By Brien O’Donal
Follow me on Twitter @ODonalsVanguard
Last week was pretty interesting for me. I had a solid 11-4 record picking winners but a sub par record against the spread and the over/under with only 5 right in each category. But that’s gambling in the NFL, right? I was pretty close in several of my picks and in some I was way off. I will have to adjust my methodology this week to try and level that out. But week to week in the NFL seems to be full of surprises, maybe more this year than last (I’m not sure because I can’t really remember last year’s week to week results).
Let’s get started, shall we?
Dolphins (4-2) at Ravens (3-4)- Thursday 7:25 p.m. CT; CBS, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Ravens -3, O/U 37
I have no idea how the Dolphins have a winning record. Seriously, I just can’t figure this team out. They have faced teams coming off good performances and looked ugly enough to win and they have faced teams they should beat easily and struggled. The Ravens have a talented defense but an untalented offense. One has not helped the other in any significant way and they are under 0.500 because of it. This has to be a tie game, right? But since I have to pick a winner, I choose the Dolphins. Matt Moore is one of the best back-ups in the league and what he can do has to be enough. Flacco just doesn’t have the weapons he needs to win the game. The Dolphins have played a lot of close games so I will take the Ravens to cover the spread and despite their lack of offense I think the Ravens will score enough to put the total over 37.
Vikings (5-2) at Browns (0-7)- Sunday 8:30 a.m. CT, NFL Network
Vikings -9 1/2, O/U 38
Every game against the Browns is still easy to pick, the opposite of how they approach their quarterback situation. The Vikings’ defense is playing really well right now as they still adjust their offense to some key injuries. They are catching some breaks along the way like facing a weakened Packers team and now the Browns. I’m taking them to win easily, just like everyone else who plays the Browns. I’m not sure about the 9 1/2 though. Then again it is the Browns and the Vikings surprised me last week so I will take them at that number and I will take the over as well.
Falcons (3-3) at Jets (3-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Falcons – 4 1/2, O/U 45 1/2
This one is a tough matchup for both teams. The Jets have been surprising this year and have played some games pretty tough. The lost by only 3 points last week against a Dolphins team that doesn’t look as dominant as they should be. The Falcons offense is just miserable compared to their talent. Josh McCown is keeping the Jets in it and I’m counting on their defense to be able to frustrate the Falcons. I’m taking the Jets to win this one at home and make the Falcons really consider firing their offensive coordinator. Since I’m taking them to win then obviously I’m taking them to cover the 4 1/2 but I think this one will be under the 45 1/2.
Panthers (4-3) at Buccaneers (2-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Buccaneers -2, O/U 46
I don’t know what to think about this one. The Panthers failed to score a touchdown last week against the Bears and the difference in the game was the 2 turnovers they allowed to be returned for touchdowns. The Buccaneers are coming off a close loss to the Bills but week after week one side of the ball fails the other. It’s a divisional game so there should be some hard fought effort from both teams. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Buccaneers get the home win. But -2 seems like a perfect number for this game and I will take the Panthers to cover that and I will also take the over 46.
49ers (0-7) at Eagles (6-1)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Eagles -13, O/U 46
Is it just me or is Carson Wentz making life easier for everyone? This guy is steadily making a case for MVP and getting a home game against the 49ers should put his team at 7-1. I feel like the 49ers have been putting up a great effort in a lot of their games, and I said as much in this column last week. Then Dallas came to town and they lost by 30 points. The Eagles have been scoring better than the Cowboys have so it’s a no-brainer to pick them to win this one. With that in mind I will take the Eagles to do as well if not better than the Cowboys and cover the 13 points. But I don’t think it will be a repeat of last week’s over against the 49ers and I will take the under.
Bears (3-4) at Saints (4-2)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Saints -9, O/U 47 1/2
The Saints have now won 4 games in a row and are at the top of their division. The Bears have 3 wins and haven’t allowed a touchdown in the last 2 games. If their defense can put up the same amount of effort this might be a good game. But the Bears offense is terrible and probably won’t be able to compete with the Saints. The Saints don’t turn the ball over very often so it will be up to them to get as many scoring opportunities as they can. They should be able to continue that and get a win at home. I don’t think they will cover the spread though. The Bears have something on defense and I’m not sure they lose by 10 points, nor will the total be over 47 1/2.
