By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Was last week wacky, or what? The Jaguars shocked the Bills, the Broncos shut down the Cowboys and the Browns upset the Bengals. Also, the Titans beat the Rams without Derrick Henry and the Cardinals upend the 49ers without Kyler Murray. “Any given Sunday,” indeed. That’s great for the NFL, and hazardous for wannabe prognosticators like yours truly.
Here are this week’s picks:
♦ ATLANTA @ DALLAS: The Cowboys had won six straight and boasted one of the league’s most prolific heading into their game against Denver last Sunday. Then they laid a complete egg. They couldn’t even get a point on the board until four minutes left in the contest. The Falcons, meanwhile, sprung a mild upset over their division rival, New Orleans. I expect Dak Prescott and company will bounce back in a big way. Pick: COWBOYS
♦ CLEVELAND @ NEW ENGLAND: Don’t look now, but the Patriots are now just a half-game behind Buffalo for the AFC East lead. Credit New England’s defense, which ranks fourth in the league in average points allowed (18.0). That’s bad news for Cleveland, whose top offensive weapon, RB Nick Chubbs, may or may not be available due to his COVID protocol status. The Pats are on track to win their fourth straight game. Pick: PATRIOTS
♦ BUFFALO @ N.Y. JETS: After being embarrassed by the lowly Jaguars, you figure Buffalo will be looking to take out their frustrations on the similarly struggling Jets. New York’s six losses have been by an average of nearly 19 points. Even worse, the Jets are surrendering 31.4 points per game – that’s the most in the NFL. Pick: BILLS
♦ TAMPA BAY @ WASHINGTON: At age 44, Tom Brady is still performing at the highest possible level. Some say he’s the odds-on favorite to win the MVP Award. Amazing. With Brady leading the way, the Bucs have the league’s top scoring offense (32.5 points per game). That should be more than enough to fend off the suddenly-struggling WFT. Pick: BUCCANEERS
♦ MINNESOTA @ L.A. CHARGERS: The story of the Chargers’ 5-3 start to the season has been the continuing maturation of second-year QB Justin Herbert, who has developed into one of the top young signal-callers in the NFL. The Vikings are more than capable of beating the Chargers, even with the recent distractions surrounding star RB Dalvin Cook. Still, I got L.A. to win a close one. Pick: CHARGERS
♦ KANSAS CITY @ LAS VEGAS: All four teams in the AFC West are separated by a scant half-game. The Raiders are 5-4 and the Chiefs are 4-5, so this will be a big game for both teams. Last year, the Raiders’ biggest win of the season was against the Chiefs. Can they do it again? The Silver & Black fan in me wants to believe they can, but it’s hard to ignore the adversity that has hit this team in recent weeks. Pick: CHIEFS
Last Week: 3-3 | 2021 Record: 26-28 (.482)