Disclaimer: National Football League games are probably the most difficult to predict in all of sports. Parity created by the salary cap and the draft process is the chief reason. That being said, a 60 percent success rate can make a professional gambler very wealthy. As a friend to Vingle, I'm availing my particular expertise for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
Prior to this card being written, the Patriots put the new-look Dolphins in their place Thursday night, 36-7.
New England is 7-0 and the class of the AFC, but Cincinnati and Denver remain undefeated in their respective AFC divisions and the Jets (4-2) are the team no one wants to play. The other team that scares opponents is Oakland, 3-3, which has a ton of young talent. In the NFC, Green Bay and Arizona are clearly the class, while Carolina and Atlanta have surprised many. Super bowl champion Seattle has stumbled, but should bounce back to make the playoffs.
9:30 am EST
Detroit V. Kansas City (London)
No one thought these two teams would be a combined 3-11 when this game was scheduled for London. The Lions (1-6) have been especially disappointing on defense, allowing nearly 400 yards per game--and they haven't been playing any juggernauts. Kansas City (2-5) showed some grit on defense last week, albeit against a Steelers club led by third-string QB Landry Jones. The Lions are giving up more than 125 yards per game on the ground, and that means KCs backs are likely to go off for a big number. If they do, the Chiefs will control the clock and the game. Matt Stafford has been inconsistent at QB for the Lions, which is the story of his career, and the Lions ground game isn't great.
Line: Chiefs -3
Total: 45 pts.
Prediction: Chiefs 24 Lions 20
1 pm EST
Tampa Bay at Atlanta
The Falcons (6-1) are ultra-tough in the Georgia Dome and they face inconsistent and turnover prone rookie QB Jamis Winston. The Falcons will win this game on defense, shutting down the Bucs (2-4) ground game and forcing Winston into turnovers with a fierce pass rush.
Line: Falcons -7
Total: 48.5 pts.
Prediction: Falcons 31 Bucs 17
San Diego at Baltimore
The Chargers (2-5) are just what the doctor ordered for the Ravens (1-6), who haven't played that badly in a string of close defeats. San Diego played well at Green Bay two games ago, nearly pulling off the upset, but threw in an absolute clunker last Sunday, getting crushed at home by the Raiders. San Diego is historically awful east of the Mississippi and should prove a polite guest for the Ravens.
Line: Ravens -3.5
Total: 50 pts.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Chargers 21
Minnesota at Chicago
The Bears (2-4) aren't as bad as they seem, but the Vikings (4-2) are better than they've shown. Teddy Bridgewater will have a field day at Soldier Field and the boo birds will be angry at the Bears' shoddy defense, not at embattled QB Jay Cutler, who should throw for over 300 yards in defeat.
Line: Vikings -2
Total: 43 pts.
Prediction: Vikings 38 Bears 31
New York Giants at New Orleans
The Saints (3-4) are getting healthy and getting used to each other. They're a handful at home and the Giants (4-3) figure to bounce off that huge win over the Cowboys last week. Eli Manning has always been in and out and unpredictable, but I'll predict he has his troubles indoors this Sunday.
Line: Saints -3
Total: 50 pts.
Prediction: Saints 24 Giants 14
San Francisco at St. Louis
Like the Raiders, the Rams (3-3) are a solid and dangerous team this season. They're especially tough at home. The 49ers (2-5) are going in the wrong direction and don't figure to have a lot of luck with the stingy Rams defense.
Line: Rams -9
Prediction: Rams 17 49ers 7
Arizona at Cleveland
The Cardinals (5-2) are proving to be an offensive power as they approach the halfway point of the season. They also play some pretty good defense. The Browns (2-5) are coached by a fellow who can't seem to count. Mike Pettine has personally lost two games because he decided to go for a two-point conversion (and didn't get it) when a one-pointer was supposed to be the choice. The Browns will start Johnny Manziel this week at QB, but he won't be the answer against the Cards' experienced DB's and quick linebackers.
Line: Cardinals -6.5
Total: 46 pts.
Prediction: Cardinals 31 Browns 24
Tennessee at Houston
The Texans (2-5) were so awful last week that failing to take the field would be an improvement. However, the Titans (1-5) are such a mess without Mariotta that they couldn't beat a junior college team. Houston is at least playing at the Division II level. Texans win an ugly one.
Line: Texans -3.5
Prediction: Texans 17 Titans 9
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
The Bengals are undefeated, but they're not the 1972 Dolphins by any stretch. Do they finally stumble this week? The Steelers get Big Ben back at QB and have the kind of defense that can give Andy Dalton fits. This game figures to come down to the last possession.
Line: Bengals -1
Total: 48.5 pts.
Prediction: Steelers 20 Bengals 17
4:05 pm EST
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
These are two very good and very tough teams. The Raiders (3-3) are fresh from a terrific performance at San Diego. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are becoming a feared combination, while Latavius Murray is rapidly challenging DeMarco as the best running back in the league named Murray. The Jets (4-2) are the real deal and gave New England trouble in a loss. This will be a close one, but the Raiders have the kicker with the big leg.
Line: Jets -3.5
Total: 43.5 pts.
Prediction: Raiders 19 Jets 17
4:25 pm EST
Seattle at Dallas
The Seahawks (3-4) finally failed to blow a fourth-quarter lead last week, and they're rounding into form. The Cowboys (2-4) are winless since QB Tony Romo went down. They've got more injuries and team turmoil to overcome as well. This is not a good week to overcome things. Seattle will make the Dallas fans leave early.
Line: Seahawks -5.5
Prediction: Seattle 27 Dallas 10
8:30 pm EST
Green Bay at Denver
Peyton Manning's crew isn't often an underdog, especially at home, but this time the tag is warranted. The Packers (6-0) haven't been challenged much (except by San Diego), while the Broncos (6-0) have been relying on defense to pull out victory after victory. Aaron Rogers will be Denver's ultimate test. Another lackluster performance by Manning will result in a blowout this week.
Line: Packers -3
Prediction: Green Bay 31 Denver 13
Indianapolis at Carolina
The Panthers (6-0) are a balanced team. They run, (Jonathan Stewart 423 yards, 4.1 per carry) and they pass (Cam Newton, 1275 yards passing and nine touchdowns) with equal efficiency. They also play defense. The Colts are struggling, but they have Andrew Luck, who is as healthy as he has been all year, and Frank Gore, who has rushed for 446 yards and a 4.6 average per carry. This game will be much closer than most believe. It will turn on a turnover in favor of the Colts.
Line: Carolina -7
Total: 47 pts.