I think I need to start this week’s post off by apologizing to the Packer faithful. The featured image curse reared its ugly head yet again last week, taking down not only the Packers, but Aaron Rodgers as well.
But we will persist. Brett Hundley will be out there on Sunday giving it his all and I’ll be here going undefeated this week to get this train back on the tracks.
Tennessee Titans (-5.5) @ Cleveland Browns
Marcus Mariota had perhaps his best performance of his young career last week on MNF, and he was battling a hamstring injury.
Commonly thought of as a dual threat QB, Mariota didn’t record a single rushing yard and instead relied on his arm to end up with 306 yards, removing any doubt that he doesn’t have the pocket presence, awareness, or skill set to be a long term great quarterback.
He is now back to practicing in full, so it’s safe to assume that Mariota will build off his passing performance from last week while adding two dangerous weapons called his left and right legs.
For the Browns, top CB (also ranked #1 in the league) Jason McCourty injured his ankle in practice Friday and is listed as questionable for this game. That would be huge for Mariota as that removes not only a solid CB but a former Titan playing in a revenge game.
The Titans have injuries of their own to be concerned about with Delanie Walker and DeMarco Murray. Both are great players, but the Titans are low key stacked at both positions with young guys ready to prove their worth. Derrick Henry might be the best running back on this team. If the Titans follow through with their plan of incorporating Henry into the offense more each week, they will have perhaps the most potent and dangerous three-headed monster of guys that can kill you with their legs in the backfield.
If Delanie Walker is unable to play, Jonnu Smith is the name to remember. The rookie out of Florida International is absolutely in the Titans long term plans and he’ll look to make an impact Sunday if Walker is out.
The Browns have a dumpster fire at QB and announced that they’re running it back with DeShone Kizer this week. Normally I attack the Titans’ secondary, but with a revolving door of not-so-good QBs with a short leash combined with a rag tag receiving core, I think that the Browns are in trouble against a Titans team that is starting to roll.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) @ Indianapolis Colts
The key injury to keep an eye on of course is Leonard Fournette.
Despite looking gruesome, Fournette apparently was cleared to return last week against the Rams but was held out as a precaution. Chris Ivory has been a very suitable backup and he even caught 10 passes last week. To put that stat into perspective, Ivory caught only 20 balls in 31 games for the Jets from 2013-2014. Chris Ivory rushed for 1,070 yards just two seasons ago and has some Marshawn Lynch in him once he gets his motor running. He’s a notch below Fournette, but he is another quick, bruising back in a great matchup against a Colts defense that just allowed DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry run allllll over them last week.
The Jaguars’ special teams unit let them down last week by allowing a game opening kickoff return TD, as well as allowing a blocked kick to be returned for a TD. If they clean it up (which is saying a lot considering Blake Bortles is their QB), the Jags should leave Indianapolis with a W.
Andrew Luck suffered a setback and will be out again this week. So Jacoby Brissett will be up against the staunch Jaguars secondary that allows 189 passing yards a game, and only 4 total TDs through the air. They also have 10 INTs already. Their run defense is a bit of a liability, but until the Colts come to realize that Marlon Mack fits their scheme better than Frank Gore, they’re going to be kicking more than Kangaroo Jack.
Here’s the matchup of the game. If Jalen Ramsey can hold his own against TY Hilton, then the Jags have this one locked up.
Dallas Cowboys (-6) @ San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have lost their last 5 games by 3 points or less. The Cowboys have lost two in a row at home but are coming off of a bye. The Cowboys will also have Ezekiel Elliott, at least for this week, as his lawyers continue to overturn rulings and delay the entire process. That of course bodes well for Dallas, as Zeke is leaps and bounds better than Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden (Rod Smith is actually the best backup on the team). Dem Boys average 124 yards per game on the ground while the 49ers allow 112 per game. You know what that means:
The Cowboys front office probably has an idea of how Zeke’s suspension will shape out in the coming weeks. If they think that they’re just delaying the inevitable, then there is no reason to pound the rock with Zeke until he can’t physically run anymore. If Zeke does get suspended for 6 games after these next two, the Cowboys could give the ball to him 30+ times these next two weeks and then have Zeke rest during his suspension. Then when he returned around Week 14/15, he’d have fresh legs ready to do it again.
The 49ers announced that rookie QB CJ Beathard will make his first career start on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know about him:
He went to Iowa with 49ers rookie TE George Kittle, and they were roommates.
He was also childhood friends with Taylor Swift:
If you want to buy into the college roommate/T Swift haters gonna hate narrative and take the Niners +6 I won’t blame you. But I do think that the Cowboys get the ball rolling out of their bye week while the Niners’ rookies make some costly mistakes.
Atlanta Falcons (+3) @ New England Patriots
You know I love me a good revenge game. Even when there is absolutely zero tension between a player/coach and another team, I make myself believe that there is and I’ll go on from there. But this is a good ole fashioned revenge game. You all know why:
Nearly every main player from last year’s Super Bowl will be on that field Sunday night. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be emotional. It’s also going to be a cakewalk for the Falcons. The Patriots have looked atrocious and would be 2-4 if it weren’t for Nick Folk’s shank fest and a shitty rule that stole a TD from the Jets.
The Patriots allow 338 passing yards per game and another 115 on the ground. The Falcons average 271 passing and 120 on the ground. They haven’t hit their stride in the passing game yet with some minor injuries to key guys, but they are now coming off of a bye week with 13 days to prepare for redemption.
This week, injuries to the Patriots’ secondary might prove costly.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Sanu seems to be back at 100% as does Julio Jones. TE Austin Hooper has emerged as a legit red zone threat and Taylor Gabriel has game changing speed. The Falcons also have one of the best 1-2 punches in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
The Falcons also have a defense; something that the Patriots know nothing about. They allow 230 yards in the air per game and 102 on the ground. Vic Beasley looks like he’ll be ready to rock on Sunday while Keanu Neal and Deion Jones have been looking strong in the secondary.
The Patriots are good, but they’ve already floundered at home against a high scoring offense in the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady is doing the best he can to keep his team in the game, but their defense is letting him down over and over again. If this game turns into a shootout, the Patriots defense might allow over 50 points. Does Tom Brady have 50+ points in him? We’ll see.
***College Picks & Upset Alerts***
West Virginia is trying to avoid an embarrassing loss in Waco Texas Saturday. I don’t think it’ll be as easy as they think the game will be. Luke Falk and Washington State are coming off of a tough loss in which Falk turned the ball over 6 times. If that performance is still in his head and he doesn’t prove to have a short term memory for turnovers, Colorado may be able to come into town and shock the Cougars two weeks in a row. UCF may also have their hands full going into Annapolis to face Navy’s triple option. Their coach was taking scout team reps last week in practice!
Louisville (+6.5) [MONEYLINE] @ Florida State
UCF @ Navy (+7.5)
USC (+3.5) @ Notre Dame
LSU @ Ole Miss (+7)
I’m buying into the angry former school narrative:
There you have it. These picks feel good. All it takes is one good week to get the motion back in the ocean. Call me Ty Dolla $ign because you’re gonna say “ty” for all the $ I make you.