A 7-6 mark straight-up is cringe-worthy, but the same record against the spread last week was marginally OK, especially considering the beating we had taken the previous couple of weeks. We bull’s-eyed another Upset of the Week pick with Colts over Broncos (“Aawwk!”) and also had Niners with points over Falcons but, unfortunately, that about concludes the highlight portion of our program. Onward and upward as the second half of the season kicks off! (Note: Thursday-game pick was Jets (minus-3) over Bills, 24-20.)
Dolphins this week
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DOLPHINS (3-5) at EAGLES (4-4)
Line: PHI by 6 1/2.
Cote’s pick: PHI 27-17.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
Miami has lost five consecutive road games as underdogs, and I’m having a tough time imagining a happy flight back from the team’s first trip to Philly since 2007. The Dolphins defense I have watched the past two games — the one clobbered by the Patriots and then absolutely gouged by the Bills — won’t find this opponent much easier. The Birds ground game has found its stride with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, while QB Sam Bradford seems to have found his comfort zone running Chip Kelly’s offense. Offensively, the Fins are averaging a paltry 14.8 points this year in the six games apart from those magical two against the Titans and Texans. I just can’t trust Ryan Tannehill to score sufficiently, on the road, against a Phils defense that is fourth in the NFL in interceptions and sixth in opponent passer rating. It might take a Jarvis Landry touchdown return or a defensive TD to keep Miami in this one. But this is the defense that last Sunday became the first team — ever — to allow an opponent two 100-yard rushers and a 150-yard receiver in the same game. That’s the defense I don’t trust to win in the City of Brotherly Shove.
Game of the week
PATRIOTS (8-0) at GIANTS (5-4)
Line: NE by 7.
Cote’s pick: NE 31-27.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
Week 10 found rancorous debate among the Game of the Week committee, with much argument for Cardinals-Seahawks, but an unbeaten team in danger of not staying that way tipped it for Patriots-Giants. NYG comes closest to having the Pats’ number, with Tom Coughlin 5-1 all-time vs. Bill Belichick — including 2-0 in Super Bowls, of course. New England obviously is the better team this year, though, and I doubt a Biggies D with a league-low nine sacks can bother Tom Brady much. Having said that, combining these teams’ recent history with the home field, I like Bigs with the points. Don’t see an upset, but do see a game worthy of our marquee.
Upset of the week
PANTHERS (8-0) at TITANS (2-6)
Line: CAR by 5.
Cote’s pick: TEN 23-20.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
“AAAWWWK!” booms the Upset Bird. “People have been Baker Acted for less insanity than this pick indicates. Baker Aaawwk!” It’s true. I might be crazy. Carolina is one of three unbeaten teams. Tennessee has lost nine consecutive home games. Heck, the Titans made the Dolphins look like champions, remember? See, but the law of averages is in play here, too. Panthers are due a loss, Titans are due a home win, and Tennessee has an all-time 57 percent cover rate as home ’dogs. Don Shula said this week he wouldn’t mind the Panthers having a Perfect Season because son Mike is their offensive coordinator. Sorry, Don. “Sorry, Daawwk,” nods U-Bird. “Shulaawwk!”
Dog of the week
JAGUARS (2-6) at RAVENS (2-6)
Line: BAL by 5 1/2.
Cote’s pick: BAL 28-16.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
No one game stood out as the worst on this week’s menu, but you can’t go wrong with a pair of 2-6 teams. Jax gives games away, thanks to things like Blake Bortles’ nine turnovers in the past three games. That could be a remedy for a Ravens defense that’s gone five consecutive games without a takeaway. Crows really aren’t that terrible, plus they’re coming off a bye and have won eight of past 10 in series. Did I mention Jags have lost 13 in a row on the road?
LIONS (1-7) at PACKERS (6-2)
Line: GB by 11 1/2.
Cote’s pick: GB 37-13.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
How’s this for ownership: Green Bay has won 24 consecutive home games over Detroit. Yes, twenty-four! It’s 6-0 for Aaron Rodgers over Lions at Lambeau. And Motown is usually better than this, considering they would need to improve just to be awful. Gee Bees have lost past two games and hope James Starks-for-Eddie Lacy at RB helps. Merely playing Detroit should be enough.
COWBOYS (2-6) at BUCCANEERS (3-5)
Line: TB by 1.
