Greg Cote

Cardinals’ weapons will to be too much for Dolphins to handle on Sunday

Cardinals all-purpose back David Johnson is just one of many Arizona weapons that the Dolphins will be hard-pressed to defend against on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Cardinals all-purpose back David Johnson is just one of many Arizona weapons that the Dolphins will be hard-pressed to defend against on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. AP

It isn’t usual to have the same record overall and against the spread, but we were 8-7 both ways last week. That isn’t good, although anything above .500 vs. the evil betting line is at least acceptable. We had three ’dogs-with-points (Vikings, Lions and Bucs) to help us get there. Our Upset of the Week was looking really smart with Buffalo up 24-9 in the third quarter, before the Bills choked like miserable, mange-ridden dogs. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Gotta get the big rig honkin’ again and finish strong! [Note: Thursday-game pick was Chiefs (-3) over Raiders, 24-20].

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

8-7

.533

8-7

.533

Season

118-72-2

.621

105-81-6

.565

DOLPHINS THIS WEEK

CARDINALS (5-6-1) AT DOLPHINS (7-5)

Line: ARI by 2.

Cote’s pick: ARI 23-20.

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

Miami opened as  2 1/2-point favorite but line shriveled fast and swung other way with heavy betting on Arizona. And understandably. Underachieving Cardbirds were 13-3 last year and have lots of talent. I mean, how wide was Carson Palmer’s grin as he watched Joe Flacco scissor up the Dolphins’ pass defense last week? ’Zona’s 1-4 road record gives us some pause, but Palmer has weapons like Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and, of course, all-purpose back and fantasy monster David Johnson. Defensively, the Cacti are above average, with playmakers front to back, from Old Cane Calais Campbell rushing the passer to Patrick Peterson thinking INT on every dropback. Expect a high-quality game as both teams play with little margin for error in the playoff chase. Cards need to run the table to have a shot in NFC. Dolphs in better shape in AFC but need a strong finish plus a stumble by Denver. Arizona’s Bruce Arians takes chances (pet phrase: “No risk-it, no biscuit”) so Miami’s D should expect some fourth-down gambles or trickery. See a tough matchup for Fins.

GAME OF THE WEEK

COWBOYS (11-1) AT GIANTS (8-4)

Line: DAL by  3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DAL 27-23.

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

Sunday prime-time stage gets a good one, and I’d not be shocked if many saw NYG as a nice home ’dog here, or at least a tempting one. Biggies have won past two in this NFC East rivalry, including 20-19 in this season’s opener — Dallas’ only loss. Cowboys, first team to clinch playoff spot, sew up division title by winning here, but New York is fighting to protect its postseason position, too. Eli Manning has 104.8 rating in past five home games vs. ’Boys, but Dak Prescott arrives at 123.2 over his past five games overall. As I found out the hard way last week, you don’t unsaddle a horse flying as powerfully smooth as the Cowboys are right now.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

SEAHAWKS (8-3-1) AT PACKERS (6-6)

Line: SEA by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: GB 24-21.

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

AAAWWWK!” carols the Upset Bird. “Green Bay Paawwk! Aaron Raawwk!” Our Game of the Week runner-up. Seattle can clinch division title by winning, if Arizona loses at Miami. Green Bay is more desperate, needing to win out for a shot. Give me Aaron Raawwk, I mean Rodgers late in the season at Lambeau. He’s won 14 consecutive December home starts, with 34 TDs vs. four INTs, and he’ll see more open receivers Sunday with Seattle missing injured super-safety Earl Thomas. “Summoning of all the magic and mystique of Lambeau for this pick,” chants U-Bird. “Including the ghost of Lombardi and John Facenda’s rapture over frozen tundra. Tundraaawwwk!”

DOG OF THE WEEK

JETS (3-9) AT 49ERS (1-11)

Line: SF by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SF 19-17.

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

The teams are a combined 4-20. The 49ers have lost 11 games in a row. The Jets have lost four in a row, including a Monday night effort that should have seen every player benched or arrested. Yes, this mutt matchup is a first-ballot inductee into our Dog Game Hall of Lame. Bryce Petty starts at QB for the Planes. Is that a good thing? Wait. Am I about to pick the Niners to win? OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE!?

STEELERS (7-5) AT BILLS (6-6)

Line: PIT by 2.

Cote’s pick: PIT 27-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Rust Belt duel looks like a good one. Buffs likely need an unlikely 4-0 finish to avoid a 17th consecutive non-playoff season. Pitt even after three consecutive wins stands eighth in line for six AFC playoff spots and can’t afford a loss. So I ask myself: Who do I trust to go get this win? A red-hot Ben Roethlisberger? Or an under-fire Tyrod Taylor and a Bills D that gave up 29 unanswered points to Oakland last week?

