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!
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-10)
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 pm, CBS
I’ll just be upfront here – the 2019 Steelers just aren’t very good. They’re dependent on backup quarterback Mason Rudolph playing efficient, mistake-free football and stalwart, never-fail defense; the former has been spotty at best, and even the best defenses suffer letdowns, sometimes against bad teams. After last weeks’ ugly loss to the Browns, the Steelers surely want to get back on the field and rectify things, but the suspension of center Maurkice Pouncey surely doesn’t help against any team, but particularly the hapless Bengals, whose sole advantage may be their good defensive line and overlooked DT Geno Atkins. I still fully expect the Steelers to win this game on defense, as the Bengals’ offensive designs have been largely futile, but any defensive slippage could conceivably make this a lot closer than many think. The Steelers are currently -6.5; I would guess that’s probably accurate, but this one could surprise. AFC North fans would do well to pay attention.
Steelers 20, Bengals 12
Miami Dolphins (2-8) @ Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 pm, Fox
The Browns haven’t been double-digit favorites since the Clinton Administration – is there a bigger indicator of a franchise’s fortunes? That narrative changes, of course, when anyone plays the woeful Dolphins, whose well-publicized tanking mission has been interrupted by two improbable wins. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say there won’t be a third coming this weekend. The Browns are undoubtedly itching to put last weeks’ controversy behind them and win a game quietly, which they should have no trouble doing even without suspended DE Myles Garrett and DT Larry Ogunjobi. Look for a resurgent Browns offense to carry the day and possibly set franchise records; the Dolphins have neither the motivation nor the personnel to stop them.
Dolphins 13, Browns 30
Baltimore Ravens (8-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (6-4)
Monday, November 25, 8:15 pm, ESPN
Few deny the Ravens are playing their best football right now. Some think they have yet to peak this season and that this team could conceivably win the Super Bowl. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is currently the leading vote-getter for Pro Bowl consideration. And all of that means little should they lose to the inconsistent Rams in Los Angeles Monday night. The Ravens rarely travel well to the West Coast, although their successful visit to Seattle last month may have changed that perspective a bit. Still, jetlag and a solid Rams defense led by all-world DT Aaron Donald will pose a challenge for the Ravens and their improved offensive line. The Rams also sport a solid secondary, so Jackson may have to again rely on his feet to rack up first downs and keep the clock moving. The Rams appear to be getting comfortable with the notion of using mercurial running back Todd Gurley often after he posted a season-high 28 touches against the Bears last week. My take: Jackson’s athleticism wins out, although the Rams’ experience with running quarterbacks in their division will keep this one close.
Ravens 27, Rams 24
Eat, drink, watch. Enjoy!