Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s NFL picks of the week

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has 15 touchdown passes in five games to start the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has 15 touchdown passes in five games to start the season. AP

In 26 years of Friday NFL predictions in the Miami Herald this may be the best start we’ve ever had against the spread — and we continued to slay the evil betting line with a fifth consecutive winning record last week. We bull’s-eyed another Upset of the Week pick with Bills over Rams (“Aawwk!”), nailed a second outright upset on Cowboys over Bengals and added a trio of ’dogs-with-points in Falcons, Redskins and Chargers. Also had an exact score on SD-OAK, our third exacto of the season. The one tie vs. spread: TB-CAR was off the board when played it. Let’s keep this big wheel turning! [Note: Thursday night pick was Chargers (+3 1/2) over Broncos, 27-24].

Overall Pct. Vs. spread Pct.

Last week 9-5 .643 8-5-1 .615

Season 48-29 .623 49-27-1 .645

DOLPHINS THIS WEEK

STEELERS (4-1)

AT DOLPHINS (1-4)

Line: PIT by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: PIT 30-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Points to Adam Gase for not mincing words or trying to put a cherry on a pile of [bleep]. “We’re inept right now,” the coach described his Dolphins this week. Inept. “Having or showing no skill; clumsy.” Yep, can’t argue that! Miami is doing very little well right now other than punting, and something close to panic was evident this week as the team fired three offensive linemen on a single day. Oppositely, the Pittsburgh Steelers come in on a big roll for their first visit in six years, with a fairely awesome offense fronted by Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Fins’ defense couldn’t slow the tepid Titans and now they’re supposed to stop this!? Miami’s secondary literally has nobody capable of covering Brown, and Bell could toll for 150-plus against what statistically is now the NFL’s worst run defense. Gloomy enough forecast for ya? But having said all that, I still give Dolphins a small shot at an upset in the Pouncey Bowl (Mike vs. Maurkice), or at least a chance to be competitive. Didn’t embattled Ryan Tannehill, now a boo-magnet, toss three TDs and beat Pitt in his only meeting in 2013? (He did). Desperation can do strange things. So can pride. Let’s see if Miami has any.

GAME OF THE WEEK

FALCONS (4-1)

AT SEAHAWKS (3-1)

Line: SEA by  6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SEA 27-23.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

Meeting of the GOTW committee grew as contentious as a Clinton-Trump debate this week, with a hectoring, vocal minority pushing hard for Cowboys-Packers. But how can you go wrong with uber-hot Matt Ryan and a percolating Falcons offense vs. Seattle’s stout D? Atlanta coach Dan Quinn used to shepherd Seahawks defense, adding a layer of intrigue. Falcons are first team since 1985 Lions with back-to-back wins over previous season’s two Super Bowl teams, yet doubters remain largely because Falcs’ defense still isn’t anything special. I play this one closer than the bet-line, but still like Seattle, coming off a bye, at home.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

EAGLES (3-1)

AT REDSKINS (3-2)

Line: PHI by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: WAS 23-20

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

AAAWWWK!” chimes the Upset Bird. “Washingtaaawwwk!” Our taking Chargers over Broncos on Thursday night was probably a bigger upset than this. Still, like ’Skins as a home ’dog here for a fourth consecutive win in this NFC East duel. Kirk Cousins has averaged 361 yards in past three vs. Philly, with eight TDs and one pick. And Carson Wentz missing left tackle Lane Johnson to a suspension starting Sunday could cause the rookie problems. “Good point on Wentz vis-a-vis the blindside hit,” nods U-Bird. “Sack time for Carson Waawwk!”

DOG OF THE WEEK

JAGUARS (1-3)

AT BEARS (1-4)

Line: CHI by 2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: CHI 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Jacksonville’s defense is fairly solid, Jags come in off a bye for their first trip to The Soldier since 2008, and the home field hasn’t exactly been a panacea to Chitown’s problems. So upset meter is wiggling pretty good here. Still like Bears, though. Brian Hoyer is on a real roll (three consecutive 300s), and rookie RB Jordan Howard has provided a real spark and nice balance.

49ERS (1-4)

AT BILLS (3-2)

Line: BUF by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: BUF 24-13.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Colin Kaepernick, the social activist who dabbles as an NFL quarterback, time permitting, starts for San Fran in place of benched Blaine Gabbert. Not sure if it’ll help much. Niners have lost four in a row while Buffs have won three in a row since changing offensive coordinators. The now-balanced Bills have averaged 178 rushing yards and 5.9 per carry since the change — and SF’s run defense gives up second-most ground yards in league.

