* * * * *
CLEVELAND (+10) at Baltimore
Just too many points for a division game, the usual Thursday night mess of offense, and a Browns team that alternates losing badly with losing close. I'm also counting on a Raven letdown after their big win against Pittsburgh. Back door covers are still covers.
Ravens 24, Browns 16
GREEN BAY (-2.5) at Tennessee
If the Packers are going to stay in the race, they are going to have to do it with road games against non-contenders. Step one is a Titan team that can hurt you with the run, but has some banged-up RBs, and no real home field advantage against the notoriously travel-friendly Pack Nation. They shouldn't relax yet, but less suicidal would be good, especially if the offense starts showing up a little earlier.
Packers 31, Titans 24
MINNESOTA (+3) at Washington
Last chance time for the suddenly reeling Vikings, who just haven't looked the same coming out of the bye, and have had significant offensive line issues. But this week, they get to play a DC team that doesn't stop the run against patient teams, and an offense that can give the ball up on defensive pressure. I just don't buy the idea that the NFC East is going to be good from top to bottom all year... especially when their own running game isn't good, and they haven't been able to stretch the field because (shh!) WR DeSean Jackson might not be good any more.
Vikings 22, Racial Slurs 20
CHICAGO (-1.5) at Tampa
Can I share with you just how much fun it has been to have Doug Martin in fantasy this year? Last year's solid RB1 workhorse has been nothing but hurt for a lingering and constant period of time as his team has made rosterable fantasy hay out of street meat. Now even those guys are hurt, and Martin is still on the shelf. Anyway, screw Tampa and screw Martin and screw Florida. Besides, Jay Cutler has a pulse again.
Bears 26, Bucs 20
KANSAS CITY (+3) at Carolina
Chiefs get back QB Alex Smith, and will need him to test a suspect Carolina secondary that has been picking up in recent weeks. I think KC has better quality, and the Carolina offense won't do enough. But it will be a tough slog.
Chiefs 24, Panthers 20
ATLANTA (pick 'em) at Philadelphia
I root for the Eagles, so nothing good will come out of that. Falcons have a bad track record of outdoor work, especially in Philadelphia, but the home team is just perfecting the art of blowing winnable games with suspect decision making. Also, this offense is just too good.
Falcons 31, Eagles 24
LA Rams at NY JETS (+1.5)
Just a feel pick. West Coast team, running game is the one thing that the Jets have historically defended well, angry New York crowd. Don't watch this game.
Jets 16, Rams 13
Denver at NEW ORLEANS (-2)
Saints are hitting on a lot of cylinders on offense, Denver is pretty beat up, and the home field advantage is real, especially when going against a fairly shaky young QB. After watching what the Raiders did to this defense, I think the Saints can run it, too.
Saints 30, Broncos 20
HOUSTON (-1.5) at Jacksonville
I don't know why Gus Bradley is employed, but Houston will enjoy it. It'll be close because neither team is good, but not particularly watchable.
Texans 20, Jaguars 17
Miami at SAN DIEGO (-4)
Chargers have been doing good work on offense, Miami doesn't travel well. Go with the team with an actual QB.
Chargers 24, Dolphins 17
Dallas at PITTSBURGH (-2.5)
Best game of the day, assuming Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger shook off the rust after the first three quarters of nothing burger against the Ravens. Dallas is great, but they don't need this game, and they are due to blow one.
Steelers 27, Cowboys 24
San Francisco at ARIZONA (-13.5)
Niners are just a dead team walking. Lots of that going around right now. The Cards' offense isn't very good right now, but they can run the ball, and that's all that you need to do to turn Chip Kelly into hamburger.
Cardinals 34, Niners 17
SEATTLE (+7.5) at New England
Just too many points to give up to a team with this good of a defense, and I just don't buy the idea that the Pats are a juggernaut. I'd say more about this, but honestly, it's hard to say anything about anything right now.
Patriots 26, Seahawks 20
Cincinnati at NY GIANTS (-2.5)
Cincy has the personnel to compete in this game, but doesn't has a good record on the road, and HC Marvin Lewis craps the bed when put under a spotlight. I'm not sure MNG still counts as one, but hey, close enough.
Giants 30, Bengals 24
Last week: 2-10-1