Jacked Up Picks: Week 8

Posted by Jack Tumen

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Can’t believe we’re halfway through the season. After going 12-3 last week plus Thursday night, I’m 55-35 on the season.

Bye weeks: Giants (3-4), 49ers (4-3)

Lions (5-2) @ Falcons (2-5): This game kicks off at 9:30 AM in London. Hot-lanta’s a hot mess and is proving that 2012 NFC Championship campaign was a major fluke. The Lions’ defense is one of the best in football right now and they should create plenty of pressure against a banged up offensive line for Atlanta. A Falcons win would be a relative shock here. DET 31, ATL 17

Bills (4-3) @ Jets (1-6): Buffalo has been able to grind its way to a 4-3 record at about the mid-way point by playing tough defense and winning close games – however, they’re now without their top two running backs in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson against one of the league’s best run defenses. I’m a firm believer the Jets are better than their record says and I think they get a divisional win at home on the heels of the Percy Harvin trade. NYJ 23, BUF 20

Ravens (5-2) @ Bengals (3-2-1): Cincinnati’s defense has been in shambles since the New England game and the Bengals have suffered this month because of it (A.J. Green’s absence hasn’t helped either.) The Ravens are on a nice hot streak with Joe Flacco playing some of the best ball of his career. But these AFC North games are bloodbaths and I think the Bengals come out and hit the Ravens in the mouth as they return home to the jungle. They need this game more than Baltimore does. CIN 25, BAL 21

Seahawks (3-3) @ Panthers (3-3-1): Two losses in a row for Seatte? Who are you and what have you done with the Seahawks?! These last two weeks of media frenzy have stirred unrest in the Seahawks’ locker room and it’s shown in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Rams. Carolina suffered a 38-17 drubbing at the hands of the Packers last week and come back home to face another tough opponent. It’s been an every-other-week trend for the Panthers, and believe it or not, I like them to execute a strong game plan against a Seahawks’ team that’s searching for answers. CAR 29, SEA 27

Bears (3-4) @ Patriots (5-2): Chicago’s in the midst of their mid-season crisis and things don’t get any easier as they travel to New England this weekend. The Patriots showed some weak spots in their game against the Jets last Thursday but have had plenty of time to game-plan for the Bears’ porous defense. Even though Chandler Jones is out for a month, the Pats are simply playing better football at this point. Chicago’s had a tough time against the AFC East this season as well. NE 34, CHI 24

Texans (3-4) @ Titans (2-5): Houston fell asleep for three minutes on Monday night and couldn’t recover from Pittsburgh’s mini scoring-frenzy. Going into Nashville, though, is a more appealing task against a Titans team that’s trotting out rookie signal-caller Zach Mettenberger this week. Mr. Mettenbgerger, meet J.J. Watt. HOU 30, TEN 18

Dolphins (3-3) @ Jaguars (1-6): Jacksonville caught Cleveland off guard last week, securing their first win of the season in the hot Florida sun. Against another Florida team, though, is a different task. Miami played a complete game last week, upending the Bears in Chicago – But Jacksonville gets a second straight home game and I think they pick up where they left off and surprise the Dolphins with a last-second Josh Scobee field goal. JAX 19, MIA 17

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Rams (2-4) @ Chiefs (3-3): St. Louis comes into KC feeling good about taking down the defending champs. The Chiefs, however, managed to control the time of possession 40-20 against the Chargers last week with a healthy dose of Jamaal Charles. In the battle of Missouri, Kansas City comes out on top with the best home crowd in the NFL behind them. KC 33, STL 21

Vikings (2-5) @ Buccaneers (1-5): Minnesota hasn’t been able to get any offense together over the last few weeks. Tampa Bay comes off the bye week feeling healthier and ready to turn their ship around. Minnesota’s defense is very middle-of-the-pack and I think they hit a bump this weekend. TB 20, MIN 18

Eagles (5-1) @ Cardinals (5-1): The game of the week takes place in the desert, as the Eagles fly out west to take on the first-place Cardinals. Philly’s defense has started to prove they can handle being on the field for long periods of time when Chip’s offense goes three-and-out. The Cardinals are playing some of the cleanest football in the league right now but I’m not sure their 31st-ranked pass defense can keep up with an Eagles’ offense that’s getting healthier each week. PHI 34, AZ 24

