UPSET OF THE WEEK

Patriots (4-5) at Texans (2-7), 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS)

Spread: Patriots by 1

Outlook: I am resolute (aka stubborn) that Deshaun Watson and Houston are better than their record. Apparently I’m not alone because the Patriots, showing life off a big upset of Baltimore and on an 8-1 run in this series, should be a bigger favorite. They were, at 2 1/2, before money on the Texans bet it down to 1. Call this one a gut/hunch pick.

Prediction: Texans, 26-23

GAME OF THE WEEK

Rams (6-3) at Buccaneers (7-3), 8:15 p.m. Monday (ESPN)

Spread: Buccaneers by 4

Outlook: Two good teams, two great defenses and one intriguing game. Tampa is 3-1 at home, and the Rams are only 2-3 on the road. That, and Tom Brady piloting the clearly better offense, steer the pick, although we will hedge with the Rams to cover.

Prediction: Buccaneers, 23-20

UPSET OF THE WEEK (Part II)

Lions (4-5) at Panthers (3-7), 1 p.m. (FOX)

Spread: Panthers by 3

Outlook: With two comparably mediocre teams, I get the Panthers being given the minimal three-point home-field edge, except that Carolina has lost eight of its past nine home games, the actual home advantage is diminished in pandemic 2020, and running back Christian McCaffrey is expected to be out again.

Prediction: Lions, 30-27

OTHER GAMES

At Browns (6-3, -31/2) over Eagles (3-5-1), 19-13: NFL sacks leader Myles Garrett is out after testing positive for COVID-19. If the Browns are able to pressure a regressing Carson Wentz (12 picks), that will shape the outcome.

At Saints (7-2, -5) over Falcons (3-6), 31-23: The Falcons are 3-1 with an improved defense since their coaching change, and either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston will be pitching for injured Drew Brees. But the Saints were 5-0 without Brees last season, so there’s plenty around him to insulate a backup QB.

At Washington (2-7, -1) over Bengals (2-6-1), 27-16: These free-falling teams have lost 11 of 13 games between them. Washington will control the ground, and the home team’s defensive front will dominate Cincy’s awful O-line.

Steelers (9-0, -10) over At Jaguars (1-8), 31-6: The Jags did play Green Bay tough last week in a four-point loss, but this won’t be close. Pittsburgh’s defense will cause large problems and Big Ben will dominate the Jags bad defense.

At Ravens (6-3, -6) over Titans (6-3), 27-17: Both teams have stumbled lately. No matter. Two big ground games here but only one top defense. Coming off an upset loss to Patriots, the Ravens will be stoked to avenge last season’s home playoff elimination by the Titans.

Dolphins (6-3, -3) over At Broncos (3-6), 27-13: Tua Tagovailoa is 3-0 as a starter with five touchdown passes and zero interceptions. But Miami somehow has lost 10 consecutive road games vs. teams with losing records. Except, Denver has lost eight of the past nine at home vs. teams with winning records. Miami losing on the road would be a huge surprise.

At Chargers (2-7, -91/2) over Jets (0-9), 24-17: The Jets have lost five in a row after a bye week off … and you think Adam Gase will end that trend!? Still, the point spread is way big, and the Jets nearly beating the Pats before the bye suggests the cadaver may have a pulse.

Packers (7-2, +1) over At Colts (6-3), 27-23: The bet-line is all but even as Aaron Rodgers confronts an elite pass defense and a strong D overall. But with the Packers 4-1 on the road, I see Rodgers finding a way.

At Vikings (4-5, -7) over Cowboys (2-7), 24-20: Dallas is coming off a bye and has QB Andy Dalton back, but the Vikings have won three in a row and Dalvin Cook faces a weak run defense. A rout would hardly surprise.

Chiefs (8-1, -71/2) over At Raiders (6-3), 41-23: After Las Vegas upset Kansas City 40-32 in Week 5, the Raiders team buses took a victory lap around Arrowhead Stadium in a showy gesture that angered Chiefs Coach Andy Reid. The Vegas defense has been good the past few games but the highly motivated Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are a different deal.

Last week: 10-4 overall, 11-3 vs. spread.

Season: 93-53-1, 77-68-2

– Greg Cote, Miami Herald


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