By Sterling Pingree
New Orleans at Cincinnati
There is potential for a Saints let down in this one: on the road in Cincinnati and they’re coming off of a huge win against the previously unbeaten Rams. That being said, Brees seems to be on a mission, a sort of late career renaissance where the most underrated quarterback in NFL history starts to finally get his due. It’s funny that in a week where Rodgers and Brady matched up in prime time, it was Brees who made the biggest step towards building onto his legacy. 2018 is officially the season of Brees, does that end with a Super Bowl? An MVP? Everything is in play for New Orleans in 2018, but they’ve got to be able to win games like this.
Atlanta at Cleveland
The Browns are a sinking ship. Gregg “The Bounty Hunter” Williams is the head coach and after “Bountygate” I never thought that I’d say that again and I wish I didn’t have to. After the audio tapes from the Saints locker room, in my opinion, Williams should have been banned for life from football. Not just professional football, all football. He should never be allowed to do anything with the game after he directed players to intentionally maim and injure other players. In this age of outrage, where is the blow back against the Browns for promoting this criminal? It’s because the Browns don’t matter, they’re a punchline to a joke everybody’s heard a million times and they’re not taken seriously. If this was Baltimore or Indianapolis, this would at least garner an Outside the Lines special report, but because it’s happening in Cleveland, it’s not even a blip on the Around the Horn radar.
Detroit at Chicago
Stafford panicked like a Pee Wee QB in his first game last week against the Vikings. So there is no way that the Lions will even compete with the Bears, right? Well, kind of. If you’ve watched Matthew Stafford over the years you know, when he’s down that’s precisely when he’ll throw for 450 yards, but after that game he’ll throw 3 picks and lose 2 fumbles. That being said, I have zero faith in the Lions traveling outside the dome and winning at Soldier Field against this defense that is fresh off of its feast of Buffalo.
Arizona at Kansas City
Kansas City, by a lot. I’m in a football picks pool where we not only have to pick winners, we have to then rank each pick which makes each one worth that point value. So the 16 pick, is worth 16 points, that’s the game you have the most confidence in each week. This is perhaps the most runaway 16 pick all season. In Arizona, I’m still taking this at 16, but at home? I wish I could take this at 32.
New England at Tennessee
The Patriots last hurdle before their week 11 bye week and this year, the Pats have just two road wins this season and have looked less than buttoned up this season away from Foxborough. The match up that I am most interested in this game is how the Patriots attack Malcolm Butler. Butler is statistically the worst cornerback in the NFL and the Patriots LOVE to find the soft spot in a defense and exploit it for all it is worth. Who do the Patriots use to attack Butler? If I had to guess, I’d say Josh Gordon is going to have a big game.
Washington at Tampa Bay
Just when you trust the Redskins, they lay a giant egg at home against Atlanta. Are the Falcons now good? They might be, but during this stretch of the season teams start to become who they really are. The Redskins are an incredibly flawed team, but in a bad NFC East, people were buying into the chances of them winning the division while ignoring the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. Much the same way that the Patriots have ascended the AFC East and the Steelers the North, the Eagles will wind up winning their division and we’ll all feel foolish for thinking a team like Washington could go the playoffs.
Buffalo at NY Jets
Here’s what we know, both teams are probably going to start someone at quarterback. Has that person played quarterback before? Maybe? Will they be good in this football game? Probably not. Have you ever noticed how the moment rookie quarterbacks start to struggle, they come up injured? Or if in the case of Josh Allen, after you beat Tennessee.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
The Jags can’t travel. Let me rephrase that, they don’t travel well. Don’t believe me? Almost their entire secondary almost got arrested before their last road game. That doesn’t happen to most teams over the course of a decade let alone to one unit of a defense on the same night. The Jaguars have won Myles Jack’s Super Bowl when they beat New England in week 2 and they must have gotten totally wasted because they’ve been more hungover than an Jim Irsay after Mardi Gras. The Colts are kind of okay? They’re just poorly constructed and injury prone. Besides that, they’re a playoff team!
