Our 25th season of Friday NFL picks continued on the upbeat last week at a solid 12-3 overall and a marginally acceptable 8-7 against the spread. We bull’s-eyed our Upset of the Week with Giants winning at Bills (“Aawwk!”) and nailed another outright upset with Bears over Raiders. Also had Jaguars with points over Colts. We will only mention the highlights, because to mention lowlights here typically would take up far too much space. (Note: Thursday-game pick was Colts (off board) over Texans, 24-17.)
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GAME OF THE WEEK
Seahawks (2-2) at Bengals (4-0)
Line: CIN by 3.
Cote’s pick: CIN 24-20.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Cincy is on a 16-2-1 run at home by an average winning margin of 9.8 points, and Seattle tends to turn mortal on the road. These are trends and truisms predating this season. I like Bengals for their first 5-0 breakout since 1988, especially with ’Hawks coming off a short week. ’Gals have awesome balance — 321 yards passing and four rushing touchdowns last week — that will be a handful even for SEA’s D. Andy Dalton is the first QB since John Hadl in 1973 to open a season with four consecutive games with a 115-plus passer rating. Of course, this would be the perfect game for the red-hot redhead to experience gravity, but let’s not overthink this. Cincy is the better team, right now, and protects its Jungle. That will be enough for Sunday.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Saints (1-3) at Eagles (1-3)
Line: PHI by 4 1/2.
Cote’s pick: NO 30-27.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
“AAAWWWK!” sings the Upset Bird. “Drew Breeaawwk! New Orleaawwk!” Welcome to the Disappointment Bowl, with two teams that didn’t see themselves 1-3 at the quarter turn. Philadelphia is beat up with injuries, including a decimated offensive line fronting Sam Bradford. And I’m still a believer in the resourcefulness of Drew Brees, who happens to be 17-11-2 against the spread when an underdog of three-plus. “I love it when you use that betting lingo,” says the U-Bird, dreamily. “Vigorish! Chalk! Chaaawwwk!”
DOG OF THE WEEK
Jaguars (1-3) at Buccaneers (1-3)
Line: TB by 3.
Cote’s pick: TB 21-17.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
On behalf of South Florida and Miami fans, I would like to personally thank the state’s Jaguars and Buccaneers for doing all they can, whenever they can, to make the Dolphins seem less bad by comparison. (That’s been especially challenging this year.) Tampa Bay has lost 11 consecutive home games, its worst such streak since the franchise was newborn in 1976-77. Do your thing, Law of Averages! Do your doggone thing!
Bears (1-3) at Chiefs (1-3)
Line: KC by 9.
Cote’s pick: KC 24-20.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Both O-lines are battered and porous, so whichever protects Jay Cutler or Alex Smith better could spell the win. K-City’s defense has allowed 30-plus points three consecutive games, and Bears could have WR Alshon Jeffery back, but I make it a venue pick. Chitown has dropped five roadies in a row. Crazy point spread, though. Have you not heard Chiefs aren’t very good?
Redskins (2-2) at Falcons (4-0)
Line: ATL by 7.
Cote’s pick: ATL 27-17.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).
Atlanta is one of those hard-to-trust 4-0s, right? But this isn’t the matchup to suggest a loss of faith. Washington has lost 14 of its past 15 road games, including five in a row. And Matt Ryan is 3-0 vs. ’Skins, and 41-15 in his career in the home dome. Ryan, Julio Jones and newborn fantasy darling Devonta Freeman will be a lot for Washers to handle.
Browns (1-3) at Ravens (1-3)
Line: BAL by 6 1/2.
Cote’s pick: BAL 23-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
Cleveland can’t catch a break. First Art Modell spirits the Browns into a carpetbag and sneaks them out of town to Baltimore in the ’90s, and ever since the former Browns-turned-Ravens have been 24-8 vs. Cleveland. So it shall continue. John Harbaugh is 13-1 vs. this foe, and Justin Forsett should run big against a bad Earthtones ground defense. See it close, though.
Rams (2-2) at Packers (4-0)
Line: GB by 8 1/2.
