PATRIOTS THIS WEEK
Chargers (4-7) at Patriots (2-9), 1 p.m. (CBS)
Spread: Chargers by 5 1/2
Outlook: I must confess, I looked intently as this game as my Upset of the Week pick. Law of averages, right? The Chargers are erratic and poor Bill Belichick is so overdue a win. Then I came to my senses. If the Patriots do win, they will be able to hear my anguished screaming in Foxborough, but they’re 1-5 at home, so I think I’m good. Bailey Zappe is no better than Mac Jones, just less scared and not scarred yet.
Prediction: Chargers, 24-16

GAME OF THE WEEK
49ers (8-3) at Eagles (10-1), 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Spread: 49ers by 3
Outlook: The team with the best record in the NFL is a home dog!? “Hmm,” you may say. But those who set the numbers are rarely way off. This is a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game that the Eagles won in a 31-7 rout after 49ers QB Brock Purdy left injured. A healthy Purdy is firing on all cylinders with Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, et al. Philly’s scoring defense ranks 20th; the Niners possess the No. 1 defense. The 49ers are favored with cause, and I’d not bet against ’em.
Prediction: 49ers, 27-23

UPSET OF THE WEEK
Falcons (5-6) at Jets (4-7), 1 p.m. (FOX)
Spread: Falcons by 3.
Outlook: How many times will the cameras show Aaron Rodgers on the sideline (over/under 6 1/2)? Every game is must-win now for the Jets. If you have no playoff hope, how do you justify playing a QB who turns 40 on Saturday and ruptured an Achilles tendon less than three months earlier? Winning to stay in the hunt helps, and the Jets’ defense will make it happen.
Prediction: Jets, 19-16

OTHER GAMES

Dolphins (8-3, -9 1/2) over @Commanders (4-8), 37-17: This should be a lousy game that Miami wins comfortably even with temps in the mid-40s. The Dolphins have the No. 2 scoring offense, while the Commanders are dead last in scoring defense and 30th in pass defense. Sunday should be fun as Christmas morning for Tua, Tyreek and that gang.

@Titans (4-7, +1) over Colts (6-5), 23-20: Indy won the early season meeting, 23-16, and has won 22 of the last 26 trips to Nashville, but will be missing RB Jonathan Taylor. I have a feeling the defense rises up at home for the Titans, who have won outright seven of the last nine times they’ve been home dogs.

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Lions (8-3, -4 1/2) over @Saints (5-6), 27-23: Detroit lost to the Packers on Thanksgiving so has had extra time to prepare, and has followed all three of its losses with a win. The Saints could be without top WR Chris Olave (concussion), but I still lean with the points.

@Steelers (7-4, -5 1/2) over Cardinals (2-10), 24-13: Arizona is better with Kyler Murray, but he doesn’t play defense, where the Cardinals really need the help. When you say “Arizona’s D,” it might as well be a letter grade. Watch the improvement of Kenny Pickett and his offense continue.

@Texans (6-5, -3 1/2) over Broncos (6-5), 27-23: The Broncos have won five straight, but have lost 15 of their last 19 road games. C.J. Stroud-to-Tank Dell should stay hot against an overrated Denver defense that in fact is worst in the AFC in points allowed.

@Buccaneers (4-7, -5) over Panthers (1-10), 24-10: Carolina fired Frank Reich this week, and often teams see an immediate (if temporary) bump from the jolt, but the Panthers are bad enough to be an exception. The Bucs are somehow one game out of first in the woeful AFC South despite losing six of seven.

@Rams (5-6, -3 1/2) over Browns (7-4), 23-17: Browns QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is iffy (concussion) and newly signed Joe Flacco (!) may be extracted from mothballs to start. Cleveland also could be missing top defender Myles Garrett (shoulder).

Chiefs (8-3, -6) over @Packers (5-6), 24-20: QB Jordan Love has begun to look like a long-term answer for the Packers, while Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs are not the offensive juggernaut of years past. The Chiefs bring a strong pass defense, but I still lean with the Pack to cover.

@Jaguars (8-3, -8) over Bengals (5-6), 21-17: Joe Burrow at Trevor Lawrence would have been something, but Joe’s done for the year and it’s a steep drop to Jake Browning. The Jaguars are on a 7-1 series roll, but all three Jags losses have come at home. If Cincy has Tee Higgins back healthy, the bet-line may be a tad plump.

Byes: Bears (4-8), Bills (6-6), Giants (4-8), Raiders (5-7), Ravens (9-3), Vikings (6-6)
Last week: 14-2 overall, 14-2 vs. spread
Season: 112-68, 89-85-6


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