The games on the NFL schedule this week are very lopsided. There are a lot of matchups featuring good teams playing bad teams. The Saints, 49ers, Broncos, Packers, and Seahawks are all favored by more than 10 points, while the Panthers, Eagles, Chiefs, Patriots, and Bengals are all favored by at least 6 points.
It has actually been a fairly challenging year to pick games so far with a lot of close point spreads, but this week is seemingly a lot less difficult than a typical week.
Panthers at Buccaneers
Doug Martin injured his shoulder, and it was thought he could be out for the season, which both Martin and the team refuted. Still, for the purpose of the Panthers-Bucs game Thursday night, Martin won't play, leaving the Bucs with one less good player on an already bad offense. If you read my weekly hierarchy column, you already know how much I like the Panthers' defense.
Cowboys at Lions
This is one of the few interesting matchups of the week. What you have here are two good offenses, and two bad defenses. Here is where each team's defense is ranked statistically:
Ugly numbers. The reason both teams are 4-3? Because they're both +5 on the season in turnover differential.
The Cowboys have not been impressive in their wins. The Giants handed them 6 turnovers Week 1, and they still almost lost. In Week 7, Eagles wide receivers were running wide open all day against the Dallas defense, but Nick Foles couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Their other 2 wins came against Washington and the Rams. Really, their most impressive game so far was their "moral victory" against the Broncos.
Meanwhile, the Lions have not yet lost the turnover battle in any game this season. They have had 3 games in which the turnover battle was even. They lost all 3. They've had 4 games in which they've won the turnover battle. They won all 4. In other words, they need a little added help to get the job done.
It's tempting to just take the home in an evenly contested matchup like this, and that's what I'm going to do.
Browns at Chiefs
The Chiefs have gone from the first overall pick in the draft to the last remaining unbeaten team. Amazing.
And yet, I still don't really buy it. When I look at the talent on this team, I'm not so sure it's even a top 10 team in the league. The combined record of the teams the Chiefs have beaten is 15-33 (.313). If you take out the losses the Chiefs contributed to their opponents' records, they're 15-26 (.366). The losses could begin to pile up in chunks in the second half of the season. But for now, the Chiefs roll along with another win over an opponent without a legit QB.
Dolphins at Patriots
The Dolphins fooled us for 3 weeks, but not anymore. They're 27th in offense, 21st in defense. They'll drop their 4th straight in New England this week.
Bills at Saints
If you haven't caught a Bills game this year, they're kind of fun to watch. I recommend it. But clearly, they're over-matched in New Orleans this week.
Giants at Eagles
I think the best argument for a Giants win this week is that they beat the Vikings and are feeling good about themselves. My rebuttal... They still stink.
49ers at Jaguars
Jets at Bengals
If you like defensive football (as I do), this will be a fun game to watch. If you like shootouts, this one isn't for you. These are two very good defenses, but the Bengals have better weapons on offense, and should take care of business at home.
Steelers at Raiders
Classic old-time rivalry between two teams that currently suck. The Steelers have been better since their bye week, but I'm not sold on any kind of turnaround there. The Raiders have been sacked a lot. They've allowed the 2nd most sacks in the league, with 27. 16 of those sacks have come in their last 2 losses.
The Steelers haven't gotten a whiff of opposing QBs this season, as they've only sacked the QB 8 times on the season. When the Raiders have limited sacks, they've played well.
I feel like I'm calling with a pair of 6's here, but again, I feel like the Steelers are bluffing.
Washington team at Broncos
The Broncos are 1st in the NFL by a wide margin with 361.3 passing yards per game. Washington's defense has allowed the 4th highest QB rating in the league, at 102.1. Sooooooo... yeah. Peyton, and whatnot.
Falcons at Cardinals
Wait... I understand that the Falcons are having a rough season, but they're 2.5 point underdogs to the Cardinals? Really?!? What do you know, Vegas?
I'm going against Vegas here, and I know I'll regret it.
Packers at Vikings
No explanation here necessary, I hope.
Seahawks at Rams
The Rams are so screwed at QB that they reportedly reached out to Brett Favre. Seahawks big.