Houston Texans +5.5 at Seattle Seahawks
A lot of people wanted to jump ship when the Houston Texans lost J.J. Watt for the season, but the truth is: The Texans are kind of used to it by now. What also has tempered the over-reaction of panic in Houston is the play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson, who said he’s looking “forward” to playing against the Seattle secondary is completing passes at a rate of 61.5%, with a 3:1 TD to INT ratio. Nobody can be happier than wide-out DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was almost “forgotten” among the NFL’s “elite receiver class” but this year has 6 touchdowns, averages 10 yards a catch and is the team- leader, by far, in receptions with 37. Hopkins will go against a secondary in Seattle that is still living up to its legendary status. The “Legion of Boom” is holding the opposition to 5.6 yards a completion and a completion percentage of 55%. The rush defense has seen better times in recent years, as this year’s group is allowing 4.7 yards a carry. Fortunately for them, they are seeing Lamar Miller across from them this week, who is averaging 3.8 yards a carry. The Seahawks are 4-2 so far this season and it has ZERO to do with their offense. Their wins so far have come off of inexperienced or putrid competition. Usually, the Texans win their division by default and although “default” will play a role again in them taking the AFC South, this is a more competitive team than we’ve seen under Bill O’Brien. Houston doesn’t only cover the five and a half points – but wins this one outright.
The Pick: Houston +5.5
L.A. Raiders +2.5 at Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have been a part of the very confusing AFC East. They currently stand at 4-2, and as long as quarterback Tyrod Taylor can stay healthy, the win total should only go higher. Defensively, the Bills are holding the opposition to 3.4 rushing yards a game. This of course forces teams to throw against them, but even then – the Bills are second in the league with nine interceptions. Offensively, as mentioned before, this team goes as far as Tyrod Taylor will bring them. Tyrod is a game manager whose success is determined by his amount of turnovers. So far he’s only got two interceptions and zero fumbles, so things are looking good, for the former Hokie. The Raiders came into the season with high expectations and started out the season 2-0 looking to make all pre-season pundits look like genius’. Then. . . they lost their next four. Yes, Derek Carr got hurt during that, but even when he played it was nothing special. Last week they got up for a division rival, Kansas City and beat them 31-30, although some would say they netted that win due to help from the officials….Derek Carr has two viable targets in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree but the chemistry hasn’t exactly been perfect. Cooper was in a real struggle but blew up last week with over 200 yards against a below average Kansas City secondary. When it’s all said and done if this game was on the West Coast it would be a pick ’em.
The Pick: Buffalo -2.5
Minnesota Vikings -9.5 at Cleveland Browns
From the pre-season to early in the regular season, this Vikings offense looked legit. And with their already stout defense, people were thinking they could take the NFC North crown this season. Then after Sam Bradford gets hurt and then (the bigger blow) rookie running back Dalvin Cook got hurt – things started to change. Now with the Vikings having Case Keenum in at quarterback and rumors starting to mount about a Teddy Bridgewater return to the position – things may get weird, to say the least. As long as they can, the Vikings will try to push Jerick McKinnon down the public’s throats, but that’ll be tough against a Browns defense that’s done at least one thing right this year: stop the run. The pass defense is tied with the NY Giants for giving up the most TD’s through the air (15) and is letting opponents sit back and complete 70% of their passes. What makes matters worse for Cleveland is that their starting quarterback is Deshone Kizer who is flat-out awful. Expect the Vikes to win this one 24-7, which means you can take them -9.5 but the smarter play here is the “under.”
The Pick: The Under at 38
Good Luck and Wager Wisely!