There is a dark side to Fitzmagic. The side so often overlooked when marveling at Ryan Fitzpatrick's fantastic ability to show up when absolutely nothing of importance is on the line and tear things up. You have to look closely to see it.
It's in Ryan Fitzpatrick's eyes after he unleashes a 75-yard touchdown bomb to cut his team's deficit to 21 points in the third quarter. It looks like excitement to the layman, but those of us experienced in the Dark Arts of Fitzmagic recognize it's more sinister meaning.
It's chaos. Bet-destroying chaos.
One moment you're watching Jameis Winston throw a pick-six late in the third quarter that puts the Bengals ahead 34-16, and you're feeling great about your Bengals (-4) bet. The next thing you know Fitzmagic has appeared and the Bucs are scoring 18 straight points to tie the game at 34-34. Then instead of forcing overtime like a good, bet respecting team would do, the Bucs allow the Bengals to drive 50 yards into field goal range in a minute to kick a game-winning field goal that still allows Tampa to cover.
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What was looking like a comfortable 2-1 week is suddenly a 1-2 week all thanks to Fitzmagic. Honestly, between that and Bengals coming back from a 17-0 deficit to Miami a few weeks ago to destroy my Dolphins play, I think I'll just be staying away from Bengals games for a while.
Onto this week's picks.
Buffalo Bills (+10) vs. Chicago Bears
Do you trust the Peter Man? The Peter Man has his own form of Fitzmagic. He can pull a pick six out of a hat in a moment's notice. Well, betting on a Buffalo team led by Nathan Peterman is a terrifying proposition, but I'm not betting on Peterman as much as I'm betting on the Bills defense here. It's a defense that was able to stifle and harass Tom Brady most of Monday night's game, and the Bills would have covered if not for the Derek Anderson pick-six in the fourth quarter.
So, yes, you'll be spending this game living in fear of the pick six. But even so, I'm not at a point in my life where I'm willing to trust Mitch Trubisky as a double-digit favorite on the road against a defense that can get after the QB a bit and is very good against the run. Trubisky shows moments of brilliance with a lot of "what the hell are you doing" mixed in. I expect a few of those latter moments on Sunday. The Bears should win this game, but it'll be closer than it probably should be. Bears 23, Bills 14
Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) at Cleveland Browns
This is such a square play, but I don't care. The Browns are a mess right now. They've fired Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, and now Gregggggggg Williams is in charge. For those of you who don't remember what Williams' tenure in Buffalo was like, it wasn't pretty. I have a hard time believing he's going to take over this team and it's suddenly going to be capable of keeping up with the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs.
I can understand why you might be concerned about this Chiefs defense, particularly on the road, but I don't know how the Browns keep pace. Yes, the Browns have a good defense, but the next defense to stop KC's offense will be the first. Chiefs 34, Browns 20
New York Jets (+3.5) at Miami Dolphins
Yeah, I'm not going to bet on a Dolphins team that's missing its starting QB, at least one of its most explosive receivers, as well as two starters on its offensive line as a favorite. The Dolphins beat the Bears 31-28 in their first game without Ryan Tannehill, but I like to equate that with the adrenaline rush the body receives after suffering a significant injury. The adrenaline that gives you a few moments of "oh hey it's not that bad" before the blinding pain overcomes it. Miami's lost two straight since, and while the Jets aren't good, they aren't significantly worse than Miami. Particularly when the Jets can run the ball well enough against a below-average Miami run defense to limit the load on Sam Darnold's shoulders. Dolphins 24, Jets 23
SportsLine Bonus Pick
Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots: It's a clash between the two best QBs in the NFL. The Patriots are 5.5-point favorites with the total set at 56.5 points. I have a strong play available for this game that you can read over on my SportsLine page.