With only two teams left undefeated, it's hard to make calls about this NFL season. Fortunately, we have Mike Carlson to help you picking bets from this weekend's match-ups.
"I picked the Cards to win on the road last week and I think this week at home they've got a good shot at the Falcons because the Falcons can't play much D."
We have reached the point of the season where we ought to know where the NFL teams stand in relation to one another. The problem with that, however, is that so many of them are, shall we say, at parity with the others.
After five weeks, fully half the league is either 3-2 (10 teams) or 2-3 (6 teams). Last week, two of the winless teams (Denver, Arizona) picked up their first wins, both on the road, while Atlanta seem determined to join them (and the Giants to try to break out). And then there is Pittsburgh, now starting their third QB of the season, Devlin Hodges, an undrafted rookie from Samford, in the second-tier of college football.
We're down to just two undefeated teams (one of them, New England, beat the Giants last night in their bum-of-the-week tour) though the NFC seems to have an interchangeable group of one-loss contenders: Green Bay, Detroit (who meet this week) Seattle and New Orleans all behind the 4-0 Niners, while the Cowboys, Eagles Bears and Vikings all try to rise out of the mediocre mass.
That was not a long-winded way of excusing my miserable performance last week. My picks of the Bears over Oakland and Chargers over Broncos fell flat; the Bengals managed to take the Cardinals over the 46.5 spread, and even my cautious tip on the Steelers +3.5 against the Ravens (Steeler/Ravens game usually seem to be 3 pointers) was mitigated by my confidence in taking the Steelers outright. Which even with Hodges at QB, they might have pulled off.
This week seems little more sure than last week, and I think I am leaving London alone, because who knows which team decides to come out as flat as the Bears did in the first half at White Hart Lane.
Cardinals defense will give them a shot against Falcons
OK call me crazy, but I picked the Cards to win on the road last week and I think this week at home they've got a good shot at the Falcons because the Falcons can't play much D (in fairness, their one strongest part defensively, their speed, should play better in Phoenix than it did last week in Houston) and I think they are just good enough defensively to give themselves a shot, even in a high scoring game. Speaking of which, the over/under here is 51, with the over 5/6. The Cards got 26 against the Bengals last week, the Falcons 32 in their loss to Houston. I'd take the over.
Talented offenses should make for high-scoring game
This in a way ought to be my best bet, because the Jags with Gardner Minshew at QB have been able to put up points even against good defenses, and the Saints are starting to come alive with Teddy Bridgewater at QB. Bridgewater is playing up to the talent he showed in Minnesota before his gruesome knee injury, and with the weapons he has to play with, like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, seeing a result with more than 21 for each team is not unlikely. I am tempted to again recommend the Chargers -7 at 11/10 v Pittsburgh. They ought to be able to win by more than a touchdown against a team with an undrafted rookie quarterback making his first NFL start, but any team that stops the run and rushes Philip Rivers seems to give the Chargers fits so exercise a grain of salt.
Packers and Lions to make fast start on Monday night
Normally, I'd worry about this, except that the Packers have started fast and put up big quarters before halftime in all but their first game, when they didn't need the big quarter but still started fast. Plus Detroit has the weapons to be able to get a score or two to make this one pay off either way. If you can't wait until Monday Night Football, you might consider Tennessee +2.5 at 11/10 at Denver. I think the Titans are the better team, especially if they can run the ball and stop the Broncos run, both of which they can do. I worry about two things: one is the propensity of visiting teams to fade in Denver in the second half at altitude and the other is that I have picked Tennessee incorrectly straight-up for five consecutive weeks. Beware.