First of all, shout out to the Chiefs for last week’s excellent last-minute cover against Washington. Justin Houston’s fumble return touchdown gave Kansas City the edge it needed to salvage desperate gamblers betting on it to cover a seven-point spread.
It wasn’t the kind of bet you make to win much, since Washington was a popular underdog pick last week, but hey, at least it made my picks look okay. I went 10-5 against the spread last week. Oddly enough, the “best bets” are where I struggled the most — thanks Patriots defense.
This week’s games are tougher to pick. There really are no big underdogs outside of the Jaguars and Cardinals. I wouldn’t get anywhere near Arizona right now, to be honest. It’s kind of amazing they’re 2-2. Both of those wins came in overtime, against the Colts in Week 2 and the 49ers last week. Not exactly the kind of wins that point to a very good team.
If you do have a hankering to bet on the Cardinals, might I suggest a few bucks on Bruce Arians losing his job after the season.
OK, on with the picks. Home teams are in all caps. I use OddsShark for my spreads and betting info.
Easy picks for this week
EAGLES (-6.5) over Cardinals
The Chandler Jones trade is shaping up just fine ... for Chandler Jones. He got an $85 million deal ahead of his second season with the Cardinals, premium pass-rusher money. And he’s got four sacks on the season. Unfortunately, those sacks aren’t doing much of anything for the terrible Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Patriots, who didn’t want to pay him, desperately need a pass rusher.
The Eagles don’t need much of anything. They’re a pretty good team, and should mop the floor with the Cardinals this week. Don’t be surprised if they hit the 45-point over/under all by themselves.
RAMS (-1) over Seahawks
One staple of the Jeff Fisher Rams was beating the Seahawks. Now that the Rams are actually good, I’m legitimately wondering if they can still do that as consistently as they did under Fisher, who was a terrible coach most of the rest of the time.
The Seahawks looked much better trouncing the Colts last week, but that was a home game. I’ll give the Rams the edge in Los Angeles.
RAIDERS (-2.5) over Ravens
The good news for Raiders fans is that E.J. Manuel might not be the worst quarterback on the field in this game. That honor belongs to Joe Flacco.
COLTS (-1.5) over 49ers
Can’t wait to watch this one!
Vikings (-2.5) over BEARS
Going with Mitch Trubisky is the right move, but it’s a tough week to make that switch against the Vikings defense, which can be pretty good from time to time. I also don’t trust John Fox to set up his rookie QB to succeed.
Jets (even) over BROWNS
Face it, the Browns will NEVER be good.
Chargers (+3.5) over GIANTS
Two winless teams, a rubbernecker’s delight of a game. The Chargers’ woes can be blamed on bad luck as much as anything else. Three of their four losses this season were within a three-point margin.
Whereas for the Giants, they’re just bad. The offense isn’t talented outside of Odell Beckham Jr. and average pocket statue Eli Manning. The coaching is so incompetent that I can’t believe Ben McAdoo hasn’t been appointed to Trump’s cabinet.
Something’s gotta give for the Chargers, right?
TEXANS (even) over Chiefs
This is the week the wins stop for the Chiefs. Don’t worry, they’re still a good team, but the Texans are hitting on all cylinders right now.
LIONS (-2.5) over Panthers
Was that the real Panthers offense we saw last week or just one that had the fortune of going up against the Patriots defense?
This is a tough one to pick because of the turnovers produced by Detroit’s defense, 11 on the season so far. That’s not typically something a team can sustain from week to week. Too much of that depends on factors outside of the defense’s control.
On the flip side of that, the Panthers have been turning it over at a good clip, seven times in four games for the offense.
This is a tough game to pick, but I’ll go with the home team.
COWBOYS (-2.5) over Packers
Dallas’ offense needs a break, a good four quarters of solid production to get themselves back on track. They’re close, as Geoff Schwartz pointed out this week. And the football gods are sending them a gift in the form of Dom Capers’ defense, always a good remedy for an ailing offense, especially on the road.
Green Bay has allowed five touchdowns to running backs in the last three weeks. Then there’s history, recent history. The Cowboys offense posted more than 400 yards in each of two matchups against the Packers last year, scoring 61 points combined in both those games.
They would’ve won the divisional round game too, if it hadn’t been for Aaron Rodgers’ game-saving 36-yard throw to Jared Cook that set up the game-winning field goal. There’s always that possibility.
Underdog picks for the adventurous gambler
Jaguars (+7.5) over STEELERS
Am I smart to pick the Jaguars? Probably not. But the Jaguars defense is good enough that they just might be able to cover against a Steelers offense that still hasn’t reached its full potential.
The Jags are 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games, and 5-2 against the spread in their last seven.
Bills (+3.5) over BENGALS
A pick for the Bills defense, pure and simple.
DOLPHINS (+3) over Titans
This isn’t so much a vote of confidence for the Dolphins as it is a vote of no confidence for the Titans. What a disappointment they’ve been.