And we’re back!
If you’re from New Jersey like I am, Tommy and Gina are as synonymous with the Garden State as Taylor Ham, Tony Soprano and 24 hour diners. If you’re not from the Garden State, you may need a refresher that Tommy and Gina were the couple immortalized in the Bon Jovi anthem, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, a song that is basically required for all cover bands and DJ’s to play at weddings, proms, bars and sporting events. Much like Tommy and Gina, many teams have been living on a prayer all season, while others have been giving football a bad name and others are determined to go out in a blaze of glory…alright enough with the Bon Jovi puns. Let’s talk football.
It's hard to believe but in terms of the NFL season we’re halfway there already (alright last one, promise). Before we get to this week’s picks, let’s take a look at where we’re at compared to where we started prediction wise:
AFC Playoff Teams:
Wild Card: Chiefs, Raiders, Bengals
NFC Playoff Teams:
Wild Card: Vikings, Saints, 49ers
Super Bowl: Broncos over Packers
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons
Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson
Comeback Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey
MVP: Lamar Jackson Runner Up: Josh Allen
Wow. What a difference 8 weeks can make. What changes would I make at this point? Clearly in the AFC the Broncos, Colts and Raiders are out. I’d have the Chiefs as the AFC West winner as opposed to Wild Card and the Titans replace the Colts as the AFC South winner. For the AFC Wild Card I’d go with the Dolphins and Chargers at this point. I’m also a slight lean to taking the Patriots to replace the Bengals due to Ja’Marr Chase’s injury. In terms of the NFC it looks as if the Vikings will be taking the NFC North and I’d bet on the Niners to take the NFC West. Call me delusional but I still think the Bucs are winning their division. If I were to guess the 3 NFC Wild Card teams at this point I would go with Dallas, Seattle, and by a nose right now the Falcons. The Giants have a chance to make it real interesting if they win their next 2 games, but they also have to go to Philly twice, at Minnesota and at Dallas.
For the Super Bowl, as much as it pains me to say this I’d go with the Eagles over the Chiefs right now. Sleeper team in the AFC? Watch out for the Dolphins. Bradley Chubb on that defensive line is going to be a problem.
Alright, enough of worrying about the playoffs, we have a whole half of football to play! Let’s get to the picks:
Eagles at Texans – Like it’s not bad enough being a Giants fan that the Eagles are 7-0, I now have to deal with the agony of watching both them and the resurgent Phillies who are in position to do to the Astros what the Yankees couldn’t do, win. If you look at Philly’s schedule the rest of the way out, you can make an easy argument this is a 14-15 win team…at worst. Eagles win big.
Bills at Jets – Well Jets fans…it was good while it lasted. Yes, the Jets are still sitting with a 5-3 record but rookie sensation Breece Hall is gone for the season, wide receiver Elijah Moore is appearing to be more disgruntled by the day, and perhaps most concerning, QB Zach Wilson looks like he is regressing as evident by 3 horrible picks against the Patriots last week. A visit from the Buffalo Bills isn’t going to make things better. Bills win here.
Panthers at Bengals – The Panthers were one DJ Moore unsportsmanlike conduct penalty away from leading the NFC South after last week. The Panthers have shown some fight with QB PJ Walker at the helm which is a credit to the coaching staff. The Bengals looked completely lost against Cleveland on Monday night and it appears that the loss of Ja’Marr Chase may be more of an obstacle to overcome than originally thought. I’m taking the Bengals here, but they have a lot to prove this week.
Packers at Lions – It seems as if every week I say “The Packers HAVE to turn it around this week”, and this week is no exception. Aaron Rodgers is looking like a mortal lately and one has to think that if they lose this week, the season is effectively over. The Lions have played hard under head coach Dan Campbell but a 1-6 record is only going to get you so far. This may be a total rebuild…again. I’m taking the Packers.
