Little steps forward. That's all I can ask for right now with the rough season I've had with my picks. For the second consecutive week, I was above .500 against the spread and straight up. I was 9-5 straight up and 8-6 against the spread last week. That's an improvement – and I think it will be even better this week.
There are a lot of desperate teams this week playing to save their season, and I like a lot of them.
Keep an eye on that. Desperation is a real motivator in the NFL. It is making picks too. I know. I've felt it much of the past six weeks.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-4)
This is a huge division game for these two, especially for the Texans. They've already lost to the Colts, so they have to get this one. Deshaun Watson and the offense sputtered last week against the Ravens, but I think they will get back on track in this game. Texans take it.
Pick: Texans 28, Colts 21
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)
The Falcons have been impressive the past two weeks, mainly on defense. They've won two consecutive games and they will make it three straight. The Bucs have issues on defense and they are turning the ball over too much. The Falcons stay hot.
Pick: Falcons 27, Bucs 21
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Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills (-4)
The Broncos are playing consecutive road games, which is never easy. And this is a long trip to play a good team. Denver competed in a big way at Minnesota, but in this battle of the Allens – Josh for the Bills and Brandon for the Broncos – I think Josh Allen gets the best of it. Bills win it.
Pick: Bills 21, Broncos 15
New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-6)
The Giants are coming off a bye, but the Bears have issues. Who will play quarterback? Who should play quarterback? Whoever it is, he will be helped by the defense here. The Bears' playoff chances are on the line, which is why I think the defense will rise up to win this one.
Pick: Bears 20, Giants 13
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers are coming off a bad loss to the Browns last week, while the Bengals have just lost all season long. The Bengals competed against the Raiders on the road, which is a good sign. But I think the Steelers defense will be too much for Ryan Finley in this one.
Pick: Steelers 21, Bengals 11
Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns (-10.5)
The Browns have won two straight to keep their minimal playoff hopes alive The Dolphins had a two-game winning streak snapped by the Bills, and looked awful on defense. Could this be the game Baker Mayfield finally gets it going in a big way? I think it is. Browns keep winning.
Pick: Browns 31, Dolphins 20
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
The Saints got back on track last week with an impressive victory over the Bucs, while the Panthers were awful in losing to the Falcons at home. Kyle Allen beat the Saints here last year in Week 17, but that game didn't matter. This one will. Saints will get the better of him this time.
Pick: Saints 30, Panthers 20
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5)
The Eagles will be playing for their season here, but injuries have crippled this team. The Seahawks are coming off a bye and Russell Wilson is in the MVP conversation. But something says the Eagles will rally here to save their season.
Pick: Eagles 23, Seahawks 20
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets (+2.5)
This is one of those be-careful games for the Raiders. It's a long trip against a team coming off two victories and the Raiders have the Chiefs on tap next week. The Jets have made strides the past two weeks, and I think that will show up here. Jets win it behind Sam Darnold.
Pick: Jets 23, Raiders 17
Detroit Lions (-3.5) at Washington Redskins
With Matt Stafford out, this is a game matching Jeff Driskel against Dwayne Haskins. Oh, boy. The Lions showed some fight last week against Dallas, while the Redskins showed little against the Jets. I will go with Driskel here – even on the road.
Pick: Lions 24, Redskins 10
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3)
This is a tough place to play for the Jaguars, who haven't won there since 2013. The Jaguars have been terrible on defense, which is a good thing for Derrick Henry. He ran through and over them last year in a victory in Nashville, and he will have a good game here. Titans take it.
Pick: Titans 26, Jaguars 17
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (-6.5)
The Cowboys are playing consecutive road games, and this is a tough one. The Patriots haven't been great on offense, but Tom Brady showed his frustration with it after the game. I think they get it rolling some here against a Dallas defense that hasn't been great. Brady will have a better day than Dak Prescott to win it.
Pick: Patriots 28, Cowboys 20
Green Bay Packers (+3) at San Francisco 49ers
This is an intriguing game in a lot of ways, but mostly it will be about Aaron Rodgers against that 49ers defense. The pass rush will be key for the 49ers, as it always is, which means the Packers have to be better up front than the last time they were on the West Coast and lost to the Chargers. They will be. Rodgers will find a way to win this game for the Packers.
Pick: Packers 28, 49ers 24
Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams (+3)
This is a long trip for the Ravens, but they are playing at such a high level right now. The Rams are not. But the Los Angeles defense has improved in the past couple of games, and that will be in play here. Even so, I think the Rams will be up for the challenge and will pull off the upset.
Pick: Rams 27, Ravens 26