By Russ Loede
1. 49ers +2.5 at New England. I don’t know what to the think of the Patriots at this moment. I don’t trust Cam Newton at all. NE’s offense is by far one of the worst in the NFL, void of playmakers. They’re closer to the Jets than the Bills in the AFC East. 49ers on the other hand, continue to impress despite a multitude of injuries. Very resilient bunch that can run or pass with precision. Short passes, end arounds and the return of Deebo Samuel coupled with the threat of rookie WR Aiyuk…we know in this game NE will try to take away Kittle (elite blocker)…but 49ers are good enough to win with him blocking for undrafted rookie from Baylor Hasty. Expect him to breakthrough again and continue what he finished off in Sunday night’s win over LAR. SF’s front seven is still very intimidating…injuries in the secondary won’t matter in this content. 49ers 25, Patriots 15
2. Detroit +2.5 at Atlanta. Give me the Lions, a team that consistently is better than their actual record and late game follies. DeAndre Swift and Adrian Peterson provide a formidable duo rushing the football, mixed in with Swift’s ability to catch and rack up the YAC. Last week’s performance by ATL, I’m calling a bluff. Very much a fluke, a game that was more about Minnesota and Cousins looking downright awful. This match-up has the makings of a down-to-the-wire fantastic finish, and I believe Prater is going to kick a last second boot from 50-plus yards out. Keep an eye on T.J. Hockenson to have a career-game, giving the Lions a solid secondary threat in the aerial attack over the middle for Stafford that can compliment the play of Golladay. Not much is talked about with Detroit’s defense, but it’s not too shabby. Lions 24, Falcons 23
3. Houston +3.5 vs. Packers. Texans are thriving on offense since the departure of their head coach. Watson has Brandin Cooks playing like he did with New Orleans. Aaron Jones will probably not play, and if he does (mistake), he’s going to be severely limited. A.J. Dillon and Jamaal Williams don’t push the needle for me on the ground. I have a feeling Houston will jump out to an early lead and we will see a lot of passes by Rodgers. Recipe for disaster, as the Packer OL is a bit overwhelmed at times and I don’t think this team is made for shootouts and playing from behind. They’re capable of it, but the team won a lot last year with ball control and timely defense. Texans are in desperate need of a win, they will have their way with a lackluster secondary without Kevin King. GB will also being missing their starting left tackle…give me a young, on a roll Watson vs. an old Rodgers who will not keep vs. a team needing a victory playing from ahead majority of the game. Texans 34, Packers 22
4. Denver + 9.5 vs. Chiefs. Can’t wait to see this game with the temperature hovering around a low of 9 degrees potentially with snow in the forecast! Outside of the Broncos sputtering QB play and Lock’s early season injury, this team has been fighting and in close ball games. EDIT: line shifted to 7.5, tells me many think Denver will cover. I still like it and 7.5. Broncos 19, Chiefs 20. Gordon is back this week, Lindsay looked solid returning last week from injury…this game will be a short week of rest for the Chiefs who are due for a bit of a letdown. I have a hunch, one of those gut feelings the Broncos play this game like the Division is on the line, whereas KC will be playing for a marathon. I love siding with the hungrier team in this one wouldn’t be surprised if Denver wins outright. Noah Fant’s return is HUGE, Tim Patrick has been consistently making big plays, and coach Vic will be pleased with the grit and performance of his squad…just not the final outcome.
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