The NFL was turned upside down again last week when not one, not two, but three 8 1/2-point underdogs — Rams, Bills and Panthers — all won on the road at Dallas, Atlanta and New England, respectively.
In other words, think twice before automatically selecting the Steelers over the Jacksonville Yo-Yos in your suicide pools this week. The Yo-Yos were way up in Week 1 against Houston, way down in Week 2 against Tennessee, way up in Week 3 against Baltimore and down last week against the Jets.
This week, the Yo-Yos are 8 1/2-point underdogs at Pittsburgh. Hmmm.
The picks here last week weren’t a disaster. Perfectly blah at 8-8 straight-up and 8-8 against the spread. But, hey, 8-8 once backed Mike Tice into the playoffs.
This week, the Grumpy Old Dolphins of ’72 are down to only one unbeaten team to root against. The Chiefs could go down as a 1 1/2-point road favorite against a Texans team coming off a 57-point outing.
Meanwhile, we’re down to four winless teams for the ’08 Lions to root against. But for the second straight week, the NFL has a battle of winless teams. This week, the Chargers are 3 1/2-point underdogs at the Giants.
Here are this week’s picks:
Patriots minus-5 1/2 at Buccaneers: Patriots by 7
I assume I’ll just keep assuming a Bill Belichick-coached defense can’t be this incredibly bad after being that incredibly good a year ago.
Vikings minus-2 1/2 at Bears: Bears by 3
The Vikings are the better team and, well, … ah, forget it. I say the same thing pretty much every year, and eight out of the last nine years, the Bears have found a way to win and/or the Vikings have found a way to lose at Soldier Field. We don’t know who will start at quarterback for the Vikings. Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky will make his NFL starting debut. He’s the definition of raw, but, hey, Mike Glennon, the guy he’s replacing, had eight turnovers in the past three games, so Trubisky can’t be worse and could be a spark. Not sure how the game will go, but give me Soldier Field and the points.
49ers plus-1 1/2 at Colts: 49ers by 3
The 49ers have lost their last three games by a combined 8 points. Sorry, ’08 Lions, but I don’t see the 49ers joining you as an 0-16 team.
Panthers plus-2 1/2 at Lions: Panthers by 7
So the Panthers beat the Patriots in Foxborough as an 8 1/2-point underdog and are underdogs the next week at Detroit. And it makes sense because, well, the Lions — gulp — are a better defensive team than the Patriots.
Cardinals plus-6 1/2 at Eagles: Eagles by 3
I like the Eagles, but this one makes me nervous because I like it best of all as a suicide pool candidate. Make sure you cover that Fitzgerald kid, Philly.
Chargers plus-3 1/2 at Giants: Chargers by 3
If there’s ever an Anti-Coach of the Year award, they might call it the McAdoo-doo Award.
Bills plus-2 1/2 at Bengals: Bengals by 7
Bills beat Atlanta in Atlanta. We all go nuts over the Bills for six days. So, per NFL bylaws, the Bills are now mandated to lose at Cincinnati. Look it up.
Titans minus-2 1/2 at Dolphins: Titans by 10
Wow. Poor Dolphins. The Titans give up 57 points and a week later they’re favored to win at Miami.
Jets plus-1/2 at Browns: Jets by 7
The Browns are saving win No. 1 for London. Hey, anything is possible in the UK. So far this year, the Brits have witnessed a four-TD game by Blake Bortles and a shutout by the Saints’ defense.
Ravens plus-1 1/2 at Raiders: Raiders by 2
The Raiders lost their quarterback and the Ravens look lost at quarterback. Go with the home team or flip a coin.
Seahawks plus-1 1/2 at Rams: Seahawks by 7
The Rams won at Dallas as an 8 1/2-point favorite. We all went nuts over their No. 1 scoring offense for a week. Per NFL bylaws, the Rams are now mandated to lose to Seattle while being held to under 10 points. Look it up.
Packers plus-1 1/2 at Cowboys: Packers by 7
If the Packers have enough people to field a team, Aaron Rodgers will lead them to a minor upset at JerryWorld.
Chiefs minus-1 1/2 at Texans: Texans by 6
Just can’t see any NFL team making it to Week 5 without a loss. Maybe K.C. is better off. After all, the NFL’s last 5-0 team was the ’16 Vikings.
Jaguars plus-8 1/2 at Steelers: Jaguars by 2
Yeah, this one doesn’t make sense. Which is why it makes perfect sense. The league has had seven underdogs win in each of the past two weeks.
Last week straight up; versus spread: 8-8; 8-8
Year to date: 39-23; 28-34
Upset specials: 1-3
Record picking Vikings games: 3-1