Just seven weeks remain in the 2019 NFL Regular Season, and some tight races are heating up.
Three of the NFL’s best teams are looking to bounce back from losses this week.
- The 49ers were handed their first loss by the Seahawks last week. It was hardly demoralizing though, as Seattle needed 70 minutes including the full 10 minutes of overtime to defeat them. This week, the 49ers host the Cardinals.
- After a bye week, the Patriots look to get back to their winning ways in a 2018 Super Bowl rematch against the Eagles. Philadelphia isn’t always the easiest place to win.
- The Saints look to rebound from a head-scratching loss to the Falcons. This week, a fiesty Buccaneers team could give them trouble again.
The pictures for both the divisional races and wildcard teams in each conference are also up in the air, and these three games will have the biggest impact on the season moving forward.
- Texans (6-3) at Ravens (7-2): Man this should be a fun one between Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. A Houston win would tie their record with Baltimore as they fight for playoff seeding. A Baltimore win, on the other hand, would make the Texans vulnerable in the AFC South.
- Bears (4-5) at Rams (5-4): After both winning their respective divisions last year, the Rams and Bears both find themselves in third place right now. The playoffs aren’t impossible for either team, but the loser of this game will all but likely fail to make the postseason. Whoever wins will be given a sliver of hope, but still have a ways to go and likely can only afford one more loss this season.
- Chiefs (6-4) at Chargers (4-6): The Chiefs have already lost more games than last season, and a loss here could potentially open up a can of worms that allows three or even four AFC West teams with a shot at the division crown. A Los Angeles win would officially put their season back on track.
Week 1: 9-6-1
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 11-5
Week 4: 6-9
Week 5: 10-5
Week 6: 9-5
Week 7: 10-4
Week 8: 12-3
Week 9: 9-5
Week 10: 4-9
Overall Record: 89-59-1 (63.0%)
This week was the most brutal yet of the season for me. Nine losses tied a season-high, but a mere four wins was easily my season-low. I made the wrong pick in some 50-50 games, like Cowboys-Vikings and Bears-Lions. And who could have expected the Dolphins to beat the Colts and the Falcons to beat the Saints?
The poor week lowers my overall winning percentage from 63% down to 60%.
Incorrect picks included:
- Giants over Jets
- Lions over Bears
- Chiefs over Titans
- Colts over Dolphins
- Saints over Falcons
- Rams over Steelers
- Cowboys over Vikings
- Cardinals over Buccaneers
- Bills over Browns
Thursday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-6)
Line: Cleveland Browns (-3.0)
An AFC North clash on Thursday night. Pittsburgh has an outside shot at catching the Ravens in the AFC North that could be helped with their 5th straight win. The Steelers next three games include two against the Browns and one against the Bengals. Pittsburgh could easily be 8-4 in a few weeks.
Cleveland is looking to salvage some of their season, but a four-game slid basically dashed those hopes. They looked a lot better in a win over the Bills last week, and this should be a close game.
My gut is saying the Browns win at home, but the Steelers keep winning when I pick against them. After beating the Colts and Rams, maybe I should give Pittsburgh a little more credit.
Steelers win 24-23, Steelers win ATS
New York Jets (2-7) at Washington Redskins (1-8)
Line: Washington Redskins (-1.5)
You’ve see the Dolphins blow the game in the final seconds to out-tank the Redskins. You’ve seen the Jets outduel the Giants in a game that was actually pretty fun. Now, the next in a series of bad teams facing off: Jets at Redskins.
I definitely like the Jets chances to win their second straight game. Yes, they lost to the Dolphins, but I think generally, they’ve been looking alright when playing teams not named the Patriots.
This is an opportunity for Dwayne Haskins to get a win under his belt, but unfortunately, I have the Jets putting together a semi-competent game for a victory.
Jets win 20-17, Jets win ATS
Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at Detroit Lions (3-5-1)
Line: No line at time of writing (Matthew Stafford’s status up in the air)
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s status is uncertain, after he missed last week’s game with a back/hip injury. Florida product Jeff Driskel wasn’t horrible against the Bears, but the offense scored just 13 points.
Dallas is coming off a narrow loss to the Vikings that easily could’ve swung the other way. The Lions are a chippy team, and I think this game could be close with or without Stafford under center. But I have the Cowboys winning either way.
