This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Experts’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more success this year! Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. You can also click over to see all our span data-preserver-spaces="true"">>Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.
Welcome back… it’s time for Football!
Atlanta @ Dallas (-8.5)
This game is very tricky with an 8.5 point spread. Atlanta is riding high after upsetting the Saints in New Orleans, while Dallas inexplicably fell to Dallas at home by two scores. I believe that the Cowboys will come out swinging, and look to put up points in bunches here, with QB Dak Prescott honing in on WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. Falcons QB Matt Ryan will look to keep up with Prescott & Co. but will be doing so without WR Calvin Ridley. Instead, TE Kyle Pitts will be the crux of the Atlanta offense. I like Dallas to cover the spread at home mostly due to Atlanta’s inability to rush the passer (dead last in NFL with 11 sacks), and inability to create turnovers (28th in INT.) That combination isn’t a good one when playing the 3rd best offense in the NFL. Look for Dallas to get right here and cover the lofty spread at home.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (-9.5)
The Jags pulled off a huge win over Buffalo last weekend, but only managed to score 9 points in the process. Not to take away from their victory, but you’re going to be hard-pressed to win many games in the NFL scoring less than 10 points. The Colts have been rolling offensively, winning 3 of their past 4 games and averaging over 27 points per game this season. Carson Wentz has made some egregiously bad plays but has also been efficient otherwise– passing for 2,198 yards and 17 TD compared to only 3 INTs. With injuries littering the Colts’ offense, two players have stood out– RB Jonathan Taylor (140/821/8) and breakout WR Michael Pittman Jr. (50/658/5.) While Trevor Lawrence should have James Robinson back at RB, I worry about the Jaguars’ ability to keep up with the Colts on the scoreboard, as they rank 31st in points per game. The rookie QB has shown potential, but it hasn’t translated to production on the field thus far. I do believe that Wentz has too many weapons at his disposal, and feel that the Colts will be able to continue their offensive efficiency.
Cleveland @ New England (-2.5)
Both of these squads are coming off of wins, with the Browns impressively shutting down the upstart Bengals, and the Patriots continuing their hot streak with a 24-6 win over the lowly Panthers. New England has been impressive defensively this year, as they lead the league with 13 interceptions, and have been very stingy with the 7th ranked scoring defense. Although, an X-factor here is the health of their RB corps. Both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are questionable with head injuries, and if both backs are missing, it’ll be a huge blow to this Patriots offense. The Browns’ RB corps is equally as concerning right now, though. Nick Chubb tested positive for COVID and remains highly questionable to play. If he’s unable to go, it’ll be the D’Ernest Johnson show yet again. Without Chubb, it makes things harder on QB Baker Mayfield, who just hasn’t been great this year, given all of his injuries and the drama surrounding his WRs. Rookie QB Mac Jones has been impressive thus far, leading New England to a winning record in the process. This game can shift either way if one of the RBs misses the contest. I think it’s more likely Harris or Stevenson suits up, and that gives the Patriots the slight edge in my mind. For now, given all the uncertainty, I like New England to take this one at home by a field goal.
Buffalo (-10.5) @ New York Jets
Buffalo looked about as bad as they could have last weekend in their loss to Jacksonville, only putting up 6 points. The Jets didn’t look great either, as they lost Mike White early in the game to an injury and fell to the Colts on Thursday night. White will be back under center for the Jets on Sunday as they host the Bills, and will return home to where he captured the hearts of the Jets’ faithful. White will likely have WR Corey Davis back as well, who had missed time with an injury. Buffalo is objectively the better team here, although they didn’t play like it last week. Josh Allen should also get his tight end back as Dawson Knox is back on the practice field. Allen’s connection with WR Stefon Diggs could also use some work, as it hasn’t been quite as consistent as it was last year. One bit of bad news is that RB Zack Moss remains questionable for this contest with a concussion. In any event, I think that the Bills are the better team… but 10.5 points is a whole lot to cover on the road. Let’s not forget, the Jets are 2-1 at home this year… They knocked off the current #1 seed in the AFC in East Rutherford, and it’s not an easy place to play. I think Buffalo gets the win, but I like the Jets +10.5 here as the home dog.
Detroit @ Pittsburgh (-7.5)
The Lions are coming off of a bye, while the Steelers are working on a short week of rest after their win on Monday Night Football. QB Ben Roethlisberger keeps finding ways to win this season, despite missing some of his top weapons. However, two rookies have emerged for the Steelers, dual-threat RB Najee Harris and TE Pat Freiermuth, who has scored 3 times in the past 3 games. QB Jared Goff has far fewer weapons on the Detroit side, with D’Andre Swift and TE TJ Hockenson posing the largest threats. While both players are quite strong in their own way, it hasn’t quite translated on the scoreboard this year, as the Lions rank 29th in points per game. The biggest factor here is the Steelers’ defense. They rank 5th in the NFL in points against, while also ranking top 10 with 22 sacks on the season. TJ Watt is one of the best players in the league, and I can see this unit making things very difficult for the Lions on Sunday. While the Pittsburgh offense isn’t fantastic, the Detroit offense is downright bad. Take that bad offense and put it up against an elite defense– I like the Steelers to win and cover here.
