GREG COTE’S NFL WEEK 6 PICKS
DOLPHINS THE WEEK
REDSKINS (0-5) at DOLPHINS (0-4)
Line: WAS by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: MIA 20-17.
Mathematically there is a 0.3 percent chance of a tie game here. Save for that negligible possibility, somebody is going to win this Dolphins-Redskins Winless Bowl. Somebody is going to be the least-terrible. In this epic battle of Movable Object versus Stoppable Force, one team will outscore the other. Are you sitting? IT WILL BE MIAMI! THE DOLPHINS WILL WIN!! (And, no, the world will not end. It will not mean the death of Tanking For Tua. Just a lil’ respite). Miami’s minus-137 is the worst NFL point differential through four games since 1940. Washington is so bad it fired its coach already. Looks like Case Keenum will return to QB the Skins on Sunday, but that team is a turnover machine no matter who pitches. Fins coming off a bye and riding a five-game home win streak over this foe. That’s enough for me, Dolfans. Champagne or regrets ready, depending on your point of view.
GAME OF THE WEEK
LIONS (2-1-1) at PACKERS (4-1)
Line: GB by 4 1/2.
Cote’s pick: GB 31-20.
The week’s only duel of one-loss teams, in a division matchup, on Monday night, equals Game of the Week. Pack coming off upset win in Dallas can’t afford letdown, but Lambeau won’t let that happen against a rival coming off a bye. Motown has bad track record in prime time (7-21 in past 28), and Gee Bees’ Aaron Twins (Rodgers and Jones) should handle Lions’ so-so D. Rodgers could have back top target Davante Adams, too. Lions have won four in a row in this series, but that ends here.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
49ERS (4-0) at RAMS (3-2)
Line: LAR by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: SF 27-24.
“AAAWWWK!” shrieks the Upset Bird. “San Francisco 49aaawwwk!” NFC West treat finds Rams seeking to shake off consecutive losses and Niners out to prove they’re no fluke. Frans were last 4-0 in 1990, when Joe Montana and Jerry Rice still roamed the earth. LAR will be toughest test yet for 49ers’ fourth-ranked scoring defense (even with Todd Gurley iffy), but I don’t trust Rams’ D. Road dogs are better all-round team right now, and have a chip on their shoulder to let the world know. “Chip on shoulder. Cliche’. Two-dollar fine,” notes U-Bird. “Chip on shouaawwk!”
THE REST OF WEEK 6:
Panthers (3-2, -2) over Buccaneers (2-3), 24-20, in London: Grab a spot of tea and wake up to a 9:30 a.m. kickoff on the U.S. East coast. Tempted by Bucs in upset, but fantasy god Christian McCaffrey’s 866 total yards are most through five games in NFL since Jim Brown. And Carolina’s big-sack D is facing depleted Tampa O-line.
Seahawks (4-1, -1 1/2) over @Browns (2-3), 23-16: Seattle played last Thursday and Cleveland stunk it up Monday night — a huge advantage in rest/prep time for Pete Carroll’s guys. Baker Mayfield (eight picks) has struggled, and, for those into calendar trends, Earthtones have lost 16 of past 17 October games.
@Chiefs (4-1, -4) over Texans (3-2), 37-24: Tasty QB duel, with Deshaun Watson coming off fantastic game and Patrick Mahomes poised to rebound from a couple of subpar (for him) efforts. Mahomes could have Tyreek Hill back for first time since Week 1, which would only underline our confidence in this pick.
@Vikings (-3) over Eagles (3-2), 27-23: Quality matchup got a look from Game of Week committee. Kirk Cousins is coming off big game and should have more chances against beatable Philly pass-D. Make it a venue call for a Vikes squad that has taken care of business in 15 of past 19 at home.
Saints (4-1, +1) over @Jaguars (2-3), 23-20: Upset! Well, sort of, technically. I know this is abhorrent to those swooning in the glow of Gardner Minshew Mania, but give me Teddy Bridgewater-to-Michael Thomas against an aggressive (read: chance-taking) Jaguars secondary.
@Ravens (3-2, -12) over Bengals (0-5), 30-20: Crows will run big on Gals ground-D. Good thing, because Lamar Jackson has seen declining numbers and ton of sacks the past three games. Cincy not good on road but played Seattle and Buffalo tough and will do same in this division rivalry.
@Cardinals (1-3-1, +2 1/2) over Falcons (1-4), 27-24: Upset! Like Dolphins-Redskins, this one is about which team is the least awful Sunday. Cardbirds are 0-5-1 in past six at home. Falcs are 1-7 in last eight at Zona. Something gotta give. Give me home dogs, although I’ll feel much better if iffy David Johnson and Christian Kirk both play.
@Broncos (1-4, -2 1/2) over Titans (2-3), 19-16: Denver just scored exhilirating win at Chargers and hosts rival Chiefs next, so if Titans don’t get overlooked as a sandwich game here, give me Broncos at home. Not that I’m sold on Denver. Rather, I don’t trust Marcus Mariota or that offense.
Cowboys (3-2, -7 1/2) over @Jets (0-4), 31-16: The good news? Sam Darnold is back from mono! The bad news? Losing is contagious, and Darnold isn’t the Jets’ cure. At least not here. Dallas has proven it can handle weak teams and should bounce back big from consecutive losses. Planes can’t outscore Dak ‘n Zeke Show.
@Chargers (2-3, -7) over Steelers (1-4), 20-16: This Sunday nighter looked like marquee matchup. In August. Before Big Ben got hurt and Bolts started disappointing. Pitt fill-in QB Mason Rudolph (concussion) is legit-iffy meaning raw Devlin Hodges is on call for first career start, undrafted out of Samford. Not Stanford. Samford. Oh my. Yet I’m rolling dice on some combination of Juju Smith-Schuster, James Conner and defense keeping this one close.
OFF THIS WEEK
Bears (3-2; next vs. Saints): Bye well-timed for Chitown coming off upset London loss to Oakland, because mending QB Mitchell Trubisky expected back for big N’Awlins test.
Bills (4-1; next vs. Dolphins): On deck for Miami is NFL’s third-best scoring defense, averaging 14-point yield -- ideal pressure relief for young quarterback like Josh Allen.
Colts (3-2; next vs. Texans): Indy is weathering Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement pretty well, thanks. Huge win at Kansas City last week keeps Nags in thick of tight AFC South.
Raiders (3-2; next @Packers): Oaks sail into bye off upset win over Chicago in London. Brother Jay Gruden got fired by Washington this week, but it’s good times for Chucky.
HOW THE DARTS LANDED
Never going to be OK with 8-7 straight up, but a solid 9-6 against the spread applied a bit of salve to the wound last week. Split our Upset of the Week call, narrowly missing it outright but winning ATS on Steelers with the points. Had another pair of dogs-with-points in Bills and Raiders. On season thus far, our overall mark could use a goose but the arrow is pointing north on our work vs. the Evil Betting Line. [Note: Thursday night pick was @Patriots (-16 1/2) over Giants, 38-6. Find that full pick capsule here].
Overall; Vs. spread
Week 5 — 8-7, .533; 9-6, .600
Season — 48-29-1, .623; 41-36-1, .532
Final 2018 — 179-75-2, .705; 145-104-7, .582