What’s the toughest game to pick this week? According to our panel, it’s the Detroit Lions making the trip to New Orleans to take on the Saints. Both teams are hard to get a good read on right now.
The Saints’ most reliable weakness, their defense, has found improvement this season, from the bottom of the pack to the middle of the road. Opponents average just 19.5 points per game against the Saints this season, compared to 28.4 last year and more than 29 points per game the year before that.
Detroit looked great to start the season, but a lot of that had to do with its +9 turnover margin and proclivity for picks. Unfortunately, turnovers at that pace aren’t sustainable from week to week. The Panthers found it all too easy to move the ball through the air last week, allowing 334 yards and three passing touchdowns, in a 24-27 Lions loss. But even then the Lions kept it close.
The panel is evenly divided. Four picks for the Lions. Four picks for the Saints. The computer gives the Saints a slight edge, but I’m just not ready to hand over such weighty decisions to the machines.
There’s a three-way tie in the AFC East right now. The Bills, Jets, and Patriots are all sitting at 3-2. Really. That race could start looking a little more like what you’re accustomed to this week when the Patriots travel to New Jersey to play the miracle Jets. Our panel isn’t convinced the Jets will keep flying this week, siding with the Patriots unanimously.
Over in the NFC North, the Packers sit one game up on the Lions and Vikings. The Vikings got the edge in an ugly one against the Bears Monday night, thanks to capitalizing on a rookie mistake from an otherwise solid Mitch Trubisky. They’re not so lucky this week when they host Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are a lock for our panel.
More unanimous picks
The Browns have picked up a few votes of confidence from our experts over the course of the season, but they’ve burned up whatever good will they had left. Nobody here thinks they have a snowball’s chance against Deshaun Watson and the Texans.
Atlanta hosts Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. We are not enthused about the Dolphins’ chances, probably less so than even Jay Cutler.
Maybe the Bears have a chance in Baltimore against the Ravens? Maybe. Technically, anything is possible. But that’s a tough defense to have to play for a rookie quarterback.
Adrian Peterson gets a fresh start on the twilight of his career with the Cardinals this week against the Buccaneers. Good luck finding open lanes with that offensive line, though. It’s a worse bunch than the one he had in New Orleans.
The 0-6 Giants? It’s got a nice little ring to it. Get used to it, because it’s a near certainty with Eli Manning and Co. headed to Denver this week to take on very good and well-rested Broncos team. Oooof. That’s the Sunday night game too.
None of these are really surprising for unanimous picks. The one that we all could end up regretting is an across the board pick for the Chiefs to beat the Steelers. I know, I know, the Steelers just lost at home to the Jaguars and lost to the Bears on the road two weeks ago. Ben Roethlisberger can’t seem to throw the ball well right now, and for some reason Todd Haley has chosen not to give the ball to Le’Veon Bell.
But the Steelers could be a team that surprises us all this week. They have the talent, and their defense is better than it’s been for some time. This is a team ripe for a huge breakout. Or, they’re a team on the verge of a toxic meltdown, which might happen if they fall flat on their face again against a really good Chiefs team in Arrowhead Stadium.
Re-picks and this week’s guest
Remember, our panel gets the chance to re-pick two games by the end of the week, accounting for injuries. That means to keep an eye on the situation with the Raiders, in case Derek Carr comes back, which he might.
This week’s guest picker is Bradley Smith from Cat Scratch Reader, our home for all things Panthers.
Here are this week’s picks.
|PHI vs CAR||CAR||CAR||CAR||PHI||CAR||PHI||CAR||PHI||CAR|
|MIA vs ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL|
|GB vs MIN||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||MIN|
|DET vs NO||DET||NO||DET||NO||DET||NO||DET||NO||NO|
|NE vs NYJ||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE|
|SF vs WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS||WAS|
|CHI vs BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL|
|CLE vs HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU||HOU|
|TB vs ARZ||TB||TB||TB||TB||TB||TB||TB||TB||ARZ|
|LAR vs JAX||JAX||LAR||LAR||LAR||LAR||JAX||LAR||LAR||JAX|
|PIT vs KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC|
|LAC vs OAK||OAK||LAC||LAC||OAK||OAK||LAC||OAK||LAC||OAK|
|NYG vs DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN|
|IND vs TEN||IND||IND||TEN||TEN||TEN||TEN||TEN||TEN||TEN|