New England Patriots 31, Houston Texans 27
The Texans rank dead last in run defense and turnovers forced, which is a bad recipe against a diverse, peaking New England rushing attack led by Damien Harris. The Patriots didn’t turn the ball over and didn’t need to throw much during their two-game winning streak. They should be able to replicate that in this reunion with old pal Romeo Crennel.
Patriots at Texans (+1.5)
Even after their win over the Ravens last week, the Patriots have just a 9.8 percent chance to make the postseason, according to The Athletic’s playoff projections. New England’s defense ranks last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. The Texans, meanwhile, are 2-7 against the spread and got a miracle cover last week when Nick Chubb stepped out of bounds at the end of their game against the Browns. There’s a scenario here where Deshaun Watson shreds New England’s defense, but the Patriots’ coaching staff has a significant edge.
The pick: Patriots (-1.5)
From: The Athletic
Los Angeles Chargers 24, New York Jets 17
The Chargers aren’t the same without Joey Bosa, Austin Ekeler and Chris Harris Jr. The Jets might be better without Sam Darnold, which is a concern. The only opponent remaining on the Jets’ schedule that currently has a losing record is New England, which will host them in Week 17, so Sunday could be Gang Green’s best chance at a win for a while. Then again, Bosa returned to full participation in Wednesday’s practice …
Jets at Chargers (-8.5)
Just when I thought Justin Herbert couldn’t impress me more, he took the attention off of the Chargers’ many coaching mishaps by showing up to his press conference like this.
That’s true leadership right there. As for this game, how often is a 2-7 team favored by 8.5 points? There are only two possibilities here. The haircut crushes Herbert’s mojo and he plays terribly, leading to 7,000 Twitter jokes, or he reverses the Chargers’ terrible luck, and they roll.
The pick: Jets (+8.5)
From: The Athletic
Miami Dolphins 24, Denver Broncos 16
Dolphins at Broncos (+3.5)
Is this the week that the Dolphins start feeling themselves and suffer a letdown? Why else wouldn’t this line be higher? Miami confuses opposing quarterbacks on a weekly basis, and Drew Lock is dealing with injured ribs. There’s a scenario here where Vic Fangio cooks up a special game plan that makes Tua Tagovailoa look bad. But the Dolphins have shown they can win big without needing their offense to be prolific.
The pick: Dolphins (-3.5)