GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 10 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
Miami is off this week, its bye as close as you can get to a halftime break in a 17-game season, with nine games in at an AFC East-leading 6-3 and eight games left to play starting next week vs. the Raiders. Last week’s loss to the Chiefs in Germany left Miami 0-3 this season vs. teams with a winning record, but Fins figure to be favored in each of their next five games before that could be in doubt when they host the Cowboys on Christmas Eve. Miami is 19-14 all-time after byes and on a current three-game post-bye win streak.
GAME OF THE WEEK
49ERS (5-3) at JAGUARS (6-2)
Line: SF by 3.
Cote’s pick: SF, 27-17.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Jacksonville has won five games in a row and San Fran has lost three straight. That disparity alone makes the Jaguars a trendy home ‘dog to many of my prognosticating brethren.But that is precisely why I like the Niners, who are slightly better than Jax on both sides of the ball and overdue to right their listing ship just as the Jags are due to lose. Both teams coming a bye should make for a high-quality and fun interconference matchup. Niners’ three-game skid during which Brock Purdy has thrown five picks has coincided with Deebo Samuel’s absence with a shoulder injury. Now Deebo is back healthy and will be the instant spark Purdy and company have been missing.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
FALCONS (4-5) at CARDINALS (1-8)
Line: ATL by 2.
Cote’s pick: ARI, 26-23.
TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS.
“AAAWWWK!” serenades the Upset Bird. “Arizaaawwwk!” Arizona expects the long-awaited season debut Sunday of QB Kyler Murray, who has not played since injuring his right knee last December. He will be the dual threat who ran for 23 TDs his first four seasons and give Cardbirds’ attack a needed jolt if his knee allows the full duality of his game. Tough as it is to ever bet on a 1-8 team, Atlanta having lost nine of past 10 games on the road makes us feel a bit better about our chances. “Murray will be out to convince Cards brass he is their long-term answer,” adds U-Bird. “Kyler Murraaawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 10:
Thursday night: @Bears (-3 1/2) over Panthers, 20-16: Find that full prediction capsule separately here.
Patriots (2-7, +2) over Colts (4-5) in Germany, 23-20: Upset! Another 9:30 a.m. kickoff for second of two games in Frankfurt, though this matchup pales compared to Chiefs-Dolphins last week. (Maybe casual German fans think they’re getting Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady?) I’ve taken some hits believing Pats can’t be this bad and expecting a turnaround ... and yet here I go again. NE has won nine of past 10 vs. Indy and Beleaguered Bill will find a way again.
@Bengals (5-3, -6 1/2) over Texans (4-4), 30-20: Potential shootout as a hot Joe Burrow — with 10 TD passes in Cincy’s four-game win streak — faces C.J. Stroud, who just threw for a rookie-record 470 yards and five scores. Bengals cannot afford letdown after beating Buffalo last week because Texans defense is sneaky good. Lean Burrow at home presuming banged-up WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins both play.
Saints (5-4, -3) over @Vikings (5-4), 24-17: Minnesota has somehow won four in a row despite missing Justin Jefferson and now Kirk Cousins. Not sustainable. Fill-in QB Joshua Dobbs played hero vs. Atlanta last week but he will find New Orleans’ pass defense much tougher to crack in this duel of NFC playoff hopefuls.
@Steelers (5-3, -3) over Packers (3-5), 21-16: Two stout defenses and low-watt offenses meet as Kenny Pickett and Jordan Love try to prove themselves. Give Gee Bees a medium-size upset shot but make it a strong lean to the home team. Pittsburgh is rested after playing last Thursday, has won five in a row at home and is on a 9-3 run overall despite being an underdog eight times.
Titans (3-5, +1) over @Buccaneers (3-5), 19-17: Upset! Ryan Tannehill at 35 might be done as an NFL starter with his benching in favor of rookie Will Levis, who gives Titans a needed spark. Trends offset, with Tennessee on a seven-game road losing streak but Tampa Bay having lost four in a row and its past three at home. Watch Titans lean heavily on Derrick Henry.
