We learned a lot in Week 5.
We learned that the NFL really likes to protect its quarterbacks, especially those named Tom Brady. We learned not to mess with Davonte Adams after a loss. And we learned that the NFC East might just be for real. If you had the Giants beating the Packers and the Cowboys beating the Rams in Week 5, you’re a better gambler than me. I’m still giving the division a B+ though as Washington remains one of the worst teams in the league and you can’t convince me otherwise.
My hot streak continues. I cooled off a bit but at 15-9-1, I’m still plus money on the season. Here are your current standings.
This week, we bring in BCole who regularly beats me in our weekly pick ‘em pool so we expect good things.
And now, onto my picks.
$50 on New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns (-2 ½)
Remember earlier this season when we talked about players and/or coaches going against their former teams? It’s happening again this weekend on both sides of the football. Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots travel to Cleveland where Belichick once roamed the sidelines as head coach of the Browns. This was back in the early 90s when I still had hair and when the Browns were still bad. Nice to know at least some things remain the same. Playing quarterback for Cleveland is Jacoby Brissett, who was drafted by you guessed it, the New England Patriots. Of course, all of that is ancient history. This game will be more about matchups. The Pats are coming off a dismantling of the Detroit Lions. The struggling Browns on the other hand have lost three of their last four. Those three Browns losses were by a combined six points so they’re in these games, they just can’t win ‘em. Both teams are 2-3 but have a positive point differential, albeit less than ten points. Mac Jones is questionable for New England although even if given the nod, I’m not sure he gives the Pats a significant edge. I heard this week that Deshaun Watson is back in the building in Cleveland which means Brissett’s clock is ticking. It’s only a matter of time before he’s either a) backing Watson up or b) playing for another team. But this game, bound to be a snooze-fest, is all about game management. The league’s leading rushing attack led by the one-two punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will look to tire the Pats defense. Amare Cooper finally remembered how to play football and has become Brissett’s favorite target. I liked this line to be a lot higher, but Vegas has the Browns laying less than a field goal at home so I’m all over it. Brownies cover the two-and-a-half.
$40 on Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams (-10)
I went all in on the Rams last week and lost my ass. I didn’t give the Dallas Cowboys a chance in hell of winning in SoFi but they did. Rather handily. Something is wrong with the Rams, both offensively and defensively. They can’t run the football, they can’t block for Stafford and their defense is not even close to last year’s Super Bowl form. Fortunately, this week, they have a scrimmage. They welcome in a Carolina Panthers team that just fired its head coach and has their starting quarterback nursing a high ankle sprain. While normally Baker Mayfield not playing is a good thing, this week pits interim head coach Steve Wilks with quarterback PJ Walker who is only making his third career start. I wish them the best, but I can’t see how a new coach and a new quarterback have enough combined mojo to waltz into Los Angeles and beat the defending champs, even if they are struggling. The Rams are laying a healthy amount here but if they can finally recover a mojo of their own, covering this number against one of the worst teams in the league should be a walk in the park. And if they don’t, I’m laying off them the rest of the season. Rams cover the ten at home.
$30 on Arizona Cardinals/Seattle Seahawks (over 50 ½)
I rarely play over/unders although when a number stands out like this one, it’s as safe a play as any. The rest of the NFL slate looks to be loaded with pitfalls, but I found a number this weekend that appears to be out of sorts. The over/under in the Arizona/Seattle game is 50.5. For those of you unfamiliar with what an over/under is, it’s the combined total number of points in that game. While neither Seattle nor Arizona can score consistently (Arizona has yet to score in the first quarter all season), they can’t stop teams from scoring either. The Seahawks have allowed the second most points in the league and the Cardinals aren’t far behind. Even though these teams tend be inept on offense, their matador defenses should welcome a high number. I will take the Cards/Seahawks game over 50.5.
$20 on Cincinnati Bengals (-1 ½) at New Orleans Saints
I’m not sure what to make of the New Orleans Saints this season. Their best player Alvin Kamara is still nursing some bruised ribs. Jameis Winston is probably out. Their wide receiver corps is banged up as well. Basically, the Saints have now resorted to just giving Taysom Hill the ball every snap and hoping for the best, which is quite often good enough. It won’t be good enough on Sunday. They host an extremely dangerous Cincinnati Bengals team who, at times, look like they could beat anybody, and at other times, look uninspired. They’re in every game though. Their three losses are by a combined eight points. Joe Burrow returns to New Orleans where he won his national championship back in 2019 at LSU. He’ll feel right at home. While the New Orleans secondary probably has a few tricks up its sleeve for Burrow, in the end, this Bengals team is just too talented for a depleted Saints team to handle. I like the Bengals to cover the point-and-a-half as Burrow lights up another cigar.