Raiders (0-6) @ Browns (3-3): All of a sudden, the Browns forgot how to play offense, mustering only six points against the then-winless Jaguars. Now Oakland comes to town sniffing for a victory and they get Cleveland at the right time. The Raiders have been in games the last couple weeks and played tough football against two of the league’s better teams. I think the Browns allow another winless team to get a W as the chants for Johnny Football start raining down in Cleveland. OAK 23, CLE 17

Colts (5-2) @ Steelers (4-3): Andrew Luck has been tearing it up this season as he continues to lead the league in passing and he’s gotten help from his defense that shut out the Bengals last week. Pittsburgh’s offense found life on Monday Night Football as they try to keep their momentum going at home. The AFC North is currently the only division in the league without any losing records. I think the Steelers upset Luck and co. at home in a hard-fought win. PIT 31, IND 28

Packers (5-2) @ Saints (2-4): Aaron Rodgers is playing at an other-worldly level right now and there’s little that can stop him. New Orleans comes off the bye week desperately needing a win to stay in the playoff race. Their defense has been awful and without Jairus Byrd, the task of stopping Rodgers is just too tall – The Pack roll. GB 42, NO 27

Redskins (2-5) @ Cowboys (6-1): Dallas comes into this Monday night matchup holding the best record in football; and rightfully so. Washington finally pulled the plug on Kirk Cousins in favor of Colt McCoy. That’s about all that needs to be said about that. DAL 35, WAS 20

Jacked Up Picks: Thursday Night Football

Posted by Jack Tumen

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Once again, in the interest of time, I’m picking this game ahead of the rest of the weekend.

Chargers (5-2) @ Broncos (5-1): This is the first big time Thursday Night Football matchup of the season between the two squads atop the AFC West. Denver’s arrow is pointing way up coming off Peyton’s record setting night and their handling of the 49ers. San Diego lost a close divisional battle to the Chiefs at home last week and that spells trouble on a short week. This is that time of the year when the Chargers could begin to come back down to Earth a little bit. I think Denver gets a big leg up in the divisional race tonight as the Chargers start making reservations for the wildcard.

DEN 31, SD 27

The New York Jets Acquire Percy Harvin

Posted by Jack Tumen

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Well, better late than never.

The Jets made the first big trade splash of the season, trading for Seahawks’ receiver, Percy Harvin. The move comes less than 24 hours after the Jets lost to New England on Thursday Night Football and dropped their record to 1-6 on the season.

As a Jets fan, I have a few thoughts on this. First, I’m pretty psyched the Jets have finally added an offensive play-maker like Harvin. They haven’t had a guy like this maybe since Santana Moss – and when you line him up next to Eric Decker, that receiving corps suddenly becomes more than respectable.

Second, I can’t believe what they gave up to get him. One conditional draft pick?! Considering that Seattle gave up first, third and seventh round picks to get him from Minnesota, this is a steal for New York. The pick is said to be between a second and fourth-rounder, most likely based on performance and playing time. Some may argue a second round pick is a little much for a guy who’s battled injuries for a long time; but he’s a proven play-maker that will have an instant impact in this offense and help Geno Smith immensely. He also adds value in the return game; an area the Jets have been anemic in since special teams aficionado, Mike Westhoff, retired from coaching.

Third, I’m slightly irked that they waited until the season was all but over to make this deal and keep the fans interested. 1-6 is impossible to climb out of and this is more like a job-saving move for GM John Idzik than anything. Making good use of his Seattle ties, it’s about time he did something right personnel-wise this season.

Should be fun to see how this unfolds.

Jacked Up Picks: Week 7

Posted by Jack Tumen

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Bad week last week, going 6-7 with one push with the tie. I’m at 42-32 on the year.

Bye weeks: Eagles (5-1), Buccaneers (1-5)

Jets (1-5) @ Patriots (4-2): The Jets managed to keep pace with Peyton Manning last week, leading after the first quarter and only trailing by seven in the fourth. The potential is there but this team just can’t seem to put four quarters of football together. Going into a short week at New England, it’s a low-upside situation. NE 27, NYJ 14

Vikings (2-4) @ Bills (3-3): Buffalo played the Patriots tough at home last week; now they get a lesser opponent in Minnesota. The Vikings were stifled by Detroit’s defense. Buffalo’s no slouch on that side of the ball and there’s nothing that leads me to believe that Teddy Bridgewater can put together multiple touchdown drives on the road. Home sweet home for Buffalo. BUF 24, MIN 13

