Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 13 NFL picks

The Dolphins have lost five of their past six games against the Ravens, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill will finally be able to audible after Zac Taylor has taken over for fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
The Dolphins have lost five of their past six games against the Ravens, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill will finally be able to audible after Zac Taylor has taken over for fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. adiaz@miamiherald.com

This has proved to be a difficult season for us even by unpredictable-NFL standards. We were a so-so 10-6 overall last week but an unacceptable 6-10 against the spread — leaving us in a scramble from here to get back up over .500 ATS for the season. Bull’s-eyed our Upset of the Week call with Broncos handing Patriots their first loss (“Aawwk!”) and hit another outright upset with Chargers winning at Jacksonville, but not enough else fell our way. Chagrined but undeterred, we plow on! (Note: Results below do not include Thursday night game. Pick was Packers (-3) over Lions 27-20).

Cote’s record

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

10-6

.625

6-10

.375

Season

109-67

.619

80-88-8

.477

Final 2014

167-88-1

.655

129-125-2

.508

Dolphins this week

RAVENS (4-7) at DOLPHINS (4-7)

Line: MIA by 4.

Cote’s pick: MIA 23-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

We’re reaching for a positive spin here. Trying to see two cracked glasses as half full. How’s this: It’s a big game in that the winner will get to make believe it still has a prayer to make the playoffs while the loser won’t have even that gasping illusion left. Ravens needed a miracle to beat the Browns last week, which is almost as embarrassing as the way the Dolphins got spanked by the Jets. I might like Baltimore here if Joe Flacco was still the QB, considering Crows have won five of past six vs. Fins. But I cannot see an upset being engineered by Matt (Pick-6) Schaub. By the way, Miami rookie DeVante Parker is to make his first start. Welcome to the season, kid! Beware that special teams could turn a close game. Baltimore is first team since 1983 to block a punt or kick in five straight games. Looking for a bit of offensive spark from Miami, with QBs coach Zac Taylor replacing fired Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator. Ryan Tannehill gets more freedom to audible; also expect a heavier dose of Lamar Miller. The latest coaching change better work. The poor Dolphins have just about run out of people to fire!

Game of the week

SEAHAWKS (6-5) at VIKINGS (8-3)

Line: Even.

Cote’s pick: MIN 19-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Not a lot of great Week 13 matchups for the Game of the Week committee, so give it to a pick-’em game that is, astonishingly, one of only two in which both teams have winning records. The Seahawks are fighting to make the playoffs, the surging Vikings are out to prove a point by erasing any remaining doubters, and both teams are hot. Teddy Bridgewater has won seven of past eight home starts, while ’Hawks have won four of past five to resuscitate their season. Seattle presents a stout run defense for Adrian Peterson, but I’m finally sold on Purples — especially with visitors now missing Jimmy Graham in addition to Marshawn Lynch.

Upset of the week

BRONCOS (9-2) at CHARGERS (3-8)

Line: DEN by 4.

Cote’s pick: SD 27-23.

TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS.

“AAAWWWK!” wails the Upset Bird. “San Diaawwk!” Brock Osweiler — the Wizard of Os — is 2-0 subbing for injured Peyton Manning and gets the premature phenom treatment by appearing on this week’s Sports Illustrated cover. Uh oh. Jinx time. Feeling like Osweiler and Denver are due a letdown after last week’s emotional overtime win over unbeaten New England. San Diego, on the other hand, has nothing to play for but this game, and I think Philip Rivers, having a big season amid the surrounding Bolts malaise, will put on a show. “Put on a shaawwk,” concurs a nodding U-Bird. “Forget the Wizard of Os. Phil’s the Wizard of Aaawwwk!”

Dog of the week

JAGUARS (4-7) at TITANS (2-9)

Line: TEN by 2 ½.

Cote’s pick: TEN 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

I’m not sure even Jacksonville or Nashville care much about this game. Jax has won three of past five meetings, including 19-13 on Nov. 19, and Tennessee unfathomably has lost 11 consecutive home games — but I’m flat-out riding the law of averages with that last trend. Someday Titans fans will leave their home stadium happily. It’s Sunday!

JETS (6-5) at GIANTS (5-6)

Line: NYJ by 2 ½.

Cote’s pick: NYG 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

This is a fairly large game, with both teams jockeying for playoff life. Who owns New York? Trick question. It’s the Yankees, of course. As for who’ll own this game, give me Biggies over Planes in an upset. One reason: I expect a concussion to shelve Jets CB Darrelle Revis, which could mean a huge game for Eli Manning (who’s 2-0 vs. NYJ) and especially for Odell Beckham. I don’t use the “Jr.” after Odell’s name, by the way. I think by now we all know it isn’t his dad playing.

CARDINALS (9-2) at RAMS (4-7)

Line: ARI by 5 ½.

