There is no Patriots football today, which obviously makes this NFL Sunday not nearly as exciting as usual. But there are still plenty of good games out there, so here are my predictions for this week’s slate.
Atlanta 21 Seattle 17
Despite their 8-1 record, the Seattle Seahawks have not looked like a Super Bowl worthy team over the last couple of weeks, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. When you are forced to complete a 21 point comeback at home versus the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you are definitely struggling. They rank 27th in the league in passing yards, and are 20th in the NFL in run defense. I think the Falcon’s 32nd ranked rushing offense will get going early in this game, opening things up for Matt Ryan and company later on, which will ultimately get them a much needed victory.
Detroit 30 Chicago 20
The Bears do get Jay Cutler back for this game, but given the struggles of the Chicago defense, I think that Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Bush will have a big game, leading Detroit to a 10 point win.
Philadelphia 27 Green Bay 21
If Aaron Rodgers were in this game, it would be over before halftime. But Rodgers is out for another few weeks, which gives every team that plays the Packers a chance from now, until he returns. Nick Foles tied an NFL record last week, throwing seven touchdown passes as the Eagles rolled to a 49-20 win over the Raiders. Look for the Eagles to get the ball moving early on offense, which will force Seneca Wallace to drop back and throw the ball more than Green Bay wants, which will undoubtedly result in a win for Philly.
Tennessee 34 Jacksonville 17
The Jaguars are one of, if not the worst franchise in the NFL. I really can’t pick out one thing that they do well as a football team, which forces me to pick whoever they are facing. The Titans are playing decent football right now, led by young quarterback Jake Locker, and “Mr. Inconsistent” Chris Johnson. Both of these guys will have big performances for Tennessee in this game, as the Titans roll.
Indianapolis 24 Saint Louis 14
In only his second year in the league, quarterback Andrew Luck is starting to establish himself as one of the best signal callers in the NFL. Not only is he improving his personal performance, but he is elevating his team as well, as he has the Colts sitting atop the AFC South. The Colts are no longer an “air it out, play no defense” type of team. Trent Richardson takes a lot of heat for not living up to his third overall pick, but he is good running back, who has been able to take some pressure off of Luck’s shoulders. Saint Louis’ quality defense will keep the Bradford-less Rams in the game for a good portion of this game, but Indianapolis will come out of this with a win.
New York Giants 37 Oakland 13
Being a Patriots fan, I would love nothing more than to see the Giant lose to the lowly Raiders. But the Giants are coming off of a much needed bye week, and Oakland is coming off of a 29 point loss to the Eagles. Eli Manning and his receivers light up the scoreboard in this one, inching the Giants ever closer to the top of the NFC East.
Buffalo 20 Pittsburgh 17
The Bills will finally get their rookie quarterback back on the field this week, which should be enough to get them a win versus the reeling Steelers. The Bills have had an up and down 2013, largely due to their shaky quarterback situation. E.J. Manuel proved in the first five games of the year that he was the best guy for the job, and I think he helps the Bills squeak out a win this week in Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati 16 Baltimore 13
If you are a lover of smash-mouth defensive football, then you might want to tune into this game Sunday afternoon. Neither of these two teams like each other, and whenever they meet, it is a low scoring slugfest. At the end of the day, the duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green that gives the Bengals the extra push, and Cincinnati extends their AFC North lead.
San Francisco 23 Carolina 20
This game is going to be a lot closer than many think. These two teams are built very similar. Both are home to two of the best defensive units in the NFL, they both lean on the run game, and obviously the two quarterbacks are extremely dangerous both through the air, and on the ground. The difference in this one is going to be which team can come away with the most takeaways. Whoever does that will get the win, and given the return of Aldon Smith to the 49er lineup, San Francisco will be the team that does it.
Houston 21 Arizona 13
The Texans lost a tough one last week on Sunday Night Football, but what we saw from Case Keenum and company was very encouraging. Keenum now faces a Cardinals defense that surrenders the seventh most passing yards in the NFL, and because Arian Foster will not be playing in this game, we can count on Keenum slinging it around quite a few times. Houston will also be without their coach, Gary Kubiak, who suffered a mini-stroke last week. I know that his team will be playing with an extra amount of emotion, as they play without their leader.
Denver 35 San Diego 21
The Chargers will definitely be hyped up for this divisional contest, but I don’t see any possible scenario where they come out winners. San Diego boasts the 29th ranked defense in the league, which doesn’t bode well for them as they prepare to not only face the league’s best offense, but the league’s best offense coming off of a bye week. Peyton Manning will be ready for this game, and I expect another offensive explosion from Denver.
New Orleans 31 Dallas 27
I think that this game will be one of the few this week that is deeply impacted by home field advantage. Going into the Superdome is a tough assignment, particularly when you will be throwing the ball for a significant portion of the game. Drew Brees and Tony Romo will entertain us in a nice little shoot-out, but I don’t think that Romo can do enough to take down Brees in his home stadium.
Tampa Bay 26 Miami 17
Under normal circumstances, this game would probably not draw a great rating. But the Dolphins have been surrounded in controversy ever since the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito story broke. I know that I will definitely be giving this one a watch, not only to hear the latest news, but to see how Miami reacts to this on the football field. As for the game, Tampa showed us last week in Seattle that they have the talent to win football games, and they will finally get one this Monday night, on Veterans Day.