Ed: Let’s start off by addressing the nasty rumor that Jazz took this weekend off because he lost to me yet again in last week’s NFL picks. That’s totally fake news. He took the weekend off because we’re tied up for the season score at 19-16. Not that either of us have much to brag about; we basically just duplicated our records from last week. It’s been tough to get a read on teams this season. Who knew that the Steelers and Patriots would have the same record after five weeks as … the Jets?
Jazz: Well, I’ve managed to go 3-4 for three weeks in a row, bringing me to a season total of 19-16, tied with Ed. I probably shouldn’t expect to do much better this week since I’ve spent much of it in the wild of Maine, chasing the elusive Bigfoot. (Okay… I was actually chasing a stuffed Bigfoot in a museum.) I missed all the National Anthem protests, injury reports, and all the rest. But hey.. the Jets are tied for first place in the AFC East so it’s a win, right?
Ed: How long will the Steelers keep pace with the Jets and Patriots? They may have trouble doing that when Pittsburgh travels to Kansas City (4:25 pm ET, CBS). The Chiefs are undefeated and playing at home, but Pittsburgh brings a stingy D with them. I’ll take the Steelers for a road upset, 21-17. Meanwhile, the Jets take on the Pats at home (1 pm, CBS) to settle who goes to 4-2. New York has a three-game winning streak, while New England are coming off a near-loss in Tampa Bay last week. I’d like to pick the J-E-T-S for a home upset, but the Pats will be too much for them, and should come away with a 28-19 win. Green Bay takes on the Vikings in Minnesota (1 pm, Fox), coming off a big upset win in Dallas. The Vikes are still beat up; they managed to eke out a win against Da Bears, but the Pack is a lot tougher. Packers 35-23 over the Vikings.
Jazz: The Steelers have a tougher D than several that the Kansas City has seen and can never be counted out. But the Chiefs are the last undefeated team for a number of reasons, including the rushing output of Kareem Hunt. Also, while Steelers fans hate to hear it, the shine seems to be off of Big Ben these days. I’ve got to take the Vegas spread and say that the Chiefs continue their undefeated run in a close one. Kansas City wins in a nail-biter, 24-20. As for my Jets, they’re a nearly 10 point underdog against the hated Patriots. But this game has delivered many surprises in the recent past when the Jets have been awful and the Pats were regular post-season favorites. The Jets have split the last four times they played New England at home. It’s too late to salvage a number one draft pick next season anyway, so I’ll take the Jets in a massive upset, 21-17. As for the Vikings, Aaron Rodgers is back to looking like a grandmaster these days and has the best seasonal QB rating in the league right now. That will be enough to put Green Bay over the top, 30-20.
What other hot games are on tap this weekend?
- Lions at Saints (1 pm, Fox) – This might turn into an interesting matchup. Both teams have offenses that score around 24 points a game, and the defenses of both teams are nearly tied for points allowed. Both can be explosive at times, but the Saints normally play better at home. They lost their only home game this season but have as many losses as the Lions. I’ll stick with home field advantage and pick the Saints over the Lions, 27-21.
- Buccaneers at Cardinals (4:05 pm, Fox) – Both Tampa Bay and Arizona have teams on the cusp of something better. The Bucs could have beaten the Pats in the last seconds of last week’s game if Jameis Winston had had another second to throw, or if his receiver had turned around. The Cards, on the other hand, have struggled against better teams and got blown out by the Eagles last week. I’ll stick with Tampa Bay on the road, 21-17.
- Giants at Broncos (8:30 pm, NBC) – Will the Giants go to 0-6? Yes. Definitely. Denver’s an 11.5-point favorite, but it probably won’t even be that close. Broncos 35-14 over the Giants.
- Colts at Titans (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – How did this one get on Monday Night Football? Neither team has played well this season, but perhaps in that sense, it might make for an unpredictable and exciting matchup. Tennessee’s slightly better on offense and defense, but on the latter, both teams rank in the bottom three for points allowed. That plus the home-field advantage leads me to go with the Titans, 31-28.
- Lions at Saints (1 pm, Fox) – Both of these teams have middling records thus far. The Lions have been playing strong against the Saints in recent seasons, but Matthew Stafford has been getting beaten up because of an offensive line that can’t seem to protect him. Drew Brees tends to wind up on his butt less often and that will be the difference here. Saints win 28-17.
- Buccaneers at Cardinals (4:05 pm, Fox) – The Cardinals have fielded one of the worst rushing offenses in the league this year. They just added Adrian Peterson to the mix which should help, but he hasn’t really had time to get into the Arizona groove yet. I’m going to stick with Tampa Bay to cover the spread in a low scoring match, 17-14.
- Giants at Broncos (8:30 pm, NBC) – Ed only picked this game to see if he could tempt me into taking two New York underdogs in the same week. I’m not falling for it. The Giants have been awful and most of their starters are benched. Nothing changes this week in yet another blowout, 20-6.
- Colts at Titans (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – This was looking like a game where both teams would be without their starting QB and it might have been anybody’s guess. But as of Saturday night, it was looking like the Titans would have Marcus Mariota ready for Monday night while the Colts will be without Andrew Luck. That will be enough to make the difference. Titans win it 21-12.