After posting a 4-11-1 mark against the spread last week, my streak of awful weeks is now at three. A 72-95-8 record for the year makes my eyes hurt, but the beat goes on.
My picks are bolded, outright upsets have an asterisk and all lines are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing.
Redskins (-1.5) at *Cowboys – Even though the winner of this game is far from a lock to reach the playoffs, this basically amounts to an elimination game. Dallas is on a string of blowout losses, and Washington has been wildly inconsistent all year long.
There was no doubt losing Ezekiel Elliott has hurt the Cowboys, but three consecutive single-digit offensive outputs is a bit extreme. So extreme that it must change sooner rather than later.
Washington is still the most injury-riddled team in the league. Also, it is often smart to take home underdogs in rivalry games. Dal 20 Was 17
Broncos (-1.5) at Dolphins – Yikes, what an awful game. Trevor Siemian and Jay Cutler get their respective starting quarterback gigs back for this one. That may not be a good thing for either team.
These teams are in very similar spots, but Denver’s defense is a little better and still playing hard. That unit is still a top 10 defense in almost every major statistical category. Combine that with the mini spark Siemian gave the Denver offense late in last week’s game, and the Broncos are slightly better equipped to be the ones to break their long losing streak. Den 16 Mia 13
Lions at Ravens (-3) – With more interceptions than touchdowns on the year, Joe Flacco is struggling. Despite that, Baltimore continues to win behind a decent ground game, solid defense and great special teams. This team is reminiscent of the ones that carried Flacco deep into the playoffs early in his career.
Detroit is also a factor in the playoff race in their conference, but they are the exact opposite of Baltimore. Quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to carry this franchise, but the ground game remains nonexistent. The defense has also given up over 24 points in each of the last three games. Stafford has led enough scoring drives for Detroit to win two of those games, but this defense will not allow that. Bal 24 Det 17
Texans at Titans (-6.5) – Tennessee took control of the AFC South with last week’s comeback win. The offense is still nothing special, but dealing with Tom Savage should allow the Titans defense to dominate this one. Ten 23 Hou 14
Colts at Jaguars (-9.5) – Jacksonville embarrassed Indianapolis in their matchup earlier this year. However, relatively speaking, Indianapolis is playing much better since then. They have held the lead heading into the fourth quarter of their last three games.
Jacksonville is trending ever so slightly the other way. They have struggled to put away Cleveland and lost to Arizona in recent weeks. Unless the defense goes off, they have a hard time winning without having to sweat it out. Fortunately for Jags fans, that has happened often enough to keep them in the playoff race, but 9.5 is too many points here. Jac 17 Ind 13
Chiefs (-3) at *Jets – Kansas City is a shell of the team that started 5-0. Scoring 19 total points in their last two games is not a great way to head in to a matchup with a gutty Jets team that runs the ball and plays defense well enough to cause any opponent problems. Nyj 19 KC 16
Vikings at Falcons (-3) – With back to back 30+ point outings and a three game winning streak, Atlanta is starting to look like the team most people thought they would be before the season. This offense is perfectly suited to the turf they play on in their new home. Minnesota continues to roll behind the shockingly stellar play of Case Keenum. In a game that could very well turn into a shootout, it is foolish not to pick a Matt Ryan led offense at home. Atl 35 Min 28
Patriots (-8.5) at Bills – The Patriots are rolling along as usual after a somewhat slow start. Buffalo got up off the mat in Kansas City last week and is still very much in the playoff mix.
However, this team just is not the same since the bizarre flirtation with backup quarterback Nathan Peterman. Tyrod Taylor has his job back, but the organization clearly wants nothing to do with him beyond this year. It is hard to trust a team like that, especially when they are playing the reigning Super Bowl champions. NE 34 Buf 20
49ers at Bears (-3) – Both teams are having tough years, but the San Francisco starting debut of Jimmy Garoppolo provides some intrigue here. There is no shame in getting shredded by Carson Wentz the way the Bears were last week. The Chicago defense is by far the best thing either team has to offer in this one. Chi 20 SF 14
Buccaneers (-2) at *Packers – Brett Hundley is coming off his best game, the Packers are at home and Tampa Bay is starting a quarterback who is returning from injury. Jameis Winston has not won a game as the starter since Week 3. How is Green Bay an underdog here? GB 24 TB 17
Browns at Chargers (-13.5) – The Chargers are suddenly a trendy pick to reach the playoffs. Given the talent on the roster and the way the rest of the AFC West is playing, it is perfectly reasonable.
The winless and undermanned Browns pose no threat to denting those hopes, but this is a big number, and Cleveland has taken better care of the ball in recent weeks. Add in the long-awaited return of Josh Gordon and they should be able to keep this one close enough. LAC 27 Cle 17
Panthers at Saints (-4) – Carolina is quietly doing some really good things in the running game and on defense during its current four-game winning streak. As strange as it sounds, Cam Newton has been the closest thing to a weak link. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes last week. That is not a great sign when heading on the road to face an equally talented division rival that has already whipped you once this year. NO 28 Car 20
Rams (-7) at Cardinals – The Rams did a nice job of taking advantage of some key injuries on the New Orleans defense last week. A healthy Arizona secondary will provide a much stiffer test this week. The Cardinals are pesky, and Blaine Gabbert has made the most of his current opportunity.
However, there is a reason the former first-round pick started the year as the third stringer. Gabbert is not playing the organization that drafted him this week. He should come back down to Earth a little bit and struggle to keep up with one of the best offenses in football. LAR 35 Ari 24
Giants at Raiders (-8.5) – Until this week, I thought there was no such thing as tanking in the NFL. Then the Giants benched two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning for Geno Smith. Smith has been in the league since 2013 and has a record of 12-18 as a starter.
Smith has no shot at being the Giants’ future quarterback. This season has been a disaster for the Giants, and Manning certainly has not played well. Even so, no sane human being can rationally argue that Smith gives the Giants a better chance to win.
The only thing Smith is there to do is put New York in a better position to draft one of the highly coveted quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. The Raiders are a long way from being a great team, but at least they are trying to win. Oak 30 NYG 13
Eagles (-6) at *Seahawks – There is no denying that the Eagles are really good, but they have not had many road tests against teams playing well at the time of the game. This certainly qualifies, as did the Kansas City game early in the year that accounts for their only loss. This is still a really young football team. It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation.
Seattle has plenty of holes. However, Carson Wentz is not the only MVP candidate in this game. Win or lose, Russell Wilson will throw himself into that conversation after this game. The Seahawks have been in countless games like this one for the better part of seven years. Their defense is no longer dominant, but is still more than good enough. Experience is the difference in a minor upset here. Sea 24 Phi 21
Steelers (-5.5) at Bengals – The Steelers are the better team, but their tendency to play down to their competition should make betters a little nervous. However, Pittsburgh has won 13 of 16 meetings between these two rivals this decade. With their star power, the Steelers offense is going to score a decent amount of points against just about everybody.
Cincinnati has scored over 30 points just twice this year. Both occasions were against Cleveland. There is nothing to suggest that the Bengals have the horses to keep up in this matchup. Pit 31 Cin 20
Featured image from Buffalo News
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