GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 9 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
JETS (3-5) at DOLPHINS (4-4)
Line: MIA by 3
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Cote’s pick: MIAMI 23-16
TV: 1 p.m., CBS
The Jets won their season opener — big — and Sam Darnold was the mayor of Gotham. The Dolphins started out 3-0 and Ryan Tannehill was back and better than ever. What the hell happened!? Rhetorical question. The NFL happened. Darnold’s rookie learning curve kicked in; he doesn’t get much help and the Planes (led by Dead Man Coaching Todd Bowles) have averaged a meager 13.6 points in their five losses. And Miami continues to wait for Tannehill’s return from a shoulder injury like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot. Godot never showed. Tannehill might, someday, meanwhile we get a fourth straight game of Brock Osweiler. Brockvember? (Who else works a 1950s Samuel Beckett play into an NFL pick, by the way? You’re welcome!). The fact the home team here has a better record yet is only favored by a bare-bones 3 points verifies how little bettors believe in Miami. I get that. At the same time, what better salve for the Fins’ colossal downturn in defensive success than a sincerely bad NYJ offense? Miami beat the Stinkin’ Jets 20-12 in Week 2 and I’d imagine a similar score, and result. Jets dissolve into a puddle on the road and Miami has won of its past seven division home games. So let’s make it a venue call fortified by the belief Miami’s defense cannot possibly be worse than we’ve seen lately. Dolfans, prepare to step inside off of that high ledge because the Jets are about to “L-O-S-E, lose!”
GAME OF THE WEEK
RAMS (8-0) at SAINTS (6-1)
Line: NO by 1
Cote’s pick: NO 34-31
TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox
There are four Week 9 matchups with Game of the Week heft — including Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady in the G.O.A.T. Bowl, of course — but give us the last-unbeaten Rams at Drew Brees’ white-hot Saints in an all-but-guaranteed touchdown festival. The over/under here was a season-high 60 points on Thursday. No NFL line has closed higher since 2004. Take the the day off, punters! This possible NFC Championship Game preview checks all the boxes for high-octane interesting. N’Awlins is on a 10-2 run at home, while LAR counters with an 11-1 streak on the road. I believe the Saints’ O-line will protect Brees and that their run-D will (somewhat) limit Todd Gurley. The one mismatch I see: Jared Goff and all his air toys vs. a susceptible Cajuns pass defense. Still, I’m saddling up Brees at home. (Don’t be alarmed. That popping sound you hear early Sunday evening will just be the 1972 Dolphins uncorking bottles of champagne).
UPSET OF THE WEEK
STEELERS (4-2-1) at RAVENS (4-4)
Line: BAL by 3
Cote’s pick: PIT 24-17
TV: 1 p.m., CBS
“AAAWWWK!” serenades the high-flying Upset Bird. “Ben Roethlisbaaawwwk!” When a renewal of arguably the league’s best rivalry is maybe the week’s fourth-best game, well have yourself a week, NFL! Pittsburgh has won three in a row (and is on an 8-0-1 roll in road games), while Baltimore has lost three of its past four, with fissures in that once-vaunted defense. Timing is better for Steelers, in other words. I also think its’ tough for one team to sweep a season series when both are quality teams, and Ravens won first meeting 26-14 in Week 4. “Pittsbaawwk is on playoff pace and Whathisname’s replacement James Conner is third in league in rushing,” mocks U-Bird. “Le’Veon who!? Le’Veaawwk Baawwk!!”
THE REST OF WEEK 9
Bears (4-3, -10) over @Bills (2-6), 27-3: With Josh Allen out and Derek Anderson concussed, godawful Nathan Peterman is expected to start at QB for the already-struggling Buffs. Fantasy alert? If you are starting Nathan Peterman, it had better be a 145-team league.
Chiefs (7-1, -8 1/2) over @Browns (2-5-1), 27-16: Cleveland fired coach Hue Jackson and OC Todd Haley, which could provide a brief artificial jolt. Earthtones have been OK at home (2-1-1) but can’t hang with KC’s offense and NFL’s first-half MVP Patrick Mahomes.
@Vikings (4-3-1, -4 1/2) over Lions (3-4), 23-17: NFC North is wide open, and Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins should out on a show. Motor City on 6-1 run in division games and have beaten Vikes three of past four, but ‘Sota has won 16 of past 20 at home over Lions. And Detroit hurt itself in trading away top WR Golden Tate.
@Redskins (5-2, -1 1/2) over Falcons (3-4), 23-20: Skins a nemesis for me. I keep not trusting they’re that good. They keep making me pay. Washers win with big D and will make it tough on Matt Ryan. ATL has won five straight in series but this is different. Skins on 6-1 run at home, and BIrds not as good out of home dome.
@Panthers (5-2, -6) over Buccaneers (3-4), 31-23: Carolina has won nine in a row at home and has all pistons firing. Ryan Fitzpatrick in for benched Jameis Winston gives Bucs a better shot, but FitzMagic won’t outscore his own awful defense.
Texans (5-3, +1) over @Broncos (3-5), 24-20: Opposite directions. Houston opened 0-3 and has won five straight; Denver began 0-2 and has since dropped five of six. Give me hot Deshaun Watson over Case (Pick) Keenum, and that was before WR Demaryius Thomas switched unis, traded this week from Broncos to Texans.
@Seahawks (4-3, -1 1/2) over Chargers (5-2), 34-30: Two hot teams and one intriguing matchup, with Bolts coming off a bye but Hawks maintaining one of NFL’s premier home-field edges. Seattle is fully in sync, including a ground game in Chris Carson. Venue tips a coin-flip pick.
@Patriots (6-2, -5 1/2) over Packers (3-3-1), 31-27: It’s the G.O.A.T. Bowl on Sunday night: Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers. It’s being pimped like a Super Bowl and it’s been a Tom-Aaron bromance in the buildup. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth already are hyperventilating. Increasing the anticipation: This incredibly is only the second head-to-head for the two iconic QBs, the other a Pack win in 2014. Now here’s why the game may be a letdown: Patriots are all but impenetrable at home, while Pack have lost five straight on road, with a defense that tends to crumble away from Lambeau. Still, In Aaron We Trust. Not to win. But to beat the spread, at least.
@Cowboys (3-4, -5 1/2) over Titans (3-4), 19-17: Monday prime time gets a low-watt affair compared to Sunday night. Dallas protects the Big Star pretty well at 3-0 at home while Titans are 1-3 away, so this feels like a venue pick first. Titans getting a lot of points, though. Tennessee‘s very underrated defense will keep a low-scoring game tight.
BYES (6): Bengals (5-3, next vs. Saints); Cardinals (2-6, next @Chiefs); Colts (3-5, next vs. Jaguars); Eagles (4-4, next vs. Cowboys); Giants (1-7, next @49ers); and Jaguars (3-5, next @Colts).
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
We busted the shackles of our mini-slump and were flat-out smokin’ in a Week 8 that saw us 12-2 straight-up and (even more satisfying) a wondrous 11-3 against the spread. That included another Upset of the Week bull’s-eye on Seahawks winning at Lions (“Aawwk!”), two other tiny upsets by Cardinals and Saints, and a pair of ‘dogs-with-points in Packers and Bucs. We were also right-on with Dolphins’ Thursday night loss. For the year we’re up over .700 (hallowed ground) overall and better than 57 percent slaying the Evil Betting Line. Can we keep it going? Oh let’s do! [Note: Thursday night pick was Raiders (+3) over 49ers, 23-20. Visit Thursday Gem for the full predix capsule].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 8 — 12-2, .857; 11-3, .786
Season — 84-35-2, .706; 67-50-4, .573