After last week’s 4-2 mark, my season record is 23-15-1, so let’s keep the mojo going.
Houston Texans (1-7) at Miami Dolphins (1-7)
The Line: Miami -5.5
Let’s be honest, whenever you get two 1-7 teams, what is there to really like about either team? That’s usually true, but the Texans get back Tyrod Taylor, who played very well in a Week 1 win against Jacksonville and had the Texans right in a Week 2 game against Cleveland before leaving the game due to a hamstring injury. In a less-than-enthralling backdrop at Hard Rock Stadium, the Texans may get just enough lift to keep them in this one until the very end against the Dolphins, who have shown a bit of offensive life the past couple games.
The Pick: Miami 25, HOUSTON 24
Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) at New York Giants (2-6)
The Line: Las Vegas -3
Hard to imagine the Raiders aren’t in some sort of stunned state from the Henry Ruggs III situation. They’ll kick off at 10 a.m. West Coast time, which will be 1 p.m. New York time. For their part, the Giants have a bit of positive mojo going after beating Carolina two weeks ago and then going toe-to-toe with Kansas City at Arrowhead Nov. 1 before the Chiefs pulled it out by the hairs of their collective chinny-chin chins. I think the Giants now have a bit of that can-do attitude. That will rule the day against a Raiders team that I sense won’t play to their optimum level.
The Pick: NEW YORK 23, Las Vegas 17
Minnesota Vikings (3-4) at Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Line: Baltimore -6
There is a storyline that the Ravens’ defense isn’t much. True, in their losses to Las Vegas in Week 1 and Cincinnati in Week 7, the Ravens did give up a combined 74 points. They also allowed 35 points to Kansas City in Week 2, though the defense was only responsible for 28. When they beat the Colts with some late magic, they allowed 25.
But John Harbaugh’s teams always fight to the final whistle and they also have a penchant for coming out like gangbusters after the bye week. Conversely, Mike Zimmer’s squad may be at a crossroads after a staggering loss to the Cowboys at home against a first-time starting quarterback in Cooper Rush.
Facing Lamar Jackson is no time to be at a collective crossroads as a team, and I think the weight and scope of where these two teams are both heading will lead to a second half of doom for the Vikings.
The Pick: BALTIMORE 31, Minnesota 21
Green Bay Packers (7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)
The Line: Kansas City -7.5
The day after the Chiefs beat the Giants on “Monday Night Football,” the spread on this one was Kansas City -1. With the news that Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t play in this one after testing positive for COVID-19, this line swung much more heavily in favor of the Chiefs.
Well, Packers fans now get to catch a glimpse of GM Brian Gutekunst’s one-time vision of the Packers’ future. Jordan Love, whom Gutekunst traded up to draft in 2020, will make his first career NFL start. This is like a football version of a pitching matchup where, say, a rookie pitcher matches up against arguably the best pitcher in the game.
Looks to me like we’d need what Jim Henneman calls a reverse lock to have the Packers really stay in this game, although the Packers do get Davante Adams back from the COVID list. I think the Chiefs will take great advantage of the Packers’ misfortune.
The Pick: KANSAS CITY 30, Green Bay 15
Arizona Cardinals (7-1) at San Francisco 49ers (3-4)
The Line: San Francisco -1
Not a hugely strong play here, but I do feel comfortable in saying that the 49ers will win the return match after the Cardinals won in Arizona, 17-10. Kyler Murray didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to an ankle issue, so he’ll be hobbled if he does play. Colt McCoy would start if Murray can’t go. McCoy isn’t a stiff, but I’m not sure the Cards can keep up with 49ers if Murray is out.
Kyle Shanahan’s team has underachieved to this point, but the Niners are coming off a double-digit victory in Chicago and might catch a break with a Murrayless Cardinals team. They have a second chance to pick up some momentum this year.
The Pick: SAN FRANCISCO 26, Arizona 16
Tennessee Titans (6-2) at Los Angeles Rams (7-1)
The Line: Los Angeles -7.5
If there was any doubt the Rams were really going for it this season, their acquisition of Broncos eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller should put that to bed. They are all in and trying to inject some new life into what is already a solid defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans came out of their Week 8 victory in Indianapolis without star running back Derrick Henry, who had surgery on a broken bone in his foot. His chances at playing again this season seem remote, but the Titans have been playing solid ball of late.
Tennessee’s defense can be exploited. I think Sean McVay and Matt Stafford will take advantage of the fact that Henry won’t be around to eat up the clock.
The Pick: LOS ANGELES 34, Tennessee 17
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