Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my third season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday Night) NY JETS at INDIANAPOLIS (-10) (Over/Under 44.5)
Mike White and the mighty Jets take their one-game winning streak to Indianapolis on a short week hoping to capture some of the Halloween magic once again. There were many play-by-play announcers who went to the well too many times with the Halloween puns, so let’s not go there. That said, what we saw from White and the offense was no trick. Indeed, even after giving up 31 points in the win, we can confidently say this team is playing their hearts out for head coach Robert Saleh.
The Colts will be deflated entering this game after blowing a legitimate chance to claw back some valuable ground in the AFC South race. Now, after the Carson Wentz fourth-quarter meltdown, things look grim, and the best scenario appears to be a Wild Card berth. The Vegas oddsmakers are correct to make the home team comfortable favorites, but it is a bit premature to dismiss the Jets in that manner after what we saw last Sunday.
Pick: New York
HOUSTON at MIAMI (-7) (Over/Under 46)
The Dolphins deserve to be where they are right now: in the doldrums. A horrendous start to the season has put immense pressure on head coach Brian Flores, who needs this win to keep the doubters at bay for another week. The fact the Miami is laying only single-digit points against the worst team in the league is concerning. The rest of the season amounts to an audition for Tua Tagovailoa and several other players; will they respond, or will they wilt under the heat?
It is somewhat fitting that it is the Texans coming to town, as the Dolphins have been reportedly the most interested team in acquiring the services of one Deshaun Watson. Things have gone quiet on that front of late, however, and it seems nothing will come to pass for now. Tyrod Taylor’s status remains up in the air, so it will be Davis Mills once again flinging the rock around – and probably getting feasted on by the Miami front seven. Given the Dolphins’ struggles, it is tough to get behind them here, so take the points and see how this strange clash plays out.
DENVER at DALLAS (-9.5) (Over/Under 49.5)
They found a way to get the job done. That is the best thing you can say about the Broncos’ performance against Washington, really. It wasn’t the most inspiring and it didn’t get you out of your seat, but it ended up in a W. The blockbuster trade that went down this week, sending Von Miller to the Rams for a pair of draft picks, speaks to this franchise’s trajectory. It is a team riding the wave of mediocrity, not quite sure whether to stick or twist.
Dallas, on the other hand, could not be more certain of their path – and it may be to Arizona in February for a date with destiny. Jerry World will be rocking this week after Cooper Rush’s late touchdown pass to Amari Cooper lifted the Cowboys to 6-1 and sitting pretty in the NFC. Vegas makes them 9.5-point home favorites, with the presumption that Dak Prescott will be back in the line-up. Calf injuries can be tough to recover from, though, so don’t let optimistic early week reports fool you. Rush is clearly competent enough to play well, but for the moment take the cautious approach and take the points.
MINNESOTA at BALTIMORE (-5.5) (Over/Under 49.5)
The Vikings must be sick after the loss on Sunday night, which essentially took the air out of their sails after a promising run. Now, at 3-4, they face an unenviable climb to the top of the NFC North and the 7-1 Packers – and this week a trip to a peeved Baltimore team coming off a bye. It is not the greatest spot here for the Vikings, that is for sure. Even still, there is reason to believe that in an offensive game they could match wits with the Ravens.
Baltimore’s proud defense took a major beating at the hands of the Bengals last time out, but with a bye week to recover and regroup we should expect to see the Ravens at their sharpest. Cincinnati’s loss to the Jets has put the Ravens back atop the division, so it is theirs to control. The connection between Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews could give the Vikings problems, but 5.5 points is just a little bit too rich.
NEW ENGLAND (-4) at CAROLINA (Over/Under 41.5)
The Patriots went into sunny Los Angeles and took care of business in a very ‘Do your job’, old school Bill Belichick kind of way. The old master could be forgiven for smiling serenely in his office this week thinking back on how he has rounded the team into shape after a rough start. Mac Jones has continued to play solidly, benefitting from a strong rushing attack and defensive stubbornness along the way. Interestingly, the Patriots are 1-4 at home this season, but 3-0 on the road. That goes some way to explaining why they are road favorites in Carolina this week.
Another factor, of course, is the availability of Sam Darnold. The young Panthers quarterback suffered a concussion on Sunday after taking some vicious hits on called run plays. If he can’t play, it will be P.J. Walker against the Patriots defense – not a friendly match-up on paper for the former. There are some rumblings that Christian McCaffrey could make his return as well. Could we see Carolina line up the uber-talented back in the Wildcat all game long and go nuts? Anything is possible. Carolina’s defense could give Jones problems here, so while it remains +4, take the points.
