Alright, so you’re sayin’ there’s a chance?! After a 4-0 weekend, I’m evened my record at 13-13 in this crazy 2020 season. As we wind down the final 16-game season in NFL history, we should have plenty of excitement on tap for the final three weeks. The AFC is starting to look like a one-man show with the high-flying Chiefs taking full control of the coveted lone bye, but they’ll get a big test this week against the Saints, who are looking to potentially secure a bye of their own. But will it be Drew Brees or Taysom Hill under center? Meanwhile, the Packers now have the inside track in the NFC after New Orleans’ loss to Philly last week. Speaking of Philly, can Jalen Hurts make it two in a row? Can the Giants keep pace in the NFC Least? Let’s take a look:
Last week: 4-1
Season: 13-13 (.500!)
San Francisco (-3) at Dallas
Hmmmm. This one doesn’t have a whole lot to it, other than two underachieving disappointments who have been so underwhelming they were flexed out of Sunday Night Football (a first for the Boys since the new TV deals went into place in 2006). The Niners have been a decent road team this year, and it seems like the Cowboys are playing out the string, but I have a weird feeling Dallas can flip the narrative in the NFC Least in a hurry with a win here. After all, a win and a little help from playoff contenders in the Seahawks, Browns, and Cardinals could result in the Cowboys ending this Sunday just a game out of first place (although Washington has the tiebreaker edge). Andy Dalton played well in his return to Cincinnati, and while that isn’t saying much, the Cowboys might have one decent home outing in the tank against an injury-riddled and nomadic 49ers team. Pick: Cowboys.
New England at Miami (-1.5)
That was a heartbreaking loss for the Dolphins in many ways last week. How often will the Chiefs offer up four turnovers and a 30-yard sack? Miami still could not capitalize, and at the same time should be proud of the way they hung in against the best team in football. In to town come the Patriots, and even in the Brady years this was always a dangerous spot for New England (Bill Belichick is 9-11 in his New England tenure at Miami). The Patriots just cannot seem to generate anything offensively, which could offset the troubles Miami is having in that department. The Dolphins also bring a strong defense, something the Patriots struggled mightily with against the Rams last Thursday night. With a playoff berth still within reach, I’ll take the home team to squeak by their division rivals. Pick: Dolphins.
Philadelphia (buying to +7 at -130) at Arizona
Is Jalen Hurts a one-hit wonder, or the potential future at QB for the Eagles? Last week was impressive, both for Hurts and head coach Doug Pederson, who has been on the hot seat lately. The Eagles have hung tough in recent weeks against good teams, even amid Carson Wentz’s struggles, coming up a little short vs. Seattle and Green Bay. Arizona represents another test, but there is definitely more pressure on the Cardinals with a playoff berth at stake. The Eagles are kinda, sorta still in it in the NFC Least, but it feels like the pressure is off and this is a chance for Hurts to show what he can do. This one should stay close throughout. Pick: Eagles.
Cleveland (-4.5) at New York Giants
It might be Colt McCoy’s turn again, and that may not necessarily be a bad thing. The Giants played steady and smart under McCoy a few weeks ago in Seattle, and perhaps the motivation of beating his old team will spark the veteran backup. This also feels like a potential letdown spot for the Brownies coming off an emotionally taxing game on a short week. I realize the danger of picking three NFC Least teams this week, but this is 2020, so theoretically all bets are off. Pick: Giants.
Pittsburgh (-13) at Cincinnati
No way Pittsburgh loses three straight, right? Very quietly in the absence of Joe Burrow, the Bengals have actually looked worse than the Jets and Jaguars in recent weeks, and I wouldn’t expect that to change Monday against a Steelers team desperate for a bounce-back performance. If there ever was a chance to work out the kinks, this is it for Pittsburgh against the woeful Bungles. I expect them to round into form in this one. Pick: Steelers.