The theme of this week is miracles. In sports, we love comeback stories that even Hollywood can’t produce. We saw such a miracle Thursday night. With Matthew Stafford out of the Rams lineup for the year, the Rams needed a miracle to at least make their season enjoyable. Enter Baker Mayfield stage right. After the Carolina Panthers released Mayfield, the Rams put a claim for the quarterback off waivers. Not even two days in, still locating his locker and barely knowing the playbook, Rams’ coach Sean McVay put Baker Mayfield in at QB…and the miracle happened.
With the Rams’ offense struggling all night long, Baker Mayfield launched a 98-yard game-winning miracle drive to beat the hot-streaking Las Vegas Raiders, who were fresh off three straight wins. This is what we love about the NFL — the great moments that come to those who wait…or pray for a miracle…like the Olympic 1980 USA Hockey Team. In the all-time classic sports movie, “Miracle” Coach Herb Brooks says a line that connects from hockey to football, to fandom betting. “Great moments are born from great opportunities.” Heed the advice.
Trending this week:
The Seahawks have been the surprise team in the league, post-Russell Wilson trade, at 7-5 with Geno Smith and a six-straight game streak of a 100+ passer rating.
Other trends: the New York Jets. Yes, the J-E-T-S are 9-3 against the spread. The Detroit Lions are 8-4 against the spread this year and are tied with the Titans and the Cowboys for the best against-the-spread record in the NFL.
Let’s see if these trends continue, and if any new miracles occur. First, let’s get to this week’s picks:
Ravens vs. Steelers (-2.5) Over/Under 37:
Don’t look now, but the Steelers have made some noise of late. They are on a two-game winning streak and are 4-1 when TJ Watt has played this year. Kenny Pickett hasn’t had a giveaway in four straight games. The Ravens are 1-5 when Lamar Jackson doesn’t play. Even before Lamar’s injury, they have committed five turnovers in their past three games. The Steelers are on a bit of a heater against the Ravens, winning four in a row in this series. We will ride that Terrible Towel this week, and we will go with the favorite.
Our pick: Steelers -2.5
Browns vs. Bengals (-6) Over/Under 47:
While doing these blogs, we have mentioned that the NFL is all about parity. There is a fine line when the “best” team is not significantly better than the “worst” team. Anything can happen against the norm, including a miracle. The weird part is that Joe Burrow is 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, but he is 0-4 against the Cleveland Browns. We think this norm of the Browns covering the spread over Joe Burrow and the Bengals continues. The Browns have been running the football at an extremely high level, with 170+ rushing yards in their last two games and eight games total on the season. These divisional games always end up in tight scoring affairs, and we expect this game to be no less. This is our lock of the week.
Our pick: Browns +6
Texans vs Cowboys (-17) Over/Under 45:
We picked the Cowboys last week on a big spread and we are still riding high on the Cowboys again this week. This is the biggest spread of the year, but we are taking the gamble. The Houston Texans are an awful football team (see “parity” above). They are bottom five in every offensive category possible and commit the fewest takeaways on defense as well, which doesn’t bode well for winning. The Dallas Cowboys are nearly the polar opposite of the Houston Texans in every way. They lead the league in takeaways on defense and on offense they have been putting up monster numbers the last six weeks averaging almost 45 points a game. This smells blowout written all over it and we wouldn’t be surprised to see even Cooper Rush get some game action. Sometimes, you can’t even hope for a miracle.
Our pick: Cowboys-17
Patriots (-1) vs Cardinals Over/Under 44.5:
The first time we are including a Monday night game on the blog, but we are on a maiden voyage for this Monday taking the Cardinals. Kyler Murray is getting healthier and will have his two star receivers available for the Monday night game in Deandre Hopkins and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. The Patriots’ offense has been abysmal this year and has averaged less than four yards per passing play since week seven. It also doesn’t help that their offensive line has been bad and has allowed Mac Jones to get sacked multiple times. They have little-to-no weaponry on the receiving core — mostly handoffs to Rhomondre Stevenson. The Patriots’ offense has lost a ton of confidence and the Cardinals need a win badly. We are taking the home team on this one.
Our pick: Cardinals +1