Well, mercifully, a winning week was finally had in the “around the league” section of the picks last week, finishing at 3-2. A late Cleveland touchdown at Baltimore kept the mark from being particularly noteworthy, but hey, it’s hard to look a positive gift horse in the mouth this rough season. The Dolphins’ offense couldn’t get anything going after the first quarter, so I missed on them -7.5, but I still have a winning record on Miami games this year.
Let’s build on that modest improvement this week...
Miami Dolphins picks (4-3 on season)
MIAMI (-3.5) at Detroit
I’m not really sure why this line isn’t a little bigger, other than the Lions have been plucky at home this season. Amon-Ra St. Brown has been cleared and will play, which is big for Detroit’s passing game, but - speaking of passing games - I just don’t see how Detroit is going to slow down Miami’s triumvirate of Tua/Waddle/Hill. As noted by our friends over at the Pride of Detroit, Detroit’s pass defense has been really bad this season. The Lions rank 31st in pass rush win rate and 32nd in PFF coverage grading. Both of their starting safeties are banged up and likely out (DeShon Elliott is trending towards not playing while their other starter, Tracy Walker, is on IR). Translation: lay the points and watch the Fins bomb away at Ford Field.
Rest of the league (13-22 on season)
Denver vs. JACKSONVILLE (-1) (in London)
This one just feels like a case of who’s playing better lately. And - to me - it’s the team that’s been losing games, but has at least looked competent doing it. The Jags are now completely invested in the explosive Travis Etienne, Jr. as a weapon out of the backfield in both the running and passing games, and he will be the difference maker today in a game that lacks big-play players.
CHICAGO (+10) at Dallas
This just feels like a spot for the Bears to hang with a Dallas offense that still isn’t clicking yet. Dak is still feeling his way back from injury - they struggled against the aforementioned Lions’ poor pass defense last week - and will be facing a step up in quality on that back end this week. The Bears are also brimming with confidence after slapping the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Dallas very well might win, but asking them to lay double digits in this spot seems almost silly.
Teaser: BILLS (-4.5) vs. Packers; EAGLES (-4.5) VS. Steelers
Both of the big-line games give me a little pause to lay that many points. The Packers are a mess, but I hate having to lay THAT much against Aaron Rodgers, so trimming that to less than a touchdown makes me more comfortable. Same for the Eagles, as the Steelers’ defense has been solid the last couple of weeks, and that could lead to a lower-scoring and closer game than the experts think.
San Francisco at LA Rams; OVER 42
These two went under earlier this month, but....just call this one just a gut feeling. Adding in the explosive upside of Christian McCaffrey will help to counteract Deebo Samuel’s absence. Jimmy G’s connections with George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk have also started to heat up the last few weeks. The Rams have had a week off of get healthier and prepare, so I think we’ll see a little bit more from the LA offense at home today. This one (barely) gets over the mark.
ARIZONA (+3.5) at Minnesota
Vegas is trying to entice me to take the Cardinals here with the hook.......and yep, I’m going for it. The Cardinals seemed to have that get-right game last week against the Saints, and DeAndre Hopkins looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. His presence and importance cannot possibly be overstated at this point. In what could be a close shootout in Minneapolis, I’ll take the field goal and a hook here, as I think Kyler Murray, Hopkins, and the Cardinals offense will be up to the task today.