Cote’s pick: GB 30-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
The unpredictable Rams tend to show up vs. quality teams, suggesting a competitive game here. And rookie RB Todd Gurley will be Nick Foles’ best friend if last week’s 146 yards in his first start was indicative of what the Gurley Man can do. Never forget, though: Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field is the surest bet in the NFL, even more so than penalty flags and bad placekicking.
Bills (2-2) at Titans (1-2)
Line: BUF by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: BUF 23-16.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
Buffalo’s defense has underperformed, LeSean McCoy is still out, the Bills lead the world in penalties and Tennessee is coming off a bye and has won five in a row in this series. Yes, the elements of an upset are all around. Don’t see it, though. Think Rex Ryan will find a way to dial up a blitz plan that makes Marcus Mariota feel like (and play like) a rookie.
Cardinals (3-1) at Lions (0-4)
Line: ARI by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: ARI 27-17.
TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox.
The Upset Bird was circling this game. Wanted it. (There is no explaining genius or insanity.) Detroit is King Sport’s last winless team — only time since 2002 realignment there has only been one entering Week 5 — but Lions aren’t that awful. They can’t run, though. And Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald (with a catch in 174 consecutive games) will strafe that Motown pass defense.
Patriots (3-0) at Cowboys (2-2)
Line: NE by 8 1/2.
Cote’s pick: NE 28-24.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
This probably would have been our Game of the Week if the ’Boys had Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for a fighting chance. But they don’t, and Bill Belichick’s Pats are 11-4 after byes, and Brandon Weeden won’t outscore Tom Brady. Drew Brees torched Dallas’ secondary last week. You think Brady won’t? But Cows get Greg Hardy back from suspension to try to bother Brady and should keep it respectably close.
Broncos (4-0) at Raiders (2-2)
Line: DEN by 4 1/2.
Cote’s pick: DEN 27-13.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.
Denver has won seven in a row over Oaks, including last year’s pair by a combined 88-31. Peyton Manning is in decline, and Oakland is better (at least offensively), but that doesn’t mean the series trend ends. Broncos’ really good pass rush will bother Derek Carr, and O-Town’s really bad pass defense will be a youth serum for Manning.
49ers (1-3) at Giants (2-2)
Line: NYG by 7.
Cote’s pick: NYG 19-17.
TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
Not sure if Colin Kaepernick and Frans’ sputtering offense are worthy of prime time, but a shoutout to Eli Manning, whose 171 consecutive starts are most of any current NFL player at any position. Manning is 5-2 in his career vs. SF, which has dropped four in a row on the road. Hunching it’s closer than the betting number, though.
Steelers (2-2) at Chargers (2-2)
Line: SD by 3.
Cote’s pick: PIT 31-26.
TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).
Michael Vick subbing again for Ben Roethlisberger robs this Monday-nighter of some sizzle, but it still presents itself an entertaining matchup. I like Mike Tomlin and Pitt with extra time to prepare after playing last Thursday. San Diego gets TE Antonio Gates back from suspension, but Philip Rivers’ frightfully banged-up offensive line might afford him little time to find him. Also liking Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell vs. a Diego defense allowing 27.5 points per game. Upset!
OFF THIS WEEK
Dolphins (1-3; next at Titans): A head coach fired, a defensive coordinator fired, a quarterback embroiled in controversy, two bad division losses in a row, a 1-3 record — man, seldom has an NFL team needed a bye week more to take a deep breath, get right and move forward. Things like Ryan Tannehill berating practice-squad players don’t happen when you’re winning. Neither do coaching changes. Defensive chief Kevin Coyle was dismissed Thursday. Meanwhile, former coach Joe Philbin had 52 games to prove he wasn’t anything special. Now interim guy Dan Campbell gets 12 to prove he is.
Jets (3-1; next vs. Redskins): With a defense strong enough, Planes could be a playoff-good if RB Chris Ivory is as good as Miami made him seem in London last Sunday.
Panthers (4-0; next at Seahawks): All four Cats victories have come against teams that are presently 1-3. So we’ll see better if Carolina is for real next week at Seattle.
Vikings (2-2; next vs. Chiefs): Minnesota could be a wild-card contender, but Teddy Bridgewater (50 sacks in first 16 starts) must stay healthy and continue to progress.