BRONCOS (8-4) AT TITANS (6-6)

Line: TEN by 1.

Cote’s pick: TEN 23-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Some picks feel wrong even if they’re right. This might be one. Denver is better. But I’m not sure QB Trevor Siemian (sprained foot) will play, and Paxton Lynch isn’t very good. Tenners are off a bye, Marcus Mariota is as hot lately as any arm in football, and I sense DeMarco Murray could have a big day. Feels like an upset, no matter what the line says, as Titans do Dolphins a favor.

REDSKINS (6-5-1) AT EAGLES (5-7)

Line: WAS by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: WAS 31-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Washington has won four in a row in this rivalry (including 27-20 in October) and gets left tackle Trent Williams back from suspension. Kirk Cousins is 3-1 in career vs. Philly with a fat 134.5 passer rating. Counterpart Carson Wentz has eight interceptions in past five games, and Birds have been outscored 85-42 in three consecutive losses.

CHARGERS (5-7) AT PANTHERS (4-8)

Line: CAR by  1 1/2.

Cote’s pick: CAR 28-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

So Carolina is crapping its way out of the playoffs after going 15-1 last year, then, last week, Cam Newton gets benched for start of game because he failed to wear a tie on the road trip. Dress code violation! Wheels are coming off in Catland, but I’m hunching a big home showing by the Panthers and their mercurial QB. No tie for Cam again this week. Just a win.

BENGALS (4-7-1) AT BROWNS (0-12)

Line: CIN by 5.

Cote’s pick: CIN 24-13.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Oh how I wanted to! Oh how I wished to be the guy to get out front of the first Browns win! But do I see Robert Griffin III shaking off three months’ rust in a hero’s role? Nah. Do I see Andy Dalton having a field day against an Earthtones pass D that has allowed a league-high 28 TD passes? Yup. Do I see Cleveland not becoming the first 0-16 team since Detroit in 2008? Nope.

BEARS (3-9) AT LIONS (8-4)

Line: DET by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: DET 31-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Motown had beaten Chitown six times in a row in this series before Bears won 17-14 on Oct. 2, but Lions are appreciably better now, have won past four games and look like a playoff team. Matthew Stafford has averaged 305 pass-yards his past three meeteings with Chicago, and he’ll have little trouble outscoring Matt Barkley here.

TEXANS (6-6) AT COLTS (6-6)

Line: IND by 6.

Cote’s pick: IND 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Game of the Week heft for the division-lead stakes, but, sorry, can’t give that honorarium to a pair of .500 teams. Houston has won past two over Indy, including OT in Week 6, but other trends smile Colt-ward. Indy is 13-1 all-time at home vs. Texans, and Andrew Luck has won nine consecutive division home games, including 3-0 vs. HOU.

VIKINGS (6-6) AT JAGUARS (2-10)

Line: MIN by 3.

Cote’s pick: MIN 20-10.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Welcome to the Disappointment Bowl! Vikings have fizzled after a 5-0 start, while Jaguars have seen their supposed breakout year utterly broken. Two numbers explain this pick: Minnesota is plus-13 on turnovers and Jax is minus-18. Now watch Vikes’ strong, rested pass defense continue that trend against mistake-prone Blake Bortles.

SAINTS (5-7) AT BUCCANEERS (7-5)

Line: TB by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: TB 30-26

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

First meeting of division mates who’ll play twice in next three weeks. N’Awlins has won eight of past nine vs. Bucs, with Drew Brees averaging 335 yards in past five meetings. Things have changed, though. Tampa has won four in a row — and led by defense, of all things! An improving Jameis Winston and a D that has discovered takeaways make a solid home bet.

FALCONS (7-5) AT RAMS (4-8)

Line: ATL by  5 1/2.

Cote’s pick: ATL 27-16.

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

Atlanta’s defense can be really bad at times, but it might not be capable of being quite bad enough to make L.A.’s offense appear anywhere close to good. Try as I might, I cannot come up with a scenario here in which Matt Ryan (14-3 on TDs/picks over his past six road games) does not outscore Jared Goff.

RAVENS (7-5) AT PATRIOTS (10-2)

Line: NE by 7.

Cote’s pick: NE 24-20.

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

I never like New England to lose at home, and don’t in this potentious Monday nighter. Pats would clinch division by winning if Miam’i loses Sunday. But Baltimore getting seven is begging me to run with it. Tom Brady is a modest 5-3 vs. Joe Flacco head-to-head, with Flacco 16-8 on TDs vs. INTs in those games, and Brady only 10-10. Brady has not yet struggled in any game since returning from suspension in Week 5, but wouldn’t be surprised if he did (at least a bit) here.

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