Trick or treat? When looking at each week’s point spreads, I’m always trying to find favorable lines and ones that are too scary to touch. Which leads me to this Halloween weekend’s biggest line. You might think the Jets are getting way too many points, but there’s a reason why they are. Vegas knows. Anyone who watches hours of football on Sunday knows. If a line is that big, take it as a sign and don’t think twice about it being too big.
Favorites went 5-8 against the spread (ATS) last week and are 47-53-2 this season. Home teams went 6-8 straight up and 5-9 ATS, bringing their totals to 53-51-1 and 44-59-2 ATS.
My three most confident picks are Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Miami. A tricky game to avoid: Indianapolis-Detroit.
GAME OF THE WEEK
PITTSBURGH (6-0) AT BALTIMORE (5-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Baltimore by 3.5; O/U: 46.5
These AFC North rivals were supposed to meet last week, but it was pushed back because of Pittsburgh’s unexpected bye in Week 4. That meant Baltimore’s bye was moved up to Week 7, giving it an advantage. There’s no better rivalry in the NFL. Since 1999, the Steelers and Ravens have met 46 times. The results? 23 wins apiece, with Baltimore outscoring Pittsburgh, 20.3-19.5 (courtesy of ESPN). Expect another close one (overtime?). I give the slight lean to Pittsburgh because of its complete defense, which can limit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ big run plays. Kansas City and Tennessee have provided the blueprint to beat Baltimore: Score early and make it play catch-up, something it’s not used to doing. Ben Roethlisberger has a plethora of talented receivers and a solid rushing attack. The Steelers (5-1 ATS) have covered four in a row. The lone remaining undefeated team in the NFL stays that way with a thrilling win.
The pick: Pittsburgh
JETS (0-7) AT KANSAS CITY (6-1)
TV: Ch. 2, 1 p.m.
Kansas City by 19.5; O/U: 49
Not that you need any stats to convince you that Kansas City has a super shot at repeating as champs or that the Jets are destined for the No. 1 overall pick, but here goes: Last week, Kansas City scored 43 points despite going 0-for-8 on third downs. As for the Jets, they had four yards of offense in the second half. That’s 12 feet, or in 2020 terms, two social distances. Even if this wasn’t a revenge game for Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City would be the pick against a Jets team that is averaging 12 points a game. Don’t be scared off by the point spread. It’s not a trick. In fact, it’s a treat, as it’s dropped from the look-ahead line of 22. The Jets will have no answers for Patrick Mahomes and his speedy receivers. This feels like a 45-10 rout. Over/under Bell TDs: 1.5. I’ll take the over.
The pick: Kansas City
TAMPA BAY (5-2) AT GIANTS (1-6)
TV: ESPN, Ch. 11, 8:15 p.m.
Line: OFF (likely Tampa Bay -12.5)
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are clicking like old times, Tampa Bay’s defense might be the best in the NFL and the Bucs enter off convincing wins over the Packers (38-10) and Raiders (45-20). The Giants have had extra rest since their TNF meltdown in Philadelphia, but it won’t matter. Especially not after Thursday’s positive test news, meaning the O-line will be even more overmatched.This will be a rout, as Brady torches his Super Bowl nemesis and Todd Bowles’ defense gets after Daniel Jones.
The pick: Tampa Bay
1 p.m. Games
NEW ENGLAND (2-4) AT BUFFALO (5-2)
Buffalo by 3.5; O/U: 41
Bill Belichick’s Patriots haven’t been 2-4 since 2000. They’ve scored 12 and six points in back-to-back home losses. They’re on the ropes. This is the Bills’ shot to finally knock them out. The Pats have given you no reason to back them . . . which is exactly why I’m in their corner this week. Keep counting out Belichick. Keep taking jabs at Cam Newton. This is the game they let the rest of the NFL know they still have some fight left. Give me the Pats to score the upset win.
The pick: New England
L.A. RAMS (5-2) AT MIAMI (3-3)
Los Angeles by 3.5; O/U: 46
It’s Tua Time in Miami, as No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa makes his NFL starting debut. Maybe it’s just because I like a great storyline, but when I heard Miami was making the QB switch, my first thought was: He’s going to win his first game. A couple of things in his favor: 1) A full extra week to prepare for the Rams during the bye; 2) With no preseason and just a couple plays against the Jets two weeks ago, there isn’t any NFL film on the dual-threat star from Alabama. Expect some creative play-calling to keep the Rams defense on its toes. L.A. has five wins, but four of those are against the NFC East (combined 7-20-1). Break out the "Big Tua" headlines in Miami!
