Other than bombing the Upset Special, going 5-9 against the spread and pitching and 0-fer-the NFC North, last week’s picks went swimmingly.

Surprises were everywhere. At least they were to this guy.

The 49ers were reawakened against a stout Rams team while the Vikings took on winless Atlanta and slept through perhaps the league’s ugliest and strangest beatdown of the season.

At least the Jets kept some order in another lifeless effort en route to picking Trevor Lawrence. Ditto for the toddlers of Cleveland in their latest tussle with the men of Pittsburgh.

And a special no thanks whatsoever to Mike McCarthy after last week’s Upset Special (Cowboys over Cardinals) was botched by the most dysfunctional, most disorganized, most undisciplined …

Wait. This just in. The Cowboys still lead the NFC East. Never mind.

We have two upsets this week. Patriots over 49ers and, of course, lowly Detroit manhandling lower Atlanta to make the Vikings feel lowest of all.

And the lock of the week, straight up and against the spread?

Whoever plays the Jets. Duh.

Last week’s picks: 7-7; Vs. the spread: 5-9.

Year to date: 57-33-1; 49-41-1

Vikings games: 3-3


Here are this week’s picks:

Browns minus-3 ½ at Bengals: Browns by 5

Cleveland has a competitive team for the second time this millennium and, naturally, everyone wants Baker Mayfield benched. R-E-L-A-X. He’ll quiet the pitchfork posse for at least one week (maybe) as Cleveland goes to 5-2.

Cowboys pick at Washington: Washington by 3

It’s hard to pick Washington to beat anybody, but, wow, were the Cowboys beyond bad on Monday night or what? Other than nothing going right, everything seems Okie-Dokey in Big D.

Panthers plus-7 ½ at Saints: Saints by 10

Can Teddy, who went 5-0 in relief of Drew Brees last season, return to New Orleans and beat Brees and a well-rested Saints team? Nah.

Bills minus-13 at Jets: Bills by 21


Packers minus-3 ½ at Texans: Packers by 14

Facing the Bucs defense last week, Aaron Rodgers was out of sorts, flustered, bamboozled and a bunch of other un-Rodgers-like things. This week: A Houston defense that’s allowing a 119.6 passer rating for opposing quarterbacks.

Seahawks minus-3 ½ at Cardinals: Seahawks by 7

Blah, blah, blah … and Russell Wilson wins it at the end.

49ers plus-2 ½ at Patriots: Patriots by 3

The Patriots will finish with a winning record. Period. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it … for at least another four losses.

Chiefs minus-9 ½ at Broncos: Chiefs by 10

Blah, blah, blah … and Patrick Mahomes raises his career record against Denver to 6-0.

Buccaneers minus-3 at Raiders: Buccaneers by 7

The Raiders are coming off a bye week after beating the Chiefs in the most inspired performance by any team this season. But Tampa Bay’s defense is in a groove after pummeling Rodgers.

Steelers minus-2 at Titans: Steelers by 3

Before the ’85 Bears were a thing, the ’78 Steelers were a thing. Riding a rejuvenated Ben Roethlisberger and the No. 3 scoring defense, the ’20 Steelers win the battle of unbeatens and start 6-0 for the first time since the ’78 team started 7-0.

Jaguars plus-8 at Chargers: Chargers by 10

The Jags have to be some kind of special bad to be coming off losses to Houston and Detroit by a combined 34 points.

Bears plus-5 ½ at Rams: Rams by 7

I really want to believe in the Bears enough to pick them. Maybe next week.


Lions plus-2 at Falcons: Lions 34, Falcons 24

C’mon, Vikings fans. You know it’s coming. You can feel it deep down in your Purple scar tissue. Last week’s beatdown loss against Atlanta is going to feel even worse when Adrian Peterson runs for a buck-20 and the Lions maul the Falcons in Atlanta.

Last week’s upset special: Cowboys (minus-2 ½) 33, Cardinals 30. Result: Cardinals 38, Cowboys 10. Upset special record: 2-4.