|It has been a long time since David Tyree has been|
relevant in the NFL, but the Giants will need some of his
magic to once again upset an undefeated Patriots team.
The Patriots, Panthers, and Bengals are leading the pack with their undefeated records. However, every other team leaves more questions than answers. Can Peyton Manning be good enough to keep a struggling offense afloat to help out the best defense in football? Will anyone emerge in the AFC Wild Card Race? Was the Falcons' early season success a mirage or can they bounce back after struggling heavily the last few weeks.
Some of these questions might be answered this week, but most might linger on for the rest of the season. Here is how the SOBs think the week will shake out:
Stally's Seven-Point Pick
@Green Bay over Detroit
Stally: The Lions have become one of the most abysmal teams in the league. They're just terrible. The Packers need a rebound game after two ugly road losses (their only two defeats of the season) and this trip back to Lambeau will be just what they need.
Austen: Let's get one thing straight, there is nothing wrong with Aaron Rodgers. He is going to have one hell of a game this week and keep the Lions in contention for the first overall pick.
Austen's Seven-Point Pick
New England over @New York Giants
Austen: This is the best Patriots team the Giants have faced since the Pats were 18-0 coming into the Super Bowl. That was the last season the Giants lost to the Pats (during the regular season), but let's not make this out to be more than it is. It is the best team in the NFL playing one of the worst 5-10 teams in the league. I do not care where this is being played, the Pats will win it.
Stally: Somehow, for the first time ever, I have less confidence than Austen that my Pats will destroy the Giants. It's not that I don't think that the 8-0 Patriots won't win, it's that I've seen goofy Eli Manning and crotchety Tom Coughlin serve as the unexpected kryptonite before.
Stally's Six-Point Pick
@Cincinnati over Houston
Stally: The 8-0 Bengals host the 3-5 Texans. I mean, that pretty much sums up the lopsidedness.
Austen: Andy Dalton has not been good in prime time, so this scares me a little bit. However, he has been so good this year, I am not going to let his past performances dictate my expectations for him this season. This should be an easy win.
Austen's Six-Point Pick
Carolina over @Tennessee
Austen: There is no real reason to not keep betting on the Panthers. They are one of the best teams in the league, so long as Cam Newton can keep putting up points on offense despite one of the worst collection of offensive weapons in the league. This defense is borderline absurd. The Titans really should not even keep this close.
Stally: The Panthers are for real. I need to accept that at this point.
Stally's Five-Point Pick
@Pittsburgh over Cleveland
Stally: I don't care who starts at QB for Pittsburgh, and I don't care who starts at QB for Cleveland. The Steelers are good, and the Browns are bad, and that's all that's important.
Austen: Landry Jones is not a good quarterback, but neither is Johnny Manziel. The Steelers have to win this game at home to stay alive in the AFC Wild Card race. They should be able to do just that.
Austen's Five-Point Pick
@Denver over Kansas City
Austen: Peyton Manning is a shell of his former self, but this team does not lose in Denver. With one of the best home field advantages in the league, I do not see any reason to but my faith in an underperforming Chiefs team without their best player.
Stally: The Chiefs could provide a challenge to the Broncos, but I'd be surprised if they actually won. Kansas City handed away this game earlier in the year, literally, Jamaal Charles gave up a fumble that was returned for a TD and a loss at the end of the game. But, that was in KC, and Denver should be more of a favorite at home.
Stally's Four-Point Pick
@St. Louis over Chicago
Stally: The Rams are pretty strong at home, especially on defense. That won't bode well for a Bears team that could potentially be down its two most dynamic offensive players (Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery).
Austen: The Bears are putting up a strong push through the middle of this season. Jay Cutler is having a very good season, despite the fact no one is talking about it. However, the Rams defense is one of the best in the league and the Bears' D is ill equipped to stop Todd Gurley.
Austen's Four-Point Pick
New Orleans over @Washington
Austen: Drew Brees has been borderline unstoppable the last two weeks. He is finally taking advantage of his offensive weapons' skill sets. The Redskins, on the other hand, have been one of the worst teams in the league all year. I do not expect that to change.
Stally: The Saints are hard to figure out, but luckily the Redskins are bad enough that I don't have to think too hard about this one.
Stally's Three-Point Pick
@Seattle over Arizona
Stally: This is a real benchmark game for both of these teams, especially since they both had byes last week. At 4-4, the Seahawks have bounced back from an ugly start and are back in playoff contention. At 6-2, the Cardinals could open up a huge lead in the division with a win. I like the Seahawks at home, but my trust in them could be lost for the season if they don't prove me right.
Austen: With Marshawn Lynch still banged up, receiving the ever infuriating "questionable" tag, I expect the Seahawks to continue to struggle on offense. This game has all the makings of a defensive struggle, but the Cardinals are boasting one of the best offensives in the league. This will be benchmark game for the Cards on their way to the Super Bowl.
Austen's Three-Point Pick
@New York Jets over Buffalo
Austen: I kept flip flopping back and forth on this one. I did not expect LeSean McCoy to be healthy enough to make a big impact. Both McCoy and rookie Karlos Williams absolutely dominated this game against a very stout Jets D. All around impressive win for a Bills team that is going to need a lot of help to crawl back into the AFC playoff race.
Stally: I had the Bills in this one. Rex Ryan is good at get his team up to play against teams he doesn't like. In this case, it was the one that unnecessarily fired him last year.
Stally's Two-Point Pick
@Philadelphia over Miami
Stally: Both of these teams need this game to hold on to their playoff hopes. The Eagles are 4-4 and coming off an overtime win at Dallas. The Dolphins have lost their last two games by scores of 36-7 and 33-17. Give me anyone but that team ... I'll take the Eagles.
Austen: Well put Stally, well put. Except that neither of these teams are real playoff teams.
Austen's Two-Point Pick
@Oakland over Minnesota
Austen: The Vikings have to be happy with their win-loss column, but they have yet to beat any team nearly as good as the Raiders. I think they are going to get exposed in Oakland.
Stally: Look, man, I'm onboard with the Raiders being respectable, but can I get a little respect for the 6-2 Vikings. Seriously, the Vikings are tied with the Packers for the division right now, and I have to assume if this was Green Bay vs. Oakland, you'd be taking Green Bay. I'll take Minnesota.
Stally's One-Point Pick
Dallas over @Tampa Bay
Stally: The Cowboys are reeling, having lost six straight, but I was impressed with the team's resilience against the Eagles before ultimately losing in overtime. Matt Cassel isn't as horrible as Chiefs fans made him out to seem, and I like The Boys to finally get back in the win column.
Austen: The Cowboys have given the world zero reason to think their losing streak will end. Dez Bryant is blowing up at reporters. Greg Hardy might be the most hated player in football (and well deservedly so). As I have always said, Jason Garrett is not a good head coach because he lacks leadership skills. Everything fell in place for him last season to save his career. Everything has gone horribly awry this year, and that is not changing with or without Tony Romo. I'll take the ever improving Bucs at home.
Austen's One-Point Pick
Jacksonville over @Baltimore
Austen: Just like I will keep betting on the Panthers until they show me a reason to think they will lose, I will keep betting on the Ravens to lose until they give me a reason to think they can beat anyone. It took a miracle comeback to beat the Chargers and the worst coaching job of Mike Tomlin's career to beat the Steelers with Mike Vick starting. This team is so close to being 0-8 I cannot help but keep putting confidence in their ability to lose.
Stally: I've finally bought what Austen is selling on the Jaguars. They have a decent young team that seems to be getting better each week. I'll take them for the upset against a 2-6 Ravens team that's shown me nothing.