Panthers (+5½) over 49ERS: Rookie Kyle Allen has yet to lose in the starter’s role for visitors. As much as we’ve prospered expressing confidence in San Francisco, they haven’t beaten much, other than an underperforming Rams side. Coach Kyle Shanahan expects ex-Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders to see action here. Still, Carolina live ’dogs behind streaking Allen.
LIONS (-7) over Giants: Pronounced favoritism isn’t the preferred role for Detroit, but the Lions lost three straight against better competition, and this is by far the softest seasonal Ford Field spot they’ve landed. Facing NFC North teams is stiff duty this year. The NFC East is anything but.
Jets (+6) over JAGUARS: Gang Green fortunate they caught the Cowboys a week before they got relatively healthy. Monday nighter against the Patriots was more in line with reality — but the Jets are better than that, and not sold these Jags can push visitors around, as in last year’s 31-12 pile-on. The Jets remember.
Buccaneers (+2¹/₂) over TITANS: Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston had the bye week following the London loss to Carolina to figure out Tennessee. Bucs coach Bruce Arians can help him find the path, since, a) Tampa Bay is better away from home, and, b) Ryan Tannehill is not great in chalk roles.
Chargers (+4) over BEARS: QB Mitch Trubisky has a world to prove for the home side after last Sunday’s fiasco vs. Saints. The learning curve has been challenging, and we’re not going to trust the Bears laying tangible points to a side that long has been better on the road than at home — however banged up.
Seahawks (-3½) over FALCONS: Matt Ryan gutted out Atlanta’s practice drills despite his sprained ankle Friday, but he will sit this one out in favor of second-stringer Matt Schaub. The consistently ineffective Falcons O-line and soft defensive front also discourage home-side supporters.
BILLS (-1½) over Eagles: With Darren Sproles, Jason Peters and DeSean Jackson still not ready to return to the field, compelled to string with the homestanding Bills against Eagles, enduring their third straight road outing. Would prefer visitors, were they healthier, since the Bills haven’t beaten much.
RAMS (-13) over Bengals: Cincinnati injury rundown reached the breaking point last week, when even at home they couldn’t stay with Jacksonville down the stretch. This week’s M*A*S*H report is barely more encouraging, leaving us with home side maintaining Bengals’ winless status. Cinncinnati still remains without DE Carl Lawson and OT Cordy Glenn.
Cardinals (+10½) over SAINTS: With the aid of an internal brace and an external splint supporting the thumb of his throwing hand, Drew Brees may be sufficiently functional to permit him to start. Cards RB Chase Edmonds has lent considerable balance to Arizona’s attack, and could keep visitor close in a track meet. Tough call, with Brees’ chances of lasting the game an open question.
TEXANS (-7) over Raiders: Concluding their brutal schedule stretch, the Raiders complete their grueling five-game road trip with this Houston visit. The accumulated stretch is fully reflected in the market. Can’t embrace visitors, given the logistics.
COLTS (-5½) over Broncos: Reaching for Jacoby Brissett once more, given the alternative is a Broncos outfit far from home that has beaten no one of note, and well-past its sell-by date, since the front office has been moving heaven and earth to power-play next year’s draft.
Browns (+13) over PATRIOTS: With the Pats’ seasonal sweep of the Jets finalized, the gentle portion of New England’s schedule is done. Despite the best Browns roster in decades, they’ve grossly underperformed (excepting their rout of Baltimore). If visiting QB Baker Mayfield plays within himself (big if!), competitive game possible — even at Gillette.
CHIEFS (+3½) over Packers: In this matchup encore of the first Super Bowl, Chiefs will be without all-everything QB Patrick Mahomes, with his kneecap issue. Veteran Matt Moore takes over the reins (with Kyle Shurmer in the hole), leaving the visiting Packers in a road-chalk role. On the surface, Mahomes’ absence is yet another spectacular schedule break for the Packers, but Moore is no amateur, home side’s supporting offense is impressive, and Packers backers are paying dearly for Rodgers here.
Dolphins (+14) over STEELERS: Miami remains sufficiently outmanned to pose in the tanking-for-draft-positioning charade, but the acquisition of veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to assure this underdog’s talent base will not be so laid-back that they want to appear lame in game films, as well as the NFL pays the hired hands. Steelers looking ahead to tougher foes (Colts and Rams).
Last week: 7-6.
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