While fans get mesmerized by the Kansas City offense dominating the AFC West, the best rivalry in football (Steelers vs. Ravens) in the AFC North, and the apparent demise of the Patriots in the AFC East, what about the other AFC division?
The outcome of the AFC South won’t be decided Thursday night when the Titans (6-2) and Colts (5-3) face off in Music City. The winner, however, will have a leg up in a two-team race — and these teams meet again at the end of the month.
Indianapolis, No. 14 in the AP Pro32, is a 2-point underdog at No. 8 Tennessee.
A key for Indianapolis will be slowing down Derrick Henry, and the Colts have a solid run defense. As their star linebacker Darius Leonard notes, every defensive player will be involved in stopping Tennessee’s outstanding running back.
“We always talk about hamstring tackles, get him to stop his feet and just gang-tackle him. That’s what it’s going to take,” Leonard says. “To beat this team, you have to stop the run, you have to be seven-plus to the ball, 11-plus to the ball and squeeze, wrap and roll on his hamstrings and just go from there.
“I always joke around with him; I tell him he’s a defensive end playing running back,” Leonard said. “He’s huge. He’s about what, 250? 260? The thing with him, which is crazy, I would rather see him between the tackles. He’s not that guy between the tackles, that pounder that’s going — he’s still powerful, but he’s more dangerous in space because he’s so big. You don’t know what he’s going to do. He has speed, he has a stiff arm and he has the size to run you over as well.”
That’s enough for us.
KNOCKOUT POOL: Man, did the Steelers make us sweat against a mediocre (to be kind) Dallas team. But they came through, and now Pro Picks relies on TAMPA BAY.
No. 7 Seattle (plus 2) at No. 10 Los Angeles Rams
That Seattle defense is way too charitable. And Rams are rested.
BEST BET: RAMS, 36-30
No. 5 Buffalo (plus 2) at No. 13 Arizona
Pro Picks doesn’t see any other likely outright upset, so …
UPSET SPECIAL: BILLS, 33-31
No. 19 Philadelphia (minus 3½) at No. 28 New York Giants
Were the Eagles not coming off a bye, an upset pick here would be tempting.
No. 31 Jacksonville (plus 14) at No. 6 Green Bay
Laying all those points with the Steelers last week has made us gun-shy.
No. 27 Houston (plus 3) at No. 15 Cleveland
A loss here would drop the Browns from contenders to pretenders.
No. 24 Los Angeles Chargers (plus 2 1-2) at No. 12 Miami
We all know how these games end for the Chargers. Kind of ugly.
No. 9 Tampa Bay (minus 6) at No. 20 Carolina
It’s never a good idea to rile up pirates the way the Saints did to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
No. 23 Denver (plus 4 1-2) at No. 11 Las Vegas
The Raiders are in the middle of a prove-it three-game string of division games.
No. 18 San Francisco (plus 9 1-2) at No. 3 New Orleans
Are the Saints as good as they looked at Tampa Bay? No, but they’re good enough to cover here.
No. 4 Baltimore (minus 7) at No. 21 New England
Nothing the Patriots showed in eking past the awful Jets was persuasive.
No. 17 Minnesota (minus 2) at No. 16 Chicago, Monday night
The Bears play the run pretty well, but Dalvin Cook will be their biggest 2020 test.
No. 25 Cincinnati (OFF) at No. 1 Pittsburgh
COVID-19 issues keep this game off the board. The Bengals are getting tougher.
No. 29 Washington (OFF) at No. 26 Detroit
Nobody cares keeps this game off the board?
Last Week: Straight up: 10-4. Against spread: 6-8.
Season: Straight up: 88-44-1. Against spread: 70-58-2
Best Bet: Straight up: 8-1. Against spread: 6-3
Upset Special: Straight up: 4-5. Against spread: 4-4-1
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