If there is such a thing as an “upset” in the NFL, the league had eight of them last week. Eight.
And seven of them were road teams.
The biggest upset, of course, was Jacksonville, an 8 1/2-point dog, crushing the Steelers 30-9 in Pittsburgh. I had a feeling from the get-go on that one, and made it my upset special last week. But I’m not feeling Team Yo-Yo this week as it returns to Jacksonville, where it’s favored to beat the Rams.
Road favorites went 3-1 last week. The winners were the undefeated Chiefs in Houston, the Patriots at Tampa Bay and the Vikings in Chicago.
Whiffed on the Vikings pick for the second straight week, but I had reached the point where I’d rather lose picking against the Vikings at Soldier Field than keep picking the Vikings as the better team only to watch them lose at Soldier Field again.
Overall, last week’s picks went 9-5 straight up to go 20 games over .500. Against-the-spread keeps sliding. A 6-8 week put the ATS picks eight games under .500.
Here are this week’s picks:
Eagles plus-3 1/2 at Panthers: Panthers by 7
Last week, the gut feeling for lock of the week was Philly at home against the Cardinals. Now, I sense the 4-1 Eagles riding a little too high and are ripe for one of those typical NFL weeks where the league turns itself upside down. I get the same feeling about the 4-1 Panthers, but they’re at home on a Thursday night game.
Packers plus-3 1/2 at Vikings: Vikings by 6
Picked the Vikings to beat the Lions. They lost. Picked them to lose to the Bears. They won. Uh-oh. I’m chasing this team, and I’m a step behind the momentum swings. Not good. I am going with the home team here. Mike Zimmer’s defense is healthier and fresher than the group Aaron Rodgers roasted back on Christmas Eve.
Lions plus-4 1/2 at Saints: Saints by 7
Somehow, the Saints overcome the trade of Adrian Peterson and the 4 yards on four carries he provided before the bye. It will be interesting to see if the Saints’ amazing turnaround defensively will hold up for another week. I’d bet the over on this one.
Dolphins plus-11 1/2 at Falcons: Falcons by 14
If Julio Jones is healthy, this is my lock of the week. I love the Falcons at home, coming off a bye and playing a Dolphins team that was an upset winner over the Titans at home last week.
49ers plus-9 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 3
This is one of my Beware Picks. Of the three winless teams, the 49ers are the ripest to break through. They’ve lost their last four games by a total of 10 points. Don’t like them enough to pick them, but I wouldn’t bet against them.
Patriots minus-9 1/2 at Jets: Patriots by 7
Yeah, when we were looking at the schedule, we all figured the 3-2 Patriots would be playing the 3-2 Jets for a spot atop the AFC East. Oddsmakers aren’t buying the Jets. This is a massive point spread for how the Patriots have played defensively overall this season. I’d take the Pats, but I wouldn’t lay down that many points. The Jets are getting more determined by the week.
Browns plus-10 1/2 at Texans: Texans by 6
The Browns will get an up-close look at yet another rookie quarterback (Deshaun Watson) they could have had. Last year, they got a similar look when they lost to Philly and Carson Wentz. And making matters worse is the 0-5 Browns are waffling on their own rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer. It would help Kizer if receivers like Kenny Britt would use their hands as something other than something to deflect the ball to the ground or into the hands of defenders.
Buccaneers minus-2 1/2 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3
The square peg (Peterson) has left its round hole (New Orleans). Arizona should give Peterson more opportunities this week than the Saints gave him. Of course, that’s not saying much. I like the home team here, but don’t think Peterson will do much this week.
Rams plus-2 1/2 at Jaguars: Rams by 7
Team Yo-Yo has won, lost, won, lost and won. I was so impressed by what the Jaguars did at Pittsburgh, I’m totally convinced it will all evaporate in typical NFL fashion with a loss at home against the Rams.
Steelers plus-4 1/2 at Chiefs: Chiefs by 7
I’m tempted to use the opposite feeling I have about the Jaguars. To say the Steelers were so awful last week that they’ll rebound in typical NFL fashion and beat the unbeaten Chiefs at home. But I think the Chiefs are good enough to tamp that feeling down.
Chargers plus-4 1/2 at Raiders: Chargers by 3
The Raiders are averaging 12.3 points in three straight losses. I think the Chargers just overwhelm them with points.
Giants plus-11 1/2 at Broncos: Broncos by 14
This one seems like the season’s greatest no-brainer. The Broncos are at home in prime time after a bye week. The Giants are 0-5 and decimated at the receiver position. But the thing that keeps me from making this my Lock of the Week is that 0-5 mark. Guys get really motivated by trying to avoid 0-fer-an-entire-season. I think the Broncos will roll and cover the spread, but I’m sticking with Atlanta as my lock if Jones is healthy.
Colts plus-6 1/2 at Titans: Titans by 3
The Titans ship is going down dramatically. But not enough to be favored by 6 1/2 at home against the Colts. The Colts aren’t good, but they’re pesky enough for me not to give the points.
Bears plus-7 1/2 at Ravens: Bears by 3
I’m not as impressed as the entire city of Chicago is by Mitchell Trubisky’s debut start on Monday night. He wasn’t awful, but I also saw a guy who turned the ball over inside his 20 at the end of the first half and then threw the interception that handed the Vikings a chip-shot game-winner at the end of the game. But I do think the Bears are putting something together with their running backs and defense. Plus, I’m not feeling the Ravens as more than a touchdown favorite. The Raiders win is fools gold. Yeah, it’s Trubisky’s first road start, but give me the Bears as the surprise winner of Week 6.
Last week straight up; versus spread: 9-5; 6-8
Year to date: 48-28; 34-42
Upset specials: 2-3
Record picking Vikings games: 3-2