by Greg Talcott
The Bears finally got their first win under John Fox last week against the up and coming Raiders. The win featured the same old problems, namely the Jay Cutler turnover at a critical time in the game. The Bears were lucky last week to overcome it, but they won’t be as fortunate on the road this week in Kansas City. The Chiefs are better than their record suggests, they have played 3 games in a row against some of the best teams in the league (Denver, Green Bay, and Cincinnati). Likewise, the Bears have also faced a very tough schedule, so it is possible they could surprise the Chiefs this week if Cutler doesn’t turn the ball over… that is a huge IF. Chiefs won’t be denied at home, 28-20 over the Bears.
The Seahawks are playing in a short week, on the road, against the red hot Bengals and that is not a recipe for success. Andy Dalton is playing the best football of his career through 4 weeks, and the Bengals are trying to reach 5-0 for the first time in 27 years. Seattle is a tough out anytime you play them, and are undoubtedly the toughest defense Dalton will have faced so far this season. That being said, the Seahawks may be without Marshawn Lynch again this week and he won’t be 100% if he does play. Seattle has yet to learn how to use Jimmy Graham and that leaves them with too little offensive production to keep up with Cincinnati. Bengals move to 5-0 with a 27-17 win over Seattle.
The Redskins have played well to start the season, but they are completely over-matched going into Atlanta this week. One big reason; Julio Jones and the video game-like stats he is putting up this year (38 rec. 478 yards, 4 TD’s). His success is coming off the arm of Matt Ryan who is playing as well as he ever has during his NFL career. If that isn’t enough, Devonta Freeman has been a beast the last two week with 6 TD’s and firmly cementing himself in the starting role. Falcons roll 38-21.
The only thing to like about Jameis Winston’s rookie season so far is the lack of arrests. Winston threw four picks last week and has not looked good at any point this season. The Jags have a solid rush defense and a more competent quarterback in Blake Bortles. You hate to pick the Jags, especially on the road, but they are the better team in this game; Jacksonville wins 21-17.
The Eagles have got to get their act together offensively and relieve the pressure they are putting on their defense with the constant parade of “3 and out” possessions. Sam Bradford hasn’t been worth any of the preseason hype and what about DeMarco Murray? He is averaging 1.6 per carry for a season total of 47 yards and a TD… that is only 47 yards and a TD more than me. If Philadelphia is going to save their season it is going to be this week. The Saints got their first win last week but it was over Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys which is about as impressive as Canada beating Somalia in hockey. Eagles get the win 28-24 over the Saints.
The Ravens pulled a rabbit out of their hat to get a win last week in overtime against the Steelers led by Michael “A Dog’s Worst Friend” Vick. This week they face Josh McCown and the Bad News Browns whom they should be able to beat at home. The Ravens have nothing at wide receiver with the loss of Steve Smith Sr., but they have a decisive edge at quarterback and a running back in Justin Forsett who should be able to run all over the Browns who give up 141.5 yards per game on the ground which is 31st in the league. If Johnny Manziel were starting I would be tempted to take the Browns, but their commitment to mediocrity with Josh McCown leads me to choose the Ravens in this one; Baltimore wins 23-17.
The Cardinals gave the game away to the Rams last week, who were also aided by a horrendous call that allowed them to keep a ball they clearly fumbled deep in their own territory. The Rams have a good defense and Todd Gurley looked amazing in the second half against a tough Arizona team. Unfortunately for the Rams, they are going against Aaron Rodgers who has yet to throw a pick this season and has won 11 straight starts at home (including the playoffs). If you are going to bet against the Packers at home it better not be in favor of Nick Foles and a highly suspect St. Louis offense. Packers win 28-14.
Rex Ryan is going to have the Bills defense bring the heat against Marcus Mariota this Sunday in an attempt to rattle the rookie and force him to make a mistake. Mariota’s ability to handle the pressure will determine whether or not the Titans can win this game. The Titans are currently ranked 6th in yards allowed, but 22nd in points allowed. The Bills on the other hand are 15th in points allowed and 22nd in yards allowed per game. The Bills would like to be able to run the ball this weekend, the problem is they won’t have LeSean McCoy or Karlos Williams to do it. Frankly, the Bills have so many injuries it doesn’t say much about the Titans as a team if they can’t win this one at home. Titans win 21-17.
The Cardinals should be coming into this game 4-0 but let one slip away last week against the Rams. The Lions may well deserve to be 0-4, but realistically they got the shaft in Seattle on Monday on the batted ball and are more talented than their record indicates. Matthew Stafford has played so poorly this season he is actually rated below Jay Cutler, which would explain the paltry 16.5 points per game the Lions are scoring. When you have talent like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Ameer Abdullah, you are bound to score points eventually and I think this is the week. The football gods are cruel, but after last week, even they may see fit to give the Lions a break. Lions win 31-28.
Dallas might not win this game if they were 100% healthy. As it stands, with Brandon “He Means Well” Weeden at quarterback, the Cowboys have virtually no chance of winning this game. On the bright side for Cowboy fans (and only Cowboy fans), Greg Hardy, the classless woman beater returns to help bolster the Dallas pass rush. Unfortunately, that pass rush is not about to stop the likes of Tom Brady and The Gronk from destroying the Cowboys at home. Patriots win 42-17.
Based on the Broncos history with Peyton Manning (6-0 vs. Oakland), they should crush the Raiders this week. However, that history was written against a different Raider team by a different Peyton Manning. In this match-up, the story is the Broncos number 1 ranked defense in YPG (yards per game) against the Raiders young, talented offense. If Derek Carr can stand in against the Broncos’ pass rush and limit the mistakes, the Raiders could upset the Broncos on Sunday. Raiders win 24-20.
The 49ers’ opening week win against the Vikings is really looking like an anomaly vs. their play the last 3 weeks. San Francisco was supposed to stink this year and rightfully so given the amount of talent lost and the change in coaching staff. New York got off to a slow start but has realized the division is up for grabs with Dallas being riddled with injuries. The Giants should win this one easily, 31-13.
Look at it this way, if Michael Vick couldn’t beat the injury-depleted Ravens at home; he probably isn’t beating San Diego on the road. Vick has arguably the best running back and wide receiver in the league and despite that he looked like the same old Michael Vick last week minus the orange jumpsuit. What really stings is fantasy owners with Antonio Brown watching him languish under the inept Vick for the next several weeks until Ben Roethlisberger gets back. Chargers win 24-13.