While the Patriots are off, there’s still plenty to watch on Sunday, including a fantastic matchup between the Carolina Panthers (the Patriots’ next opponent) and the San Francisco 49ers.
Here’s the week’s picks, minus Thursday night, against the spread.
Seahawks (-4.5) at Falcons (+4.5) — There’s still an air of dominance that emanates from the Seahawks’ locker room. The same can’t be said for the Falcons (2-6), who have won one of their last five games.
My pick: Seahawks
Bengals (-3) at Ravens (+3) — While Cincinnati has struggled with consistency and focus, there’s no need for extra motivation against their division rival.
My pick: Bengals
Lions (+1) at Bears (-1) — In a game in which you can just pick the winner, it’s hard to go against Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson, all of whom are having a fantastic season for the Lions.
My pick: Lions
Eagles (-1) at Packers (+1) — Aaron Rodgers is out with a broken collarbone, so that has changed the dynamic for the Packers for the time being. Seneca Wallace will likely start in his place. After such an explosive week against the Raiders, the Eagles are probably licking their chops on the way to Lambeau.
My pick: Eagles
Rams (+10) at Colts (-10) — The Rams are much more competitive than their record belies at 3-6. They’re scoring 20.6 points per game, have a decent rushing attack and are making do with what they have on the roster. That said, this Colts team, led by Andrew Luck, will likely take the win here, just not so easily.
My pick: Rams
Raiders (+7.5) at Giants (-7.5) — Both the Raiders and Giants are 0-2 against non-conference opponents. The Giants have managed to pull out a couple of wins after a disastrous start to the season. And the Raiders are constantly dealing with health issues to their young quarterback Terrelle Pryor (knee). He’s listed as probable for today’s game after fully participating this week in practice. There’s a lot a quarterback of Pryor’s skill set can do against a shaky defense like the Giants. This will be close.
My pick: Raiders
Bills (+3) at Steelers (-3) — Pittsburgh will have extra motivation after last week’s embarrassing loss to the Patriots. Don’t expect the Bills to appreciate the extra physicality.
My pick: Steelers
Jaguars (+13) at Titans (-13) — Week in and week out, there just doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for the Jacksonville Jaguars to get their first win. At 0-8, and sporting the worst offense and defense in the league, guys like Chris Johnson can’t wait to pad their stats.
My pick: Titans
Panthers (+6) at 49ers (-6) — Best game of the day, hands down. Two strong defenses, two running quarterbacks, and plenty to pay attention to for Patriots fans. This will be close.
My pick: Panthers
Texans (+3) at Cardinals (-3) — If you believe in Case Keenum, like the Texans apparently do, then you can be sure he’s going to continue to throw bombs to Andre Johnson. I mean, that’s all that really matters. Ben Tate will fill in fine for Houston at running back with Arian Foster out.
My pick: Texans
Broncos (-7) at Chargers (+7) — Statistically speaking, we’re going to be watching the two best quarterbacks in the NFL right now with Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers going head to head. Bonus points go to Manning, who has a trio of top-tier receivers, a top-flight tight end, and good running backs. Oh, and one of the better defenses in the league.
My pick: Broncos
Cowboys (+7) at Saints (-7) — The Dallas Cowboys (5-4) need this win as much as the New Orleans Saints (6-2) do because both teams are fighting off division opponents on their tails. The Cowboys are 2-4 against non-division opponents though, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good for an old-fashioned shootout.
My pick: Cowboys
Dolphins (-3) at Buccaneers (+3) — The Dolphins have all the pieces to be a really good team, but there is a really good chance that they are distracted with all of the issues surrounding the team’s offensive line and the departure of tackle Jonathan Martin as well as left guard Richie Incognito. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) will surely want to capitalize. But talent-wise, I just don’t see it happening.
My pick: Dolphins
Last week: 6-7