Usually, I try to avoid making sweeping generalizations or issuing hot takes that only serve to stir the pot of people’s emotions. I think it’s silly — and I know the hot take artists out there get all traction on social media because of what they say. In short, I don’t care. I’d rather be known as a rational thinker who errs on the side of waiting and seeing than jumping to conclusions. In 2018, no one has the patience to wait. So, I guess, place me in the minority. So be it.
All that said, here’s something I’ve gathered six weeks into this NFL season. Defense doesn’t win championships. Rather, defense only has to do “just enough.” Make a big third down stop in the fourth quarter or get a sack that forces a fumble when the opposing team is driving in waning minutes of the game or create an interception on a potential game-winning drive. Just make the play when you need it, in crunch time. That’s what defense has come to be in the NFL today. Offenses are the engines that run this machine. The Chiefs, Patriots, Rams, Saints have played very questionable defense this season (to be kind) — and yet no one thinks that will be the downfall of any of them when it comes to winning a championship. And the reason is simple: those offenses can get points whenever they need to.
Alright, let’s pick some games. Last week, I went 10-5 straight up (49-27 for the year) and 9-5-1 against the spread (36-37-4). Here’s to keeping the mojo in my favor!
Games of the Week
New England (-2.5) at Chicago
I’d imagine Bill Belichick will scheme up something on defense to mess with Mitchell Trubisky. On offense, is it dumb that I trust Tom Brady and company to handle this vaunted Beards D? The fact I’m not worried worries me. Patriots, 27-20
New Orleans (+2.5) at Baltimore
This is what happens after bye weeks — we forget how good a team is and we think the team we most recently saw is better than they really are. The Ravens defense might be good, but their offense isn’t and I’m not convinced the D is good enough to make up the offense’s shortcomings. You need offense against the Saints. Saints, 24-20
Cincinnati (+6) at Kansas City
Pat Mahomes in primetime, again. Get used to that. I think Cincy can score, but they can’t score like the Chiefs can. If we’re going to bed Sunday night having the Bengals dropped their last two to the Steelers and then on the big SNF stage, we’re going to be saying, “Same old Bengals.” Chiefs, 34-30
Cleveland (+3) at Tampa Bay
Baker Mayfield gets to have a little fun against a defense that’s, well, been suspect this year. Actually, let’s not mince words: they can’t stop a nosebleed and this Sunday won’t be any different, I don’t care who’s out there calling the plays. Baker shines. Fantasy Advice: Pick up Baker. Browns, 40-35
Minnesota (-3) at Jets
The Vikings offense is on fire. Adam Thielen is the first WR in NFL history to open the year with 6 straight 100 yard games. He’s on a tear, and the Jets defense will have their hands full. That said, the Minnesota defense hasn’t really impressed so far this season. I’m doubtful either defense can stop the opposing offense. Vikings, 31-27
Carolina (+4.5) at Philadelphia
This has the feel (on paper at least) of a playoff game. But on the field so far, Carolina is up and down and Philly hasn’t hit their stride. But I don’t think Carolina has enough weapons to beat the Eagles. Plain and simple. Eagles, 23-20
Giants at Atlanta (-6)
Let’s make this quick and simple: Atlanta’s defense can’t stop anyone and the Giants won’t stop the Falcons offense. I don’t anticipate much defense in this game. Falcons, 38-30
Tennessee (+6.5) at Chargers
Another London game. Just when you think the Chargers are dealing and the Titans are reeling (you like that?), we are reminded how the NFL works from week to week. This is one of those games that keeps me away. Titans, 24-21
Dallas at Washington (-1.5)
If Dallas parlays last week’s win with a win on the road in the division, I might have to consider taking all those mean things I’ve said about them back. Redskins, 24-20
Rams at San Francisco (+10)
It’s at the point in the season where these big spreads give me major pause. San Fran is not tanking — yet. And the Rams realize they don’t need to score 40 every week just for giggles. A win is a win. Rams, 31-23
Is Anyone Watching?
Houston (+5) at Jacksonville
This is just the game that tells us nothing about either of these two teams. We won’t learn anything new no matter how it goes. Both will play hard and the commentators will say it’s a scrappy game. And close. Texans, 23-17
Buffalo (+6.5) at Indianapolis
Indy is so banged up that they really can’t afford to give anyone any points — but we are talking about the Derek Anderson-led Bills here. The Colts are, dare I say, feisty. But it concerns me that with all the weapons Houston had last week, they managed to squeak out the win thanks only to their defense against the Bills. Buffalo plays hard and the Colts don’t play defense. Colts, 26-23
Detroit at Miami (+3)
This game was off the board for a while with all the uncertainty surrounding Miami’s QB situation. The last time an NFC North team came into Miami off a win and bye week, they lost. If the NFL has taught me anything, it’s that don’t draw too many conclusions from week to week. Plus, common sense tells me the Fins can’t possibly be 5-2 and the BrockStar won’t win two straight. Lions, 27-26
Denver at Arizona (+2.5)
Denver can’t stop the run and Arizona doesn’t run! Case Keenum should be the better QB in this one, but he might not be. Von Miller should be able to be Vonn Miller against this Cardinals o-line. The problem is both these teams are pretty bad — so who knows what will end up happening on the short week. Gimme the home dog to cover! Broncos, 19-17
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