Remember last week when I said I was on fire? Well, here’s an updated representation of where I’m at.
Why did I pick so many upsets? Doing so led me to a mediocre 7-8 record for Week 8 (69-52 overall). I chose almost every winner correctly straight-up, but some backdoor covers (looking at you, Giants) and disgusting performances (over here, Kyle Allen) really came back to bite me. The slate this week isn’t too awful, so I hoping for a Kirk Cousins-esque resurgence.
So without any further ado, let’s try not and get embarrassed!
(Betting lines courtesy of Caesar’s Sportsbook; last updated October #29th)
BYE WEEK TEAMS: New Orleans Saints (7-1), Los Angeles Rams (5-3), Atlanta Falcons (1-7), Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)
HOUSTON TEXANS (5-3) [-1.5] vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-4)
The final London game of the 2019 NFL season will pit two AFC South foes in a matchup with playoff implications. The Texans lost J.J. Watt for the year last week from a torn pectoral muscle, so it remains to be seen how the defense will respond to losing their best player. The secondary got pieced up by Derek Carr and remains a concern, and Gardner Minshew should have similar success. As for the Jacksonville defense, they’re not the elite unit they used to be, but they’re getting the job done even after trading Jalen Ramsey. They’ve been proving me wrong the last few weeks, and although you should never, and I mean NEVER, count out Deshaun Watson, I like the Jaguars in this spot.
THE PICK: Jaguars (+1.5)
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (1-7) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (5-2) [-9.5]
Not only is this game going to be awful to watch, but the line is quite the toughie. The Redskins have said if Case Keenum is healthy this week after suffering a concussion Thursday night, he will start. Keenum gives the Redskins the best chance to win, but why would they try and do that? Simple answer, because they’re the Redskins! Buffalo got bodied by Philadelphia, proving to their many detractors that they are at most a .500-level team that’s schedule is inflated due to a cupcake record. Even if Keenum can’t go, I like the Skins to at least cover this week.
THE PICK: Redskins (+9.5)
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-2) vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-3) [-1.0]
One of the better games on tap this weekend, the red-hot Vikings travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs and most likely the return of Patrick Mahomes. Kirk Cousins, who has been sensational as of late, shouldn’t have any problem having another great performance against the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see (if he plays) how Mahomes looks coming off of his injury, but I don’t care if he’s playing without two legs, the guy will ball out. The Vikings defense is a concern for Kansas City, but I’m not sure if I trust Cousins in a game of this caliber…yet. I’m going with the Chiefs, but if Minny proves me wrong they will certainly be added to the list of Super Bowl contenders.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-1.0)
NEW YORK JETS (1-6) [-3.0] vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (0-8)
The Miami Dolphins were headed for disaster on Monday Night Football. Jumping out to a 14-0 lead, their chances of the #1 overall pick were dwindling. Then at halftime they regrouped, got back on track, and proceeded to give up 24 unanswered points to earn themselves another loss. Heart of a non-champion right there.
In this Week 9 edition of #StinkerOfTheWeek, the same awful Dolphins are back in Miami to take on a slightly less awful Jets squad. While Miami has played well enough to cover the spread for the last two weeks, I don’t expect this game to be as close as the line indicates. Maybe Jets fans are hoping they lose this game, as it will almost certainly give Adam Gase the pink slip (in a revenge game nonetheless!).
THE PICK: Jets (-3.0)
CHICAGO BEARS (3-4) vs. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-4) [-4.5]
A rematch of last year’s NFC Wild Card game, the Bears will seek retribution for the heart-wrenching loss. Unfortunately, with the way Mitchell Trubisky is playing, that seems quite unlikely. The Eagles proved they can rely on their offense, destroying a really good Bills defense thanks to the efforts of Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders. If you think about it, the Bills and Bears are quite similar: great defenses held back by their inept quarterbacks and mirky play-calling. The loser of this game would need a miracle to make the playoffs, and I simply trust the Eagles more in this spot to accomplish that task.
THE PICK: Eagles (-4.5)
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (5-2) [-1.0] vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (3-4)
So much for not taking underdogs again! While I am certainly impressed with how the Colts have performed this season, you cannot argue against their inconsistency. This is the same team that has beaten Kansas City and lost to Oakland, for crying out loud! Mason Rudolph looked awful at the beginning of the Monday Night Football game against Miami, but then was uncorking bombs to his receivers left and right. I do think Jacoby Brissett is better than Rudolph overall, but the difference is I trust Rudolph to connect on more downfield throws against a young Indy secondary. Pittsburgh knows every game is a must-win right now.
