DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
UPSET OF THE WEEK
DOLPHINS (3-0) at PATRIOTS (1-2)
Line: NE by 7
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Cote’s pick: MIA 30-24
TV: 1 p.m., CBS
“AAAWWWK!” screams the Upset Bird. “Miami finally goes to Foxboro and beats the Patriaaawwwk!” I have drawn a deep swig of the Kool-Aid and gulped it down with gusto. Perhaps by mid-afternoon Sunday there will be signs I have drank poison, but, for now, it is pure ambrosia — the nectar of the gods! I believe the Dolphins will be the best team on this field. I believe that the Patriots’ shortcomings (especially on defense) are real. And I believe the combination will see Miami finally beating Tom Brady in Foxboro. Yes, I get why most would think otherwise. I get all the disclaimers that have New England a 7-point favorite. Miami is 0-14 at Gillette in games Brady starts. The Fins have lost nine consecutive away games in this series (the last win over Matt Cassel) by an average f 18.4 points. The Pats haven’t lost three in a row since 2002, and have won their last eight in a row at home. Yes, the Patriots, home and desperate, are a dangerous thing, and the Fins are 3-0 vs. a less-than-ferocious schedule. I get all that! But this I know, too: Ryan Tannehill has been in command and excellent. The Dolphins offense possesses a quick-strike, chunk-play element not seen in years. Adam Gase’s trick plays have been a delight. Ex-Pat Danny Amendola will be a strong fantasy play. And the big-playmaking defense has been a huge surprise. I’m not saying that when you say Miami, you’re talkin’ Super Bowl. But this is a playoff-contending team with all cylinders pumping, a Dolphins team catching Brady at just the right time for a damned change. “Sluuurrrup,” concurs U-Bird, beak in that Kool-Aid. “Ryan Tannehaawwk outplays Tom Braawwk!”
GAME OF THE WEEK
RAVENS (2-1) at STEELERS (1-1-1)
Line: PIT by 3 1/2
Cote’s pick: PIT 31-27
TV: 8:20 p.m., NBC
Rancor split the GOTW panel, with a vocal faction holding out for Saints-Giants as the Week 4 pearl, until finally the committee repaired in harmony to the Quill ‘n Swill Pub, deliberation dissolving to libation. I mean, you cannot go wrong with Ravens-Steelers — a true rivalry in a league with too few — in prime time. Look for a punchbowl of scoring, too. Pittsburgh, incredibly, has won 13 prime-time games in a row, but Baltimore, loser of three straight in this series, might be due in a rivalry that has swung pretty even over the years. Give up Pitt in a venue call. Steelers are on a 24-9 run at home in series and, even with the Le’Veon Bell mess and the other drama, still bring more firepower to the table. Big Ben at Heinz, in thou we trust.
THE REST OF WEEEK 4
@Falcons (1-2, -5) over Bengals (2-1), 28-24: Cincy may be missing Joe Mixon again and A.J. Green is hobbled, but still like ‘Gals-with-points vs. Falcs defense minus both starting safeties and the MLB. See big game from Gio Bernard out of backfield.
@Bears (2-1, -3) over Buccaneers (2-1), 23-13: Strong indication Ryan Fitzpatrick will keep the start in Jameis Winston’s first game back from suspension. Uh oh. Khalil Mack and Chitown D will force turnovers and dominate at The Solider.@Cowboys
@Cowboys (1-2, -3) over Lions (1-2), 24-17: Rarely does a pick rest so heavily on one mismatch, but I really like Zeke Elliott busting out big vs. a Motown run defense being beaten up for 5.4 yards per carry.
@Packers (1-1-1, -10) over Bills (1-2), 24-16: Buffalo had been on an 0-17 skid as a double-digit underdog before stunning the Vikes in Minnesota last week. No such repeat here, though I do see the Buffs covering the line. Don’t trust Aaron Rodgers’ protection.
Eagles (2-1, -4) over @Titans (2-1), 21-20: Upset Alert. Tennessee has become a strong home team (7-1 run) and should have Marcus Mariota back starting at QB. Champs hang on, but like Titans getting four.
Texans (0-3, +1 1/2) over @Colts (1-2), 19-17: Upset! It’s series trend vs. desperation. Colts have dominated Texans in Indy, winning 14 of past 16. But see Houston poised to get off the schneid behind Deshaun Watson outpitching Andrew Luck.
@Jaguars (2-1, -7 1/2) over Jets (1-2), 20-10: Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is iffy, but still like Jags’ defense TCB at home. In case you hadn’t noticed, Planes rookie QB Sam Darnold has been pretty awful ever since that shiny debut evoked Namath 2.0.
@Raiders (0-3, -3) over Browns (1-1-1), 24-20: Baker Mayfield and a fairly stout defense give Brownies a shot each week, but this still is a ripe opponent for Jon Gruden’s winless warriors to get right against. Let’s see if Oakies can hold a damned lead!
Seahawks (1-2, -3) over @Cardinals (0-3), 20-9: The Legion of Boom is dissolved, but Arizona’s ‘s putrid, toothless offense would make any defense look good. Cardbirds are in our no-bet zone until they show any pulse with the ball.
Saints (2-1, -3 1/2) over @Giants (1-2), 41-37: Punters, take the day off. There are dynamic, fantasy-darling playmakers all over the field, from Drew Brees-to-Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley. Give home-’dog Biggies a sizable upset shot, but, bottom line, trust Brees to outpoint Eli.
@Chargers (1-2, -10 1/2) over 49ers (1-2), 27-20: Jimmy Garoppolo lost for the season to a knee injury pops the Niners balloon. The idea of fill-in C.J. Beathard outscoring Philip Rivers here is right next to preposterous. Still, hunch SF getting all those points.
Chiefs (3-0, -4 1/2) over @Broncos (2-1), 34-24: A good one for Monday night closes Week 4. KC has won five straight in series but the division rivalry and the venue are leveling factors here. Nevertheless, Patrick Mahomes and that Chiefs offense have been nearly unstoppable, and Denver’s pass defense isn’t very good. Broncs-with-points not a terrible play, but I’d hesitate.
BYES: Panthers (2-1, next vs. Giants) and Redskins (2-1, next @Saints).
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Another solid effort last week, given some of those mind-beating results. Went 10-6 straight-up and a hard-fought 8-8 against the spread, including another Upset of the Week bull’s-eye with Saints winning in Atlanta, a thumbs-up on Dolphins winning, plus Giants-with-points at Houston. One bizarre aside: Should have been 9-7 ATS last week. Said in my prediction that I “like Tennessee with points” at Jacksonville -- but then my predicted score failed to reflect that! Sloppy, sloppy. [Note: Thursday night’s pick was Rams (-6 1/2) over Vikings, 30-17. Find the full prediction capsule here].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 3 10-6, 625; 8-8, .500
Season 30-16-2, .652; 27-20-1, 574