Last week: 6-9. To quote Mark McGwire, I’m not here to talk about the past. Season forecast is now 104-61.
– Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-6.5): The key matchup here is the Titans defense against Mac Jones and the offense. Despite their loss last week, the Tennessee defense did play well. If they can slow down the Patriots’ resurgent rushing attack, they have the ability to outscore New England. I see Ryan Tannehill bouncing back from his terrible Week 11. But the Patriots are smart and versatile enough to weather the Titans storm.
Patriots 27, Titans 24
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (+2.5): The Buccaneers are getting healthier, and they’ll need all hands on deck to handle Jonathan Taylor and the Colts offense. The Colts have won five of six and have scored more than 30 points in all but one of those contests. That’s long enough of a track record against divergent types of teams to prove legitimacy. The issue for the host Colts will be forcing offensive mistakes from Tom Brady that the likes of Josh Allen, Jimmy Garoppolo and Davis Mills have made to help bolster the Indianapolis defense.
Buccaneers 26, Colts 21
– New York Jets at Houston Texans (-2.5): The Texans are favored! I repeat, the Texans are favored to win! And given the Jets’ QB carousel of death and how well the Texans rushed the passer in their win over Tennessee last week, it’s a smart bet. If you’re somehow still alive in survivor fantasy pools, I’m going to guess you haven’t used the Texans. It’s risky, no doubt, but it could preserve a better team for another week.
Texans 30, Jets 19
– Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (+3): The Giants fired OC Jason Garrett after Monday’s night debacle and head coach Joe Judge driving every motorized vehicle at his disposal over Garrett in blame. Somehow I don’t think that will dam the river flowing rapidly down the hill that is the Giants season and Judge’s tenure as their coach. The Eagles are playing too well for such a cheap gambit to work. Then again, Garrett really was doing a terrible job. Hmm…
Eagles 34, Giants 24
– Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1): Someone has to win. Might as well be the Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence, who is quietly playing better than the record and his stats would indicate. I’m thankful I won’t have to watch the Falcons prove this forecast horribly wrong.
Jaguars 26, Falcons 24
– Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins (+2): Tough call here. I like the way the Dolphins have surged out of the cellar in the last three weeks, but the Panthers have the defense to slow down the Tua attack.
Panthers 19, Dolphins 17
– Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos (+3): Don’t ask me how it happens, but the Chargers will continue their confounding season where they appear to be the class of the AFC one week and a bottom-10 team the very next, no matter the opponent. Denver’s just schizo enough on its own to make it happen, too.
Broncos 25, Chargers 24
– Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-3): Really like Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen against the 49ers secondary, and the Vikings have just enough defense to withstand the occasionally great, sometimes competent but uninspiring 49ers offense under Jimmy Garoppolo and coach Kyle Shanahan.
Vikings 27, 49ers 21
– Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5): Both AFC North rivals struggled to vanquish bad NFC North foes a week ago. The Browns are finally getting healthier at just the right time, but their biggest injury remains their biggest issue. Baker Mayfield is not right and won’t get right by playing with his completely messed up left shoulder. Admire his toughness, but he’s just not capable of placing the ball when and where it needs to be with his broken wing. His receivers aren’t helping enough, either. Tough to fly with the Ravens when the wings are clipped, though if any team can it’s the one with the best guard combo in the NFL and Nick Chubb running behind Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Very low confidence in this pick.
Ravens 30, Browns 27
– Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team (pick’em): This game did not materialize as well as the schedule makers hoped when they pitted these two 2020 playoff teams in primetime. The Football Team has played better of late, coming out of the bye with two straight wins. Seattle appears to be stumbling to the end of a very bad season with a surprisingly — even for being injured — ineffective Russell Wilson. Roll with the home team and enjoy the last of the leftover mashed potatoes.
Football Team 24, Seahawks 20