By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to understand why a team that should be pretty good isn’t. Sometimes you learn quickly why an NFL team that should win football games doesn’t.
Thursday night in Nashville, the Tennessee Titans had a game with the suddenly less-that-sensational Indianapolis Colts in the bag. The Titans led 17-6 at the half and were cruising behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
And then it all came apart.
The Colts got a quick touchdown to start the second half and then the Titans fumbled the ensuing kick-off at their own 20 and in the blink of an eye, Indy led 20-17. The Colts won the third quarter 17-0 and the Titans, despite a valiant comeback attempt at the end, were done. Indy wins 30-27 and instead of the Titans being one game back of the Colts, they are now three and their entire season is in jeopardy.
“We knew the Colts were a good second-half team, and we didn’t finish the game out,” Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan told reporters after the game. “We are losing close games that we think that we should have won. We haven’t been finishing games. We are who we are.”
Indeed. And that’s why Indy is 7-3 and in first place in the AFC South while Tennessee is 4-6 and pretty much toast.
In the meantime, our experts are not toast. At least, not quite.
Last week Dr. Football went 9-5 (95-52) straight up and 9-5 (68-79) against the spread while The Coach went 7-7 (97-50) straight up and 5-9 (76-71) against the spread.
This week, as always, Dr. Football writes our expert prognostication while The Coach watches SportsCenter and complains.
Atlanta Falcons (2-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) Line: Falcons by 1.5.
The Bucs got their first win on Monday against a reeling Dolphins team and on a short week now face the underperforming Falcons. Matt Ryan needs to snap out of it, and he should bring Tampa Bay back to reality with a big road win. The Coach says: Zzzzzzzz.
The Doc: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Jets (5-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-7) Line: Bills by 1.5.
The Jets are coming off their bye week and should be pretty confident; they’ve gone 4-1 in their last five meetings with the Bills, and sacked EJ Manuel eight times the last time they met. The Coach says: The Coach says: Bills outdoors at home. Don’t know why, but I’m still not sold on the Jets.
The Doc: TAKE THE JETS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE BILLS TO WIN AND COVER.
Detroit Lions (6-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) Line: Lions by 1.5.
After a dismal start, the Steelers have gone 3-2 in their last five games and field the league’s fourth best pass defense which should make Calvin Johnson’s day miserable. The Lions are playing their second consecutive road game, and after tough win in Chicago, they won’t have much left in the tank. The Coach says: The Roar has been restored.
The Doc: TAKE THE STEELERS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Washington Redskins (3-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) Line: Eagles by 3.5.
A lot has changed since Week 1, but the outcome in this one should be the same. Nick Foles should light up the Redskins 26th ranked pass defense, and take command of first place in the NFC East. The Coach says: Iggles.
The Doc: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
Baltimore Ravens (4-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4) Line: Bears by 3.
The Ravens seemed to “right the ship” last week with a big win over division leading Cincinnati while the Bears may have shot themselves in the foot by bringing Jay Cutler back too soon. Josh McCown will get the start for Chicago, but I don’t think he’ll have much success against Baltimore’s defense. The Coach says: Never thought I’d say this, but Josh McCown is a better QB than Jay Cutler.
The Doc: TAKE THE RAVENS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.
Cleveland Browns (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) Line: Bengals by 6.
The Bengals return home after dropping two on the road while the Browns are fresh off their bye week. Cleveland looked good in their Week 9 win over the Ravens, and they have a very good defense, something that will contribute to a low scoring game. The Coach says: I don’t dislike the Browns. Just like Bengals a little more.
The Doc: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Oakland Raiders (3-6) at Houston Texans (2-7) Line: Texans by 7.
The Texans will get an emotional boost as Gary Kubiak returns to the sidelines hoping to snap his team out of their seven game funk. The Raiders are playing their second consecutive game on the road, which always is tough so we will see a “sag” in their play, but may get Darren McFadden back. If that’s the case, the game will be close, but the Texans will get the home win. The Coach says: Houston is starting to show some life. Too little, too late.
The Doc: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN AND COVER.
Arizona Cardinals (5-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) Line: Cardinals by 7.
Jacksonville finally got a win due to the strong play of their defense last week and they return home to face the Cardinals who find themselves one game out of the playoffs after winning two straight. Arizona’s defense should do enough to keep the Jags from winning their second. The Coach says: Jacksonville has won its game.
The Doc: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
San Diego Chargers (4-5) at Miami Dolphins (4-5) Line: Chargers by 1.5.
Two disappointing teams. The Dolphins offense only managed two rushing yards last week, while the Chargers played a complete game last week but still lost by 8. San Diego always struggles on the East Coast, and despite the late start, the struggles continue in Miami. The Coach says: Miami is a mess.
The Doc: TAKE THE DOLPHINS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Minnesota Vikings (2-7) at Seattle Seahawks (9-1) Line: Seahawks by 12
Despite their Thursday night win over the Redskins, the Vikings still aren’t a good team. Sure in both their wins they’ve scored 34 points, but Seattle has only let their opponents score more than 30 only once this season. Blowout. The Coach says: Not suitable for children under the age of 18.
The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
San Francisco 49ers (6-3) at New Orleans Saints (7-2) Line: Saints by 3.
The 49ers may feel confident heading into New Orleans having winning their last two meetings against the Saints, but given Colin Kaepernicks’s recent struggles that confidence will fade quick. The Saints defense is better than it’s ever been, and they should be able to stop the pass and Frank Gore as well. The Coach says: Hard not to like Drew Brees after last week’s monster game.
The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Green Bay Packers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6) Line: Giants by 6.
While the Giants have been winning as of late, they’ve been far from perfect. Turnovers are still a concern. The Packers will start Scott Tolzien under center; and I’m pretty sure that he’s not looking forward to New York’s defense who have sacked quarterbacks nine times during the last three games. The Packers however can convert Eli’s mistakes into points, so this will be a closer game than most think. The Coach says: Suddenly, the Giants are in it.
The Doc: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) at Denver Broncos (8-1) Line: Broncos by 8.
Denver’s great offense against KC’s great defense. A division battle. In prime time. The man who thrives on that is Peyton Manning. He’ll easily toss 3-4 touchdown passes, something Alex Smith can’t do. But the Chiefs defense will slow Peyton down; his O-Line has allowed him to be sacked eight times in the last three games. The Chiefs defense will keep this one close. The Coach says: K.C. will not be unbeaten after this one.
The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
New England Patriots (7-2) at Carolina Panthers (6-3) Line: Panthers by 2.5.
Another great offense vs. defense match up. The Patriots offense will be rested coming off the bye, well deserved after a big win against the Steelers. The Panthers own the second best winning streak in the NFL and their defense may be the best in the league. This one the defense wins. The Coach says: Potentially the best game of a great weekend.
The Doc: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.