We’ve moved on this week from kneeling to laughing in “As the NFL Turns.” So far, we don’t know much, or we have some conflicting information to what we thought. The Super Bowl favorites entering the year have been awful defensively. The Los Angeles Rams have the best offense in football. The Kansas City Chiefs are the only undefeated team. Both Super Bowl participants last year just lost at home as sizable favorites last week.
If you put together a power ranking list based only on what’s happened so far, it could look pretty foolish in a few weeks. Then again, power ranking on who you think should be good could look just as foolish.
By the way, the early Sunday slate looks awful heading in, outside of a Panthers-Lions matchup. That will probably lead to a wild day, but if you’ve got some errands to run, early would be better. Let’s get to the picks.
Last week: 11-5 ATS
Overall: 29-19 ATS
New England (-4.5) at Tampa Bay
New England still might be overvalued, because the defense has been bad for four weeks. They’ve lost outright as a 9-point favorite twice and needed a last-second TD to win as a 14-point fave.
On the other hand, Tampa Bay is a mystery. Just how good are they? They feasted on the woeful Bears with Mike Glennon at QB. They beat the 0-4 Giants, and they got handled at Minnesota. Their opponents are 3-9 on the year (while the Patriots’ opponents are 11-5). So I’m not buying the Patriots long-term as far as value, but I’ll make them a one-week play in a shootout, since the line is under 5. Pats -4.5.
SUNDAY 1 PM
LA Chargers (+3) at NY Giants
Can you feel the excitement in this LA vs NY showdown? Both teams are 0-4 and so this is a battle to be the best 0-5 team ever. I’ve been down on the Chargers at home, but it’s probably going to feel like a vacation getting to play in a real stadium. Chargers +3.
Buffalo (+3) at Cincinnati
Will we get a market correction here, or will the Bills follow up their Atlanta upset with another road win? Andy Dalton has looked relatively better since the coordinator change. I’m going to go against the first-place Bills, sorry. Bengals -3.
NY Jets (PK) at Cleveland
Twice in the last week I invoked a team not used to being favored being a go-against (Browns and Jags last week at Jets). However, I also think the Jets had their good luck and played better at home, and now go back on the road. The Browns are so overdue that the library won’t let them check anything else out until they pay in cash. Browns Pk.
Jacksonville (+9) at Pittsburgh
I saw a question asking which Blake Bortles will show up? Uh, the same one that always does, and it will just depend on whether the game plan protects him and the score stays in range. That said, the Jaguars have a top pass defense and the matchup of Jalen Ramsey vs. Antonio Brown is going to be something to watch. Add in Leonard Fournette and I like the Jags as a keep-it-close here. Jags +9.
Tennessee (-3) at Miami
This line is likely to change as Mariota is ruled out and the nation slowly comes to grips with Matt Cassel starting a game in 2017. I’m so old that I knew Matt Cassel sucked before it was cool, complaining about the Chiefs trading for him a decade ago.
Meanwhile, let’s all hope that we get more Jay Cutler wildcat plays. Dolphins +3.
San Francisco (+1.5) at Indianapolis
Frank Gore revenge game? or Pierre Garcon revenge game? Hey, we are grasping for straws here because no one should want to watch this of their own volition. The big news is that Andrew Luck is practicing and could be back soon, though now the Colts are asking like this was the plan all along, as if they didn’t suddenly trade for Jacoby Brissett right before the season when someone looked up from their coffee and realized that they had Scott Tolzien as the only healthy quarterback.
I think San Francisco gets the first win here in this because both of these teams deserve 1-4. 49ers +1.5.
Arizona (+6.5) at Philadelphia
Arizona has beaten the Colts and 49ers in overtime and are just a few plays from 0-4. Let that sink in as you evaluate whether they are good. The Eagles, meanwhile, have won at Washington and lost close at Kansas City (while also beating the two best 0-4 teams). I like the Eagles -6.5 as the much better team here, getting only their 2nd home game of the year.
Carolina (+2.5) at Detroit
Detroit’s defense has been the real deal this year, and something tells me Cam Newton won’t be finding things to be too funny on Sunday afternoon. Lions -2.5.
SUNDAY 4:05/4:25 PM
Seattle (+1) at LA Rams
I’m all aboard the Rams train until it goes off the rails. They still rank first in net yards per attempt and points scored. Todd Gurley is rolling and Seattle will have their hands full with Aaron Donald. Rams -1.
Baltimore (+2.5) at Oakland
I like to go with the team with the better quarterback in games like this. Let’s see, E.J. Manuel and Joe Flacco. Never mind, let’s move on to another category. The Ravens defense is the real deal and much better, and I think Baltimore +2.5 catch Oakland at the right time as they try to adjust to the loss of Carr.
This seems like a tweet worthy of an ironic RT later.
Green Bay (+2) at Dallas
The matchup of the day in the late afternoon. Green Bay is just starting to get healthy on the offensive line, but will probably be without running back Ty Montgomery and perhaps Davante Adams after his concussion. Dallas, meanwhile, is up against it heading into their bye week. Another loss to a contender would set them up for a tough climb in the NFC East. Packers +2.
Kansas City (-1) at Houston
The last undefeated team remaining has a tough road test. Houston has looked much better the last two weeks and is gaining confidence with Deshaun Watson and has now added Will Fuller to the offense. They won’t find things as easy as the last two weeks, but I still like the Texans +1.
Minnesota (-3) at Chicago
Mitchell Trubisky makes his debut for the Bears. We’ll look back fondly on the Mike Glennon era someday. Bears +3.