Greg Cote

Rams top pick Goff shouldn’t stand in the way of Dolphins extending winning streak

In this April 28, 2016, file photo, California's Jared Goff poses for photos after being selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the first pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL football draft, in Chicago. Your assignment, as No. 1 overall pick in April's draft who has not gotten on the field yet, but starts Sunday for the Rams against the Dolphins, is simple: win.
In this April 28, 2016, file photo, California's Jared Goff poses for photos after being selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the first pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL football draft, in Chicago. Your assignment, as No. 1 overall pick in April's draft who has not gotten on the field yet, but starts Sunday for the Rams against the Dolphins, is simple: win. AP

“Rock bottom” doesn’t describe last week for me. When you go 5-9 outright and sink to 3-11 against the spread, you are downright subterranean. You have fallen into the depths of a pitch-black coal mine, enveloped in a dead silence broken only by the echoing drip of distant water and the sound of your own frantic screams. OK, that might be a bit dramatic. The point is, I was buried last week like Tony Sparano used to bury losing footballs. Onward! I am The Comeback Kid! [Note: Thursday night pick was Panthers ( -3 1/2) over Saints, 34-31].

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

5-9

.357

3-11

.214

Season

88-57-2

.607

79-64-4

.552

DOLPHINS THIS WEEK

DOLPHINS (5-4)

AT RAMS (4-5)

Line: MIA by 1.

Cote’s pick: MIA 19-16.

TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

The first career start of overall No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff, the Rams quarterback out of Cal, gives this otherwise so-so matchup a wiggle of national heft. The Dolphins trying to stretch their winning streak to five games, of course, tops this game’s marquee through the Miami lens. Goff incubated half a season on the bench until finally it dawned on Jeff Fisher and L.A. that their offense was really bad (last in NFL scoring average at 15.4) under Case Keenum and needed a jolt. Doubt they’ll ask Goff to do too much, though. He wasn’t very good in preseason and will have butterflies Sunday the size of pterodactyls. The odds of him struggling and throwing a couple of picks are greater than the odds he’ll be the hero and the headline Sunday. That’s why I’d expect we’ll see a heavy dose of RB Todd Gurley as Rams try to ease the pressure on Goff and exploit an uneven Fins run defense. Miami’s bigger concern should be L.A.’s defense, which is stout. DT Aaron Donald has potential to make it tough on Ryan Tannehill and also threaten Jay Ajayi’s hot streak of 608 yards rushing in past four games. But if the ifs come through — if Miami’s offensive line wins the day and if the run defense is solid — the Dolphins should get that golden fifth consecutive win in what figures as a low-scoring game.

GAME OF THE WEEK

TEXANS (6-3)

VS. RAIDERS (7-2), IN MEXICO CITY

Line: OAK by  5 1/2.

Cote’s pick: OAK 30-17.

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

No clear pick for Week 11, but the Game of the Week committee figured you can’t go wrong with two division leaders with a combined 13-5 record making history in the first “Monday Night Football” game beaming to you from Mexico City. It’s the first NFL regular-season game of any kind in Mexico since 2005. I think Oakland, coming off a bye, will put on a show for the folks filling Estadio Azteca. Brock Osweiler cannot outscore this Derek Carr-led Raiders attack. Big-sacking Khalil Mack could make it a tough night for Osweiler. I’d also note that Oakies (5-0 on road) have traveled a lot better than Houston (1-3) this season. Could be a rout. Apaga las luces, se acabó la fiesta. (Turn out the lights, the party’s over.)

UPSET OF THE WEEK

BILLS (4-5)

AT BENGALS (3-5-1)

Line: CIN by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: BUF 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

AAAWWWK!” croons the Upset Bird. “Sorry, Cincinnaawwk, but it’s all Buffalaaawwwk!” Big game for two disappointing stragglers on the far periphery of AFC wild-card contention. Rex Ryan’s Bison have lost three in a row but should close that spigot here. Bills are coming off a bye, while banged-up Bengals are coming off a short week after losing Monday night. QB Andy Dalton (shoulder) is less than 100 percent for ’Gals, and I see LeSean McCoy fronting a big ground game for Buffs. “Cincy has made the playoffs five years in a row,” notes U-Bird. “Forget about six. Forgaawwk about saaawwwk!”

DOG OF THE WEEK

JAGUARS (2-7)

AT LIONS (5-4)

Line: DET by  6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DET 31-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

The Dog collar this week could have gone to either presumptive rout involving the winless Browns or woeful 49ers, but there is something about this matchup that says, “Don’t watch me.” Both teams throw a ton because they can’t run, but that doesn’t always mean entertaining. Matthew Stafford is hot, while Jax has lost four in a row and kills itself (minus-14) with turnovers. Might be time for Jags coach Gus Bradley to go. Just sayin’.

STEELERS (4-5)

AT BROWNS (0-10)

Line: PIT by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: PIT 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Cleveland, facing the ignominy of 0-16, was last winless this deep into a season 70 years ago. Ben Roethlisberger in his career is 20-2 vs. Browns. That pair of facts alone suggests a rout, right? Hmm. Not so sure. Pitt has lost four in a row and its past three on road. Ultimately, I think Big Ben and Antonio Brown will own a bad Earthtones secondary, but Clevers competing hard and threatening an upset is our bet.

