In the NFL world, one player could mean the difference between the playoffs or a second-tier finish. In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, their season may have hit rock bottom last Sunday.
Not only did Kansas City lose to the lowly Bears at home but, more importantly, they lost their only real offensive weapon in Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith continues to prove he’s no Aaron Rodgers and, without Charles, that will only become magnified.
Atlanta at New Orleans: There once was a time when the Saints were invincible at home. Not anymore. The surprising Falcons remain unbeaten with a key road win. Falcons 35, Saints 20.
Kansas City at Minnesota: The Chiefs have had a tough start to the season at 1-4 and are in a must-win situation if they are to keep their postseason hopes alive. At 2-2, Minnesota also needs to win to stay in the NFC North conversation. Vikings 22, Chiefs 20.
Miami at Tennessee: Both teams are 1-3, but Miami seems to be more desperate after dismissing their head coach last week. Miami is more talented, but has been lacking in motivation. A coaching change should bring about that motivation. Dolphins 17, Titans 14.
Washington at New York Jets: The Jets are coming off of their bye and have had two weeks to prepare. Washington gave unbeaten Atlanta all it could handle last week. The time off, however, will benefit New York. Jets 23, Redskins 19.
Arizona at Pittsburgh: The Cardinals dismantled the lowly Lions last week in Detroit. Things will be much more difficult this time around, especially against a Steelers team that may get quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back. If Big Ben returns, the Steelers will be hard to beat. Steelers 28, Cardinals 24.
Cincinnati at Buffalo: The Bengals rallied to beat the Seahawks at home last week and are among three unbeaten AFC teams. Buffalo barely got past Tennessee. But the Bills are hard to beat at home and Cincinnati is just 1-6 at Buffalo in the past seven games in the series. Bills 24, Bengals 17.
Chicago at Detroit: The Bears shocked the Chiefs in Kansas City last week and may have jump-started their season. Detroit is in shambles after falling to 0-5 after getting embarrassed by Arizona. Chicago snaps a four-game losing streak to the Lions. Bears 27, Lions 24.
Denver at Cleveland: The Broncos are 22-5 lifetime against Cleveland and last lost to the Browns in 1990. Denver hasn’t played well the last few weeks but is still unbeaten. Broncos 20, Browns 17.
Houston at Jacksonville: Both teams are 1-4, but the Texans have won seven of the past nine games in the series. Houston, however, is not playing up to the preseason hype and has been pedestrian at best. Texans 16, Jaguars 9.
Carolina at Seattle: The 2-3 Seahawks are unbeaten at home. The Panthers are one of three perfect NFC teams. Carolina, however, has never won in Seattle and won’t this time, either. The Legion of Boom makes life miserable for Cam Newton and company. Seahawks 27, Panthers 10.
Baltimore at San Francisco: These teams last met in the Super Bowl when the Harbaugh brothers faced off in February 2013. Jim, however, has since left to coach at Michigan and the 49ers haven’t been the same since. John and the Ravens also are having a rough go. One of these 1-4 teams gets well this week. Ravens 24, 49ers 16.
San Diego at Green Bay: The Packers have dominated this series, having won nine of the 10 games played. The only Chargers win, however, was at Lambeau Field in 1984. That Packers team didn’t have Aaron Rodgers, however. Despite a rough game against the Rams, look for Rodgers to bounce back in a big way. Packers 35, Chargers 17.
New England at Indianapolis: The Patriots have been circling this date ever since the beginning of DeflateGate. Tom Brady and company have an axe to grind and should have no problem taking it out on the Colts. New England has scored 42 or more points in the last four games against Indianapolis. Patriots 49, Colts 21.
New York Giants at Philadelphia: The Eagles have won the past two games in the series and 11 of 14. The Giants, who lead the woeful NFC East at 3-2, can take a step toward taking control of the division with a win. Philadelphia has yet to live up to its preseason hype. Giants 21, Eagles 20.
Byes: Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay.
Last week: 10-4 (.714).
Picking the Packers: 5-0 (1.000).
For the season: 47-30 (.610).