Overall: 80-53
Last Week: 7-6

Browns @ Bengals

Leading up to this week, my Thursday Night Football strategy (backing the home team unless the road dog has a better QB) had been working perfectly. But then Andy Dalton happened. I cannot recall a quarterback that’s been more like a roller coaster in recent memory. Is it because he’s a soulless ginger? For whatever reason, Dalton can resemble a competent pocket passer in a given week and then look like he’s pissing his pants and sail every pass the next week. While Brian Hoyer is merely a placeholder for the Browns, it’s pretty clear that he provides a steadier, more stable presence than that bloody tampon (Andy Dalton). Tim Minchin remains the unquestioned Highlander of Gingers with no current challengers.

 

Win: Cincinnati Bengals

Chiefs @ Bills

Kansas City is considerably better than most thought (myself including) before the season began. But are they truly this good? Although I trust the Chiefs at home in Arrowhead, Kansas City isn’t as composed on the road. Buffalo doesn’t have a team of world beaters, but the Bills have enough talent on defense to stifle Kansas City’s running game and grind their short passing attack to a halt. Kyle Orton won’t punch it into the end zone for many TDs. However, Alex Smith has that same issue with more mobility. Expect a close competition with a potential field goal as the deciding factor for a slight advantage to Buffalo.

Win: Buffalo Bills

Dolphins @ Lions

Miami has been a mild surprise this season with a competitive record due to a shockingly stout defense. Neither the Dolphins nor Lions have done anything to earn anyone’s trust. This is a true coin flip game. Matt Stafford will have trouble against the Miami secondary, but the Dolphins will have problems running with an injured Lamar Miller and below replacement-level talent behind him. Unless Ryan Tannehill puts the team on his back, Detroit should be able to win on the strength of their defense alone.

Win: Detroit Lions

49ers @ Saints

San Francisco sure went to shit quickly. The offseason/preseason power struggle between GM Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh might finally be impacting the franchise on the field. Or Colin Kaepernick’s growth could just be stagnant. While the league has fallen in love with his potential, I personally think Kaepernick has entered the Vick Zone. Without the ability to effectively pass within the pocket, Kaepernick will continue to fall back on his athleticism when under pressure. Dynamic potential can only carry you so far. Give me Drew Brees jumping over his linemen to pass from the pocket any week. If Kaepernick can progress to run an offense from inside the tackles and use his running as pure escapability, then the 49ers will skyrocket and soar into Super Bowl contention once again. But if Donovan McNabb couldn’t do that, then why would I believe Kaepernick can rise to the next level? Good luck harnessing that power.

Win: New Orleans Saints

Steelers @ Jets

Pittsburgh is not a Super Bowl contender. Big Ben is not an elite quarterback. But expect both to continue to fool most people after this week’s trouncing of the Jets. I’ll root for New York to pull off the surprising upset at home, but I feel it’s a futile effort. Michael Vick doesn’t have his impressive athleticism to rely upon any longer, and he cannot be an effective pocket passer with such a shitty supporting cast. In an ideal world, I would like to swap Kyle Orton and Michael Vick to see how much better both the Bills and Jets might become since they seem to be better fits for each system. New York has a great defensive line, but Big Ben will rape the Jets’ secondary for another scary offensive stat line.

Win: Pittsburgh Steelers

Falcons @ Buccaneers

2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Death of Tampa 2. After Monte Kiffin (The Godfather of the Tampa 2 defense) was fired by his own son at the college level and then flopped in epic fashion with the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay thought it was a great idea to hire the second-most recognizable figure associated with that failed defensive scheme. Lovie Smith has been horrendous, but the talent on Tampa Bay’s roster is equally bad. Josh McCown has clearly been a creation of Marc Trestman’s system. I’m sure the Bears would welcome McCown back, but he’s not the answer for the Buccaneers. Mike Glennon should continue to garner the starts through the season unless prevented by injury. Stunting Glennon’s growth ensures his career will remain constrained to the life of a back-up. In a failed season, Tampa Bay should be more interested in determining their present and future assets than trying to squeak out shitty, unimportant wins. If Atlanta is even remotely good, the Falcons will blow Tampa Bay out of the water and create at least two turnovers from McCown and the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, Atlanta isn’t very good either.

