GAME OF THE WEEK
PACKERS (6-1) at CHIEFS (5-2)
Line: GB by 4.
Cote’s pick: GB 24-21.
The Chiefs made it official Saturday that Bettors and his fantasy owners took keen notice that Patrick Mahomes won’t play. But this prime-timer is still the Game of the Week, even as odds swung strongly to Aaron Rodgers in a likely matchup with Matt Moore. Moore playing likely means a heavy workload for LeSean McCoy. Likewise Rodgers could use more on the ground from Aaron Jones, with top target Davante Adams in danger of missing a fourth straight game. Give us Mr. Rodgers’ Gee Bees, but I lean KC-plus-four at home, even sans Mahomes, getting a point too many even sans Mahomes, getting a point too many.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
CHARGERS (2-5) at BEARS (3-3)
Line: CHI by 4.
Cote’s pick: LAC 21-17.
We’re out on a thin limb with this one, but Philip Rivers and the Bolts are better than their record, plagued by bad luck and due some of the good kind in this meeting of disappointing teams who’ve lost five straight between them. Embattled QB Mitch Trubisky has a bad O-line, no running game and a defense beaten down in two straight games, while Chargers have won eight of past 11 on the road.
THE REST OF WEEK 8:
Seahawks (5-2, -6½) over At Falcons (1-6), 34-17: Durable Matt Ryan has not missed a start since 2009 but an ankle injury makes him legit questionable here, and the drop-off to Matt Schaub is sizable. Russell Wilson, after an off game, should bounce back hugely against a miserable Falcons defense.
Eagles (3-4, +2½) over At Bills (5-1), 19-16: Philly has struggled in consecutive losses to Vikings/Cowboys but is still a better team than any Buffalo has beaten. See the more desperate Birds solving Buffs’ big D in a low-scoring scrum.
At Lions (2-3-1, -7) over Giants (2-5), 31-20: The bloom is off Biggies savior Daniel Jones, who has been awful his past three games. Matthew Stafford loses top RB Kerryon Johnson but will carry on nicely without him (sorry) against NYG’s way-subpar air defense.
At Titans (3-4, -2½) over Buccaneers (2-4), 27-24: A thorny call because Titans are nothing special, while Bucs and mistake-prone Jameis Winston are wildly up and down. So ride these trends: TEN with seven straight home wins over Tampa, and Bucs on 4-17 skid on road.
At Colts (4-2, -6) over Broncos (2-5), 23-13: Trading WR Emmanuel Sanders was a sign Denver is packing it in for 2019 as the flames rise around QB Joe Flacco and boss man John Elway. Indy is on 6-1 run at home vs. Broncos and keeps the roll going behind hot Jacoby Brissett.
At Rams (4-3, -13) over Bengals (0-7), 37-13: The NFL exports awfulness to London as the winless Bengals — Miami’s chief rival for the No. 1 draft pick — infect Wembley Stadium. Cincy’s epic-bad run D should be just the cure for Todd Gurley.
At Saints (6-1, -10½) over Cardinals (3-3-1), 27-20: QB Drew Brees could return from thumb injury after five games out, but, with bye on deck, I’m guessing N’Awlins plays it safe. RB Alvin Kamara also is iffy. Cardbirds bring pressure, can score and should stay inside big bet line.
At Jaguars (3-4, -6) over Jets (1-5), 19-17: Mic’d up QB Sam Darnold heard saying, “I’m seeing ghosts” during last week’s debacle — he might never live that down. NYJ has lost eight of past nine on road, and this matchup doesn’t look like a remedy. But like Planes to stay close.
At 49ers (6-0, -5½) over Panthers (4-2), 20-17: San Fran, last 6-0 in 1990, comes in with first defense in 14 years to allow seven or fewer points and 200 or fewer net yards three consecutive games. Can Christian McCaffrey solve that? Like Cats, off a bye, with the points.
At Patriots (7-0, -13) over Browns (2-4), 38-10: Nuevo England has won 19 home games in a row, the last eight by 10-plus. And now Tom Brady gets a new toy in WR Mohamed Sanu. Oh, and Pats’ awesome secondary will further Baker Mayfield’s nightmare of a season.
At Texans (4-3, -6½) over Raiders (3-3), 30-20: Deshaun Watson, meet (and beat) a really bad Raiders pass defense. Oakland has lost 12 of its past 14 roadies, and Houston’s defense just got better with trade for CB Gareon Conley.
At Steelers (2-4, -14½) over Dolphins (0-6), 27-16: The Fins actually have been appreciably better lately. Competitive. But like all bad teams they find ways to lose. Pittsburgh, off a bye week, gets QB Mason Rudolph back healthy and expects RB James Conner, too. I still like Ryan Fitzpatrick and an improving Fins offense getting this many points. If Miami has zero turnovers (a big ask), this thing might even be interesting late.