Falcons (2-4) @ Ravens (4-2): Two teams going in opposite directions. Atlanta couldn’t get its offense going at home against a weak Chicago secondary. Baltimore ended their game in Tampa in the first 10 minutes of play. Joe Flacco’s been hot and Steve Smith should continue his tear against the NFL’s worst defense. BAL 30, ATL 20

Browns (3-2) @ Jaguars (0-6): Jacksonville had its best shot at win number one last week but Josh Scobee had his game-winning field goal attempt blocked in the waning seconds. The Browns have developed a physical, tempo-setting style of play that opponents are struggling to adjust to. It could be a closer game than anticipated but Cleveland is simply the better team. CLE 20, JAX 13

Panthers (3-2-1) @ Packers (4-2): Carolina’s offense exploded last week as Cam Newton finally had a big game. Aaron Rodgers orchestrated a masterful game-winning drive, pulling a fake spike to keep the drive alive late. Going back home, I just don’t see how Rodgers can lose right now. GB 34, CAR 24

Dolphins (2-3) @ Bears (3-3): The Bears at this point are exactly where they should be; .500 with some good days and some bad days. Miami gave it all they had but not even Superman could stop Aaron Rodgers from winning that game. I think the Dolphins bounce back with a surprise win in Soldier Field sunday, further exploiting Chicago’s defensive lapses. It won’t be easy, though. MIA 31, CHI 28

Bengals (3-1-1) @ Colts (4-2): Cinci’s defense has been gashed for nearly 1,000 yards of offense over the last two weeks. Andrew Luck is ascending to greatness as quickly as anyone in football. Playing at home, I think he continues that tear against a defense that’s still trying to find its bearings from the New England game. IND 37, CIN 31

Saints (2-3) @ Lions (4-2): Detroit is one of the surprise teams in the league this year, playing stout defense and allowing a league-low 13.7 PPG. Calvin Johnson is expected back this week which would be a huge boost for Matthew Stafford. Drew Brees is coming off a bye week as New Orleans tries to right the ship. A win here for Detroit would prove they’re for real – let’s see it happen. DET 33, NO 27

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Seahawks (3-2) @ Rams (1-4): All of a sudden, the Seahawks aren’t so high and mighty anymore. Sherman and co. have allowed far too many big plays over their heads and have some major soul searching to do to earn back elite status. Don’t get me wrong, Seattle is still an upper-echelon team; but this is where we find out if they can overcome the Super Bowl hangover. Even against the 1-4 Rams, getting a divisional win is a start. But will it happen? I think the Rams surprise; Robert Quinn gets his first sack of the season. STL 24, SEA 23

Titans (2-4) @ Redskins (1-5): Washington has put up some fights this season. They didn’t go down easily against the NFC West and return home to play the lowly Titans. Jordan Reed is now healthy and this offense should find success at home. NFC East > AFC South. WAS 31, TEN 16

Chiefs (2-3) @ Chargers (5-1): The Chargers are firing on all cylinders and have another divisional opponent in their sights this weekend. Oakland exposed a weak spot in San Diego’s defense, stretching the field with a vertical passing attack as Derek Carr tossed four touchdowns. The Chiefs, however, simply don’t have the vertical personnel to replicate that performance; they like to keep the game closer to the line of scrimmage and win short-yardage situations. For that reason, I like San Diego to keep it true at home. SD 29, KC 21

Giants (3-3) @ Cowboys (5-1): Just when the Giants have it all figured out, they don’t. Dallas is peaking right now after winning in Seattle. Victor Cruz is done for the year and the Giants have some more regrouping to do before they go on their next three game winning streak. Dallas returns home to a ruckus crowd and gets it done. DAL 28, NYG 24

Cardinals (4-1) @ Raiders (0-5): Here we are nearly half-way through with the season and Arizona sits atop the NFC West. You could make the argument that Bruce Arians is the best head coach in football right now. Tony Sporano is the new Tom Cable in Oakland as the Raiders have a little more fight in them. Carson Palmer returns to Oakland to put the stamp on the Black Hole. The Raiders won’t make it easy, though. AZ 28, OAK 27

49ers (4-2) @ Broncos (4-1): Death, taxes and Peyton Manning breaking records; History will be made Sunday night as Peyton only needs three more touchdown passes to pass Brett Favre for the all-time record. San Fran can fight but there’s no stopping the inevitable here. DEN 27, SF 23

Houston (3-3) @ Pittsburgh (3-3): No one wants to fall below .500. The Texans played quite well last Thursday and have basically a mini-bye to prepare for a Steelers team that’s in a downward spiral after getting clobbered by the Browns. Arian Foster vs Le’Veon Bell will be a fun battle to watch. Based on morale and time off, I like Houston. J.J. Watt’s on fire. HOU 26, PIT 21

Just A Thought: What Gives, Robert Quinn?