BUFFALO (-14) at JACKSONVILLE (Over/Under 48.5)
It is becoming increasingly clear that Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer is out of his depth in the NFL. How long it will take for that to become clear to the Jaguars brass remains to be seen. Trevor Lawrence was celebrated as a game-changing prospect, but his talents appear to be weakened in Jacksonville, like Superman without his powers. It could be rookie growing pains, or it could be unimaginative coaching. In any case, Lawrence has a tough draw this week against the disciplined Buffalo defense.
Being listed as 14-point favorites on the road in the NFL should come with a special badge of honor, such is its significance. The market is high on Buffalo, and so they should be. After all, Sean McDermott’s team has hardly put a foot wrong all season. Even as Josh Allen struggled last week, they stuck to the plan and eventually got their rewards. This week, the Bills may not struggle so much. Expect a routine victory on the road and another statement to the AFC at large.
CLEVELAND at CINCINNATI (-3) (Over/Under 46.5)
The Browns will be a frustrated bunch after losing so narrowly to their arch-rivals Pittsburgh, especially since they had chances to win the game. A costly fumble by Jarvis Landry was just one of the crucial plays that didn’t go their way. As they dust themselves off for the clash with another division rival in Cincinnati, the focus must be on getting back to their roots. One has to wonder how much longer Odell Beckham Jr Jr. has before the team goes another direction.
Cincinnati was one of the hot teams coming into last week, only to be bested by the upstart Jets. Vegas has them listed as conservative three-point home favorites here, almost as if they are being punished for betraying our trust. In a game of two evenly matched teams, this is a fair line. The question will be how the Bengals offense fares against the Browns’ sturdy defense. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, that one goes to the home team.
LAS VEGAS (-3) at NY GIANTS (Over/Under 47.5)
The Raiders have had to deal with a tragic incident off the field this week, so they could be forgiven if their focus wasn’t at 100% entering this road game in New Jersey. On the field, the Raiders are off to a 5-2 start and have every chance to top the AFC West in a year when the Chiefs are struggling and the Chargers are reverting to form. Derek Carr’s form has been exceptional, and he is fancied to carry on his hot streak – even against a feisty Giants defense.
The calls for Dave Gettleman’s resignation may get a little louder this week as the New York papers go to town on the decisions made throughout his tenure. Questions remain around Daniel Jones, even if it is slightly unfair to judge him with basically all his primary skill players injured. The G-Men went toe to toe with the Chiefs on Monday night, but few would have had faith in Jones to lead the team to victory on the final drive. That in itself is an indictment of his progress, and he may be playing his last stretch of games as a Giant if things continue in the same vein.
Pick: Las Vegas
ATLANTA at NEW ORLEANS (-6) (Over/Under 43)
Atlanta’s up-and-down season continued last week at home as they produced one of their poorest offensive showings in a long time against Carolina. Granted, the Panthers defense had a lot to do with that, but Matt Ryan also lacked rhythm – and Calvin Ridley – who has stepped away from the sport for mental health reasons. The NFC South gauntlet takes a considerable step up this week against the Saints, whose quarterback situation remains a mystery.
Trevor or Taysom – that is the question. And for the Saints, who have won and covered the last three times against the Falcons, it may not matter. Sean Payton has proven his worth many times as a head coach, but this season might be his finest work yet. With a stifling defense to act as a battering ram, his offense has been able to stay on script on the way to a 5-2 record. Six points seems a bit rich, but the history suggests New Orleans will make short work of their rivals here.
Pick: New Orleans
LA CHARGERS (-2) at PHILADELPHIA (Over/Under 50.5)
Although they have lost their last two games, overall things are trending up from a spread perspective for the Chargers. In all, they have won and covered in eight of their last 11 games. Made short road favorites against Philadelphia this week, the market is clearly a little jumpy about putting their faith in this team. In this battle of quarterbacks, however, Justin Herbert is the hands-down option to choose.
The Eagles have lost their last four games at home and questions abound over whether Jalen Hurts is the answer – and just how much water these budding flowers of Nick Sirianni will need. There is a lot of pride in the locker room, though, and the Chargers are prone to slip-ups of this kind. As long as the line remains less than three points, though, we can talk ourselves into a road win.
