But, well, it is what it is. Adulting seems to be on the extinction list, what with people puling for special snowflake choices that aren't realistic, using the greatest communication breakthrough in the history of the species to troll women and lower the discourse, and just, well, avoid work. Like reading the intro to picks columns. Who the hell wants to do that work, anyway? Just gimme the meat!
And with that... on to the picks!
* * * * *
Miami at CINCINNATI (-7.5)
Last week at home against Denver, the Bengals fed power RB Jeremy Hill on the opening drive. Hill gashed the Bronco defense for big gains, eventually punching it home and ending a +70-yard drive for the early lead. And then... well, they didn't exactly forget about Hill, but they certainly didn't press the advantage, and the Bronco secondary did work against QB Andy Dalton. Hill wound up with 17 carries for 97 yards and 2 TDs. On Terrible Night Football, against a Dolphin team that is competent kicking from 0-3 with a home loss to the Browns while working with QB3, expect ground, pound, and pound some more.
Bengals 24, Dolphins 13
INDIANAPOLIS (-2.5) at Jacksonville
Two teams that don't deserve prosperity, but one will get it in London, because that's what the AFC South is all about. Jacksonville might be in the final days of the Gus Bradley Era (remember how much we wanted him, Eagles Fans? We were so young then), because what tends to happen in UK games are beat downs followed by mid-season coach firing.
Colts 41, Jaguars 20
Tennessee at HOUSTON (-4.5)
The Texans are coming off their worst loss of the year, and the loss of do-everything DL JJ Watt. But they also are at home, with extra rest, against a Titans team that hasn't been able to avoid turnovers. In the long run, losing Watt is going to crush this club, but the long run has nothing to do with Sunday's game.
Texans 24, Titans 17
CLEVELAND (+7.5) at Washington
We're supposed to lay over a touchdown for DC, a 1-win team with massive injury issues and a shaky QB situation, against anyone? Not going to do it, especially with the poor Factory of Sadness showing surprising friskiness in two of three games this year. DC still wins, but it will be a fight, and WR Terrelle Pryor will show he wasn't just a one-week wonder for fantasy honks.
Slurs 27, Browns 24
Seattle at NY JETS (+2.5)
There's a reason why Ryan Fitzpatrick is so well-traveled; he's a turnover machine, and the bad games are truly terrible. But there's also a reason why he keeps getting starts, and that's because he bounces back in places you wouldn't expect... and that's where the Seahawks come in. QB Russell Wilson might miss this one, the defense is more about stopping you than generating turnovers, and the way to beat the Legion of Boom is with big post up WRs... which is to say, Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, and maybe even new TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. The topper for me is that it's a 1pm EST / 10am PST start, which doesn't usually work for West Coast clubs.
Jets 24, Seahawks 20
Buffalo at NEW ENGLAND (even)
Massive QB uncertainty, a game they don't need and a Bills team that looked good when things were bleak last week at home leads many to think this is the week that the Patriots don't come through, prior to getting back suspended QB Tom Brady and laying waste to the NFL. This is where I note that they are at home, on long rest, and the Buffalo defense is coached by the worst DC in the history of the NFL. So, um, yeah, going for the Pats, and thrilled to have a nil line.
Patriots 23, Bills 16
CAROLINA (-3) at Atlanta
Anger time for the 1-2 Panthers, who have extra time, a recent track record of treating the Falcons like a speed bag, and much more need for the win that the home team. Atlanta also is dealing with a sudden and shocking drop in production from WR Julio Jones, which is not exactly the way to go after the Panthers this year. And the Falcons' 2-headed RB isn't the way to get them this year, either.
Panthers 31, Falcons 20
OAKLAND (+3.5) at Baltimore
Just can't see the Ravens going to 4-0 with their current +13 point differential, and while the Raiders have been a terrible road team, maybe the defense has come alive after last week's exercise in competency. But I gotta confess to you, this one's low on the confidence scale, especially if Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon can return and put the middling committee backfield to rights.
Raiders 26, Ravens 24
DETROIT (-3) at Chicago
Are the Bears one of the worst teams in the league? You'd have to think so, especially when they are going with QB2, RB2, and CB8 and up. Detroit's a bad bet on the road, but the Bears just aren't beating anyone right now, and the Lions can move the ball enough to get it done.
Lions 24, Bears 20
Denver at TAMPA BAY (+3)
The Broncos are undefeated, coming off a great road win in Cincy, and basking in the glow of rookie QB Trevor Siemian, who was the best QB in fantasy scoring last week. But what the box score doesn't tell you is that he was damned lucky to avoid multiple turnovers, and bad things tend to happen to road teams on their second straight week away from their own beds. In the swampy hell of Tampa, against a defense that got gashed by the toothless Bucs, I'm looking for a moment of pride for the home team.
Bucs 23, Broncos 20
LA Rams at ARIZONA (-8)
Two inexplicable teams, but a reversion to form for the home team with the mostly functioning offense is in order here, especially with the division on the line. With the win, three teams will be tied for first in the division, which just seems like it's rubbing it in to poor Nero Kelly in San Francisco. (Well, that and the Eagles being one of the best teams in football by doing everything they humanly could to reverse all of his decisions ASAP.) Anyway, back to this game: QB Carson Palmer in a bounce-back effort, and surprising ease, because you can hurt this secondary if you get the front seven blocked.
Cardinals 34, Rams 20
New Orleans at SAN DIEGO (-4)
The Drew Brees Vengeance Game! Well, no, because that was a lifetime ago, the Saints aren't nearly as potent outdoors, and are coming off a short week where the got punked at home. The Chargers are maimed all over, but not at QB, and you don't need first-team offensive personnel to score a lot against the Saints. Look for both teams to do major damage with their TEs in this game, because neither club has a LB that isn't a dumpster fire.
Chargers 34, Saints 27
DALLAS (-2.5) at San Francisco
A few years ago in an opening game road win, Niner Fan took over Jerruh World, because the home fans knew their team was trash and wanted to cash in for, well, something. Consider this one that game in reverse, because Cowboy Fan is crazy for the Dak, and Niner Fan knows that this current team in mid-collapse on defense, and won't get better against this multi-faceted and patient offense.
Cowboys 30, Niners 19
Kansas City at PITTSBURGH (-5.5)
One of these teams has a healthy RB1, is coming off an embarrassing beatdown, has downfield threats in the passing game, and is at home. The other team, well, not so much. Look for the Steelers to deal a fresh blow to the idea that the Chiefs are an elite defense, because for most of the year, they really haven't been. Also, note that it's the SNF game, so weird stuff will happen. Just not weird enough.
Steelers 33, Chiefs 20
NY Giants at MINNESOTA (-4.5)
Time to admit defeat in the idea that the Viking defense wasn't going to be able to replicate 2015 triumphs, and the Giants' RBBC isn't going to get it done here, either. As it's a national broadcast, look for WR Odell Beckham Jr. to do something to show the world that he enjoys doing odd things on camera. Also, turnovers from QB Eli Manning. That happens pretty often, too.
Vikings 27, Giants 20
* * * *
Last week: 7-9