There are a lot of big spreads this weekend in the NFL which could mean crooked numbers across the league come Sunday.
After a two week hiatus from game picks, I am here to make my triumphant return. I took this time off to study game tapes and brush up on my skills. OK, not really, but I can’t do any worse than I did the first two weeks, right?
And if you’re following along at home and you took the opposite of my picks, then you’ve been a big winner so far. So, everyone wins. What can I say? I’m a man of the people.
New York Jets (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
Our first match up features two teams currently riding two game winning streaks. Both teams are under .500 for the season and a win in this one would go a long way to determining how much of a serious playoff run either could make. Each team had a tougher time than any NFL team should in disposing of the Browns, but came out victorious nonetheless. They both are desperate for a win, but the Jets need this more taking into account their high expectations before this season. The Jets will stop the run and come out of Miami as winners.
Pick: Jets +3.5
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) at Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
This line is easily the most confusing of the week. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has a knee injury and his status for the game as of this writing is uncertain, but that’s just one player. Take a look at the Ravens injury report and you’ll see how decimated they are on either side of the ball. Ben or no Ben, take the two thirds of the “Killer Bs” left standing in what should be an easy win for Pittsburgh.
Pick: Steelers +3
Dallas Cowboys (6-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-8)
Dak Prescott continues to “wow” everyone around the NFL with his skill and the way he takes care of the ball. Ezekiel Elliott remains the front runner for rookie of the year honors. Dez Bryant looked good and healthy last week against a much tougher Eagles secondary. The Cowboys are 3-0 on the road this season. Cody Kessler is the starting quarterback for the Browns this Sunday. Do I need to say anymore?
Pick: Cowboys -7
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Another touchdown favorite, except this one is at home at the raucous Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs did lose Jamaal Charles to the IR and Spencer Ware will be out for Sunday’s game. Charcandrick West demonstrated last year that he is a more than capable back that can make big plays when called upon. The Jaguars were expected to turn the corner and maybe challenge for the AFC South title this year but have resorted back to their old ways. The line here isn’t big enough for a Chiefs team that is 3-0 at home this season.
Pick: Chiefs -7
Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) at New York Giants (4-3)
Giants – 2.5
Divisional games are always tough to pick, but this rivalry may be the toughest one going in the NFL right now. These two teams are built similarly on offense in that neither particularly relies on one feature back and like to spread it out. The advantage here is that the Giants have better players at the wide receiver position. Carson Wentz looked great in the first three weeks of the season, throwing for five touchdowns and no turnovers. Since the Eagles Bye in Week 4, he has thrown four touchdowns but has turned it over four times as well. I expect the Giants defense to rally to the ball this week and force a few turnovers at MetLife. The Giants have had an extra week to prep for this Eagles team. I think it will show on Sunday.
Pick: Giants -2.5
Detroit Lions (4-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
Probably everyone’s anointed Super Bowl representative from the NFC after five weeks into the NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings have looked lost on offense since. They have mustered just 10 points per game in the last two contests and lack of a running game is a major culprit. Meanwhile, Matt Stafford and Co. have been lighting up defenses week in and week out. However, they haven’t faced anything remotely close to the Vikings defense yet this season. All of that being said, the Vikings usually play close games and while I don’t see the Lions pulling an upset here, I think they could at least keep the game within a touchdown.
Pick: Lions +6
Carolina Panthers (2-5) at Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
Would you look at this? Another Jeff Fisher team hovering around .500. I can see why the Panthers are favored here but I think it’s based solely off of reputation from last season. This team has struggled mightily on the road and cannot defend against the pass. Luckily for them, the Rams have been almost as bad in their new home and can’t pass all that well. This one is tough so I’m going with the team that is 3-2 this season as an underdog, rather than the team that is 1-4 as a favorite this season. Complain about that, Cam Newton.
Pick: Rams +3
New Orleans Saints (3-4) at San Francisco 49ers (1-6)
This Saints team is notorious for playing much better at home than on the road, but that’s not entirely true this season. The Saints are 2-2 at home and 1-2 on the road. This is a historically bad defense but the 49ers offense is so anemic it doesn’t even matter. I’m expecting Drew Brees to pick apart this 49ers defense in a much needed road win.
Pick: Saints -4
Tennessee Titans (4-4) at San Diego Chargers (3-5)
We all know the narrative that this is a Chargers team that can’t close out victories. They seem to have shaken that persona with a couple of close wins over the last few weeks. The Titans will have to rely heavily on Marcus Mariota and the passing game in order to beat the Chargers in what should be a shootout. Phillip Rivers needs four touchdown passes to reach 300 for his career and I think he does it this week against the Titans.
Pick: Chargers -4
Indianapolis Colts (3-5) at Green Bay Packers (4-3)
The Packers have been devastated by injuries, particularly at the running back position. James Starks did practice on a limited basis but he isn’t expected to play this weekend. That means Ty Montgomery will probably carry the load with Randall Cobb and Davante Adams pitching in. If Aaron Rodgers has to throw the ball 50 times again, this Colts defense is in for a world of hurt. They have allowed 230 points this season. The Cleveland Browns are the only team in the AFC to allow more. The offensive line hasn’t been able to protect Andrew Luck either. It’s a shame that this franchise is wasting some of his best years by not putting enough talent around him.
Pick: Packers -7.5
Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (6-2)
In what has to be the match up of the week, we get a blast from the past as the Raiders have risen to first place in the AFC West. This is going to be a fun game on both sides of the ball. We’ll watch gunslinger Derek Carr against the vaunted Denver defense and see if the Raiders defense can slow down Trevor Siemian enough to pull out a win. This one is too close to call as the line suggests and I’m not a full believer in the Raiders yet so give me the point.
Pick: Broncos +1
Buffalo Bills (4-4) at Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)
The Monday night game is an intriguing one. We have two teams whose styles mirror one another. They both play stifling defense, have running quarterbacks who can break a game open with their legs, and rely on their running game. The one issue for the Seahawks has been the health of their running backs and offensive line. This has limited their ability to get the offense on track. Russell Wilson has also looked hobbled out there with his knee brace which has affected the offense negatively. Don’t put it past Rex Ryan to use recently signed Percy Harvin to break a huge play against his former team. The Seahawks are just too good at home and on Monday Night Football… forget about it.
Pick: Seahawks -7