Chargers at Dolphins.
A game where defense and the play in the trenches rules, meaning it’s a low-scoring event favoring the Dolphins. Until late, when Phillip Rivers pulls out one of those endings, chucking it down the field and getting the win. Rivers to Keenan Allen for the winning drive.
Chargers 23, Dolphins 20.
Jaguars at Bengals.
Even if AJ Green is back at only partial speed, does anyone seriously think the Jags win here? No, they do not.
Bengals 34, Jaguars 13.
Buccaneers at Browns.
Always a good sign when your team has a fire sale before the trade deadline.
Browns 24, Buccaneers 16.
Native Americans at Vikings.
RG3 returns, meaning the Redskins Quarterback Wheel O’ Shit has made a complete revolution. Remember when RG3 used to be good? He’s going to be rusty, and I don’t know if he’s going to ever get back to that rookie pizzazz. But the Redskins D will get after Teddy Bridgewater and keep this close enough that if RG3 can make a splash play, the Native Americans can pull the mild upset. Side note: Jerick McKinnon was a guy I liked in the draft about equally to Dri Archer, but McKinnon is getting reps and producing while Archer is floundering for Pittsburgh. How different are these guys, really, though?
Native Americans 21, Vikings 17.
Eagles at Texans.
Everyone sees this matchup and thinks “Chip Kelly offense versus JJ Watt and Arian Foster.” So, high voltage versus a grinder team. But I think the Eagles D is going to be the story here, with a low scoring game and no clear favorite.
Eagles 17, Texans 13.
Jets at Chiefs.
Rex Ryan has been busy sending teams his resume as a defensive coordinator, and if that fails, he could probably land a pretty sweet gig at Payless Shoes.
Chiefs 27, Jets 13.
Cardinals at Cowboys.
Yes, the Cowboys have a solid OL and the league’s top rusher in DeMarco Murray. But Weeden sucks, and Romo’s back is iffy, and the Cards keep showing that they can get it done, and Bruce Arians is doing a hell of a coaching job in the desert. BA pulls another one.
Cards 27, Cowboys 21.
Rams at Niners.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Rams wouldn’t have no luck at all. Not sure where the Niners rank in talent in the NFC West -- second? Third? – but they’ll need to take care of business to have a crack at a Wild Card.
Niners 24, Rams 13.
Broncos at Patriots.
How many times will I allow myself to be fooled by Peyton Manning, going to Foxboro with a better team, thinking he’s actually going to win it? It’s like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown every time he goes to kick it, or Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, high as fuck, because we all know Linus was the quintessential stoner and that whole Great Pumpkin thing, come on, I mean it, come the fuck on.
Broncos 34, Patriots 28.
Raiders at Seahawks.
Seattle not as bad as they might seem these past few weeks. Raiders every bit as bad as they’ve seemed for eons. Maybe worse.
Seahawks 31, Raiders 3.
Ravens at Steelers.
Dree your weird.
This game, right here, this is it. In my opinion, it’s the season. Steelers are mired in the AFC North standings alongside the Ravens and Bengals, but a loss to the Ravens drops them to 1-3 in the division and outside looking in. Coach may talk about stacking wins, but until you do, against meaningful teams, that win over the Colts is one thing: a fucking FLUKE.
It’s not that I don’t think the Steelers are starting to put things together, on offense (obviously), but also on defense. We saw the Steelers front 7 finally get pressure on an opposing QB who is difficult to pressure due to his smarts and quick release and Roethlisberger size. We saw the DBs start to make turnovers and to hand the offense a short field. We saw the offense work incredibly efficiently in the RZ and see great success with young receivers Wheaton and Bryant.
But we’ve also seen the Steelers falter at all the wrong times over the past few seasons, like a lawnmower with a faulty plug, meaning you think the season is trending downward but they string you along and string you along, winning just enough to lure you into hoping, until the brutal end where you need the Chargers and the Jets to win this week but the Jets to lose and Patriots to win next week, and a tie or a loss from… THAT kinda bullshit. This team needs to win, and make no excuses, take no prisoners, strike fear into every team it faces.
I don’t think they’re there yet, even with the improvements.
The OL played a magnificent game against the Colts, but can they do it against the Ravens, who always find a way to rattle Ben’s cage? Can Bell break out against the Ravens, who seem adept at shutting down our running game? Can the DBs cover speed down the field, or the big TEs running free down the seam? Can Ben come back from one of the all-time great performances by a QB and do it again, or will he be sloppy and complacent? Can the Steelers finally have something that resembles an identity in 2014?
Either I’ve overspoken all these concerns in an attempt to hide my true feeling that I think the Steelers are ready for the Ravens, but I don’t want to jinx them, or the Steelers are still a work very much in progress. So either this is an ironic prediction or my true feeling, but to paraphrase Sam Beckett, no irony where none intended.
Ravens 31, Steelers 23.
Colts at Giants.
Andrew Luck will bounce back. Fortunately for Luck, the Giants are not very good this year.
Colts 28, Giants 17.