Shameless ego and lack of superstition leave me no choice but to brag. (The chances are not that plentiful, so I do it when I can, you know?) A strong Week 5 kept us on a roll and lifted our overall winning percentage above the magic. 700 mark, while our success rate against the spread rose to just under .600. Highlights: We called Steelers’ outright upset Monday night and had a trio of ‘dogs-with-points in Bears, Browns and Niners. The two ties vs. the spread were one game pushing (Bengals) and another that was off the board. (Note: Thursday-game pick was Falcons (-3) over Saints, 30-24).
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
Dolphins (1-3) at Titans (1-3)
Line: TEN by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: MIA 23-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
The debut of Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell will find him preening as Miami’s most popular Dan since Marino. Or close enough for a team desperate to win. Since 2000, teams that have made an in-season coaching change are only 6-19 in their next game, but I like the Fins and Campbell to buck that trend. The Titans are decent thanks largely to promising rookie QB Marcus Mariota, but we’re still talking about a team that is 3-17 under Ken Whisenhunt. Miami has the added benefit of coming off a bye week, and should get LT Branden Albert back from injury. I would also expect CB Brent Grimes to be ready, though he is called questionable. This game could have been our Dog of the Week, with both teams having lost three in a row, but Miami’s coaching change adds an element of curiosity. The idea is Campbell has fired up the troops and slapped the underachieving out of them. I would be surprised to not see immediate signs of that.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Patriots (4-0) at Colts (3-2)
Line: NE by 7 1/2.
Cote’s pick: NE 34-20.
TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
NFL Week 6 didn’t serve up a clear-cut Game of the Week, but we’re not apologizing for offering unbeaten Patriots at hot (three wins in a row) Colts in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game — the 45-7 Pats rout that tipped off the whole Deflategate mess. I expect Andrew Luck back from injury here to give Indy a fighting chance in this prime-timer. The prospect of a real air show is all around this game, too; you don’t see many 55-point over/unders except on Saturdays. But I also have a tough time seeing the mistake-prone Nags derailing New England. Past have beaten Indy six times in a row by an average margin of 21 points, and look for Tom Brady’s mastery to continue.
UPSET OF THE WEEK Giants (3-2) at Eagles (2-3)
Line: PHI by 4.
Cote’s pick: NYG 31-27.
TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).
“AAAWWWK!” booms the Upset Bird. “New York Giaaawwwk!” Interesting NFC East duel for the Monday stage. Series trends favor Birds, who have won 11 of past 14 meetings including four of past six in Philsville, and are 5-0 vs. Biggies on MNF. But I’m hunching a very hot Eli Manning stays en feugo against a very bad Eagles pass defense. Our pick assumes (and sincerely hopes!) that an iffy Odell Beckham will be good to go. Meantime Chip Kelly, with rumors swirling about Southern Cal and Texas, might want to focus on his NFL team. “Indeed,” nods U-Bird. “Kelly is certainly no Tom Caaawwwklin!”
DOG OF THE WEEK Texans (1-4) at Jaguars (1-4)
Cote’s pick: HOU 21-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
A pair of uncompelling 1-4 teams made quick work for the Canine committee, although the rare pick-’em betting line rightly suggests a teetering game that figures competitive if not interesting. I like Brian Hoyer starting over Ryan Mallett; mistake-tending HOU will win if it limits its turnovers to one. Jaguars have won only two of past seven in this series, and Blake Bortles nursing a sore shoulder won’t help Jax escape that rut.
Redskins (2-3) at Jets (3-1)
Line: NYJ by 6.
Cote’s pick: NYJ 19-16.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Jets are a takeaway-creating defense. Skins are a mistake-making offense. Jets are coming off a bye. Skins have lost 15 of their past 16 road games — and committed 36 turnovers in doing so. Also see Chris Ivory running big vs. a bad Washers run D. Having said all that, I still think the bet line feels a tad fat for what should be a low-scoring game.
Cardinals (4-1) at Steelers (3-2)
Line: ARI by 3.
Cote’s pick: ARI 24-20.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Arizona has scored 190 points with a plus-100 differential — awesome numbers. And yet you gotta love Pittsburgh as a home ‘dog … although not nearly as much with Mike Vick still subbing for Ben Roethlisberger. Vick’s inaccuracy just can’t take full advantage of Antonio Brown. Tough call. An outright upset would not surprise in Cardbirds’ first visit to Pitt since ’03.
