Jacksonville -3 @Buffalo
If the Jags have any pride whatsoever, they win big in Buffalo. If they lose you can write virtually everyone involved with this team off, from the top down. Jags to cover.
Pats -10.5 @ Jets
The Pats dynasty was built on three things: the genius of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and by no small part, a perpetually horrid AFC East. Talk this week of the demise of Brady and the possible retirement of Gronk will likely leave plenty of people looking stupid. Pats to cover.
@ Eagles -5 vs. Giants
The Jags and Eagles are suffering similarly disappointing years after great 2017 campaigns. No team fared better last year than Philly, and with that Super Bowl confidence still somewhere there under the surface, I’ve been expecting a late season surge to take the NFC East. The work gets harder after last week’s crushing defeat to the Saints and it’s now-or-never time for Philly. I expect them to be considerably motivated to beat a lousy and overconfident Giants team who just managed back to back wins. Big cover by Philly.
@ Buccaneers -2.5 vs San Francisco
I can’t imagine the Buccaneers quarterback carousel has helped confidence in the room, let alone chemistry and timing on the field. This coaching staff is teetering on the brink of extinction and looks desperate. Kyle Shanahan, on the other hand, has considerable job security and is making progress with his 3rd QB. He should be able to take advantage of the flailing Buccs. 49ers to cover and win.
@ Chargers -13 vs. Arizona
Thirteen point seems a lot for this Chargers team whose wins have come against: Buffalo, San Fran, Oakland twice, Cleveland, Tennessee and Seattle, a veritable who’s who of who’s awful, injured or average at best. I appreciate that the Cardinals certainly fit that description but am betting Byron Leftwich, Josh Rosen and company continue to make enough progress not to be blown away. Cards to cover.
@ Minnesota -3 vs Green Bay
The Vikings continue to get average to bad play from their offensive line and this just doesn’t seem to be their year. Aaron Rodgers has had a challenging few weeks with losses, a public spat with his family and Mike McCarthy’s continued blacklisting of rational coaching. I’ll take Rodgers as an underdog though every time. Packers to cover.
@ Cincy -1 vs Cleveland
Being a 1-point underdog on the road seems like a watershed moment for the Browns. This is legitimate respect. Respect I think might be a little premature. Bengals to cover.
Bruce Arians has said he wants the Browns’ HC job and it’s the only one he will take. The Browns have zero competition to grab a great offensive mind, capable of building pretty solid team identity and team chemistry. Look for Haslem to take a hard pass and sign Bill Cowher.
@ Carolina -3 vs. Seattle
A tough call in which I’ll err on the side of the team with the coaching staff capable of abstract thought. Panthers to cover.
@ Baltimore -10.5 vs. Oakland
One team possibly reenergized by a new quarterback at the helm, the other watching another departed possible-star shine elsewhere. It’s been one gut punch after the next for the Raiders room and Cooper’s explosion this week can’t help morale or confidence in their staff. Nor can it help that they are travelling across the country to face a Ravens team fighting for their playoff lives. Lamar breakout game, Ravens to cover.
Indianapolis -7.5 vs. Miami
Tannehill comes back and has to find his game on the road against an Indy team on an upswing. I won’t be surprised if Miami is a little better down the stretch, but there should be too much rust to overcome this week, to keep pace with Frank Reich and Andrew Luck. Indy to cover.
Pittsburgh -3 @ Denver
If Denver can hang in with the Chiefs offense, I think they should be able to keep a hold on a Steelers team that has been a little uneven. Denver to cover.
@ Texans -5.5 vs. Titans
Houston seems a year away from being a very scary offense. A fully healthy receiving corps, a healthier Watson, a new running back or two and an improved offensive line and this team seems well armed to be in the Rams, Chiefs talent level. Of course, coaching is another matter and I remain skeptical of the Texans staff. The Titans have been up and down all season. This is a game that matters to them if they care to stay relevant in the AFC South race. I expect they come to play. Titans to cover.