Don’t let last week’s couple of upsets fool you, most of what happened this past week was not hard to see coming, and if I had just followed my own advice when picking, I’d have done better than I did.
This is the first week where we’re seeing some prohibitive favorites, and while tempting on the surface, picking double digit spread games can be among the most difficult ones to assess. We’ll proceed with caution.
San Diego (+1.5) @Miami (Stations)
Wasn’t it just a week or two ago that the Chargers looked like one of the best teams in the entire NFL? Now they look a bit flat and I have my doubts about how they’ll match up with the Dolphins, who have an underrated defense that could take advantage of San Diego’s difficulties in pass protection.
Miami Dolphins 23 San Diego Chargers 21
Jacksonville (+11.5) @Cincinnati (5Dimes)
The Jaguars had a three week strong string going where they hadn’t lost by double digits up until last week’s game against Miami. Blake Bortles has had two pretty bad games in a row also (he was lousy in the Jacksonville win against Cleveland). That’s a problem. The Bengals get AJ Green back this week but lose Vontaze Burfict. Push. Cincinnati has a look ahead divisional match up with Cleveland on short rest coming up, so maybe they aren’t able to quite run it up enough to cover the number here.
Cincinnati Bengals 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 14
Tampa Bay (+6.5) @Cleveland (Westgate Superbook)
This is the last of the three “winnable games” in a row the Browns will play. They lost to the Jags, but beat the Raiders last week. They’ll probably win this one too, as the Buccaneers are the team most likely to get destroyed on any given Sunday. My problem here is that Cleveland has lost their starting center and that can wreak havoc with an offense. Just ask the Eagles. I don’t trust the Bucs to cover this number, but I’ll pick them all the same.
Cleveland Browns 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
Washington (+1) @Minnesota (Westgate Superbook)
Washington won their Super Bowl last week. No way can they avoid being flat for this game. Plus, Robert Griffin III is supposedly going to come back and start this game. I think that’s a mistake. The RacialSlurs have a bye next week. Why not give RG3 the extra week to mesh with the offense. The Vikings have their own issues on offense, but their D is solid. I’ll take ‘em.
Minnesota Vikings 21 Washington Racial Slurs 17
Philadelphia (-1) @Houston (Westgate Superbook)
Despite the Eagles’ propensity to play poorly and then still come charging at the end to have a chance to win, I don’t like them in this spot at all. I suspect last week’s loss took a little something out of them, plus they’re on the road again. The last time they faced a running game as solid as Houston’s, Frank Gore had over 100 yards. Also look for Ryan Fitzpatrick to have a better than average day for him, which often happens against Philadelhpia. And look for JJ Watt to make one of those plays he often makes, the game changing, spread-covering kind.
Houston Texans 27 Philadelphia Eagles 24
NY Jets (+10) @Kansas City (MGM Mirage)
This is awfully tough. The Chiefs have looked really good for several weeks running, while the Jets are a complete mess. That said, New York will start Michael Vick, and I almost feel like Vick will be motivated to play especially well against Andy Reid, the man who gave him his second chance in the NFL. The Jets are probably too awful to take, but I’m taking them anyway.
Kansas City Chiefs 28 New York Jets 20
St. Louis (+9.5) @San Francisco (MGM Mirage)
This game has the distinction of being the first rematch of the year. The 49ers won the first contest by two touchdowns, and even though Jeff Fisher is good at getting his teams up, especially for divisional contests or revenge games, the Rams have multiple injuries and are just plain undermanned going into this one. Maybe St. Louis peaked when they beat the Seahawks. Could you blame them?
San Francisco 49ers 28 St. Louis Rams 17
Oakland (+15) @Seattle (William Hill)
For what I think are obvious reasons, I wouldn’t touch this game. It’s hard to imagine the Seahawks being super motivated to play a winless team at home, and the Seahawks only beat a pretty shaky Carolina squad by 4 points. Seattle wins going away, but by 15?
Seattle Seahawks 23 Oakland Raiders 10
Baltimore (pick ‘em) @Pittsburgh (5Dimes)
This is another rematch game, and I like the Ravens to win the second time around just like they did the first. The Steelers are coming off that huge offensive show against the Colts, but I don’t think you’ll see those kind of fireworks again. Baltimore, meanwhile, is looking to rebound off a tough loss to the Bengals. They need this division game, and the Steelers defense quietly gave up a ton of points last week. Look for that to happen again.
Baltimore Ravens 31 Pittsburgh Steelers 24
Best Picks Of The Week
Arizona (+3.5) @Dallas (MGM Mirage)
I’m not particularly confident about any games this week, so this one is good enough to make it into Best Picks. Tony Romo may not play. If Brandon Weeden is the starter, then I LOVE the Cardinals. Even if Romo plays, he may be banged up. The Arizona defense should be loaded for bear and will key like crazy on DeMarco Murray. Dallas’ defense is starting to get banged up itself, and in any case they weren’t that great to begin with. The Cardinals’ offense is underrated and is very capable of playing both the control game or lighting it up a little. I like the Cardinals to win outright.
Arizona Cardinals 24 Dallas Cowboys 20
Denver (-3) @New England (Westgate Superbook)
I happen to think that the Broncos are just the “it” team this year. They beat everyone they play, no matter how good they are. Their only loss was at Seattle in overtime. That said, Peyton Manning has only won at New England twice in nine tries in his career. Even if Denver pulls this one out, I bet it’s a razor’s edge margin.
Denver Broncos 30 New England Patriots 28
Baltimore @Pittsburgh over/under 47.5 (5Dimes)
Baltimore’s defense has played pretty well this season, but I’m thinking the Steelers have a bit of confidence on that side of the ball after last week. I don’t think Pittsburgh gets 500 yards again, but they’ll get some. The Steelers’ defense, meanwhile, is really porous. Baltimore should go right through them. This game should go over.
Baltimore Ravens 31 Pittsburgh Steelers 24
Indianapolis (-3) @NY Giants (Westgate Superbook)
The Colts should be embarrassed by that performance last week and should come to play accordingly. Their offense, meanwhile, is stellar. Andrew Luck is having the kind of breakout season that might signal his being one of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL for the next decade or more. That’s how it happened with Peyton in Indy.
Indianapolis Colts 30 New York Giants 24
[featured image via NFL Twitter]