Win: Atlanta Falcons

Cowboys @ Jaguars

Regardless of whether Tony Romo or Brandon Weeden starts, Dallas should dominate Jacksonville. The Jaguars are building a foundation with Blake Bortles and Denard Robinson and some slightly talented receivers. By the time the team is actually good, they will no longer be named the Jaguars and they won’t be playing in Jacksonville. If Cowboys can’t win in London with their defense, then don’t expect Dallas to last any longer near the top of the NFC. A loss would be back-breaking to the Cowboys and Romo.

Win: Dallas Cowboys

Titans @ Ravens

Any time Tennessee is involved, that match-up is a prime candidate for most boring game of the week. With the bland Joe Flacco opposing the trash ‘stache of Zach Mettenberger, there’s nothing to root for between the Titans and Ravens. Baltimore is only average because their defense isn’t up to the usual level we’ve grown used to so don’t expect a second half surge. It’s about time for Steve Smith to remind everyone he’s still around again, and Tennessee’s defense should accommodate him with plenty of open space to operate. Baltimore wins this game handily unless Joe Flacco implodes in Dalton-esque fashion.

Win: Baltimore Ravens

Broncos @ Raiders

As I explained last week, Denver’s defense is not as good as the media hype. The Broncos have playmakers sprinkled throughout, but the defense doesn’t play together well as a unit. Several teams have put together strong second half performances to bring blowouts back to close competitions. I don’t think this week will be any different. Peyton Manning will abuse Oakland and the Broncos could threaten to score 40 or more against the Raiders. But if Oakland can keep Derek Carr upright long enough, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Raiders get around the 25-30 range, which is enough to threaten Denver.

Win: Denver Broncos

Rams @ Cardinals

Jeff fucking Fisher. Somehow, St. Louis has managed to upset fellow division foes Seattle and San Francisco. This week, the Rams will look to complete the grand slam by knocking off Arizona. With Dallas falling off, the Cardinals are now king of the hill in the NFC. How long will that last? St. Louis has serious potential to make that one and done for Arizona. If the Rams can pressure Carson Palmer and contain Andre Ellington, the Cardinals will not look like the same competitive team. To this point, Arizona has been fortunate that their constant blitzing hasn’t blown up in their faces. Although it’s been effective, an elite team can sack the quarterback without blitzing. I’m not sure Austin Davis is the type to make Arizona’s defense pay by burning the secondary, but the Cardinals are vulnerable and slightly overrated. The best battle in this game will be between head coaches Jeff Fisher and Bruce Arians.

Win: Arizona Cardinals

Giants @ Seahawks

What the fuck was I thinking taking the New York Giants over the Indianapolis Colts last week? The Giants are a giant mess at the moment, and even Eli seems incapable of carrying this crew on his back. If New York couldn’t win at home after a bye week against the Colts, the odds of the Giants upsetting a struggling Seahawks team in Seattle are insurmountable. After all of Seattle’s recent controversy, this could be a tasty match-up for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to get healthy and put the team back on the right track.

Win: Seattle Seahawks

Bears @ Packers

Apathetic Jay Smokin'

Jay Cutler sucks donkey dick. At this point, we need to realize Jay Cutler is what he is—Smokin’ Jay, a shittier clone of Brett Favre programmed with the ol’ gunslinger’s worst traits. The Bears need to ride Forte until he breaks down if this team is going to crawl back into relevancy. Personally, I think Chicago would be wise to trade Cutler and move on from the Smokin’ Jay era while they can still get some value. Even with his ridiculous track record, there will be franchises willing to pin their hopes on Cutler’s potential. With his world crumbling around him, don’t look for Cutler to gain his composure on the road against Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Each year, Bears fans have to look admirably at Aaron Rodgers and fantasize what it would be like to have those starry blues behind center in Chicago. Dream on.

Win: Green Bay Packers

Panthers @ Eagles

Before the season started, I predicted there would be a time when Mr. Butt Fumble himself Mark Sanchez would start for Philadelphia—whether by ineffectiveness or injury to Nick Foles. With a collarbone issue, Sanchez took Foles’ break as a break of his own. Although he’s no longer viewed as the Sanchize, Philadelphia is a substantially better landing spot for the former Jets quarterback. Anticipate a run-heavy attack for the Eagles as Philadelphia runs to a victory over Carolina.

Win: Philadelphia Eagles

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