Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) makes an incredible catch in front of Buffalo Bills safety Cam Lewis (39) during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/ Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) makes an incredible catch in front of Buffalo Bills safety Cam Lewis (39) during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/ Jeffrey T. Barnes)
There are few things that annoy me more than a bad case of writer’s block.

It only seems to strike at the worst possible times.

For example: I try writing this column over the course of a few days because it’s rather long and trying to do it all at once would make me lose my mind. When I tried sitting down to start this week’s edition on Monday, it just wasn’t working.

I made one or maybe two picks before finally stopping and focusing my attention towards Tuesday. The stuff I did write got deleted because it just wasn’t very good. I was putting words on paper just to have something there, not because they meant anything.

Even now my writer’s block is killing me by forcing me to write an introduction about it because I can’t think of anything else to write. However, I will gladly go through it while writing something like this as opposed to it striking after a game with a deadline breathing down my neck.

So here I am, setting the record for the world’s shortest introduction to the world’s longest column. I would love to say more, but I can’t think of anything else for the life of me. I finished 7-7 last week, another step closer to the long-awaited positive set of picks. Maybe switching it up with some wins will get the creative juices flowing once more.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers (-3)


As much as I love watching NFL Redzone every Sunday, there’s usually one game a week that gets forgotten about and isn’t shown very often. This week, that game was Broncos-Titans, which Tennessee won 17-10. It wasn’t the most exciting game ever played, but it was a big one for the Titans. Ryan Tannehill came back and made an immediate difference. The defense is still remarkable. Derrick Henry was neutralized on a rare occasion and Tennessee was still able to break through. The team was down 10-0 before scoring the final 17 of the game. Like it or not, this side is for real.

Nobody in the NFL needed a victory this past weekend more than Green Bay. It took overtime, but the Packers got it. I was a little harsh going into this matchup, letting my biases blind me. Green Bay’s rushing attack remains one of the best in football, and rookie wide receiver Christian Watson had his coming out party, scoring three touchdowns on the day. A win last week has Green Bay back in the hunt for a wild card spot if the cheeseheads can string a few more together. This is an interesting matchup this week. Will Tennessee’s defense remain strong or will the new Packer successes continue? Excited to see.

The Pick: Packers -3

1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts


Undefeated no more. The ’72 Dolphins can sleep easily for the remainder of the season after the Eagles fell to Washington on Monday night. The Eagles didn’t necessarily look bad, as Philly put up points in a hurry when the team possessed the ball. It was costly turnovers and the lack of a stop on defense that did them in. They’ll have a shorter week to prepare for Indy.

The Colts looked like a completely new team with Jeff Saturday as the new head coach in the team’s win against Vegas on Sunday. The offensive line was back to its dominant, physical play, allowing Jonathan Taylor to have his best game of the season. Matt Ryan got the surprise start and delivered with his performance. I know Philly is going to want to make a statement after losing its first game of the season, but what if the Colts have found something?

The Pick: Colts +6.5

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons (-3)

The Bears did not beat the Lions by a billion points as I predicted them to last week. In fact, Chicago on Sunday became the first team in NFL history to score 29 or more points in three straight games and lose all three. On one hand, I would really like to enjoy a win every now and again, but on the other, the Bears are now in position for a top five pick in the 2023 NFL draft. It’s no secret that the NFL is the easiest sport to turn around quickly in, so all eyes remain on the future. At least Justin Fields continues to amaze on the weekly.

I really don’t know what to think about the Atlanta Falcons. The team started off the season playing some really good ball, covering at an insane rate and even leading the division heading into the midway point in the season. In recent weeks however, the Falcons have stumbled in recent weeks, most recently getting crushed by Carolina last Thursday.  Atlanta loves to run the football and the Bears run defense is abysmal. The only question in this one is who is going to score the most. Pretty simple right?

The Pick: Falcons -3

Detroit Lions at New York Giants (-3)

The Detroit Lions have won back to back games over divisional opponents and currently sit in third place. This season was starting to look like another lost one for Detroit and while the team will probably still miss the playoffs, the newfound successes are certain to be enjoyed by the team’s fans. Amon-Ra St. Brown had a monster game against Chicago, and looks to finally be healthy after having a couple of rough weeks.

New York is now 7-2! One of the biggest surprises in the league just keeps on winning. Saquon Barkley is on his way to winning both the Comeback Player of the Year and potentially the Offensive Player of the Year if he can keep it up. The Giants formula of playing good defense and running the ball down the opposition’s throat is simple, yet extremely effective. This is one of the better offenses New York has faced all season, and it will be a test.

