There are some games that make you feel a lot more warm and fuzzy than others. So last Sunday when Patrick Mahomes acted like Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs won big over the Los Angeles Chargers to take a commanding early season lead in the AFC West, everyone in the Kingdom had a warm and fuzzy feeling heading into a sixth consecutive Victory Monday. Hell, even our new queen Taylor Swift looked like she was having a blast as her new bestie's husband and her boo made easy work of a Chargers defense that looked daunting in previous weeks.
But, as they say: new week, new challenge. This week the Chiefs will square off with the Denver Broncos, a team that hasn't been victorious over Kansas City since what feels like the Clinton administration. It's been 8 years and 16 consecutive games since Denver notched a victory against K.C., a number and timespan you'll read about ad nauseum over the course of the next few days until the game kicks off on Sunday. Even then the CBS commentating crew will likely have plenty to say about it.
The rest of the league's slate for Sunday is shaking out to be a little bit less predictable, though. There are tight matchups across the board, several divisional rivalry games, and a showdown of two recent AFC and NFC powers in the Sunday matinee spot opposite the Chiefs and Broncos when the Bengals take on the San Francisco 49ers. This week is anyone's guess, but if you've been following along you know by now that my 69-36 record on the season speaks for itself. What better time to absolutely blow this whole "being decent at predicting games" thing up than a week like this week?
As for our Chiefs, I expect more of what we've seen from the previous eight years. Denver is one of the worst teams in the NFL, and there's a strong case to be made for the Chiefs being the league's best behind a defense that is all of a sudden...fearsome. Unless Sean Payton decides to relive the Bountygate days on Sunday, K.C. should walk away with a 17th straight victory over a Denver team that at this point is more likely to be tanking for Caleb Williams than they are to be jockeying for any hope of a playoff berth. I like the Chiefs in an (of course) weirdly close game, 31 to 28.
On to the rest of a surely weird weekend of NFL action.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills
The Bills have to get right at some point, right? They're a blown PI call at the end of their narrow win over the Giants away from being losers of 3 straight and sitting at 4-4 on the season. The world-beating Raiders and Commanders crushing offense that we saw in Weeks 2 through 4 have been nowhere to be seen, and Stefon Diggs was reportedly "mulling" by his locker for 45 minutes after the Bills shocking loss to the Patriots last Sunday, not speaking to the media. The Bucs are feisty, but I'd put my money on Buffalo being pissed enough to make a statement in this one. Bills 33, Bucs 20
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys
I didn't know if the Rams were good or not until last week, and I have officially decided they are not good. The Cowboys are coming off a late win over the Chargers followed by a bye, so they should be well-rested in this one. Dak Prescott may be prone to making boneheaded plays, but the Rams' defense doesn't have the firepower to force him into them. Cowboys 27, Rams 17
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Don't look now, but the Vikings might go be starting to go on a tear. After a thrilling win over a shorthanded 49ers team on Monday night (I called it, no big deal), the Vikings have the Packers, Falcons, Saints, Broncos, Bears, and Raiders as their next 6 opponents before facing off with the Bengals on December 17. Don't be surprised if we look up in mid-December and Kirk Cousins has the Vikings sitting at 9-4 or 8-5. I like them to keep the momentum going this week. Vikings 23, Packers 20
Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans - I'm not going to lie, I know enough about these two teams to be both dangerous and ill-informed. Desmond Ridder apparently has a problem with fumbling the ball at the 1-yard line which seems like an issue, but is that a bigger issue than the Titans starting Will Levis if Ryan Tannehill can't go? I don't think so. The Falcons are my "best bad team" in the NFL, I like them to take this one against Tennessee. Falcons 17, Titans 13
New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts
How long can Minshew Mania last? If the Colts can put up points against the Browns' defense, they can surely muster some against the Saints right? I'm flipping a coin on this one. More Derek Carr heartbreak, it is. Colts 27, Saints 24
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
This seems like a no-brainer for the Dolphins, but the Patriots might just be in the business of ruining their divisional opponents' seasons in 2023. They started last week by kicking Buffalo when they were down, could Miami be next? The Dolphins didn't exactly look like the high-flying offense we've become accustomed to against the Eagles last week, but I think they get back on track with a narrow win against the Pats this week. Dolphins 29, Patriots 27.
New York Jets at New York Giants
I have a buddy who is a scout for a NFC West team. Last weekend he was at the Arkansas vs Mississippi State game that ended in a 7-3 final score. That's the type of offensive output I expect in this one. Jets 10, Giants 7
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers' defense is good enough that they make you question your gut when you go to pick against Pittsburgh. But I think Jacksonville is finding their stride and they still haven't gotten Calvin Ridley going yet. I like the Jags to roll on here. Jags 28, Steelers 17
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders
If you're a Commanders fan, you have to be both terrified and encouraged by this matchup. Sam Howell has somehow already been sacked 40 times this season, a symptom of poor offensive line play and holding on to the ball for far too long. The Eagles' defensive front is ferocious, but these teams always play oddly close games. I like Philly in a weird one. Eagles 22, Commanders 20
Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers
Are C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young the next Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf? Way too early to tell, but Stroud has started off hot with a young Texans team that looks like they can compete, and Young is surrounded by absolutely nothing in Carolina. Texans 21, Panthers 13
Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks
Cleveland's defense has been historically good through 7 weeks behind defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and all-time freak Myles Garrett. They're effective at every level. Seattle is also sports a defense that looks much improved, and an offense that has fewer question marks as far as injuries go than Cleveland. I like the 12th Man to get behind the Seahawks and keep the NFC West interesting. Seahawks 21, Browns 16
Baltimore Ravens at Arizona Cardinals
There is not much to say here. I guess we can embrace the "Battle of the Birds" tagline? This won't be close. Ravens 33, Cardinals 10
Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
Here we go. You have a team that fired out of the gates in the 49ers that looked like the best team in the league through 5 weeks that's all of a sudden 5-2. Then you have a Bengals who stumbled out of the gates but have found their stride. This would be the game of the week no question, but I think it comes down to the quarterback matchup. If the Bengals stay tight against a loaded 49ers defense, which I think they will, Joe Burrow will out-duel the 49ers, especially if Brock Purdy is out. Bengals 24, 49ers 21
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Chargers
If the Chargers don't bounce back in this game, they're officially dead in the water. The Bears were a good story last week knocking off the Raiders, but this Chargers team is far from the Raiders. Chargers 38, Bears 17
Las Vegas Raiders at Detroit Lions
It wasn't long ago that this would be one of the most putrid matchups you could imagine on a NFL slate. It is still halfway there, the Raiders still suck, but the Lions (outside of an ugly game last week against Baltimore) look for real. Lions 33, Raiders 21