New York Jets at New England Patriots
Earlier this week, Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine put the NFL on notice: Guys, your officials need to enforce the rule that allows defenses to substitute their personnel when offenses do the same in no-huddle offenses. Problem is, the Jets can't substitute in Darrelle Revis at any point in time, and though Antonio Cromartie is playing out of his mind right now, New England provides too many matchup options for an average defense -- which is what Pettine has right now -- to deal with under any circumstances. Well, at least the Jets have "threatened" to unleash Tim Tebow as a running back in an awesome response to their offensive issues.
Pick: Patriots 42, Jets 16
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
Jags head coach Mike Mularkey has said that he wants second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert to scramble more often. That's what happens when your signal-caller averages 5.45 yards per attempt, the worst figure in the league, and you have to put him on the field anyway. Rookie punter Brian Anger, who leads the NFL in gross average, should get many chances to add to that number. The Raiders are coming off a bye and a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos before that. They're not that good, but they've got the advantage on the Jags, and their defense should be able to validate Gabbert's new scrambling ideal.
Pick: Raiders 23, Jaguars 7
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Both teams go into Sunday Night Football looking to recover from surprising losses. The Steelers will take the field against Andy Dalton and A.J Green with an injury-depleted defense, but the primary issue in the Steel City seems to be Ben Rothlisberger's inability to buy into new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's offensive schemes. "Haley's offense is not a big-play offense," the quarterback said on Friday. "It's kind of a dink-and-dunk offense." Given the problems Cincinnati has in its secondary, Big Ben would be wise to fling it deep, even he goes off-script to do so. We, however, have Dalton and Green matching up more often and the Bengals' front four making life almost as difficult for Roethlisberger as Haley seems to these days.
Pick: Bengals 27, Steelers 21