Dolphins coach Adam Gase: “Aaron Rodgers is a little different than Sam Darnold.”
GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 10 PICKS
DOLPHINS THIS WEEK
DOLPHINS (5-4) at PACKERS (3-4-1)
Line: GB by 10
Cote’s pick: GB 37-20
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS
Quotation of the week to Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who said it deadpan-perfect, when asked if his defense could carry the momentum of last week’s domination of the Jets into this Sunday’s game in Green Bay: “Aaron Rodgers is a little different than Sam Darnold.” I might further note that Mr. Rodgers also is a little different than Brock Osweiler. And that temperatures diving into the 20s at Lambeau Field will be a little different for the Fins than the advantageous comfort of home humidity. I’m scrounging around for reasons to believe in a Miami upset, and finding the cupboard bare short of assuming least a couple of Dolphins takeaways. (Perhaps a pick by Reshad Jones, if he’s agreeable to actually be in the game rather than pouting on the sideline?) Reasons to not like the Dolphins on Sunday are easier to spot. Osweiler is gradually becoming Osweiler again; he has not thrown a touchdown pass for almost nine quarters. Miami is 1-3 away and the Gee Bees 3-0-1 at home. All four of Miami’s losses have been by double digits, and the Dolphins are on a 1-8 skid when kicking off as road underdogs. Miami’s best shot might be that Green Bay — after facing the Patriots last week and with roadies to Seattle/Minnesota on deck — might sort of not pay attention to this game. Except the Pack’s scant margin of error in the playoff chase assures Rodgers and the Cheesers will be on high alert here, buoyed by the Frozen Tundra and the ghost of Vince Lombardi in a fedora. Bonus fact: GB’s offensive coordinator is Joe Philbin. How much do you figure he’d love to run up the score?
GAME OF THE WEEK
COWBOYS (3-5) at EAGLES (4-4)
Line: PHI by 7 1/2
Cote’s pick: PHI 20-17
TV: 8:20 p.m., NBC
The real Game of the Week might be the Thursday nighter, with Week 10 otherwise light on the marquee. But here’s a great rivalry (teams have split games the past five seasons) in an NFC East so wide open (read: mediocre) that both of these teams still think they’re in it. This should rise to the Sunday night stage, lifted by mutual desperation, and enhanced because this marks the Eagles debut of recently acquired WR Golden Tate, while Dak Prescott also has a new toy in Amari Cooper. Dallas has been awful (0-4) on the road and has lost nine in a row after playing on Monday night, while Philly is on a 7-1 run in night games and sports a stout record coming off byes. Still, the Cows have won five of past six in Philsville, and the bet-line feels fat.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
GIANTS (1-7) at 49ERS (2-7)
Line: SF by 3
Cote’s pick: NYG 23-21
TV: 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
“AAAWWWK!” bellows the Upset Bird. “It’s a real stinker on Monday Night Footbaawwk!” Good luck pimping this game, MNF. Why the upset? The Giants had a bye week to figure how to downsize Nick Mullens from last week’s unexpected wonderboy to the raw and inexperienced QB he is, although giving NYG coaches that much credit may itself be faulty. Mostly I’m counting on San Fran — which has failed to cover in 10 consecutive games as a home favorite — to find a way to make the Biggies look good. Or at least not awful. “The key for New Yaawwk,” adds U-Bird, “rests with our predicting a rare pick-free game from Eli Manning. Eli Maawwwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 10
@Bears (5-3, -6 1/2) over Lions (3-5), 24-20: Motor City on a 9-1 run in series and Windy City on 10-game losing streak in division games, but sometimes you gotta buck trends. Bears get sackman Khalil Mack and WR Allen Robinson back. Lions stay close, though.
Saints (7-1, -5 1/2) over @Bengals (5-3), 34-23: This game was on my UR (Upset Radar), which Saints facing letdown-risk after huge win over unbeaten Rams last week. But ‘Gals missing top WR A.J. Green, and Drew Brees facing NFL’s worst-ranked pass defense. Bonus: Seeing if Brees is so good he makes newly signed Dez Bryant seem relevant again.
Falcons (4-4, -5) over @Browns (2-6-1), 30-20: This game also was on my Upset Radar, just on pure hunch. Then logic barged in and reminded me a hot Matt Ryan will feast on a bad and injury-wracked Earthtones pass defense. And so he’d better!
Patriots (7-2, -6 1/2) over @Titans (4-4), 27-21: Incentive-intangibles point to a home-team upset. Pats bounced Tennessee from playoffs last season. Titans coach Mike Vrabel played for Belichick, and OC Dean Pees is a Belichick protege’. That stuff aside, Patriots are way better and Marcus Mariota ain’t outscoring Tom Brady.
@Colts (3-5, -3) over Jaguars (3-5), 24-20: Jax gets RB Leonard Fournette back and an upset would not shock, although Jags have had bigger woes than his absence in a four-game losing streak. Indy has scored 30-plus in three straight games for first time since 2010, and healthy Andrew Luck looks better than ever.
@Chiefs (8-1, -16 1/2) over Cardinals (2-6), 31-16: Kansas City hasn’t been this big a favorite since 1992, but Chiefs might be on autopilot and in look-ahead mode with one-loss Rams on deck next Monday night in Mexico City. Can see KC winning by 40 anyway, but am hunching Cardbirds stay within the big number.
@Jets (3-6, -7) over Bills (2-7), 17-6: Jets stink. Bills stink worse. One is a smelly sock. The other is dead fish rotting on a pier. Sam Darnold is out but NYJ has a capable backup in Josh McCown. The Dead Fish do not. Buffs may have worst offense ... ever.
@Buccaneers (3-5, -3) over Redskins (5-3), 28-23: Skins are my personal nemesis; cannot seem to get their games right. So it’s with great trepidation I like Bucs at home here, thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick starting. Washington O-line is a holy mess.
Chargers (6-2, -10) over @Raiders (1-7), 34-13: Philip Rivers has been great, Bolts have won five straight and aren’t far behind Pats/Chiefs in AFC hierarchy. Raiders have lost four in a row and seem to be quitting on Jon “I Miss the TV Booth” Gruden.
@Rams (8-1, -10) over Seahawks (4-4), 27-21: Rams, coming off first loss, are too big a favorite here. LAR only beat Seattle in first meeting by 33-31, and, though renowned for their home field, Seabirds actually have been better (3-2) on road this year. Pick assumes iffy Hawks RB Chris Carson is good to go.
BYES (4): Broncos (3-6, next @Chargers); Ravens (4-5, next vs. Bengals); Texans (6-3, next @Redskins) and Vikings (5-3-1, next @Bears). John Harbaugh says Baltimore, loser of three straight, won;t practice at all on its off week. The word for that? Desperation.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Our stellar season continued with solid 9-4s both ways in Week 9, keeping our overall record above .700 and (even more pleasing to me) hiking our mark against the Evil Betting Line to a really stout .585. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Steelers winning at Baltimore (“Aawwk!”); scored a mini-upset with Texans prevailing in Denver; had Titans-with-points in Dallas Monday; and hit Dolphins’ 7-point winning margin on the nose. Shhh! Don’t wake us. We’re having a dream year! [Note: Thursday night pick was Steelers (-4) over Panthers, 27-24. Visit Thursday Gem for the full predix capsule].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 9 -- 9-4, .692; 9-4, .692
Season -- 93-39-2, .705; 76-54-4, .585