The surgical dissection of the Giants’ defense by Nick Mullens and a bunch of other 49ers backups figures to have some carryover, as it showed Rams coach Sean McVay where the weaknesses are.
Snicker at that if you want, but the Big Blue defense was competitive in the first half of the opener versus the Steelers and in the second half Week 2 in Chicago. Last Sunday was a disaster, and now, like a vulture, McVay can swoop in on the carcass. His offense, led by QB Jared Goff, is loaded with playmakers, and he has the dexterity to turn the Rams from a high-wire act to a smash-mouth team or anything in between.
Defensively, the Rams will give up yardage and points, which is a concern with this big a spread, particularly considering the prospect of a Giants backdoor cover. But with Aaron Donald up front and ballhawk Jalen Ramsey in the secondary, this could be a big day for Daniel Jones sacks and turnovers.
The pick: Rams, -12.5.
(Home team in Caps)
MIAMI DOLPHINS (+6.5) over Seattle Seahawks
Came away from the Dolphins’ 31-13 win over the Jaguars last Thursday thinking that beyond Ryan Fitzpatrick running around, Miami doesn’t have all that much. But appreciate the circumstances: Seattle on a cross-country trip and a 10 a.m. body-clock start, with 25 names on the injury list, including Jamal Adams and essential OT Duane Brown. Factor in an 87-degree forecast and extra rest for the Dolphins and this becomes a very live underdog.
DALLAS COWBOYS (-4.5) over Cleveland Browns
The Cowboys are No. 1 in yardage by 41 yards over the next best team. The problem is they are just eighth in points scored. Thinking this time it all clicks, and it’s Baker Mayfield who is the one making the mistakes if he’s playing catch-up.
Baltimore Ravens (-13) over WASHINGTON
This a lot of points to be giving to a Washington Football Team that played fantastic defense in its one home game, versus the Eagles in Week 1. But the Ravens should be ticked off here after their Monday night dismantling by the Chiefs, and are on an 11-2 ATS surge in the regular season, counting that loss.
New Orleans Saints (-4) over DETROIT LIONS
The expected return of stud WR Michael Thomas would be a huge boost for Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense, which is overdue for a major eruption. Sean Payton had better do something about the ridiculous amount of penalties, though.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-4) over Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota’s practice facility was shut down until Thursday due to concerns over COVID-19 stemming from the Vikings’ game against the infected Titans. That might matter in a matchup of teams that are 0-3 after winning playoff games last season. Houston has had a brutal schedule (at Kansas City, Baltimore, at Pittsburgh).
Los Angeles Chargers (+7) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Both teams are in the top eight in the NFL in yards allowed and points allowed, which suggests this could be a tight grind. Los Angeles already has a win at Cincinnati in the early Eastern time slot, and also shows a near miss against the Chiefs.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+3.5) over Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals let one get away at home versus the Lions last week, while the Panthers posted a straight-up win as six-point underdogs at the Chargers. DeAndre Hopkins’ absence from practice through Thursday due to an ankle injury makes me not want to lay this many points, though.
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) over CHICAGO BEARS
Both teams have played opponents whose combined records are 1-8. Though I do like Chicago better with Nick Foles than Mitchell Trubisky, the answer to this question — are the Bears good enough to be 4-0? — feels as if it should be no.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (-3) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Joe Burrow has yet to win an NFL game, so it’s a leap of faith to back his team as favorites. Still, he did get a tie last week in Philly and could be in line for his breakout game.
Buffalo Bills (-3) over LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
It’s disappointing that Derek Carr and some teammates are involved in a mask controversy stemming from Darren Waller’s charity event. Carr should be thinking about getting the Raiders into the end zone instead of these distractions. It will be tough enough if he’s without starting WRs Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards.
Philadelphia Eagles (+7) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Blowout victories at the Jets and Giants do not change the fact that the 49ers are still decimated by injuries. George Kittle returns, but eventually, Raheem Mostert, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas and others will be missed. Expecting improvement from the prideful Eagles in prime time.
Monday Night Football
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-7) over Atlanta Falcons
Both teams have been breaking scoreboards this season. The Packers are 3-0 with an average win of 40-28, the Falcons 0-3 with an average loss of 36-30. If we get the Atlanta team that blows big leads, there’s a chance for a ’dog cover. More likely, Aaron Rodgers destroys this terrible defense all night.
Best bets: Rams, Dolphins, Saints.
Lock of the week: Rams (Locks 0-2-1 in 2020).
Last week: 9-7 overall, 1-2 Best Bets.
Thursday: Jets (L).
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