Cote’s pick: DAL 24-17.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Dallas is 0-6 sans Tony Romo — who should be back next week vs. Miami — and now here comes a new nadir for Jerry Jones’ Cowboys: Being underdogs (albeit slight ones) to Tampa Bay. Oh, the indignity! Bucs have a chance when Jameis Winston protects the ball, which he has done lately. But I like Dallas here. ’Boys have been close in five of six L’s. They’re due a bounce, a break.
BEARS (3-5) at RAMS (4-4)
Line: STL by 7.
Cote’s pick: STL 23-18.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
It’s the Brother Bowl, with CHI tackle Kyle Long facing STL defensive end Chris Long. Watch Chris leave smiling. Rams’ strong defense and pass rush could bedevil error-prone Jay Cutler. Like Pandas to keep it closer than the betting line, though. Quick aside: Recently signed Wes Welker could make his debut for Rams, preparatory to his next concussion.
SAINTS (4-5) at REDSKINS (3-5)
Line: NO by 1.
Cote’s pick: NO 34-23.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
Mildly surprised ’Skins aren’t a slight favorite, having won five of past eight in series and three home games in a row this season. They aren’t because of this: Drew Brees vs. Kirk Cousins. Who you like to score more? Brees has 892 yards and 10 TDs his past two games, and Washers’ defense and pass rush won’t pressure him a lot.
BROWNS (2-7) at STEELERS (5-4)
Line: PIT by 5.
Cote’s pick: PIT 27-10.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
There were doubts whether Josh McCown would be ready for CLE or if we’d get Johnny Manziel. And PIT wasn’t ruling out Ben Roethlisberger, although you can expect Landry Jones. Not sure it matters much. Steelers have won 11 in a row at home in series. Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams went crazy last week and might again vs. Browns’ depleted secondary and awful run-D.
VIKINGS (6-2) at RAIDERS (4-4)
Line: OAK by 3.
Cote’s pick: OAK 24-20.
TV: 4:05 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).
The Upset Bird is circling. Minnesota might be NFL’s mostly quietly regarded playoff-headed team, and Vikes can move it on an Oakies D gouged by Steelers last week. But! Raiders are turning around doubters, too. Derek Carr has rolled three consecutive 300s, first Raiders QB to do it since Rich Gannon in 2001. And Minny is on a 4-16 run as road ’dogs. Anxious pick.
CHIEFS (3-5) at BRONCOS (7-1)
Line: DEN by 6.
Cote’s pick: DEN 24-16.
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.
This could have been our Game of the Week merely for its historic weight, with Peyton Manning on Sunday sure to surpass Brett Favre’s career passing yards record. Beyond that I give the Chiefs a medium upset shot, coming off a bye, and with DEN missing two key defenders in sack leader DeMarcus Ware (back) and cornerback Aqib Talib (suspension). But Peyton is 14-1 in his career vs. K.C., and this is his day.
CARDINALS (6-2) at SEAHAWKS (4-4)
Line: SEA by 3.
Cote’s pick: SEA 27-23.
TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
Big, prime-time worthy game, with two powers coming off byes, Cards trying to make a statement, Hawks trying to stay in playoff chase. Also our toughest pick of the week. Carson Palmer’s Cacti are legit, and a ’Zona win would not surprise. But Seattle is home and needs this more. Russell Wilson had 122.4 rating in two wins over ARI last year and will do it again.
TEXANS (3-5) at BENGALS (8-0)
Line: CIN by 10.
Cote’s pick: CIN 34-16.
TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).
Monday-nighter might be an anticlimactic end to the NFL week if it’s the mismatch it seems and the blowout it could be. I give Houston a chance to keep it close; Andy Dalton’s career passer rating is a lousy 66.5 in four games vs. Texans. But I give Cincy a much bigger chance, at home, to flex the muscles that have it unbeaten.
Off this week
Chargers (2-7; next vs. Chiefs): Philip Rivers is among nine QBs over a 100 rating yet Bolts have lost five in a row. Why? A defense allowing second-most points in league.
Colts (4-5; next at Falcons): Andrew Luck is out next month or so with lacerated kidney, but Indy should be OK because AFC South is awful and because they have solid backup in Matt Hasselbeck, who hass been in league since playbooks were stone tablets.
Falcons (6-3; next vs. Colts): Well-timed bye so coach Dan Quinn can try to figure out why a once 5-0 team has lost two games in a row and three of its past four.
49ers (3-6; next at Seahawks): As Seattle and then Arizona loom on schedule, Niners better realize even a shaken Colin Kaepernick is better option than Blaine Gabbert.