By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Disclaimer: This article was written in anger. Like, red-in-the-face anger. Yes, four days after “my” Las Vegas Raiders stunk up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, I *STILL* can’t get over the embarrassing loss. It totally ruined my Sunday, and I don’t even care that my “Pick6” record was the best of the season so far. And yeah, I’m a Jeff Ulbrich fan and I think he’s doing a great job as Atlanta’s defensive coordinator, but the Raiders not even scoring a single touchdown against a 3-7 team?
Mathias Berbel, I hope you’re happy.
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On to this week’s picks:
♦ NEW ORLEANS @ ATLANTA: Next to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Saints (eight straight wins) are the hottest team in the league right now. They’re even winning without the services of Drew Brees, who will be out at least for another game or two. As I mentioned earlier, the Falcons’ defense has improved dramatically since Jeff Ulbrich took the DC reins, improving from dead last to 16th in scoring defense, but the Saints are simply at another level. Pick: SAINTS
♦ CLEVELAND @ TENNESSEE: Raise your hand if, at the start of the season, you thought both the Titans and Browns would be 8-3 at this point of the season. Yeah, me either. The Browns haven’t been 8-3 since 1994 and seem well on their way to ending their playoff drought. The Titans, meanwhile, are proving that last year was no fluke. And they happen to have the leading rusher in the league (113.3 yards per game). This should be a good one. Pick: TITANS
♦ CINCINNATI @ MIAMI: Will Tua Tagovailoa play? At last report, his thumb injury is healing pretty nicely. A better question might be: Does it make a difference? The Bengals were pretty bad even with Joe Burrow, and without him they might be even worse than their 2-8-1 record indicates. At this point, the Dolphins are succeeding because of their opportunistic defense. It will be a shock if this game is close. Pick: DOLPHINS
♦ LAS VEGAS @ N.Y. JETS: Oh, here we go. My blood is starting to boil again. Ask anyone in Raider Nation, and the response will be the same: “Please don’t let us be the first team to lose to the Jets this season!” The problem is, if the Raiders play the same way they did this past Sunday – turnovers galore, no pass protection, a porous defense, etc. – even the 0-11 Jets pose a threat. In fact, I’m so disgusted right now I’m going to do it. Pick: JETS
♦ L.A. RAMS @ ARIZONA: That sound you hear is all the people jumping off the Kyler Murray bandwagon. The Cardinals have lost three out of their last four games – and their win was the result of a desperate Hail Mary pass – and now the pundits are suggesting that teams have “figured out” Murray. The Rams, meanwhile, are coming off a loss of their own. Both teams are pushing for a playoff spot, and the bet here is that this is the time of year when veterans like Aaron Donald prove their worth. Pick: RAMS
♦ PHILADELPHIA @ GREEN BAY: Aaron Rodgers just celebrated his 37th birthday, but shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he’s quietly having an MVP-caliber season. The Eagles, on the other hand, are a mess. It may be time to reconsider Carson Wentz’s future with the team. Pick: PACKERS
Last Week: 5-1
Season to Date: 45-27 (.625)
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