Stuzin: Detroit Lions at New York Giants (+3)
I think it’s safe to say that we were all shocked by the Giants’ performance this season. Running back Saquon Barkley proved the doubters wrong, leading the league in rushing yards with 931 and finishing sixth in rushing touchdowns. Additionally, while his yardage and touchdown numbers are out of this world, QB Daniel Jones is the best in the league with just two interceptions and has a 60.2 QB rating, ranking eighth.
As for their opponents, it seems the Lions should have a better record than their current 3-6. QB Jared Goff leads the offense with 2,277 passing yards (ranked 10th) and 15 passing touchdowns (ranked eighth). Despite this, the lions never seem to deliver the win. With the Giants’ recent success, I expect them to cover that narrow range.
Martin: New York Jets (+3) with the New England Patriots
The Jets lost to the Patriots at home in Week 8, with Zach Wilson having his worst game of the season with three picks. However, I think this game represents a great opportunity for New York to bounce back. Wilson looked great in the Jets’ biggest win of the season against the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago; He avoided turning the ball over and earned a passer rating of 101.1. via ESPN. Wilson’s struggles against the Patriots were a wake-up call: He needs to protect football.
If Wilson can just avoid interceptions, the Jets defense will be able to carry this game. I love how Jets cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed take on the Patriots’ mediocre receiving core. The run game presents the Jets’ bigger challenge, with Patriots defenseman Rhamondre Stevenson looking like a real deal. Still, the Jets’ defense should be able to escalate that divisional rivalry to earn their first regular-season win at Gillette Stadium since Brett Favre was the starting quarterback.
Fischer: Pittsburgh Steelers (+5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Is the Steelers defense back? After a stellar performance to keep the New Orleans Saints to 10 points on Sunday, the return of TJ Watt quickly reinvigorated “The Black and Gold.” In Week 1, the Steelers defeated the Bengals 23-20 in overtime. For the Steelers to win the Season Series, Kenny Pickett doesn’t have to throw touchdowns — he simply has to avoid throwing interceptions, which he did against the Saints last weekend. In his sophomore regression, running back Najee Harris also struggled to catch passes, so Pickett’s improved comfort in the pocket should prompt Harris to take on a bigger role in the passing game.
After a bye week and a dominant performance against the Carolina Panthers in Week 9, the Cincinnati Bengals may have adjusted to the loss of Ja’Marr Chase. While all signs point to the Bengals winning, playing in Pittsburgh is never a small thing. With the Terrible Towels exhibit, a clash of battling offensive lines on a snowy day in Pittsburgh should guarantee a close affair between these two teams.
Notis: Chicago Bears (+3) at the Atlanta Falcons
Even though the Bears lost a nail biter to the Lions in Week 10, one thing became clear: Quarterback Justin Fields is the real deal. Fields is the double threat quarterback fans have dreamed of since his days at Ohio State. Behind him, the Bears offense looks reborn, tearing defenses apart in the air and on the ground. Newly acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool has expanded the defense’s focus and given Fields more creative leeway. Although the Lions have the worst defensive rating in the NFL (according to ESPN), no one should expect Fields’ dominance against the Falcons to go unnoticed.
The Falcons, loud ESPN, have the second-worst defensive rating in the NFL. Fields is evolving before our eyes with an opportunity to play back-to-back weeks against the two worst defenses in the NFL. This is the easiest way for a young quarterback to develop. The development of Fields combined with the ineffectiveness of the Falcons’ defense is the perfect recipe for a Bears victory.
Silverstein: Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys
The 8-1 Vikings have seven straight wins, are unbeaten at home, just beat the Bills in Buffalo, and of course are kind of underdogs on a Dallas team that’s been looking a little shaky in recent weeks. The scary thing for Cowboys fans is that their last two games have confirmed what many suspected: They’re not necessarily that much better with Dak Prescott under center as opposed to Cooper Rush. This isn’t Dak’s fault per se, but instead is due to the unusually underperforming defensive play we’ve seen, with the Cowboys dropping 29 and 31 points, respectively, to the mediocre Packers and Bears. With rush, the Dallas defense turned teams off, allowing them to run the ball and put it through the air safely. But with the defense stumbling a bit, Dak had to throw the ball more than he should, resulting in some costly turnovers. Dallas’ playmaking defense needs to get back on track, but I don’t think that will happen against one of the most talented skill position groups in the league. SKOL Vikings this Sunday in Minneapolis.