My run of decent weeks continued last week. I posted an 8-6-1 mark against the spread and now sit at 46-56-4 on the season. With a little more than half the season left, there is plenty of time to finish the year in the black. My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.
*Dolphins at Ravens (-3) – No one ever wants to see an injury. However, the fact is Matt Moore gives the Dolphins a better chance to win than Jay Cutler. Nothing we saw from Cutler indicates that he could have pulled off the comeback Moore was a part of last week.
Baltimore’s garbage time touchdown last week helped them avoid a double-digit loss. We are only seven games in, and it is just hard to watch the offense at the moment. It is also hard to see how that unit will get better.
Miami is not a juggernaut by any means, but at least they have some good mojo headed into this one. Mia 17 Bal 13
Vikings (-9.5) vs. Browns (London) – Strange things can happen in these London games. The Vikings need to be on guard for the winless Browns. Minnesota’s murky quarterback situation will eventually doom them. However, at least all of their options are capable NFL quarterbacks.
The same cannot be said for the Browns. DeShone Kizer is the winner of Hue Jackson’s wheel spinning this week. Forget winning this game, sticking with the same quarterback for an entire game would be progress for Cleveland. Min 24 Cle 9
Falcons (-4) at *Jets – Even though Atlanta has loads more talent on paper, everything that I said about Baltimore’s offense is true of the Falcons. The Jets have lost consecutive heartbreakers, but are still far from the tanking laughingstock everyone anticipated.
The defenses are about even here, and New York’s running game has been the most consistent thing on either offense for the last month. Who would have thought that would be the case prior to the season? NYJ 24 Atl 23
*Panthers at Bucs (-2) – Carolina looked awful last week, but the Bears are better than people think. I am surprised to see them as an underdog here. Their good performances have been really good this year.
With every close loss, it looks increasingly likely the Bucs are just too young to sit at the NFL’s big kid table. Carolina isn’t exactly a model of consistency, but I trust them more here. Car 24 TB 21
*Bears at Saints (-9) – The Saints are one of the hottest teams around. Their defense has gone from awful to pretty good in the span of about a month. However, the Bears are a kind of test New Orleans has not seen since their defensive uptick.
The Bears are going to line up and run Jordan Howard right at the Saints over and over again. Sometimes the simple stuff is the hardest to stop.
Chicago knows its limitations with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. The rookie will have to throw a bit more than he did last week against Carolina. The Bears mini win streak has been built on the ground game and a solid defense that has forced some timely turnovers.
New Orleans has committed five total turnovers in the last two games. Conversely, the way Chicago is playing at the moment makes it very difficult for their opponents to create turnovers. Chi 24 NO 20
Colts at Bengals (-10.5) – This is a classic value pick. The Colts are awful and may have quit on the coaching staff. It certainly looked that way last week.
Even so, is Cincinnati 10.5 points better than any team in this league? I don’t think so. Cin 27 Ind 19
Chargers at Patriots (-7.5) – The Chargers deserve a ton of credit for getting off the mat after an 0-4 start. Their pass rush is quietly one of the best in the league. However, New England is getting better and better as always.
Run defense is the Chargers’ big weakness. That isn’t exactly the Patriots’ forte, but you know Bill Belichick will find a way to exploit it and that Tom Brady will get his through the air, no matter how good the pass defense is. NE 31 LAC 20
49ers at Eagles (-13) – What a fool I was to pick the 49ers to upset Dallas last week. San Francisco is one of the worst teams in the league.
The Eagles are one of the best. Even so, when teams are embarrassed one week, they often come back strong the next. This is just too many points to swallow in an NFL game. Phi 27 SF 17
Raiders at Bills (-2.5) – Derek Carr kept his team in the race with last week’s comeback win. However, it is becoming more and more obvious that he is all Oakland has.
The Raiders are 24th in rushing yards per game even with the suspended Marshawn Lynch. Buffalo leads the league in turnover margin. Enough said. Buf 28 Oak 21
Texans at Seahawks (-5.5) – Now we finally find out how good Deshaun Watson is. A Seattle defense that is clicking on all cylinders is easily his toughest test yet. There is no reason to think he won’t play well.
The problem for Houston is that the Seahawks offense is producing. They have been held under 20 points just once since the first two weeks of the season. With that defense, that makes them almost unbeatable. Sea 30 Hou 20
Cowboys (-2.5) at *Redskins – These teams have the same record. Yet, the home team is the underdog in this rivalry game.
It is always dangerous to play a game of strength of wins in pro football. Teams can change so much throughout a season.
It really stands out here though. The teams Dallas has beaten have a grand total of four wins this year. The teams Washington has beaten have double the number of total wins. Washington might just be the better team here. Was 26 Dal 23
Steelers (-3) at Lions – Drama continues to surround the Steelers. It seems they thrive when that is the case. As long as Le’Veon Bell is the focus, they will be fine. However, this game is even simpler than that.
Both teams are in the thick of the playoff races in their respective conferences and need every win they can get. In that type of situation, the Steelers always seem to win. The Lions always seem to lose. Pit 27 Det 20
Broncos at Chiefs (-7.0) – No team has looked worse than Denver over the last two weeks. The foreteller of their success remains the ground game. They were averaging 100 rushing yards per game during their 3-1 start. They have struggled to run for half that total the last two weeks and have gotten leveled.
Going on the road to face Kansas City is not exactly a “get right game.” However, the Chiefs are not playing all that well right now either. Whoever loses this game, it will be big.
Games in this rivalry are always close. Denver’s defense will have to win this one on its own. They are too good to be blown out for a third straight week, but the offense is not capable of doing enough to win here. The future at quarterback in Denver is getting murkier by the week, but they have got what they’ve got for now. KC 21 Den 17
Featured image by Alex Brandon/Associated Press
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