We are rounding the bend into the second half of the season, with an overall record of 128-104-4, and a 35-19 record on our best bets. Last week’s best bets went 3-3, as the Pittsburgh Steelers somehow managed to allow the lowly Dallas Cowboys to keep it close, while the Seattle Seahawks suffered a setback on the road against the Buffalo Bills as 2.5-point favorites.
This week, we had a fun Thursday night AFC South matchup between the Colts and the Titans. Elsewhere, we have Bucs-Panthers, Bills-Cardinals, Seahawks-Rams, Ravens-Patriots, and an underrated matchup between two rookie quarterbacks in Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa when the Dolphins host the Chargers this weekend.
With that, let’s run through our picks for this week.
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-3.5), O/U 49
The Browns are coming off a bye week and will get back top offensive guard Wyatt Teller, along with running back Nick Chubb. Baker Mayfield suffered a Covid-19 scare this past week, but was taken off the reserve list after a brief stay.
It’s going to be a windy one in Cleveland this weekend, which should favor the more well-rounded team with the better running game, which is Cleveland. The Browns are still in the playoff hunt, and they need this game.
The Picks: Browns -3.5 / Over 49
Washington Football Team at Detroit Lions (-4.5), O/U
After Kyle Allen broke his ankle last week, in another gruesome injury suffered by a WFT QB, the Washington Football Team will turn to Alex Smith to run the team’s offense against a Lions team that will once again be without top receiver Kenny Golladay this week.
This game is expected to be cold and windy, with 25+ MPH winds. As if the Lions passing attack wasn’t going to be neutered already without Golladay, the high winds should also be an issue for them. WFT has a favorable matchup here, and could even win this game.
The Picks: WFT +4.5 / Under 46.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6) at Carolina Panthers, O/U 50.5
After getting destroyed by the Saints last week to the tune of 38-3, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will be hungry for a bounceback win against the Panthers, who had Christian McCaffery back for just one game before losing him to a new shoulder injury, which will knock him out for this game.
It’s hard to get a read on Tampa Bay. Sometimes they look like Super Bowl contenders, and other times they put up duds like they did against another NFC contender like New Orleans.
The Panthers defense is not the Saints defense, and allowed 6.8 yards per play to the Chiefs last week. But divisional games tend to be tighter, as both teams are familiar with each other, I see this being a high-scoring matchup, and like the over the most here.
The Picks: Panthers +6 / Over 50.5
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers (-13.5), O/U 49
The Jaguars keep trending downward this season, but did snag a solid backdoor cover last week against the Texans. Now, they get to face a Packers team that could be set for a letdown game in what should be a cold and windy game.
The Packers are not a strong team in the trenches, and may be without cornerback Jaire Alexander again this week. Jags RB James Robinson should have a big game this week, and I’m willing to bet on the Jaguars here against the 29th-ranked defense according to DVOA. I’ll be praying and hoping for another backdoor cover this weekend too.
The Picks: Jaguars +13.5 / Over 49
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at New York Giants, O/U 44.5
The Eagles are starting to get healthy, and although Carson Wentz continues to struggle this season, getting Jalen Reagor back this week, as well as having tight end Dallas Goedert should give him enough weapons to pick apart the Giants defense.
The Picks: Eagles -3.5 / Over 44.5
Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals (-2), O/U 56.5
The Bills picked on a horrendous Seattle secondary last week, but shouldn’t have the same success against a Cardinals defense that boasts a strong secondary and has allowed just 22 passing plays of 20+ yards this season overall.
On offense, Arizona should be able to get its running game going against a bad rushing defense for Buffalo, which should help the creative Cardinals offense spread its wings and wreak some havoc.
The Picks: Cardinals -2 / Over 56.5
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-5), O/U 51
Denver didn’t cover against Atlanta last weekend, which was pretty disappointing. Drew Lock, who has thrown for 561 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games will face a Vegas defense that is 30th in DVOA this season. I expect the Raiders to come out on top here, but I think this will be a close divisional game.
The Picks: Broncos +5 / Over 51
Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins (-2.5), O/U 48
One of my favorite matchups of the week, pitting Justin Herbert and the Chargers against Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins. Herbert will have the tougher task, facing a very underrated Miami defense that helped the Dolphins pull out the road win against Arizona last week.
After a rough debut as a starter two weeks ago, Tua was 20-for-28 for 248 yards and two touchdowns, with no picks. He seems to be trending up, and I believe the Dolphins can limit Herbert enough to win by at least a field goal.
The Picks: Dolphins -2.5 / Over 48.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7), O/U 45.5
It’s going to be a wet and windy day on Sunday for this AFC North showdown. Ben Roethlisberger had a COVID scare this week, but should be back in time for this game, as the Steelers look to keep their undefeated record intact against the 2-5-1 Bengals.
Joe Burrow has had a strong rookie season, and will take on a Steelers defense that wasn’t exactly impenetrable facing Garrett Gilbert and the Cowboys last week. He’ll be without Joe Mixon this week again, but I think Burrow can make this an entertaining game.
The Picks: Bengals +7 / Over 45.5
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-1.5), O/U 55
The Seahawks are going to be eager to get a bounceback win after a disappointing showing against Buffalo last week. Whether the Rams can trust Jared Goff to play turnover-free football and pick on a horrendous Seattle secondary is the question here.
Also not helping Seattle here is their poor offensive line, which will be an issue against Aaron Donald. The Seahawks are 1-4 in their last five games against the Rams, and with their defensive issues not solved yet, I like the Rams here.
The Picks: Rams -1.5 / Over 55
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-9), O/U 49
The Saints seem overvalued coming off a 38-3 victory. While the 49ers are dealing with a host of injuries, nine points is too much for me to feel comfortable with New Orleans. I won’t bet this game, but I would feel more comfortable with the 49ers covering the spread here.
The Picks: 49ers +9 / Under 49
Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at New England Patriots, O/U 43.5
Things we know: The Ravens are going to gash the Patriots in the run game on Sunday night.
Things we don’t know: Has the New England offense progressed enough to be able to keep pace with the Ravens?
I see this game being like the Chiefs game for New England, and think Bill Belichick will find a way to keep this within a touchdown. The Patriots NEED this game. Don’t ignore the desperation factor in this game for the hosts.
The Picks: Patriots +7.5 / Under 44
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Chicago Bears, O/U 43.5
The Bears are on a three-game losing streak, and their head coach just gave up play-calling duties to their offensive coordinator, which seems backward. Luckily they will take on a Vikings defense that is 29th in the league in yards per game, at 412.9 yards per game. I see the hosts pulling this out, in a game they have to win to keep pace in the playoff race. Also, are we really going to trust Kirk Cousins in primetime?
The Picks: Bears +3 / Over 43.5
And finally, for completeness’ sake our pick for Thursday’s game:
Indianapolis Colts (-1) at Tennessee Titans, O/U 48.5
This should be one of the best matchups of the week, a rarity for a Thursday night football game. The Colts will be hungry to avenge a bad loss to Baltimore last week, while the Titans will be overvalued a bit after beating up on a bad Chicago Bears offense last week.
The Colts have the top rushing defense in the league, and should be able to limit Derrick Henry enough to eek out a close win here.
The Picks: Colts -1 / Under 48.5
Pick Six Best Bets
Bengals/Steelers Over 45.5
Chargers/Dolphins Over 48