Sam Darnold will do enough to keep Jets close

The Jets’ come-from-behind, 27-23 victory over the Bills last Sunday was good for the morale at 1 Jets Drive, encouraging about Sam Darnold’s future and infuriating to fans who wanted to draft Nick Bosa with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft. It’s also indicative that they’ll bring another good effort to Saturday’s national TV game against the Texans.

Problem is, they are catching the Texans at the wrong time. Houston finally threw in a dud last week, losing 24-21 at home to the Colts to end a nine-game winning streak. With Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and others, Houston possesses far more weapons than what the Jets encountered last week at Buffalo.

This is a tough call, but the lean is to the home underdog for this reason: The Texans have scored more than 23 points just four times all season. Figuring if that holds, Darnold can put up enough points to stay within the spread or get there through the back door.

The pick: Jets +6¹/₂

Browns (+2¹/₂) over BRONCOS: Trends say Cleveland has lost its past 10 to the Broncos (1-8-1 ATS). But it seems Browns history started on Oct. 29 when they fired Hue Jackson. The Broncos have not scored more than 24 points in any of the past six games. Baker Mayfield’s Browns have done that three times in the past four.


Titans (+2) over GIANTS: This really seems like a case of getting points with the better team, No disrespect to this 4-1 run the Giants are on, but three of the wins have come against backup quarterbacks … and last week’s 40-16 rout of the Redskins was so easy Big Blue might even have a little bit of an inflated sense of self worth. Key stat: The Titans have given up 17 points or less six times. The Giants needed to face Mark Sanchez to finally hold an opponent under 20.

BEARS (-5¹/₂) over Packers: After sneezing at that Browns-Broncos trend, we’ll put more stock in the one that shows the Packers have covered in 16 of their past 20 games in Chicago. However, the Bears are going for the NFC North clinch with a win, and are 6-1 ATS at home under Matt Nagy.

BILLS (-2¹/₂) over Lions: Detroit gets a break with the weather, which is forecast to be near 40 and dry. Still, those aren’t ideal conditions for an indoor team on a road back-to-back off a win, so we’ll run with Josh Allen here.

RAVENS (-7¹/₂) over Buccaneers: The Bucs were leading 14-3 over the Saints and getting 9¹/₂ points last week and still failed to cover, getting outscored 25-0 in the second half. The Ravens have given up the fewest points in the NFL and are No. 2 in yards allowed, and will be able to short-circuit the Bucs on a wet, upper-40s day in the Inner Harbor.

Cardinals (+9¹/₂) over FALCONS: In their past three road games, the Cardinals have covered at Kansas City and won at Green Bay, with a 45-10 loss at the Chargers in between. Just have no interest in giving this many points with a Falcons team that has scored between 16 and 20 points in each of the past five games,

Raiders (+3) over BENGALS: Weather will be fine for the Raiders (50 and partly sunny), and we’re happy to take Derek Carr and a few points against Jeff Driskel anywhere.

Cowboys (+3) over COLTS: The Cowboys have won and covered five in a row. The Colts have won six of seven (4-2-1 ATS) and just knocked off the Texans in Houston. The decision here is driven by what happened two weeks ago, when the Cowboys held the Saints to 10 points and the Colts got shut out in Jacksonville. That and the small head start with the spread lead to a Cowboys pick.

Dolphins (+7) over VIKINGS: It’s usually sound policy to fade a team that’s traveling off a miracle, last-second home win. But the Dolphins have been moving the ball well and should be able to stay within a touchdown of the offense that got offensive coordinator John DeFilippo fired.

JAGUARS (-7) over Redskins: Josh Johnson led two touchdown drives last week when the Redskins already were down 40-0 to the Giants. If you’re inclined to take Washington, well, at least he’s not Mark Sanchez. The Jags are no bargain, either, particularly as a touchdown favorite. They’ve scored in single digits five times. But they did shut out Andrew Luck two weeks ago.

49ERS (+4) over Seahawks: The Seahawks beat the 49ers, 43-16, in Week 13. Why would two weeks and 800 miles make this much difference? Because the 49ers had a 452-331 edge in yardage and three turnovers turned that game into a rout.

Patriots (-2¹/₂) over STEELERS: That was a colossal loss for Bill Belichick and the Patriots in Miami, but figures to be a one-time event. The Steelers have played four extremely strange games in a row, going 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS.

RAMS (-11) over Eagles: Though the Rams have had just two double-digit wins in the past 10 games (after going 3-for-3 to start the season), we’ll go here … with the Eagles having to make the cross-country trip without Carson Wentz.


PANTHERS (+6) over Saints: In Carolina’s 0-5 SU and ATS nightmare skid, four of the five games have been on the road. The one home game was a three-point loss to the Seahawks. Expecting them to give Drew Brees a good battle in prime time here.

Best Bets: Patriots, Bills, Raiders.

Lock of the Week: Patriots (Locks 10-3-1 in 2018).

Last week: 10-6 overall, 2-1 Best Bets.
Thursday night: Chiefs (L)

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