NOTE: We’re 9 weeks into these posts. Truth is that for some of these games you gotta really dig to get something relevant to write about …. Niners/Giants anyone? One thing we’ll do is list the games in order of how good they look. (And if you think that I’m writing this so I can pretend that Browns/Lions and Titans/Bengals aren’t happening, then give yourself a +1.)
JACKSONVILLE (5-3) -4.5 vs LA Chargers (3-5)
This should be the best 1PM game. Some key questions should get answered. Will the Chargers climb further towards respectability? Will Blake Bortles again befuddle the Twittersphere by throwing for 300+ yards? Does Phillip Rivers still have it? Will Leonard Fournette bother to show up for the game? Answers to all of these and more in our Show Us What You Got Game of the Week.
Our answers, in order: Yes, bahahahahaha!, No but Melvin Gordon is really good, and he will since everyone but Leonard got a game check last week.
We said in our recap last week that you have to look at good teams vs good only, so we’ll try that. Let’s say for a minute that these teams are both good, so we’ll compare their records against other “good” teams.
Good v. Good records:
Jags 2-1 – beat Houston (with Watson) and Pittsburgh. Lost to the Rams.
Chargers 0-3 – lost to Chiefs, Eagles, Pats.
Easy, right? Jags will win. BUT WAIT! Don’t forget about the Chargers ability to play well and lose in heartbreaking fashion! This is a 3-point game, notwithstanding another Bortlesian performance from the King of Twitter:
Pick: Chargers +4.5
Minnesota (6-2) -1.5 at WASHINGTON (4-4)
Short home dog. Taking points. Skip the rest if you’re in a rush.
Figuring out who qualifies as good for this good/bad team thing is tricky. Simply, we’re saying that over .500 is good, under .500 is bad, and we’ll make a call on the .500 teams. For example, Washington is a good .500 team. Miami is a bad one. (I misspelled Miami and it got autocorrected to Miasma. So that's what we're calling them from now on.)
Good v. Good records:
Skins 2-4: lost to Philly twice, Dallas, Chiefs. Beat Seattle and LA Rams
Vikings 1-1: beat Saints, lost to Pittsburgh. Last game against a good team: week 2
You see the crazy thing, right? Washington’s schedule is ridiculous. Jordan Reed got hurt just reading it in the offseason. 6 of their first 8 against good teams. It’ll get better 2nd half, right? Vikings Saints Cowboys Chargers are their good opponents. They get the Giants twice in the second half, which is like having divorced parents. Two Christmases!
Minnesota has had an easier past 6 games than any team not named New Orleans. Case Keenum will not get it done here.
Pick: Redskins +1.5
Super Bonus Pick: Redskins finish the season on a roll and take out Philly in the playoffs (yo.)
New Orleans (6-2) -2.5 at BUFFALO (5-3)
Another short home dog. Kinda makes you wonder why I couldn't get this done before Saturday afternoon.
Let’s check it out using our new, never-been-proven-wrong approach:
Good v. Good records:
Saints 1-2 – beat Carolina, lost to Pats and Vikings. Haven’t played a good team since week 3, and that was early-season Carolina. So maybe that 6 game streak ain’t much.
Bills 1-1 – Lost to same Carolina panthers, beat Atlanta. Those two teams are, shall we say, on the underside of “good” by any definition. Who is this team?
So neither team has an edge there. They both may be pretenders.
Case for the Saints: 6 in a row. The Saints are marching in! Laissez les bon temps roulez! Alvin Kamara bandwagon completely full.
Case for the Bills: On a long week after laying a turd in a loss to the Jets last Thursday night, they’re 4-0 at home, and it's going to be right at 40 degrees at game time.
I really really want to pick New Orleans because of their momentum and their new offense that shouldnt wear down in the cold ..... but I made a promise. And for that, I owe.
Pick: Bills +2.5
CHICAGO (3-5) -4.5 vs Green Bay (4-4)
Yes! Bad v. Bad game to test it out!
Bad v. Bad records:
Bears 1-2: Beat Baltimore (Sorry Derek – they’re on the naughty list) Lost to Tampa Bay and Green Bay. You could argue that GB was good, then bad after Rodgers got hurt, but that would require you getting your own football blog.
Pack 2-1 – Beat the Bengals and Bears, lost to Lions.
So, take the points? No. Two words. Brett. Hundley. Nothing against the guy. He’s not Aaron Rodgers. Chicago is the Jets of the NFC. Playing higher than their talent level because of their energy. You gotta love their little self-delusional asses.
It won't surprise you to know that the Packers own the Bears recently. 13-2 since 2011. But the last time the Packers started someone not named Favre or Rodgers against the Bears was December 8, 1991. That's also when:
Bryan Adams "Everything I Do I Do for You" topped the charts, and Terminator 2 was the movie sequel to end all sequels. It holds up, by the way. T2. Sorry, Bryan Adams.
The Soviet Union was still a thing. Sorry, Communism.
The Bills were heading to their 2nd straight Super Bowl. They would go on to lose 4 in a row. Sorry, Marv Levy.
The NFL adopted the rule where if you fumble it out of the end zone, the other team gets it back at the 20. Sorry, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (born September 29, 1992) was not yet a human being, even if life begins at conception. Sorry, for reminding you how old you are.
Pick: Bears -4.5
NY Jets (4-5) -2.5 at TAMPA BAY (2-6)
Oh, crap. Really? Gotta take Tampa. Maybe this is the game that Evans shows up? Oh. Not this week? Suspended.
Bad v. Bad records:
Jets 2-2 – split with Dolphins, beat Browns, lost to Raiders
Bucs 2-1 – beat Bars & Giants, lost to Cardinals
So it’s a close game by that count, but it’s striking that the Bucs haven’t won against any good teams. They’re just not very good, and their special teams is where placekickers go to die. The Jets flew around the field last game and are on a 10-day break. Maybe they’ll forget that they’re playing with a ton of energy and go back to being the team that everyone picked to win less than zero games this year. Here’s to hoping.
Pick: Bucs +2.5
Pittsburgh (6-2) -10.5 at INDIANAPOLIS (3-6)
This one feels easy. Pittsburgh never plays well on the road. But ... a good team vs a bad team …. Let's have a look!
Steelers vs bad teams 4-1 – beat Browns, Ravens, Bengals, Lions, lost to Bears
Indy vs good teams 0-4 – Titans Jags Seahawks Rams. Average margin of loss 26.5 points and closest game was 14 points.
Versus bad teams Indy is 3-1 with an average margin of less than 2 points. What else is there to say? Indy plays bad teams close and gets blown out by good teams. This could be one of those Steelers road games where they don't show up, but that’s less likely. Indy never shows up.
Pick: Steelers -10.5
TENNESSEE (5-3) -4.5 vs Cincinnati (3-5)
Tennessee will be the Redskins of the AFC. They have a cake schedule the rest of the way and are on a 3-game win streak. They have wins against Jacksonville and the Rams already, but have played terrible teams puzzlingly close. They will be susceptible to a late cover, just like last week vs the Ravens, but that implies that Andy Dalton can run the hurry up offense. On the road with a Tennessee fan base that is gulping the Kool-Aid, it’s not going to happen.
Pick: Titans -4.5
DETROIT (4-4) -12.5 vs Cleveland (0-8)
Not yet, Cleveland. Keeping it close vs Tennessee a few weeks ago wasn't enough.
Pick: Lions -12.5