Posted by Jack Tumen

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams gave it all they had on Monday night; but the 49ers were just too much to handle. They couldn’t get to Kaepernick and he tore them apart.

In fact, the Rams haven’t gotten to anyone this season. They have just one team sack on defense.

One sack.

Now, Austin Davis has done an admirable job of filling in at QB for this team; but let’s be honest, we all knew the Rams were screwed when Sam Bradford went down. However, it’s becoming apparent that the most important injury for the Rams wasn’t that of their franchise quarterback; it was defensive end, Chris Long.

Last season, Robert Quinn recorded an astounding 19 sacks. Long had himself a respectable 8.5 on the other end of that D-Line. But since Long has been sidelined, Quinn has a total of zero sacks this season. Zero. For a guy who had three seasons worth of sacks a year ago, something just isn’t right here. These two complimented each other as book-ends on a fearsome front.

When healthy, St. Louis has one of the top three defensive lines in the league, up there with Detroit and the Jets. But even the best players need teammates to take some of the pressure off them. Chris Long was that guy for Robert Quinn and it’s showing in a big way in 2014.

Jacked Up Picks: Week 6

Posted by Jack Tumen

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After Thursday night, I’m at 36-25 for the season.

Byes: Chiefs (2-3), Saints (2-3)

Patriots (3-2) @ Bills (3-2): Not many people would have guessed the Buffalo Bills would be fighting for first place in the AFC East more than one-third into the season. New England reminded their fans why they shouldn’t panic by beating the last unbeaten team in primetime. Buffalo’s coming off a hard-fought win in Detroit that ended with the Lions’ former Head Coach, Jim Schwartz, being carried off the field. This is the first game of the Terry Pegula era in Buffalo. It’s a wrong-place-wrong-time situation for New England.

BUF 27, NE 26

Ravens (3-2) @ Buccaneers (1-4): Baltimore’s coming off a hard-fought loss to Andrew Luck. Tampa Bay spent two-weeks worth of energy trying to upset the Saints in New Orleans in a high-scoring overtime affair. Mike Glennon clearly gives the Bucs their best chance to win games and they’ll give the Ravens a run for their money in this one – But their defense is just too leaky.

BAL 19, TB 17

Steelers (3-2) @ Browns (2-2): In their first meeting, Pittsburgh fell asleep and almost let the Brownies pull off a stunner. Cleveland proved they can ball by pulling off the biggest road comeback in NFL history last week. The Steelers have a tendency to play down to lesser opponents as we saw last week in Jacksonville. Brian Hoyer keeps Johnny Football glued to the bench in this one.

CLE 28, PIT 24

Panthers (3-2) @ Bengals (3-1): Carolina one-upped the Bears at home last week and have proven they can win close games. Cincinnati was a victim of New England’s wrath but they return home where they’re virtually unbeatable, having won their last 11 contests. A.J. Green won’t be playing in this one which will force O.C. Hugh Jackson to get creative; but Carolina’s backfield is decimated with injuries and that doesn’t bode well against Cinci’s front seven.

CIN 29, CAR 20

Broncos (3-1) @ Jets (1-4): There’s just too much turmoil in the Jets’ organization right now for them to realistically compete with Peyton Manning. Unless Mo Wilkerson and company can get to him repeatedly, there’s a chance Peyton hits 508 on Sunday against New York’s decimated secondary.

DEN 35, NYJ 20

Lions (3-2) @ Vikings (2-3): Detroit collapsed at home to Buffalo and they look like they’ll be minus Megatron and Reggie Bush this week. The Vikings should be getting Teddy back after their long week and I think they’ll find a way to win this divisional matchup against a Lion’s team that’s struggling to find its identity.

MIN 23, DET 21

Packers (3-2) @ Dolphins (2-2): Miami’s defense has shadily allowed the second-fewest yards in the league – that stat is about to change. Aaron Rodgers has had a nice long week off since obliterating the Vikings last Thursday. Miami may be coming off their bye week but Joe Philbin needs Aaron Rodgers more than Rodgers needs Philbin.

