Closing in on the halfway point of the NFL season does not seem possible, but it is here. There have been some major QB changes around the league and unsurprisingly, the Browns are still without a win. Here’s a look at the game predictions for this week.
After winning two straight, the Jags were blown out by the Raiders. If the blowouts continue (and maybe even if they don't), head coach Gus Bradley is in trouble. Jacksonville's offense can't run the football (the Jags are 31st in the NFL) and wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson are not having types of years they had in 2015. QB Blake Bortles is throwing the ball all over the place, but Jacksonville throws for 249 yards a game and scores barely over 20 points per contest. The Titans (3-4), on the other hand, are close. They've got a solid running game with RB DeMarco Murray (Titans are 3rd in NFL in rushing), a good young QB in Marcus Mariota, and a fairly stout defense. Playing at home, advantage Titans... Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 20.
The NFL's International Series continues with Redskins taking on the Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London. Both teams are still flirting with a division title. Cincinnati beat Cleveland 31-17 last week and is now just a game behind AFC North leading Pittsburgh. The Redskins are a half-game behind second-place Philadelphia. Dallas leads the NFC East. A win for either team is needed to keep the postseason hopes alive. It's never easy traveling overseas and playing a game. It's the first international game for either franchise. The Bengals are coming off a win; the Redskins, a loss... Cincinnati 27, Washington 20.
The Chiefs moved to 4-2 with a win over New Orleans last week and can get win No. 5 next week depending on which Indianapolis team shows up. Last week, Colts QB Andrew Luck bailed out a dismal Indianapolis defense by completing 9-of-12 passes for 209 yards on throws of over 15 yards in a victory over Tennessee. If the Colts don't improve on defense, they are in for a long year and another season looking in from the outside come playoff time. The Chiefs have won two straight with a solid running game and defense... Kansas City 27, Indianapolis 26.
The Raiders beat Jacksonville last week and will stay in Florida this week to prepare for the Buccaneers. Running back Latavius Murray returned from a turf toe injury to rush for two touchdowns in the win over the Jags. Tampa Bay won its second straight, a 34-17 victory over San Francisco, as RB Jacquizz Rodgers turned in another 100-yard rushing performance. Oakland needs to continue to improve on defense. The Raiders only gave up 16 points last week. Head coach Jack Del Rio will find a way to rattle Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston... Oakland 34, Tampa Bay 17.
The Saints looked they might have been ready to turn the corner after consecutive wins over San Diego and Carolina, but then they fell apart against the Chiefs. Now, they must face one of the league's best (if not the best) defenses as Seattle comes to town. Offensively, the Saints have it going on. QB Drew Brees has thrown for 1,734 yards and 14 TDs and New Orleans is second in the NFL in scoring (31 ppg). Their problem is that they are dead last in the league in scoring defense giving up 33.6 points per game... Seattle 27, New Orleans 24.
The Lions have put together a nice streak of wins. After starting the season 1-3, Detroit has beaten Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington. All three wins were at home though and now the Lions must prove that they can win on the road. Lions QB Matthew Stafford is proving to be worthy of an MVP. He just passed Joe Namath on the all-time career passing yards list. Facing the Texans defense in Houston is going to be a formidable task, even without the injured J.J. Watt... Houston 23, Detroit 20.
Could this be the week? The 0-7 Browns are due for a win and facing the 2-5 Jets who have a quarterback dilemma is just what Cleveland ordered. The Jets did beat Baltimore last week, its first win in five weeks. Head coach Todd Bowles started Geno Smith, but he got hurt and was replaced by the Jets previous starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cleveland played its sixth quarterback of the season, Kevin Hogan, in a loss to Cincinnati. Hogan, a rookie from Stanford, will likely start. Playing at home, this has to be the one that gets Cleveland on the board... Cleveland 37, NY Jets 28.
The Patriots have won all three games since the return of Tom Brady. The All-Pro has eight touchdown passes thus far, all to non-wide receivers. Tight end Rob Gronkowski returned and scored against Pittsburgh last week and the Patriots defense has been stout. Head coach Bill Belichick’s unit is now second in the NFL allowing just 15.2 points per game. The Bills defense is normally very good too, until last week when they ran into Miami and RB Jay Ajaayi. Buffalo’s defense gave up over 200 yards rushing to Ajaayi. If they do it again, the Bills are in trouble… New England 28, Buffalo 17.
Fresh off a 6-6 tie with Seattle, the Cardinals look to get over .500 with a win over struggling Carolina. The best thing going for the Panthers last week was that they didn’t play. Carolina has lost four straight thanks to some seriously deficient pass defense. The Panthers running game could be bolstered by the return of Jonathan Stewart. The Cardinals defense has given up a total of nine points in the last two weeks. Something has to give. With the Panthers rested and the Cardinals traveling to the East Coast, Carolina gets a much needed win… Carolina 34, Arizona 31.
The Chargers continue to pull out miracles to save head coach Mike McCoy’s job. Last week, it was a 33-30 victory over Atlanta. This week, San Diego gets Denver. In the crazy world of NFL scheduling, the two teams just met on Oct. 13. The Chargers pulled out a 21-13 victory in a game where the Broncos offense had a difficult time generating points. San Diego continues to improve on defense and they are third in scoring (28.5 points per game), but beating Denver at home is a monumental task… Denver 31, San Diego 24.
