With the trade deadline in the rear view mirror, it is time to buckle up for the final nine weeks of the regular season. The playoff chase will start to heat up week by week. Some teams have already nailed it in for the season.
The Cleveland Browns, the New York Giants, and the Oakland Raiders continue to be dysfunctional. The Browns fired Head Coach Hue Jackson and Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley this week. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams will take over as interim coach.
The New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Arizona Cardinals will be on byes this week. I went 10-4 with my picks last week. My record so far this season is 67-52-2.
Oakland Raiders 32 San Francisco 49ers 20: This could be an entertaining Thursday night match up, but both teams only have one win on the year. The loser will most likely get a better draft pick. Derek Carr will play free now knowing that he didn't get traded. The 49ers offense will still be abysmal.
Pittsburgh Steelers 31 Baltimore Ravens 27: Pittsburgh has the chance to end Baltimore's chances to win the division this weekend. The Steelers are trending in the right direction and the Ravens are trending in the wrong direction. Both quarterbacks will show up to play. The difference in the game will be James Conner.
Chicago Bears 28 Buffalo Bills 0: The Bears defense will be ready to tee off of the Bills offense this weekend. Nathan Peterman will start this weekend for Buffalo because of injury to Derek Anderson and Josh Allen. Chicago will have plenty of chances to score points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 Carolina Panthers 21: This game will be closer than people think it will be. Carolina is undefeated at home this season. Tampa Bay will go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback this week. Cam Newton is having an amazing season. Christian McCaffrey will be the difference in the game.
Kansas City Chiefs 42 Cleveland Browns 13: The Chiefs defense is getting better. At some point, they will get Eric Berry back. Patrick Mahomes should torch the Browns defense. Cleveland is a mess right now. Baker Mayfield will struggle this weekend.
New York Jets 12 Miami Dolphins 18: This could be the worst game of the weekend. This game is also unpredictable. The Jets don't have a great offense and neither does Miami. Sam Darnold is a better quarterback than Brock Osweiler, but the Dolphins have more skill players than New York does. Miami will win this game because they are the home team.
Detroit Lions 13 Minnesota Vikings 20: Both teams struggle running the football. This game will be decided by Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins. This is a big game for both teams. Minnesota needs to bounce back. Detroit needs a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. What also helps is that the Vikings are home.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Washington Redskins 21: The Falcons will be ready to roll off a bye. They still have no defense, but Atlanta will make the Redskins defense look average at best. Alex Smith will not be able to keep up with this Falcons offense. Washington doesn't have the play makers like the Atlanta Falcons do.
Houston Texans 24 Denver Broncos 27: Houston should be on upset alert this week. Going to Denver won't be easy. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was traded from the Broncos to the Texans, but he will be returning to Denver this weekend. Deshaun Watson has been on fire lately. Case Keenum will step up his game this weekend. The Broncos have a better running game than the Texans. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will cause problems on defense.
Los Angeles Chargers 23 Seattle Seahawks 20: The Chargers can't take this game for granted. The Seahawks have been playing a lot better lately. Los Angeles is getting Joey Bosa back and it will make this defense even better. Derwin James is a beast in the Chargers defensive backfield. Russell Wilson will face a different test this weekend.
Los Angeles Rams 34 New Orleans Saints 40: This could be the best game of the year. The Rams need Jared Goff to show up this weekend on the road or they could be in trouble. The Saints are one of the best teams in the NFL in stopping the run. Drew Brees will torch this secondary. Alvin Kamara torched the Rams last season and will again. Michael Thomas will be tough to stop. Taysom Hill will once again be an x-factor for New Orleans.
Green Bay Packers 23 New England Patriots 42: It's the Aaron Rodgers vs Tom Brady match up. They both will show up to play. There will be a couple of differences in this game. The first one will be the coaching. The second one will be that the Patriots have a better roster than Green Bay.
Tennessee Titans 21 Dallas Cowboys 20: Both teams hit the reset button. They are both coming off a bye and they are both fighting for their playoff lives. This is a big game. Both offenses are struggling. Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott is an even quarterback match up. Ezekiel Elliott will be better than Derrick Henry. Corey Davis and Amari Cooper will be an interesting wide receiver match up. The difference in this game will be the line of scrimmage and field position.
Bold Predictions: 1. Derek Carr throws for 330 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers on the road.
2. The Bears defense will have seven sacks and force three turnovers on the road against the Bills.
3. The Lions and the Vikings will both not rush for over 50 yards.
4. Cortland Sutton will have 8 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Texans at home.
5. The Patriots will have 500 yards of total offense against the Packers at home.