Pick: Los Angeles
GREEN BAY at KANSAS CITY (-7) (Over/Under 55.5)
The market is currently adjusting to the news that Aaron Rodgers has tested positive for Covid-19, with the initial reaction being to make the Chiefs seven-point favorites. Green Bay has been on a tear of late, winning and covering seven straight games since their inexplicable opening week loss. Young Jordan Love could be thrown into the fray, and the assignment is not quite as daunting as it may seem, what with Kansas City’s defense struggling.
That might go some way to explaining why the Chiefs are a mere seven-point favorite at home. The performance against the Giants felt like a team that was in major flux barely getting over the hump, with more relief than glee after the final play. Patrick Mahomes II and the offense lack dynamism, something we thought we would never see. The Packers should fancy their chances to create problems for the Chiefs defense; the question will be whether Mahomes and company can respond.
Pick: Green Bay
ARIZONA (-1) at SAN FRANCISCO (Over/Under 46.5)
This line has shifted a little bit since it opened, with money pouring in on the 49ers. The result is that the Cardinals now look like much better value, though one must question the market’s wisdom on the San Francisco love. After all, Arizona barely lost to the Packers, albeit the performance was not up to snuff. Even in one of their worst games of the season, they still almost won. That is a good sign and one they can take heart in as they take their 10-day rest to San Francisco.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who had been mooted as a candidate to be benched last week, responded well to the pressure in Chicago. The offense came to life and gave a decent Bears defense all it could handle. The battle between the 49ers offense and the Cardinals defense will be the key one here. Anything but a clean game from Garoppolo could see a swift change made.
(Sunday Night) TENNESSEE at LA RAMS (-7.5) (Over/Under 54)
The Derrick Henry injury is a horrific blow for the Titans. Despite that, they have all but assured themselves of a playoff berth after the win over Indianapolis last week. The AFC South can be a friendly division like that. Ryan Tannehill’s penchant for play action passing precision will mitigate some of the Henry loss, while the defense has plenty to build on after good performances lately. Tennessee has already knocked off the Bills and Chiefs; how will they fare in L.A.? The Titans, incidentally, are 7-2 in their last nine as underdog.
The Rams are pushing their chips to the middle of the table with the Von Miller trade, making a statement that their plan is to win with established veterans and let the uncertainty of the Draft fall to others. The NFC playoff race will almost certainly involve Sean McVay’s team; it is now a matter of putting away opponents like the Titans and surging to the No 1 seed. Watch out for Miller’s debut; he could make a strong impression.
Pick: Los Angeles
(Monday Night) CHICAGO at PITTSBURGH (-6.5) (Over/Under 40)
The Bears would have been encouraged by Justin Fields’ play last week, but overall, the rookie has struggled at the NFL level to make a consistent impact. Matt Nagy should return this week after being diagnosed with Covid-19, but the test ahead is a tricky one. The Pittsburgh defense is a nasty unit capable of setting back Fields’ progress – and maybe even forcing the Bears to consider a coaching change.
Ben Roethlisberger has been able to play a safe game to complement his defense’s performance, but how long that can last remains to be seen. At some point, Pittsburgh will have to chuck it downfield time and again and make a comeback. Luckily, the Bears are not the type of team to create that situation. The 6.5-point line is fair for this game, but defenses could rule here.
Once again this year this article will give out not only the Best Bets but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 Star scale. The more stars, the bigger the emphasis on that side of the game.
This week, we will focus our bets around the following lines:
- 1 LA CHARGERS (-2) at PHILADELPHIA
- 2 NEW ORLEANS (-6) vs. ATLANTA
- 3 MINNESOTA (+5.5) at BALTIMORE
- 4 CHICAGO (+6.5) at PITTSBURGH
With these likes in mind, here are the Week 9 selections:
* ONE STAR GAMES *
- 2-TEAM ATS DOUBLE (2.61-1 ODDS)
- MINNESOTA (+5.5)
- CHICAGO (+6.5)
** TWO STAR GAMES **
- 2-TEAM ATS FAVORITES DOUBLE (2.42-1 ODDS):
- LA CHARGERS (-2)
- NEW ORLEANS (-6)
*** THREE STAR GAMES ***
- 4-TEAM MONEY LINE ACCUMULATOR (6.3-1 ODDS)
- NEW ORLEANS - FOR THE WIN
- LAS VEGAS – FOR THE WIN
- LA CHARGERS – FOR THE WIN
- ARIZONA – FOR THE WIN
PICK(S) OF THE WEEK: New Orleans, LA Chargers, Minnesota, Chicago
Last Week / Season
- LAST WEEK: 9-6
- SEASON OVERALL: 54-66-1
- BEST BETS: 15-17
- PICKS OF THE WEEK: 15-22
Good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to email@example.com