GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 7 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
LIONS (2-3) at DOLPHINS (4-2)
Line: DET by 2 1/2.
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Cote’s pick: MIA 27-23.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Did you notice how the Bears were wheezing late in last week’s game like me after five flights of stairs? What, you thought it might be an ankle injury or mighty Dolphins blocking that made Khalil Mack disappear? Welcome to 1 o’clock kickoffs in hot, humid Miami. And now here come the Lions, from the mild temps of their home dome into the Hades-on-Earth that is South Florida — conditions the Dolphins practice in. Miami is 3-0 at home with 46 fourth-quarter points. It’s because opposing defenses are wilting like week-old roses by then. Did I mention Detroit is 0-2 on the road? I rarely factor weather as favoring either team, but it’s something tangible here. It makes Miami too tempting a home ‘dog to pass by. Yes, Ryan Tannehill out again (shoulder) and Brock Osweiler in again concerns me. Don’t delude yourself that Osweiler is as good. Then again Miami’s offense was electric last week with Osweiler — the Wizard Of Os, Mr. Brocktober — and the Lions’ defense isn’t as good as Chicago’s. Motown allows 27.4 points per game and is especially generous against the run, inviting a big day by Frank Gore/Kenyan Drake. (Lions worked out Gore in free agency but said no-thanks, so Frank will be extra-pumped Sunday). Could be looking at a shootout. Some of that is Matthew Stafford. And some of it is the heat/humidity toll on the visitors. Give me the game-changing speed of Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Kenny Stills over a bunch of sweating, sagging defenders Almost forgot: Detroit’s offensive coordinator is named Jim Bob Cooter, if you needed one more reason to like the Fins. Upset!
GAME OF THE WEEK
SAINTS (4-1) at RAVENS (4-2)
Line: BAL by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: BAL 28-24.
TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox.
A couple of other Week 7 matchups fleetingly caught the Game of the Week committee’s eye (Pats-Bears, Bengals-Chiefs), but they can only curtsy before Drew Brees and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense facing the league’s No. 1-rated defense. Brees’ next scoring pass will be his 500th., but getting it at Baltimore is no given. Something else: Brees is 0-4 vs. the Ravens — the only team he has yet to beat in his 18-year career. I rarely bet against a hot Brees, who can put up 30 points by the pregame coin flip, so the Saints getting points anywhere, any time, is a tempting play. But Baltimore has the first defense since the 1970 merger to not allow a second-half TD through the first six games. Sorry, Drew, but for a change yours is not the winning hand. Defense and home field are.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
VIKINGS (3-2-1) at JETS (3-3)
Line: MIN by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: NYJ 23-20.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
“AAAWWWK!” booms the Upset Bird. “Don’t let me down, New Yaaawwwk!” There is logic to the point spread, sure. Kirk Cousins has helped make Adam Thielen the first NFL receiver since 1961 to open a season with six straight 100-yard games. But I’m playing a home-’dog hunch on an upset borne of Vikings mistakes. Cousins has eight turnovers (five on lost fumbles) and opportunistic NYJ is second in league with 15 defensive takeaways. “Help us out here, would ya Kirk?” mentions U-Bird. “I’ll take a fumble L-O-S-T, an end-zone P-I-C-K or better yet B-O-T-H! Aaawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 7
Chargers (4-2, -6 1/2) over Titans (3-3) in London, 24-13: It’s breakfast at Wembley for a 9:30 a.m. start on the East Coast. Cheerios, perhaps? Bolts are really good and have won three in a row. Tenners are trended oppositely with zero TDs in two consecutive games. LAC pass rush, even sans John Bosa, will make it a bloody nightmare for Marcus Mariota.
Patriots (4-2, -3) over @Bears (3-2), 27-23: Yes, both Pats losses were on the road, but they didn’t have Josh Gordon or Julian Edelman for either. And Bill Belichick has made a career of bedeviling young QBs such as Mitch Trubisky; Belichick is 57-18 on the road vs. under-25 arms. Oh, and Bears D just got shredded by Brock Osweiler. Meet Tom Brady.
