Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. JEFF WHEELER jeff.wheeler@startribune.com

Closing the case on the fact Chuck Pagano is firmly glued to the hottest of the hot seats among NFL coaches:

His Colts are underdogs at home against a Browns team that has lost 20 of its last 21 games.


Indy is one of nine home underdogs this week. So beware of the picks this week.

Picking straight up last week wasn’t so difficult (12-4). Picking against the spread was a different story (7-9).

The upset special — Broncos over Cowboys — was aided by a narrow spread (2 1/2 points), a home underdog and the fact Denver has three shutdown-caliber corners, which makes it possible to dedicate more defenders to slamming the door on an Ezekiel Elliott.

Here are this weeks picks …

Rams minus-2 1/2 at 49ers: Rams by 7
Another potential Thursday night dud. But it will be nice to see Jared Goff. It won’t be so nice to see San Fran’s offense.

Buccaneers plus-2 1/2 at Vikings: Vikings by 6
Record picking Vikings games: 2-0
I didn’t think the Vikings would beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh with Sam Bradford. This week, I think they beat the Bucs at home with or without Sam.

Ravens minus-3 1/2 at Jaguars: Ravens by 7
Baltimore has eight interceptions by six defenders. By comparison, the Vikings have yet to notch a takeaway this season.

Saints plus-5 1/2 at Panthers: Panthers by 10
In two weeks, the Saints’ defense has made the Vikings and the Patriots feel a whole lot better about themselves. This week, they’ll put a pep in Cam’s step, not to mention a 3-0 record on his season.

Broncos minus-2 1/2 at Bills: Broncos by 3
Can Denver’s dominant defense take it on the road to Buffalo? With Tyrod Taylor as the opposing quarterback, the guess here is yes.

Browns minus-1/2 at Colts: Colts by 3
The Browns have only morale victories at this point. Let’s see if they can score more points than the other team for a change.

Dolphins minus-5 1/2 at Jets: Dolphins by 7
Let’s see if Jay Cutler can handle the pressure of being on a team that should crush the Jets and challenge for a wild-card spot.

Texans plus-13 1/2 at Patriots: Patriots by 14
If you want to guarantee a spot in Week 4 of your suicide pool, and you haven’t already used the Patriots, here’s your no-brainer.

Giants plus-5 1/2 at Eagles: Eagles by 7
The Giants are a mess offensively, and it’s not just OBJ’s bum ankle. The coach, Bob McAdoo, needs to match his play calling to the limitations of his offensive line.

Steelers minus-7 1/2 at Bears: Steelers by 10
The Steelers aren’t exactly humming along. But opening with the Browns, the Vikings sans Sam, and the Bears is a good recipe for 3-0.

Falcons minus-2 1/2 at Lions: Lions by 7
Matthew Stafford’s numbers were low (122 yards passing), but he made some great throws, ran with quicker feet than he’s ever shown before, and his defense destroyed the Giants on the road in prime time. Now, can Detroit do what it rarely does, which is follow up prosperity with continued prosperity? Typically, this is a game the Lions lose. If they win this one, they’re legit as long as they stay healthy.

Seahawks plus-2 1/2 at Titans: Titans by 3
Seattle’s offensive line just doesn’t appear to have what it takes to do what Oakland did — go into Tennessee and beat a tough Titans team.

Chiefs minus-3 1/2 at Chargers: Chiefs by 7
Let’s hope for Younghoe Koo’s sake that this game doesn’t come down to the Chargers needing another last-second field goal to tie or win.  The Chiefs shouldn’t have to worry about a tight game, especially with the Chargers no longer having any sort of home-field advantage.

Bengals plus-8 1/2 at Packers: Packers by 14
A Bengals team that hasn’t scored a touchdown in two home games heads to Lambeau Field. Exactly what the Packers’ defense needs after being exposed in Atlanta.

Raiders minus-3 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 3
Hopefully, Marshawn Lynch has stopped dancing by the time the Raiders board the plane to D.C. He adds a power element that’s a nice complement to Derek Carr. But I like the home team here.


Cowboys minus-3 1/2 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3
I didn’t like the Cowboys when they were favored on the road in Denver. I still don’t like them on the road, even in Arizona. Ezekiel Elliott raises his record against Roger Goodell to 3-0, but Cowboys fall to 1-2.

Last week straight up; versus spread: 12-4; 7-9

Year to date: 22-8; 14-16

Upset specials: 1-1

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