London: NY Giants (-2.5) “at” LA Rams
Odell Beckham’s antics are in London this week, and he gets a good matchup against an LA secondary missing its best corner, Trumaine Johnson. The Rams at least get their starting defensive line back with DE Robert Quinn expected to play. I don’t expect the Giants’ running game to do very much in this game, so Quinn and Aaron Donald should be able to harass Eli Manning all game.
Rams RB Todd Gurley is still averaging less than 3 yards per carry (with a long run of 16 yards). He wants a big run in this game, but I don’t think the Giants (or the LA offensive line) will allow that, as they have a very good run defense (3.5 YPC allowed). The Giants’ secondary is also boosted with the return of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. WR Kenny Britt is having a great season, but he may find the going a little tougher having to deal with DRC and former Ram Janoris Jenkins in this game.
I think this will be a sloppy game at the start, and that’s just what the Rams want. The only reason the Giants won last week was because of Beckham’s 4th quarter performance. That may happen again this week, but I’m not betting on that.
Pick: Giants 19 Rams 22
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles
I enjoy picking Vikings games, because it’s so damn easy. The Vikings are coming off a bye, and are facing a team with a rookie QB (albeit a very good one), no running game, and depleted offensive line. The Vikings are only allowing 12.6 points per game, so they should have no trouble dealing with QB Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia offense.
Other than their terrible kicker, the only thing that worries me about the Vikings is Sam Bradford. He has played well so far, and he is facing his former team, but he doesn’t exactly have the best running game backing him up. The Eagles can be run on, however (allow 4.8 YPC). Philadelphia will need to rattle Bradford with some pressure. The Eagles are weak at corner, and Vikings WR Stefon Diggs will look to exploit that.
80% of the money is on the Vikings in this game, as now everyone knows they’re good. That could be dangerous, but I’m still pretty confident with this pick.
Pick: Vikings 20 Eagles 13
New Orleans Saints at Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
The Chiefs aren’t coming off a bye this week, so wins are no longer almost guaranteed. Drew Brees comes to town after a 465 yard, 4 TD performance against the Panthers. Brees is never as good in outdoor stadiums, but the forecast in KC calls for sun at least. Kansas City has a much better secondary than Carolina does, so the Saints will need to try to get RB Mark Ingram going against a suspect Chiefs run defense.
Speaking of suspect run defenses, the Saints also employ one. The Chiefs placed a heavy emphasis on running the ball against the Raiders last week and executed with great success. QB Alex Smith only passed when he had to, and was very efficient when called upon. In this game, the New Orleans secondary won’t offer much resistance when Smith gets to pass. The Saints don’t have much of a pass rush either, so offense should be pretty easy for the Chiefs this week.
This line was Chiefs -6.5 earlier in the week, but now it’s been bet down to -5. The Chiefs will try to milk as much time as possible with their running game in order to keep Brees off the field. If the Chiefs force one mistake out of Brees, they should be able to cover.
Pick: Saints 17 Chiefs 24
Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions (-1)
The Redskins have turned things around since their 0-2 start, and now get an inconsistent Lions squad. The Redskins made some changes to their offensive line that has really helped their running game. This week, they get a Detroit defense that has struggled to stop the run all year. I expect RB Matt Jones to continue running well in this game. The Redskins will be missing TE Jordan Reed again, and with shutdown corner Darius Slay playing for the Lions, the running game will be the Redskins’ best hope.
Washington also has struggled to stop the run, and even though Detroit is missing its best RB, they should still be able to establish a ground game. The Redskins employ a shutdown corner of their own in Josh Norman, but Matthew Stafford will have other options, especially with WR Golden Tate having a big game last week.
This is a difficult game to pick, and is actually one of the least bet games of the week. Since I think Kirk Cousins is more likely to commit a costly turnover than Stafford, the Lions are my pick.
Pick: Redskins 24 Lions 27
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5)
The Browns will probably be without two of their best players: WR Terrelle Pryor and CB Joe Haden. If the Bengals don’t have to deal with Pryor, they will most certainly stack the box and play close to the line of scrimmage. QB Cody Kessler doesn’t have the arm to throw passes downfield all game. The Bengals aren’t playing well in the secondary, but I think they’ll take their chances and dare Kessler to throw deep.
WR AJ Green has to be happy that Haden is out, and I expect them to have a huge day against a depleted Browns secondary. What the Browns do well on defense is stop the run. They just held Titans RB DeMarco Murray to a season low in rushing yards last week, and Bengals running back Jeremy Hill is dealing with an injury. He will play, but I doubt he’ll be very effective.
Cincinnati’s four losses have been to the Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots, and Broncos. There’s no shame in losing to any of those teams, and obviously I expect them to win here. However, I think this spread is way too high. The Browns are not the worst team in the NFL, and I do think they will at least keep this game from getting out of hand.