The Pick: Giants -3

Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-8.5)

Cleveland’s season continues to spiral out of control as the team waits for Deshaun Watson to return from suspension. At this rate, the team figures to be out of the playoff races before he’s able to come back. The defense is bad; the offense doesn’t have much to write home about other than Nick Chubb. The Browns need answers and need them quickly after getting crushed by Miami last weekend.

Buffalo has lost two games in a row, the second coming last weekend against Minnesota in what was one of the best regular season games of the last five years. The Bills could have won both of their previous two if not for some untimely turnovers by Josh Allen. That is definitely something to keep an eye on, as this is a problem that Allen struggled with mightily early in his career before his meteoric rise. If he can hold onto the ball, Buffalo should roll in this one. The team needs a big performance to remind people why they were the preseason Super Bowl favorites. A big thing to note: the weather forecast is indicating we might get up to 31 inches of snow for this one. That’ll make for a fun watch.

The Pick: Bills -8.5

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-4)

The Rams might have hit rock bottom last weekend, suffering a rare loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals with Colt McCoy starting at quarterback for Arizona. Matthew Stafford wasn’t available for Los Angeles, but I’m not sure it would have made much of a difference. To make matters worse, star receiver Cooper Kupp was placed on IR this week and will miss at least the next four games.

The Saints haven’t fared much better. New Orleans was crushed in its previous two games by the Ravens and Steelers, getting little to no offense going and losing convincingly both times. If the Saints want to salvage any part of their season, a change in quarterback might be necessary. Andy Dalton just hasn’t had it in extended playing time this year. I’m not planning on catching most of this game, but I like the Saints at home over the Rams without their best, and only, offensive weapon.

The Pick: Saints -4

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-3.5)

The New York Jets have to win this game. This is a defining game for the season. Both teams are coming off of a bye and New England has won 13 straight in the series. This Jets team has been the best in recent memory and needs to make a statement by conquering their kryptonite. Zach Wilson threw three interceptions in the first matchup, I’m expecting him to play a much cleaner and confident game in this one. The team definitely misses Breece Hall, but James Robinson and Michael Carter have been solid fill-ins. Bill Belichick is a legendary 14-5 after a bye, but the Patriots just haven’t impressed me at a level the Jets have this season. Mac Jones has weapons, but is he the guy that can unlock their full potential? This trend has to come to a halt at some point, so why not this week? A win puts New York in first place. Why can’t they take advantage of that opportunity?

The Pick: Jets +3.5

Washington Commanders (-3.5) at Houston Texans

Taylor Heinicke has been a revelation for Washington. The Commanders have been winning games and climbing back into playoff contention ever since Carson Wentz went down to injury. The team reached a new high on Monday night, handing the undefeated Eagles their first loss of the season by playing good defense and putting together some great time-churning drives. The news just got better on Tuesday for the Commanders, as it was announced star pass rusher Chase Young will be activated off of the Physically Unable to Perform list. With all four teams in the AFC East in the playoff picture going into this week, could we see all four NFC East sides in it by next week?

The Texans gave the Giants a good fight, but were unable to cover after giving up just one too many second-half touchdowns. Damien Pierce continues to impress, but Houston just isn’t going to win many, if any, more games this season, and why should they? With questions at the quarterback position as well as a ton of holes to fill, this team should take advantage of all of the draft capital it has coming.

The Pick: Commanders -3.5

Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens (-12)

The Carolina Panthers are starting to really annoy me. When I think the team is dead, they pull out an outright win. When I think the team might have a cover in them, they go out and lay an egg. I haven’t been able to nail down an accurate prediction on Carolina this season, but then again, that’s been the case for more than a few teams. Baker Mayfield is starting for the team with P.J. Walker hurt.

If you feel like you haven’t heard much from the Ravens in the past few weeks, you wouldn’t be wrong. Baltimore played on Thursday three weeks ago, Monday night two weeks ago and was off last week. This team figures to be well rested and should be getting their top weapon Mark Andrews back from injury. The Ravens defense is starting to shape up pretty well and could make life difficult for Baker, who they know well from his days with the Browns.

The Pick: Ravens -12

LATE AFTERNOON SLATE

Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings  


This is one of the strangest lines of the week, meaning Vegas has to know something fishy about this game. Dallas is coming off of a bad loss to Green Bay in a game it led by 14 points in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott was underwhelming, the defense had an off day and the Boys got beat.

