Falcons (0-5) at Vikings (1-4) LINE: MINNESOTA by 4
Fading the Falcons is an easy sell as they remain in a tailspin and now must deal with a bunch of coaching changes after Dan Quinn was finally given his pink slip. However, one has to question the physical and mental makeup of the Vikings right now. They blew a game last Sunday night for all to see when they couldn’t gain a short yard to secure a win and then allowed the Seahawks to march 94 yards for the winning score with seconds remaining. Not only did Minnesota lose the game, it lost top multi-purpose back Dalvin Cook in the process. While Atlanta owns a leaky defence, it has only allowed nine more points than the Vikes. Prefer to accept the points offered. TAKING: FALCONS +4
Texans (1-4) at Titans (4-0)
LINE: TENNESSEE by 3
There’s a funny stench emanating from this one. The undefeated Titans are spotting just a field goal at home to the 1-4 Texans and this after the entire football world watched Tennessee dismantle what was thought to be a very good Buffalo team? Houston definitely has a spring in its step after notching its first win and more importantly, ridding itself of Bill O’Brien’s dictatorship. The Titans were the beneficiaries of an unplanned 16-day rest before facing the Bills. With COVID-19 issues, they are now forced to play on five days rest, something that no team is accustomed to. Houston can creep back into the AFC South race with a win here and it has fared well vs. this division foes with a 12-5-1 mark against the spread in its past 18. Let’s follow the heady aroma here.
TAKING: TEXANS +3
Browns (4-1) at Steelers (4-0)
LINE: PITTSBURGH by 3½
The Browns are working diligently at shedding monkeys off their backs. This one is King Kong. Cleveland has not won at Pittsburgh since 2003. All eyes will be on this early start as the AFC North is a hotly contested division between these two combatants and the Ravens. This is also the first time these two teams will have met since the Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph incident from a year ago. The impact of Garrett’s suspension has never been clearer as he has become one of the top defensive ends in the game. While the Steelers are undefeated in four games, their credentials leave something to be desired after acquiring the unblemished mark against the Giants, Texans, Broncos and Eagles -- that group is just 3-15-1 combined. Cleveland’s talented players are responding well to their new coach.
TAKING: BROWNS +3½
Ravens (4-1) at Eagles (1-3-1)
LINE: BALTIMORE by 7½
Birds of a feather flock together. Not so much in this case.
The Ravens remain a league contender while the Eagles have been reduced to mere sparrow-like creatures. Even though Philadelphia has been in decline since winning the Super Bowl just three seasons ago, this is an ample amount of points for it to be receiving on its own turf. Looking back, Philly has not been spotted 7½ or more as hosts since the 2006 season. Coach Doug Pedersen won’t back down from any opponent. His Eagles went to San Francisco and upset the Niners while in this same price range. Baltimore’s defence remains its strength while QB Lamar Jackson has not been sharp. The Eagles could also be getting some missing receivers back. The whole world is taking the Ravens here and that is often a red flag.
TAKING: EAGLES +7½
Bengals (1-3-1) at Colts (3-2) LINE: INDIANAPOLIS by 7½
Welcome to the NFL, Joe Burrow. The Cincinnati quarterback received a rude awakening in Baltimore last week when he was batted around like a cat toy after being hit 15 times and sacked seven times before a 27-3 drubbing at the hands of their hosts. Contributing to the loss was a poor offensive line that was unable to protect its young pivot. We expect Frank Reich to take full advantage here. His guys are off a loss to the Browns, are on the bye next week and can ill afford to overlook this opponent if they want to challenge the Titans for the division. There is concern about the demise of Indianapolis QB Philip Rivers and his arm strength, but the savvy veteran should be able to dissect a poor linebacking corps while combining an effective ground game.
TAKING: COLTS –7½
Packers (4-0) at Buccaneers (3-2) LINE: GREEN BAY by 1
We understand why the Packers are favoured here. After all, they are undefeated and they are rested following their bye week. And the public has Tampa’s blown lead to the Bears embedded in their brains. Joe Bettor also isn’t anxious to fade Aaron Rodgers as the star QB is among early MVP candidates. As such, we get some value on the hometown Bucs. We also get Tom Brady as an underdog and that’s rarely a bad thing.
