Your weekly NFL picks brought to you by our staff retired gambler, LaCharles himself
Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus Charles Robinson @CRob5769
Thursday night I was sitting on my couch watching the TNF game, still somewhat confident about my outcome. The Vikings were up 9-0, but after the first couple of drives it had become a back and forth affair. I decided to take a little break from football and watch and episode of Yellowstone. Never a bad decision to watch Yellowstone instead of a game between the Vikings and the Steelers. Great episode (for those who watch, I am one season 3 episode 1 as I’m playing catch up and trying to binge watch it all before season 4 ends), and once it was over I turned the game back on. 23-0 Vikings. They had taken the Steelers to the train station. My prediction was shot in the head, and the week of picks start off how I predicted it would incorrect.
But have no fear, Focus Fanatics. I am in a much better place than I was writing last week’s Sunday picks. Last week I was sitting in the Southwest Airlines terminal at LAX at 6 AM, longingly staring at a closed Chick-Fil-A (it was Sunday morning) while eating airport Einsten Brothers instead. If you have not had airport Einstein Brothers or even regular Einstein Brothers, I’ll be the first to tell you – they are not the same thing. The Einstein Brothers are apparently an arrogant bunch, assuming that folks culinary standards dip significantly before traveling as opposed to while at home. You cannot just put a hotel continental breakfast bagel into a toaster and put a microwaved piece of what I assume was bacon with a jegg (jello egg) and pass it as Einstein Brothers breakfast. You are wrong for this, Einsteins, and I’m on to your game.
On a side note, it appears my picks summary table that was published yesterday was a little wonked up. See below for our progress so far this season :
Apologies for the off track start to this via double tirade. My brain isn’t fueled by airport food today, and I’m hoping that means I can bounce back from Thursday’s miss with some stone cold locks for this weekend’s slate. As always, the Chiefs game preview will be released separate from this, but we will be getting this out a little earlier this week to let you all review and develop a nice sense of how wrong I am before the games kick off on Sunday. It’s always good to give you time to realize how stupid I actually am. There are some meaningful division matchups going down this Sunday, from Baltimore/Cleveland, to Dallas/Washington, Chiefs/Raiders, and Rams/Cardinals, coupled with a couple of very intriguing AFC/NFC matchups between the Bills and Bucs and 49ers/Bengals. All in all a very solid lineup this weekend (minus a couple duds, of course), so let’s dive right in.
Ravers (8-4) @ Browns (6-6) : Cleveland -2.5; O/U 43
This just screams ugly game doesn’t it? AFC North matchup in December with two teams that run the football and (at times) play good defense. Coming off of the bye, the biggest thing I’ll be looking for is if the Browns resemble a healthy football team or not. They have been banged up about as bad as anyone all year, and will be without David Njoku due to COVID protocols. But Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are both healthy, and the Browns are 5-1 this year when they run the ball more than 30 times. While they need to lay the foundation with the run on Sunday, look for Baker Mayfield to try to take advantage of the Ravens depleted secondary at least a couple of times to try to create some distance from Baltimore. After an embarrassing loss to the Ravens two weeks ago, Cleveland will come out firing on Sunday with the playoff lives on the line. If they can’t get it done at home against a banged up Ravens team, they are one game closer to the golf course than the playoffs. I think they pull it out.
Browns 24, Ravens 23 (Baltimore +2.5; Over 43)
Cowboys (8-4) @ WFT (6-6) : Dallas -4; O/U 48
The Washington Football Team just makes you play their game. They’re coming off of back to back ugly ass wins against the Raiders and Seahawks (both, oddly enough, with a final score of 17-15) to keep their 4 game winning streak alive. Let’s not forget that they started this winning streak against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in week 10. The Cowboys come in off of a win against the Saints where their offense still look a little….bleh. BUT, let’s not forget it was the first game that all of their parts had been on the field together since week 10 – a 43-3 thrashing of the Atlanta Falcons – and they are sure to get more and more on the same page as those practice and game reps stack up. They also have Demarcus Lawrence back, who needs to show he’s worth the massive extension he signed in 2018 if he wants to be a part of the Cowboys future plans and not end up looking for a new team next offseason. Washington’s run has been admirable, but I think the Cowboys really get it back on track this week and essentially seal the division up, sporting a 3 game lead with 4 left to play.
