Your weekly NFL picks brought to you by our staff retired gambler, LaCharles himself
Charles Robinson @CRob5769
Welcome back to your favorite weekly picks column. Let me be the first to admit that I have done an absolutely abominable job of keeping up with the Thursday night slate this year. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the matchups this year have just not been what I would consider riveting. If anyone thought Patriots Falcons was going to be an interesting game, then I can only assume you’d also enjoy watching grass grow or Ken Burns documentaries. Everyone has their own taste, I just can’t say mine is a matchup of Matt Ryan and Mac Jones on Thursday night. I instead spent my Thursday making an early exit from a work happy hour, and watching college basketball that I really didn’t care about either. To each their own. Not going to count this pick, but I would’ve picked the Patriots to win and cover easily had I taken the time to write that column out. Alas, here we are, with an entire Sunday/Monday slate ahead of us.
Before I get to the picks, did the Chiefs sign COVID to a contract prior to week 9? First Aaron Rodgers, now Amari Cooper. Don’t get me wrong, Dallas has plenty of firepower to still bring the funk against the Chiefs, but Cooper’s superb route running and ability to get open and make teams pay was going to be somewhat of a matchup nightmare for the Chiefs. I don’t ever root for injuries or illness, but not having to line up against number 19 from Dallas on Sunday is a welcome reprieve. It also provides quite the narrative polarity – if the Chiefs lose to the Cowboys without Amari Cooper, we’re a pretender; if we beat the Cowboys without Amari Cooper – well, they didn’t have Amari Cooper. Kind of a lose, lose if you ask me.
On to the picks. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I spent last weekend in Las Vegas. While most of my gambling time was spent at the blackjack table and roulette wheel, I did briefly unretire from sports betting for the weekend. In the process, I reminded myself why I retired in the first place. Parlays with overs, under, spreads, moneylines – you name it, I was trying to hit it big. I started with $50 in my betMGM account and ended with $84, so you could say I came out on top, except for the fact that I forgot to cash out so now I am back in Kansas with money from Nevada and no way (that I’ve found) to withdraw or deposit it. So…there you go. Vegas 1, LaCharles 0. I’ll consider the $84 my donation to the search and rescue efforts for the Raiders offense.
In case you were wondering, yes that is a screenshot taken directly from Microsoft Excel. When you’re a semi-professional blogger, you have to rely on the tools from your professional job to get you through. But, as you can see – still above the .500 line so far in these pick sets. 61.54 technically rounds up to 62, so let’s just say I’m 62% in the last two weeks. I’ll take it. The ATS seems consistently subpar, but as I’ve stated I’m allergic to being good at anything gambling related outside of flipping a coin and picking a game, sometimes. The biggest miss from last week both on the blog and in the picks in Vegas was Cleveland over New England I guess the Patriots are for real at this point, even though I still feel like having to rely on Mac Jones to drive you down and win a big game might be a tough ask of the rookie. I think he will be great, but the Patriots are probably a couple years away from being wholly confident in those scenarios. Also swung and missed on the Pittsburgh/Detroit tie. Unacceptable, and I vow that next time there is a tie in the NFL I will also not see it coming. Bucs/Football Team game was just one of those glitches in the matrix that also snuck up on me, but in 2021 the unexpected has come to be expected.
This week brings some maybe not so sexy matchups to the table, but definitely some do or die scenarios for several franchises across the league. Seattle squares off with Arizona in a game they can’t afford to lose with Russell Wilson back (maybe too early), will Arizona make the same potential mistake with a gimpy Kyler Murray? The Vikings are the quintessential “We’re a couple plays away” team this year, a loss to the Packers at home would essentially put them into draft mode with a loaded NFC. Cincy and Las Vegas are both still over .500, but you get the feeling another loss for either could potentially send each of them into a tailspin. The suddenly chippy, defense playing Giants visit the defending champ Bucs who are coming off of a confusing loss to the WFT and a WR1 who may or may not have purchased his vaccination card from the inside of a gentleman’s trench coat in Cabo. All of this, of course, paired with the primetime matchup for the Preston Road Trophy between the Cowboys and the Chiefs, which we will get to tomorrow morning, makes for quite the interesting Sunday NFL slate. One thing is for sure, most of what I am about to say is going to be patently incorrect.
