That, in and of itself, should be major cause for celebration. 2020 has been the worst year our world has seen in a century, and it’s remarkable that pro sports are going on at all, let alone with some limited fans in certain cities to re-establish, dare I say in 2020, a very slight sense of “normalcy.”
I’ve get to jump into the fray for picks, but now feels like the right time since some of these teams’ identities are starting to show. So without further ado, here is my first stab at prognosticating games in 2020:
2019 season record ATS: 25-20-1 (55.6%)
Washington at Detroit (buying to -3 at -135)
For pretty much the same reason I liked the Falcons last week, I like the Lions to get off the schneid at home. As long as Matthew Stafford is healthy and playing, I can’t see Alex Smith and the WFT offense generating enough points to win on the road in this spot. Pick: Lions.
Philadelphia (-4) at New York Giants
Ah, the NFC Least, where everyone — and I do mean everyone — has a chance. A win by the 2-7 Giants would bring Big Blue to within a half-game of the division leading Birds, and even sans Saquon Barkley, the G-Men have played competitive football in recent weeks. That includes a near-miss in Philly three weeks ago, when the Eagles rallied late for a 22-21 win. I’ll take the home dog to stir up this ugly race even more. Pick: Giants.
Los Angeles Chargers at Miami (-1.5)
I love what Miami is doing in 2020, even if I don’t totally agree with the decision to bench FitzMagic. But with a few COVID losses this week, and coming off an emotional road win, I wouldn’t look past the Chargers here. They’ve been absolutely awful at the end of games, but could also theoretically be 8-0 at this point given how competitive they’ve been each and every week. Even for this poorly-coached, silly team, the worm should eventually turn. Pick: Chargers.
Buffalo at Arizona (-2.5)
Josh Allen is suddenly playing at an MVP level, and the Cardinals had to be stunned by losing at home to Miami last week. Kyler Murray at Co. have been resilient in 2020 though, and I like them to flip the script after a tough L. Perhaps Buffalo is primed for a letdown after a nearly flawless performance against Seattle. Pick: Cardinals.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (buying to -7 at -125)
I know the Bengals are a sexy pick in this spot, but don’t buy too much into the hype. The Steelers are 8-0 for a reason and actually might be in line for an easier win after three close calls on the road. I don’t know if it will be a true blowout, but Big Ben is playing and the last time Joe Burrow faced a really good defense, Baltimore completely smothered the rookie. Pick: Steelers.
San Francisco at New Orleans (-10)
This one looks SO obvious, right? The Saints are hot, back to being the unstoppable force we all expected, and the 49ers are the walking wounded. Naturally, this makes the Niners a perfect sneaky cover pick as a double-digit dog, especially given that the Saints have a slightly shorter week and San Fran has had a few extra days to prepare after playing a Thursday nighter last week. Give me Nick Mullens to keep his squad close in a desperation game for the fading 49ers. Pick: 49ers.
Baltimore (buying to -7 at -130) at New England
This is the first time this century that this matchup will feature a bad Patriots team. In previous matchups, only a handful of times have the Ravens even been a pedestrian team, but now it’s New England barely keeping its head above water in the a surprisingly-competitive AFC. A week after sleepwalking through the first half and dominating the second half, I like the Ravens against a Patriots team coming off a lucky win on a short week with very few offensive weapons. Baltimore was already one of the few teams that is not at a perennial coaching disadvantage against Lord Belichick, and now that the talent disparity is this great, the Ravens should have no trouble with the Pats. A year ago on a Sunday night in November, the Ravens began what is now a New England “downfall” by drubbing the Patriots, 37-20. Starting with that loss, the Pats are now just 7-10 since starting the 2019 season 8-0. Pick: Ravens.