Cowboys win 27-17 if Driskel starts
Cowboys win 27-24 if Stafford starts
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-4)
Line: Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)
The Colts are coming off back-to-back losses, at the hands of the Steelers and… the Dolphins. Both losses came by 7 points or less, just like all nine of the Colts games this season.
So we should be in for another close one with the Jaguars coming to town. They looked pretty bad in London against the Texans. This week, they get Nick Foles back, but I’m not sure that will make a huge impact. If anything, the offense might miss a beat as they re-adjust to the quarterback.
Actually, maybe this is the Colts first double-digit win of the season.
Colts win 23-13, Colts win ATS
Buffalo Bills (6-3) at Miami Dolphins (2-7)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-6.0)
Call me crazy… but this Dolphins team has been playing well for a few weeks, even beyond their two wins. The Bills are a pretty good team, but had a bad showing against the Browns last week.
With Buffalo travelling to Florida, I actually think the Dolphins could shock us all with their THIRD straight win. It would ruin the tank for Tua, but hey, football is crazy sometimes. The loss would put the once comfortable Bills in jeopardy of missing out on an AFC playoff spot. A win for Buffalo would put them at seven wins with six games to play, and they’d probably only need to win two or three of those to make the playoffs.
But again, the pick is Miami in an upset.
Dolphins win 27-24, Dolphins win ATS
Denver Broncos (3-6) at Minnesota Vikings (7-3)
Line: Minnesota Vikings (-10.5)
Denver looks much better when Joe Flacco isn’t under center. ESPN showed some highlights this week of the last time the Broncos visited Minnesota, when Tim Tebow led them to a thrilling victory in 2011. Man, I loved watching Denver that season.
But while Brandon Allen has been alright, he can’t overcome a tough Minnesota defense. The Vikings are 4-0 at home, and usually only lose to good teams. The Broncos are just a step below good, but they’re definitely not horrible.
Vikings win 27-17, Broncos win ATS
New Orleans Saints (7-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-5.5)
Just a week after I claimed the Saints were the best team in the NFL, they laid a dud against the lowly Falcons to prove their vulnerability. This week, they’ll have to be on alert to avoid their second straight loss.
Tampa Bay is a fiesty team, and when they don’t beat themselves, they can play with almost anyone. They took a great Seahawks team to overtime just two weeks ago. These NFC South clashes can be gritty, and he underdog can often perform well.
I am going to pick Brees and the Saints to bounce back, but watch out for a close call against this Buccaneers team.
Saints win 31-28, Buccaneers win ATS
Atlanta Falcons (2-7) at Carolina Panthers (5-4)
Line: Carolina Panthers (-5.5)
In the past two weeks, the Falcons have lost by 7 to the Seahawks, then beat the Saints 26-9. Is this better play a fluke, or a sign of better things to come for Atlanta?
Perhaps they’ll end the season with a strong second half and get a few more wins. But I’m still inclined to pick the Panthers here at home. They lost last week to the Packers: as most teams do. The Falcons did beat one of the NFL’s best teams though, so really, anything could happen.
Panthers win 26-20, Panthers win ATS
Houston Texans (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-4.0)
It’s a shame someone has come away from this game with a loss. Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson have been electrifying, and along with Patrick Mahommes, represent the next generation of NFL quarterbacks. The Texans win over the Chiefs ad the Chiefs win over the Ravens produced two of the best games of the year. I consider this Round 3 in the series of these three quarterbacks facing off this season.
I like what the Texans are doing, and they should be able to win the AFC South… even after falling to 6-4 here. The Ravens are just firing on all cylinders right now, offensively and defensively. Keeping Tom Brady in check is no small task.
Still, I forsee a fun game that comes down to the fourth quarter, perhaps even a matter of whoever has the ball last.
Ravens win 27-24, Texans win ATS
Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-1)
Line: San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)
Just two weeks ago, on a Thursday night, the Cardinals nearly knocked off the then-undefeated 49ers, losing 28-25. Now they meet again, and if the game were in Arizona again, I would almost say the Cardinals might break through and beat them this time.
