Last week against the spread: 3-1
2022 overall ATS: 9-7 (56.3%)
It’s usually not my thing to make picks without providing a little bit of my thought process, but time has gotten away from me the last two weeks and that’s what it is. From now on I’ll try to do better.
1. Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens lost to the Bengals twice last year, and allowed 41 points in each contest. The Bengals, as we all know, ended up not only winning the AFC North for the first time in like a million years but they also went on to play in the Super Bowl. I think Baltimore takes that personally.
We’ve all been waiting for the Bengals to bust out and show themselves to be one of the best teams in the NFL, but after four weeks they have essentially played four backup quarterbacks (Mitch Trubisky, Cooper Rush, Joe Flacco and Teddy Bridgewater) and don’t have a convincing win. On Sunday Night they’ll be playing a hungry Ravens team that is 2-2 but could easily be 4-0, fresh off a 23-20 loss to a Bills team they should have beat.
Score prediction: Ravens 34, Bengals 27
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (+14) at Buffalo Bills
Switching from Mitchell Trubisky to rookie first round QB Kenny Pickett has to give the rest of Pittsburgh’s roster a shot in the arm. It just has to. While I doubt it makes a significant difference in the Steelers’ season-long win total — for reasons relating to the lack of talent and depth on the team — I do believe it gives them a much higher ceiling, and will create more high-variance outcomes on a week-to-week basis.
The reasoning for that has to do with comparing the nature of the two quarterbacks. Trubisky is basically a king at throwing to the check down, and Pickett has proved (in an admittedly small sample size) to be willing to sling the football down the field. Given a wide receiver group as talented as Dionte Johnson, Chase Claypool and rookie George Pickens, it behooves whoever is lining up under center to throw the ball downfield and give them chances to make plays.
Score prediction: Bills 30, Steelers 21
3. Minnesota Vikings (-7.5) vs. Chicago Bears
In my opinion the Bears are the worst team in football, and I’m kind of at that stage where any time they are on the road playing an average opponent and getting less than 10 points I am going to roll with the favorite. I’m not in the love with the idea that Minnesota just played in London last week, and I’m also not too stoked about laying more than a touchdown with Kirk Cousins.
But again, it’s the Bears. For Chicago to cover this spread I think they need to score somewhere in the neighborhood of 17-20 points, and out of every team in the NFL right now I can’t think of one I have less confidence in to do that than them.
Score prediction: Vikings 27, Bears 13
4. Las Vegas Raiders (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs
This is going to seem so obvious in retrospect, but let’s consider the spot the Chiefs are in. They just played their game of the year — an impressive 41-31 win — against a Buccaneers team that deserved payback for what they did to Kansas City in Super Bowl 55. And next week the Chiefs play the Buffalo Bills, otherwise known as this year’s Super Bowl favorite.
Wedged in between is a Monday Night Football game against the lowly 1-3 Raiders, a team that probably doesn’t require Kansas City’s A-game to be victorious. I am not going to like any second of this matchup, mainly factoring in that Las Vegas haven’t looked very good up to this point and they are probably dead if they lose. But somehow I think the Chiefs find a way to come out of it with a win.
Score prediction: Chiefs 30, Raiders 27