It is particularly strong when Brady’s team is off a loss as Tom Terrific is 14-1 ATS when taking any points following a defeat. The Buccaneers are also returning from some muchneeded rest (10 days) as Brady’s strong receiving group could be intact for the first time this season. Tampa’s defensive front seven figure to give Rodgers more pressure than he’s been accustomed to this season. Should be a good one. TAKING: BUCCANEERS +1
Rams (4-1) at 49ers (2-3) LINE: L.A. RAMS by 3½
Let’s go with the sheeple on this one. Few want any part of the 49ers right now and with good reason. The Niners just lost consecutive home games to the Eagles and Dolphins, respectively, both times as a prohibitive favourite. Those types of results will alienate the marketplace in a hurry. While the Rams appear to be back in contending form after a subpar 2019 season, we must temper our beliefs in them as Los
Angeles’ four wins have all come against NFC East opponents. That division is easily the league’s worst at the moment. However, we can counter such sentiment when San Francisco’s pair of wins have come against the 0-10 New York teams. Not aiding San Fran is one of the longest injury lists in the league. We can’t see battered the Niners turning things around here. TAKING: RAMS –3½
Jets (0-5) at Dolphins (2-3)
LINE: MIAMI by 9½
The Jets don’t have to worry about contracting COVID-19,
they can’t catch anything. This New York bunch is averaging a league-low 176 yards per game. They can’t pass, they can’t run and they can’t defend. The Jets are basically unbettable. Things are so bad that the oddsmakers had no choice to make the Dolphins a huge favourite. No disrespect to Miami, but they’ve only been favoured by nine or more points once in the past 12 seasons and that was back in 2006 to the 1-14 Browns. This lofty price might actually be flattering. Except for a nine-point loss to the Broncos, the Jets have lost their
other four games by 18 or more points each outing. Miami’s offence should have no trouble dismissing this hopeless guest by a margin.
TAKING: DOLPHINS –9½
Broncos (1-3) at Patriots (2-2)
LINE: NEW ENGLAND by 10
A Bill Belichick-coached team with 13 days’ rest and following a loss is a lot more dangerous than a Vic Fangio guided team on 17 days’ rest. This game has been moved around over the past couple of weeks due to pandemic-related issues. The delay has allowed both clubs
to likely have their starting quarterbacks back in action as New England’s Cam Newton has been cleared to play while Denver’s Drew Lock appears to have recovered from a shoulder injury. Lock may have wished for another week by the time this one ends. Belichick is a master at confusing young quarterbacks. This will be just Lock’s seventh career start and none were against a qualified defence such as this one. Patriots have covered 15 of previous 21 as a home favourite. TAKING: PATRIOTS –10
Cardinals (3-2) at Cowboys (2-3)
LINE: ARIZONA by 1½
Maybe Dallas isn’t an underachieving team. Maybe they just don’t have good players. How else can you explain their two narrow victories have occurred against a pair of dreadful teams that are a combined 0-10 (Falcons and Giants)? An overwhelmed Mike McCarthy as coach doesn’t help either. Things have gone from bad worse for the Cowboys when QB Dak Prescott went down last week with a brutal ankle injury, promptly ending his season. Enter Andy Dalton. The Red Rifle comes over from Cincinnati where expectations were never met. Dalton’s final four years there produced a 20
35 record as a starter. He played reasonably well off the bench vs. the Giants last week, but this is a step up. The Cardinals are a formidable opponent and one we hardly believe that the ‘Boys wlll be ready for. Cheap price. Let’s lay it.
TAKING: CARDINALS –1½
Chiefs (4-1) at Bills (4-1) LINE: KANSAS CITY by 4
Tough one to handicap as both teams laid eggs last week, perhaps in anticipation of this one. There is a definite concern with Buffalo’s pass defence and that plays into the hands of one of the league’s best passers. Patrick Mahomes should get his fair share of points against a Buffalo defence that appears to be in disarray. The usually conservative Titans dropped 42 points upon this stop unit on Tuesday night, even though costly turnovers contributed to the abundance of scoring. Bills have not been pressuring opposing quarterbacks nor has their coverage been particularly effective. Doom and gloom aside, we expect Buffalo to compete here. QB Josh Allen is playing at a high level and the Bills are never an easy out at home. Buffalo also a good bounce-back squad with five covers in past seven tries following a loss.
TAKING: BILLS +4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is in a rare position for himself this week: Underdog.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (left) faces off with the Ravens on Sunday,