What a relief that the Zeke Elliot suspension saga is finally over. I get that you have to defend your name, especially if you aren’t guilty of what you’re being accused of, but Zeke could’ve and should’ve taken a page from Tom Brady’s book (not his actual self-help book that he’s selling now) during Deflategate and taken his suspension early on so that he could be there to help his team down the stretch. It’s now being reported he’s going to leave the country to “clear his head” and “train”, which in Dallas Cowboys terms means we’re probably going to read about him getting arrested for getting in a nightclub fight or something within the next week or two.

Thursday night, Richard Sherman was lost for the year with a ruptured achilles. This season has become a war of attrition around the league – there is no team who isn’t missing critical pieces on either side of the ball. The team that comes away with the super bowl this year might not be the hottest team or the most talented, but the least injured. Time will tell. TO THE GAMES!

New Orleans at Buffalo (Saints +3)
These two teams are enjoying  a little more success than most people thought they would. Buffalo plays a lot of zone on defense which bodes well for Drew Brees, who has shown over his career that he’s more than capable of succeeding against zone. There will be a lot of Shady McCoy and Alvin Kamara today. One storyline people aren’t talking about is the improvement of the Saints defense, who I believe will make enough plays to gut out the win.
Droop’s pick: Saints

Green Bay at Chicago (Bears -5.5)
This is a game that the Bears defense is going to take control of from the beginning. Aaron Rodgers will not be walking into Soldier Field to torment them today. The Bears still need to figure some things out on offense, but their defense will lead the way today with a couple of forced turnovers.
Droop’s pick: Bears

Cleveland at Detroit (Lions -10.5)
Sorry Cleveland – not this week.
Droop’s pick: Lions

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (Steelers +10)
Vontae Davis was already out for the year, and now is out of Indy permanently. All those bad Ryan Grigson drafts are going to rear their ugly heads collectively today. I’m taking Pittsburgh in a laugher.
Droop’s pick: Steelers

LA Chargers at Jacksonville (Jags -5.5)
Anyone else catch the Jags fever this season? The Jags are a fun team to watch with a very legit defense – I feel like I pick them every week. Calais Campbell will pick up a sack or two in the win. Here’s Jalen Ramsey’s interview about AJ Green from last week in case anyone missed it.  Vintage trash talk here. Electric!
Droop’s pick: Jags

NY Jets at Tampa Bay (Jets +2.5)
Ryan Fitzpatrick REVENGE GAME ALERT!
I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise Jets fans at all if Ryan Fitzpatrick had a Tom Brady-esque performance against their team today, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The Bucs will be without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans for their afternoon tilt against the Jets, who are playing far better football this season than anyone could’ve predicted.
Droop’s pick: Jets

Cincinnati at Tennessee (Titans -4.5)
While we’re still waiting for Tennessee’s offense to return to 2016 form, their defense has played much better as of late. My player to watch for this game is Titans safety Kevin Byard, who has 5 (FIVE!) interceptions in two games. I like his chances to pick another pass or two against Andy Dalton, who is lucky to have AJ Green after he tried to murder Jalen Ramsey on the field last week. 
Droop’s pick: Titans

Minnesota at Washington (Vikings +1.5)
This is the toughest game for me to pick today. On one hand, you have Minnesota coming off a bye week and well rested. On the other, you have the Redskins who are coming off a huge win at Seattle. I think Kirk Cousins can get it done today. I’m taking the R words with the upset.
Droop’s pick: Redskins

Houston at LA Rams (Rams -12)
I’m trying to think of analogy for going from Deshaun Watson to Tom Savage as your team’s quarterback but it’s just making me sad. At least Houston has the world series win. The rest of the season just gets uglier from here.
Droop’s pick: Rams

Dallas at Atlanta (Falcons -3)
Not having Zeke hurts the Cowboys in this game, since Atlanta’s defense has not been stout against the run in 3 of their last 4 games. Atlanta’s offense is still struggling to find their identity. This is a must win game for both teams – a loss severely dampens their playoff hopes. I’m giving the edge to Dallas against the struggling Falcons.
Droop’s pick: Dallas with the upset

NY Giants at San Francisco (Giants +2.5)
So the Giants have definitely quit on Ben MacAdoo. That’s a given, and it was painfully obvious given the result of 51-17 curb stomping they took at the hands of the Rams last week. There are no winners in this game. Everybody loses. This is the best chance for the 49ers to grab a win this season. If the Giants lose today, the Giants should leave him at the airport.
Droop’s pick: Giants

New England at Denver (+7.5)
Mile High Stadium is one of the few places over his career that Tom Brady hasn’t been his typical self. However, these are not the same Broncos from years past. Denver is giving Brock Heistweiller one more shot to prove he can quarterback for the Broncos, and it comes against a team coming off a bye week whose defense has improved remarkably over the past 4 weeks. Brady will be without Chris Hogan today, but I don’t think it will be a problem. Turnovers are the key for this game.
Droop’s pick: Pats

Miami at Carolina (Panthers -9)
Miami is 0-2 in prime time games this season, and the league’s #1 defense is not losing to Jay Cutler, whose offense is 31st in the league in terms of yards per game. Miami’s offense averages 14 points a game which puts them at the bottom of the league at #32 overall.
Droop’s pick: Panthers