If you’re just joining us, Browns beat writer Zac Jackson and Bears columnist Jon Greenberg like to take weekly breaks from their Super Bowl preparation to pick some football games. They will not be offended if you fade their picks.
GREENBERG: We’re running a little late this week because I know you’re still recovering from Monday night’s game. Did they ask you to drive the reels straight to Canton? Don’t answer that.
Let’s do our records first. You had a rough week, losing all three of your NFL picks (Jags, Patriots and Browns/Steelers under) along with Western Kentucky getting 28 against Ohio State. But you were right about Colorado State. As it turns out, Colorado shouldn’t be more than a three-touchdown favorite. Lesson learned. You nailed your survivor pick in Dallas. Your record is 7-9. (I’m not counting our picks in the comments.)
As for me, I hit on the Steelers and Titans, but my Packers pick is a tough call. I said I’d take them -1.5, but the line quickly flipped after publication to the Packers getting points. If you go with the latter, I won, as Green Bay lost by one point. I need the win for my mentals, so I’ll count it. I was way off on Iowa State (though I astutely mentioned taking the under in the comments) and Colorado, and the Giants nearly gave me a miracle double-win, but alas, I could only claim them as my survivor pic. My record is 5-10.
What did you learn last week?
JACKSON: The first thing I learned from 0-3 is that I’m much safer in the pressbox working on a Sunday afternoon than I am trying to pick NFL winners. The game Monday night in Pittsburgh was one of the strangest I’ve ever covered, which says a lot. The only thing that could have sunk that under was defensive scoring, and the Steelers defense scored twice.
Ohio State was due to get Marvin Harrison Jr. going, and Western Kentucky obviously didn’t have an answer. The entire state of Kentucky couldn’t cover that dude, and things snowballed quickly. Now, the Buckeyes get one of their only opponents who can even begin to match them from a talent standpoint in a green jersey-clad Notre Dame team with a quarterback who’s practically our age. And he’s really good!
GREENBERG: Let’s get to the NFL picks, so the loyal commenters can get to fading us. What do you got?
JACKSON: In the NFL I have a Thursday night special: Giants team total under 16.5. No Saquon Barkley. No Andrew Thomas, and left tackle matters vs. the 49ers. Thursday Night Football is terrible and I think the Giants might not get past 10.
I lean towards the Colts (+8.5) getting more than a touchdown in Baltimore vs. a Ravens team with injury issues and in a sandwich spot. The Ravens won in Cincinnati last week and are at Cleveland next week.
Here on the home front, Browns-Titans under 39.5. The defensive touchdowns burned me last week, and I know we’re not going to 4 or 5-unit get right games in this column. But my goodness, should this be a punt fest. Both coaches know that turnovers could be deadly, and even in good weather, I think 13 or 16 wins this game.
My survivor pick is New England vs. the Jets.
GREENBERG: I love the Browns-Titans under more than at least one of my children. (I’m not saying which one, but they don’t read my stuff anyway.) After overs went 13-3 last week, let’s bet on the reversion to the mean together.
As for the undefeated/winless teams out there that will go the other way this week, I’ll roll with the 0-2 Patriots -2.5 at the Meadowlands. I don’t know if I have the stomach to take under 36.5, but it won’t be a score-fest. Jets QB Zach Wilson might want to ask Aaron Rodgers for some tips on expanding his mind before he goes against Bill Belichick.
I went with Chiefs 30, Bears 20 in our weekly predictions, but I wouldn’t bet that spread or total. If I were you, I’d fade me and take Chiefs -13 and under 48. I’m stuck trying to decide if the Bears are in more trouble on the field or off these days. (Read this column for more on that front.) But hey, at least the Bears aren’t paying Justin Fields like Deshaun Watson. Yikes.
My last one is the 0-2 Vikings -1 at home against the 0-2 Chargers. After he’s fired, Brandon Staley should return to Chicago, where there’s a sudden opening for a defensive coordinator.
What do you have for college games?
JACKSON: Let’s start with Miami (Fla.) and Temple under 47.5. Unfortunately, I have seen Temple play. This will be an empty stadium sleepy spot for a much superior Hurricanes team.
North Carolina -7.5 at Pitt: I’m not usually a favorite player in college football, especially with that extra half point sitting there kind of taunting me. But after spending a little time in Pittsburgh, I know the locals are tired of Matt Canada and of this Pitt Panther offense. I think Carolina hangs a number the home team just can’t match.
Kent State and Fresno State under 48.5: Kent State used to be “Flash Fast” under Sean Lewis, who’s now the offensive coordinator for Coach Prime. This Kent State team is ultra slow and ready to get to conference play where it can try to compete. This won’t be much of a game, and I don’t believe we’ll see much scoring.
One I’m definitely on if it gets to 14 is Bowling Green hosting our alma mater, The Ohio University. I see +13 and I want it, but I’m willing to wait based on the perception that Ohio beating Iowa State means that Ohio is some powerhouse. Bowling Green can’t be that bad, right?
GREENBERG: I can’t pick against our alma mater again after touting Iowa State last week, but I will roll with another OU Under (44.5), presented by the now-shuttered all-night Court St. Burger King basement, where the post-bar crowds presented a bleak look at society.
My other college pick is Ole Miss +7 at Alabama, which has quarterback problems that a Bears columnist and a Browns writer can surely relate to. I’m praying for some obnoxious Lane Kiffin content.
My survivor pick is the Chiefs. Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy might be the only coach who could hold down Patrick Mahomes, but Nagy should get an easy victory against his sad former team.
(Photo of Mac Jones: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)