Cowboys 31, Washington 23 (Dallas -4; Over 48)
Jaguars (2-10) @ Titans (8-4) : Tennessee -8.5; O/U 43.5
I have no clue why, probably just because I’m an idiot like I mentioned up top, but almost everything in me wants to pick the Jags in this game. The Titans have zero identity offensively, but they’re so well coached that you have to think they’ll be coming off of the bye prepared, right? Jacksonville is not a good football team, but neither are the Texans and they took the Titans to the wood shed in week 12. I’m going to pick the Titans sheerly because of Mike Vrabel and his ability to get a team ready, but wouldn’t be surprised if Jacksonville was in this game until the end and potentially won it.
Titans 17, Jags 13 (Jacksonville +8.5; Under 43.5)
Falcons (5-7) @ Panthers (5-7) : Carolina -2.5; O/U 42
Atlanta has been a measuring stick team this year. 7 losses against teams that are .500 or better (at the time they played), and 5 wins against teams that are below .500. Carolina comes into this game 5-7, so you would think Atlanta is going to win, right? It depends on what new offensive coordinator Jeff Nixon dials up for the Panthers. They’ll be trotting out a backfield battery of Cam Newton and Chubba Hubbard with Christian McCaffrey out, so I’d expect their gameplan to look a lot like the Patriots game plan from Monday night minus the 55 MPH winds. Atlanta has been able to do some things well offensively this year, particularly behind a career renaissance from Cordarelle Patterson and a playmaking rookie tight end in Kyle Pitts. I think the Falcons have just enough points in the tank to take down Carolina this week and somehow stay relevant in the NFC playoff picture.
Falcons 19, Panthers 16 (Atlanta +2.5 Under 42)
Saints (5-7) @ Jets (3-9) : New Orleans -5.5; O/U 42.5
This is the ultimate “idk man” game. The Saints are pretty bad right now, but the Jets have literally the worst defense in the NFL. Very surprising with Robert Saleh leading the franchise, but not surprising when you remember it’s the Jets he’s coaching. The Saints just need to feed Alvin Kamara the leather pill all day long and get out of MetLife with a win and some confidence to pick them up from a 5 game losing streak, and I think they will.
Saints 26, Jets 17 (New Orleans -5.5; Over 42.5)
Seahawks (4-8) @ Texans (2-10) : Seattle -8.5; O/U 41
I’m just realizing there are so LOW totals this week, on pretty much every game so far. WFT/Dallas is the high at 48 so far, but they do get higher as we move along. Don’t worry, there will be points in the later matchups. Seattle getting 8.5 points as a 4-8 road team shows you how much faith Vegas has in the Texans. And after last week’s completely heartless showing against the Colts, I know why. Houston is not a good football team, and no one on their sideline or in their front office appear ready to put forth the effort to change that. Until that tide turns, I’ll take teams to roll them all day. Russ, Tyler Lockett, and DK get back in sync this week against a team averaging 13.5 points per game this year.
Seahawks 33, Texans 10 (Seattle -8.5; Over 41)
Giants (4-8) @ Chargers (7-5) : LAC -10; O/U 43
The Chargers have lost every other game for the last 6 weeks. That trend ends this week. The Giants will have either Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm at quarterback. I’ll be shocked if they put up more than 9 points on the Chargers. I would act upset about the Chargers getting this version of the Giants (an actually chippy, competitive team when healthy), but we got to tee off on Jordan Love earlier in the year when Aaron Rodgers was going all Joe Rogan on us, so fair is fair I suppose.