GB 28, MIA 17

Jaguars (0-5) @ Titans (1-4): For two teams at the bottom of the barrel, one squad has much more to be excited about; that would be the winless Jaguars. Blake Bortles is making Jacksonville look pretty smart for taking him third overall and he’s starting to develop a rapport with his young weapons in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. It’s a team that will grow together over time and I like them to get their first win of the season after Tennessee imploded at home last week.

JAX 27, TEN 21

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Chargers (4-1) @ Raiders (0-4): The first game of the Tony Sporano era won’t be an easy one as the red-hot Chargers come to town. Luckily for the Raiders, they surprisingly excel in defending the Chargers’ strength; they’re fifth in the league in pass defense. However, the sudden emergence of Branden Oliver doesn’t bode well for Oakland’s 31st-ranked rush defense. That kid’s the real deal. San Diego has also allowed just 63 points on the season, the least in the NFL by a hefty margin. Oakland will put up a fight but fall just short.

SD 23, OAK 19

Bears (2-3) @ Falcons (2-3): Points shouldn’t be hard to come by in this one. Both offenses can easily put up 30+ while both defenses can’t stop a nosebleed. Matt Forte should run wild against Atlanta’s bottom-five rush defense. But home-field advantage will be key in this one as the Falcons play like a different team under the dome. Julio Jones finds pay-dirt more than once in this high-scoring affair.

ATL 33, CHI 31

Cowboys (4-1) @ Seahawks (3-1): This could be the best game of the weekend. Seattle allowed Kirk Cousins to find holes in its secondary on Monday night and never put the game completely out of reach until the clock ran out. Dallas has been playing out the best-case scenario of its season thus far, riding DeMarco Murray on offense and disguising weaknesses on defense. In fact, Dallas’ pass defense currently ranks higher than Seattle’s in YPG allowed. Shocker, right? I had a hard time picking this game but I’m going with Russell Wilson at home. The 12th man reminds Tony Romo of the ghost of playoffs past.

SEA 29, DAL 27

Redskins (1-4) @ Cardinals (3-1): Whether it’s Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton or Logan Thomas at quarterback, the Cardinals have the offensive personnel and coaching staff to win games in this league. Bruce Arians and Tom Moore have done a great job of keeping it simple for their guys. Even without Calais Campbell, ‘Zona’s the better team and they win at home.

AZ 24, WAS 17

Giants (3-2) @ Eagles (4-1): Anything can happen in these NFC East battles. The Giants have finally figured out how to win games, pulling off three straight victories. Philly didn’t look all that convincing as they almost let the Rams come back on their own turf. Getting Lane Johnson back didn’t ignite their run game either and with Jason Kelce still out, I’m picking the Giants to improve to 4-2.

NYG 34, PHI 26

49ers (3-2) @ Rams (1-3): Despite their record, the Rams have impressed with Austin Davis at the helm. Jeff Fisher has done a good job of making something out of nothing with a third string quarterback and a bunch of WR2s. San Fran got back on track over the last few weeks, winning two close games at home. The Rams surprisingly allow the fewest passing YPG in the league but allow just about the most on the ground. The 9ers pound the rock well but I’m taking the Rams to win a hard-fought battle at home on Monday Night Football.

STL 22, SF 19

Jacked Up Picks: Thursday Night Football Edition

Posted by Jack Tumen

Andre Luck - Joe Robbins:Getty Images

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

My schedule’s been a little crunched this week so I’m picking this game ahead of the Sunday games in the interest of time.

11-4 was my record last weekend, so I’m at 35-25 for the season.

Colts (3-2) @ Texans (3-2): This game has the potential to be the best Thursday Night Football game of the season; that’s not saying much. There’s nothing that leads me to believe that the quality of this game will be any better than the other TNF match-ups simply because these teams are on four days rest.

Andrew Luck leads the NFL in passing with 1,617 yards, 14 TDs and 6 picks with underwhelming offensive personnel. Reggie Wayne is certainly on the downside of his career while T.Y. Hilton can’t shoulder the weight of a passing attack. Dwayne Allen has been superior to Coby Fleener at tight end and Ahmad Bradshaw is simply better than Trent Richardson in that backfield. With a decimated offensive line, J.J. Watt should have a big impact in this game.

The Colts defense is slightly underrated. Although I like Ryan Fitzpatrick as a gun-slinger, I don’t know if he can keep pace with Luck in a shootout. DeAndre Hopkins could have a big game but it might not be enough. The better team has won these Thursday games and that trend continues in this battle for first place in the AFC South. That team is the Colts.

IND 24, HOU 14