BROWNS (0-5)

AT TITANS (2-3)

Line: TEN by 7.

Cote’s pick: TEN 19-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS

Funny feeling about this game. Browns could finally win. Don’t feel it strongly enough to pull the trigger. But definitely feel it. Clevers beat Tenners last year, and Titans have dropped 16 of past 18 at home. Cody Kessler (ribs) or journeyman Josh McCown will pitch for Earthtones. It’s the Browns, though. None of that Cavaliers/Indians mojo making it over to the football side.

RAVENS (3-2)

AT GIANTS (2-3)

Line: NYG by 3.

Cote’s pick: NYG 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS

It’s a rematch of Super Bowl XXXV, but 15 years later these teams meet at the intersection of Disappointment and Depression. Giants have lost three in a row. Ravens have lost two in a row and just fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Make it a venue pick, but with but some hestation. Crows have held Eli Manning to only 330 passing yards, total, in three career meetings.

PANTHERS (1-4)

AT SAINTS (1-3)

Line: CAR by 3.

Cote’s pick: NO 34-31.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

When a does a game between teams with a combined 2-7 record promise entertainment? Right here, baby! Panthers expect Cam Newton back from a concussion to face one of NFL’s worst defenses. But Drew Brees counters with 27 TD passes in past seven home games. Carolina has won four of past five in rivalry, but give me the home ’dogs here, with the Cats having played Monday night and N’Awlins coming in off a bye. Upset!

RAMS (3-2)

AT LIONS (2-3)

Line: DET by  3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DET 23-13.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Onus is on Motown’s offensive line to give Matthew Stafford time in pocket vs. a formidable Rams front seven. But I trust Stafford and Theo Riddick, at home, to outscore Case Keenum’s bad L.A. offense that still hasn’t gotten Todd Gurley untracked. DET hopes to have back top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah, while Rams will be missing No. 1 CB Trumaine Johnson.

BENGALS (2-3)

AT PATRIOTS (4-1)

Line: NE by  8 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NE 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

This seems like it should be a Game of the Week contender, except that Cincinnati has disappointed. Beware the ’Gals, though. Their three losses were to teams that are a combined 12-3. I always trust Tom Brady at home, where he is 112-18 as a starter, and this is his homecoming love-in after last week’s post-suspension debut was on road. But Cincy keeps it close.

CHIEFS (2-2)

AT RAIDERS (4-1)

Line: Even.

Cote’s pick: KC 24-23

TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS.

Here’s one of sport’s better rivalries — better still because Raiders have turned decent after years of woe. Pick ’em games are rare, but this one went that way after Oakland opened favored by 1. Liking KC in what feels like a small upset. Alex Smith has 133.7 rating in three games in Oakland, Jamaal Charles is ready for an increased role, and Andy Reid is a rather surreal 15-2 in his coaching career following bye weeks.

COWBOYS (4-1)

AT PACKERS (3-1)

Line: GB by  4 1/2.

Cote’s pick: GB 27-23.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Game of the Week heft to this matchup. Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have made Dallas an early season darling, while Aaron Rodgers is 49-12 in career at home, including a 4-0 run vs. ’Boys with nine TDs, zero picks. Gee Bees are hurting at running back and now WR Randall Cobb is iffy to play, but I like an excellent Pack run defense to limit Elliott.

COLTS (2-3)

AT TEXANS (3-2)

Line: HOU by 3.

Cote’s pick: HOU 24-20.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

Not a ton of sizzle to this Sunday night division game. What little there is might be the pressure on Brock Osweiler to starting earning that big money and get Houston’s offense going. Counterpart Andrew Luck has won 14 of his past 15 division starts, including five straight over Texans, but I like Houston at home, where it’s 3-0. Luck has been sacked 20 times, and Texans’ D will get to him.

JETS (1-4)

AT CARDINALS (2-3)

Line: ARI by 7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: ARI 28-14.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

What once seemed a matchup worthy of the Monday stage has been plundered by two disappointing teams. But at least the home-nesting Cardbirds get back QB Carson Palmer from a concussion to face a Planes pass-D that hasn’t been very good and now could be missing Darrelle Revis. I don't see Jets’ first trip to the desert since 2004 going well.

OFF THIS WEEK

▪ Buccaneers (2-3; next at 49ers): Mediocre Bucs are coming off surprising Monday night win in Carolina, although disappointing Panthers being sans Cam Newton devalues that a bit.

▪ Vikings (5-0; next at Eagles): Defense gets credit for Vikes being last unbeaten, but Sam Bradford deserves some. Minnesota is first 5-0 team to not be intercepted since 1969 L.A. Rams.

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