New Orleans @ Tennessee (-2.5)
The Titans currently hold the #1 seed in the AFC, despite their recent loss of RB Derrick Henry. While many didn’t see it coming, the Titans dominated the Rams in Los Angeles last Sunday night, proving they can still hang with the better teams in the league without their prized RB. QB Ryan Tannehill was efficient as always, leading his team to multiple red-zone scores, and pacing a measured, clock-controlling win. With Henry out, Tannehill focused on WR AJ Brown quite a bit, as the finally healthy WR seems to be relishing in his role as the Titans’ top option. RB Adrian Peterson returned with a TD in his effort, while veteran D’Onta Foreman also showed some nice burst out of the backfield. The defense was the real story for Tennessee, as Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, and Harold Landry were in the backfield repeatedly, and S Kevin Byard logged a huge pick-six. QB Trevor Siemian will head to Tennessee and attempt to beat this now formidable defense. Siemian did stumble last week, as the Saints fell to the Falcons. However, the concern lies with elite RB Alvin Kamara, who seems to be day to day with a knee injury. If Kamara is forced to miss this game, it’d be a huge blow for the Saints. In any event, with a lack of offensive firepower, the Saints will continue to rely on their 3rd ranked scoring defense. At the end of the day, I think the Titans, even without Henry, have too many weapons for the Saints to hold them at bay. Look for the Titans to control the clock, and for the defense to continue building on their strong season. I like Tennessee to win and cover at home, further cementing their spot at the top of the AFC.
Tampa Bay (-9.5) @ Washington
Tampa Bay is fresh off of a Bye, giving Tom Brady plenty of time to game plan against the Washington Football Team. Washington, on the other hand, has lost 4 straight but is also well-rested from their bye. QB Taylor Heinicke has been pedestrian for Washington, despite his feel-good backstory. With Antonio Gibson hampered by a lingering injury, the only true bright spot on this offense is WR Terry McLaurin. With Tampa Bay’s inconsistency in their secondary, McLaurin might be in for a big game, especially if the Football Team is playing catch-up on Sunday afternoon. Washington is averaging less than 20 points per game, while Tom Brady’s Bucs lead the league with a 32.5 ppg average. With Chris Godwin’s status in question, Brady will focus on WR Mike Evans as always and should have major success, being that Washington has allowed more passing yards per game than any team in the NFL. While 9.5 points is a lot to cover on the road, I just don’t see the Washington secondary shutting down Brady, and I don’t believe the WFT offense has the weapons to keep up with Tampa on the scoreboard. I’ll take Tampa Bay to win and cover on the road.
Carolina @ Arizona (-10.5)
With Sam Darnold out, it seems that it’ll be the PJ Walker show until the newly signed Cam Newton can get back up to speed for Carolina. Walker’s presence certainly limits the Panthers’ offense, despite the return of elite RB Christian McCaffrey. With that said, McCaffrey’s presence should open things up for WR DJ Moore, who had been flying solo for weeks without McCaffrey. Walker will need to get the ball to both of his studs and do so quickly, to keep Carolina in this game. Arizona, on the other hand, is also having QB issues, as Kyler Murray remains questionable to play. If Murray sits, though, the Cardinals will have the reliable Colt McCoy at QB. While McCoy certainly isn’t Murray, he is serviceable enough to run Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, and get the ball in his playmakers’ hands. Look for Murray or McCoy to give RB James Conner a ton of work with Chase Edmonds hung up with an ankle injury. In this (likely) battle of backup QBs, with strong defenses on both sidelines, I like the Cardinals to keep things rolling. Arizona is a tough place to play, and I believe that Walker will make more mistakes than McCoy, leading the Cardinals to a win and cover at home.
Minnesota @ Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
Despite their massive offensive potential, the Vikings just can’t find any consistency. With weapons such as Justin Jefferson, Adam Theilen, and Dalvin Cook, Minnesota should easily be top-10 in scoring. Instead, they haven’t found their rhythm and sit at 17th in scoring and a disappointing 3-5 on the season. Thankfully, their defense has picked up the slack, allowing the 12th fewest points, and ranking 2nd in sacks on the season. They’ll need to be quite good on Sunday, as the Chargers come into the game with a full complement of offensive options for QB Justin Herbert. With WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen on the outside and the versatile Austin Ekeler in the backfield, the Chargers can hang with anyone on the scoreboard. With that said, assuming Dalvin Cook plays, I believe the RB can exploit this Los Angeles rushing defense, which ranks dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. If Cook can control the clock, I think the Vikings can keep it close. However, with the chips on the table at the end of the game, I trust Herbert to make the throws necessary to squeak one out at home. While I like the Chargers to win, I do believe that Minnesota will do enough to keep the score within 3.5.
