STEELERS (+3½) over Rams: Apparently, the public can see only one side, but come on. While the fantasy boys are drooling over L.A.’s prospects here, we’re dealing with an early-Eastern start for the Rams, visitors on the fringe of NFC playoff contention, still smarting from their Super Bowl stuffing, led by a quarterback who travels poorly. We love Cooper Kupp, too, but Steelers live for these spots.
JETS (+2½) over Giants: Given the seasonal form of both sides, this is for blind loyalists or the brave. Both the Jets’ Sam Darnold, and the Giants’ Daniel Jones have been grievously vulnerable to interceptions. If you’re bullish on Darnold long-term, at least he’s in his second season of experience-gaining.
Chiefs (-6) over TITANS: Pat Mahomes has gone full-bore in practices this week, boosting the far-lower opening number that saw the light of day last Sunday. Mahomes’ return will boost Kansas City’s morale, but even given our marginal preference for this road chalk, acknowledge laying tangible points (given K.C.’s defense) against Ryan Tannehill is dangerous.
Bills (+3) over BROWNS: Though they got ground down by the best NFC roster they faced upstate (that of the Eagles), Buffalo gave the Patriots all they could handle before its loyal rooters, and continue to benefit from friendly scheduling here. Though away from home, they drew another four-leaf clover, up against the league franchise that’s doing the least with the talent at hand.
Cardinals (+4½) over BUCCANEERS: Expecting a sloppy game between these two also-rans. Though the visitors’ running game is tangibly improved, they’re a Western team shoehorned into a 1 p.m. start. Reluctant to trust Tampa Bay’s defense, given their pronounced favoritism. Compelled to look to the ’dog.
Falcons (+13¹/₂) over SAINTS: Expect Atlanta QB Matt Ryan in the saddle in the Superdome, though his ankle issues remain a concern. Saints are in far better form — but they don’t earn two wins in the standings for winning by 30. With three more divisional games (at Panthers, vs. Buccaneers, vs. Falcons) this month, not sold this will be a rout that gets out of hand.
BENGALS (+10) over Ravens: Some may label this as cynical a play as we’ve isolated all season. It’s a bald recognition of league realities. Baltimore has made a habit of saving its best regular-season shots for the Pats — but over-the-top energy spent on one Sunday frequently isn’t available the week after. Yes, it’s Ryan Finley’s first career start for Cincinnati, but this market screams ’dog.
Panthers (+5¹/₂) over PACKERS: Green Bay is coming off one of the epic good-team no-shows of the entire campaign, and we’ll swoon in shock if the Packers don’t come out firing to redeem themselves. That said, Carolina has been a handful since Cam Newton’s injuries forced the veteran to the sidelines, leaving Kyle Allen to steal the show. Green Bay’s seasonal run of good fortune may be petering out.
BEARS (-2½) over Lions: Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky’s form of late has been sufficiently unfortunate to discourage vigorous backing — but Trubisky’s improved downfield passing looks at Philadelphia were encouraging, and you should expect the defense will continue to show up. The Bears travel to Detroit on Thanksgiving.
Dolphins (+11) over COLTS: With Colts’ starting QB Jacoby Brissett relegated to the bench Saturday with knee issues, veteran Brian Hoyer has been tapped to step in. Hoyer has served adequately previously. The Dolphins have been markedly more competitive since they made Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter again, and this favorite has encountered issues attempting to establish comfortable margins.
Vikings (+3) over COWBOYS: Hardly thrilled by current health status of Minnesota’s cornerbacks, but there are broad performance disadvantages that often accompany a team that’s a media darling (i.e. Dallas) — including enduring multiple successive prime-time games. The Cowboys’ offensive front is vulnerable up the middle, and the Purple People are equipped to take advantage.
Seahawks (+6) over 49ERS: San Fran likely will be hindered by the absence of ace placekicker Robbie Gould, whose strained quad makes him a doubtful participant. Still, the favorites are for real. The Niners have been a handful at home on Monday nights forever, and their broad performance this year has been remarkable — but with all-world QB Russell Wilson in command, the resilient ’Hawks have been a most difficult foe for favorites to blow out.
Last week: 8-5