Well take 13-3 straight up every time, and more importantly we enjoyed a nice little bounceback week against the spread at 9-6-1 (Falcons pushed). Cant even beat ourselves up too much over thinking the Niners would win at Seattle, a holy misfire, because we bulls-eyed three other outright upset picks with Dolphins, Bills and Cardinals. Always like being right on Miami, for obvious reasons such as not being shamed in my own backyard. Also had four dogs with the points last week to put a bow on it. [Note: Thursday game pick was Eagles (-3) over Chiefs, 30-24].
Line: MIA by 2
Cotes pick: MIA 24-20
TV: 4:05 p.m., FOX (airing in South Florida)
Atlanta is a better team overall but also is diminished, with RB Steven Jackson (thigh) out and WR Roddy White (high ankle sprain) not himself even if he does play. That levels the field and makes me lean Miami on the tailwind of the franchises 48th home opener all of this presuming Ryan Tannehill will be OK after being limited in practice this week by a sore shoulder. Cornerback Brent Grimes, the seven-year ex-Falcon, versus excellent Julio Jones should be an individual duel worth watching. Also of note, Dolphins guard John Jerry vs. Falcons DT Peria Jerry in a Battle of Bros. (Hey, so it isnt exactly Manning vs. Manning!) Keys will be Miamis two lines, one putting pressure on Matt Ryan and the other keeping it off Tannehill. Dolphins not drafting Ryan No. 1 overall in 2008 has been fairly second-guessed, but that old ghost will largely disappear if Tannehill can best Ryan head-to-head here and lift Miami to its first 3-0 bustout since 2002. With admittedly modest confidence, Im betting it happens.
Line: HOU by 2 1/2
Cotes pick: HOU 27-23.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
The Week 3 plate is light on Grade A GOTW candidates, but were OK offering a reigning Super Bowl champ at home facing a visitor with SB aspirations. Both have much to prove, with Houston the first team since 1970 to be 2-0 winning both on the games final plays Probably not the best for your blood pressure, noted J.J. Watt and Baltimore less than impressive after a 14-6 defeat of Cleveland. Both teams have notable injury concerns, but Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) entered Friday seeming likelier to be full strength than Ravens RB Ray Rice (hip). Thats partly why, despite mad respect for BALs home field, I like Texans here.
Line: CHI by 2 1/2.
Cotes pick: PIT 21-17.
TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
AAAWWWK! bellows the Upset Bird. Dont be too quick to bury Pittsbaawwk! Yes, Ben Roethlisberger needs a running game like popcorn needs better. Yes, a once-vaunted Steelers D has zero takeaways in two games. And yes, your home field does cede some mystique when you lose your opener there to Tennessee. Despite all that, the prime-time Sunday stage and a dose of early desperation will summon a vintage effort and dodge Pitts first 0-3 start since 2000. Sounds like a venue pick, notes a professorially nodding U-Bird. Roethlisbaaawwwk!