According to an internet meme, the black cat that took the field during Monday night’s Giants-Cowboys game ran three times for 114 yards and a touchdown. Saquon Barkley’s top rushing total in a game at MetLife Stadium this season is 107 yards, and Le’Veon Bell’s highest single-game rushing performance on that turf is 70 yards.
This illustration isn’t meant as a shot at Barkley or Bell, rather as a caution to viewers that if the cat doesn’t make another appearance on Sunday afternoon, there probably won’t be a lot to watch when the 2-7 Giants and 1-7 Jets meet.
In terms of betting the game, as you can imagine, it’s hard to make a case for either team. The Jets are decimated on defense and can’t stop anybody, even the previously winless and tanking Dolphins. The Giants have some of their better-known defensive players available but can’t stop anybody, either. They have given up at least 27 points in all but one game.
Sam Darnold has been a ghost-seeing, off-the-back-foot-interception-throwing disaster the past three weeks. Daniel Jones has looked better than Darnold, but he has thrown eight interceptions, lost eight fumbles and been sacked 26 times in seven starts plus a few minutes of mop-up duty. And he will be without Sterling Shepard and probably Evan Engram.
So how to pick this mess? Well, the Jets have the worst loss (to Miami) but also have the best win between the teams, their 24-22 victory over the Cowboys. But the main reason for this selection is the point spread, as Jets backers already are ahead 2¹/₂ to 0.
The pick: Jets, +2¹/₂.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6) over TENNESSEE TITANS: This line climbed a few points after Patrick Mahomes practiced Wednesday. Main reason for hesitancy on the Chiefs is memory of home losses in early October in which the defense was run over by the Colts and Texans. Can Derrick Henry do enough of that here to keep it close? Tennessee ranks 18th in the NFL in rushing, so the answer is probably not.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-3) over Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield shaved his handlebar mustache after last week’s loss at Denver because he said he “doesn’t deserve to wear it.” Odell Beckham Jr. is pouting because Mayfield won’t thrown him the ball when he’s not open. Rookie coach Freddie Kitchens already is a goner, many say. Yet the 2-6 Browns are still favored over the 6-2 Bills despite more than 75 percent of public money being bet on Buffalo. That suggests the books have sharp money liability on Cleveland.
Arizona Cardinals (+4¹/₂) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Even when Jameis Winston plays great, the Bucs find ways to lose, as they did last week in Seattle in a horrible bad beat for Bucs backers. Coach Bruce Arians goes up against his former team here, but he won’t recognize it with Kyler Murray and Kenyan Drake getting comfortable with coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense. Cardinals make the long trip but have had three extra days’ rest, and the Bucs just took a long flight home, as well.
Atlanta Falcons (+13¹/₂) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: In this season of spreads jumping into the 20s, was hoping to at least get two full touchdowns here. Still the Falcons lead the NFL in passing by a wide margin (316.8 yards per game), and that gives hope for a back-door cover if they can keep it reasonably close.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+10) over Baltimore Ravens: Could be a bit of a letdown/lookahead spot for the Ravens, who crushed the Patriots and next have the Texans, Rams and 49ers lined up. Winless Bengals have covered two of three spreads in this vicinity, and there should be some excitement for Ryan Finley’s first start.
Detroit Lions (+2¹/₂) over CHICAGO BEARS: It’ll be Chicago weather, mid-40s and gusty, and that normally would prompt a Bears pick over the indoor Lions. But the Bears offense has been so bad, Mitchell Trubisky wants the team to turn off the TVs in Halas Hall so he doesn’t have to hear people talk about them. So the weather could hinder them, though they caught a break with Matthew Stafford being ruled out with a back injury. The line skyrocketed to Bears -6 ¹/₂ on Sunday morning with the news of Stafford’s absence
Miami Dolphins (+11) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Indianapolis was hoping to have Jacoby Brissett back after he left last week’s 26-24 loss in Pittsburgh with a knee injury, but it will be Brian Hoyer under center. The line strikes as too large against a Miami team that has covered four games in a row. The Colts’ wins this season have come by two, three, six, seven and two points.
Carolina Panthers (+5¹/₂) over GREEN BAY PACKERS: Kyle Allen now can operate without the possibility of Cam Newton returning to take back his job. Like this Christian McCaffrey attack versus a Green Bay team that has allowed at least 22 points for six games in a row.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (+3¹/₂) over Los Angeles Rams: The Rams come in off a bye, but before that were easy wins over the Falcons and Bengals. It will be more than a month since their last competitive game (a 20-7 home loss to the 49ers), and they may not be primed for the level of combat a game against the Steelers demands.
Minnesota Vikings (+3) over DALLAS COWBOYS: It’s the third prime-time game in a row for the overexposed Cowboys. Even with WR Adam Thielen out, happy to take the small headstart with the Vikings, who have covered nine of their past 10 versus Dallas.
Seattle Seahawks (+6) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Seattle has won outright in both games in which it has been an underdog this season (+4 at Pittsburgh, +1 at Cleveland). The Hawks have scored at least 27 points in seven of their past eight games. Undefeated records have expiration dates, and the 49ers’ 8-0 mark may be coming close to that.
Best bets: Cardinals, Steelers, Seahawks.
Lock of the week: Cardinals (Locks 3-6 in 2019).
Last week: 3-11 overall, 1-2 Best Bets.
Thursday: Raiders (W).
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