This week's NFL TV maps: 506sports
The majority of the country (in terms of map coverage, not necessarily number of households) will see
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (CBS, 1 PM)
Washington at Chicago (FOX, 1 PM)
Dallas at Green Bay (FOX, 4:25 PM)
The entire country will see
New England at Houston (NBC, 8:30)
New York Giants at Miami (ESPN, 8:30 *Monday*)
Note, all times above are Eastern.
Incidentally, I'll put out this reminder to re-check these maps closer to game-time. Multiple markets switch game feeds after the initial report comes out. This hit home for me because my home market was one that switched from Cincy-Cleveland to Seattle-Minnesota for the FOX early game. I was completely unaware of this switch (as I was not in front of a TV for most of the early game, and did not make any special effort to be) until learning about it from my dad this week.
Onto the picks
ARIZONA (-7.5) over Minnesota
Welp, I pegged this one wrong. After watching (via replay) Minnesota languish (to put it nicely) against Seattle last week, I was sure Minnesota would similarly struggle on defense against Arizona's elite offense, and their offense would make much more headway against the 'Zona defense. I was wrong. Minnesota played a solid game...right up until their last play from scrimmage: a sack fumble while in field goal range, less than 15 seconds remaining and no time outs. Dwight Freeney used his patented spin move to finish off the Vikings, all but ensuring the Cardinals will take the NFC West.
Pittsburgh (+3) over CINCINNATI
In past years this would be about the Bengals and Andy Dalton. This year this is entirely about Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense, which may be playing the best of any unit over the last few weeks. They're certainly on the short list.
Buffalo (PICK EM) over PHILADELPHIA
The Eagles struggle (further) against teams that can run the ball. The Patriots weren't well equipped to expose that weakness, but Buffalo has a good running game and a very motivated LeSean McCoy waiting. Add in that I believe the Eagles' run of special teams/turnover luck has been used up for the rest of the season, and I like the Bills here.
CAROLINA (-8.5) over ATLANTA
When in a tailspin, the manual definitely doesn't say to go on the road to the last remaining undefeated team in the league to pull out of it. I mean, I'm not positive it doesn't say that, as I'm not a pilot, but...well, it can't say that...right?
San Francisco (+1.5) over CLEVELAND
Hold on, I'm going to let my old friend, Mugatu, take over this one:
Wait, Cleveland is favored??? Doesn't Las Vegas WATCH the GAMES???? Haven't they SEEN the Browns play over the last MONTH???? The only team the Browns haven't looked completely inept against in the last month was the RAVENS, and they're TERRIBLE!!!! MEanwhile the 49ers have been very competitive over the last month agianst everyone but Seattle. DOESN'T ANYONE ELSE NOTICE THIS???!!!!????
CHICAGO (-3.5) over Washington
The Redskins have a better score in my power poll rankings, but I'm picking the Bears here. In actuality, the Bears look like a better team in yards per play and toxic differential. Washington has a small advantage in 3rd down differential, and they're almost 0.2 points better per drive than the Bears. While the Bears' defense has been a punch line for a couple of years now, the Redskins' defense doesn't look much better by the numbers. Add in the stink of losing to the Cowboys last Monday night, and I'm going to take the Bears at home.
Detroit (-3) over ST. LOUIS
Jeff Fisher can change out offensive coaches all he wants, but he's still stuck with Nick Foles as his quarterback. Also relevant: did you know that had the official correctly ruled that Aaron Rodgers was NOT pulled down by his facemask (or had Detroit used some semblance of intelligence in defending the ensuing Hail Mary pass), the Lions would be riding a 4 game winning streak over the Packers, Raiders, Eagles, and Packers again (read: better teams than the Rams).
KANSAS CITY (-10.5) over San Diego
These two teams met 3 weeks ago. It was kind of a one-sided affair. In the ensuing 3 weeks, San Diego has not gotten any healthier on offense.
TAMPA BAY (-4) over New Orleans
The Saints poured everything they had into last week's tilt with the undefeated Panthers. They gave it everything they had and it was not enough (because their defense is gawd-awful). At this point, they have nothing to play for. Meanwhile, the Bucs have the Vikings and their playoff berth in their sights.
Indianapolis (PICK EM) over JACKSONVILLE
Jacksonville needs to show me they are ready to show up for an important game before I'm going to pick them to win one. Giving up 42 points to the Titans last week does not give me confidence in that team.
Tennessee (+7) over NEW YORK JETS
The Jets defense hasn't been elite since September ended. I trust the Jets' offense to make enough plays to pull this one out, but I think Marcus Mariota and the Titans' offense will make enough plays to be competitive all game long.
Seattle (-10) over BALTIMORE
This game started with Seattle favored by 3.5. As you can see, the line is up to 10 today. Why? The Jimmy Clausen effect. Joe Flacco is out for the year with a torn ACL. Matt Schaub suffered a concussion last week and has not practiced this week as of Friday. That leaves Jimmy Clausen, who, in an interesting twist, has already faced the Seahawks' defense this season, when he was still on Chicago's roster. It did not go well for the Bears' offense.
DENVER (-7) over Oakland
Denver's defense will do the heavy lifting, the offense will put up 17-20 points, and they'll cover another spread against an overmatched AFC West foe.
GREEN BAY (-7) over Dallas
It's becoming clearer by the week that something is wrong with the Packers' offense, at least compared to recent vintage Aaron Rodgers seasons. That being said, the offense will score points on the Cowboys, and Matt Cassel will not keep up.
New England (-3.5) over HOUSTON
While the Patriots offense remains the walking wounded, I don't see Belichick and Brady losing three games in a row for the first time since 2002. Not against a very limited Houston offense.
New York Giants (-1) over MIAMI
I wouldn't say I trust the Giants more, but I definitely trust the Dolphins less to show up for this one.
This week: 0-1 (D'oh!)
2015 midweek games: 10-5-1
Last week: 9-7 (.563)
Season: 95-91-6 (.510)