actually don’t love this game from a betting standpoint, however, I have decided to take a new angle with the Bears and their fans this season. Instead of picking them to lose 24-3 every week and hearing crap from them when they win, I’m going to pull a triple-level troll move here and start picking them to win every week. Yes, I will be sacrificing my personal ATS record in the hopes that the Bears lose every game moving forward. Let’s get hot!
The Pick: Bears 17, Panthers 16
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Ravens -7.5
For a hot minute there, I was leaning bailing on my “Carson Wentz shocks the world with a backdoor cover” … and I decided to ultimately do it. The Ravens are just a better team and they are not afraid to blow out a bad team. We haven’t seen a nova game from Lamar Jackson yet and I think we get one this week. He and Marquise Brown hook up for a couple of scores on a porous Eagles defense and Lamar runs for another couple himself.
The Pick: Ravens 41, Eagles 17
Atlanta (0-5) at Minnesota (1-4)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Vikings -4
Anyone who reads my picks columns over the years knows I’m a big fan of the Dead Cat Bounce.
If you don’t know what it means, basically it involves a team firing its coach and then playing well the following week. Players have acknowledged this is a thing (Brady Quinn mentioned how everyone cranks up the energy a notch when the coach is canned because you realize everyone’s job is on the line) and it shows up pretty well in the start line and the results. We saw the Texans take care of business against the Jags last week after Bill O’Brien was fired.
I think the Falcons will do something similar and try to air it out against a porous Vikings defense. Matt Ryan will be miffed at Arthur Blank’s comments and looking to prove something. Big day for him, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley.
Really, really, really want to pick the Browns here. I think they’re legit at 4-1 — the first time since 1994 — but the specific circumstances surrounding this game gave me a little spooked. We don’t know if Odell Beckham is going to play after the star wide receiver was sent home with an illness on Thursday. Baker Mayfield should be good to go, but he’s banged up this week. The Steelers haven’t ever lost to Cleveland at home under Mike Tomlin. Ben Roethlisberger LIGHTS UP the Browns because they passed on him in 2004 and he still has a chip on his shoulder. But you know what? I don’t care. I’m here to LIVE. Give me Cleveland. Love the over in this game too, as well.
The Pick: Browns 31, Steelers 28
Houston (1-4) at Tennessee (4-0)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Titans -3
I’m never doubting Mike Vrabel’s team again. What an impressive effort against Buffalo with no practice. He went Full Belichick and convinced his team to get motivated by screwing up the COVID protocols. It worked and Tennessee looked great against Buffalo. They used a formula — dropping back in zone coverage and forcing an impatient quarterback who likes to run to beat them by reading the full field and being super aggressive into short windows — to take out Josh Allen. We saw the Vikings do the same thing against Deshaun Watson and it worked very well. I think we’ll see a repeat this week and the Titans can win this game. I love the over 53 here as well, but if you go that route you need Watson to lob up points late, which Allen and Buffalo did not do.
The Pick: Titans 31, Texans 24
Washington (1-4) at New York Giants (0-5)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Giants -2.5
I’m not going to overcomplicate matters here: The Giants should not be favored in any football game right now.
The Pick: Washington 17, Giants 14
Cincinnati (1-3-1) at Indianapolis (3-2)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Indianapolis -8
Made a major mistake assuming Joe Burrow could storm through the backdoor against the Ravens and their defense. I think Indy will be different — their defense is good, but they are willing to let teams hang around by not closing out in the red zone and playing prevent/melting clock in the second half. That should be enough to let Joe Burrow sneak through the backdoor getting more than a touchdown. If Darius Leonard doesn’t play, I love Joe Mixon’s prop overs and using him in DFS. I love Jonathan Taylor props either way. Breakout game coming for him.
The Pick: Colts 21, Bengals 14
Denver (1-3) at New England (2-2)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Steelers -9.5
There are just about 20 quarterbacks under the age of 25 who have ever won a football game — the home or away — against Bill Belichick over the 20 years. That’s not a lot. The Pats aren’t the same as their peak, but they managed to bottle up Patrick Mahomes the other day. I think they can handle Drew Lock and/or Brett Rypien. With Cam Newton back and Damien Harris emerging, we could certainly see this game end up being a low-scoring slog with a late defensive score by New England.
- The Pick: Patriots 28, Broncos 14
Detroit (1-3) at Jacksonville (1-4)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Lions -3
The Lions are better than 1-3, are coming off a bye, have a very good passing offense, and are playing against the worst defense in football. The Jaguars can’t stop anyone and don’t have a whole lot of efficiency when it comes to their red zone performance and/or their kicking game. Gardner Minshew should be able to pass in this game — the Lions aren’t good on defense either — but I’ll take the better quarterback and the better team here laying the points. If Matt Patricia blows another double-digit lead he might be looking for a job.
- The Pick: Lions 35, Jaguars 31
New York Jets (0-5) at Miami (2-3)
- 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Dolphins -8
Again, not going to overcomplicate things here: I will not be betting on the combination of the Jets and Adam Gase ever again, especially as long as they’re trotting out Joe Flacco and Frank Gore.
- The Pick: Dolphins 24, Jets 13
Green Bay (4-0) at Tampa Bay (3-2)
- 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Packers -1
Outstanding late game between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. The Packers are probably the better team here, but this is sort of a desperation game for the Buccaneers, who would fall to 3-3 after losing to the Bears last week. The Packers are off a bye but the Bucs get 10 days to rest too. I am very interested to see how the Tampa run defense responds to the loss of Vita Vea. One of the best run defenders in the NFL just a few years into his career, losing him could unlock Aaron Jones in a big way. I’ll regret this pick if it’s that problematic, but I tend to think Brady — who caught a backhanded insult from Jamaal Williams this week — will come out guns blazing for this matchup and take care of business at home.
The Pick: Buccaneers 28, Packers 24
Los Angeles Rams (4-1) at San Francisco (2-3)
- 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Point spread: 49ers +3.5
Kind of like the Philly game, I’m going to buy as low as possible on a dog here. The 49ers are a team no one wants anything to do with. They just lost to the Dolphins in horrific fashion at home. The Rams are playing well and everyone will be on them. Give me Jimmy Garoppolo in a bounceback/buy-low spot, along with the 49ers rushing attack and a big stage for George Kittle. Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to just lie down and get steamrolled at home again, especially in a massive division game against a rival with the 49ers desperately needing to pick up a win with key division games looming. They’ll hang close or win outright.
The Pick: 49ers 24, Rams 21
Kansas City (4-1) at Buffalo (4-1)
5 p.m. ET (NFLN)
Point spread: Chiefs -3.5
Like the Titans, the Chiefs have shown an ability to play plenty of zone coverage and limit an explosive passing offense with a rushing quarterback. They should be able to do it against the Bills here — I am a little concerned they could give up shot plays to Stefon Diggs as they did to Henry Ruggs and Nelson Agholar for Las Vegas last week, but I think Steve Spagnuolo can cook up a defense to slow down Buffalo. I don’t think Buffalo can stop the Chiefs offense right now. Oddly enough, this could be a get right spot for Patrick Mahomes and Co.
The Pick: Chiefs 35, Bills 28
Cardinals (3-2) at Dallas (2-3)
8:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Point spread: Cardinals -1.5
Andy Dalton in prime time? Yes, I will fade him. I actually think Dalton will play well in this spot, with Chandler Jones out for the Cardinals and the weapons he has at his disposal. But the Cowboys are dealing with major offensive line issues and Dalton without protection is a problem. The Cowboys defense is impressively bad and Kyler Murray/DeAndre Hopkins should be able to attack them through the air.