Packers (8-2) @ Vikings (4-5) : Green Bay -1.5; O/U 47.5
Everything in me wants to pick the Vikings here. It just feels like a game that, with their back against the wall, they have to come out firing and take it to their longtime divisional older brother. But what Green Bay has been doing defensively the last two weeks (held a Chiefs offense that put 41 points on Vegas to 13 in week 9, and shut out Russell Wilson and the Seahawks at Lambeau Field last week) just seems like they’re going to come out and put a strangle hold on the Vikings. I think this one is close, but in the end the same thing that has plagued the Vikings all season bites them again – late drives stalling, special teams blunders, and poor clock management – and Green Bay take a close one. Very interesting ending potential here with Mason Crosby and any kicker wearing a Vikings jersey potentially deciding the game late.
Packers 20, Vikings 19 (Vikings +1.5, Under 47.5)
Colts (5-5) @ Bills (6-3) : Buffalo -7.5; O/U 49.5
Are the Bills struggling, and are the Colts actually good? One or both of these questions will be answered on Sunday. Both teams are coming off of close games with the Jags and running the Jets off of the field. The Colts run game and defense has ben on point in the past few weeks, but they suffer from the same playcalling confusion that we see in Kansas City from time to time where they will get a good flow going in the running game, then just not do it again for the remainder of a contest. I think the answer to the questions up front on this are Buffalo is not struggling, but the Colts are still a good team.
Bills 33, Colts 28 (Colts +7.5, Over 49.5)
Saints (5-4) @ Eagles (4-6) : Philadelphia -1.5; O/U 43
Devonta Smith is an animal, and Philly’s rush offense has been rolling (209 yard per game the last 3 weeks). Enter the New Orleans defense that has been essentially the best in the league so far this season. While one side of the ball is for real in NOLA, the quarterback position is eventually going to end up biting the Saints. Without Alvin Kamara, I see the Saints losing their third straight game for the first time since 2016 and the once hapless Eagles find themselves in the thick of things in the NFC.
Eagles 20, Saints 17 (Eagles -1.5; Under 43)
Ravens (6-3) @ Bears (3-6) : Baltimore -4.5; O/U 45
No Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, or Danny Travathan for the Bears defense against Lamar and company coming off of a mini-bye and embarrassing loss at Miami? Give me the Ravens to cover and a big game for Lamar and Hollywood.
Ravens 28, Bears 10 (Ravens -4.5; Under 45)
Football Team (3-6) @ Panthers (5-5) : Carolina -3.5; O/U 43
Cam Newton taking off his helmet and proclaiming he was back last week against Arizona was remarkably Cam Newton. And all eyes will be on him, undoubtedly, in his first home game back as the Panthers starter, but they should be on Christian McAffrey, who looked liked his best self last week in the desert. The Football Team looked impressive against the Bucs last week, but lost both Chase Young and Montez Sweat in the process. Too much attrition from an already subpar defensive unit – Carolina can run it all day on this depleted WFT front.
Panthers 24, WFT 14 (Panthers -3.5; Under 43)
Texans (1-8) @ Titans (8-2) : Tennessee -10; O/U 44.5
Until the Texans show some life, these will be short and sweet. Tennessee could slip after the gauntlet they’ve been through the last 5 weeks, but they won’t.
Titans 32, Texans 3 (Titans -10; Under 44.5)
Lions (0-8-1) @ Browns (5-5) : Cleveland -11.5; O/U 43.5
After last week’s curb stomping at the hands of the Patriots, the Browns need to bounce back in a big way. The Lions have absolutely zero chance of preventing them from doing this with Tim Boyle (the real TB12) starting and Nick Chubb coming back for the Browns.
