|Calvin Johnson's return could be the difference maker in a|
surprisingly intriguing game between Detroit and Miami.
Here's a look at some of the games we'll be watching together this afternoon.
Stally's Seven-Point Pick
Denver over @Oakland
Stally: Don't look too much into Denver's loss at New England. It could certainly be cause for concern come playoff time, but should be a blip on the radar in regards to the regular season. The Broncos should blowout the winless Raiders.
Austen: The Raiders cannot score points against anyone (31st in the league) and their defense cannot stop anyone from scoring points (26th in the league). Those are kind of important statistics when it comes to winning football games. It's even worse when the Broncos are coming to town angry.
Austen's Seven-Point Pick
@Seattle over New York Giants
Austen: I've been on the "Giants are terrible" bandwagon all season long. I'm not hopping off now! A home game against the banged up Giants is exactly what the Seahawks need to give them the confidence to make the strong playoff push we all know they are capable of.
Stally: Seattle hasn't been as dominant as expected, but the Giants simply aren't very good. They're on a three-game losing streak and have one of the lesser defenses in the league (28th in pass defense and 22nd against the rush).
Stally's Six-Point Pick
@Baltimore over Tennessee
Stally: Here's an interesting fact: the Ravens are 5-4 with a +66 point differential (third in the league), but sit in last place in the AFC North. They should keep pace with the division against a Tennessee team with no direction or identity.
Austen: I simply cannot trust either of these teams to play solid football, so I want to stay away from this one. I have the Ravens because the Titans have yet to play a good football game since Week 1, but Joe Flacco is capable of tanking any game at any given time.
Austen's Six-Point Pick
@Arizona over St. Louis
Austen: Can we give the Cardinals the respect they deserve? They are solid in every area of their game. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, despite all of their injuries and suspensions. They have a tough road ahead of them, but this game is not one of them. They must win this game, and they will.
Stally: The Rams have been inconsistent, but they've beaten Seattle and San Francisco and lost to a good Dallas team by three. I have the Cardinals as well, but don't be surprised if the Rams put up a fight.
Stally's Five-Point Pick
Pittsburgh over @New York Jets
Stally: There's every reason to pick the Steelers in this game. Pittsburgh has scored over 30 points in each of the last three games, and Ben Roethlisberger has passed for six TDs in each of the last two. But, none of that adds up to a win over the 1-8 Jets. New York will be looking to prove itself after an embarrassing year and could keep the game close before losing.
Austen: That sort of sounds like Stally is taking the Jets for his five-point pick and not the other way around. Big Ben has tossed 12 touchdowns in the last two games and now gets to face a secondary that is starting an undrafted rookie corner who was not even on the team in early September. This should be ugly, but the Jets tend to beat the Steelers only when they are the massive underdog. But this should be a blowout.
Austen's Five-Point Pick
@Cincinnati over Cleveland
Austen: Ugh. I've been betting on the Browns for the last few weeks, but I could not help but take the Bengals who have been unstoppable at home the last two seasons. The Browns had not won a divisional road game in seventeen games. So of course, the Browns absolutely dominated the Bengals in Cincinnati. That is the type of season we are having people. Logic fails every time.
Stally: The Bengals did appear to be a strong favorite. I couldn't fault that pick at all, especially since the Browns last road game had been a 24-6 loss to the Jaguars.
Stally's Four-Point Pick
@Philadelphia over Carolina
Stally: Mark Sanchez is back, baby! Boom! And the Panthers are officially a bad team. The Eagles should win this home game with ease.
Austen: Yes, Sanchez is back. That is why I have the Panthers in this one. I would be shocked if Luke Kuechly did not cause two turnovers. This game comes down to how well LeSean McCoy plays against nine defenders in the box. They will force Sanchez to win this one. I've seen enough Sanchez to know that he will make mistakes when it matters most.
Austen's Four-Point Pick
@New Orleans over San Francisco
Austen: Say what you want about the Saints issues, but they have played extremely well the last few weeks. The 49ers have been playing their worst football recently, and have yet to put together one good game this entire year. Give me the Saints at home 100 out of 100 times.
Stally: I'll take the Saints as well, but at 4-4, I'm not buying into their greatness. The 49ers are also 4-4, so either one of these underachievers could win this game.
Stally's Three-Point Pick
Dallas over Jacksonville (in London)
Stally: It cost me last week when Tony Romo didn't play, but signs are pointing toward his return this week. The Cowboys are a far superior team to the Jags and should show off for the London crowd.
Austen: If Romo does not play, I think they should skip over Brandon Weeden as their starting quarterback and just start DeMarco Murray at quarterback. I know he cannot throw, but they should not need to complete a forward pass in this game to beat the Jags. If the Cowboys do not run the ball 40 times this week, everyone on their coaching staff should be fired.
Austen's Three-Point Pick
@Green Bay over Chicago
Austen: Has Jay Cutler ever beaten the Packers? It feels like he hasn't. I think it will be a close game, but Cutler's worst games always come in Green Bay (including his first start as a Bear in which he threw something like five interceptions). Not much has changed except the fact that the offense around him has gotten immensely better.
Stally: The Bears are 3-5 this season with a 38-17 home loss to the Packers. They're just not a very good team and it's hard to expect them to win at Green Bay. (Then again, with an 0-3 record at home, the road might be the best place for them.)
Stally's Two-Point Pick
Atlanta over @Tampa Bay
Stally: The Falcons beat the Bucs 56-14 earlier this season, a game they led 56-0. They've been pretty embarrassing in losing five straight since, but it's all relative against a 1-7 Tampa Bay team. Atlanta is certainly better and should win.
Austen: If the Falcons lose this game, Mike Smith should be fired that night. This is two years in a row where the Falcons have the talent to win games, but simply cannot win a game if their life depended upon it. They might have the worst defense in the league, which is Smith's side of the ball.
Austen's Two-Point Pick
@Detroit over Miami
Austen: The Dolphins have been on fire recently. Ryan Tannehill is playing the best football of his career. Problem is they are playing the number one defense (yes the Lions somehow have the top defense in the NFL) on the road. And before I forget, they will also be facing an extremely well rested Calvin Johnson. The Lions have the Packers on their tail for the division, so they need to find a way to win this game to avoid another late season slide out of the playoffs.
Stally: This should be a great game for all the reasons that Austen listed. I also will take the Lions at home with the return of the player who might be the league's best athlete (Johnson).
Stally's One-Poin Pick
@Buffalo over Kansas City
Stally: The Bills actually look like a competent team. They've had a stout defense and Kyle Orton has made their offense look at least serviceable. As surprising as it sounds, this game could very much have playoff implications when it's all said and done.
Austen: Both these teams are oddly similar. Both have top ten defenses, top tier "game managing" quarterbacks, and a lack of offensive weapons aside from one young star (Jamaal Charles and Sammy Watkins). If Watkins misses this game (he is currently questionable to play), the edge might shift to the Chiefs. Until then, the Bills get the edge since they are at home.