Last Week: 3-2
Season: 25-14-1 (.641)
If any of you watch the hit CBS drama “NCIS: New Orleans,” you know that when Agent Pride (Scott Bakula) sends his crew out to investigate their current case, he will always implore them to “learn stuff” as they head out the door. In handicapping football games, as in most cases in life, it always helps to remind yourself of the same thing. Last week I learned that maybe the Dallas Cowboys are not going to win another game before Tony Romo returns from the IR.
Despite another Dallas loss, the CC staff (myself, Steve the Desert Tortoise and my 8-year old upstairs neighbor Kennedy) posted another winning week, hitting on a few underdogs who won straight up (Colts and 49ers) and having to sweat out a Vikings win over the Rams in OT. Our other loss came at the expense of the Dolphins’ debacle in Buffalo. It may be time to rethink the new-look Miami team on the heels of their coaching change. After two straight wins over relatively weak competition, they have lost two in a row on the road to a few good teams (New England and Buffalo). It will be hard to back them this week too, as they travel to Philadelphia for their third straight road contest.
Chuck’s Choices for this week
(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)
TITANS (+5 1/2) over Panthers It is very hard to pick against an undefeated team like Carolina. After all, they have done everything that has been asked of them in racing out to an 8-0 record in 2016. Take a look, however, at what they have been through in the past four games. They beat the Seahawks in Seattle, followed by a win at home over the Eagles, an overtime squeaker over the Colts and a hard-fought 8-point win over Green Bay. They certainly have run the gauntlet, and now must hit the road to take on a Tennessee team who seems to be finding their stride after a big win over the Saints on the road. By all rights the Panthers should win this game easily, but if ever there was a spot for Carolina to catch its breath and suffer a letdown, this is it. The Titans play hard, and might just knock the Panthers from the ranks of the unbeaten. Panthers 17, Titans 16
REDSKINS (+1) over Saints In my weekly guest slot on the Fantasy Pulse podcast on Dynasty Football Warehouse, I make picks on all of the week’s NFL games along with hosts Josh Johnson and Nick Wagner. It was on this game that I found my favorite trend of the week. The Saints have played four games on the road this year, and have lost three of them. Those three losses, at Arizona, Carolina and Philadelphia, have all been on natural turf. Their one road win was in the dome at Indianapolis on artificial turf. Drew Brees and company need a fast track to work their magic. They won’t find one in Washington, D.C. You like that! Redskins 37, Saints 24
Jaguars (+5 1/2) over RAVENS These teams have identical 2-6 records, and each team’s win have all been by three points. The problem is that Baltimore is favored by 5 1/2 points. There is also one more big difference. Despite only having two wins, the Jags are only two games behind the division-leading Colts. The Ravens are unfortunate enough to be in the same division with the Bengals and the Steelers, and are probably looking toward next year by now. Oh, and they have no one to catch passes from Joe Flacco. On the Jacksonville side, QB Blake Bortles may find lots of room to throw against a Ravens defense ranked 31st in the NFL against fantasy wide receivers. Jaguars 31, Ravens 21
RAIDERS (-3) over Vikings Minnesota finds themselves in a tie for first in the NFC North with the Packers. The good thing for them is that they play Green Bay next week, and the winner of that game will be atop the division no matter what happens this week. This is a classic look-ahead game for the Vikes, and nobody wants to get hurt this week in Oakland. On the other hand, the Raiders are finding their groove and it looks like everyone is healthy, including RB Latavius Murray and WR Amari Cooper. The Silver & Black simply want it more on this given Sunday. Raiders 22, Vikings 17
Chiefs (+6) over BRONCOS Yes, of course, all of America is expecting Denver to bounce back after suffering their first loss of the season last week in Indianapolis. How did that work out for the Packers? Think back to the first meeting this season, when the Broncos recovered a late fumble for a defensive TD and a fluke win when it appeared the teams would be going to overtime. Let us also not forget that, after losing five games in a row, Kansas City has won two in a row and is coming off of a bye and, according to R. J. Bell at Pregame.com, Andy Reid is 18-3 as a head coach after a bye week. The Chiefs need this game to remain in contention for a wildcard spot, so desperation plays into this contest too. Finally, we have to keep reminding ourselves that Denver is not the offensive juggernaut they used to be, and are winning games with defense this year. It is hard to give this many points with a signal-caller (Peyton Manning) who is now 30th in the league in Quarterback Rating (QBR). Broncos 21, Chiefs 20
A final note…
Steve the Desert Tortoise’s Money Line Parlay of the week: Titans and Chiefs