Chiefs (1-4) at Vikings (2-2)
Line: MIN by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: MIN 24-13.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
Reeling Chiefs have lost four in a row and now have lost star RB Jamaal Charles for the season, plundering a million fantasy teams and one team from Kansas City. Oppositely, the Vikings are coming off a bye and have won five home games in a row behind an ascending Teddy Bridgewater. I never quite trust Minnesota, but there is no reason for the Purples to lose this one.
Bengals (5-0) at Bills (3-2)
Line: CIN by 3.
Cote’s pick: BUF 24-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
The sprained left knee rendering Bills QB Tyrod Taylor questionable tosses a wrench into this pick as EJ Manuel waits in the wings. I would love Buffs as a home ‘dog if healthy where it matters most, but I like them even gambling that Taylor will play. LeSean McCoy also practiced Thursday. Mostly I just think Andy Dalton and Cincy are ripe for a stumble, and Rex Ryan has the defense to make that happen. Upset!
Bears (2-3) at Lions (0-5)
Line: DET by 3.
Cote’s pick: DET 27-20.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
How about this: Detroit is only the 12th team since the 1978 advent of the 16-game schedule to be 0-5 but favored. Reasons? Lions are NFL’s last winless team but far from the league’s worst, and Motown has beaten Chitown four games in a row. A duel of erratic QBs, Jay Cutler versus Matthew Stafford, underlines the likelihood that team with fewest turnovers will win.
Broncos (5-0) at Browns (2-3)
Line: DEN by 4 1/2.
Cote’s pick: DEN 20-17.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
Peyton Manning has thrown at least one interception in his first five games for first time since 1999, but Denver remains unbeaten because its defense is great — and will cause Josh McCown problems here. Broncos have won 10 in a row in series, but I sort of like Earthtones with the points. Bonus fact: Ex-Cane Duke Johnson has six-plus catches in three consecutive games.
Panthers (4-0) at Seahawks (2-3)
Line: SEA by 6 1/2.
Cote’s pick: SEA 21-17.
TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).
We have an intriguing joust between entertaining dual-threat QBs Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, and their teams are fortified by the expected return from injury of Hawks RB Marshawn Lynch and Cats tackling machine Luke Kuechly. Bear this in mind, though. Newton is 0-4 coming off a bye and 0-4 versus Seattle, and Wilson is 28-2 at home. This could have been (and might yet be) the Game of the Week.
Chargers (2-3) at Packers (5-0)
Line: GB by 10 1/2.
Cote’s pick: GB 34-17.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
Philip Rivers versus Aaron Rodgers augers the possibility there may be three touchdowns scored by the end of the coin flip. Gee Bees have won 11 in a row and 33 of past 35 at Lambeau Field, while San-D is 1-9 all time vs. Cheesers. Pack defense has eight picks and 20 sacks, and Rivers’ sieve-like blocking wall should be worried.
Ravens (1-4) at 49ers (1-4)
Line: BAL by 2 ½.
Cote’s pick: SF 26-23.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.
This is the teams’ first meeting since Ravens beat Niners 34-31 in that lights-out Super Bowl 47 three seasons ago, and oh how the mighty have fallen! Two struggling defenses, and you don’t know which Colin Kaepernick will show. I get why Crows are favored, but I’m hunching Frans to continue BAL’s misery in a venue call.
OFF THIS WEEK
Buccaneers (2-3; next at Redskins): Jameis Winston hasn’t made Bucs good yet, but he has made them less dull. By the way, what were the odds all four Week 6 bye teams would be 2-3?
Cowboys (2-3; next at Giants): QB change! A third loss in a row has convinced Dallas that Matt Cassel will make a better Tony Romo impersonator than Brandon Weeden.
Raiders (2-3; next at Chargers): Oakland under Derek Carr is improving, but ending the franchise’s 13-year playoff drought this season remains an unlikely climb.
Rams (2-3; next vs. Browns): St. Louis thought it had upgraded at QB with Nick Foles replacing Sam Bradford. After last week, that hopeful notion seems dubious.