Pick: Browns 17 Bengals 26
Buffalo Bills (-3) at Miami Dolphins
The Bills will be without LeSean McCoy, which is obviously a big blow. Backup Mike Gillislee won’t be as effective, but he should still find some success against a suspect Miami run defense. The Dolphins rush the passer well, which will limit QB Tyrod Taylor’s scrambling ability. The Dolphins’ weakness on defense is in the secondary, while the Bills’ weakness on offense is a receiving corps that will be missing Sammy Watkins (and possibly Robert Woods), so that’s a wash.
The Dolphins were able to run the ball very effectively against the Steelers. Why? Miami had its starting offensive line intact for the first time all year. Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey and Laremy Tunsil all missed time, but they were all on the field together in Week 6. As a result, Jay Ajayi went nuts. The Bills are decent on the ground, but Ajayi should have another good game. The strength of the Bills’ stop unit is its aerial defense, which is aided by the talented pass-rushers it has. Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander have both been great, but they have to be upset that they’re going up against a healthy Miami offensive line. Ryan Tannehill will have appropriate protection, giving him time to find Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker.
I hate picking the Dolphins because I’m pretty much banking on a good Tannehill performance, which doesn’t happen often. However, with all the injuries the Bills have, Miami has a very good chance to win this game.
Pick: Bills 20 Dolphins 24
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1)
The Raiders saw firsthand last week how bad things can get if the offense doesn’t play well. Luckily, the Raiders are playing in sunny Florida this week. After a good first week, the Oakland running game has really stalled. Getting starter Latavius Murray back this week may help some, but the Jaguars are no pushovers against the run. QB Derek Carr will have to lead the Raiders to victory if they hope to win. Jacksonville has two good corners, but the Raiders also have two good receivers. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will make some plays for Oakland, but with a struggling running game, I see more than a few three and outs happening for Oakland.
The Raiders need to capitalize early if Jags QB Blake Bortles starts slow again. Bortles plays much better late in games, so even if the Raiders jump out to a lead, I am expecting a furious comeback from the Jags. Jacksonville also has issues running the ball, so they may not be able to take too much advantage of Oakland’s awful run defense. Perhaps the Raiders will be able to get some pressure on the QB as well. The Jaguars have allowed 14 sacks on the year.
The Raiders defense has let the team down all year, and I don’t expect that to change here. I would love to pick the Raiders, and Carr may be able to win this one, but I just can’t pick a team with a defense playing this poorly.
Pick: Raiders 24 Jaguars 28
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-3)
The Colts rank 29th against the pass and allow 4.8 yards per rush on the ground. They also can’t rush the passer with only 8 sacks on the year. Yeah, I think the Titans will be able to do whatever they want in this game. RB DeMarco Murray will look to rebound after having a tough game against the Browns last week, and QB Marcus Mariota will look to continue his strong play.
I felt very bad for Andrew Luck. He watched helplessly as his defense gave up a 14 point 4th quarter lead. Sure, he couldn’t kill the clock or lead his offense in overtime, but the Colts sustained a few injuries and employ an offensive line that has allowed a league high 23 sacks. Andrew won’t have any time in this game, either, but since he’s used to that, I still expect him to score points. The Titans don’t have a very good secondary, which is good news for TY Hilton. Tennessee is strong against the run, so I’m not expecting another 100 yard outing from Frank Gore.
This game could be a shootout, a blow-out, or perhaps a low scoring game if Mariota starts to struggle again. It’s hard to predict, but the Titans should be able to control the clock with a strong running game in this one.
Pick: Colts 24 Titans 30
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets (-1.5)
The Jets with Geno Smith starting are favored you ask? Well, the injuries are starting to pile up for the Ravens. Even Joe Flacco isn’t 100% this week. The Jets, contrary to the Monday night game, have a good run defense, but ran into David Johnson, one of the best in the NFL. They should have better success against RB Terrance West and a Ravens offensive line missing its best player. Also, with no Steve Smith for the Ravens, the New York secondary may not get exposed as much this game.
I’m not sure what the Jets’ offense will look like with Smith starting. He at least has Brandon Marshall to throw to. It’s imperative for the Jets to establish some sort of running game or threat out of the backfield. The Ravens are missing numerous starters on defense, so that is certainly possible.
The Jets past 4 games have been the Chiefs, Seahawks, Steelers, and Cardinals. I don’t think the Ravens are as good as any of those teams. Jets coach Todd Bowles is coaching for his job at this point. I say they get it done against a depleted Ravens team.
Pick: Ravens 20 Jets 24
San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)
DE Joey Bosa has played extremely well for the Chargers. San Diego will need him this week, because the Chargers don’t have much hope for slowing down Julio Jones. In general, the Chargers have a good defense that will only get better if some of their injured corners return. That won’t happen this game, but the Chargers will be able to stop the run and rush the passer well.
