Home team in CAPS:
Cowboys (+5.5) over SEAHAWKS: With three eminently winnable Jerry’s World games on tap after this trip, against a side that is eminently vulnerable on defense, compelled to swing with the ’Boys, who remain a tenacious, tough out on the road.
PATRIOTS (-5.5) over Raiders: The Silver and Black have been pointing to this campaign. The Raiders christened their new digs smartly, clocking the visiting Saints on Monday. Compelled to note Drew Brees’ passing range has been limited. Raiders QB David Carr has endured similar issues, longer. The Pats did everything but beat the Seahawks on Sunday night, and figure to sustain offensive sharpness.
49ers (-4) over GIANTS: With all-world DE Joey Bosa and DT Solomon Thomas out for the season, and without QB Jimmy Garoppolo, TE George Kittle, DE Dee Ford and RB Raheem Mostert this week, to name a few, the Niners aren’t pretty. The Giants “counter” with key RB Saquon Barkley now stymied. Big Blue needs a spark.
COLTS (-11) over Jets: You’re looking at a clear Indy look-ahead situation, with the Colts slated to visit the Bears next week. The Colts could glide past this foe — but can’t swing with this forlorn ’dog.
Rams (+2.5) over BILLS: QB Josh Allen is surely surging for the homestanding Bills, but who have they played? Rams coach Sean McVay has demonstrated during his Left Coast stint that he can ship east and prevail consistently. Visitors’ balanced offense and stiff top unit carry the day.
Texans (+4) over STEELERS: Once highly regarded Houston outfit is currently 0-2 and desperate to remain in AFC’s postseason conversation. Frankly expect Steeltowners to find a way to earn “W” here, but coverage is an open question.
Titans (-2.5) over VIKINGS: Minnesota has been saddled with a murderous, relentless schedule, exposing its flaws — notably a ravaged defense — in short order. “Need” factor favors home side, but better things to do today.
Washington (+7) over BROWNS: Gun to temple, will gently endorse the Football Team as a ’dog, with coaching brainpower Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio providing the visitors the needed brainpower against the ever-erratic Cleveland plotters and planners.
Bengals (+4.5) over EAGLES: Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz has frequently been tough to back in recent years, but when a QB is compelled to consistently take the worst of it behind a beat-up offensive line, it’s tough to get over. Injuries figure to yield competitive result.
FALCONS (-3) over Bears: You’ll seldom find us on “lay” side with Atlanta — but this mild Bears regression could unfold, and Matt Ryan is surely due to sustain a sufficient measure of ball control to keep Mitch Trubisky on the bench at crunch time.
Panthers (+6.5) over CHARGERS: QB Tyrod Taylor’s medical ill fortune left the field open for Justin Herbert for the Bolts, who performed with sufficient distinction to carry the Chargers to overtime against the engaged Chiefs. But even without Christian McCaffrey, happy to embrace Panthers plus big points behind Teddy Bridgewater.
CARDINALS (-5.5) over Lions: Market has settled a bit since midweek buyback on Detroit. Arizona’s early schedule has been gentle, and not certain how long they can sustain, but confidence is building behind QB Kyler Murray, and these Lions don’t scare us when headed west.
Buccaneers (-6.5) over BRONCOS: Given Denver QB Drew Lock’s bum shoulder and associated short-term sidelining, Broncos have picked up journeyman Blake Bortles to sustain QB depth. Bortles has had his league moments — notably during Jacksonville’s playoff run three seasons back. Expect a sprightly pace.
Packers (+3) over SAINTS: Not an ideal setting for the Packers, waaaay down south from Green Bay — but when they’re not riding Alvin Kamara on the ground, the Saints have habitually looked to Drew Brees. The 41-year-old has been enduring arm issues while trying to get the ball down the field with any consistency. Wideout Michael Thomas is out, as well. Aaron Rodgers finds a way.
Chiefs (+3.5) over RAVENS: Pending further developments, this is the ultimate 2020 AFC matchup. Baltimore has been stewing all spring and summer after being ball-controlled in their divisional playoff loss to the upstart Titans. The home side may be hungrier, compared to Chiefs’ long-delayed self-reward to themselves and Andy Reid last winter, but Pat Mahomes’ ample confidence seems justified.
Last Week: 8-7. Season: 15-13-2.