RAVENS (5-4)

AT COWBOYS (8-1)

Line: DAL by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DAL 27-17.

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

Our Game of the Week first runner-up finds Baltimore having won two in a row and arriving in Big D with a big D — a defense strong enough to challenge Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, et al. Dallas is running at full throttle, though, and Ravens injuries on the offensive side could heap a bunch of pressure on Joe Flacco. This is first game Tony Romo has been healthy enough to play. That and Ravens’ D makes it an especially big Sunday test for Prescott.

TITANS (5-5)

AT COLTS (4-5)

Line: IND by 3.

Cote’s pick: IND 28-24.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Interesting juxtaposition. Colts have owned this AFC South series, beating Titans 10 in a row, including 34-26 last month. But Titans have become a different team offensively, achieving great balance and averaging 34 points the past six games. Tenners are ripe to finally beat their nemesis, but I still like Andrew Luck, who pitched for 353 yards in earlier meeting, and Indy coming off a bye and at home.

BUCCANEERS (4-5)

AT CHIEFS (7-2)

Line: KC by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: KC 24-16.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Kansas City has not beaten Tampa Bay since 1993, also it bears emphasizing they have played only four times since, and not since 2012. In any case, that streaks ends. Chiefs are probably the least-talked-about really good team in league, and winners of 10 consecutive home games. They also are plus-14 on turnovers and bring enough pass D (including NFL-leading 13 INTs) to knock Jameis Winston off the nice little roll he’s been on.

BEARS (2-7)

AT GIANTS (6-3)

Line: NYG by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NYG 27-13.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Odell Beckham said he’s making plans to be at the Super Bowl — playing, not watching. Big talk, but why not? It’s a wide-open season. NYG has won four in a row and would have no business losing this one. Biggies are 4-1 at home, where Eli Manning has 900 yards and 10 TDs in his past three games. And Bears on a 1-4 skid overall, 0-5 on the road, and now missing suspended top WR Alshon Jeffery. Only an appearance by Bad Eli (picks) would keep Chitown in this game.

CARDINALS (4-4-1)

AT VIKINGS (5-4)

Line: MIN by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: MIN 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

This game was even, pick-’em, until bet-line jumped late in week. Joe Public must feel Vikes, losers of four in a row, are seriously due a win. Both teams are hurting, Minny on the O-line, ’Zona in the secondary. But two good defenses should steer this result. Vikes are plus-12 on turnrovers and Sam Bradford has 111.3 rating in four home games, so make it a venue pick.

PATRIOTS (7-2)

AT 49ERS (1-8)

Line: NE by 13.

Cote’s pick: NE 34-17.

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

Tom Brady, born in San Mateo, California, grew up a 49ers fan idolizing Joe Montana. Now he finally gets to go back home and thoroughly embarrass his once-favorite team. I mean, the Niners are as bad as their record, and Pats, even missing Rob Gronkowski, won’t lose two in a row after falling to Seattle last week. Sidenote: Chip Kelly said he and Bill Belichick are Facebook buddies who spend lots of time online together. Creepy!

EAGLES (5-4)

AT SEAHAWKS (6-2-1)

Line: SEA by  6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SEA 24-17.

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

Gum-snappin’ Pete Carroll seeks, and should get, his 100th NFL coaching win in this Bird Bowl. Philly is only 1-4 on the road, and this presents a particularly tough combo (pass defense/crowd) for rookie Carson Wentz to overcome. Eagles’ pass D is strong, too, but Russell Wilson is heating up and very good at home. Venue pick.

PACKERS (4-5)

AT REDSKINS (5-3-1)

Line: WAS by 3.

Cote’s pick: GB 28-24.

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

Rematch of last year’s wild-card playoff game (won by Green Bay, 35-18) finds the trends screaming for Washington here. ’Skins are 5-1-1 since their 0-2 start, while collapsing Pack has lost three in a row and four of past five. So I must be crazy, right? I like the road team with the weight of trends against it. Sometimes it’s just a hunch, you know? I like a vintage show from Aaron Rodgers in prime time. This pick also assumes the return of Gee Bees LB Clay Matthews from a hamstring injury, a hugely needed boost.

OFF THIS WEEK

▪ Broncos (7-3; next vs. Chiefs) — Denver, Kansas City and Oakland are combined 21-7 and give AFC West best division fight in NFL. Broncos hosting Chiefs next week has Game of Week feel.

▪ Chargers (4-6; next at Texans) — San Diego is asking too much of Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon to outscore a Bolts defense allowing 27.8 points per game.

▪ Falcons (6-4; next vs. Cardinals) — Atlanta has been nothing great since that 4-1 start, and in last week's loss to Philly the Falcons’ defense got gouged for 208 yard rushing.

▪ Jets (3-7; next vs. Patriots) — Only three teams have a worse point differential than NYJ’s minus-65, and nobody is below Planes’ 68.7 team passer rating.

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