Patriots (4-2) at Bears (3-2): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: NE -2.5 | Matchup quality: 72.4 (of 100)
Mike Reiss’ pick: This is a good spot for the Bears to possibly pull the upset, with the Patriots coming off an emotional Sunday night victory, but two things have me sticking with the Patriots: Khalil Mack isn’t 100 percent with a right ankle injury; and the Tom Brady-led offense has scored 38, 38 and 43 points in its past three games and has even left points on the field. The New England defense will tighten up against the big play for the team to get its first road win of the season. Patriots 27, Bears 20
Jeff Dickerson’s pick: The Bears are catching the Patriots at the wrong time. Mack’s ankle injury, while not believed to be serious, is likely to limit his effectiveness versus Brady and the New England offense on Sunday. The Bears probably will put up a good fight, but in the end, New England’s firepower on offense will be too much for Chicago to overcome. Patriots 27, Bears 21
FPI win projection: CHI, 50.8 percent. The Bears are slight favorites at home, one of just two remaining games in which the Patriots are an underdog, according to FPI (Week 15 at PIT). Brady is 4-0 against the Bears in his career, but he faces a defense ranked second in defensive efficiency and first in takeaways per game (2.8) and points off turnovers per game (8.8) this season.
What to watch for in fantasy: Taylor Gabriel is arguably the most underrated asset in fantasy. Available in nearly two-thirds of ESPN leagues, he should be scooped up and considered a fringe WR3 option against New England. Read more.
Love this matchup. You know the Bears are Ditka-level pissed off over how last week’s loss to Miamiwent down, a glacially-paced disaster if there ever was one. (It was kind of like climate change, though some folks choose to deny that. Not as easy to ignore NFL standings.) Chicago will attempt to tee off on Tom Brady, which is compelling because A) he will most certainly get the ball out quickly in the early goings and b) the Patriots have stunk on the road in two outings, getting manhandled in both Jacksonville and Detroit. The issue for Chicago is whether Mitch Trubisky and the offense can move the ball early. Still waiting for that 125-yard Jordan Howard game. Season high: 82 yards, Week 1.
Vikings (3-2-1) at Jets (3-3): 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: MIN -3.5 | Matchup quality: 40.5 (of 100)
Courtney Cronin’s pick: Like the Jets, the Vikings feel pretty good after winning their past two games, but it’s still too early to determine whether everything’s back on track. Minnesota might struggle against the run if Linval Joseph isn’t healthy enough to play; and offensively, Kirk Cousins has to be extra cognizant of ball security against a defense that thrives off creating turnovers. Cousins can beat the Jets’ pressure by relying on Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and that might be easier to do, given the injuries in New York’s secondary. Vikings 27, Jets 19
Rich Cimini’s pick: The Jets are confident after two straight wins, but confidence can’t cover Thielen. Without Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine, rookie Parry Nickerson will draw Thielen in the slot. Thielen could go for 200 yards against the Jets’ beat-up secondary. Offensively, the Jets will struggle because the Vikings play excellent situational football, as Minnesota is No. 1 in third-down defense and No. 2 in the red zone. Vikings 28, Jets 17
FPI win projection: MIN, 55.5 percent. At 67.1, the Jets are a top-five team in terms of defensive efficiency, according to FPI, and that number increases to 77.3 in home games. Intriguingly, Cousins has performed better away from home this season, posting a 83.1 Total QBR in road games compared with 43.8 at home.
What to watch for in fantasy: Thielen aligns in the slot 60 percent of the time, and he’s a terrific bet to continue his outstanding early-season success this weekend. Read more.
How healthy are the Jets‘ defensive backs? I ask only because Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are not going to drop passes with the proficiency of the Colts last week. Remember, Diggs’ hands stick to everything. Doubt Latavius Murray will follow in the footsteps of Indy RB Marlon Mack, who delivered a perfect beach volleyball set to New York CB Morris Claiborne for a quick-six. The litmus test in this contest for Gang Green will be if Sam Darnold is forced to try to keep pace with Kirk Cousins; that is, if the game flows toward a flurry of points. When New York has won, it’s been the result of mixing a dash of Darnold with several cups of the running game. The Jets are averaging two bills per game on the ground in their wins. Darnold is also getting over 9 yards per throw in those three victories.
Bills (2-4) at Colts (1-5): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: IND -7.5 | Matchup quality: 32.7 (of 100)
Mike Rodak’s pick: This game has the potential to be sloppy between two teams that rank in the top six in turnovers lost and in the top nine in turnovers forced. It seems reasonable to lean in the direction of Andrew Luck over Derek Andersonand in favor of the home team. But one bounce the Bills’ way could change the outcome. Colts 17, Bills 14
Mike Wells’ pick: The Colts are off to their worst start since the 2011 season. The only positive outside of Luck’s play this season is that they could have receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) back for the first time since Week 4. Hilton’s return will help a group that has 13 drops in the past three games. Scoring will be tough, as Buffalo is ranked 10th in total defense. Colts 17, Bills 10
FPI win projection: IND, 79.5 percent. The Colts are the biggest favorite of the week, according to FPI, but they might not put up points on offense the way they have over the past few weeks. Luck’s three-game streak of 300-plus yards and three touchdown passes could come to an end, as the Bills’ under-the-radar defense ranks fourth in defensive efficiency.
