Last week I had a group of underdogs who were going to win outright or come close and good news -- I picked a couple of straight-up winners. The Lions (+3.5) and Titans (+3.5) won outright and the Bears (+4.5) should have won but messed themselves late. Unfortunately the 49ers (+3.5) and Texans (+6.5) weren't quite so good.
This week I'm veering off the target line a bit and taking a road favorite, something I haven't done this year but should have done last week with the Patriots. It's hard to imagine New England was a lock of the year twice, but Bill Belichick as a dog at home and then Tom Brady as only a 10-point favorite against the worst team in football to kick off his revenge tour was pretty insane.
They're a little scary this week, but there is a touchdown favorite I kind of dig, although it is an entirely inappropriate pick. In fact, I fully expect to say something along the lines of "[loud expletive my son learns for the first time], this is the last time I take Mike Mularkey as a favorite anywhere."
Sprinkled a few home dogs in there too though.
Titans minus 7 vs. Browns -- The Titans really shouldn't be seven-point favorites over anyone, right? Except maybe the Titans are better than everyone thinks. Cleveland has a banged up Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. Terrelle Pryor too. They might legitimately go 0-16. The Titans are playing great defense that no one's talking about and are running all over people. They'll shorten the game and win by 10-plus points.
Redskins plus 2.5 vs. Eagles -- The Philly defense is fantastic and Carson Wentz is the real deal. But we haven't seen the effect of Lane Johnson out and how that trickles down on the offensive line. I don't think the Redskins will be particularly good on offense in this one and, to be perfectly frank, don't even really love Washington here. It's just silly they're a 2.5-point dog at home in a division game against a questionable offense. Everyone loves Philly too. Redskins win outright.
Chiefs minus 1 at Raiders -- Going against Blackjack Del Gigante Huevos Del Rio is a bold move here. But at some point the Raiders' luck will run out and they won't win a close game. If we're picking a spot for it to happen, how about against the Chiefs, who are coached by Andy Reid, the man with the 15-2 record after the bye. He's "only" 2-1 with the Chiefs, but he wins in this spot and the Raiders haven't been great at home.
Dolphins plus 7.5 vs. Steelers -- There is no way I could hate a best bet worse than this pick. Impossible to hate it more. The Dolphins would be the worst team in football if the Browns didn't exist. And yet, everyone believes the Steelers will go on the road and beat an inferior team just because they will. This feels like a sleepwalking game for Pittsburgh, where Mike Tomlin's team loses to a vastly inferior team. Yes I'm calling for a possible Miami upset.
Saints plus 3 vs. Panthers -- This is almost too obvious because of how bad Carolina looked on Monday night. The reality is neither New Orleans nor Carolina can stop anyone. The Panthers don't have the pass rush to disrupt Drew Brees and he's got plenty of firepower down the field to wreck that young secondary. Carolina with Cam Newton will score too. It's just a matter of it being a "steal a possession" game. If that's the case I'll take the home team with the points all day. Saints squeeze out a close one.