Quick hitters this week. Home teams in CAPS.
Buffalo (-4.5) over JACKSONVILLE*
Everyone around the NFL or covers the NFL frequertly comment about how well-liked Jaguars HC Gus Bradley is. How the players love him and will run through walls for him. And make no mistake, he inherited a complete mess of a roster. This was not a situation where he could have been expected to win quickly. But he's in year 3. He's had 3 drafts and 3 cracks at free agency to mold the team in his image. And there hasn't been much in the way of visible growth...at least if you check the only real barometer for NFL coaching success (wins and losses). Jacksonville is going to have to win some of these games soon or they'll have to run through walls for someone else.
Much is being made of the injuries Buffalo is going into this game with (especially at wide receiver). But, if we're being honest, just how much of a hindrance is it for Buffalo to be without Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin if EJ Manuel is going to be throwing the ball?
Cleveland (+6.5) over ST. LOUIS
Yes, St. Louis has a terrific defense and yes, I'm aware that I'm backing a Josh McCown team on the road against a terrific defense. The Browns just got done playing a terrific defense (albeit at home), and they took the Broncos to overtime before falling. And yes, Peyton Manning is currently an albatross around the Denver offense, but Nick Foles really isn't that much better.
Pittsburgh (-2) over KANSAS CITY
Pittsburgh's defense is better than you think (5th in points allowed), and have you seen Kansas City try to play offense recently?
Houston (+4.5) over MIAMI
Yes Miami looked worlds better last week under the new coach, but a) They benefited from the coaching change bump, b) they had a bye week to prepare for Tennessee, and c) It was Tennessee. Houston's not a great team, but they're at least mediocre. Miami comes back to Earth this week.
New York Jets (+8) over NEW ENGLAND
The Jets are by far the best team and best defense the Patriots have played. I don't see Ryan Fitzpatrick out-dueling Tom Brady, but I don't see the Pats pulling away either. Especially after not pulling away from the Colts last week.
Minnesota (-2) over DETROIT
Don't be fooled by the competence of Matt Stafford last week. That's just the Bears effect.
Atlanta (-5.5) over TENNESSEE
I'm not backing Zach Mettenberger against a Dan Quinn defense.
WASHINGTON (-3.5) over Tampa Bay
Jameis Winston can out-interception Kirk Cousins. Not many in the league can, but the rookie can.
INDIANAPOLIS (-4) over New Orleans
I saw enough last week to believe in Andrew Luck to start winning shootouts over bad teams again.
Oakland (+4) over SAN DIEGO
I can't explain this pick well, except to say it just feels like the Chargers are going to no-show here.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3.5) over Dallas
The Giants are back, in that I have absolutely no idea what to expect from them week-to-week. They were terrible last week, and Dallas is starting Matt Cassel (with no Dez Bryant binkie), so I'll roll the dice on the Gmen.
CAROLINA (-3) over Philadelphia
I do not trust Sam Bradford against a good defense. I'm not even sure I trust him against a bad one (see last week's game versus the Giants).
ARIZONA (-8.5) over Baltimore
You could probably double this spread and still expect the Cardinals to cover comfortably. Remember that game last night, where San Francisco looked inept offensively? They put up 25 points on and beat the Ravens the week before.
This week: 0-1 (D'oh!)
Last week: 8-5-1 (.607)
Season: 44-44-3 (.500)