Every week, we’ll look at the matchups of the week, and give our predictions for each of the games. If you were a betting man, I’d take the opposite of these picks.
Last week, your resident expert went 9-6, and is sitting at 112-64-2 on the year.
Oakland Raiders (10-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
We get the heavyweight fight we’ve been waiting for in the AFC West, this time with the Chiefs and Raiders battling for first in the division. The Chiefs got the best of the Raiders the first time, and this seems tough for the road time. Still, this Raiders team is better the second time.
Prediction: Raiders 24-17
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6)
Pitt has rebounded nicely after a rough patch. Big Ben looks better each week, and the defense is coming along. The Bills have regressed a little, but have been formidable in each game. At home, the Bills should be favored, but the Steelers are playing for their lives right now.
Prediction: Steelers 27-20
Denver Broncos (8-4) @ Tennessee Titans (6-6)
Two teams that are fighting for their division playing a meaningful December game. Would you have ever guessed one of those would be the Titans? Either way, both are in a tough spot going forward, and need a win to stay alive. I think the Titans can get the upset here at home.
Prediction: Titans 21-20
Washington Redskins (6-5-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Two teams that have had their seasons not go quite as plans square off to try and save it. The Eagles are probably on the outside looking in, but the Redskins still have hopes. However, without Carson Wentz playing better, the Eagles aren’t going anywhere. And I’ve got no reason to believe he’ll find his groove here.
Prediction: Redskins 27-17
Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) @ Miami Dolphins (7-5)
The Dolphins have a faint hope of making the playoffs, and the Cardinals have an outside shot as well. The Dolphins are among the hottest teams in football, and look to continue it against Arizona. The Cardinals defense is too good, though. They hold Tannehill in check.
Prediction: Cardinals 24-17
San Diego Chargers (5-7) @ Carolina Panthers (4-8)
The Panthers are a walking sitcom, and the Chargers are decimated by injuries. Both teams have very little to play for but pride. But for the Panthers, this game probably means more, and maybe the Cam Newton debacle changes the course for this team.
Prediction: Panthers 27-24
Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12)
A few weeks ago, I had this game circled as a potential win for the Browns. But after that shellacking they gave the Eagles, the Bengals are showing some fight. I can’t in good faith pick Cleveland here with a talent gap this wide.
Prediction: Bengals 28-20
Chicago Bears (3-9) @ Detroit Lions (8-4)
The Bears showed a pulse last week and got the win, and the Lions moved farther up in the standings of the NFC. A home game makes Detroit the clear favorite, as they inch closer to a 10-win season, as crazy as it sounds.
Prediction: Lions 31-17
Houston Texans (6-6) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
These teams have fallen (or risen in the Colts case) to about the same level. The only thing separating them is the narrow win the Texans got the last time they linked up. When in doubt, take the team with the best player, and that’s clearly the Colts with Andrew Luck. The spiral continues in Houston.
Prediction: Colts 30-20
Minnesota Vikings (6-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
Are there two teams in the NFL that you feel more sorry for than these two? The Vikings were decimated by injuries, got their hopes up, and then the balloon viciously popped. The Jaguars have Gus Bradley as a head coach, who is somehow in the middle of his FOURTH eight game losing streak of his coaching career.
Prediction: Vikings 17-10
New York Jets (3-9) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-11)
The only good thing about this ugly, ugly football game is that someone has to win. The Jets are starting Bryce Petty, who looked abysmal in his first start and second action. And the 49ers are the 49ers. Still, traveling across country is hard for any team, and the Niners can steal one here.
Prediction: 49ers 17-14
New Orleans Saints (5-7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
The Bucs have moved their way up to the top of the NFC South into a tie with Atlanta. Now it’s do or die, with them facing all of their divisional opponents in the final weeks. The Saints will try and play spoiler, but the home team gets the benefit of the doubt here.
Prediction: Bucs 31-27
Atlanta Falcons (7-5) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-8)
How far down are the Falcons going to teeter? The offense is still potent, but the defense is a laugher lately. The Rams defense is something to marvel, but they’ve been gashed lately. The Falcons haven’t fared well on the road in the West, and I’m 4/4 betting against the Falcons so far this season. Give me the slide!
Prediction: Rams 21-20
Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) @ Green Bay Packers (6-6)
The Packers woke up in just enough time to compete for a playoff spot, while the Seahawks are throttling teams. Still, they lost a key part of their defense, and always bank on Aaron Rodgers in December at home.
Prediction: Packers 28-24
Dallas Cowboys (11-1) @ New York Giants (8-4)
The last time the Giants met up with the Cowboys, they spoiled the perfect start. This time, the Cowboys have revenge on their minds. But, the Giants seem to have their number, and winning at New York is a tall task. Is this Cowboys team a new animal than the one we’ve seen in the past? I’m going no for now.
Prediction: Giants 28-24
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ New England Patriots (10-2)
In the night game, two longtime rivals meet up once more. The Ravens and Patriots go way back, but this time features lowered stakes, with the Patriots close to clinching and the Ravens fighting for their lives. Still, I don’t think Brady and company are going to just let one go, and the Ravens aren’t good enough to win in Foxborough.
Prediction: Patriots 24-17