Last week: 11-3. Even better, I got the spread correct on two of the three misses. The season forecast is now up to 67-40.
All lines are from BetOnline as of 11:12 a.m. ET on Wednesday. And there are quite a few home underdogs in the final weekend of action in October.
Miami at Houston (-7.5): Brocktober rolls into Osweiler’s old stomping grounds at NRG Stadium. It’s easy to rag on the Dolphins starting QB, but he’s actually playing well--dare I say better than the injured Ryan Tannehill. Unfortunately for Osweiler, top target Albert Wilson is gone.
Losing Wilson is a crushing blow because he’s the perfect receiver for Osweiler. He’s a guy who can catch a 4-yard slant that is about a foot too low and turn it into a 37-yard gain. Danny Amendola is a close facsimile but he’s banged up too, and Kenny Still figures to be sidelined as well.
Houston must protect Deshaun Watson better, but Cam Wake looked like he came back from knee surgery too quickly in the Dolphins home loss to Detroit. Charles Harris will be out as well. The Texans offensive tackles are awful but they can probably handle what’s left of the Miami defensive front, at least enough to allow Watson to find DeAndre Hopkins for 122 yards and a TD or two.
Texans 26, Dolphins 13
Philadelphia vs. Jacksonville (+3.5) in London: The Eagles are the defending champs. The Jaguars were within a play of being their opponent in the Super Bowl. Yet here we are with a pair of 3-4 teams looking up within their mediocre divisions and outside the playoff window.
One of these teams has a quarterback. That team also has an offensive line which can protect the quarterback against the other team’s strong pass rush. That team is the Eagles. I do think Carlos Hyde will help Jacksonville’s stale offense but not enough to overcome the poor timbre of the rest of the team.
Eagles 24, Jaguars 20
Seattle at Detroit (-3): This is quietly a big game for the playoff chances of these two NFC teams. Neither appears capable of winning their divisions, though the Lions can certainly change that with an upgraded run defense bolstered by Damon “Snacks” Harrison. At 3-3, these two are likely competing for the same Wild Card slot and the tiebreaker that comes with the win here.
The Seahawks are coming off the bye week and appear to have their run game as close to full strength as it can get. They’ll need it because their moribund passing offense is little threat to the home team, which manufactures coverage sacks better than anyone and features an improving second level. Matthew Stafford is having an MVP-caliber rebound from his wretched Week 1 performance, and I think that continues at home.
Lions 27, Seahawks 21
New Orleans at Minnesota (even): This line moved from the Vikings being favored by 1 to 2 points to even in the immediate aftermath of the Saints acquiring CB Eli Apple. That’s curious to me. Apple played poorly on Monday night as a member of the Giants and doesn’t figure to see much action with his new team on a short week. The Vikings should have top pass rusher Everson Griffen back on the field after his mental health issues have (mercifully) abated enough he can play again. Beware false momentum vs. actual gains.
Vikings 38, Saints 35
Green Bay at LA Rams (-9): The 9-point line here is the largest point spread ever going against Aaron Rodgers as the starting QB of the Packers. Traveling to Los Angeles to play the last unbeaten and coming off a bye, it’s a tantalizing option to bet on Rodgers in the surprising role of spoiler. The Rams are indeed due for a down performance.
The problem with picking against the Rams is how many different ways they can beat an opponent. Let’s say Jared Goff is having a bad day. Todd Gurley can carry the day. If the interior pass rush can’t get home and Rodgers creates outside the pocket, the secondary can answer the bell. Their special teams remain outstanding, taking away a potential opportunity to give away field position or missed kicks. I expect it to be close but Rodgers’ supporting cast comes up just short.
Rams 33, Packers 31
Washington at NY Giants (+1.5): With the trades this week the Giants have officially thrown in the towel on 2018. They’ll be a focus of this week’s $.10 on Monday, a cent which will no doubt contain a brief synopsis of their latest humiliating loss.
Washington 30, Giants 17
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati (-4.5): The Bengals have beaten the Buccaneers just once in the last 29 years. Granted they don’t play often--this is the first time since 2014--but the history is strong. There is no rational reason why the Buccaneers pass defense will be more than a speed bump against A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Will history get defied here?
Bengals 34, Buccaneers 28
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-8.5): The Week 1 tie between these AFC North rivals seems eons ago. Cleveland continues to play overtime games more often than not. The extra time on the field has taken its toll on the injury report; 10 starters appeared on the Wednesday injury report and that doesn’t count CB Terrance Mitchell, who is on IR. The Browns don’t have the depth or the gumption to overcome the questionable health and their endemic slow starts to games. This one could get ugly.
Steelers 36, Browns 17
San Francisco at Arizona (even): Someone has to win. Might as well be Arizona as the key players who want out effort to showcase themselves to potential suitors. Seriously, if the NFL just decided to run a computer simulation instead of these two 1-win rosters banging heads (hopefully not literally), would anyone really miss the game? Patrick Peterson surely would not…
Cardinals 17, 49ers 16
Indianapolis at Oakland (+3): I will not pick Oakland to win another game all season. I might not pick the Colts to win another game all season either, but their terrible roster is a lot better than what’s left of Gruden’s grand failure. This is my survivor fantasy pick of the week, a great opportunity to use an unconventional team like the Colts instead of burning a more reliable winner.
Colts 29, Raiders 12
Baltimore at Carolina (+2.5): The Panthers pulled off a stunning comeback win last week, overcoming a 17-0 deficit to the Eagles. The Ravens lost when Justin Tucker yakked an extra point, allowing the Saints to come back and stun Baltimore.
I think the collective drama settles itself out and equalizes this week. The Ravens pass offense should find success, too. Meanwhile, the Baltimore pass defense remains the best in the league. That helps aid the correction from last week.
Ravens 23, Panthers 20
NY Jets at Chicago (-7.5): Chicago’s defense showed some vulnerability last week against the Patriots. But these Jets are not the Patriots, certainly not with their injury issues at the skill positions. This could be a rough afternoon for Sam Darnold.
Bears 20, Jets 10
Denver at Kansas City (-10.5): Denver is coming off the mini-bye from playing on Thursday night, and they walloped Arizona enough that they weren’t taxed. It can only help the Broncos slow down the high-powered Chiefs offense. The Kansas City defense is quietly playing better, too. Case Keenum and the Broncos won’t be able to counterpunch enough to keep up.
Chiefs 36, Broncos 24
New England at Buffalo (+14): I have no idea how ESPN is going to even try to market this game. Some ideas from my drawing pad…
“See if the Bills offense can cross midfield against one of the league’s worst defenses!”
“Tune in for Gronk’s awesome Tide Pods ad!”
“What else are you gonna watch?”
“Check out Booger McFarland blocking the view of the folks who shelled out $5K a ticket with his ridiculous roving platform monstrosity that does zero to add to the broadcast!”
Patriots 30, Bills 6
Western Michigan 38, Toledo 34 on Thursday night. I’ll be in Waldo Stadium for this one.
Ohio 31, Ball State 30 in more Thursday night #MACtion. Go Cats!
Georgia 24, Florida 41
Houston 33, South Florida 28
Clemson 31, Florida State 14
Stanford 34, Washington State 24