By Brien O’Donal
The weeks roll on and the parity spreads. There are a few teams at the very bottom, some just above, a lot in the middle and more than usual at the top. It’s interesting how everything goes week to week. I improved over my previous picks and in the process won myself some more money. But bet carefully folks, the ones that look the easiest to decide are often the ones that bite you in the butt. I’ll keep picking because I like it, I want you to keep reading because you like it too.
Odds for this column come courtesy of mybookie.lv on Wednesday night.
Bye week: Panthers, Colts, Jets, 49ers
Titans (6-3) at Steelers (7-2)- Thursday 7:25 p.m. CT; NBC, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Steelers -7, O/U 44
I think this line is too early. After what the Steelers have done this season I can’t see them as a 7 point favorite against a team with nearly the same record. The Titans have been able to move the ball on the ground when necessary and the Steelers have been able to focus on what a team does well with their defense. Marcus Mariota has been able to use his arm and his legs at opportune times to help win games. I would count on them to keep it close but not close enough. I will pick the Steelers to win the game but I would put my money on the Titans to keep it within 7 points. The way these teams play I would be hesitant to think they score more than 20 apiece, but that’s one of those lines they are just begging you to hit on. I would take the over 44 in this one because there is just enough offense on these teams to get 24 points each.
Lions (5-4) at Bears (3-6)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Lions -3, O/U 41
The Lions are trying to win enough games to get a wild card spot, and they could possibly do that. But they have to win games like this if they want that to happen. I think they can because Matthew Stafford has weapons that can make things happen. Their defense does just enough too. The Bears have rookie Mitchell Trubisky running the show and there are some signs of improvement. He hasn’t become good yet so Stafford should be able to out-play him. I think the Lions win the game and I think they cover the spread but the Bears have a decent defense so 41 points combined sounds about right. If I had to pick one or the other I would take the under.
Jaguars (6-3) at Browns (0-9)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Jaguars -7 1/2, O/U 37
It’s the Browns so obviously I will take the team that plays against them to win. That means the Jaguars move to 7-3. I just don’t know if I can take Jacksonville at 7 1/2 points. I won’t because their offense isn’t that great. So, I will take Jacksonville to win the game, the Browns to cover the spread and in the end I will take the under. I don’t know if I will get burned on the over/under but I feel confident about the other bets.
Ravens (4-5) at Packers (5-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Ravens -2, O/U 38
After what the Packers did last week against the Bears I have to start thinking that Brett Hundley may be coming into his own. At least I hope so. The Ravens aren’t exactly world beaters so there’s a chance that the 2 point line is spot on, even on a Wednesday. But I will defy those odds once again. I think the Packers at home are worth at least three points and I will pick them to win. But since both of these offenses aren’t very good at the moment I will take the under.
Cardinals (4-5) at Texans (3-6)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Texans -1, O/U 38 1/2
Look at this… two teams with seasons going in the opposite direction they thought they would. The Cardinals are nothing without Carson Palmer and the Texans are even worse without Deshaun Watson. I think the difference here is that the Cardinals may have less injuries than the Texans and just slightly better backups. I don’t know who to choose in this one but I am going to pick Adrian Peterson to be the difference. I am taking the Cardinals to win so that means they cover the point. I will take the under in this one because I don’t think these teams can score.
Buccaneers (3-6) at Dolphins (4-5)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Pick Em’, O/U 40 1/2
This game deserves to be a pick em’. These teams don’t know when to show up. I’m surprised the Dolphins have 4 wins and I was really surprised that the Buccaneers won last week despite Jameis Winston resting his injured shoulder. It looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting again so there is a chance the Buccaneers offense has a little bit of life. Each team has been up and down all year so I will have to go with the home team and pick the Dolphins to win. I will take the under in this one because I don’t think these teams can score.
Rams (7-2) at Vikings (7-2)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Vikings -2 1/2, O/U 46
This is a Wednesday night line that I like. The Rams have one of the best offenses and the Vikings have one of the best defenses. The Rams have a pretty good defense while the Vikings have also shown the ability to have a good offense as well. It would seem these teams are equally matched. I am inclined to give the Vikings the 2 1/2 points as the home team. I will pick the Rams to win because they have a better group of skill players and Case Keenum is due for a let down. I think I’ll take the over in this one because even good defenses can’t fully stop good offenses.
Chiefs (6-3) at Giants (1-8)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Chiefs -10 1/2, O/U 45
This is an easy pick because the Giants have just given up. They don’t have a chance because they don’t seem to want to. The Chiefs have every reason to jump out to a big lead and never look back. I will pick them to win and also cover 10 1/2 points. With that in mind I think this game gets out of hand and the total gets over 45.
Redskins (4-5) at Saints (7-2)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Saints -7 1/2, O/U 51
With the Saints on a roll like they are I expect them to win this one. Their defense has been playing great and their ground game was outstanding last week. The Redskins defense is a little weak in that department and I think that helps the Saints control this game. I am taking New Orleans to win another one at home and I think they cover the spread. I think it will be a high scoring game so I will take the over.
Bills (5-4) at Chargers (3-6)- Sunday 3:05 p.m. CT; Fox
Nothing has been released for this game yet so I am writing this on my own. The Bills will be going with Nathan Peterman at quarterback and there will be an adjustment period. They don’t have many offensive weapons so they will rely on LeSean McCoy to provide the spark. I think it won’t be enough and I will pick the home team to win. I think the Chargers get it done by just a field goal margin and the total will be under 41 1/2.
Bengals (3-6) at Broncos (3-6)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
Broncos -2 1/2, O/U 39
I’m actually surprised that the Broncos would be favored, even at home. They are terrible. Their once vaunted defense looks weak and Brock Osweiler is not an NFL caliber quarterback. The Bengals aren’t much better though. I guess that’s why the over/under is just in the middle range. I will pick the under in this one. But when it comes to the spread I will take the Bengals to cover that by winning outright.
Patriots (7-2) at Raiders (4-5)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
Patriots -7, O/U 53 1/2
The Raiders don’t really have much of a secondary at the moment so a quarterback like Tom Brady should be able to take advantage of that. The Raiders have a decent offense but I don’t know if they will be able to keep up. This game is in Mexico City where the Raiders have played well in previous years so I think they might be able to keep it within a touchdown. I’m taking the Patriots to win, the Raiders to cover, and the over.
Eagles (8-1) at Cowboys (5-4)- Sunday 7:30 p.m. CT; NBC
Eagles -3 1/2, O/U 48 1/2
Ezekiel Elliot has announced that he will no longer fight his suspension so the Cowboys offense won’t be as dynamic. Their running game is still good, it just isn’t dynamic. The Falcons showed everyone last week what that means. I think the Eagles defense is playing in top gear right now and will take advantage of Elliot’s absence on the way to a victory. If the Falcons can cover 3 1/2 points against the Cowboys I think the Eagles can too. I will take the over in this one. I think these teams will score just enough points to get that total up.
Falcons (5-4) at Seahawks (6-3)- Monday 7:30 p.m. CT; ESPN
Seahawks -2 1/2, O/U 44 1/2
The last game of the week should be a good one. The Falcons are not where they thought they would be at his point but they are coming off a good win last week. The Seahawks have won some tough games but injuries have hurt their defense and the loss of Richard Sherman could really hurt them. The Falcons also have their injuries so their offense will be a little light. I think it might be enough to cover the spread. I will pick the Seahawks to win at home but I would bet the Falcons to cover the 2 1/2 points. I will also take the total to be over 44 1/2.