Los Angeles Chargers 27, Miami Dolphins 24
The Dolphins are incredibly thin at running back. Same story at receiver after Preston Williams’ injury. This only further exacerbates the talent deficiency Miami has Sunday, which makes this the toughest game to pick all week. A Fins win would be a monument to how much coaching situational football and special teams matter, but I think Justin Herbert is simply going to play too well to lose one of these weeks — and he’s still the rookie QB I’d roll with in this matchup.
Chargers at Dolphins (-2.5)
The Chargers are 3-15 in one-possession games over the past two years. Some of that is bad luck. But plenty of it is poor game management and bad coaching. The Chargers rank sixth in passing efficiency with Justin Herbert. They are 27th in rushing efficiency. There’s no reason they should be as run-heavy as they are.
The Dolphins are 6-2 against the spread. I think Brian Flores will have a sound plan for making life difficult for Herbert, and it’s impossible to take the Chargers in a close game right now.
The pick: Dolphins (-2.5)
From: The Athletic
Buffalo Bills 34, Arizona Cardinals 31
The Bills’ defense probably is better than the numbers suggest; just check the track record and talent. The Cardinals’ defense probably isn’t as good as the numbers suggested; just check the opposing quarterbacks Arizona has faced. With John Brown healthy again, the Bills are the last team that a defense short on cornerbacks wants to face.
Bills at Cardinals (-1.5)
Kyler Murray is on pace for the second-best rushing season for a quarterback in NFL history. He already has 543 rushing yards, which is just one fewer than he had all of last season. Murray is on pace for 1,086 rushing yards, which would be second all-time to only Lamar Jackson last season. If you want to look at advanced stats, Murray has produced 31.6 Expected Points Added (EPA) on rushes this season, according to Sports Info Solutions. That’s tops in the league, ahead of even Dalvin Cook. Josh Allen, meanwhile, is all the way up to sixth in QBR, and Brian Daboll did a terrific job last week against Seattle of putting Allen in positions to succeed. This feels like an exciting, high-scoring game where one of the defenses will need to produce a turnover late to secure a victory.
The pick: Cardinals (-1.5)
From: The Athletic
Baltimore Ravens 35, New England Patriots 17
This was a nightmare matchup for the Patriots last season, even when they had a strong defense. Now Bill Belichick coaches the 31st-ranked group in football, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. New England’s especially soft against the run, going up against a Ravens team that leads the league in rushing. Expect to see Robert Griffin III by the IVth quarter.
Ravens at Patriots (+6.5)
It’s pretty clear that Bill Belichick feels like his best chance of winning games is to be conservative, keep it close, and try to steal them at the end. Cam Newton’s play always gets the headlines, but New England is all the way down to 31st in defensive efficiency. The Ravens’ offense in the second half last week against the Colts looked like the 2019 version. The Ravens have the second-easiest schedule the rest of the way, according to Football Outsiders. I think they’re about to get hot.
The pick: Ravens (-6.5)