Home team in CAPS:
Bills (-1) over TITANS: The latest COVID-19 influences on the beleaguered Titans compelled a shift to this weekday kickoff. Bills QB Josh Allen isn’t the flashiest league operator — yet — but he’s improved markedly, and WR Stefon Diggs serves as a devilish distraction.
Cardinals (-7) over JETS: Sam Darnold’s sore throwing arm compels the home side to reach for Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Flacco as a stopgap. The Jets are coming off winning the turnover war by three against Broncos, at MetLife — though they lost! Note Jets’ COVID issues, which surfaced Friday morning, when Gang Green players were sent home, but seemed to be resolved with negative tests later in the day.
Giants (+8.5) over COWBOYS: Dallas’ so-called defensive effort versus the Browns was an abomination. The Big Blue stop unit has exceeded expectations when away from MetLife. Hearty LT Tyron Smith’s absence for the ’Boys wounds home side.
Panthers (+1.5) over FALCONS: Reluctant to rush to the Falcons, who’ve demonstrated a sustained unwillingness to piece together 60 focused minutes defensively. Matt Rhule has flashed multiple sharp inspirations as Carolina’s head coach, and Teddy Bridgewater rates favorably in our NFL quarterback ratings.
CHIEFS (-12) over Raiders: Easing of price of admission on defending champs prods us their way. Silver and Black have not shown any advantage in K.C. in recent years. The Raiders’ prevailing ground defense hasn’t been up to snuff — a dangerous mode of living, when seeking to topple Pat.Mahomes.
Eagles (+7) over STEELERS: Off an unexpected bye due to the Titans’ COVID considerations, Pittsburgh remains its focused, talented self, and Ben Roethlisberger (the gift which keeps on giving) endures — but the Iggles finally got off the schneid when they exercised their greater hunger in the Sunday night game’s fourth quarter versus San Francisco.
Rams (-7) over WASHINGTON: D.C. has seen enough of Dwayne Haskins at quarterback and has turned to University of Houston product Kyle Allen — previously coached by Ron Rivera at Carolina. Allen threw 17 touchdown passes and 16 picks while mopping up the conclusion of last season for the Panthers, but we’re dubious about his ability to sustain lengthy drives against the Rams’ vaunted defense.
Bengals (+13) over RAVENS: Cincinnati has endured issues with AFC North power sides — but those past performances were laid down before the advent of star rookie QB Joe Burrow. Tie in Burrow with the return of healthy RB Joe Mixon, who ran wild against the Jaguars last week. The Ravens figure to advance, without having to show their best stuff.
Jaguars (+6.5) over TEXANS: Houston coach Bill O’Brien hit the bricks on the heels of the Texans’ home loss to the Vikings, as veteran defense specialist Romeo Crennel assumed the head-coaching role on an interim basis. Any diffusion of Houston’s focus on this task could leave the door open for the Jags, whose QB, Gardner Minshew, owes hosts plenty for twin stuffings in 2019.
Dolphins (+9.5) over 49ERS: Jimmy Garoppolo will be back calling signals for the Niners, but Ryan Fitzpatrick — the experienced QB out of Harvard — is enjoying another impressive campaign for Miami, managing multiple stout efforts despite being dissed in the market. Knowledge and experience often goes a long way in this league. Expect competitive affair.
BROWNS (+1.5) over Colts: Hopefully, Cleveland shakes off the satisfied feeling that comes from thrashing the Cowboys. Philip Rivers may think he has gone to heaven, operating behind Indianapolis’ offensive line, but can envision sustained Cleveland improvement.
Vikings (+7) over SEAHAWKS: Sunday night underdog is no certainty, given imposing Seattle talent display, which hasn’t failed to cover yet this season — but exceptional wideouts (Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen) as Kirk Cousins’ targets will cause issues for the Seahawks D.
PATRIOTS (-10) over Broncos: Awaiting status clarifications of New England QB Cam Newton and ace corner Stephon Gilmore, COVID-19 concerns. For Denver, QB Brett Rypien remains likely starter if Drew Lock out, and RB Phillip Lindsay should serve as a stout factor. The Patriots’ status signals are cloudy, but would be surprised if Newton doesn’t play.
Chargers (+7.5) over SAINTS: Justin Herbert has been entrusted with the starting QB job for the Chargers. The Oregon rookie has earned it, passing the eye test in a significant way. Jared Cook and Michael Thomas — among other high-profilers — lead New Orleans’ relative return to health, though Drew Brees isn’t in peak form. Bolts RB Austin Ekeler’s absence (hamstring) is unfortunate.
Last week: 6-6-2.
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