@Ravens (7-2, -6 1/2) over Browns (5-3), 23-20: Our Game of the Week runner-up delivers arguably the NFL’s two best defenses (especially against the pass) and also the two best running games. Ravens clobbered Browns 28-3 in Week 4, though Deshaun Watson did not play, and games like this are why they paid big to sign him. But Baltimore enters on a four-game winning streak and has dominated Cleveland at home, winning 15 of past 17 meetings in Maryland. Saddle that and ride.
Lions (6-2, -3) over @Chargers (4-4), 28-24: Confession. I looked long and hard at Bolts winning as my Upset of the Week but pivoted on the pick. I’m superstitious about doing that and will slap myself if LAC wins this. But Detroit is coming off a bye while Chargers played last Monday, a notable rest/prep edge for Lions, who are on a 6-2 run following byes and have won seven of past nine on road. Also like Jared Goff vs. a Chargers pass defense allowing most air yards in league.
@Cowboys (5-3, -17) over Giants (2-7), 31-6: Season’s biggest point spread says the Boys will bounce back big from last week’s NFC East heavyweight loss to Philly. Injuries to QBs Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor leave Giants’ miserable offense in the hands of undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito, who will start ahead of the living ghost of Matt Barkley. Dallas has won 11 straight home games, and six in a row at home vs. NYG.
@Seahawks (5-3, -6 1/2) over Commanders (4-5), 24-20: Hawks got dominated at Baltimore last week, but I expect a rebound performance at home, where the team and Geno Smith play appreciably better and now face a Comms defense allowing the third-most points in league. Bet line feels fat, though. Washington keeps it close, with seven of nine games decided by one score.
@Raiders (4-5, +1) over Jets (4-4), 17-16: Upset! Well, technically. Sunday nighter is second straight week in prime-time week for Jets after playing last Monday. Two dismal offenses so two TDs may be enough here. NYJ’s aggressive D will try to hector Vegas rookie QB Aidan O’Connell but Raiders seem rejuvenated by the coaching change and will do just enough at home to outscore Zach Wilson.
@Bills (5-4, -7) over Broncos (3-5), 30-17: Denver’s bye last week followed a stunning upset of Kansas City, so that surely will tune Buffalo’s focus in case it was otherwise at risk of taking the Broncos lightly. (Besides, you’re not that good, Bills.) I see a big show by the home team on the Monday night stage. Buffs are a strong home team (16-3 run), while Denver withers away on a 3-15 road skid and loser of seven straight Monday games.
[Note: Betting lines are courtesy Caesars Sportsbook as of late afternoon Thursday].
ALSO OFF THIS WEEK
Chiefs (7-2; next vs. Eagles): Off 21-14 win over Dolphins in Frankfurt, champion K.C. prepares to host Philadelphia a week from Monday in a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl. Taylor Swift has it circled on her calendar in red lipstick.
Eagles (8-1; next at Chiefs): Philly won big division game over Dallas last week, now prepares for trip to Chiefs and a chance to avenge last season’s 38-35 Super Bowl loss.
Rams (3-6; vs. Seahawks): L.A.’s loss in Green Bay was team’s third straight, but they hope to get QB Matthew Stafford back from thumb injury after bye. Rams this week signed veteran Carson Wentz as backup.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
In a quiet ceremony, we buried the first half of our season of picks in a potter’s field, the grave unmarked. We sped from the interment with tires screeching. I make no excuse for last week, or for our season overall thus far. I’d say I’m better than this and have proven it in 33 years of picks in the Herald (since 1991), but the present record is what it is. Been in a slump that I need to shake starting now. Had a pair of dogs-with-points last week in covers by the Vikings and Commanders and a couple of unlucky near-misses but, again, no excuses. Need to get our overall mark up over the .600 Mendoza line and plus-.500 for the season against the spread remains a viable goal. But enough talk. Let’s get on a roll! [Note: Our Thursday night pick was @Bears (-3 1/2) over Panthers, 20-16. Find that full prediction capsule separately here.]
Week 9: 7-7, .500 overall; 5-9, .357 vs. spread.
Season: 80-56, .588 overall; 60-71-5, .460 vs. spread.