more? Foles or Bridgewater? I like Foles against that Vikings defense more than I can see Bridgewater moving the ball effectively against a stingy Rams secondary. Pick: ST. LOUIS.
Miami @ BUFFALO – Yes, the Bills were exposed before their bye, but this Miami team is a rotating carousel of inconsistency. Who knows which Tannehill shows up in this one, the turnover machine, or the man who can pick apart defenses? I think the Buffalo blitz will get him off his spots and force a few turnovers, which will be enough to turn this close one for the Bills, and Tyrod Taylor, who is back. Pick: BUFFALO.
Atlanta @ SAN FRANCISCO – “Blaine Gabbert will shock the world,” a former student of mine said the other day when it was announced that BG would start for the Niners in this one. And while I don’t think it will be a total shocker, I do think that Gabbert is an Alex Smith type player who will protect the ball and move the offense down the field. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of field goals in this one. San Fran’s defense has played better at home, and Matt Ryan has struggled on the road. I think Gabbert does just enough to shock the Falcons. Pick: SAN FRANCISCO.
NY Giants @ TAMPA BAY – Jameis Winston is alive and well, and he’s protecting the football lately. We all now know the Giants defense is tissue-paper thin, and Winston can keep plays alive with his feet in a way that Drew Brees can’t. That defense will be chasing him around all afternoon. I think it will be a close one, but in the end I like the kid, I like Doug Martin, and I like that defense to harass Eli Manning just enough. Pick: TAMPA BAY.
Denver @ INDIANAPOLIS – Defense, defense, defense. I don’t care if Andrew Luck was playing the best football of his career instead of the worst (which he is), but that defense is the best one by far in the league, and they will play like it once again, even on the road. While I don’t think they hold Luck to the 77 yards Rodgers had last week, I do think they will dominate from the start, and force Luck into some bad decisions and turnovers that will be the difference, that and the rejuvenated Broncos running game. Time for more heads to roll in Indy. Pick: DENVER.
Philadelphia @ DALLAS – Matt Cassel is starting, and the Eagles defense has produced the second most turnovers in the league to this point in the season. That will be important, almost as important as the rejuvenated Philadelphia running game, which will keep it rolling coming off the bye in this one. Dez Bryant will be blanketed all game, and Sam Bradford will be on the same page with his receivers, making this a split for the Eagles with the Cowboys for the season. Pick: PHILADELPHIA.
Chicago @ SAN DIEGO – I like the Bears in this one, but I liked them last week and they disappointed me against Minnesota. What can I expect from them here? The Chargers defense is giving up points like a sieve, and with a healthy Alshon Jeffery at his disposal, I can see Jay Cutler doing some damage in this one, but the Bears are horrendous against the run. I expect a high scoring contest, and when that happens I think it favors the home team (marginally). Chargers in a close, high-scoring game. Pick: SAN DIEGO.