The Seahawks and Patriots are the most anticipated game coming up this weekend. Picks for the week -
Ravens over Browns - The Browns have been in freefall all season and the Ravens, as inconsistent as they are, are not enough of a pushover for the Browns to turn it around.
Panthers over Chiefs - The Panthers are now starting to get their fight back and they face a good Chiefs team that has played better but hasn't shown enough muscle to truly contend beyond the first round of the playoffs.
Saints over Broncos - The Broncos got pushed around by the Raiders and Trevor Siemian may be reaching the first-year wall. The Saints defense isn't that hot but has played better of late.
Vikings over Redskins - The bitter loss at home to the Lions came in the first game since the surprise resignation of Norv Turner, so the Vikings offense is still in a mode of getting used to a different playcaller. The Lions, though, are clearly of a different caliber to the Redskins, who are good but not great.
Falcons over Eagles - Suddenly the Eagles are not as good as we thought they were and they get a Falcons team that so far hasn't shown sign of faltering.
Rams over NY Jets - The New York-based TV series Law And Order Special Victims Unit is reaching its 400th episode, and will presumably soon surpass the 402 career wins the Jets are stuck on as they host the struggling Rams, where controversy over Jared Goff and the complete lack of snaps he's taken this year continues to build. LA's 3-1 start is history, and so are the Jets despite those two stunning wins the two weeks before their loss at Miami.
Jaguars over Texans - The Jaguars haven't beaten the Texans since 2013 and only scored fourteen points in their first game with Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. The Texans, though, despite being 5-3 have gotten there with a subpar offense that's exploded only in spots. Brock Osweiler still has not made the jump forward as a quarterback people expected him to make.
Titans over Packers - It's clear now the Packers are not as good as advertised, and watching Aaron Rodgers play one sees more and more a lack of true quarterbacking acumen - as in reading of defenses, setting up for short passes, etc. Rodgers' game looks less and less like a pro-style offense and more like freelancing and huck it deep and hope someone can go get it. The Packers are 11th in scoring at 24.8 PPG while the Titans are at 24.1. Marcus Mariota keeps playing strong and needs to start stringing together more wins; at 4-5 the Titans have already taken a step forward, now they need to take more such steps.
Buccaneers over Bears - One finds it impossible to trust Jay Cutler despite the win over the Vikings and despite the struggles of Jameis Winston (currently at only 59% completion) and the former NFC Central rival Bucs. They need to start turning it around; a Bears team all but dead last in points scored looks like a good place to begin.
Chargers over Dolphins - Miami has leaned on Jay Ajayi of late but the Chargers run defense has played better of late and the Chargers D has forced eighteen turnovers so far, though they face a Dolphins team that hasn't coughed up the ball since the loss to the Titans. Three straight wins have put the Dolphins back into relevance in the season, but it's the Chargers with more to gain here.
Cowboys over Steelers - Don't buy the hype. Ben Roethlisberger is not as good as people thought and the Steelers showed they're eminently beatable in losing three straight and scoring just 45 points in the last three games combined, this facing a Cowboys team that has scored 64 its last two games. Winning the NFC East seems a formality for the rejuvinated Cowboys; making the playoffs looks out of Pittsburgh's reach.
Cardinals over 49ers - Colin Kaepernick showed far more last week in almost reaching 400 yards, but managing just 23 points out of it (with a pick to go with three more Niners fumbles) shows anew the lack of winning ability as they face a Cards team coming off its bye.
Patriots over Seahawks - It's the rematch of the week as the Seahawks and Patriots renew acquaintances. The Seahawks are 5-2-1 after a grinder of a Monday Night win but has continued to struggle to score, as they face a Patriots team that has averaged 34 points the last four games and has the two tight-end set it has sought since the criminal implosion of Aaron Hernandez. Seattle's defense also isn't as good as advertised, shown in getting pushed all over the field by Buffalo.
NY Giants over Bengals - The Giants pulled off a rare win over the Eagles and now face the inconsistent Bengals, coming off their bye week and the improbable tie with the Redskins in London. The Giants, despite being 24th in scoring, have won three straight since the Josh Brown brouhaha; they have, though, gagged up six turnovers the last three games.
So we await the beginning of the second half of the 2016 season.