Let’s talk big picture. Our competition this year has not been profitable. Erik has clawed his way back to .500 with Bryan and I close behind. Participants in this column were all profitable last season, where I hit on a crazy 65% of my bets and won the title. That’s not happening this year. Yes, I’ve been on the wrong side of some late-game luck this year, but that’s going to happen. Yes, this year has been more difficult to get a read on the league week to week due to COVID19-related issues, but I never expected it to be this difficult.
With 20 games left to pick on the year, we’re all just hoping to get above .500. For me, that means going 12-8 for the rest of the year or an average of 3-2 per week. Totally doable and something I was putting on the board regularly before the recent swoon.
So buckle up and let’s see if we can land this thing in positive territory in the fourth quarter.
The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.
|Analyst||Jeff Berckes||Erik Smith||Bryan Sweet|
|Pick #1||Packers -7.5||Chiefs -7||Vikings +6.5|
|Pick #2||Bills -2.5||Washington +3||ATL/LAC O50.5|
|Pick #3||Dolphins +7||Bills -2.5||Ravens -1|
|Pick #4||Browns +1||Vikings +6.5||Jets +13.5|
|Pick #5||Saints -7||Colts -2.5||Washington +3|
Jeff Berckes: As long as Rodgers remains in fire-breathing dragon mode, I see no reason to doubt him and his ability to burn down NFL defenses and small villages. The Lions got a win last week against the Bears as they came back late. Matthew Stafford no doubt has that in him and will benefit from a return of some of his weapons, but I think the Packers are too good and too hot for them to keep this one close. GB -7.5
I don’t think the Steelers match up well with the Bills. The Steelers’ short passing game has been largely effective this season, but the Bills defense has the talent to take that away from them. The Bills offense has been rolling in recent weeks and as much as I respect the Steelers’ defense, they’re banged up. It’s weird to see an 11-1 team as an underdog but I think it’s warranted and I believe the Bills can take care of business at home. BUF -2.5
I love watching the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is so much fun and they can score at any time. They travel to Miami this week as 7 point favorites and here’s the thing, they haven’t covered a spread since the Jets game in Week 8. I’m not saying they can’t do it here, obviously, but they’re playing a good Dolphins team on the road. I like Miami’s chances to keep it close. MIA +7
This is a trends pick and I’m sure the Ravens will prove me wrong, but the Browns are playing really good football right now and it would be incredibly meaningful if they can take out the Ravens on MNF. That’s not just because of the standings but more what it would mean for them to be taken seriously in the division and beating last year’s champs would go a long way. I’m betting on the Browns to stay hot. CLE +1
The Saints defense has rounded into form and is playing at a high level. They draw the Eagles this week who are rolling out Jalen Hurts for his first career start. I know we’re still rolling with Taysom Hill, but this Saints team is so talented I believe they can dispatch a team like the Eagles with relative ease to stay in the top seat of the NFC while Brees heals. NO -7
Erik Smith: I know the Dolphins have been impressive this year, but we may be jumping them one step ahead of where they currently are. Miami put up just 19 points on the Bengals, 20 points on the Jets, 13 points on the Broncos over the past three weeks. While their defense has played well over that span, those are three of the worst offenses in the league, and this week the Dolphins face the best in the Chiefs. I don’t expect the Dolphins to have the firepower to keep up with Kansas City, who has an underrated defense, so this spread feels a few points low to me. KC-7
Washington versus San Francisco is being played in Arizona due to COVID-19 regulations in California, so this isn’t a home game at all for the 49ers. Since this game is being played on a neutral field, that implies that the 49ers are the better team by 3 points. I don’t buy it, and while Washington losing Antonio Gibson to injury hurts, I’ll take the team with more to play for coming off of a big win against Pittsburgh. This one will be ugly, and I don’t exactly know how they pull it off, but Washington should keep it close and have a chance to win it in the end with their excellent pass rush. WAS +3
The Steelers finally lost last week, and I’ve got a hunch that they will run that streak to two games in a row. With a non-existent running game the Steelers have been fine against subpar competition, but cracks are beginning to show in their dink and dunk passing game. They need to get Chase Claypool back and breaking off big plays, but until they do I don’t think they have the firepower to keep up with Buffalo. As long as Josh Allen can keep his cool against the Steelers’ pass rush, I expect the Bills to pull away late. BUF -2.5
I know this is a bad matchup for the Vikings with the tough Tampa Bay run game set to keep Dalvin Cook in check, but their passing game has been functioning at a high level with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson dominating in the passing game. Kirk Cousins has been playing underrated football, and I don’t see them getting blown out by a Bucs team still searching for an identity. I’ll take the Vikings here, and I even think they could be a decent long-shot moneyline bet. MIN +6.5
I don’t know how you can like the way the Raiders are playing right now, as they needed a miracle to beat the Jets last week after laying a massive egg in Atlanta the week prior. I’ll take my chances with the Colts, who shouldn’t have much trouble running the ball on this Raiders defense, which will help take pressure off of Philip Rivers. This line feels a point too low. IND -2.5
Bryan Sweet: Perhaps coming out of their BYE week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will evolve their offense into what fits Tom Brady versus what Bruce Arians wants to do. Arians is a big proponent of the deep passing game and that simply is not Brady’s strength. Tampa has lost two straight and seems to be trending in the wrong direction whereas Minnesota is fighting to make the playoffs and has played well enough to win two straight. The wins aren’t impressive but if Minnesota can fix their recent turnover woes I think they can keep this close if not win outright. I’d like to find a place giving 7, but I’ll take what I’m given here. MIN +6.5
The Falcons have struggled to stop many teams this season allowing nearly 400 yards per game and the Chargers can’t get out of their own way late in games and have allowed teams to stay close all season. Both offenses have playmakers that can provide explosive plays at any time and this should be a back-and-forth affair. The shutout against a depleted New England defense last week is a concern, but I’ll chalk that up to Belichick confusing a rookie QB more than an indictment as to the state of L.A.’s offense. Look for a high-scoring affair and the over is the play. ATL/LA O50.5
Who would have thought six weeks ago the Browns might have a legitimate shot at the AFC North title and the Ravens would be fighting for their playoff lives? Well, that’s the situation we’re in as these two teams face off Monday night in what be a classic. Both teams lean heavily on the running game, but Baltimore’s defense has been the better unit against the run this season and should be able to force Baker Mayfield into some mistakes. The Browns arguably got the biggest win in their franchise in recent seasons last week and this looks like a perfect spot for a letdown against a quality opponent. BAL -1
Man, were the Jets close to getting off the schneid last week or what? And Seattle…what was that?!?! Maybe this is a case of recency bias, but I don’t know how you can spot a team 13.5 points that have lost three of their last four by less than a TD. Seattle is getting healthier at RB and their WR duo is among the best in the league but they also field one of the worst defenses in NFL history and Sam Darnold has the tools to keep this team competitive. I don’t think the Jets win, but I do think they can keep it within two TDs. NYJ +13.5
Don’t look now, but this Washington defense is starting to round into form and is going to make life miserable for opposing QBs for the rest of the season. And if this team can pass the Giants and win the NFC East they could pose a serious problem for their first-round opponent. On the other side of the country, the 49ers seem to just be going through the motions and can’t even play their home games in their home stadium which is why this game is going to be played in Arizona. I can easily see Washington winning this straight up, so the points are a bonus. WFT +3
What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)