After a few perfect weeks in a row on my top spread picks, I was 1-2 last week, hitting on Rams -8 vs. 49ers but missing on Falcons -7 vs. the Bucs (who won outright) & Panthers -7 vs. the Colts.
Washington Redskins vs. New England Patriots (-14 On NFL Odds)
You have to love Bill Belichick. He knows his team should have no problem beating the Redskins on Sunday. But Belichick has been talking up Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in the media all week as if Cousins was a younger version of Tom Brady. The only thing Cousins and Brady have in common is they are white, right-handed and played for Big Ten schools in Michigan. I suppose it's possible that the Patriots could be a bit flat here off three big games against the Colts ("Deflategate" revenge), Jets and Dolphins (both AFC East rivals). And maybe the Pats are looking ahead to next week's Super Bowl payback possibility at the New York Giants. You know what Washington will try to do here: run, run, run to eat clock and keep Brady and the NFL's highest-scoring offense off the field. The Redskins also are likely to get back receiver DeSean Jackson, who hasn't played since Week 1 due to injury. Since 2010, New England has lost only four regular-season home games. Brady is 94-15 at home. The Redskins are 0-3 on the road and since 2010 have won only 14 road games. With a win on Sunday, the Patriots are guaranteed to finish the season with a record of .500 or better for the 15th consecutive year. Every other NFL team has had at least one losing season since 2001.
NFL Free Pick: That's a lot of points. Take Washington, which is also off its bye week. Hoping for 14.5 by kickoff. New England is 1-4 ATS in its past five home games vs. teams with a losing road record. Washington is 7-2 ATS in its past nine after scoring more than 30 points in its previous game.
Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints (-8 In NFL Betting)
Surprised this line isn't a bit bigger. The Saints seem to have found themselves, winning three straight to reach .500. So much for those saying that Drew Brees is past his prime. Brees threw for 505 yards and an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns in last week's shootout win over the Giants. With at least four touchdown passes against Tennessee, Brees would set the league mark for most TD passes following a seven-TD game. With at least 350 passing yards, Brees would surpass his own performance (349 in 2006) for the second-most passing yards following a 500-yard performance. The league record for most TD passes in back-to-back games is 12 by Ben Roethlisberger last year. Brees goes against a Titans defense that is actually quite good against the pass, ranking No. 3 in yards per game. Tennessee fired coach Ken Whisenhunt on Tuesday and replaced him with assistant and former Bills and Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey. The Titans have dropped six straight and have scored more than 14 points just once in that stretch. But they will get back rookie starting quarterback Marcus Mariota this week and he's an upgrade over backup Zach Mettenberger, who started the past two while Mariota was dealing with a sprained knee.
NFL Free Pick: Saints (who are taking biggest lean of any team at several books). The Titans are 1-6 ATS in their past seven road games. New Orleans is 4-1-1 ATS in its past six overall.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets (-7.5 For NFL Picks)
This line wasn't officially posted at sportsbooks until Wednesday night because the Jets weren't sure who their quarterback was going to be. Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick tore ligaments in his left thumb in last week's loss to Oakland and was replaced by former starter Geno Smith, who proceeded to hurt his left shoulder. So early in the week it was looking like fourth-round rookie Bryce Petty might start against Jacksonville. But Fitzpatrick has been cleared. So while the offense should be fine, the defense has sprung leaks, allowing a combined 64 points in a two-game losing streak. Jacksonville ranks 22nd in the NFL in averaging 22.0 points per game. The Jaguars do have the advantage of coming off their bye week so they are mostly healthy. The Jaguars have lost 12 consecutive true road games (they won as home team in London in Week 7), the longest such streak in franchise history. But the Jags nearly won in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay this season.
NFL Free Pick: Jets. Jacksonville is 1-5 ATS in its past six after a win. New York is 5-1 ATS in its past six at home and 4-0 ATS in its past four following an ATS loss.