Eight of the NFL's 14 true road teams are favored this week, which would seem strange if not for the fact that home-field advantage seems to be getting less advantageous.
Between 2002, when the league expanded to 32 teams, and 2019, home teams won 57% of the time. That number was 52% in 2019 – the lowest since 2002 — and was 46.8% (37-42, not counting Atlanta's "home" game in London last week or the Saints' "home" game in Jacksonville in Week 1).
Last week, all five road favorites won. Three of them covered and the Packers pushed.
So, after going 12-4 straight-up and 9-7 against the spread and NAILING the Vikings as the Lock of the Week (never a doubt, folks), this NFL guesstimator says this don't-take-it-to-the-bank stuff about the seven true road favorites that will play Sunday and Monday:
- Take the Vikings, Packers, Bengals and Lock-of-the-Week Rams to win and cover. And, yes, the Rams are 9-point road faves.
- Take the Chiefs to win but not cover. (Not with a defense that poor.)
- And do not take the red-hot Cowboys or red-hotter Bills to win. Why? Because we so-called experts are liking on them way too much and, this being the NFL, it's time for them to make us look bad by having their four-game winning streaks end.
Here's a look at this week's games:
Vikings (-2 ½) at Panthers
Five of Sam Darnold's six interceptions have come with Christian McCaffrey sidelined the past two games. McCaffrey is out again, which keeps the pressure on Darnold. The Vikings are 0-2 on the road but gave unbeaten Arizona its toughest test. The Vikings' resurgent pass rush will harass Darnold, and the Vikings' offense will again do enough to win with or without Dalvin Cook. Vikings 23, Panthers 21
Dolphins (-3 ) vs. Jaguars at London
Poor London. The Dolphins have lost four straight. The London, er, Jacksonville Jaguars have lost 20 in a row. At least it will be an entertaining game. Dolphins 33, Jaguars 31
Packers (-5 ½) at Bears
Justin Fields is a nice new X factor in a series Aaron Rodgers has dominated for years. The Bears also have home-field advantage and the better defense. But they won't be able to make the Packers one-dimensional the way they did the Raiders. Rodgers wins. Again. Packers 24, Bears 17
Bengals (-3 ½) at Lions:
Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase will do to the Lions' defense (league-worst 9.32 yards allowed per pass play) what the Vikings were too afraid to let Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson do more of. Bengals 31, Lions 17
Texans (+10) at Colts
Indy won't be 9 ½ points better than Houston, but the Colts sure will enjoy facing the Texans after three straight road games. Colts 22, Texans 18
Rams (-9) at Giants
No Saquon Barkley for the Giants. The Rams are well-rested after a Thursday night game. With or without Daniel Jones, this is the … Lock. Of. The. Week. Rams 28, Giants 13
Chiefs (-6½) at Washington
Don't give seven points, but take Patrick Mahomes to win a battle between the NFL's two worst scoring defenses — No. 31 Washington (31.0) and No. 32 K.C. (32.6). Chiefs 34, Washington 30
Chargers (+2½) at Ravens
Lamar Jackson and the league's top-ranked offense is at home against the 32nd-ranked run defense (157.6). Shootout advantage, Lamar. Ravens 33, Chargers 31
Cardinals (+3½) at Browns
In another Zimmer-esque dream game, Cleveland's top-ranked running game (187.6) keeps Kyler Murray parked on the sideline long enough to take down the league's last unbeaten team. Browns 31, Cardinals 28
Raiders (+4) at Broncos
A one-dimensional offense and, oh yeah, the forced resignation of its head coach lead Las Vegas to a third straight loss. Broncos 23, Raiders 19
Seahawks (+5 ½) at Steelers
Seattle heads to Pittsburgh on Sunday night with no pass defense and a backup quarterback (Geno Smith) making his first start since 2016. Good luck with that. Steelers 24, Seahawks 14
Bills (-5 ½) at Titans
This screams letdown game for Buffalo. On the road on Monday night after finally breaking through against the nemesis Chiefs. Derrick Henry controls the game and Tennessee wins a close one. Titans 24, Bills 23
Cowboys (-3) at Patriots
Dallas is 4-1 and coming off three straight wins at home. The Patriots are under .500 and 0-2 at home. Time for one of the NFL's quick-turn, it's-a-crazy-league perception adjustments to unfold. Bill Belichick's defense finds a way to stymie a key part of Mike McCarthy's surging offense, and Dallas suddenly slips back toward the pack in the NFC. Patriots 21, Cowboys 18
Last week's Upset Special: Bears (+5 ½) 26, Raiders 23. Actual score: Bears 20, Raiders 9. Record: 4-1.
Last week's record straight up/against the spread: 12-4/9-7.
Season record straight up/against the spread: 51-29/39-41.
Vikings picks straight up/against the spread: 4-1/2-3.