49ers (3-3) at Patriots  (2-3), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Spread: Patriots by 1 1/2

Outlook: Jimmy Garoppolo against his former team adds flavor, but the Patriots are unusually desperate after rare back-to-back defeats. With San Francisco coming off a nice win over the Rams, the bet line was halved down from 3 as the money chased the 49ers. I’m still leaning on New England at home with a bounce-back game from Cam Newton. It’s hard to fathom three straight losses by the Patriots … and who knows how to defend Garoppolo better than Bill Belichick?

Prediction: Patriots, 23-20

GAME OF THE WEEK

Steelers (5-0) at Titans (5-0), 1 p.m., CBS

Spread: Titans by 1

Outlook: Both offenses are scorching hot, with consecutive 38-point games by the Steelers and back-to-back 42s from the Titans. Each team has a major new injury – Steelers ILB Devin Bush, Titans LT Taylor Lewan –  but for me, this pick turns on Pittsburgh being clearly better on defense, with a run D well suited to limit Derrick Henry and a league-leading sack unit. The Titans’ 5-0 feels like a pleasant surprise, while Pitt’s 5-0 feels like a team with a championship shot.

Prediction: Steelers, 34-23

UPSET OF THE WEEK

Packers (4-1) at Texans (1-5), 1 p.m., Fox

Spread: Packers by 3 1/2

Outlook: A thin betting line despite the records. It’s more than the Packers getting beaten up so badly by the Bucs last week; it’s that the Texans are a dangerous 1-5, good enough to have lost by one score to the Steelers and Titans. Good enough to be due some luck and a breakout result.

Prediction: Texans, 28-27

OTHER GAMES

At Falcons (1-5, -2) over Lions (2-3), 30-24: Atlanta should add some ground help and balance here, with Todd Gurley facing a shoddy Detroit run defense.

Browns (4-2, -3 1/2) over At Bengals (1-4-1), 27-23: Baker Mayfield and Joe Burrow are both under siege from bad line play, but this game could turn on Kareem Hunt having a big day against Cincy’s bad run D.

At Saints (3-2, -7 1/2) over Panthers (3-3), 24-20: Drew Brees will rely a lot on Alvin Kamara to carry the load. The bet line seems a bit bloated, though. The Panthers are sneaky good, and their defense will deny a shootout.

Bills (4-2, -13 1/2) over At Jets (0-6), 28-16: Buffalo has lost two in a row to good teams (Titans/Chiefs). The Jets ain’t one of those. With Sam Darnold expected back and Buffalo’s defense almost astonishingly bad, heaven help me, but I’m rollin’ the bones on the Jets covering.

Cowboys (2-4, +1) over At Washington (1-5), 19-16: Dallas has won three in a row and seven of eight in the series, and Washington has lost 13 of 15 at home. The cure for Dallas’ awful defense is the No Names’ putrid offense. Mini upset!

Seahawks (5-0, -3 1/2) over At Cardinals (4-2), 37-30: Russell Wilson and Seattle can score a ton, but its pass D is awful and faces Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins. Makes even a 56.5 over/under look small. Trust Chef Russ to keep cookin’.

Chiefs (5-1, -10) over At Broncos (2-3), 27-20: The Chiefs have owned this rivalry, winning nine straight including five in a row at Mile High. A Melvin Gordon-led ground game will eat clock against a bad KC run D to help keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.

At Chargers (1-4, -7 1/2) over Jaguars (1-5), 38-13: High-flying rookie QB Justin Herbert is ready to pilot his first NFL win. The Chargers are not far from being good. Jacksonville is, off four bad performances in a row.

At Rams (4-2, -6) over Bears (5-1), 19-16: I don’t know how Chicago has won five games (all by one score) with that sorry offense. Both defenses are good, but the Rams have a lot more pop with the ball.

Buccaneers (4-2, -4) over At Raiders (3-2), 30-20: Two big offenses in this matchup, but only one quality defense.

Last week: 7-7, .500 overall; 7-7, .500 vs. spread.

Season: 56-34-1, 46-43-2


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