(15-10 against the spread this season)
By Danny Picard
BOSTON — I went 2-3 against the spread last week. Not great. But overall, I’m still off to a pretty good start, being 15-10 overall.
I’m going with mostly favorites this week. My lone underdog pick might surprise you, given everything I’ve been saying on my podcast recently.
Let’s have a winning week, shall we? Here are my picks for Week 6:
MIAMI DOLPHINS (-14.5) over Carolina Panthers
-Carolina is the only winless team in the league. There are reports that the Panthers are “simplifying” the play-calling verbiage for rookie quarterback Bryce Young, which doesn’t scream “upset” on Sunday in Miami against a 4-1 Dolphins team that scores a league-high 36 points per game. Young will have to keep up with Tua Tagovailoa, who leads the NFL with 323 pass yards per game. The bottom line here is that Carolina has no chance to win this one. But the spread is definitely high enough where it’s not exactly a no-brainer to pick the Dolphins to cover. That said, Miami is 4-1 against the spread this season. I’ve bet the Dolphins to cover three times so far, and I’ve won all three bets, including when I picked them last Sunday to cover as a 12.5-point favorite over the Giants. Miami wins again this Sunday, and they win by more than two touchdowns.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-3) over Chicago Bears
-Betting on Kirk Cousins is an addiction unlike any other. I keep telling myself to never put money on the Vikings again, but here we are, again, putting money on the Vikings. This pick has more to do with the Bears than anything else though. Chicago is coming off a 40-20 win over Washington last Thursday night, but they began the season losing four straight, allowing more than 30 points per game in three of those losses. The Bears have the second-worst pass defense in the league, and so Cousins should be able to put up some points on Sunday in Chicago. Minnesota has won the last four games in this divisional matchup, and all four of those wins have been won by more than six points. Even though both teams are currently 1-4, Minnesota has definitely been the better team this season. The spread is only three points because Cousins’ top receiver, Justin Jefferson, has been placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Tease this down a half-point if you’re skeptical. But I’m taking the Vikings to win on the road by a touchdown.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (-3) over Seattle Seahawks
-If I had to pick a “lock of the week,” this would be it. Why? Because Joe Burrow looked fully-healed from his calf injury last Sunday in a 34-20 win in Arizona that saw him complete 36 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns, all to Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals are now 2-3, going up against a 3-1 Seahawks team that’s coming off the bye. Geno Smith and Seattle are coming into Cincinnati cold, while Burrow and the Bengals seem to be just getting hot. Not great for the Seahawks. Especially given the fact that Seattle’s pass defense is the third-worst in the NFL, allowing 280 pass yards per game, and allowing three quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards. The Seahawks’ three-game win streak can’t be ignore, but two of those three wins came against the Panthers and Giants, two of the worst teams in the league. If this game was in Seattle, I might’ve stayed away. But it’s in Cincinnati, and I suspect that a now-healthy Burrow is about to go on a run. Give me the Bengals to win and cover.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+2.5) over Las Vegas Raiders
-This is my lone underdog pick that I said might surprise you. The 1-4 Patriots have looked horrible so far, and have been outscored 72-3 in their last two games — a 38-3 loss in Dallas, and a 34-0 loss to the Saints last Sunday at home. New England’s defense has suffered catastrophic injuries, and on the offensive end, Mac Jones has been a disaster, throwing zero touchdowns in the last two games while turning the ball over six times on four interceptions and two fumbles. On the season, Jones averages 202 pass yards per game with five touchdowns and six interceptions. Not good. But Bill Belichick has put the pressure on him, signing quarterback Malik Cunningham off the practice squad. Cunningham is an undrafted rookie. And we know how much Belichick loves turning undrafted players into game-changers. However Belichick decides to play it at QB, I expect the Patriots to move the chains on the ground against a Raiders defense that allows 130 rush yards per game. Las Vegas is 2-3 and is coming off a win over Green Bay. Pats fans most likely made this trip out West. And I think they’ll see the Patriots pull out a win against a beatable 2-3 Raiders team. It might not be pretty, but a win is a win is a win. So give me the points.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (-7) over Arizona Cardinals
-With Cooper Kupp back in the mix for Matthew Stafford and the 2-3 Rams, I don’t know how you could possibly bet on the 1-4 Cardinals in this one. The game is in LA, and the Rams are battle-tested, having played the Eagles, Bengals, and 49ers this season. Those were all losses, of course, but in last week’s loss to Philadelphia, Kupp returned and had eight catches for 118 yards. Look for him to get into the end zone against a Cardinals defense that allows 27 points per game. Arizona has allowed more than 30 points three times this season. The Cardinals have lost two straight, and in those losses, allowed 35 points to the 49ers, and 34 points to the Bengals last week. This is the perfect game for the Rams’ offense to explode, and with them playing at home, I’m betting they cover a spread that’s a little bit higher than maybe I’d like to see, given that this is a divisional game between two sub-.500 teams. But I do think LA is much better than its record shows. So I’m taking the Rams to cover.
Follow Danny on instagram @DannyPicard.