Philadelphia @ Denver (-2.5)
Denver surprised many with their dominant win in Dallas last week, while the Eagles fell to the Chargers in a very tight battle. QB Teddy Bridgewater has exceeded expectations this year, leading Denver to a 5-4 record, and throwing for 14 TDs compared to only 5 INTs. Bridgewater got WR Jerry Jeudy back from IR 2 weeks ago and should get his TE Noah Fant back for Sunday’s contest as well. Fant’s presence will certainly be a boost for the Broncos, but their focus should remain on their rushing attack. RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have excelled in their committee this year, combining for 1,094 total yards and 8 TDs. Williams has been especially impressive as of late, as the rookie took 17 carries for 111 yards last weekend against Dallas. Philadelphia, on the other hand, has been leaning on a veteran to carry the rushing load as of late. With RB Miles Sanders on IR, Jordan Howard has filled in and impressed, scoring 3 times in 2 games, and carrying the ball almost 30 times over that period. With Howard and QB Jalen Hurts leading the way on the ground, it’ll be up to the Denver rushing defense to keep it close for the Broncos. I believe they’re up to the task, as they rank 6th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. Denver has the league’s 2nd best scoring defense and will be hosting the Eagles in one of the NFL’s toughest places to play. I like Denver to keep things rolling here, winning and covering at home.
Seattle @ Green Bay (-3.5)
This game will be a tale of two quarterbacks. It seems QB Russell Wilson will return for Seattle, after spending time on IR with a finger injury. On the other side, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers remains on the COVID list, and there’s a chance he might not be activated before this contest. If Rodgers doesn’t play, it changes everything. However, at this point, his preparation will be severely interrupted, having been away from the team for almost 2 weeks by game time. He’ll have his full arsenal offensively to make up for any lack of preparation though, with stud WR Davante Adams, and a strong tandem of RBs, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Seattle’s attack will be less balanced, as they’ll look for Wilson to guide them to victory, along with their speedy pass-catchers, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Wilson will have to be at his best, though, as this Green Bay defense has been stingy this year, especially against opposing QBs. Jaire Alexander and the secondary will need to exploit the rusty Wilson and force him into uncharacteristic sloppy throws. For this column, we’ll assume both Rodgers and Wilson play. Wilson will need some time to get back up to game speed, so I’m not so sure he can strut into Lambeau and pull off the upset. However, if Rodgers is out, I think I like Seattle here. Assuming both stud QBs are out there on Sunday, I like the Packers to win this game by a field goal, meaning I’ll take Seattle with the points.
Kansas City (-2.5) @ Las Vegas
Kansas City is a different team this year. They’re not scoring points in bunches, and their All-Pro QB looks just a bit off this year. Despite the whispers of regression, the Chiefs have won their last 2 games and 3 of their last 4. Although, their wins have come against the lowly Giants and Washington Football Team, and a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers. To make things less impressive, they only scored 13 points in their win against Green Bay. Patrick Mahomes has been okay, but not his usual “great” self. He’s thrown some uncharacteristic interceptions, and his connections with TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill have been very inconsistent. It just feels like this offense can’t truly mesh and put it all together. The Chiefs’ offensive line has been very spotty, causing issues for Mahomes, and they’ve been mediocre rushing the football with the absence of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. To make matters worse, the defense has been awful, allowing the 6th most points in the league, and ranking 31st in sacks, speaking to their inability to rush the passer. Las Vegas fell to the Giants last week but pulled out consecutive wins the 2 weeks prior. Derek Carr has led the league’s 2nd ranked passing offense and a team that ranks 6th in total yardage. With RB Josh Jacobs back to full strength, and RB Kenyan Drake finally finding some success in his passing-down role, the Raiders have a very nice balanced attack. WR Hunter Renfrow and TE Darren Waller have been their most consistent pass-catchers, but Waller still has another gear he can get to, as he’s only scored twice this year. The Chiefs seem to be floundering as of late, and a trip to Las Vegas won’t help matters. I like the Raiders to squeak out this upset as home dogs, on the shoulders of Carr and Waller, who will put up impressive numbers against this pitiful KC defense.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…span itemprop="name"">>Brad Castronovo
A former D1 College Wrestler at Boston University, Brad hails from New Jersey. By day, Brad works in the corporate automotive world, but by night, he is an avid sports, football, and fantasy sports enthusiast with a passion for winning. Fun Fact: Brad ran and finished the 2019 Boston Marathon!
Over the past decade, Brad has won dozens of fantasy league championships and has been writing for Gridiron Experts for the past 4 seasons. While he’s surrounded by Giants and Jets supporters, Brad is a diehard Tennessee Titans fan, and, accordingly has dumped a ton of money into NFL Sunday Ticket in his years!svg aria-hidden="true" role="img" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewbox="0 0 512 512"">