Last week wasn’t the cleanest week for the darts; some of them missed the target, some of them missed the board completely. Back to basics this week, with four underdogs among my five selections.
Eagles +7 versus Chiefs
I grant you Philly did very little right Monday, but that’s why there’s a spread. And this flawed version of the Chiefs team has not blown anyone out in a while; dating back to early November 2020, Kansas City is 2-12 ATS in its last 14 games. Its last blowout victory was a 35-9 spanking of the Jets on Nov. 1. I need to see KC flex its muscle again before I spot this kind of number on the road; the star power of the offense is hiding a lot of internal flaws with this roster. Interestingly to note that Kansas City is only two DVOA spots ahead of Philadelphia through three weeks.
Seahawks +3 at 49ers
I generally like taking road teams in division matchups — home field doesn’t seem to carry as much bite when the opponent makes the yearly trip. This game has quirks to it as both sides could be missing key skill talent on offense, but as long as I have Russell Wilson versus Jimmy Garoppolo, I feel good starting with the points. And Seattle’s also the more desperate squad, which is something I care about when the team is generally considered a plausible contender.
Packers -6.5 versus Steelers
I have tremendous respect for Mike Tomlin, and he famously has never had a losing record with the Steelers. But the Pittsburgh offense might be broken, from its aging quarterback to its shoddy offensive line to its stubbornness with proven cheat-code concepts — why won’t this team do more with play action and pre-snap motion? I can’t back the Steelers until I see signs that the offense can be competitive; its played poorly all three weeks.
Panthers +4.5 at Cowboys
Both teams have put significant resources towards fixing a bad defense, but in Carolina’s case, the results are already in. Carolina might have a Top 5 defensive unit, while the Cowboys, for now, are thrilled to have an average group. I like fading a public team after a big primetime win, especially now that Dallas enters a short preparation week. I see no reason why the Panthers can’t hang around, perhaps even spring an outright victory.
Jets +7 against Titans
I know no one wants to go near this New York team right now, but the defense has actually been solid and the Titans will be down key personnel on offense. Every Jets game has been ugly this year; fetching a touchdown at home, an ugly cover is certainly within the realm of possibility. I know taking bad teams as underdogs isn’t the sexiest thing, but often this handicapping racket comes down to eating your vegetables.