Memo to all those who have played defensive back in the NFL, arena league, in college, high school or even Pop Warner: Send highlight tape and résumé to Gregg Williams, One Jets Drive, Florham Park, N.J. This may be your big break.
Well, no … but the Jets are so decimated in the secondary, Williams will have to pull a Harry Houdini act on Sunday at MetLife Stadium to slow down the suddenly competent Dolphins offense. The Jets are a team with no pass rush, except for the few weeks when Williams turned Jamal Adams loose on Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins. Now Adams is likely out along with Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet. No pass rush plus terrible coverage equals disaster.
The Dolphins average only 16.7 points per game, fourth-worst in the NFL. But in the last five games beginning with their Nov. 3 win versus the Jets, Miami is averaging 24.6 ppg.
The Jets are fifth-worst in scoring at 17.0 ppg, but had three straight weeks with 34 points before the offensive line cratered again last week in Cincinnati. Sam Darnold will have to put up a lot of points and keep possession for 35-38 minutes to give the Jets a chance to eke out a win. Don’t see that happening.
The pick: Dolphins, +5¹/₂.
Baltimore Ravens (-5¹/₂) over BUFFALO BILLS: The Ravens offense travels, scoring 30 at Seattle, 49 at Cincinnati and 45 at the LA Rams in the last three road games. The Bills have a physical defense, but the emotion will wane when they figure out they can’t corral Lamar Jackson enough.
Washington Redskins (+13) over GREEN BAY PACKERS: Willing to grab the big points with the Redskins on a mild (42 degrees) day at Lambeau. They’ve scored the fewest points (173) in the NFL, but can keep possession of the ball with Derrius Guice running it hard.
Denver Broncos (+9¹/₂) over HOUSTON TEXANS: For the 8-4, first in the AFC South Texans, this game vs. the 4-8 Broncos is sandwiched between a prime-time win over the Patriots and a divisional battle at Tennessee.
San Francisco 49ers (+2¹/₂) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Both teams are 10-2, but the key difference is the Saints have clinched their division and the 49ers are looking at a wild-card road game. That should create a meaningful gap in intensity here.
Cincinnati Bengals (+7¹/₂) over CLEVELAND BROWNS: Bengals have covered their last three, giving up 17, 16 and six points. Now they face a Browns offense that has scored 21 or fewer five of the last six weeks. And Baker Mayfield has a hand injury.
ATLANTA FALCONS (-3) over Carolina Panthers: The in-season firing of Ron Rivera, who was popular with the Carolina players, could spell the end of the Panthers’ competitiveness this season. Falcons have a few days extra rest off a Thanksgiving night loss to the Saints.
Detroit Lions (+13) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: As of Thursday evening, there was uncertainty all around, from the Lions’ starting quarterback to key Vikings injuries. So the angle here is rest. The Lions played early on Thanksgiving last Thursday and the Vikings late Monday night.
Indianapolis Colts (+3) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: The records are similar now, but just two weeks ago it was Colts 6-4 and Bucs 3-7. Those records seem truer to what this matchup is, so give me the better team with a meaningful amount of points.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+3) over Los Angeles Chargers: The Jags seemingly blew up the $88 million Nick Foles era, and the return of gritty Gardner Minshew could give them a temporary lift. Have lost a lot here with the Chargers but fear a rare good performance. Tough call.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-3) over Kansas City Chiefs: The Patriots have won 20 games in a row at Foxborough in the regular season and playoffs. So you have to lean that way, even if small point spread could come into play. Tom Brady has a diminished offense, but KC hasn’t stopped him when it has mattered.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: Seems like a bargain considering the Steelers are 7-2 in their last nine, and one of those losses came by three points to the Ravens. Cardinals are averaging 31.8 ppg allowed in a five-game skid.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (+3) over Tennessee Titans: Raiders were having a great season before back-to-back blowout losses at the Jets and KC. Looking for a Black Hole rebound. Tennessee could be looking ahead to a first-place showdown with Houston next week.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (pick) over Seattle Seahawks: This line dropped from Seattle -2¹/₂ to pick ’em on sharp Rams money, per VSiN. The 10-2 Hawks are great at finding ways to win, but are coming off a tough Monday nighter. The Rams are on the outside of the NFC playoffs and will be desperate.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-9¹/₂) over New York Giants: Is there a chance Eli Manning can come off the bench and on muscle memory deliver a for-the-ages performance against the Eagles on national TV? Suppose so. But Manning is still immobile and will be rusty, and it may be hard for him to amp it back up if he’d felt his career was over. So the pick is Eagles, who are fighting for first place in the NFC East and get to go against a bad Giants defense.
Best bets: Falcons, Dolphins, Eagles.
Lock of the week: Falcons (Locks 4-9 in 2019).
Last week: 8-8 overall, 1-2 Best Bets.
Thursday night: Cowboys (L).