Chargers 27, Giants 9 (LAC -10; Under 43)
Lions (1-10-1) @ Broncos (6-6) : Denver -10; O/U 42
Truth be told I don’t really want to waste much time on this pick. But the more I thought about it, the more hilarity continued to ensue in my brain. Denver looked defeated in their loss to the Chiefs last week – not just on the scoreboard, but in their body language, their mentality, everything. Hearing that you’re the little brother is one thing, but being punished by older brother on national TV for the world to see is a completely different animal. We’ll see how the Broncos bounce back, but I think the Lions cover this spread and might take some of that chippiness we’ve seen from them all year right to the Broncos teeth and win this game. Penei Sewell has been unbelievable at right tackle this year, likely going to be an All Pro, so Bradley Chubb might have a hard time getting home to Jared Goff. This one’s going to be interesting, but the Broncos will likely just pound the rock with Javonte Williams and win a physical game.
Broncos 23, Lions 21 (Detroit +10; Over 42)
Bills (7-5) @ Buccaneers (9-3) : TB -3.5; O/U 53.5
A battle between two teams that I despise, unfortunately one of them has to win. Not going to be biased in writing this, though. If there is one thing that Tom Brady is great at, it’s exposing a team’s weakness. The Bills are strong and deep across the defensive line, but their linebacking corps (outside of Tremaine Edmunds) lack athleticism. They also just lost Tre White for the season, undoubtedly their best corner. While Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer provide excellent backup at safety, I think Tampa just has too many ways to kill you offensively. Last week was Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski. The week before Leonard Fournette scored 5 TD. They’re just ridiculously loaded and the Brady/Gronkowski seems to not age. Buffalo continues to battle their mental toughness and find their identity, and they’re not going to find it on Sunday against a Tampa team that is in a different class than them.
Buccaneers 35, Bills 23 (Tampa -3.5; Over 53.5)
49ers (6-6) @ Bengals (7-5) : San Francisco -1; O/U 49
I don’t truly understand why the 49ers are favored in this one, other than the man they call George Kittle. He’s got 5 TD in the last 4 weeks, and the Bengals have conveniently given up 4 TD to tight ends in that same span. Feels like something the Niners should exploit, no? it’s not whether or not Kittle can find the endzone, it’s if Jimmy G can get him the ball. That remains to be seen, but Joe Burrow has been magnificent in his career coming off of losses. Against the spread, that is. He’s 8-2 in his career ATS off of losses, and with this being a 1 point spread, I’m going to go with the trend here and pick the Bengals. Joe Mixon has been steady, and Ja’Marr Chase could potentially have a big day against the Niners secondary.
Bengals 27, Niners 23 (Cincinnati +1; Over 49)
Bears (4-8) @ Packers (9-3) : Green Bay -12.5; O/U 43
The NFL is diabolical for leaving this in the Sunday Night slot. Just a giant middle finger to the entire city of Chicago. There’s about a 0% chance this game is competitive.
Packers 30, Bears 10 (Green Bay -12.5; Under 43)
Rams (8-4) @ Cardinals (10-2) : Arizona -2; O/U 52
The Rams are frauds until I’m proven wrong. I’ve been right on them the last 3 weeks, and I expect this trend to continue. As I’ve beaten home numerous times in the past 30 days, the Rams have beaten no one of substance outside of the Buccaneers in week 3 when they were crowned week 3 NFC champions. Since then, losses to the Cardinals, Titans, 49ers, and Packers, and 5 wins against teams with a combined 13 wins, 5 teams, 13 wins. That is who the Rams are beating this year, and they’re getting dominated by teams with winning records outside of Tampa. I don’t see this going any differently. Here’s a fun fact for you – Matt Stafford is 10-71 in his career against teams that are over .500. That is not a misprint. Yes, he was on the Lions for years. Yes, the Lions are historically an inept franchise. But he’s 2-5 with the Rams. When do we start pointing the finger at this guy as part of the problem? Off my soapbox, Cardinals drag the Rams in this one.
Cardinals 34, Rams 23 (Arizona -2; Over 52)
We’ll be back soon with a preview of the Chiefs Raiders matchup at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday! 2 more sleeps til football, Chiefs Kingdom.