GAME OF THE WEEK
49ERS (10-1) at RAVENS (9-2)
Line: BAL by 6.
Cote’s pick: BAL 27-17.
Want a preview of a plausible matchup for this season’s Super Bowl in Miami? Here it is. Niners and Crows are a combined 19-3 and each won last week, over quality opponents, by a combined score of 82-14. And how’s this: Baltimore and Lamar Jackson, winners of seven in a row, are so impressive they have made San Fran the first 10-1 team since 2007 to be a betting underdog. (And not a small one at six points).
UPSET OF THE WEEK
JETS (4-7) at BENGALS (0-11)
Line: NYJ by 3½.
Cote’s pick: CIN 23-20.
First, the Jets have won three in a row, and the Jets are not that good. Don’t kid yourself. Second, the Bengals — with the No. 1 draft pick evidently seeming secure — have ended the three-game Ryan Finley trial and restored Andy Dalton as starting QB. Dalton, at 32, is now auditioning to prove he has NFL life left in him. This makes Cincy better.
THE REST OF WEEK 13:
Eagles (5-6, -9) over At Dolphins (2-9), 27-13: Philadelphia, Carson Wentz and his disappearing offense have lost two in a row, scoring 19 total points in the process, to fritter away most playoff hope. Miami would be ripe for an upset — if the Dolphins were a normal team. The trouble is, Wentz could find just the cure he needs in a Fins defense allowing the most points, second-highest passer rating and third-most yards in the league. The Eagles offense is battered with injuries, but one still struggles to imagine Miami’s D rising up triumphantly.
At Colts (6-5, -2½) over Titans (6-5), 23-20: On recent form you would love a Titans upset. Tenners on a 4-1 surge behind Ryan Tannehill, whose efficiency has unlocked Derrick Henry, while Indy is in a 1-3 lull. Jacoby Brissett needs T.Y. Hilton healthy, pronto, and should be close enough to that here. Colts have won three straight in series, and I make it a venue call.
Packers (8-3, -6½) over At Giants (2-9), 31-13: Gee Bees got pounded and embarrassed by San Fran Sunday night, causing a miserable game by Aaron Rodgers. And I see a big rebound effort from Pack. Saquon Barkley still does not look right for Biggies, who could now be missing Golden Tate to a concussion. Feels like an eighth straight loss for NYG.
At Steelers (6-5, +1) over Browns (5-6), 19-17: Upset! Though it’s near-pick ’em, Pittsburgh is officially a home underdog to Cleveland for first time since 1989. But Steelers hope to have Juju Smith-Schuster back, and I’m riding with Pitt’s defense and the home field — where they have beaten Earthtones 15 times in a row. Steelers could get a boost from Devlin (Duck) Hodges replacing Mason Rudolph at QB, and homies also have the payback edge after that Myles Garrett helmet-swinging brawl .
At Panthers (5-6, -10) over Redskins (2-9), 24-9: Dwayne Haskins has a bruised wrist but should play. (No, he did not hurt it taking that selfie during last week’s rare win). His Skins offense will struggle here in any case. Carolina has dropped three in a row, but this opponent visiting is perfectly scripted for a big bounceback game.
At Jaguars (4-7, -1) over Buccaneers (4-7), 30-27: Going north on the over/under of 48 may be the safest play. Jameis Winston should score big on Jax’s no-longer-feared defense, presuming Good Jameis shows up. But Nick Foles should counter and exploit Bucs’ soft pass D.
Rams (6-5, -3) over At Cardinals (3-7-1), 24-16: Rams got Rammed in embarrassing Monday night blowout loss to Baltimore. Healing time. L.A. has won four straight over Cardbirds by combined 130-25.
Chargers (4-7, -3) over At Broncos (3-8), 24-13: Denver was noncommittal between starting Brandon Allen at QB again or going with Drew Lock. It is not a choice of strength. Broncos have won 13 of past 17 in this division series, including 20-13 in October, but I’m hunching LAC off a bye.
At Chiefs (7-4, -10) over Raiders (6-5), 38-17: Jon Gruden’s Oakies got hammered by Jets last week, and this does not present as an opportune setting for a big rebound. Patrick Mahomes, off a bye, has his deep threat Tyreek Hill back healthy and they will terrorize the Raiders’ porous air defense. KC has won four in a row in series. OAK has dropped seven consecutive division roadies and six in a row at Arrowhead.
Patriots (10-1, -3½) over At Texans (7-4), 24-20: The Sunday night booth gets a goodie, and at a fast glance Houston feels like a decent upset pick. Except for this: 1) New England’s track record in prime-time games is much better than the Texans’. And Pats’ astonishingly great pass defense will be tough on Deshaun Watson. The cover corner who should be among defensive Player of the Year front-runner, Stephon Gilmore, will turn DeAndre Hopkins invisible.
At Seahawks (9-2, -3) over Vikings (8-3), 30-23: Monday stage gets a great one — what would be our Game of the Week most any other time. Give Minny a medium upset shot off a bye, although I still don’t fully trust Kirk Cousins against top-tier opponents, and Seattle is the best he’s faced in 2019. All three Vikes losses have been away, and Russell Wilson makes Seattle, in prime time, a mighty tough place to quiet down.