Starting to settle in and see signs of life after a rough start to our season. Hit a few nice picks last week, including bull’s-eyes on a pair of outright upsets with Rams over Cardinals and Seahawks over Panthers. Also had Dolphins and Jets with the points. Got unlucky on our Upset of the Week call. Thought we were looking pretty good with Skins over Falcons until Robert Griffin III went out and suddenly “Aawwk!” turned to “awww.” Looking for a big week against the spread. Let’s go! [Note: Thursday-game pick was Steelers (-5 1/2) over Titans, 24-16.]
Dolphins this week
RAMS (3-2) at DOLPHINS (2-3)
Line: MIA by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: MIA 19-13.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).
Longtime Dolphins defensive stalwarts and fan favorites Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas will be inducted Sunday onto the team’s stadium Honor Roll, and I have a feeling they’re going to like what they see happening on the field. That would be a defense-oriented game won by their old team against the coach, Jeff Fisher, who turned down the Miami job in favor of St. Louis. The Rams’ best offensive weapon, Steven Jackson, won’t do much against Miami’s tough run defense, while QB Sam Bradford will be missing his top target in injured Danny Amendola. Key for Miami on offense will be the play of the line, because the Rams can do that sack dance. Rookie Ryan Tannehill will need a quick release and a big ground game from Reggie Bush. Bush announced this week that his girlfriend is expecting. So am I. I’m expecting a big afternoon from Reggie, who has legged for 436 yards in his past four home games. Rams are 0-2 on the road and catching a Dolphins team feeling very confident right now. St. Lou hasn’t had a three-game winning streak since 2006. Why start now?
Game of the week
GIANTS (3-2) at 49ERS (4-1)
Line: SF by 5
Cote’s pick: SF 31-27
TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).
Game of the Week committee looked hard at Green Bay-Houston for Week 6, too, but how can you turn down a grudge rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game? (You can’t). Niners lost that one at home on their own mistakes and felt the better team did not advance to the Super Bowl. San Fran wants this one. Badly. Both teams have explosive offenses, but even NYG’s can’t match the balance of a 49ers squad that last week became first team ever with 300 yards passing AND rushing in the same game. Also, only one of these teams has a really good defense, and it ain’t the Biggies. I’d still play this one inside the betting line, though. Eli Manning is awfully good to get a five-point head start.
Upset of the week
PACKERS (2-3) at TEXANS (5-0)
Line: HOU by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: GB 28-27.
TV: 8:20 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
“AAAWWWK!” bleats the Upset Bird, gliding over the neighborhood tipsy on Old Milwaukee and wearing a cheesehead hat. “Green Bay Paaawwwk!” Love this ready-for-prime-time matchup. Two big offenses led by Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster. And two exciting defenses led by Clay Matthews and J.J. Watt. (Houston will miss injured LB Brain Cushing, though). Green Bay’s D will have its hands full; then again, Matt Schaub has not yet faced a pass rush like the Pack’s. I’m banking on Greg Jennings playing and on Gee Bees being fired up to prove to doubters they’re still elite. “And another unbeaten falls beak-first into the dust,” notes U-Bird. “Somebody wake the ’72 Dolphins. Still perfect! Still 17 and aaawwwk!”