We’re going with the old adage that “Defense wins championships” this week, with three of our four picks based on the defensive units of the teams involved.
Jacksonville probably weren’t too wounded by Rex Ryan’s comments in the week but their performance on D through the first quarter of the season will definitely be on their minds when they take on Houston on Sunday. Watching the feisty DeAndre Hopkins match up against talkative corners Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye will be entertainment enough.
But it’s the performance of the Jags’ pass-rushers that will be key. Last season, the unit, powered by Calais Campbell (14.5) and Yannick Ngakoue (12) they totalled 55 sacks, good for second in the NFL. They currently rank 18th in that category and while Campbell and Ngakoue have each downed four quarterbacks, the supporting cast such as Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler have yet to get untracked. Expect them to feast on Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who’s the most sacked (25) and most hit (65) passer in the league.
If, like many UK NFL fans, you started watching the game on Channel 4 in 1985, you’ll have watched the Bears’ Monsters of the Midway defense maul all before them (Miami excepted) on the way to a destruction of New England in Super Bowl XX. While Tom Brady is a better quarterback than either Steve Grogan or Tony Eason – the Bears’ victims that night in New Orleans – the addition of Khalil Mack before the season has added another impact defender to an already dangerous unit. Through five games they’ve conceded the second fewest points and the third fewest total yards in the NFL, while creating 14 turnovers. In an unaccustomed second place in the AFC East, the Patriots have already lost 10 turnovers and, in the hostile atmosphere of Soldier Field, they should lose their third game of the year.
The Ravens use of three safeties for much of last week’s match against Tennessee befuddled quarterback Marcus Mariota, sacking him a team-record 11 times and shutting out the Titans 21-0. Drew Brees won’t be so easy to surprise but the league’s stingiest defense should keep the Saints offense to few enough points for Joe Flacco and the offense to overcome.
San Francisco showed signs of life last weekend behind back-up quarterback CJ Beathard, succumbing to Green Bay only on a last-second field goal. But the soaring, undefeated, Rams will not be so generous.
Everyone on the blue side of New York is unhappy – head coach Pat Shurmur, star wideout Odell Beckham Jr, quarterback Eli Manning and owner John Mara. With the team at 1-5, Beckham went on ESPN to complain about the offense and Manning, pouring fuel on an already flaming season. So it’s fair to say the last thing they need is a visit from the Falcons offense that started to look like its 2016 version.
Jaguars over Texans
Bears over Patriots
Ravens over Saints
Rams over 49ers
Falcons over Giants
10/1 with Bet365