I cannot get anything going this season. I can't get over the hump of even going .500 in any given week, and last week I couldn't win a single game. Dropped them both to go one game under .500 for the season. Maybe I've been playing too conservatively? At least that's what I'm going to tell myself as I try to get on a second-half heater and try to make these numbers start looking more respectable. There are some teams coming off the bye this week that I believe have a distinct advantage over their opponents, and being healthy as we move deep into November is always a critical element.
The Browns have a chance to make some moves here coming out of the bye. They were all about their offensive line and all about running and throwing out of heavy multiple tight end sets. They now have the personnel back to do it pretty much across the board, and even if Nick Chubb doesn't play in this game he will be back soon. In the meantime, give me Kareem Hunt coming off a bye with something to prove, knowing there's another back about to become the featured guy. This game has the potential for Baker Mayfield just to have to play point guard and spread it around a little bit, keep the attempts to 25 or less. The Texans are horrible against the run and pretty pathetic as a defense all the way around, quite honestly. Jake Luton did some nice things against them last week and his first NFL outing and let's just say the esprit de corps in Houston, which is never good to begin with, is particularly low after another public relations debacle this week. The Browns can keep it simple stupid and pound their way to a big win here.
Pick: Browns -3
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The Eagles are another team that looks to be as healthy as they've been all year, coming off a bye with extra time to get themselves composed and for Carson Wentz in particular to get his head right. They just beat the Giants a few weeks ago and they have a chance to start taking a stranglehold in this division, and I believe they will do it. The return of Miles Sanders is huge. They had things clicking on offense for a few weeks before he got hurt and I expect to see a heavy load out of him. They can excel in the screen game with Sanders, and while the Giants defense has certainly improved through the season, there are serious issues about them on offense. This defensive front has the ability to make life miserable for Daniel Jones and his propensity to turn the ball over will be a big factor in this game. I look for guys like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham to have their way with the Giants.
Pick: Eagles -3.5
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Jacksonville's defense is basically an abject failure at this point. Aaron Rodgers can smell another MVP title and he has his man Davante Adams back and clicking and he has multiple options to go to in the pass game. I don't see Green Bay taking its foot off the pedal. The Jaguars might be able to keep it close for a little while, but ultimately that defense is going to do them in. The Jaguars still have a chance to give the Jets a run for their money is the worst team in football and this is the kind of game where guys on that Green Bay sideline who have any sort of meaningful incentives in their contracts eyes light up.
Pick: Packers -13.5
Give me another team rested and refreshed coming off the bye. The Bengals have the kind of offensive talent that could make a few things happen, even against this Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers are having trouble defending the run to the outside and, even without Joe Mixon, I think Gio Bernard could be a problem for the Steelers running outside zone and catching balls in the screen game. Some of the empty-set five-wide stuff that the Bengals really like to do can also be problematic for the Steelers. On offense Pittsburgh is very hit or miss right now, the passing game has been super inconsistent and they have been very quick to abandon James Connor in the ground game in recent weeks. They've been playing with fire all season, winning games by turning it on and off here or there, but that's going to catch up with them at some point. Add in the fact that a good chunk of key players, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, didn't practice all week due to being on the COVID-19 restricted list, and I see the opportunity for the Bengals to keep things close. Cincinnati mostly has kept games close all year and, yes, the lack of elite offensive linemen gives me great pause, but I think Joe Burrow with two weeks to prepare will know how to get rid of the ball quickly and maybe, just maybe, he makes his first real statement by beating a team no one else has this year.
Pick: Bengals +7.5