After a one-week hiatus, I am back picking NFL games against the spread. I did pick games last week, just not publicly. I was terrible. I posted a record of just 4-9-2. However, I was on the right side of a Green Bay blowout Thursday night. I am now 43-49-4 on the year. Let’s see if I can head back towards the black this week. As always, my picks are bolded and outright upsets have an asterisk by them.
Giants (-2.5) at Rams (London) – I am opposed to playing games in the United Kingdom, but I am not opposed to having football on at 9:30 AM. As for the game itself, this match-up is proof that not all .500 teams are created equal. Reality continues to catch up with the offensively challenged Rams after their defense carried them to a nice start. Meanwhile the Giants late win against Baltimore last week is the kind that could serve as a springboard to a hot streak. Odell Beckham Jr is a diva, but he played big when his team needed it most last week. NYG 21 LA 10
*Ravens at Jets (-2.5) – This is the strangest line I have seen all year. The Ravens are not exactly gangbusters, but how in the world can the Jets the favorite over anyone with the way they have played the last month or so? It is not like starting Geno Smith at quarterback is turning over a new leaf. He is 11-18 as a starter. Despite their streaky play, the Ravens are still a factor in the turbulent AFC North. Bal 24 NYJ 13.
Bills (-2.5) at Dolphins- Do not be fooled by Miami knocking off the Steelers last week. There are about six results a year in the NFL that defy explanation. That was certainly one of them for this year. This is still the team that needed overtime, three missed field goals, and a missed PAT to beat Cleveland. They were also blown out by the Titans and Bengals. Buffalo’s style is not flashy, but they are playing as well as anyone right now. They are also poised to end a 16 year playoff drought. Buf 23 Mia 14.
Browns at Bengals (-10.5) – Picking the Browns against the spread has served me pretty well this year. So, I will do it again with them getting this many points as they head in to my hometown for a rivalry game. They continue to play people tough. Despite that, God only knows if or when they will actually win a game. Cincinnati is as talented a 2-4 team as you will ever come across. They may finally get tight end Tyler Eifert back. That should help their red zone woes. Cincinnati has played the toughest schedule in the league to this point. They never just blow anyone out, but I do expect this game to get them going on a little bit of a roll. Cin 30 Cle 22
*Colts at Titans (-3) – These teams baffle me. The Colts have the best quarterback in the division by a long ways. Yet, they find themselves looking up at the division leading Texans and Titans after a late game collapse last week. The Titans are somehow .500 despite being 25th in turnover margin. The Colts should be better than they are, and the Titans are fortunate to be where they are. This game will show that. Ind 15 Ten 12
Vikings (-3) at Eagles- Even with an undefeated record, I am still wrapping my arms around the Vikings as a legitimate upper echelon team, particularly on offense. However, they are not turning the ball over. This is always a fine place to start. This week, they are playing a team with a winning record that I buy into even less. Everything I said about the Rams is also true of the Eagles. The only differences Carson Wentz may be the answer at quarterback in Philadelphia. Until we see top pick Jared Goff, no one knows if they have any answers in LA. Min 21 Phi 10
Saints at Chiefs (-6) – The Saints defense is just dreadful. Quite frankly, that is too kind of an adjective. The offense is great, but they are not at home against the struggling Panthers this week. The Chiefs continue to be a physical team that never beats itself, especially at home. That style has proven to have a ceiling for them in recent years, but they continue to play well and should be fine this week. KC 35 NO 24
*Raiders at Jaguars (-1.5) – The Raiders are that rare type of team that plays better on the road. Both losses have come at home and three of their four wins have been on the road. No one can explain that, but it does happen from time to time. Derek Carr continues to establish himself as the NFL’s best young quarterback. Jacksonville has started to show signs of life after a dreadful start. However, the Raiders are simply a better team. The better team in points is always next to impossible to pass up. Even if they drop to 2-4, the Jaguars remain a factor in the horrendous AFC South. Oak 31 Jac 24
Redskins at Lions (-1) – This is the sneaky good game of the week. Both of these teams are carried by their offenses. I expect both teams to be late-season factors. Here, Detroit is at home and a touch more explosive. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate with a healthy and hot Matthew Stafford throwing to them is lethal. Det 38 Was 31
*Chargers at Falcons (-6) – My boldest pick of the week right here. The Chargers should be able to score with Atlanta and they finally closed out a game last week against Denver. Atlanta is also loaded on offense. However, the way they pushed around for much of the game against Seattle last week was worrying. They did not respond well to Seattle’s physicality, despite a late rally. Two hot quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan will make this fun to watch. Look for Joey Bosa to bring that physicality and the Chargers pass rush to be a touch more disruptive in a shootout. SD 34 Atl 31
*Bucs at 49ers) (-1) – This is a tough one. I really thought Colin Kaepernick would spark the 49ers last week. Instead, it became more apparent than ever that they do not have the answer at quarterback in their building right now. The same may be true of head coach Chip Kelly. On the other hand, Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston are going through some growing pains, but between last year and the early part this year, I am convinced Winston’s future is bright.
Patriots (-7) at Steelers- I have nothing revolutionary to add here. With Ben Roethlisberger this is a pick ‘em game. With Landry Jones, it is hard to imagine a scenario that ends well for the Steelers. The loss to a vastly inferior Miami squad last week may really end up hurting them down the road. Oh, New England is really good. NE 31 Pit 17
*Seahawks at Cardinals (-1) – The Seahawks are officially back after a slow start. The defense has dropped the hammer three straight weeks now. Most impressive was the way they slammed the door on Atlanta last week. They made the big play to win a close game. Arizona is slowly coming around and is very dangerous, but they may have dug too deep an early hole for the playoffs. They have no business being favorite here. Sea 24 AZ 15
MNF: Texans at Broncos (-7.5) – Brock Osweiler returns “home” to face his former team. With Denver struggling, but finally close to full health thanks to extra rest, I expect it to be a sobering reminder as to why Osweiler never should have left Mile High. If I am right, the entire AFC South is back in it. Den 21 Hou 9