Type your paragraph here.Love our “Thursday Night Football” partners, but I have a feeling Jim Nantz and Phil Simms won’t be on this game call. Pittsburgh prevails due to home-field advantage, as well as Jones’ comfort in the offense. Give the kid credit. He’s made throws — to Martavis Bryant vs. the Cardinals, or Antonio Brown on that 57-yard catch-and-run last Sunday — late in games when the Steelers have needed him to, taking what the defense gives him. The Browns must take away the short stuff, creep their safeties up and dare Jones to beat them over the top. Getting Isaiah Crowell in gear — any gear; he only had 38 rushing yards last week — would be dandy.
Was going to pick the Jaguars to win close on the road — something they’ve struggled to do this season — until I remembered I’d promised myself to never pick Jacksonville again after being let down by that team several times this season. Like Saints-Redskins, this is another near-impossible game to predict. The Ravens’ 29th-ranked pass defense should be easy pickings for Blake Bortles and the Jags’ air attack, but John Harbaugh’s club is coming off a bye. Expect a heavy dose of Justin Forsett, who hasn’t received a 20-carry workload since Week 5. Jacksonville’s defense, meanwhile, could afford less work, given that it ranks 30th in both points allowed and takeaways — some two-tone ugliness to go with those helmets.
Picked against Derek Carr last week, but I’m not doing the same this week. Carr was solid for the Raiders against the Steelers at Heinz Field, save for a key interception and, obviously, taking the loss. Carr has outplayed many of the so-called elite passers in the league, posting a higher passer rating (104.3) than Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Interestingly enough, Carr has also outperformed a guy who was drafted a round earlier than him in 2014: Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is supposed to play this weekend after suffering a head injury last Sunday. Minnesota’s defense has been the backbone of that team. But it’s not like the Vikings are trotting Alan Page, Matt Blair and John Randle out there. We’ll be looking at the 5-4 Raaaaaaaiders staying in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.
You’ll hear a lot of banter this week about how the Giants have been the Patriots’ kryptonite over the years. OK, cool. New England wins. This Tom Coughlin team is nothing like those 2007 and 2011 clubs, each of which could pressure the passer. Eli Manning was lights out in 2011, especially in Super Bowl XLVI, when he launched one of the best and most important vertical throws ever. The issue now is Manning’s lack of big plays. Overall, he hasn’t fared terribly by any means, but he’s completed just 14 passes of 25 yards or more thus far, tied for 21st in the league, despite having played more games than almost every other QB. On the other side, Tom Brady will have all day to pat the ball 500 times before finding some ex-XFL running back — or whoever replaces Dion Lewis — in space for 36 yards. The Giants have nine sacks in nine games. The Patriots’ Chandler Jones has a league-high 9.5 by himself.
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