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The Vikings have to rebound and win the games they’re supposed to win. After losing to the Lions last week, they’ll want to get back on the right side of things. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson should be in every offensive award conversation this season; last week he had 11 receptions for 223 yards. He’ll have a test this week against the Colts, where Stephon Gilmore leads a secondary that has been very stingy when it comes to giving up passing yards this year. Indianapolis will also look to run the ball and control the clock. Minnesota’s defense has been suspect this year against teams with star player power on the roster. I look for Jonathan Taylor to have a big day.
Even though the run game will flourish, I think the Colts are just outmatched this week. The Vikings will win and cover the spread at home.
The Ravens just aren’t the same offensively without quarterback Lamar Jackson. It’s expected that Jackson will miss more time as his knee heals from a sprained PCL. He will likely be out another couple of weeks, which puts the team in quarterback Tyler Huntley’s hands. Huntley went 1-3 last season when Jackson was sidelined with an ankle injury. The Browns are still waiting for quarterback Deshaun Watson to look like the player who led Houston to the playoffs, but after missing meaningful football for almost two seasons, it’s clear to see why he’s struggling.
Both teams aren’t going to be offensively explosive, but the Browns have a defensive front that makes most starters uncomfortable, let alone the backup or someone who was just elevated from the practice squad. They win and cover without Jackson’s magic.
“Well, well, well. How the turntables?” When the Bills traveled to Miami for their Week 3 matchup, Bills fans and players spoke of the effect the heat had on the game. Now, it’s expected to be a winter wonderland in Orchard Park, NY tonight. Football fans are in for a treat, as the snow game of the year is about to happen in a game with huge AFC East implications. The Dolphins are looking to stop the bleeding after losing two straight games on their West Coast trip, while the Bills are looking to build on their four-game win streak. Quarterback Josh Allen is getting healthier by the week, and he has one of his favorite targets back in wide receiver Cole Beasley. The Dolphins’ defense has been average-at-best in the secondary and, if the weather permits it, I’d expect Allen to have one of those signature big-time games to clinch the Bills a playoff berth at home in front of Bills Mafia.
The weather will allow the Dolphins to keep it close, but they come up short against the league’s best AFC team. The Bills win, but are unable to cover the spread.
This game will be about watching quarterback Desmond Ridder make his first start in the NFL. Both teams play in a division that has been disappointing. I expect the game to be low-scoring, unless either team can find a way to run the ball well. Running back Alvin Kamara hasn’t looked like a superstar in comparison to some of his previous seasons, and the Falcons’ backfield hasn’t been the most consistent. With Ridder making his first start, I don’t expect the offense to put up major points.
Atlanta beats the spread, and the game will be close and come down to a field goal, but the Saints keep marching.
This was one of the most difficult games for me to pick this weekend. Both teams haven’t looked good. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky came in Sunday for the Steelers after rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett suffered a concussion earlier in the game. Even without Lamar Jackson being active for the Ravens, the Steelers were unable to put up enough points to win. The Panthers still have playoff hopes alive as they’re only a game behind the Buccaneers. But head coach Mike Tomlin is a man of pride, and hasn’t coached a losing season in his NFL career. That streak is on the line this weekend, and I fully expect his team to play for him.
Pittsburgh gets the upset in Carolina.
The Eagles are for real, and they’ve been running through teams every week. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been getting better week by week, and the rest of the roster continues to get better because of it. The Bears have been fun to watch in recent weeks, but they don’t have enough to keep up with the Eagles.
Eagles win, but they don’t do it by nine points. The Bears will beat the spread, but fall to the NFL’s best team at home.
If there’s one game you don’t want to face the Chiefs, it’s the one after quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws three interceptions the week prior. In such games for his career (two games), Mahomes is 49-for-85, for 549 yards with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Texans are in for a beat down, because Denver played well last week. And with running back Dameon Pierce out, the Texans don’t have any weapons who can really go toe to toe with the MVP favorite.
Kansas City will win, and do it easily. They cover the spread.