The pick: Miami
LAS VEGAS (3-3) AT CLEVELAND (5-2)
Cleveland by 2.5; O/U: 51
This game could have AFC wild-card implications. Both teams have improved and this feels like it could go either way, but I’ll side with a Raiders team that in their last road game dropped 42 points at Kansas City.
The pick: Las Vegas
MINNESOTA (1-5) AT GREEN BAY (5-1)
Green Bay by 7; O/U: 51
Green Bay (5-1 ATS) opened its season with a 43-34 win at Minnesota, and the final score was misleading. Aaron Rodgers (364 yards, 4 TDs) and Davante Adams (14 catches, 156 yards, 2 TDs) picked apart an overmatched secondary, and there’s no reason to think they won’t do it again. Minnesota (2-4 ATS) is off a bye, but in its last game it allowed 40 points at home to then-winless Atlanta.
The pick: Green Bay
INDIANAPOLIS (4-2) AT DETROIT (3-3)
Indianapolis by 2.5; O/U: 50
The Lions have won two in a row after their bye, but it was at Jacksonville and Atlanta, a pair of one-win teams. The Colts are a step up in competition, and their defense should be the difference. Indianapolis is 2-0 after its bye week under coach Frank Reich.
The pick: Indianapolis
TENNESSEE (5-1) AT CINCINNATI (1-5-1)
Tennessee by 5.5; O/U: 53.5
This game is the equivalent to getting a box of raisins when trick or treating. The Titans will move the ball, put up points and win, but Joe Burrow and the pesky Bengals are 5-1-1 ATS and can make it interesting late.
The pick: Cincinnati
4 p.m. Games
SAN FRANCISCO (4-3) AT SEATTLE (5-1)
Seattle by 3; O/U: 54
The 49ers and Seahawks played two of the best games last year, the second a goal-line stop, top-seed clinching win for San Francisco on Sunday night in the final contest of the regular season. This should be another thriller. The 49ers responded to a bad home loss to the Dolphins with statement wins over the Rams and Patriots the last two weeks. Seattle’s defense can’t stop anyone, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Seahawks respond after their first loss. Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling is just too good, and I expect that to be the difference.
The pick: San Francisco
NEW ORLEANS (4-2) AT CHICAGO (5-2)
New Orleans by 4.5; O/U: 43.5 (Ch. 5)
If you’re superstitious like me, you can’t pick against New Orleans on All Saints’ Day. On top of that, Chicago’s offense is a mess. The Bears were nowhere as good as their 5-1 record, and its Cinderella start is about to turn into a pumpkin.
The pick: New Orleans
L.A. CHARGERS (2-4) AT DENVER (2-4)
Line: OFF (likely L.A. by 3)
This spread is a total overreaction after Denver lost, 43-16, to Kansas City and L.A. finally got Justin Herbert his first victory with a 39-29, much-closer-than-it-should’ve-been win over Jacksonville. That’s not enough to warrant the inconsistent Chargers being three-point favorites on the road. The Broncos were 4-1 ATS before last week, and I don’t expect back-to-back duds at home.
The pick: Denver
LOCK OF THE WEEK
DALLAS (2-5) AT PHILADELPHIA (2-4-1)
TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.
Philadelphia by 9; O/U: 43
Similar to the Jets and Giants games, they can’t make this number high enough. The Cowboys are on their third-string quarterback, have serious issues on the offensive line and are in complete disarray after being outscored 63-13 the last two weeks. With its bye week on deck, Philadelphia will be laser-focused to enter it with another win over a division foe.
The pick: Philadelphia
STAFF STANDINGS AND PICKS
(best bets in bold)
48-55-2 overall, 4-3 best bets
Last week: 9-5
Kansas City Tampa Bay Pittsburgh New England Miami
Las Vegas Green Bay Indianapolis Cincinnati
San Francisco New Orleans Denver Philadelphia
55-48-2 overall, 3-4 best bets
Last week: 10-4
Kansas City Tampa Bay Baltimore New England L.A. Rams
Cleveland Green Bay Indianapolis Tennessee
Seattle Chicago L.A. Chargers Philadelphia
Last week: 7-7
Jets Giants Pittsburgh New England L.A. Rams
Las Vegas Green Bay Indianapolis Tennessee
Seattle New Orleans L.A. Chargers Philadelphia
Last week: 6-8
Jets Tampa Bay Pittsburgh Buffalo L.A. Rams
Las Vegas Green Bay Indianapolis Tennessee
Seattle New Orleans L.A. Chargers Dallas