By Lucas Kochevar
The NFL season rages on as the contenders are separated from the pretenders. It turns out the Cowboys are the biggest of pretenders as they got curb stomped by the 49ers on Sunday. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was absolutely atrocious and had me clamoring for Trey Lance. Obviously his job isn't in question, but I think Cowboys fans are starting to turn on him. It's hard to blame them as him and head coach Mike McCarthy were cooking up nothing against the high-powered 49ers offense. The Eagles beat the Rams in a solid road win as rookie Jalen Carter dominated. The Lions also kicked the Panthers in the teeth as they solidified themselves as a legit team in the NFC. The AFC remains a mystery with the Ravens and Bills dropping winnable games. The league continues to show some sense of parity, however, the cream is rising to the top.
Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
This is a prove-it game for the Bengals as they take on one of the best teams in the NFC. The Bengals won their game last week against the Cardinals and looked like the old Bengals. Burrow moved the best he has yet and Chase exploded. They did this without receiver Tee Higgins, who was injured. This could be a turning point or they could turn back into a pumpkin. The Seahawks are coming off their bye week and after seeing how other NFC teams have played, it's safe to say the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the conference.
This game would be really exciting if the defenses don't show up and we get an old fashioned track meet, however, I think these defenses are underrated. The Bengals are trying to find their footing, but their defensive line remains solid. The Seahawks are looking to rookie Devon Witherspoon to cook again this week. He had a breakout game against the Giants, but he'll have his work cut out for him this week with Chase. It's hard to single out one guy, but I do think this game could fall single-handedly on Witherspoon's shoulders. I'm still not sold on Cincy so give me Seattle as the safe pick in this one.
Detroit Lions (-3.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I'm not sure this matchup would've gotten any publicity in the preseason. Now, the Lions are one of the most exciting teams in the league and Baker has Tampa Bay playing some respectable ball. The Lions absolutely steamrolled the Panthers and it was the exact performance you want to see from a top team. I think how a great team handles the poor teams says a lot about them. The Buccaneers are coming off an early season bye. This matchup provides a couple interesting elements.
The first battle I'm interested in is Aidan Hutchinson versus the Bucs offensive line. Hutchinson has been stellar so far and could really throw a wrench into the Bucs offense. The way that Jared Goff and co. work against a really strong defense. The Buccaneers linebackers are some of the best in the league and they'll have the tough task to slow down David Montgomery in the run game and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta in the pass game. I think LaPorta is the X-factor as the Lions offense just looks clean with LaPorta is involved. I think the Lions will win this game, but it'll be a good measuring stick to see how good the Bucs are.
Dallas Cowboys (-2) @ Los Angeles Chargers
This will either be an awesome and fun game with two explosive teams or it will be a slopfest with coaching malpractices all over. The Cowboys are coming off an embarrassing loss to the 49ers where they got crushed in every way possible. The Cowboys were considered a contender because of how they dominated their opponents, but when you look at who they played it's really not that impressive. They beat the Giants, the Zach Wilson Jets and Patriots. They're all realtively unserious teams and on top of that the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals. This will be a big week for them. The Chargers have had a rollercoaster ride of a year, but they were on bye last week.
There is a bit of a revenge factor as Chargers OC Kellen Moore was let go by the Cowboys this past offseason. His offense will have the tall task of taking on this Dallas defense. The defense hasn't looked as good without cornerback Trevon Diggs, who got hurt. Justin Herbert will have to watch his blindside with Micah Parsons lurking, but he should have one of his weapons back in Austin Ekeler. The Cowboys offense will have to figure out its rhythm early and I think that starts with running back Tony Pollard. He started off strong in his new starter role, but has seen a decline in production. Getting him and Lamb going will be key for the Dallas offense. I do like the Chargers in this game, but I can see them executing poorly late that lets Dallas back in this.
LK's Bet of the Week: Arizona Cardinals (+7) @ Los Angeles Rams
Back-to-back wins on the season have me feeling good about this week, but this is a bit of a risk. Still, this feels like an insane line to me if you've actually seen how the Cardinals have played this season. They've been frisky in all of their games and I can't see them slowing down this week. Losing running back James Connor is tough, but I think Josh Dobbs can continue his good, not great, play. The Rams have been a bit of a covering machine at 3-1-1, but that won't stop the red birds here! I will say I don't love picking a team here that just had a "hostile workplace" report come out.
Record on the season: 3-2
Sources: Image via Christian Petersen/Getty Images