If I’m honest, I’m not sure why the spread is so close. Since returning from injury, quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have become one of the most explosive teams in the league. They hit a pothole last week, when they had to sneak out a win against the Texans, but I don’t think one off game should change the perception of a team that put up 50 points just one week earlier. The Jaguars have some good pieces and much better coaching than last season, but I don’t see the game being very competitive.
Dallas wins and covers by more than what they need. I’m seeing a double-digit win here.
Quarterback Zach Wilson is back in the starting lineup, with Mike White unable to gain medical clearance to resume his starting duties. White played an inspiring and gutsy game against the Bills last week, and underwent an MRI for an oblique injury after linebacker Matt Milano ran through him in the second half of the game. The Lions, meanwhile, are coming off their biggest win of the year after defeating the division-leading Vikings. They’ve played tough all year, but just didn’t have things go their way in a few key moments that could easily have the team sitting above .500 instead of 6-7. But the Jets are tough, and they have one of the best defenses in the NFL. New York will make things difficult for quarterback Jared Goff and the offense.
The Jets will get back on the winning side of things. Jets win and cover.
My heart breaks for quarterback Kyler Murray and Cardinals fans. Arizona lost its star quarterback on the first drive of the game last Monday, when Murray scrambled to try and pick up the first down. Now out with an ACL tear, the Cardinals are looking forward to next season. The Broncos almost shocked the world and beat the Chiefs last week, and quarterback Russell Wilson looked like he wanted to do so badly. Sacrificing his body for the team led him to missing Week 15 with a concussion. Maybe a little too late, but at least they’re figuring it out. The Broncos have their quarterback under contract for multiple years to come after extending Wilson last offseason.
Even without Wilson cleared to play, the Broncos will win.
My pick here is emotional, I’ll admit it. I want the Patriots to lose, but I also want running back Josh Jacobs to play lights out and make sure he does everything necessary to win the rushing title this season. He’s been playing great football all year, but the team overall continues to disappoint its fan base. Last week they lost to a Rams team led by just-signed quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was unable to join the team for practice and develop even minimal chemistry with his receivers.
Raiders with the upset in Sin City.
Tennessee Titans (7-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-6), 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS
This game is huge. The Chargers want to stay relevant in the Wild Card race, and the Titans want to keep the Jaguars from catching them in the division. Tennessee has leaned on Derrick Henry as expected; last week he had 121 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. But the Titans still fell to the Jaguars, and will need to win games to keep them from catching up with four games still to play. The Chargers looked great offensively and defensively, despite injuries to several key members of their defense. Quarterback Justin Herbert has put the rib injury behind him, and his receivers are making big plays. I think Henry will get his opportunity to be great and put his mark on the game, as he always does. But Los Angeles has the better quarterback, and he’s playing at home, I don’t expect him to be outplayed by quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Chargers win and cover the spread.
Is there a team playing better than the Bengals right now? Is there a team playing worse than the Buccaneers? Quarterbak Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, and he will alway be viewed as such, but this year hasn’t reflected that legacy. The Buccaneers should still make the playoffs as the division leader in the NFC South, where no team is above .500. Quarterback Joe Burrow, on the other hand, is playing lights out — and he has the offense rolling. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase hopes to have fellow receiver Tee Higgins available to take pressure off of him, but it doesn’t look like Chase can be stopped either way.
The Bengals win and cover the spread easily.
Three weeks in a row, I’ve been spot-on when it comes to the Giants. Head coach Brian Daboll is the team’s future at the helm, and he’ll have them playing well for years to come. But he can only do so much with the roster they came into the season with in 2022. They dropped three in a row, and now go against a team looking to make some noise of their own and capture a Wild Card spot. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is one of my favorite stories of the season. He’s just so much fun to watch, and he really does give the team the best chance to win.
David takes down Goliath, and the Giants continue to fall. They will keep the game close, and it should come down to a field goal, so they’ll beat the spread. But the Commanders win under the bright lights.