Yeah, I chose the Browns as my latest Upset (Not-So-)Special pick last week. They were nipped again by two touchdowns. Who’d have thunk it, right?
But the good news: A 12-4 mark straight-up and a 10-6 record against the spread was posted in spite of the temporary insanity of thinking Cleveland will win another game at some point before the end of mankind. The overall records are 113-61 straight-up, but 84-91 ATS. (Hence the decision to never put money where mouth is).
Picking the Vikings to win at Detroit simply because they are the better team proved to be simple, but effective logic. So my record of picking Vikings game improved to 8-3. (Stay tuned for this week’s prediction. Spoiler alert: Start thinking about what you’re going to call me during your Twitter rage).
There is a dilemma this week. I’m not sure the Vikings are better than Atlanta right this very second. Yes, they’ve won seven straight and their full body of work for the season is much better. But Atlanta seems to have turned a corner (See: Jones, Julio, 253 & 2). They’re starting to look more like the team that ruled the NFC and less like the one that spent the early part of this season hung over in baffling home losses to the likes of Buffalo and Miami.
Rather than flip a coin in this one, I’m going with the home team and giving the 2 ½ points.
Yes, a 9-2 team (Vikings) is a 2 ½-point underdog this week. And this might not even be the best matchup of the week. Carolina (8-3) is getting 4 ½ points at New Orleans (8-3). And the mighty Eagles (10-1) are favored by 5 ½ points at Seattle (7-4). Can’t remember the last time the Seahawks were that big of an underdog at home.
I’m picking the Patriots to be another easy cover pick this week. They’re giving 8 ½ points at Buffalo. I’ll take them by two touchdowns and two PATs. Last week, I picked them to win by 25. They won by 18. C’mon, Bill, you slacker.
Five other teams are favored by more than seven points this week. The Rams are favored by 7 ½ at Arizona. I like the Rams to win and cover.
The Browns are getting a league-high 13 ½ points because of their league-low 0-11 record. They’re playing the Chargers, who just so happen to be the only team Hue Jackson has beaten in 27 games as Browns coach.
But you can’t fool me again, football gods.
Go with the home team. And against the regime that’s 1-26 and probably not as their record indicates.
Chargers by 28.
Here are this week’s games …
Vikings plus-2 ½ at Falcons: Falcons by 7
I’m going with the home team in what I view as an evenly-matched game. Yes, the Falcons lost at home to Buffalo and Miami. But that was earlier this season. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and an offense that should get Devonta Freeman back this week is rounding into form. It’s not as good as it was a year ago when Atlanta ruled the NFC, but it’s still pretty good. Good enough to lead the league in third down conversions at 48.09 percent. The Vikings are first in third down defense (28.5), but Atlanta won’t have to deal with crowd noise, while Case Keenum and the Vikings’ offense will. The Vikings certainly are good enough to dominate this game. But, c’mon, you weren’t expecting 14-2 and the lid to stay on the quarterback situation, were you?
Redskins plus-1 ½ at Cowboys: Redskins by 3
Texans plus-7 ½ at Titans: Titans by 10
49ers plus-3 ½ at Bears: Bears by 6
Buccaneers plus-1/2 at Packers: Packers by 3
Patriots minus-8 ½ at Bills: Patriots by 14
Colts plus-9 ½ at Jaguars: Jaguars by 3
Broncos minus-1/2 at Dolphins: Dolphins by 3
Chiefs minus-3 ½ at Jets: Chiefs by 7
Browns plus-13 ½ at Chargers: Chargers by 28
Rams minus-7 ½ at Cardinals: Rams by 10
Giants plus-7 ½ at Raiders: Raiders by 3
Panthers plus-4 ½ at Saints: Saints by 7
Eagles minus-5 ½ at Seahawks: Seahawks by 3
Steelers minus-5 ½ at Bengals: Steelers by 10
Lions plus-2 ½ at Ravens: Lions by 3
No way Detroit catches the Vikings in the NFC North. But the Lions are good enough to beat a mediocre AFC team on the road to stay in the playoff picture a little longer. The Lions are 4-1 on the road this year. The Ravens are 2-2 at home. If the Lions can avoid another slow, sloppy start and not let the Ravens’ defense get rolling, they will win this road game.
Last week straight up; versus spread: 12-4; 10-6
Year to date: 113-61; 84-91
Upset specials: 3-9
Record picking Vikings games: 8-3