So, RB Eddie Lacy is on injured reserve? No problem. The Green Bay Packers improvised using receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery in the backfield when needed and rolled to 26-10 win over Chicago last week. Can they keep passing their way to wins? Against Atlanta, it is highly likely. The Falcons give up nearly 300 yards passing per game. The Packers defense will have to shut down Falcons QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones. Atlanta is only 1-2 at home… Green Bay 38, Atlanta 35.
Dallas got an extra week to prepare for Philadelphia and the Cowboys are going to need it. The Eagles just knocked off the NFL’s last unbeaten, Minnesota, last week. Eagles QB Carson Wentz did throw two interceptions, but the Philadelphia defense just might be the league’s most underrated. They are giving up just 15.6 points per game, third-best in the NFL. What the Eagles will have to avoid are turnovers. They had four against the Vikings. The Cowboys will rely on their rookie duo of QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher… Dallas 29, Philadelphia 20.
The 1-6 Bears are on primetime again. This time, it’s a Monday night date with the Minnesota Vikings. With the Vikings coming off their first loss of the season, you can bet head coach Mike Zimmer will have them ready to play. The Bears are now down to their No. 3 quarterback, Matt Barkley. Brian Hoyer suffered a broken arm in a loss to Green Bay last week and will likely miss the rest of the season. Chicago is 31st in the league in scoring (15.9 points per game) and their running game is terrible. Don’t expect much even though the Bears are playing at home… Minnesota 33, Chicago 17.
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2018 NFL Football Season
2015 NFL predictions:
Miami @ New England
The Miami offense exploded last week for 44 points. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was nearly perfect going 18-of-19 for 282 yards and four touchdowns against Houston. Lamar Miller rushed for 175 yards on 14 carries. Can they do it again against the Patriots? Highly unlikely even though the Dolphins are playing much better… New England 35, Miami 21.
Detroit @ Kansas City
The Lions are absolutely abysmal. Detroit held a 17-6 lead late in the third quarter against Minnesota last week. Then, they did what the Lions do and squander that lead and lose 28-19. Detroit is now 1-6 on the season and on its way to a top five draft pick. It will only get worse this week against a Chiefs team that just beat Pittsburgh… Kansas City 23, Detroit 14.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
What could possibly be worse than blowing a 24-0 lead and losing 31-30? Having to play the 6-1 Atlanta Falcons the following week. Head coach Lovie Smith’s Buccaneers let Washington QB Kirk Cousins lead the Redskins to a come-from-behind victory. Tampa Bay is giving up 30 points a game and now faces Falcons QB Matt Ryan and one of the league’s top-scoring offenses… Atlanta 34, Tampa Bay 17.
San Francisco @ St. Louis
Is there an offense worse than the Rams? Yes, there is. That would be the 49ers. The league’s two most anemic offenses will square off in an NFC West Division match up. The two teams seem to be headed in opposite directions. San Francisco mustered just three points in a loss to Seattle last week, while St. Louis beat Cleveland 24-6. Look for Rams RB Todd Gurley to have a big day… St. Louis 24, San Francisco 10.
NY Giants @ New Orleans
The Saints are riding a two-game winning streak and a win over the NFC East leading would help New Orleans as they try and turn around their season. Quarterback Drew Brees is still one of the game’s elite passers and has thrown for 1,871 yards thus far. His touchdown numbers are down, but Brees just doesn’t have the type of receiving threats he has been accustomed to having. The Giants got a big win over Dallas last week but the Saints may sneak up on them… New Orleans 28, NY Giants 27.
Minnesota @ Chicago
The Vikings just keep finding ways to win games. Trailing Detroit 14-3 last week, head coach Mike Zimmer dialed up the pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford. The result was a 28-19 victory to move Minnesota to 4-2 on the season. The Bears aren’t much better than the Lions. In fact, Detroit’s only win of the season is over the Bears. Don’t expect any surprises in Chicago… Minnesota 27, Chicago 10.
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
It’s a classic AFC North battle when the Bengals head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. Cincinnati is unbeaten thus far this season but is only 6-17 against Pittsburgh when facing QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers starter will return Sunday from an injury that sidelined him the past five weeks. Cincy’s Andy Dalton is one of the hottest QBs in the league. He’ll run into the Steel Curtain Sunday… Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 24.
NY Jets @ Oakland
The Jets are among the early surprises this season and despite last week’s close loss to New England, are still a team with definite playoff possibilities. With the league’s third best running game (136.5 yards per game) and fourth best scoring defense (17.5 points a game), the Jets will be a tough order for the Raiders. Oakland only lost to Denver by six points and upset San Diego last week. Don’t expect the same results against the Jets… NY Jets 24, Oakland 21.
Seattle @ Dallas
The Seahawks may finally be finding their way. Or, they may just be finding their way against the league’s worst teams. Seattle’s three wins are over Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco. None of those teams has more than two wins. Enter Dallas at 2-4 and struggling without starting QB Tony Romo. The Seahawks defense is starting to come around… Seattle 21, Dallas 17.
Green Bay @ Denver
An early Super Bowl preview? Probably not, but both teams are 6-0 on the season and the Packers get wide receiver Davante Adams back from injury. Aaron Rodgers has picked up where he left off last season with 1,491 passing yards and 15 touchdowns already. While Peyton Manning has been erratic, he has still been good enough to win games. Denver will have wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defense end DeMarcus Ware ready to play Sunday night. At home, go with the Broncos… Denver 34, Green Bay 31.