THE PICK: Steelers (+1.0)
TENNESSEE TITANS (4-4) vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-3) [-3.5]
The Carolina Panthers are a tough nut to crack. Their defense was supposed to be good until the 49ers did this to them. Kyle Allen was being heralded as the new savior at quarterback, but he laid an egg. So now what? They are similar in many ways to their opponent this week, the Tennessee Titans. Ryan Tannehill has given this offense the boost it so desperately needed, but the other side of the ball has looked a little iffy. Look for the Panthers to force-feed Christian McCaffrey in this one, and I think a big game from the former Stanford back will be pivotal for Carolina to stay in the NFC playoff race.
THE PICK: Panthers (-3.5)
DETROIT LIONS (3-3-1) vs. OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-4) [-2.0]
I’m surprised this game isn’t a pick ’em. The Raiders have taken a nice step forward this season behind the solid play of Derek Carr and a stellar rookie campaign from Josh Jacobs. Detroit’s record is nothing to go crazy over, but this is a good football team with an improving defense and Matthew Stafford stepping up. The difference for me in this game is going to be the pass defense. Where Detroit has a clear #1 corner in Darius Slay plus other veterans, the Raiders are more young and raw. Very close, but give me the Lions.
THE PICK: Lions (+2.0)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-5) vs. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-2) [-4.5]
If you guys didn’t know this already, while I do choose every game against the spread in this article, there are always a few games a week that I put real money on. This is what I call a stay-away game.
This could be a quintessential Seattle trap game, one they seem to lose every year. Their secondary is a train wreck, allowing Matt Schaub (yes, you read that right) to look like Dan Marino in his first start since 2015. Jameis Winston may be good for a turnover or four, but you can’t expect him not to put up points. That being said, I still like Seattle simply for the fact that Russell Wilson will get to throw against an awful defense himself!
THE PICK: Seahawks (-4.5)
CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-5) [-4.0] vs. DENVER BRONCOS (2-6)
Much of the media talk about the Cleveland Browns has been negative, and you can’t really blame them. On the other side, their schedule lightens up greatly during the second half, and a matchup with the Broncos headed by Brandon Allen is just what the doctor ordered. Now, I don’t want to take anything away from Vic Fangio’s defense, which has been lights out in recent weeks. Still, one team is clearly rebuilding and the other is trying to win now, so I’d like to think the Browns make a statement.
THE PICK: Browns (-4.0)
GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-1) [-3.5] vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3-5)
Anthony Lynn must be feeling some pressure from the higher-ups, as he made the decision Monday to fire offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The Chargers offense has been struggling, especially on the ground, so with Lynn called the plays now there is a chance for a resurgence. It won’t be tough against this Packers team though, as they’re going to need to score enough to beat them. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones have been sensational in recent weeks, and a banged-up LA defense won’t slow them down. Throw in a ferocious Green Bay pass-rush against this offensive line, the Chargers may be waving the white flag after this week.
THE PICK: Packers (-3.5)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (8-0) [-3.0] vs. BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-2)
The Patriots have been the most dominant team in the NFL this season. The offensive, even with some injuries and run game duds, has been fantastic. Their defense is on pace to be the best unit of all-time. Bill Belichick hasn’t lost a step. So it goes without saying that I’m picking New England to co- (record scratch) OHH YEAH THAT’S RIGHT CALL ME THE GREAT BAMBINO CUZ I’M CALLING MY SHOT!
While the Patriots defense is playing flawless, they haven’t faced a team with as much speed and innovation on offense as Baltimore. Lamar Jackson is so fast that he should easily get to the second level and beyond on his runs and QB sneaks. If there is one minor weakness with the Patriots’ linebackers, they aren’t necessarily the fastest (outside of Jamie Collins). Throw in the return of Hollywood Brown from injury and elite run defense, I truly believe Baltimore pulls off the upset and hands New England their first loss of the season.
THE PICK: Ravens (+3.0)
DALLAS COWBOYS (4-3) [-7.5] vs. NEW YORK GIANTS (2-6)
Week 1 saw the Cowboys dismantle the New York Football Giants 35-17, but that was when Eli Manning was the starter. Now, with Danny Dimes in tow, I fully expect… a similar result.
Yeah, this Cowboys team is just better than the Giants in nearly every facet of the game. Dak is still playing with the intention of being the highest-paid quarterback in the league and shouldn’t have any trouble with this awful secondary. The addition of Leonard Williams to the Giants defensive line is a boon, but the Cowboys elite pass protection should help mitigate that.
THE PICK: Cowboys (-7.5)