(21-14 against the spread this season)
By Danny Picard
BOSTON — I went 2-3 against the spread last week. One of those losses was Buffalo (-7.5) vs New England.
I took the Bills, and even though it put me in the red on the weekend, I was just fine with seeing Mac Jones and the Patriots offense look alive for once. The celebration after the game-winning touchdown was a little much though.
And if you’re defending that celebration, just stop it right now. You’re being ridiculous. That celebration was absurd. They’re 2-5. Please don’t compare it to other Patriots teams celebrating. Those Patriots teams were winning the division every year and were a near lock to get to the AFC Championship. It’s absolutely crazy to me how quickly everyone in this town has forgot about this team’s guaranteed success year-in and year-out. So much so, that the media seemed flabbergasted that Bill Belichick quietly received a multi-year extension in the offseason, and isn’t actually going to get fired, as many had been trying to suggest.
I’m guilty of being a prisoner of the moment at times, too. But not with Belichick and the Patriots. Jones and Mike Gesicki need to do a little more in the NFL before they obnoxiously fly around the field like that after a fourth-quarter touchdown. Sorry, the standards are high here in New England. Get back to .500 then maybe I’ll approve.
I needed to get that off my chest. Here are my picks for Week 8:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+8.5) over Miami Dolphins
-So, all of that said, I’m going to take the points on Sunday in Miami. Do I think the 2-5 Patriots are going to beat the 5-2 Dolphins? No, I don’t. But I do think they’ll be in position to cover anything more than seven points here. This spread is too high. I can’t overlook the fact that Miami looked human in a loss to the Eagles last weekend in Philadelphia. And even though Tua Tagovailoa is 5-0 against the Patriots in his career — including a 24-17 win in Foxboro in Week 2 — his pass numbers against Bill Belichick defenses aren’t anything to write home about. In those five games, Tua has four touchdown passes and three interceptions, while averaging under 200 pass yards per game. New England’s addition of J.C. Jackson has been uplifting, as he and the Pats’ defense held Stefon Diggs to a season-low 58 receiving yards last week. Back in Week 2 at Gillette Stadium, Tua went 21-of-30 for 249 pas yards, with one touchdown and one interception. This weekend in Miami, I expect Tua to somehow lead the Dolphins to a win, but it won’t be easy. Give me the Patriots to cover.
NEW YORK JETS (-3) over New York Giants
-The 2-5 Giants are coming off a win over Washington, while the 3-3 Jets are coming off the bye. Technically, this is a Giants home game, but the Jets are the team with more hope right now, so I don’t think there’ll be any “home field advantage” in this one. Daniel Jones is still out with a neck injury, so it’ll be Tyrod Taylor under center once again for the Giants. He’ll go up against a Jets defense that ranks third in the NFL with 13 takeaways. The Jets have won two straight, and their most recent was a huge win over the Eagles. And two weeks before that, they nearly knocked off Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. In those two games against the NFL’s “elite of the elite,” the Jets held Jalen Hurts and Mahomes to a total of two touchdown passes and forced a total of five interceptions. Not too bad. Combined with the fact that the Jets’ schedule has been one of the toughest in the league — with games against the Bills, Cowboys, and a Patriots team that owns them — I’d keep an eye on these Jets moving forward. They’ll beat the Giants at MetLife by more than a field goal.
DALLAS COWBOYS (-6.5) over Los Angeles Rams
-It’s hard to figure out either of these two teams right now. It gets even harder when you throw in a 1 p.m. ET kickoff in Dallas. So, you got a Texas team starting at Noon, local time, against a West Coast team that seems to be easily rattled. The 3-4 Rams are coming off a loss at home to the Steelers, as Pittsburgh’s fan base traveled well and basically took over SoFi Stadium last Sunday. I like the 4-2 Cowboys coming off the bye here. Dallas’ last game was a win over the Chargers in LA. One stat I’m looking at is sacks. Micah Parsons has only one sack in his last three games, and so, he’s due. He’ll be going after Matthew Stafford this weekend, who’s been sacked 18 times in seven games, which is the sixth highest sack total in the league. I expect Parsons to get to Stafford in this one. The 6.5 points definitely gives me some pause, but with the game being in Dallas, my gut is telling me the Cowboys figured some things out over the bye week and have the potential to win big here. I’m taking Dallas by 10.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+5.5) over San Francisco 49ers
-The 3-3 Bengals and the 5-2 49ers are in completely different positions in the standings, but you’d be a fool to look at that and be quick to pick San Francisco in this one, even if the game is in San Fran. Cincinnati is in last place in the AFC North, while the 49ers are in first place in the NFC West. However, the 49ers have lost two straight, while the Bengals have won two straight. San Francisco’s two losses in recent weeks have come against the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings, both on the road. Cincinnati’s last two wins have come against the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. The Bengals are coming off the bye, while the 49ers are on a short week, having lost to the Vikings on Monday night. Brock Purdy — who was in concussion protocol this week — is expected to be under center for the 49ers. Joe Burrow seems to be fully healed from his injured calf, and has five touchdown passes in his last two games. Look, we can keep going back and forth on these two teams, but the bottom line is, this is ultimately a pretty even matchup, and I could definitely see this being a Super Bowl preview. I don’t know if the Bengals can go into San Francisco and win, but I do know that they’re fully capable of keeping this close. Give me the points all day here.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-9.5) over Arizona Cardinals
-Right now, the 5-2 Ravens have the best defense in the league, statistically, allowing just 13.9 points per game. Their offense has been pretty good too. Lamar Jackson has 13 total touchdowns (eight passing and five rushing) so far, and so, I don’t see a scenario in which the 1-6 Cardinals win this game. It’s in Arizona, but there’s no way I’d even consider taking Joshua Dobbs over this Baltimore defense that’s allowed just six touchdowns this season. More importantly, there’s no way I’d take the Cardinals’ defense — which has allowed 19 touchdowns this season — over Jackson. Baltimore has won two straight and is coming off a big 38-6 win over the Lions. Arizona has lost four straight, and is awaiting Kyler Murray to return from his torn ACL. Murray isn’t expected to return until next week, and so, it’ll be one more week of losing for these Cardinals. The only real question is, can the Ravens cover on the road? Well, that’s what I’m putting my money on. Jackson has five total touchdowns in the last two weeks, and I expect him to keep it rolling in Arizona. Baltimore wins by two touchdowns.
Follow Danny on instagram @DannyPicard.