I’m refraining from calling this a “prediction” piece this season. Predictions indicate one firmly believes something will happen and isn’t afraid to stand behind that judgment. In the NFL, nothing is certain except Roger Goodell’s poor judgment. That said, I’ll offer some form of prognostication, even if it’s lighthearted and not entirely backed up by evidence, but I really have no interest in how “correct” I’ll be.
As usual, these picks are for fun and should in no way be used for actual wagering purposes. That is, unless you want to make a ton of money in a legal forum, because we know more stuff and things about football than you do or something.
On to the games!
Buffalo Bills (6-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-6)
Sunday, November 10, 1:00 pm, CBS
Games like this must drive oddsmakers bonkers. The Bills have played well enough to garner a 6-2 record and currently sit comfortably in a Wild Card spot, and still remain within striking distance of the perennial AFC East-leading Patriots. They’ve done this largely through their very good defense, which to date is allowing a scant 16.4 PPG. Compare this to the Browns at 25.6 PPG, and you start to see the real woes for the struggling Browns and embattled head coach Freddie Kitchens, whose offensive game-planning has been routinely (and deservedly) bashed after each loss. It’s interesting to note both offenses are averaging roughly 19 PPG, so the Browns’ game plan for a win should be simple: play better defense. If only…
Bills 17, Browns 20
Baltimore Ravens (6-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)
Sunday, November 10, 1:00 pm, CBS
There was a time when the Ravens’ defense was capable of traumatizing rookie quarterbacks into forcing multiple mistakes. That isn’t the case this year with this suddenly secondary-heavy Ravens team, who will attempt a pass rush, but will most likely be better served by sitting in disguised coverages and daring Bengals’ rookie QB Ryan Finley to throw. Bengals wideout and longtime Ravens nemesis A. J. Green has been rumored to make this game his first start of the season, although in the wake of an apparent practice setback, that prospect appears murky. If Green plays, the Bengals chances rise considerably, as Green has bedeviled the Ravens, particularly late in games, for years. The Ravens most likely take this one, but it will have to come on the strength of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s variable skill set and will be much closer than most think.
Ravens 27, Bengals 23
Los Angeles Rams (5-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
Sunday, November 10, 4:25 pm, Fox
Inconsistency rules the day in Pittsburgh, where, between concussions, backup QB Mason Rudolph has looked alternately brilliant and awful. Rudolph will have to show better pocket awareness and movement than he has in recent weeks, as the Rams’ pass rush, led by DE Aaron Donald, has the potential to disrupt opposing run and pass games almost simultaneously. The Steelers’ defense has been a needed support for the team during Rudolph’s starting tenure and has been largely responsible for the team’s 4-4 record, but the offense will need to be more aggressive and utilize wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster much more if they expect to beat the offensively well-equipped Rams. Due to jetlag, this one will be close, but look for the Rams to do just enough to win on the road.
Rams 28, Steelers 21
Eat, drink watch. Enjoy!