We’ve reached the halfway point of the season and find ourselves at 14-12-1 – not bad, but not great. But in a year when favorites are hitting at the highest rate in ten years, 71-60-5 for the season, I guess I’ll take it.
Joshua Dobbs gets credit for last week’s 2-1 record thanks to his unbelievable, stirring ability to rally his new teammates, many of whom he didn’t even know yet.
This week’s slate features a bountiful litter of puppies I like. I had to throw a couple out, but I’ll give them a special mention at the end.
Vikings +3 vs. Saints
I’m going back to the well with the Purple. I have to confess: I don’t understand this line. I’d make this game a tossup. Yes, they’re coming off an emotional win and could be prime for a letdown, but I don’t see it.
After a week of practice, Dobbs will actually have a decent understanding of the playbook, and the threat of his legs will give the Saints problems. They play a lot of man, relying on their strong corners to take the WRs out of the game. And the Vikes are hurting, with K.J. Osborn likely out and T.J. Hockenson banged up too. Look for Brandon Powell to get a lot of work, with Marshon Lattimore shadowing Jordan Addison all afternoon.
The Saints’ 5-4 record is fraudulent, with wins over the Titans, Panthers, Patriots, Colts and Bears. That Bears win was by just seven points last week, despite turning them over five times. Then there’s this: Dennis Allen is a historically bad coach against the spread after a win. He’s 0-5-1 this season and 3-14-2 overall.
The Vikes may win this one outright.
Texans +6 ½ at Bengals
This one feels like a bit of a trap because the number is just too high – it’s almost as if they’re begging us to side with Houston. C.J. Stroud’s performance last week was one of the best a rookie QB has ever had, and they’re primed for a letdown. But I’m not ready to fade the Texans just yet.
Cincinnati is rounding into shape. The Bengals are beginning to look like one of the AFC’s elite teams, with wins over the Niners and Bills and having overcome a slow start due to Joe Burrow’s calf injury. The defense is legit, and they’ll make things tough for Stroud. However, the rookie just hasn’t made any big mistakes. He doesn’t turn the ball over.
Burrow will be without Tee Higgins, who aggravated a hamstring in practice. The Bengals are calling him week to week. On top of that, Ja’Marr Chase is nursing a back injury that has limited his practice work. An MRI came back clean, but he’s being called a game-time decision. Finally, the Bengals may be peeking ahead at Thursday night’s home showdown with the Ravens.
They’ll escape with a win here, but it feels like a 24-20 type of win. I’ll gladly take the six and a hook.
Jaguars +3 vs. 49ers
Most of the world will be backing the 49ers this week. They are riding a three-game losing streak, coming off a bye, with re-enforcements on the way with the expected return of Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams.
But this is another line that doesn’t make a lot of sense; it feels like it should be a pick ‘em to me. The Jags are riding a five-game winning streak, boast a top-five defense, and have a balanced offensive attack led by Travis Etienne on the ground and Trevor Lawrence through the air.
The Niners are still Super Bowl contenders and are primed to get a winning streak going soon. However, Kyle Shanahan is not very profitable as a road favorite. 1:00 pm ET is an early kickoff for a West Coast team, and it will take one more week for that offense to start humming again.
Just missed the cut
The two teams that just missed the cut: The Browns catching six and a half at Baltimore in a divisional rematch. The Ravens handled the Browns early, but this feels like a close, low-scoring affair. I also like the Packers getting three and a half at the Steelers. Pittsburgh is winning with smoke and mirrors, and this one figures to be very close. Only the likely loss of Jaire Alexander to a shoulder injury kept me from including it among my three picks.
Last Week: 2-1