Cote’s pick: ARI 27-16.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Rams weren’t saying if Nick Foles or Case Keenum would start at QB. Like it matters? St. Louis did beat ’Zona 24-22 in early October, but teams have veered in opposite directions since. Cardbirds have won five straight and Rammed have lost four in a row. Cacti will miss injured RB Chris Johnson, but not so much here.

FALCONS (6-5) at BUCCANEERS (5-6)

Line: TB by 1 ½.

Cote’s pick: ATL 27-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Falcons once were 5-0, now they are 6-5 and scrambling to make the playoffs, and Matt Ryan is under fire — especially after five interceptions the past two games. Tampa Bay beat the Falcons 23-20 in OT on Nov. 1, but Ryan is 10-5 all-time vs. Bucs, with a 120 passer rating in past three meetings. Plus Dirty Birds should have Devonta Freeman back. Upset! Sort of.

TEXANS (6-5) at BILLS (5-6)

Line: BUF by 3.

Cote’s pick: BUF 23-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Houston has surged to four straight wins to hop aboard playoff pace with increasingly strong defense, and also has won past three meetings with Bills. Buffalo’s defense, in turn, has disappointed and is injury-wracked. Still, Tyrod Taylor could be Bills’ first 100-rated passer since Jim Kelly in 1990, and Bufftown in December affords a genuine home-field edge.

BENGALS (9-2) at BROWNS (2-9)

Line: CIN by 10.

Cote’s pick: CIN 24-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

How Cleveland lost Monday night, on a blocked field goal returned for a TD as time expired, was just so Browns. Now the Earthtones are down to third-string QB Austin Davis as they face the big-brother Bengals, with Josh McCown injured and Johnny Manziel still sitting in a corner wearing a dunce cap. Like Brownies getting 10 points, though. Huge game for them, but not for ’Gals.

49ERS (3-8) at BEARS (5-6)

Line: CHI by 7.

Cote’s pick: CHI 30-20.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

The problem: Chicago is 1-4 at home this season and has lost 11 of past 14 at The Soldier. The remedy: San Fran is 0-5 on the road by a combined score of 176-71. I don’t trust the Bears. And Niners did show a bit of fight vs. Arizona last week. Still, give me Jay Cutler at home, with extra time to prepare after playing on Thanksgiving, over Blaine Gabbert away.

CHIEFS (6-5) at RAIDERS (5-6)

Line: KC by 3.

Cote’s pick: KC 24-20.

TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS.

Thanks largely to careful Alex Smith the Chiefs haven’t turned the ball over in five straight games (all wins) and Sunday they could become the first team with six cleanies in a row since New England in 2010. I can see Oakland ending that streak, especially if Raiders D can penetrate a banged-up KC O-line, but then still losing.

PANTHERS (11-0) at SAINTS (4-7)

Line: CAR by 7.

Cote’s pick: CAR 28-24.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

The Upset Bird got dizzy from circling this game so much, and I can see it. Carolina only beat N’Awlins by 27-22 in late September, and Drew Brees is a different beast at home — with a 123 rating his past four games by the Bayou and a TD pass in a record 51 consecutive home dates. So, yeah, I absolutely can see Panthers suffering their first loss here. But that doesn’t mean I’d bet on it, or expect it.

EAGLES (4-7) at PATRIOTS (10-1)

Line: NE by 10.

Cote’s pick: NE 34-20.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Sure, the Patriots deal with a bunch of calamity such as a spate of injuries, and now Rob Gronkowski is out, too. Then again, Philly has lost three straight games, its past two by a combined 90-31, has Mark Sanchez at QB, and has USC rumors swirling around coach Chip Kelly. There’s a chance Sam Bradford could be back, but it wouldn’t matter here. Tom Brady does not lose two games in a row. His next TD pass will surpass Dan Marino’s 420 for third all-time, and Brady will be targeting Eagles rookie CB Eric Rowe early and often.

COLTS (6-5) at STEELERS (6-5)

Line: PIT by 7.

Cote’s pick: PIT 31-21.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

Here is our Game of the Week runner-up, important for playoff position and a prime-time worthy affair that figures as an entertaining shootout. Ancient Matt Hasselbeck, 4-0 since replacing injured Andrew Luck, could do damage against a 30th-ranked Pitt pass defense. But Ben Roethlisberger could wreak even more havoc upon an Indy pass D that isn’t much better. Did I mention that the Colts are 2-13 all-time at Pittsburgh?

COWBOYS (3-8) at REDSKINS (5-6)

Line: WAS by 4 ½.

Cote’s pick: WAS 23-20.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

Not a great Monday matchup, but the rivalry has its selling points. Kirk Cousins has won five straight home starts and been terrific in them, yet I don’t quite trust the ’Skins. Dallas has won five of past seven trips to D.C., yet I don’t trust the Tony Romo-less ’Boys. I’ll split the difference. Washers eke it out but don’t cover.

  Comments