Our season records overall and against the spread are turning slowly in the right direction, and last week we had a couple of nice outright upset calls with Falcons winning at Philly (Aawwk!) and Raiders prevailing in KC. This is the prognosticating equivalent of a politician seeing an uptick in the national poll numbers and looking good in a couple of key swing states. (Ive been watching waaay too much MSNBC.) Still shaky in my home state, though; Im 3-4 on Dolphins games. Must carry Florida! [Thursday pick: Chargers (-8 1/2) over Chiefs, 24-19].
Line: MIA by 2 1/2.
Cotes pick: IND 21-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
It is November, Week 9 in the NFL, Thanksgiving almost close enough to smell the bird, and the Dolphins are playing an important game with bearing on the AFC playoff race. I call that progress. Heck it might be closer to miraculous considering the team was winless a year ago today. The thing is, Indy is much better, too, driven by rookie Andrew Luck and believing in itself just as much. What odds you could have gotten in July if youd bet that both of these teams would be over .500 and winners of five consecutive games between them entering this one. In fact if Ryan Tannehill plays Sunday hes questionable with a bruised knee he and Luck will be the first rookie QBs since the 1970 merger to meet in the regular season with at least three wins each. Impressive. Now the good news/bad news. The bad news: I hunch a Colts win in a slight upset. The good news: Im only 3-4 picking Miami games this year so Dolfans should be delighted, perhaps. It isnt so much the Tannehill question that has meaning leaning Indy, because backup Matt Moore is capable. It is more that Luck and Reggie Wayne are a mighty combo right now, sacker Dwight Freeney could finally be back, and Nags are 3-1 at home. The betting line doesnt so much flatter Miami as disrespect Indy.
Line: NYG by 3 1/2.
Cotes pick: PIT 27-24.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
AAWWWWK! bellows the Upset Bird. Pittsbaawwk! Its a 2-for-1 special, a rare Game of the Week/Upset of the Week combo platter. Part of the intrigue is Ben Roethlisberger vs. Eli Manning from the draft class of 2004. This marks the first time that multiple Super Bowl-winning QBs from different conferences have met in a regular-season game since Joe Montana and Jim Plunkett in 1985. Pitts 1-3 road mark concerns me, but I still like Big Ben vs. Biggies secondary more than I like Eli against Steelers air-D. I also like this arcane stat: NYG is 1-7 in Game 9s under Tom Coughlin. A very fine trend to have unearthed, notes U-Bird, pausing to projectile-vomit a fluorescent gorge of purloined Halloween candy. I also like the lift Jonathan Dwaawwk, sorry, Dwyer has given the Steelers offense. Jonathaawwk Dwaaawwwk!
Line: DET by 3 1/2.
Cotes pick: DET 28-17.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
When presented a weak crop of lousy matchups, a Jacksonville home game is generally a safe default pick. The Jags played Green Bay surprisingly tough last week but havent stopped being a moribund 1-6 squad without its best player in injured Maurice Jones-Drew. (Bonus fact: Matthew Stafford here will surpass 10,000 career passing yards in his 37th game. Only Kurt Warner, in 36 games, has done it faster.) Detroit isnt much of a road team and so the upset factor here is medium-high, but error-prone Jax finds ways to lose.