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Here’s my six-pack of picks guaranteed to make either you or your bookie money.
Panthers at Vikings (-4)
Good news first for the Panthers: quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury, is expected to play Sunday after P.J. Walker filled in for last week’s win over the Lions. The bad news: running back Christian McCaffrey will not play because of his shoulder injury. Bridgewater could hurt a vulnerable Minnesota defense throwing to DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, the only receiving tandem in the league with 800 or more receiving yards each this season. The Vikings will counter with one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL, led by Dalvin Cook, who has more than 1,000 rushing yards.
The pick: Vikings by 5-6
Cardinals (-2.5) at Patriots
The Patriots are coming off a loss last week to Houston in which they could not handle mobile Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Next up is Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, who might be more dangerous and dynamic than Watson. The Patriots want to run the ball and the Cardinals’ run defense, which has been hurt with injuries, is ranked 23rd in the league and 26th in yards per attempt (4.64 yards). Even without the injured Rex Burkhead, New England will pound the ball. Look too, for Cam Newton to run more than he did last week. The 4-6 Patriots are at home and they’re desperate, knowing one more loss likely knocks them out of playoff contention. The more desperate team often wins in the NFL.
The pick: Patriots by 3-4
Dolphins (-7) at Jets
It looks like Sam Darnold has a good chance to return from his shoulder injury for the Jets at quarterback, which would mean his first game all season playing with his top three receivers — Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims. The 0-10 Jets have been competitive in their past two games and figure to keep this one closer than the last meeting between the two — a 24-0 Dolphins rout. Miami is coming off a bad loss last week in Denver in which rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was benched.
The pick: Dolphins by 1-2
Raiders (-3) at Falcons
The Raiders are coming off a tough, close emotional home loss to the Chiefs and may be distracted Sunday. There are a lot of factors playing against the Falcons, too, though. They’re 1-4 at home and have a struggling secondary, which could be a problem with the red-hot Derek Carr at quarterback for the Raiders. The last time these teams met, in 2016, Carr and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan combined for 695 passing yards and six touchdowns. Don’t sleep on Ryan.
The pick: Falcons by 1-2
Giants (-6) at Bengals
Brandon Allen was on Cincinnati’s practice squad two weeks ago and now will start at quarterback for the Bengals against a Giants team that has found its footing under hew head coach Joe Judge and is fresh off its bye week. Allen takes over for No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow, who last week was lost for the year with a severe knee injury. The Giants have either won or lost by a single score in every game since Week 3 and this is a rare game in which they’re favored. They, too, are in the thick of contention for the NFC East title thanks to the division being so weak. So there’s much to play for. Let’s see how they handle prosperity.
The pick: Giants by 10-14
Saints (-5.5) at Broncos
This will be the second consecutive start for Taysom Hill at quarterback for the Saints with Drew Brees still out with a ribs injury. New Orleans has won seven in a row, but the Denver defense is quite a bit better than the Atlanta defense the Saints faced last week. The issue for the Broncos is their offense, which remains without a competent starting quarterback. Drew Lock could be in for a long day the way the Saints defense played last week, sacking the Falcons’ Matt Ryan eight times and picking him off twice. Weird stat that likely means nothing but is worth noting: The Broncos are 5-0 against the Saints since 2000.
The pick: Saints by 7-9
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