Well, I suppose the winning couldn't last forever. After a two-week stretch where I went 5-0-1 in this column, I went 1-2 last week, though you can believe me when I tell you I am not accepting the blame for it. Sure, I was wrong on my Seahawks -7 play, as the Vikings were much better than anticipated. It seems Mike Zimmer realized Kirk Cousins struggles in the spotlight too, so he just decided to hand the ball off a billion times, and Seattle's defense was more than accomodating.
So I'll take that loss. What I will not take is the Jaguars loss. I took the Jags +6, and they lost 30-14. But -- BUT! -- it must be noted that Steven Hauschka, that monster, missed two field goals. So I was robbed of six points right here, but as ashamed as Hauschka should be for letting me down, things got even worse.
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The Jaguars, facing a fourth-and-one in Texan territory, made the proper decision to go for it. The problem is they decided to get cute and try something stupid instead of just sticking to one of the 100 other plays they run regularly, all of which are designed to get at least one yard.
So let's say the Jaguars pick up that first down. Maybe they get a touchdown, or maybe they have to settle for a field goal, and Steven Hauschka actually makes it. If the Jaguars punch it in, and Hauschka makes the extra point -- not a certainty! -- that is 13 additional points left on the field. That makes the final score Texans 30, Jaguars 27. That's a cover. I tried to explain this to my book, but they weren't having it.
Still, I believe the entire Jacksonville Jaguars organization, from owner Shad Khan to Jaxson de Ville, owe me a handwritten apology. While I wait for it, you can read my picks for this weekend.
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The total here is too low. It might come as a surprise considering they've been without Christian McCaffery, but the Panthers offense still ranks 9th in the NFL in offensive DVOA. Now, the Bears are still a mess, ranking 26th, but they showed signs of figuring it out late Thursday against Tampa. Matt Nagy has to learn what works best for Nick Foles compared to what he had to do with Mitch Trubisky, and it looks like that's happening. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears rank 5th overall in defensive DVOA but aren't great against the run. Carolina is 23rd overall and awful against the run. I don't think we're in for an offensive explosion here, but both these teams are capable of going over this total. Plus, you know, overs are all the rage in the NFL this year. Panthers 27, Bears 24
I've always been a bigger fan of betting on a Philip Rivers team as an underdog than as a favorite. It's not that he's awful overall when favored, but he isn't good, either. His teams have gone 41-52-2 ATS since 2010 when favored, and it's not hard to figure out why. Rivers turns the ball over a lot. It's hard to cover spreads when you're turning the ball over. Also, this spread is too large. The Bengals got crushed by the Ravens last week, but crushing bad teams is what the Ravens do very well. I think that game is having too much of an impact on this line. The Colts defense is fantastic, but it's not unbeatable, as we saw last week against the Browns. Cincinnati isn't going to win this game, but it will do enough, and Rivers will toss an interception or two to help them stay within range. Colts 27, Bengals 20
3. Packers at Buccaneers: Packers -1.5 (-110)
What do you do when two of the greatest QBs of all-time against the spread are going head-to-head? In my opinion, you go with the one who is playing better at the time, and that's definitely Aaron Rodgers. I don't know if the Packers drafted Jordan Love with the sole purpose of making Aaron angry and getting him to play like this, but whatever the case, it's been an excellent outcome for the Packers. Tom Brady, meanwhile, is still playing well enough, but he's showing signs of decline, and I don't just mean because he can't remember how many downs there are. Also, for whatever it's worth to you, these two have only squared off as starters twice during their careers -- Rodgers was injured for the 2010 meeting -- and the favorite has covered each time. That's not impacting my pick, but I looked it up, so I'm sharing the info with you only to feel like I didn't waste my time. That's the kind of honesty you can expect from me! Packers 27, Bucs 23