Dallas Cowboys @ Miami Dolphins Sunday, 18:00
The expected victory for Karma over Science materialised last week as the Cowboys suffered a humiliating loss to the Buccaneers. The game was an error-strewn mess but the good guys came out in front and the team we all love to hate (at least, I do), did well to finish second. What to say about the 'Boys? They couldn't be more dysfunctional if they tried, and anyone who blames their poor season solely on the absence of Tony Romo is sadly mistaken. They need a change of attitude from the top; but since Jerry (no shame) Jones won't be mellowing in this lifetime, Dallas will continue to be hampered by infighting, a lack of discipline, and downright bullying. The 'Fins on the other hand, seem to be a tight-knit unit under new coach Dan Campbell, and despite a shaky Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, can continue their progress with a W here.
Back the Miami Dolphins to win @ 2.0811/10
Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears Sunday, 18:00
Before news of Pick Six Peyton's injury surfaced (which I'm pretty sceptical about...how many times have you heard of 'plantar fasciitis'), Denver coach Gary Kubiak said he would be keeping Manning as his starting quarterback. Whaaaaat - I almost fell off my high chair. Not only has Pick Six been awful for a season and a half, but his figures for the game v the Chiefs were - 5/20 for a total of 35 yards and four, yes four interceptions. Now, I know I've been giving him excessive stick for a while now, but those figures are laughable and they fully reflected a 'stick a fork in me...I'm done' performance. Next man up is Brock (breath of fresh air) Osweiler and he will, without doubt be an improvement. He might not have Pick Six's brain, but his arm strength, accuracy and legs are all better, so if he can get anything rolling on offence (even with the possible absence of Emmanuel Sanders), the Denver D should do the rest. Chicago won last week, but came up against a woeful Rams' defence; they'll find this one much, much tougher.
Back the Denver Broncos to win @ 2.0811/10
Indianapolis Colts @ Atlanta Falcons Sunday, 18:00
Both teams come into this after a bye week in which the Colts will have been enjoying their stonking win over the Broncos, whereas the Falcons had time to stew on their embarrassing defeat to the 49ers. It's far from plain sailing for the Colts, however, as they've lost Andrew (the answer) Luck for 2-6 weeks due to a lacerated kidney. (I knew these NFL players were soft!) Back-up Matt Hasselbeck is nothing more than solid, and that compares badly with 'miracle worker,' so the pendulum swings inevitably in the Falcons' favour. The one stat that really worries me from a Colts' perspective is their 28th ranked pass-defence, matched up against monster receiver Julio Jones. It could get ugly for the Colts, but with Atlanta in poor form and low on confidence I can't back them with any enthusiasm. They should sneak it, but my bullets will be fired elsewhere.
Back the Atlanta Falcons to win @ 1.51/2
New York Jets @ Houston Texans Sunday, 18:00
The Jets need to stop the bleeding and they need to do it fast or else their season will quickly turn into another disappointing flop. Unfortunately for Gang Green they take on a buoyant Houston side who literally stuffed the previously unbeaten Bengals on MNF. The Texans managed to limit an explosive offence to 256 total yards and kept Carrot Top off balance all game. Reverting to back-up QB T.J. Yates was no handicap for Houston, and they've definitely got chances against the banged up Jets. Brandon Marshall seems to be playing on one leg, Ryan Fitzpatrick has a hand in a cast and on defence Clavin Pryor and Sheldon Richardson are both gimpy. It's all about the D with New York and although they still haven't reached their potential, they're gradually getting better. If they start making inroads to the quarterback with their blitz attack (which is possible v the Texans), they could just do enough for the win. My heart says yes, and my head says 'go on then'.
Back the New York Jets to win @ best price available
Oakland Raiders @ Detroit Lions Sunday, 18:00
How does it go - 'one swallow doesn't make a summer'. Bear that in mind if you are tempted to get stuck into the Lions. I don't rate them at all despite their surprise win against Green Bay. The Packers are dropping at an alarming rate and Super Bowl odds of 1211/1 on the exchange are laughable (or a great lay depending on which way you look at it). They've got no chance of winning the big one. Nor have Oakland, who I thought might sneak into Super Bowl contention at humongous odds after their impressive wins over the Jets and the Chargers. That thought has quickly been filed away in the drawer marked 'nonsense' after two losses put their season in proper perspective. The Raiders are young and exciting (unlike the Lions), and I'm sure they can get back on track against a team whose win last week should turn out to be a flash in a very dark and depressing pan.
