I am back with my fourth week of NFL picks against the spread. I was a very respectable 8-7-1 last week. I was all over the Broncos and Raiders upsets, while the Eagles and Vikings continued to make me look stupid. With the Bengals covering a 7.5 point spread last night, I am now 21-26-2 on the year. I am inching ever so close to “the black” as they would say in Vegas. As usual, my picks are in bold and outright upsets have will have an asterisk.
Colts (-2.5) at Jaguars (London) – I expect the Colts to carry the momentum from last week’s comeback win across the pond. They still are not playing well. In fact, I just do not think they are very good, but I like the matchup. Jacksonville is dead in the water. A 0-4 start may be the end for Gus Bradley. Ind 24 Jac 13
Bills* at Patriots (PK) – This is my gutsiest pick of year. My logic? Rex Ryan coached teams have always played the Pats well, even with Tom Brady. The line is the way it is because no one knows who will be playing quarterback for New England, but it won’t be Brady. I still have enough respect for Rex Ryan as a defensive coach to think he can fluster Garoppolo, Brissett, or Edelman. Buf 17 NE 16
Panthers (-3) at Falcons- The Falcons are better than I thought, but I think time will show that Cam Newton and the Panthers are a better football team. Moreover, in this case, they are desperate. 1-3 is a tough hole to dig out of, even for a team as talented as Carolina. Car 30 Atl 22
Browns* at Redskins (-7.5) – The Browns controlled much of the game against Miami last week. Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler protected the football well. Yet, they managed to lose in typical Cleveland fashion. I predict they will get out of their own way this week against the Washington team that really isn’t doing much well on offense despite a road upset of the Giants last week. Cle 28 Was 24
Lions (-3) at Bears- This Lions offense is no joke. Matt Stafford has almost a four to one touchdown to interception ratio since week 10 last year. Marvin Jones suddenly looks like an elite wide receiver. I do expect professional pride to kick in for Chicago at some point. They are the worst team in football three weeks in and a banged up mess. However, they will keep this closer than it should be. Det 30 Chi 20
Raiders at Ravens (-3.5) – I like where both teams are headed. However, I have been on the Ravens bandwagon since before the season started. It is a bandwagon that not nearly enough people are on. This will be a shootout between two quarterbacks that are really playing well right now. Get with the program folks. Baltimore is as good as anybody in this league right now. I also like the fact that they have played and won a few close games already this year. Bal 35 Oak 28
Seahawks (-1) at Jets- This is the toughest pick of the week for me. Russell Wilson is banged up and Seattle is coming east. However, this is a big early-season game for two teams that have legitimate playoff aspirations. Given Seattle’s track record in spots like this and the Jets horrid red zone performance lately, I will take Seattle in a low-scoring fistfight. Sea 13 NYJ 10
Titans at Texans (-4.5) – Houston was embarrassed last week in New England. I am not crazy about them, but they are much better than last week would indicate, particularly on defense, even without J.J. Watt. Throw in the fact that Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota leads the league in turnovers and I see a blowout. Hou 31 Ten 13
Broncos (-3) at Bucs- I thought this might be the week I would be forced to pick against my beloved Broncos. However, I thought they would be an eight point favorite here. Tampa is coming off a dreadful home loss to the Rams. Denver is riding high after a fourth quarter offensive explosion put away Cincinnati last week. I am very wary of Tampa’s talented young offense, but a field goal is simply too few points to give up with a way Denver is playing right now. Den 26 TB 20
Cowboys (-2) at 49ers- I am stunned the number is so small here. The Cowboys have settled in to a nice “hold the fort down” type rhythm on offense with Dak Prescott while Tony Romo recovers. Everyone is making plays. The defense has not been great, but just good enough. San Francisco’s stellar opening-night performance has proven to be an admiration. It will not be long before Blaine Gabbert hears Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps at the quarterback position. Dal 24 SF 9.
Rams at Cardinals (-7.5) – You have a 1-2 team that is favorite by more than a touchdown over a 2-1 team. It is just strange to look at, but I understand it. Despite not being nearly as bad as most folks thought after their season-opening shutout loss, the Rams lack the firepower to keep up with the Cardinals offense. Much like the Panthers, the Cardinals are desperate to get dialed in this week. AZ 31 LA 17
Saints* at Chargers (-4) – Anytime a team gets humiliated on national television, I like them the next week, especially when Drew Brees is the quarterback. The difference between these two is not that much to begin with. NO 34 SD 31
Chiefs at Steelers (-4.5) – This is pretty straightforward. Kansas City is a really solid football team, but they do not have the horses to keep up with Pittsburgh on the road. Not many teams do. I am anxious to see Le’veon Bell reenter the fold for the Steelers this week. Pit 35 KC 24
MNF: Giants* at Vikings (-5) – Another week and another pick against the Vikings for me, but this has less to do with them and more to do with the opponent. If this Giants’ offense cannot score on this Vikings defense, I do not know who can. They have three pass catchers who would be the top wideout on any other team in this league. Also, the Vikings are still in the bottom five of almost every major offensive statistical category. The defense has scored almost as many points as the offense. That just is not a sustainable winning model in this league. Additionally, Eli Manning typically follows a bad performance with a great one. NYG 21 Min 17.