Chargers (3-4) at Patriots (5-2)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Patriots -7, O/U 48 1/2
Another team on a winning streak is the Chargers. They looked pretty good against the Broncos last week when they won a nice divisional game 21-0. Their secondary is starting to play up to its’ talent level and that should help against Tom Brady and all the things he can do. It will be tough because they are playing in Foxboro, a place the Patriots don’t really lose a lot of games. Brady is still doing his thing and it helps because their defense hasn’t been doing so hot. They had a good game against the Falcons last week but that might be more a result of the previously mentioned offensive struggles of the opponent they faced. The Chargers are getting that side of the ball together and I am picking them to beat the Patriots on the road, covering the 7 points. I do think these offenses can put up points though, so I will take the over.
Raiders (3-4) at Bills (4-2)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Bills -2 1/2, O/U 45
The injury to Derek Carr didn’t seem to affect him last week and he led a great comeback win against the tough to beat Chiefs. The Bills finally found a way to get LeSean McCoy into the end zone. I don’t know what all that means for this game but I am leaning toward my preseason expectations for both teams. I think the Bills will regress a little this week and the Raiders will get a good effort offensively on their way to another much needed win and the cover of the 2 1/2. Once again, I will take the over because I think each of these teams will have no trouble getting to at least 24 points.
Colts ( 2-5) at Bengals (2-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Bengals -10 1/2, O/U 41
Well, the Colts got blown out and are miserable. I don’t understand why TV rights made this the only game available for me to watch without the an extra NFL package. It’s rules like this that lower their ratings… I left the house rather than watch this garbage. That being said; the Bengals are really struggling this year as well. But their defense can play and their offense still has some life. I’ll take Cincinnati to win this one and get the Colts closer to a top 5 pick. I don’t think they will win by 11 points though so I will take the Colts to cover. I will go with the over in this one because I can see the scoring be just enough to get past that number.
Texans (3-3) at Seahawks (4-2)- Sunday 3:05 p.m. CT; CBS
Seahawks -5 1/2, O/U 46
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Deshaun Watson? The guy has it and it looks like the Texans have the offensive weapons they need to stay in the hunt for another divisional crown. But going to Seattle is not a walk in the park. CenturyLink Field is one of the toughest places to play and the Seahawks consistently find ways to win there. They still have one of the best defenses and Russell Wilson has shown himself to be one of the best winners in the NFL over the course of his career. This game sets up to be a fun one to watch but I’m taking the Seahawks to win at home. I don’t think they cover this spread though as Houston’s offense is looking too good right now. I like the defensive struggle that may ensue but I don’t think it stays under 46 either.
Cowboys (3-3) at Redskins (3-3)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; Fox
Cowboys -2, O/U 50
Are the Cowboys back? Nah, that was the 49ers they ran all over last week. The Redskins are a little bit better than that, at least offensively they are. Every team in the NFC East is chasing the Eagles so they have to win as many of these games as they can. I’m going to pick the Cowboys to win because I think they will be able to run the football and control the clock a little better. It will be up to their defense to limit the big plays that the Redskins are capable of and give Dak Prescott the ball as many times as they can. I think it might still be a close game though so a 2 point spread could go either way. I don’t want to bet this game but if I had to I would take the Cowboys to cover and I would take the over 50 for the total.
Steelers (5-2) at Lions (3-3)- Sunday 7:30 p.m. CT; NBC
Steelers -2 1/2, O/U 45 1/2
Pittsburgh is still Pittsburgh and they find themselves at 5-2. They may be in line for another win as the Lions, who looked good early on, are finding wins harder to come by lately. Matthew Stafford can still get points on the board but the Steelers defense may limit that ability enough to help Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell do their thing. The Lions playing at home can give them a little boost but I’m taking the Steelers to win the game. I have a feeling they won’t cover the 2 1/2 though. The Lions can score and make it a close one on their field. With that in mind I will play another over because I think it might get barely over that number.
Broncos (3-3) at Chiefs (5-2)- Monday 7:30 p.m. CT; ESPN
Chiefs -7, O/U 43
This was another game that I thought would be a good one when the season started. But now, I don’t know. Alex Smith has come alive this year and the Chiefs bring a lot of big play ability to the game. Meanwhile, the Broncos still have a good defense; the problem is their struggling offense that put up a goose egg last week. I don’t think that will happen again but I don’t believe they will be able to score enough to win the game. I’m picking the Chiefs to win this one at home. Looking at the numbers, I don’t know what Broncos team will show up. Will they get their offense together in time to make this a game? I don’t have the answer so I will take them to cover the 7 points but I will play the under 43 incase their defense gets back to form.