I hope you have been fading me! The last three weeks have been full of bizarre outcomes in the NFL, and I am in a deep funk. Yeah, 1-5 is about as bad as it gets. That's like New York Jets bad.
I can't seem to get a handle on much, and even last week picking just a single game brought me no better luck. Not even close. But I feel like this kind of wild variance in the league can't go on forever and that this is something of a blip. Parity may rule, but the shocking upsets have to slow down at some point, right? I'm old enough to remember six weeks ago when there were so many blowouts and seemingly-overmatched teams that these lines started skyrocketing in the first place.
So the pendulum has to swing back eventually and I am hoping to ride it … Or maybe I'll just never pick a winner again.
Anyway, here is to going back to trying to get out of this rut. Oh, to be 12-5 again. Seems like a long, long time ago.
Dolphins -3 at Jets
For the last three weeks Miami's defense has been on a roll. They are starting to deploy more of their athletes blitzing out of nickel looks and throwing caution a little more to the wind with their blitz looks. Per PFF, Miami threw Cover-0 looks at Lamar Jackson 19 times last week; only two QBs not named Lamar have more than 19 drop-backs against Cover-0 all season – Josh Allen (25) and Jalen Hurts (21). And it worked quite well. The Jets OL is bad too, and new starter Joe Flacco is highly immobile -- that is a bad combination when two super-amped up safeties are attacking your backfield. The Jets offensive staff has had plenty of issues. And Tua is a much better option at QB for the Dolphins than Jacoby Brissett, as evidenced against last week even when Tua hadn't practiced in a while and came in cold. The Jets defense is god awful and 40-burgers have been all the rage against them lately. I don't know that Miami gets there, given some of their injuries and limitations, but something like 24-10 feels about right.
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Just don't let Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue wreak havoc here, Bengals, and you will be in good shape. Plenty of Joe Mixon running at those ends is in order. We saw what happened when the Chiefs took what was there, and the Raiders have to respect the Bengals' many weapons in the passing game as well. The bye came at the perfect time for Cincy to reset and get healthy, while the Raiders are coming off a loss to the Chiefs that puts them at a crossroads. They haven't closed a season strong in a long time and Joe Burrow will be feeling as refreshed and renewed as he has in quite some time. The Bengals defense may not be as good as it looked the first six weeks, but I also don't believe it can be as consistently bad moving forward as it was in the last two weeks before their bye.
The Vikings are a tricky team to try to figure out. But they do have talent and they did finally get a win against the Packers a year ago, and this is pretty much their season if they want to have a chance to compete for an NFC North title. Green Bay's offense has been a little off the last two weeks, in part because Jordan Love had to actually play in one of those games, but I do wonder about Aaron Rodgers, as COVID-19 can certainly linger in players and impact them for weeks after a positive test. The Vikings will sit back in that shell and try to make Green Bay earn everything on offense, and I do think losing Aaron Jones – on top of their other injuries – is a big deal. The Packers' defense is playing excellent ball, but Minnesota sticks with high-percentage passing plays, Kirk Cousins has not been turning the ball over, and Minnesota is also one of the best first-quarter offenses in the NFL; a fast start here would be vital for a team that hasn't been great at home. I see moneyline potential here, as a Minny win would not surprise me in the least. If you can find a bet on a crazy ending of some sort, though, take it, because that has been the script pretty much every week for the Vikings.