Back the Oakland Raiders to win @ 1.981/1
St Louis Rams @ Baltimore Ravens Sunday, 18:00
The ultimate journeyman quarterback Case Keenum gets his chance for the Rams this week as they try to uncover inspiration from somewhere. His journey is likely to start and end with this game as there's a good reason why he's been deep on the depth chart until now - he's not very good. If he's ever going to shine this is the moment since the Ravens are also in a slump having lost three of their last four including two against mediocre opposition. The question here, as is always the case when the Rams line up, is can the opposition contain Todd (I'm not) Gurley? The answer is a tentative 'yes' as Baltimore's 10th-ranked defence should at least slow the phenom down. Not the most exciting game of the week but one which, according to the betting at least, promises to be ultra-competitive. I'm very keen on Gurley but not so keen on Keenan.
Back the Baltimore Ravens to win @ 1.758/11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, 18:00
Look at the Eagles this way: new coach Chip (should have stayed in college) Kelly brought in two new quarterbacks who are both terrible, and has transformed the league's most effective running back of last year into an also-ran who is battling to be the top rusher on his own team. Not good...and when you add to the mix the fact that the only element stopping the season from being a total embarrassment is a stout defence, which was in place before he got there, the conclusion is obvious. Kick Chip into touch and plan for next season...the experiment has failed. Up next in the quarterback hotseat is Mark (Butt Fumble) Sanchez, and I'm sorry Eagles' fans, this is a downgrade of epic proportions. It might not be obvious against lowly Tampa, but teams such as New England, who host Philly in two weeks time, will crucify the Sanchize. If the Bucs can deal with the Philly defence, they'll take some stopping. I'm all over them with a 5.5 point start.
Back the Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5.5pts @ 2.01/1
Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers Sunday, 18:00
The Redskins have been quietly gaining in confidence and playing better than their season record would suggest. It all came together last week with a crushing 47-14 win over the mercurial Saints, and that makes me optimistic over their chances of covering a 7.5 spread against Superman-Cam and the unbeaten Panthers. Carolina keep getting it done, but Cam is starting to really hack me off. His touchdown 'dance' is right up there with Chris Eubank's seashell monocle for irritation of the week, and Lady C's comments directed at Chris are equally applicable to Cam: 'You look like a buffoon'. You can't knock the man's talent, however, and the outright market has finally woken up to the Panthers as the real deal. 7.87/1 for victory in the big show is now a tad skinny, but they are undoubtedly one of the top teams in the league, a side that no one will want to meet in the post-season. Captain Kirk could spring a surprise over Superman-Cam, but even if he doesn't, he should reward us with 7.5 points on the board pre-kick off.
Back the Washington Redskins +7.5pts @ 1.9720/21
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers Sunday, 21:05
The Chiefs are rushing towards respectability, whilst the Chargers are heading for the scrapheap...fast. You just had to be impressed with the way the Chiefs dominated Pick Six Peyton and the Broncos last week and their star is definitely on the rise. They sacked San Diego's Philip Rivers seven times last season and the stats could get even worse this time around. I'm desperately trying to make a case for the Chargers but the match-up just stinks whichever way you sniff it. I think KC will win by a touchdown at least, and as a result could start to target Denver in the AFC West.
Back the Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 @ 1.814/5
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings Sunday, 21:25
It's quite surprising to see this match as a pick. I make Minnesota strong favourites considering the form they're in and the tailspin that Green Bay can't seem to get out of. Rodgers gets less protection these days than the black rhino, and is carrying an injury; Eddie Lacy is out of shape and on the bench; Jordy Nelson is on holiday somewhere hot (at least he should be); and the whole of the offensive line seems to be in snooze mode. Minnesota are surprisingly healthy at this stage of the season (A.P. is 1.01 to start), and won't have many better opportunities to take down their arch rivals. No messing here - it's full steam ahead on the Norse-wagon.
Back the Minnesota Vikings to win @ 1.9310/11
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks Sunday, 21:25
Seattle are a dangerous team and one that I'm always wary of opposing, especially when they're taking on mediocre opposition. They have been out of sorts all season but shouldn't slip up against a team that they whipped 20-3 only a month ago. Since then the Niners have left intensive care and have improved under Blaine Gabbert, but let's face it, they're still far from backable against anyone decent. I'm going to treat this fixture as if it had an electric fence around it - but if pushed I'd have to take Seattle minus the points.
Back the Seattle Seahawks -12.5pts @ 2.0811/10