San Diego at DENVER (-8)
So much for the meme that Thursday night football is always terrible; the last two games have been downright watchable, which is just a great disappointment for those of us who'd like to see Phil Simms take his own life. (Do it, Phil. Why let defensive players have all of the fun?) There's reasons to think that this isn't enough points, mostly because the Chargers are due for a bounceback and have generally played well in Colorado... but when that happens, they usually have a physical running game to control the clock. Too many injuries for that, and the Bronco offense just purring along, especially now that the running game is working.
Broncos 34, Chargers 24
DETROIT (-3.5) at Atlanta
Just what Falcons QB Matt Ryan did not need: a team with a ferocious pas rush coming to town and turning his OL into even faster turnstiles. Ever since the Falcons went Globetrotter on the Bucs, they've been the Generals. Karmic, that.
Lions 24, Falcons 17
St. Louis at KANSAS CITY (-7)
Are you ready to live in a world in which Kansas City, a town known for bar-b-que, terrible pro sports teams, and the pride of being less unbearable to travelers than the hundreds of miles of desolation around it, is good at both of the leagues it's in? The Chiefs certainly are, especially when it comes to their cross-state rivals that they really should have to play more than once every four years. Home field advantage is back in Arrowhead.
Chiefs 30, Rams 21
HOUSTON (-2) at Tennessee
The also not really running hard enoughs in the AFC South get after each other, with the traveling Texans remembering that they are supposed to have a defense that generates turnovers, rather than just sporadic JJ Watt highlights.
Texans 24, Titans 20
MINNESOTA (+2.5) at Tampa
Do I have to pick this game? Does anyone have to watch it? It seems wrong, really. Almost as wrong as how the Bucs turn tail and quit faster than any other team in the NFL, no matter who is coaching them. It's almost as if they play in a hellishly humid eyesore in the middle of the worst state in the Union, to a local crowd of transients that really couldn't care very much.
Vikings 20, Bucs 17
SEATTLE (-4.5) at Carolina
Maybe the two most mobile QBs in the league, and they couldn't do it more differently. Also, a matchup between teams that prove why you should never take a defense early in fantasy. Seattle would have won last week in St. Louis had their special teams not taken a short bus to the game, so I think they'll turn it around. Besides, after what the Packers did to the Panther defense, they aren't getting well soon.
Seahawks 24, Panthers 17
BALTIMORE (pick 'em) at Cincinnati
Maybe the Ravens are actually good? The Bengals certainly haven't been, and even if they do get back do-everything WR A.J. Green, I don't think he's going to be everything right away. Against a Raven defense that's been taking away the running game, that's not a recipe for success.
Ravens 27, Bengals 24
MIAMI (-5.5) at Jacksonville
Just a perfect time for the Dolphins, who catch the Jags after their first win in forever, but without QB Blake Bortles actually playing all that well. The Dolphins are good and physical on defense, and the increased pace on offense is starting to pay dividends. They'll get up big early, and the Jags will fight to threaten the spread late, but not quite get there.
Dolphins 31, Jaguars 24
Chicago at NEW ENGLAND (-6)
Oh, I'm going to regret this, as soon as Good Jay Cutler shows up and turns his season around, the way they've been doing on the road, or when I've picked against them. But the more likely moment is that the Pats will take their extra rest (remember, they had a TNF game against the Jets last week) and use it to do enough against a weak Bear defense. Chicago doesn't do enough with a pass rush to make me go for the upset.
Patriots 31, Bears 24
BUFFALO (+3) at NY Jets
The Kyle Orton Experience continues, with the Bills also getting enough from the running game against a fading Jet defense. New York's secondary won't be able to contain WR Sammy Watkins, and RB Bryce Brown will make Bills Fan forget about the injured CJ Spiller.
Bills 24, Jets 20
PHILADELPHIA (+2.5) at Arizona
A nice test for both teams, and the Cardinals defense is a solid unit... but Philly comes in with the bye, more health than they've had in a long time, and a dominant special teams unit that gives them margin. Arizona is very good, but the secondary has struggled, and QB Carson Palmer might have real problems staying upright. It'll get pinbally late.
Eagles 34, Cardinals 31
Oakland at CLEVELAND (-7)
Time for the young Browns to bounce back against the NFL's bye equivalent at home. They'll do it with a dominant running game, a defense that will generate turnovers, and for one of the few times this year, something approaching ease.
Browns 27, Raiders 16
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) at Pittsburgh
Taking the Colts with the short week, the explosive offense, and a defense that is coming off a shutout of the suddenly feeble Bengals. The Steelers won't be able to get off the field, and stay with them with red zone execution of their own.
Colts 34, Steelers 24
GREEN BAY (+1) at New Orleans
Is this the final kick for the Saints? There's been few surer bets than Drew Brees at home and at night... but the Pack offense is just absurd right now, especially at WR, and the Saints just aren't doing what they need to do in the trenches. The NFC South is secretly terrible.
Packers 30, Saints 27
Washington at DALLAS (-10)
I'm not emotionally prepared for the Cowboys to be this good, but, well, they are. Let's just take the money while we can get it, pray for injuries to show how front-loaded the roster is, and remember the good times when QB Tony Romo tried to do too much and turned the ball over when it mattered. The safe word, again, is injuries.
Cowboys 34, Slurs 20
Last week: 8-7
Year to date: 49-54-2