Enjoy Week 9, fellow NFL guessers.
The league is throwing some head-scratching coin-flippers at us this week.
In some of the more evenly matched contests of the year, five of the 14 games have points spreads of fewer than three points.
Some of those games are good: Seattle at Buffalo; Chicago at Tennessee; Baltimore at Indianapolis. Some are not so good: Giants at Washington.
Week 8 saw the Vikings and Bengals win as 6½- and 5½-point underdogs. Miami, Denver and Las Vegas also won as underdogs.
The Lions, um, came three touchdowns short of the upset that was predicted here. So, yeah, picking Detroit as the Upset Special two weeks in a row will end with a 1-1 record.
The Lions are at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. And, yes, trying to pick a Vikings game accurately has gotten harder than catching a loose chicken. But the stab here is Detroit hands Minnesota its first home win after three mighty duds by the hosts at U.S. Bank Stadium.
As for the Upset Special, let's go with Drew Brees, who should finally be getting some nice reinforcements at receiver as he tries to raise his season record against Tom Brady to 2-0.
Last week's picks: 8-6; vs. the spread: 5-9.
Year to date: 77-41-1; 62-56-1
Vikings games: 3-3
Here are this week's picks:
Lions (+4) at Vikings: Vikings by 13
Unless Dalvin Cook's wheels fall off, the Vikings should be able to plow through a run defense that's even weaker than Green Bay's. As for Detroit's ability to score points against the beat-up Vikings, it's never ideal when your quarterback misses an entire week of practice while being quarantined during a global pandemic. Vikings 34, Lions 21
Seahawks (-2½) at Bills: Seahawks by 7
Russell Wilson will be even tougher to beat with some defensive help from the return of Jamal Adams and the trade for Carlos Dunlap.
Broncos (+3½) at Falcons: Broncos by 3
Neither team is very good, but both are 2-1 in their past three games. Take Denver's defense and hope Drew Locke doesn't mess up.
Bears (+2½) at Titans: Titans by 3
It's quite possible the Bears offense won't be putrid. Ranked 31st in third-down conversions, Chicago faces Tennessee's 32nd-ranked third-down defense.
Ravens (-2½) at Colts: Ravens by 7
Baltimore's good defense > Bad Philip.
Panthers (+10½) at Chiefs: Chiefs by 14
Carolina's defense ranks 31st in sacks and 30th in third-down stops. Not a good combo heading into Arrowhead to play Patrick Mahomes.
Texans (-7) at Jaguars: Texans by 3
Wow. How bad does a team have to be for it to be a 7-point home underdog to a one-win team that's down to its second head coach?
Giants (+2½) at Washington: Washington by 3
Lousy team < Well-rested lousy team coming off a bye.
Raiders (+1½) at Chargers: Raiders by 3
Consistency isn't their strong suit, but the Raiders are a decent team that has beaten the Chiefs and Saints.
Steelers (-13½) at Cowboys: Steelers by 14
At this rate, Pennsylvania is going to need extra time to count the victories coming out of Pittsburgh.
Dolphins (+5) at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3
Can't see Tua Tagovailoa starting 2-0. Or being helped again by a 78-yard fumble return and an 88-yard punt return.
Patriots (-7) at Jets: Patriots by 10
The Patriots have fallen. But they can get up enough to beat the Jets.
Saints (+5½) at Buccaneers:
Saints 38, Buccaneers 31
A Bucs defense that struggled at times against the Giants now gets a Saints team that's finally getting healthy again at receiver.
Last week's upset special: Lions (+2½) 28, Colts 26. Result: Colts 41, Lions 21.
Upset special record: 3-5.