As always, home teams in CAPS.
GREEN BAY (-11.5) over Detroit
What a difference a year makes. Last year, Green Bay was coming off of a 19-7 loss to Detroit to fall to 1-2 on the season when Aaron Rodgers famously spelled out what he wanted Packers fans to do (R-E-L-A-X). This year the Packers come into their first game against the Lions on a 2-game losing streak, and I fully expect Packers fans to be much more relaxed when this one is over.
One other fact that seems somewhat relevant: the last time the Lions won at Lambeau Field, Brett Favre was not active for the game...for the Falcons.
Dallas (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY
At some point Dallas has to stop finding ways to lose, right? While Dallas is 0-6 without Tony Romo, they have lost by 11, 6, 24, 7, 1, and 6. They have been in most of these games (tied or ahead in the 4th quarter of 5 out of 6), they simply haven't made enough plays in the 4th quarter or overtime to get a result. At some point they're going to reverse this trend, and a game they absolutely have to have against a team breaking in a rookie quarterback seems like as good a time as any.
Carolina (-5.5) over TENNESSEE
It's cute that Marcus Mariota has 2 games of 4TDs and no picks this year. Those games came against Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Carolina is an entirely different beast, defensively.
Chicago (+7) over ST. LOUIS
While St. Louis has been riding their defense to a less disappointing season (so far) than any other in the Jeff Fisher era, they have to be concerned about their quarterback situation, because Nick Foles is just not getting it done. They are easily last in the league in passing offense (177.1 yards per game) and are 6th-worst in yards-per-attempt (6.8 ypa). They're also last in the league in 3rd down efficiency, converting only 23.8% of them. For reference, only one other team is below 30%.
New Orleans (-1) over WASHINGTON
If this were earlier in the season, I'd pick Washington. But in the last month their defense has fallen off, and while there's a list of quarterbacks I trust over Drew Brees in a shootout, Kirk Cousins' name isn't on it.
PHILADELPHIA (-6) over Miami
After beating up on a couple of AFC South teams,the Dolphins have gone back to their old, maddeningly underachieving ways. I expect that to continue in Philadelphia this weekend.
PITTSBURGH (-5.5) over Cleveland
Apparently Ben Roethlisberger may play this weekend (he's listed as questionable). Frankly, with the collapse of the Browns' defense over the past month, I don't believe the Steelers need him to cover.
Jacksonville (+5.5) over BALTIMORE
The Ravens should not be favored by more than 3 points over anyone.
OAKLAND (-3) over Minnesota
Oakland seems like they're for real, albeit a fairly young team. As you would expect from a team like that, they've put up impressive performances at home while they've struggled to finish games on the road. I'm giving them the nod this weekend mostly because I trust their offense over Minnesota's.
DENVER (-5.5) over Kansas City
The Chiefs have not beaten the Broncos since Peyton Manning came to Denver. At some point, we reach "show-me" territory. As in, you have to show me you can beat this team before I'm going to put any trust in you. And frankly, if the Chiefs couldn't do it in week 2, with a healthy Jamaal Charles and a decrepit Broncos offense, why on Earth should I believe they'll do it now?
New England (-7) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Yes, the Giants have been New England's kryptonite in the Brady/Belichick era. Yes Couglin is 5-1 against Belichick head-to-head. Yes the Giants always give New England everything they can handle, even when it seems like they're outmatched.
But it still comes back to the horses. And these Giants do not have the horses defensively, to slow down and bother Tom Brady. They've gotten here thanks to a +12 turnover margin thanks to their league-leading 21 takeaways. Don't expect that to continue against Brady and the Patriots offense.
SEATTLE (-3) over Arizona
Seattle is absolutely the more desperate team here. A loss essentially ends their hopes of defending their NFC West crown, as it would drop them 3.5 games back of the Cardinals with 7 to play. It also woudl put their shot at a wild card berth in serious jeopardy, as they'd be at least 2 games behind both the Falcons and Vikings. Also, Seattle's defense seems to match up well with the Cardinals' offense. The Cardinals win by taking (and making) shots down the field, while Seattle excels at taking those plays away. What has been holding Seattle back has been 3rd down efficiency and red zone efficiency. This isn't a top-tier offense, but they have to be better at these things than they've shown.
Finally, this is a prime-time game at home. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks do not lose these games.
CINCINNATI (-10.5) over Houston
Houston has shown nothing in the first half of the season to indicate they can be anything more than a speed bump for this Bengals team.
This week: 1-0 (Whoo-hoo!)
Last week: 7-6-0 (.538)
Season: 63-64-5 (.496)