What to watch for in fantasy: LeSean McCoy has had 45 touches over the past two weeks, a big bump from the 29 touches he saw in his first three games combined. The Colts are allowing the fourth-most RB completions per game (6.83), so his floor could be elevated this week. Read more.
Bad news for fans of interceptions: The Bills are starting Derek Anderson in place of Nathan Peterman, a true master of the art who introduced the across-the-body late throw over the middle to his repertoire last week. There is still hope for some pick-related fireworks, however; Colts receivers react like Andrew Luck is delivering changeups … or at least, their hands do. Still, look for Indy to prevail. Luck’s mobility and pocket awareness will be the key factor against a frenetic Bills pass rush. The Colts have lost all but one of their games, yet they’ve been at their opponent’s doorstep in the fourth quarter every time out. The Bills simply won’t feature enough offense to do the same, even with the presumably steadier hand of Anderson at the till. The 35-year-old hasn’t posted a passer rating of 90 or better in a start since December of 2014.
Lions (2-3) at Dolphins (4-2): 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: DET -3 | Matchup quality: 20.2 (of 100)
Michael Rothstein’s pick: Miami might be good at home, but don’t be fooled. This matchup actually plays pretty well for Detroit. The Dolphins aren’t good at reaching the quarterback (4.7 sack percentage), and if you give Matthew Stafford time to throw, he’ll beat you. As long as the line continues to hold up — and the potential return of T.J. Lang should help — Stafford could have a monster day. The Lions’ run defense is suspect, but it’s an overall favorable matchup for the Lions, particularly since Brock Osweiler has only completed 56 percent of his passes against Matt Patricia defenses in his career and hasn’t had a game against Patricia with over 60 percent passing. Lions 27, Dolphins 20
Cameron Wolfe’s pick: It’s tough to get a peg on this Dolphins team so far this season. They’re 4-2 with a backup quarterback likely leading them through the rest of October. The Miami heat and their stadium represent one of the best home-field advantages in the first two months of the season. The Dolphins are 3-0 at Hard Rock Stadium this season. Will the Osweiler revival continue against a stingy Lions pass defense? Probably not, but this seems like a prime game for Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake to bully the Lions’ 30th-ranked rushing defense, especially in the fourth quarter. Dolphins 24, Lions 23
FPI win projection: MIA, 50.9 percent. The Dolphins will be without Ryan Tannehill for a second straight week, but the switch to Osweiler doesn’t change their chances to win, according to FPI. The Dolphins would have a 51 percent chance to win with either quarterback under center.
What to watch for in fantasy: The platoon setup Miami has adopted for Drake and Gore does place a cap on the upside value of their Week 7 blocking advantage over Detroit, but placing either of them into an RB2 or flex starting role is a high-percentage play with notable upside potential. Read more.
When Adam Gase starts angrily citing HIPAA laws, you know things have gone south with his quarterback. Gase’s prospective task now is to keep winning with Brock Osweiler under center. The Dolphins might not be a strong team, but they are 4-2 and hanging with the Chargers and Ravens in the early wild-card race. Detroit is trying to do the same in the NFC, but must steal this interconference deal on the road. With three other potential playoff teams in their division, the Lions can’t lose to a career backup. Their remaining schedule is too unforgiving to drop this one in Miami. This matchup always reminds me of a sweet Sunday nighter from the Mike Patrick ESPN days, when another backup quarterback in Dave Krieg helped Detroit get hot late in the 1994 season, winning five out of six games before stumbling to Dan Marino and the Fins in Week 17. Still made the playoffs, though. #WayneFontes
Last week 2-2, Season total 11-8
Patriots @ Bears: 27-30
Yea I had this score reversed mostly because Mack maybe banged up, but the more I think about it and the more I doubt the 0-2 road Pats win at 2-0 Bears. Chicago will score because they have all season, and I think Tom will find away territory a bit harsh. Tarik will Tyreek them as the Pats will fall.
Mostly I don’t think this Pats team is as talented as it has been, mostly at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Trubisky is coming of age and he has way more weapons, even with a banged up AR.
Vikings @ Jets: 33-27
This Jets team led by Sam Da Man Darnold has improved last few weeks, but this Vikings team is simply better. I kind of hope Cousins falls on his face and Jets D dances on his head often, however, his weapons are real good and the Jets D has many of DBs out.
Darnold has been damn good last two weeks (by far best in this year’s class), I don’t think this Vikings D will make him regress, however he will not be able to keep on the scoring sheet.
Bills @ Colts: 13-30
Bills D will keep score close for a quarter, but then reality will kick in, and if Colts score more than 13, game is over. Bills score more like a baseball team than an NFL franchise. This week they are trying old Man and The Sea at QB, result will not differ. This team has a decent D but the most boring inept O I can remember……Remember when it was funny before season last year, as you guys were prognosticating Jets to break NFL low scoring record, Bills have a shot this year!
Lions @ Dolphins: 36-20
Luck is in Indy, however Lady Luck has run its course in Miami. This team is winning ugly and with similar luck as they had two years ago, but scoring less than you can score doesn’t always add up.
The Lions have had time to regroup and get things going, they will run a lot and score at same rate. Dolphins D is good, but OZ will keep them on the field way too much. I expect the real Brock to show, as opponents have had time to prepare.