Admit it. You scoffed when you saw the Kansas City Chiefs established as a 20-point favorite to beat the New York Jets last week. You figured the Jets couldn’t be that bad. But it turned out to be a sucker bet, designed to generate some action on the Jets. And the Chiefs won by 26. Oh well. Too bad, so sad.
Maybe there’s something this week that also looks too good to be true. As always, you be the judge.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (+2.5), 51
If there’s been one constant for the 49ers this season it’s that someone valuable will get hurt. During their loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle and Tevin Coleman hobbled off. With Kittle (eight weeks) and Jimmy G (six weeks) gone from the lineup, we don’t give the 49ers much chance against a Packers team stinging from a home loss to the Vikings.
New York Giants at Washington Football Team (-3.5), TBA
We know it sounds unbelievable, but the Giants and the Football Team are both still in the NFC East pennant race. Depending on how they do tonight against Tampa Bay, the Giants could take a big step by completing a season-sweep of Washington, which is coming off its bye.
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (-6), 46.5
Making Nick Foles their starting quarterback has done little to invigorate the Bears offense. It looks as dormant and uninspired as always. And that’s going to be a big problem this weekend at Tennessee. The Titans are coming off a horrible loss to the Bengals and will be fixated on getting Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown re-established. Take the Titans to cover.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-4), 53
During their win at Green Bay, the Vikings found out again just how valuable Dalvin Cook is. He became just the fifth player in the Super Bowl era to have at least 200 yards from scrimmage, three rushing TDs and one receiving score in the same game. It hadn’t been done in 18 years. We suspect Cook will give the Lions inconsistent defense fits. The Vikings will cover.
Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs (-12), 51
After being out six weeks with a high ankle sprain, Christian McCaffrey is scheduled to return against the Chiefs. Talk about good timing. We suspect the Panthers will continue to improve under Matt Rhule, but it’s not going to be against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, who got another 416 yards and passing and five TDs from Patrick Mahomes against the Jets. Chiefs by two TDs.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5), 51.5
This will be one of the worst games of the week, right up there with Giants-Washington. Both teams have enormous problems. The Jaguars have lost six straight and will be without QB Gardner Minshew, who has multiple fractures in the thumb of his throwing hand. The Texans will have spent the week trying to decide whether to trade two of their biggest stars – J.J. Watt and Will Fuller – to replenish their stack of draft picks. Take the Texans to cover.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts (+3), 44.5
We’re sure you can tell by now that there’s something different about the Ravens this season. They don’t have the flare. Lamar Jackson doesn’t seem as indomitable as he did last season. And we say this knowing the Ravens have scored at least 20 in their last 30 straight regular season games. But we think they’ll have enough to test the Colts defense fortified last week by the return of Darius Leonard. The Ravens will cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills (+2.5), 52
Russell Wilson is the bomb. Did you know he’s already won 92 regular season games, tying Peyton Manning for most for a QB during their first nine years in the league? And he’s got a new favorite receiver in D.K. Metcalf, who caught 12 for 161 yards in their win over the 49ers on Sunday. We know there is something special going on in Buffalo this year, but the Bills are not quite as evolved as the Seahawks. Seattle by 10.
Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons (-4), 48
The Broncos wiped out a 21-point deficit on Sunday to beat the Chargers. Drew Lock connected with K.J. Hamler in the endzone on the final play of the game for the win. But Denver is still a pretty mediocre team, not inspiring in any particular way. We think the 2-6 Falcons, coming off a nice win last Thursday over the Panthers, will have enough to win by a TD.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5), 53.5
It was one of those early winter days in Cleveland on Sunday, blustery with some traces of snow. And the Raiders responded with an old school performance, pounding it out on the ground behind Josh Jacobs (129 yards) to win. But this is a survival game for the Chargers after their embarrassing loss to the Broncos. And we think they’re a good bet to cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys (+3.5), TBA
The Steelers are the only unbeaten team in the league and they are doing it behind a defense that’s already accumulated 30 sacks and 10 interceptions. We don’t know if they are good enough to beat the Chiefs in January – yes, we’re hoping for a Chiefs-Steelers AFC Championship Game. But they’re damn well imposing enough to punish the awful Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals (-4.5), 47.5
Tua Tagovailoa’s NFL debut wasn’t particularly spectacular. He completed only 12 of 22 for 93 yards and one TD. But he’s now in charge of keeping one of the feel-good stories of the year moving along. Miami has won three straight games and is within striking distance of the Bills in the AFC East. And against the Rams, their offense was aided by a defensive touchdown and a special teams score. Arizona’s story might be just as compelling. At 5-2, coming off a win over the Seahawks, we like them to squeeze by the Fins. But take the Dolphins.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5), 55
If you’re looking for an alternative to Russell Wilson as a potential MVP, we’d point you in the direction of New Orleans halfback Alvin Kamara. Even with the Bears bearing down on him – star receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders could not play – Kamara managed to accumulate 163 of the Saints 394 yards on Sunday. Still, the Bucs are a better team this season. And they’ll have Antonio Brown in the lineup for the first time. That said, take the Saints to cover.
New England Patriots at New York Jets (+7.5), 41.5
So now we know the truth: Cam Newton is a second-rate solution to the loss of Tom Brady. He’s a below average player, no longer capable of terrifying defenses with the run-pass option. His costly red zone fumble with the Patriots driving for at least a game-tying field goal in Buffalo sealed New England’s fourth straight loss, something this franchise hasn’t had since 2002. But geez Louise, they should be able to beat the winless, comatose Jets by at least eight. Don’t you think?