PHILADELPHIA (6-1) -13.5 vs San Francisco (0-7)
Last week the Yankees won 3 games in Yankee Stadium to go up 3-2, one game away from the World Series. Yankee fans reacted by assuming that the Series was a given. Travel plans were considered, ticket prices lamented, Reggie Jackson vs the Dodgers reminisced. They went to Houston, forgot how to hit the ball, and lost the series and their manager.
There’s a lesson here for Eagles fans. Hang on with those Super Bowl plans. The season isn't even halfway over. Take the advice of a fan base that’s been there before. There’s a lot of football to play, and in the 2017 NFL you can't count on anything. Except that the trend is not your friend.
Carson Wentz has been saving this team from the start with his play. He’s currently leading the MVP conversation, and has saved countless 3rd and longs, including about 17 times during the Redskins game. But he's’ been hit more than any QB except Russell Wilson, and without Jason Peters for the rest of the season he’s taking a firm step into the Danger Zone. One bad hit and the Eagles are the Bears.
The Niners are a frisky 0-7. They lost 5 in a row by 3 or less before the Dallas game last week. We think they come ready to play.
It came down to Eagles fans or Pats fans to receive the first Settle Down card of 2017. We’re going with the Eagles fans and their 0-2 Super Bowl record.
PICK: 49ers +13.5
NEW ENGLAND (5-2) -7.5 vs LA Chargers (3-4)
The Pats have gotten to 5-2 despite themselves. The defense is allowing over 400 yds a game, 6.6 yds/play, dead last in the NFL. But the narrative basically is “Belichick is executing his master plan”. We’d like to point out that Belichick was a head coach in the NFL for 6 years before Tom Brady made his debut. His record: 41-55. Belichick gets far too much credit for the Tom & Bill Show. Brady’s play and as his willingness to be underpaid to provide cap space is the driver. I bet Brady is secretly pissed. It’s like the world deciding that DJ Jazzy Jeff was the real mastermind.
The Chargers are on a roll. They're 4th in the league in sacks and look fearsome on the front 4. Brady has been sacked 18 times this year, which feels like 27 times when you do the 1.5x “over-40” Multiplier. It will be windy and potentially raining in Foxboro, even worse for old joints. (Here’s a secret: New England’s offensive line stinks, too.)
This is what all 10,000 Chargers fans were looking for when season tickets went on sale. We think they are going to light up the Patriots secondary and climb back to .500. Prime seating still available on the Chargers bandwagon!
PICK: Chargers +7.5
LONG ODDS BONUS PICK: Chargers/49ers moneyline parlay 20.5 to 1.
NEW ORLEANS (4-2) -8.5 vs Chicago (3-4)
3 weeks into The Mitchell Trubisky Experience, and it’s hard to tell. He’s 2-1, with a close loss to Minnesota. That’s good. But he’s 24-48 passing, and threw it only 7 times last week versus a so-so Panthers secondary. That’s not good. The Bears won last week with the same offense used to neutralize The Waterboy. Just kneel 3 times and punt it away, and let the defense win for you.
New Orleans is playing pretty balanced football these days, and their secondary is a surprising bright spot. You'll be able to recognize them Sunday – they’ll be the ones standing around waiting for passes that aren't going to come. It’s going to come down to whether or not the Bears defense can stop one of the highest scoring teams in the league. We think the Saints get up early and the Bears are forced to play catch-up.
PICK: Saints -8.5
Atlanta (3-3) -4.5 at NY JETS (3-4)
Our friend Jay texted during the Sunday night game his answer to the Falcons mysterious play-calling: Sarkisian may be hitting the bottle mid-game. We think there’s a different possibility: Fenster from The Usual Suspects was on the sideline, and nobody could understand him.
It’s getting critical for the Falcons. Almost everyone is writing them off. We don't understand. Why don't they get this silly “good teams starting to play well” love that’s going around for very iffy teams? The argument starts and ends with “they haven't started to play well yet”, but they may just be late bloomers.
We normally would love taking the home dog here, but the Jets have let two 14-0 leads slip away the last two weeks, and we think they’re one blowout loss away from beginning a season-long slide to 5-11. Which is still better than most people thought.
PICK: Falcons -4.5
BUFFALO (4-2) -2.5 vs Oakland (3-4)
This could be one of the best games of the week. Buffalo plays everyone close and is 3-0 at home. Oakland may have turned a corner last Thursday with their “Once Twice Three Times a Lady” final play win over Kansas City (a sequence we are now calling the Lionel Ritchie).
But here’s a concern. Buffalo’s two meaningful wins, vs the Broncos and the Falcons, don't look so meaningful after the last few weeks. Then again, Oakland lost to the Ravens and gave up 30 points to Flacco. So no edge there for continuity.
How about the whole “west coast team traveling east for an early game” thing? Nope. Oakland is 7-0 in their last 7 1PM ET games.
Buffalo doesn't turn the ball over (only 3 turnovers this year) and Oakland doesn't take it away (0 INT). Oakland has multiple injuries in the secondary, and we think that’s going to allow Buffalo to put some points on the board and pull out another close win. Also, Derek Carr is playing with a broken back and its going to be 44 degrees. Just sayin’.
PICK: Bills -2.5
TAMPA BAY (2-4) -2.5 vs Carolina (4-3)
These teams are both rudderless. I’ve been trying to find stats or something that makes me want to care about this game. So far, all I’ve got is that Julius Peppers is back with the Panthers, and he’s awesome. Here’s how old Julius Peppers is. I used to live in Charlotte. My high-school aged son and I have Julius Peppers Panthers jerseys. That we got in 2003.
The Bucs are on a 3 game losing streak, which would be 5 if they hadn't squeaked by the Giants in Week 4. The Panthers got embarrassed last week by the Bears, but the Bucs simply are not as good. And without Brent Grimes, they’re worse.
But do you really trust Cam Newton? I didn't think so.
REAL PICK: stay so far away from this game.
PICK BECAUSE WE HAVE TO: Carolina Panthers feat. J. Peppers +2.5
CINCINNATI (2-4) -10.5 vs Indianapolis (2-5)
Not even Carolina/Tampa Bay could keep this game from being last on the list. The Bengals have a whisper of a chance, and that will be enough. Indy may have completely given up. Last week the offense got sacked 10 times. The defense, not to be outdone, allowed 330 passing yards to Blake Bortles on 18 completions. That’s about 3x his average, or equivalent to the Pats defense allowing someone to pass for 900+ yards (something that we think may happen). It added up to a 27-0 shutout against Jacksonville, without Fournette. We don't think they’ll recover.
Indy is in Browns territory for us. We know the line is huge, but until they show up we can't take them.
PICK: Bengals -10.5