LA Chargers at Oakland
Back to the picks rankings for this week: this the 15 point pick. The Raiders are bowling shoe ugly. Your aunt’s Christmas sweater ugly. 70’s Jell-o mold ugly. Justin Bieber in 2018 ugly. Is it Jon Gruden’s fault? It’s not, not his fault. There is two sides to the coin that Jon Gruden the GM has done: he’s dismantled a team that in 2016 in a position to rival the Patriots for AFC supremacy to try and build a better franchise. Gruden has stocked up on first round draft choices and if they can cash those in, they have a chance to improve their talent level. If they can’t cash in on this stock pile of picks, then Gruden has essentially taken a brand new car, sold off its parts in the hopes that he can find aftermarket wheels and tires two years from now. In 3 years your car might look great, but in the here and now? YIKES. The Chargers are really good and very balanced on offense. Their offense is reflective of their standout receiver Keenan Allen, not flashy but incredibly productive.
Seattle at LA Rams
Are the Rams struggling or are they merely regressing back to what a very good and mortal football is? Enough has been said about the Rams offense, I’m concerned about their defense. It’s a unit that has all the pieces to be dominant: Donald, Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Talib hasn’t been healthy and that could be a big difference maker, although at 32-years old, Talib’s best days are absolutely behind him. On paper, the Rams should be steamrolling team, but as Chris Berman famously said over and over again “Teej, that’s why they play the games. We’ll be right back.”
Miami at Green Bay
I walked away from Green Bay’s loss in New England more impressed with the Packers defense and much less impressed with Mike McCarthy. (If that is even possible.) The Packers have a lot of talent, even more than they are given credit for but you can just see the lack of second half adjustments as the Patriots offense stagnated in the 3rd quarter and Green Bay couldn’t take control of the game. The Packers are in a tough spot at 3-4-1 but they’ll easily get back to .500 when they pound Miami this week.
Dallas at Philadelphia
Here is my hot take of the week: Amari Cooper isn’t going to make the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender this year. I know, shocking that a player that was dealt for a first round pick isn’t really going to have a season changing. Jerry Jones tipped his hand this week when he said that the team was definitely going to extend Dak Prescott. Why? You’re paying for one good rookie season when Prescott played behind the best offensive line the NFL has seen in years and Zeke Elliott running the ball. Dak was the ultimate game manager his rookie season, couldn’t win in the postseason, has failed to improve and now is unquestionably worthy of an extension?
NY Giants at San Francisco
4 weeks ago, I said I never wanted to watch the Giants play again. Since that declaration, the Giants have played 3 games in prime time. Touche’ football gods, I know I have to watch this game, I don’t want to: so here is two ways to choke this game down like that odd casserole someone brought to Thanksgiving that you don’t want to eat, you’re too full to eat, but your Mom is hell bent on not having to find a place in the fridge for it afterwards.
- Nick Mullens. Is he good at all or are the Raiders worse than what we can fathom? How much fun would it be if Nick Mullens was the real thing and then the 49ers had to decide what to do at quarterback? This would essentially turn Garoppolo into his own version of a chain letter, wherever he goes, a quarterback controversy follows.
- I’m just going to pretend that Parcells and Walsh are coaching this game, Simms and Montana are playing quarterback and these two teams aren’t the dregs of the NFL. Sort of how Will Farrell impersonates Harry Carey and he just throws dialogue from 1989 Cubs games into whatever he is talking about. An example of:
What you’ll really see is Eli Manning miss a bubble screen to Evan Engram but what you can imagine is “Phil Simms drops back, he fires over the middle to Bavaro and he’s upended by Ronnie Lott, incomplete. What a break up between two of the greatest players we’ve ever seen.”
Always look for the black horn rimmed glasses frame to every dark cloud.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.Com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.