Bills (4-7) at Dolphins (5-6): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: MIA -5 | Matchup quality: 10.6 (of 100)
Mike Rodak’s pick: No matter the coach — Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan or Sean McDermott — the Bills have generally had the Dolphins’ number since 2013. Buffalo has won seven of its past 10 games against its division rival, outscored the Dolphins by more than a touchdown per game and has turned over the ball only twice compared to 18 takeaways. That trend does not look to change this season against the 28th-ranked Dolphins offense. The Bills are 3-1 this season against offenses that, like their own, rank in the bottom half of the league. Bills 21, Dolphins 14
Cameron Wolfe’s pick: Miami faces a must-win to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, and even with a banged-up roster, it should be able to take advantage of rookie quarterback Josh Allen. Miami’s biggest strength this season has been its ball-hawk defense, which is second in interceptions and third in takeaways. Expect a low-scoring game in which the Dolphins’ defense makes the difference. Dolphins 20, Bills 16
FPI win projection: MIA, 57.5 percent. The Dolphins have been good on the defensive line this season, ranking fourth in ESPN’s pass rush win rate (measures how often a pass-rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds). On the offensive line it’s a different story, as they rank 31st in pass block win rate, according to tracking data from NFL Next Gen Stats.
What to watch for in fantasy: Kenyan Drake scored twice in Week 12 and now sits 15th at the position in fantasy points. He should be considered a fringe RB2
Difficult game to call in Miami, as the Bills are suddenly formidable while the Dolphins came thisclose to upending the streaking Colts. Well, let’s not get too hot and bothered, and merely call Buffalo “viable” instead. If this matchup were to be played in upstate New York, then this pick would be easier. Yet, with Ryan Tannehill back at quarterback, and a decent running game in tow, it will be more arduous for the Bills to win their third straight. Jacksonville did Buffalo a favor last week — specifically Leonard Fournette, who got himself thrown out of the game in the third quarter with the Jags on the 1-yard line. Their offense imploded, and that was all she wrote. This is not to suggest Sean McDermott’s group didn’t earn the win. Jacksonville failed repeatedly to seal the edge or contain Josh Allen in the pocket, which is precisely the task in front of Miami DC Matt Burke this week. Otherwise, #BillsMafia.
Jets (3-8) at Titans (5-6): 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: TEN -7.5 | Matchup quality: 29.1 (of 100)
Rich Cimini’s pick: Nothing is going right for the Jets, losers of five straight, so it’s hard to imagine they will suddenly find answers on the road. They’ve lost nine of their past 10 outside East Rutherford, dating to last season. They lack confidence on both sides of the ball and will have problems protecting their quarterback, whether it’s Josh McCown or Sam Darnold. Titans 23, Jets 13
Turron Davenport’s pick: The Titans’ defense has to get back on track after allowing back-to-back 30-plus-point performances, but New York is lacking any serious weapons on offense other than deep threat Robby Anderson and is scoring only 20 points per game. On the other side of the ball, Jonnu Smith has emerged as a threat on offense to go along with Corey Davis and Dion Lewis in the passing game. But look for the rushing attack featuring Lewis and Derrick Henry to gash a New York defense allowing 128.2 yards per game on the ground. Titans 24, Jets 14
FPI win projection: TEN, 78.9 percent. After beating the Patriots 34-10 in Week 10, the Titans had the No. 1 defense in points allowed and ranked seventh in opponent Total QBR (52.4). Since then they have allowed 72 points in two games.
What to watch for in fantasy: Jermaine Kearse is hard to trust in the Jets’ struggling offense, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he ranks 16th at wide receiver in targets since Week 6. He’s a flex option moving forward.
The Jets are playing out the string at this point, while the Titans attempt to stay relevant in the playoff race. Mike Vrabel should direct offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to run right at this Jets front, which has allowed the Patriots and Bills to grind up chunks of yards over and over and over again in recent weeks. Tennessee’s offense has, at certain points, resembled a functional unit capable of marching down the field before leaving the game in the hands of a stout defense (as in wins over the Cowboys and Eagles). At other spots this season, Tennessee couldn’t complete a pass. Or avoid a sack. (Ahem, the loss to the Ravens.) This should be at least a 10-point win at home, provided it doesn’t devolve into a punt-a-palooza (… which it probably will).
Vikings (6-4-1) at Patriots (8-3): 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: NE -5.5 | Matchup quality: 68.9 (of 100)
Courtney Cronin’s pick: Mike Zimmer has a defense that can make Tom Brady uncomfortable. Brady hasn’t been great against the blitz this season, so Zimmer could choose to tap into some of those looks. Kirk Cousins was excellent with play-action last week, and keying into that element of his game and continuing to find ways to mix in Kyle Rudolph and Dalvin Cook will be critical, especially if the Patriots aim to take away Adam Thielen. But the numbers don’t lie: Brady plays his best in December with a league-best 58 wins over his career. Patriots 30, Vikings 26
Mike Reiss’ pick: The Vikings are one of five teams that Brady has an undefeated regular-season record against (4-0), and the return of Rex Burkheadhighlights how the Patriots’ offense is getting healthy at the right time. When the Patriots have had Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski on the field together, they are 4-0 and average 33.3 points per game. When one of those players is not on the field, the Patriots are 4-3 and average just 24.9 points. Patriots 27, Vikings 23
FPI win projection: NE, 67.6 percent. This game has the potential to impact each team’s postseason in different areas. The Patriots have a 72 percent chance to get a first-round bye with a win and 39 percent with a loss, according to FPI. The Vikings would have an 88 percent chance to make the playoffs with a win and 62 percent chance with a loss.
Back in the spring, when the NFL schedule was released, I thought this would be one of the top games of 2018. Fast-forward to late November. While it is still purdy, this matchup doesn’t resonate like it did in April. Both organizations were considered front-runners for the Super Bowl, especially with the Vikingslanding Kirk Cousins in the offseason. Yet, a rocky start by Minnesota coupled with the ascendancy of the Saints, Ramsand Chiefs has made this would-be headliner into more of a really fun opening act for Sunday night’s game in Pittsburgh. The Patriots remain in the upper echelon of the league, but in order to beat the Vikings, Tom Brady must ratchet up his game a notch. Unlike in New England’s win over the Jets last week, Minnesota won’t let the Pats scurry on the ground into the secondary. If Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes is a no-go, that translates to an instant competitive advantage for Brady. We’ll all find out together.
Last week 3-0, Season total 22-12
Bills @ Dolphins: 17-20
Last week I dared to pick the Bills, even if I maybe one of extremely few that actually had it on paper and published it. None of the experts and non, really had that. This week I’m bucking that trend and go south! The Dolphins are not exactly on a playoff run, but Bills have proven thus far to be a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde team. Win in Minn, suck for a while, win strangely, suck again. That trend continues, as the Dolphins at home, take advantage of heat, as Josh Allen falls to Dolphins D with a couple of turnovers.
Jets @ Titans: 13-17
Titans have something to play for, Jets are basically playing and waiting to see who next HC is. There is no shot the Jets win, and if they did, shame on the Titans!
Vikings @ Patriots: 24-27
This has all the makings of a road win. Patriots are NOT as good as many want to believe. Vikings are on the same boat, not the same team that Keenum led to almost a SB. Cousins sucks, Vikings D is a shell of old self. The Norse GM needs to be fired! Patriots are going to be in the WC round. This is a game between two has-beens, home team barely pulls it off. It’s really time for BB to go fishing in his home on Cape Cod and for Tom to start spending time with wife and kids.