PATRIOTS THIS WEEK

Browns (5-4) at Patriots (5-4), 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS)

Spread: Patriots by -2 1/2

Outlook: Damn Bill Belichick! A year ago he was the fallen king. Now? Three straight Patriots wins. Top-five defense. Getting just what he needs from rookie QB Mac Jones. And in the middle of the AFC playoff hunt. It is still a coin-flip game, but give me Coach G.O.A.T. against banged-up Browns, who are missing star RB Nick Chubb to a positive COVID-19 test.

Prediction: Patriots, 23-20

GAME OF THE WEEK

Seahawks (3-5) at Packers (7-2), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Spread: Packers by 3

Outlook: Seattle gets back QB Russell Wilson after finger surgery. Green Bay gets back Aaron Rodgers from COVID-19 quarantine. Can Rodgers set aside the controversy and distraction? Can Wilson rally the Seahawks back into the playoff chase? I give Seattle a major upset shot, but Green Bay is a different animal at Lambeau, and Rodgers, racing on high-octane motivation, should slice apart the a bottom-five pass defense.

Prediction: Packers, 34-27

UPSET OF THE WEEK

Rams (7-2) at 49ers (3-5), 8:15 p.m. Monday (ESPN)

Spread: Rams by 4

Outlook: Sometimes I don’t trust trends because I know the law of averages is overdue. Example: The Niners have lost eight home games in a row. Crazy. Gotta end. I would also note that Matthew Stafford, playing on a tender ankle he tweaked last week, faces the NFL’s No. 4-ranked pass defense. And that San Francisco is a bit of a Rams nemesis, having won four straight games in this rivalry and eight of the past 11.

Prediction: 49ers, 24-23

OTHER GAMES

@Cowboys (6-2, -9 1/2) over Falcons (4-4), 31-23: Dallas should rebound after Dak Prescott showed rust in a spanking by Denver last week, but Ezekiel Elliott (knee) is banged up. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan should score enough to keep it inside a fat bet line.

@Titans (7-2, -3) over Saints (5-3), 28-24: Tennessee’s five straight wins all have been against 2020 playoff teams, and stumble is due. Could be why the point spread favoring Titans at home is bare minimum.

@Colts (4-5, -10 1/2) over Jaguars (2-6), 34-16: OK, who was that team in the Jaguars uniforms beating Buffalo 9-6 last week? The real Jags will reappear here, with Colts RB Jonathan Taylor having his way with Jax run D.

Bills (5-3, -12) over @Jets (2-6), 28-13: Mike White starts again for the Jets. In any case, expect the catapult of a big Buffalo bounceback effort after last week’s anomaly of a 9-6 loss to Jaguars. Good day for the Jets to remind us how bad they are.

@Steelers (5-3, -9) over Lions (0-8), 24-9: Detroit has lost five straight in this series. Watch T.J. Watt terrorize Jared Goff, and Najee Harris slice majorly through the Lions’ very weak run defense.

Buccaneers (6-2, -9 1/2) over @Washington (2-6), 27-20: Washington played the Bucs tough in a playoff loss last year, 31-23, and I’m leaning to the underdogs with points again.

@Cardinals (8-1, -10 1/2) over Panthers (4-5), 28-14: Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins remain questionable. The Panthers have won five straight over the Cards, including a 5-2 run in the desert, but those trends end. The pick presumes Murray plays, but if not, a Carolina cover may be the play.

Vikings (3-5, +3) over @Chargers (5-3), 34-30: Viking Dalvin Cook runs against an NFL-worst run defense. Plus, Kirk Cousins has 11 TDs and a 111.3 passer rating in four road game. Minnesota’s five losses are all to good teams and by 18 combined points.

@Broncos (5-4, -2 1/2) over Eagles (3-6), 23-20: I lean on Denver’s defense at home in this one, but if the Eagles can force a turnover or two from Teddy Bridgewater, the script flips.

Chiefs (5-4, -2 1/2) over @Raiders (5-3), 30-20: The Raiders are a dumpster fire of controversy. Meanwhile the magic has left Kansas City … and what is wrong with Patrick Mahomes!? Watch Mahomes put on a show.

Bye weeks: Bears (3-6), Bengals (5-4), Giants (3-6), Texans (1-8)

Last week: 8-6 overall, 5-9 vs. spread.

Overall: 80-56, 64-70-2

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