But at home, looking to rebound from an incredibly tough loss that easily could have been a win (or even tie) I have to go with the 49ers. Arizona won’t make it easy though, and I think the 10.5-point spread doesn’t respect the Cardinals (or what they JUST did two weeks ago) very much.
49ers win 27-21, Cardinals win ATS
Cincinnati Bengals (0-9) at Oakland Raiders (5-4)
Line: Oakland Raiders (-10.5)
The Raiders are rolling off back-to-back wins, and hold a solid 4-1 record at home this season. The winless Bengals come to town with a rookie making just his 2nd career NFL start. You do the math.
Oakland improves to 6-4 to not only enter the AFC wildcard race, but to put some pressure on the Chiefs, who hold a 6-4 record heading into the week. If the Raiders win and the Chiefs lose to the Chargers on Monday night, the Raiders would wake up Tuesday morning in first place in the AFC West.
Raiders win 31-17, Raiders win ATS
New England Patriots (8-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
Line: New England Patriots (-3.5)
Fresh off their first loss of the season, we get to see how Tom Brady and the Patriots will respond in Philadelphia. There’s no more Nick Foles, but the game represents a Super Bowl rematch of both 2005 and more recently, 2018.
If the game was in New England, I’d expect a classic bounce-back game where the Patriots blow the Eagles out of the water. But I think Philadelphia could be a hostile environment, and the defense could give Brady struggles again.
I see Brady overcoming those struggles, but this win comes as anything but easy for the Patriots.
Patriots win 23-20, Eagles win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Chicago Bears (4-5) at Los Angeles Rams (5-4)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)
After being two of the best teams in the conference just a season ago, the Bears and Rams have both regressed to third-place teams. With each of their divisions loaded with good teams, another loss or two for either team would likely knock them out of playoff contention.
That makes this game a must-win for both teams, and there could be a playoff-like feel to the game itself. I’m torn on who to pick. The Rams offense hasn’t been the powerhouse it was last season, especially against good teams. The Bears finally got a win last week, but put up just 20 against the Jeff Driskel-led Lions.
I think the Rams are a little more well-rounded, and also, get the home-field edge here. The line is definitely favorable towards the Rams, but I think it’ll be much closer.
Rams win 23-20, Bears win ATS
Monday Night Football in Mexico City
Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)
In the last three games Patrick Mahommes has played from start to finish, the Chiefs have lost. Last week’s loss to the Titans was close, but tough, and really created an uncomfortable position for the Chiefs in the standings. In the early going of the season, the Chiefs were flat-out outscoring opponents and having fun with it.
As the season wears on, the game slows down a bit and you really have to beat the opposing team to win the game. The Chiefs offense is definitely still great, as even Matt Moore found good success under it. The Chiefs defense has been the culprit of most of their shortcomings.
When Mahommes puts up 30+ points, you expect a win. But last week against the Titans, that wasn’t enough. Lets’s say the Chiefs score 32 again: can they hold the Chargers to less than that?
Philip Rivers and the Chargers have been playing better football, and I see them scoring in the high 20’s, but falling just short in a must-watch Monday Night Football battle.
Chiefs win 31-28, Chargers win ATS
Teams on Bye
Green Bay Packers (8-2): At 8-2, the Packers are part of just a handful of elite teams this season. They’ll be in play for a #1 or #2 seed in the NFC, but the competition will be tough with the Saints, 49ers, Seahawks, and within the division, the Vikings, all vying for first-round byes. Next up: an incredible matchup with the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.
Tennessee Titans (5-5): The Titans are a relatively quiet 5-5, but have looked great with Ryan Tannehill under center, beating Patrick Mahommes and the Chiefs last week. If they hang around, they could challenge for a playoff spot in the AFC.
New York Giants (2-8): As if hopes weren’t dashed already, any hopes of “running the table” were killed with a loss to their stadium co-tenants, the New York Jets. New York still has two meetings with the Eagles remaining: they could play spoiler, or end up enabling them to make the postseason.
Seattle Seahawks (8-2): Like the Packers, the Seahawks are among the six teams I consider elite this season (along with the Patriots, Saints, 49ers, and Ravens.) After beating the 49ers in a thrilling, 70-minute game, Seattle will have a chance and the NFC West crown in the season’s final stretch.
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Header Photo: Via Kansas City Star