The Seahawks have surprised everyone week after week, and Geno Smith is looking like a sneaky MVP candidate. I’m not sure if he could be considered for Comeback Player of the Year, but he most certainly deserves consideration for the job he is doing replacing Russell Wilson in that offense. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III is also doing an amazing job keeping the defense honest enough in the run game to allow Smith time to take advantage of the pass. The Buccaneers have been fighting back after a slow start to take back the lead in the division, but something is off. It doesn’t make sense when you see Mike Evans dropping wide open passes from Tom Brady.
I’m going with the Seahawks to cover the spread and win this game.
The possibility of no Josh Allen had shrunk this spread from -7.5 in favor of the Bills down to -3.5, but it’s back up to -6.5 with increasing confidence that Allen will play. I don’t think it makes that much of a difference in this game, because the weather is going to play in favor of the better defense. The Bills certainly have the better of the two defenses, and Von Miller has taken last week’s performance personally. Kirk Cousins has done enough to help the Vikings win seven games this season—six of them by eight points or less—but this is the second team they have faced with top talent on both sides of the ball.
Bills win and cover.
The Bears are finally figuring out how to use quarterback Justin Fields. Allowing him to be mobile and get rid of the ball on the move has improved this offense and made them more efficient overall. They’ve recently traded for receiver Chase Claypool from Pittsburgh, and I think this will further improve the flow on offense. If only their running backs would be able to join the party, Chicago could be scary. Detroit has been disappointing this year as well, but one can point to injuries as a big reason why they aren’t at least better on offense. They started the season as one of the better offensive teams in the league, but fizzled out after injuries caught up to them. But their run game seems to perform every week. They’ll control the ball and win this one on the road with the upset.
I will always take Patrick Mahomes at home unless they’re playing the Bills. But this spread is too large for me to feel comfortable with. Last week, the Chiefs needed overtime to beat the Malik Willis-led outfit in Tennessee, who has not been able to move the ball outside of Derrick Henry. I happen to think Jacksonville has a better quarterback and a better offense overall than the Titans. This game is closer than the spread suggests.
Jacksonville beats the spread, but falls to KC.
Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS
Miami has been impressive when Tua Tagovailoa plays this year, which is not something Bills fans want to hear or read. But the truth is, he is playing at an MVP level, and he has the weapons to keep him in those conversations. Cleveland has been trying to stay relevant until quarterback Deshaun Watson comes back from his suspension, and Jacoby Brissett has done a fine enough job to keep games close. Cleveland also has a two-headed monster in the backfield running the ball. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will dominate this game.
Cleveland beats Miami in the upset.
Brian Daboll is definitely in the conversation for Coach of the Year. No one, not even the most optimistic Giants fans, thought the team would be 6-2 at this point of the year. Saquan Barkley has been amazing, and the defense has kept the game close enough for the offense to make a play in the fourth quarter. The Texans just don’t have a lot for Davis Mills to work with. Rookie running back Dameon Pierce has been phenomenal, but he only has three touchdowns on the year. I don’t think they have enough to hang with Saquan and the Giants.
Giants win and cover.
The Saints have been disappointing, to say the least. They were one of my favorites prior to the season, as the roster looked to be stacked with weapons on both sides of the ball. But injuries have derailed their season faster than anyone could have imagined. Michael Thomas was just sent to IR with the foot injury that’s been keeping him out all year, Jameis Winston is now the permanent backup quarterback after missing time, and Jarvis Landry has yet to earn his contract after appearing in only three games this year. Pittsburgh has allowed Kenny Pickett to learn on the job, and every week I think he’s getting better as he learns the game more. He’s made some big-time throws in moments, but just hasn’t completely put it all together. I think this is the weekend that he does.
Pittsburgh beats the spread and wins at home with the upset.
Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS
I’ve picked the Broncos several times this year just because I couldn’t imagine Russell Wilson being this bad for this long. I’m not doing it anymore until he proves me wrong. The Titans almost beat the Chiefs last week with their rookie quarterback at the helm. I have to believe Derrick Henry has another big day and the Titans run all over the Broncos.
I’m taking Tennessee to win and cover.
The Colts are transitioning after firing head coach Frank Reich and bringing in first-time coach Jeff Saturday. Saturday has a decorated career as a player, but no experience as a coach at the NFL level. Saturday also announced Wednesday that pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier will be the team’s offensive play caller for the remainder of the 2022 season. And as bad as the Raiders’ season has gone, I just think the Colts will be trying to find themselves in real time, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Vegas wins and covers.
Who is this, and what have you done with Aaron Rodgers? This offense is awful. Rodgers has been frustrated with play calling, receiver performance, and offensive line protection. But it’s not fair to place all of the blame everywhere else: Rodgers has to be better, too. The Cowboys have been good this year, and their defense is even better than it was a year ago. Dak Prescott is getting his groove back, and the offense will start to pick back up.
Until Rodgers shows me why he’s the defending two-time MVP, I’m going with Dallas to win and cover.
Maybe Cardinals fans were hoodwinked, bamboozled, and led astray when it comes to Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. Murray is one of the league’s most talented and elusive players, no questions asked. But he hasn’t been good this season consistently enough to win games the Cardinals were expected to win. The Rams aren’t looking like the defending Super Bowl champions, but they look better than their opponent this week. Cooper Kupp has another huge day, and the Rams win and cover at home.
The 49ers look like they have everything they need to make the push in the second half of the season to be the NFC favorites heading into the playoffs. I know the Eagles are the only undefeated team left, and we should probably talk about them more, but the 49ers trading for Christian McCaffrey is a huge deal—and it’s already starting to pay dividends. He’s already completed the trifecta by rushing, passing and receiving a touchdown for this offense, in just his second game with the team. In years past, Jimmy Garappolo was good enough to get the Niners to the conference title or the Super Bowl, but adding a talent like McCaffrey makes their offense even more dangerous despite the shortcomings of the quarterback. Justin Herbert hasn’t looked like himself this season, but he has been battling a rib injury all year, which is not easy to come back from. Keenan Allen is out again with his hamstring injury, so the team will be leaning on Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler. I think the game will be closer than expected.
Chargers beat the spread but lose to the 49ers under the bright lights.