On the other side, Minnesota won one of the most exciting games in recent memory, coming back from the dead multiple times and stunning the Bills in overtime. I had a conversation ranking the best receivers in the NFL last week, and had Stefon Diggs of Buffalo as my number one. My number two was Justin Jefferson, and after his performance last weekend he has jumped to the top. This guy is something else. The defense is starting to keep pace with the offense, especially in the second half. The Vikings have an affinity for losing the game after the big game, but I think this team is different. They keep it rolling. Kirk Cousins for MVP…?

The Pick: Vikings +1.5

Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Bengals bye week came at the right time, immediately following the team’s massive 42-21 victory over the Panthers two weeks ago. Ja’Marr Chase is still expected to be out of this game with his hip injury, but the offense has gotten better in each week of his absence. Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon will probably be the focal points in this one. The Bengals need to start stacking up some wins, especially in the division, if the team wants a chance to make the playoffs and defend its AFC title.

The Steelers are once again a hard team to figure out. Right on cue, the defense got a lot better the second T.J. Watt got himself back into the lineup. Pittsburgh also finally found some success running the ball for the first time this season against New Orleans last weekend. Watt is a game-breaking player that can carry a defense and team to victory if the offense does its part. This is a rematch of a game Pittsburgh won in Week 1, which feels so long ago now. Bengals need this one badly, Burrow doesn’t throw four picks again.

The Pick: Bengals -4.5

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos (-2.5)

This is a battle between the team that can’t stop anybody from scoring and the team that can’t score any points. It can’t get much worse for the Raiders after losing to the Colts in Jeff Saturday’s first game last weekend. I thought a loss in that one would be the final straw for Josh McDaniels as head coach, but owner Mark Davis followed up the performance with a vote of confidence. Meanwhile, quarterback Derek Carr is crying in his postgame presser due to lack of effort by his teammates. This is a mess.

Some people wondered if maybe the bye week would help Denver get back on track offensively. It didn’t. The team was only able to manage 10 points on Sunday going up against the Titans. Russell Wilson is taking more sacks than he ever did in Seattle. The defense is still very good despite the team trading away Bradley Chubb. I’ll be honest, this game is probably going to stink. One of these teams is going to get a win, but how much is it really going to matter? This seems to be the Chiefs division to lose, we’ll get to them in a second, and the AFC is far too deep for a team this far under .500 to make any noise. Someone has to win though, let’s go with Vegas.

The Pick: Raiders +2.5

WAITIN’ ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Los Angeles Chargers


The Chiefs are just so good, man. Kansas City turned it over three times against Jacksonville AND gave up an onside kick on the game’s opening kickoff and STILL won the game by double digits. Patrick Mahomes has a new weapon in Kadarius Toney, who set an NFL record with over 20 yards of separation from the nearest defender on his touchdown pass in the first half. If the Chiefs win this game, the division is all but theirs.

The Chargers need to win this game to have a chance at winning the AFC West, but the team is still not out of the playoff hunt despite all of the injuries the team has suffered. Los Angeles is getting some good news this week though, as the team’s top two receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should both be back in time to play in this one. The Chargers started off very strong against the 49ers last Sunday night and I think they stick around long enough to get another cover.

The Pick: Chargers +6.5

MONDAY NIGHT IN MEXICO

San Francisco 49ers (-8.5) at Arizona Cardinals


The NFL returns to Mexico City on Monday night for an NFC West matchup between the Niners and Cardinals. It wasn’t the prettiest game for San Fran last Sunday night, but the Niners got the job done to keep pace with the division leading Seahawks. After getting decimated by injuries early in the season, San Francisco is starting to get healthy. Elijah Mitchell came back and had as many carries as Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield. The Niners are locked and loaded for a deep run.

The Cardinals got a big win over the Rams on Sunday with Colt McCoy under center. I don’t know what to make of the Cardinals, especially after one of their best games of the season so far didn’t feature Kyler Murray. Rondale Moore has burst on the scene over the past few weeks and is a great number two receiver for the team. I definitely think the Niners win this game but similar to last week’s game against the Chargers, I wonder if it’s too many points.

The Pick: Cardinals +8.5

I’m wondering if it would be more funny or sad if I went the entire season without a winning week. We’re starting to run out of time. I think next week I will go back to writing my introduction first and see if that helps with the content. Enjoy the football this weekend, especially on the college side. We’re running out of weeks quicker than I’m comfortable with.