Colts at Patriots – The Colts are banged up, Sam Ehlinger has taken over for Matt Ryan (who I predicted was not the answer this year) and it appears they are looking to tank based on some of the moves from ownership recently. The Patriots are 4-4, and while the QB position still appears to be unsettled, they have the Colts, a bye week and then the Jets at home. That leaves some time to figure things out. Patriots win big here.
Chargers at Falcons – The Falcons are to be commended for sitting in first place in the NFC South after 8 weeks of the season. They’ve been in every game and have competed hard when many thought they would be one of the worst teams in the league this year. The Chargers desperately needed a bye week and should be coming into this contest in better health. Falcons will fight, Chargers will win on the road.
Raiders at Jaguars – The Raiders are a disappointing 2-5 to start the season but I wouldn’t write them off just yet – their schedule has some easy games the second half of the season and that last AFC Wild Card spot is going to be up for grabs. Just remember you heard it here first. The Jaguars have lost 5 straight after a promising start to the season and look like they are still in need of playmakers to compliment Trevor Lawrence…or is Lawrence not what we thought he’d be? I’m taking the Raiders here.
Dolphins at Bears – Two teams that were very active at the trade deadline, with the Bears picking up Pittsburgh wideout Chase Claypool and the Dolphins acquiring Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb. The Bears were making a statement that they (much like I have all season) believe in the ability of QB Justin Fields, while the Dolphins are pushing all their chips to the middle of the table and are looking to make a run this year. Bradley Chubb when healthy is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and I believe if the Dolphins can acclimate him quickly, they are going to be a tough out come playoff time. Taking the Dolphins here.
Vikings at Commanders – Something about Taylor Heinicke has this Commanders team looking like a playoff contender again. They’ll be tested this weekend with the 6-1 Vikings coming to town. I had predicted the Commanders to finish second in the NFC East, and while I don’t think that’s probable anymore, I still think they are a team to watch down the stretch. I smell an upset here – I’m going with the Commanders.
Seahawks at Cardinals – The Seahawks are 5-3 and beat a feisty Giants team at home behind another solid game from QB Geno Smith. This Seahawks team is playing for each other and they seem to be trying to make a statement in the absence of former QB Russell Wilson. The Cardinals on the other hand are 3-5 and while the offense has looked better with the return of Deandre Hopkins, it hasn’t been enough. I think this is a trap game for Seattle though, and I can see the Cardinals pulling off the win at home. I’m taking the Cardinals in a close one.
Rams at Buccaneers – The Rams just don’t look as motivated this season. It may be a Super Bowl hangover, it may be the losses of Odell Beckham, Andrew Whitworth and Von Miller, it may be the fact that they play in a stadium that provides little to no home field advantage – whatever it is, the Rams are looking sluggish. The Bucs have lost 3 in a row to Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Baltimore – not good. Tom Brady has shown he’s been vulnerable this year for the first time ever, and I think now that the announcement of his divorce has been made public, you’ll be seeing him play at a level closer to what we’ve been accustomed to. The Bucs better hope so. I’m taking the Bucs in a close one.
Titans at Chiefs – Break up the Titans! After an 0-2 start the Titans have rattled off 5 wins in a row and are once again sitting atop the AFC South. The defense has been fantastic and Derrick Henry has been on a role once again. I think that streak comes to an end this week. The Titans will give the Chiefs a tough game but in the end, I’m not betting against Mahomes and Reid at home. I’m taking the Chiefs.
Ravens at Saints – Baltimore is 5-3 this year and could easily be 7-1 if they finished some games as strong as they started. If Lamar Jackson’s weapons like Marc Andrewes, Gus Edwards and Rashod Bateman can get healthy, this team can be a fringe Super Bowl contender. The Saints are tough at home but whether it’s Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, or Taysom Hill, I don’t see the Saints pulling this out, even on Bourbon Street. Take the Ravens.
Last round of picks I went 8-6 to atone for the previous week’s disaster – let’s keep it going. Enjoy your Week 9 everyone!