San Diego seems to be fully healthy on the offensive line, which is good news because the Falcons don’t have a very good pass rush outside of DE Vic Beasley. Philip Rivers should have time to find his tight ends, as the Falcons struggle to cover them. Rivers should have success through the air early and often, so that should open things up for RB Melvin Gordon as well.
Perhaps the Chargers got the monkey off their back against the Broncos. The Falcons are a very tough opponent, but the Chargers could easily have a better record. This spread has dropped considerably throughout the week, but I’ll still pick San Diego. They get a late start and play well on the road, anyway.
Pick: Chargers 27 Falcons 30
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)
Another surprising line with the worst team in the NFL actually favored. Jameis Winston has been a turnover machine, but is getting RB Doug Martin back from injury. The 49ers have been horrible against the run ever since LB Navorro Bowman was lost for the year, so Martin should have a big game on the ground. Winston won’t have to throw much with this scenario, and that could limit the turnovers.
Colin Kaepernick certainly isn’t the solution for the 49ers. He can throw a decent deep ball, but he looks underweight and struggles with accuracy. The Bucs don’t have a very good secondary, but I don’t think the 49ers will be able to take advantage of that. RB Carlos Hyde currently is wearing an arm sling, so even if he plays, he may not be very effective.
The Bucs have been sloppy all year, so this spread makes a bit of sense. I expect Kaepernick to lead the 49ers to at least one victory this year as well, and this could be the one, but I’m not picking the worst team in the NFL when it’s favored.
Pick: Bucs 27 49ers 17
New England Patriots (-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers
With Donald Trump waving a Terrible Towel at a PA rally and his friendship with Tom Brady, both these teams may have some bad voodoo to deal with. The Steelers more so this week however, as they have to start Landry “Lance” Jones. I heard some middle-aged ladies talking about how Jones is a decent backup. A few years ago, I would have laughed in their face and insulted them, but I’m a much more respectful person these days. In all seriousness, Lance Jones is awful. Poor Le’Veon Bell will have to deal with 8 man fronts all game because the Patriots know that Lance Jones won’t beat them deep. The Steelers may still try to take some deep shots with Antonio Brown and their other deep threats, but I’m not expecting much success. At least the Steelers have a good offensive line to protect their backup.
The Steelers will also be missing their best defender, DE Cameron Heyward. The Dolphins ran all over the Steelers last week, so I imagine Coach Belichick will devise a similar game plan. Of course, whenever Tom Brady has to pass, he won’t find much resistance from an, ahem, not so good Steelers secondary. Rob Gronkowski and company will be open all day.
Heck, if the Steelers still had Charlie Batch, I’d consider picking them here. But Lance Jones is just so awful that I don’t think the Steelers stand a chance to even cover.
Pick: Patriots 30 Steelers 20
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-1)
The Cardinals got to destroy a demoralized Jets team on Monday night, but Carson Palmer and the passing game are still a huge concern I think. If the Cardinals didn’t have David Johnson, they’d be in big trouble. Their 3 wins so far have been against the Jets, 49ers, and Bucs. Neither of those teams is considered elite or even good. The Seahawks are obviously good, and perhaps elite. After watching the Monday night game, I’m sure the Seahawks will focus on stopping the Arizona running game with their defense and force Palmer to beat them. I’m not sure if Richard Sherman will cover Larry Fitzgerald in the slot, and if he doesn’t, that may be Palmer’s only chance of completing passes.
Russell Wilson is dealing with his own injuries, but he’s obviously playing. Arizona has a strong run defense, so Wilson will have to use his talented receivers and Jimmy Graham more often than not in this game. It won’t be easy, because as usual, Wilson will have pressure in his face the whole game.
I like both Seattle’s offense and defense in this game. I think Palmer will struggle, and that should be enough for the Seahawks to win.
Pick: Seahawks 17 Cardinals 14
Monday Night: Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-9)
The Texans spent $72M on Brock Osweiler only to be huge underdogs here. It’s early, but I don’t think that signing will work out. The Broncos have a fierce secondary and pass rush, so any time Osweiler drops back to pass, it’s going to be an adventure. Their only hope is for RB Lamar Miller to run as well as he did against the Colts, but, well, I don’t even have to say it do I?
The Broncos had a hard time on offense against the Chargers in their last game. Like I wrote earlier though, the Chargers are playing very well on defense, better than the Texans. Houston’s secondary is in shambles, as it is now missing three starters. The Broncos certainly have the receivers to take advantage of that. The Texans also allowed old man Frank Gore to rush for over 100 yards last week, so it’s safe to say that CJ Anderson will have success on the ground.
This line has risen from like Denver -6 to Denver -9 now. However, aside from the Bucs-Panthers game, each Monday night game has been decided by double digits. The NFL really needs to schedule some better MNF games, as I think the trend will continue this week. I guess you can’t predict a JJ Watt season ending injury, either.
Pick: Texans 10 Broncos 20