Browns 29, Lions 9 (Browns -11.5; Under 43.5)
49ers (4-5) @ Jaguars (2-7) : San Francisco -6; O/U 45
This one probably won’t be entertaining. The 49ers are pretty up and down this year, but seem to have at least their most important weapons (Kittle, Samuel, Aiyuk) healthy at the moment. Jacksonville looked game against Indy last week, but the 9ers just play dirty, beat you up football. Ask Von Miller.
49ers 21, Jaguars 13 (49ers -6; Under 45)
Dolphins (3-7) @ Jets (2-7) : Miami -3.5; O/U 44.5
Dolphins are probably better. Jaylon Waddle looks good. That is all.
Dolphins 23, Jets 12 (Dolphins -3.5; Under 44.5)
One over and two underdogs taken in the early games. I can already see this crashing and burning.
Bengals (5-4) @ Raiders (5-4) : Cincinnati -1; O/U 50.5
If this game comes down to who wins the QB duel between Joe Burow and Derek Carr, give me Joe Burrow. This game has “loser leaves town” written all over it, with both teams in the middle of highly compressed division races. Neither can afford a loss, and with the Bengals coming off of their bye and the Raiders appearing to have no real defensive prowess at the moment (Jonathan Abram was getting mossed by running backs last week), look for Cincinnati to use it’s ground game to take Vegas’ pass rush out of the equation much like the Chiefs did last week, and Burrow to connect with JaMarr Chase and Tyler Boyd on multiple TD’s in this one.
Bengals 34, Raiders 28 (Bengals -1; Over 50.5)
Cardinals (8-2) @ Seahawks (3-6) : Arizona -2.5; O/U 48
This is not just a game with huge implications for the remainder of the 2021 season for Seattle, it’s a game that could spell the end of an era for Seattle with the sometimes dysfunctional marriage between Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson. The biggest question here will be is Arizona decides to play Kyler Murray, or rest on their somewhat comfortable division lead and hold Kyler out until after their bye next week. Whatever Koach Kliff decides will have huge implications on the outcome of this game, as it’s unlikely that Arizona can go into the 12th Man and take a must win game from Seattle with a third string quarterback. I’m going to work under the assumption that Seattle has some fight left.
Seahawks 27, Cardinals 23 (Seahawks +2.5; Over 48)
Steelers (5-3-1) @ Chargers (5-4) : LAC -6; O/U 48.5
This feels crazy to say, but Minkah Fitzpatrick being out of this contest means more to the Steelers than Big Ben’s absence. Without their All Pro safety, it’s going to be tough for the Steelers to keep up with the Chargers stable of offensive weapons, no matter how bad they have been struggling. While I’d love to see a full strength Steelers team come in and beat the Chargers to help the Chiefs out, I don’t see it happening on SNF this week. Mason Rudolph is a month too early here, as Justin Herbert prancers all over the Steelers in primetime.
Chargers 27, Steelers 16 (Chargers -6; Under 48.5)
Giants (3-6) @ Buccaneers (6-3) : Tampa Bay -11.5; O/U 49.5
I think everyone here at Chiefs Focus would love to see the Bucs lose for a second week in a row. Sadly, I don’t think this is going to happen. Tom Brady held a one minute press conference earlier this week, there has to have been some ass blistering going on in that locker room this week. Tampa is still prooooobably the best team in the NFC, even though they may not be the best team geographically located on a Bay, but I don’t think they have any problem confusing Danny Dimes with their defense and rolling in this one.
Buccaneers 35, Giants 13 (Bucs -11.5; Under 49.5)
Well, there you have it. Your week 11 picks from the gambling retiree. Again, no confidence in this. But if I come back next week shooting over 62%, we’ll keep this humble schtick going.
One sleep til the Chiefs take on the Cowboys in the biggest game in the NFL this weekend, and the biggest game in the Kingdom so far this season. A deep dive into that tomorrow. Sleep easy, Chiefs Kingdom.