@Colts (1-5, -7 1/2) over Bills (2-4), 23-17: Buffs yanked QB Derek Anderson, 35, off unemployment line because rookie Josh Allen is hurt and Nathan Peterson is awful. But does Indy have the defense to exploit Anderson’s rust? Likewise isn’t the Bills’ D stout enough to stay close? Like Bison with the points.
@Eagles (3-3, -5) over Panthers (3-2), 27-17: The reigning champions are rested after playing last Thursday, the Birds always play decidedly better defense in the home nest, and Carson Wentz is finding his rhythm. Carolina is 0-2 on the road this season and 1-4 all time in Philly.
@Buccaneers (2-3, -3) over Browns (2-3-1), 41-37: The two teams with the NFL’s longest playoff droughts are angling to deliver a wildly entertaining slopfest-shootout. Jameis Winston and Tampa are the highest-scoring of all bad teams, but with a defense so awful they just fired their D-coordinator. Baker Mayfield will keep ther Earthtones close in duel of overall No. 1 draft picks.
@Jaguars (3-3, -5) over Texans (3-3), 20-17: Shine is off Jax after consecutive lopsided losses by combined 70-21. Jags are on an 8-1 run at home and should get their mojo back, but Houston has won three in a row and will keep it inside the betting line.
Rams (6-0, -10) over @49ers (1-5), 27-20: Just another game for the last-unbeaten Rams, but a season-maker for the Niners. The ‘72 Dolphins can keep the champagne corked, but Frans will make it interesting. Gold Miners showed their fight in Green Bay Monday night, and Rams are 1-4 in past five meetings in SF.
@Redskins (3-2, -1 1/2) over Cowboys (3-3), 23-20: Dallas has won five in a row at Washington and eight of past 10 overall in this rivalry, while Skins are on a 1-7 skid following a victory. Sometimes, though, the trend must end. Cowboys are appreciably worse on the road (0-3, 12-point average), so I hunch homies defending the turf for a pleasant change.
@Chiefs (5-1, -6) over Bengals (4-2), 34-16: Sunday nighter suggests mucho fireworks thanks to two quality offenses and not a decent defense between ‘em. There’s only one great offense here, though. It’s the one at home. Solidifying the pick: Chiefs are on 9-3 run in night games, while ‘Gals have lost three straight and eight of past 10 under lights. Andy Dalton and prime-time are not friends.
@Falcons (2-4, -5) over Giants (1-5), 28-17: The Monday fellas can’t oversell a matchup of two teams that are a combined 3-9, and yet lots of starpower could keep us watching. Dysfunctional Biggies have lost six of past seven on road and have about packed it in, while Dirty Birds are feeling some muscle after maybe saving their season last week. Matt Ryan at home, please.
BYES: Packers, Raiders, Seahawks, Steelers. Packers 3-2-1, next @Rams; Raiders 1-5, next vs. Colts; Seahawks 3-3, next @Lions; Steelers 3-2-1, next vs. Browns). Nobody needs a week off more than Aaron Rodgers. Nobody misses a broadcast booth more than Jon Gruden..
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
I bleed like any man, it turns out. We were a mortal 7-8 against the spread last week, survivable, but our first losing record of the season ATS. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Steelers winning at Cincy, hit another outright upset with Cowboysn beating Jaguars, and had Bills-with-points at Houston. But also had a couple of regrettable misfires (Giants, Titans). Worse, i wrote that my gut feeling was to go with Miami over Chicago, but talked myself out of it. Oy. For the season, though, I’m flying high at .703 straight-up and slaying the Eveil Betting Line at a stout .578. Let’s keep it going! [Note: Thursday night pick was @Cardinals (+1) over Broncos, 19-17. Find the full predix capsule here].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 6 -- 11-4, .733; 7-8, .467
Season -- 64-27-2, .703; 52-38-3, .578