$10 on Alabama Crimson Tide at Tennessee Volunteers (+7)
And finally, let’s head back to the college game. HUGE weekend in Knoxville as the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers take on the almighty Crimson Tide. Neyland Stadium will be absolutely rocking, 106,000 plus strong as Nick Saban rolls into town to play Knoxville’s biggest game in years. This is the first time since 1989 that these two teams play each other without a loss. With close calls against both Texas and Texas A&M, Bama hasn’t looked very Bama-like. Meanwhile, Tennessee has been handling their business. After getting over the hump against Florida, the Vols embarrassed a ranked LSU team. This will be the game to watch this Saturday afternoon and I can’t help but think that stadium will be shaking to its core. Both teams score a lot and neither team allows their opponents to score so something has to give (FYI, Vegas likes scoring in this game). We should see a close one here so, in honor of my good friend and Tennessee alum, I am taking Tennessee plus the seven. Go Vols!
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK SIX
50: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Kenny Pickett is sure being thrown to the wolves when it comes to the talented defenses he’s had to face during the start of his NFL career. Eventually, he’ll come out of this in a much better place, and likely will see success later in the season considering the weapons he has at his disposal. For now, he gets an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that ranks 6th in total defense and 6th against the pass. Pittsburgh RB Najee Harris has been unable to provide balance to the offense. Defensively, Pittsburgh will be without Minkah Fitzpatrick and its top three corners. That Tom Brady guy sure is gonna feast. Bucs cover easily on the road.
40: Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins
Welcome to the Skylar Thompson show in Miami. The rookie QB gets the start with Tua out. Tyreek Hill has a foot injury, but the Dolphins are optimistic that he will play. It’s not so much a lack of faith in Thompson, but the fact that Miami has been outscored 67-32 in its last two games (losses to the Bengals and Jets). Minnesota brings a balanced attack headlined by Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins, and Justin Jefferson. This group should have success against a Miami defense that ranks 25th in the NFL. Minnesota is +1 in turnover differential on the season, but that includes facing Aaron Rodgers and Jalen Hurts. Forcing the rookie to make mistakes will be key and I’m banking on that. Vikings cover on the road.
30: Clemson Tigers (-3.5) at Florida State Seminoles
The ‘Noles are finally heading in the right direction and no doubt, the home crowd will be ready with the Tigers coming into town. Still, Florida State has lost six straight in this series (2-4 ATS). After a 4-0 start, the Seminoles have lost back-to-back games against ranked teams (Wake Forest and N.C. State). Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei (14 TD, 2 INT) has been effective all season and will have his hands full against FSU’s 13th ranked pass defense. In the end, it will be a test that he and the Tigers will pass. Tigers cover on the road.
20: LSU Tigers at Florida Gators (-2.5)
Because my picks were late to get in this week, I figured I’d make the SportsChump happy by picking his Gators. More so, Florida’s pass defense has only allowed 5 TD this season, while snagging six picks. Sure, the Tigers have won three of four at Florida, but this Brian Kelly led team is a bit of a mess right now. LSU left Auburn with a four point win and fell at home by 27 points to the Volunteers. Expect the ground game to be the focus, and I’ll give the edge to Florida, playing at home. Gators cover at home.
10: Nebraska Cornhuskers (+13.5) at Purdue Boilermakers
Let us head into the land of obscurity and make a pick against a middle of the pack Big Ten fight. Actually, in all honesty, the Big Ten West is so bad this year, both of these schools have a legit shot at the conference championship. That’s crazy to say considering where Nebraska was a few weeks back, prior to firing Scott Frost. Nebraska has back-to-back wins over Indiana and Rutgers. Playing Purdue, it comes down to shutting down its pass game that ranks 20th in College Football. The Huskers rank 105th in passing yards allowed, but have 6 INT and just 8 TD allowed through the air. With new life, I like Nebraska to keep this game close. Give me the Huskers and the points.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK SIX: BCOLE (Last season’s record: 1-4, -$70)
$50 – Rams over Panthers +10
Rams are a major letdown this season and despite the fact the Panthers are horrible, I believe the lackluster between the two teams is more comparable than a 10-point blowout. Rams won’t cover.
$40 – Bucs -8 over Steelers
The Bucs have struggled with injury and punishment, but if they can keep the penalties under control, they will handily cover the spread over the terrible Steelers.
$30 – Green Bay over Jets +7.5
Not only do I genuinely despise Aaron Rogers, but I also believe the Jets are still a bit underrated this season since Zack Wilson returned. I think GB will not cover the spread this game…or at least I will enjoy it if they don’t.
$20 – Bengals -1.5 over the Saints
Watching the Bengals play just gives me indigestion because every time I put faith in them, they let me down…but I believe this time, they will come through and will cover this small spread in what I agree should be a close game against the Saints. Otherwise, I will have my Tums ready.
$10 – Ravens over the Giants +6
Despite my love for Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have not been as exciting to watch this season, barely squeaking out a couple of their wins. As Outkast once said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Jackson, but I am for reeeeaaal”.. or something like that. With Saquon Barkley healthy, I feel the Giants will make this one a nail biter. Ravens do not cover the spread.