LOS ANGELES: Hispanic Heritage Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Major League Baseball are all in the rearview mirror. Daylight Savings Time is about to join them. We turn our clocks back to Standard time several hours before the first game kicks off on Sunday.
Before we get bogged down in Thanksgiving and Black Friday, it is time to enjoy hobgoblins, ghosts, and footballs that go bounce in the night.
All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, and there are some seriously scary NFL sights
The 49ers defense is scary good. Nick Bosa leads a ferocious squad that has the potential to be every bit as savage as the 49ers defense that went to three straight NFC Title Games at the start of this decade.
The New England Patriots defense is even scarier.
For the first time since the early 21st Century Patriots teams, Tom Brady is a major piece rather than the entire puzzle. The Patriots have won some tough games where Brady has been only very good rather than great. The defense already has four touchdowns.
Evil Hoodie Bill Belichick is from the defensive side of the ball, and he is coaching like it.
Both teams have rookie head coaches who took over teams with bare cupboards. The Dolphins lost their first two games by 49 and 42 points, and those games were at home. After taking a 14-0 lead last week they gave up 27 straight points. Both teams benched their quarterbacks because owners do not get benched. Could we have two 0-16 teams? Now that would be scary.
Finally, it is impossible to discuss Halloween without the Raider Nation.
This year the Raiders are in the middle of the pack, but they have been the victims of a frightening schedule. They did not play a home game in Oakland for 13 years, but that is because they were in Los Angeles. This season they finally return home for a game after 49 days on the road.
For seven straight weeks, they did not have a home game. One week was a bye, and another week was listed as a home game but was played in London. Nevertheless, they got through their brutal road stretch in one piece. Josh Jacobs is a terrifying running back, and Coach Jon Gruden was made for Halloween.
The Chucky dolls will be out in full force in the Black Hole. Speaking of the Black Hole, every day is Halloween when you are a member of the Raider Nation.
So avoid tricks and enjoy the treat of an NFL Sunday that features 12 hours of football instead of the usual nine. For those on the West Coast, that means awakening to watch football at 6:30 a.m. Now that is scary. Time to soak up the NFL 2019 Week 9 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 31, 2019, 8:20 p.m.
San Francisco 49ers (-10) at Arizona Cardinals —
A rookie coach and quarterback against a vicious defense means an edge to the defense. The spread is high for a road team, even one playing as well as the 49ers. This game is begging for a garbage touchdown. 49ers win but fail to cover.
Sunday, November 3, 9:30 a.m.
Houston Texans (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars in London.
Deshaun Watson is playing on another level. He led a heroic comeback last week with only one good eye. Gardnew Minshew can play, but ride the Watson train until evidence suggest otherwise. Texans cover.
The Redskins are awful and getting worse. There is no truth to the rumor that a desperate Daniel Snyder is asking the Washington Nationals to start for him. The Bills have a defense, with last week’s pasting against Philadelphia an aberration. The offense has not done enough to justify the high spread, but the Redskins are the most anemic players in Washington not connected to Congress. Bills cover.
Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers (-4) —
Do not be fooled by the Panthers getting blasted last week in surrendering 51 points to San Francisco. They had won several games in a row before that debacle. At home, go with Kyle Allen over Ryan Tannehill every day of the week and twice on Sunday. This game is on Sunday. Panthers cover.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-5) —
This is the rematch of the playoff game that saw Cody Parkey double doink the winning field goal try no good. Parkey is gone, but so is whatever magic made the Bears good last year. The Eagles came out of their funk last week and on the road hit Buffalo in the mouth. Chicago lost at home to the Chargers. Mitchell Trubisky against the Philadelphia defense is not a fair fight. Eagles cover.
The Chiefs have lost three straight home games and now are without Patrick Mahomes. Minnesota has a stout defense and can run the ball, but Kirk Cousins is not Aaron Rodgers. Nobody is. This is the week the Chiefs hold it together before their leader returns. Chiefs cover.
New York Jets (-3) at Miami Dolphins —
As awful as the Dolphins are, the Jets have a history of losing games like this. In 1980 the 1-15 Saints were 0-14 before they got their only win against the Jets. In 1991 the 1-15 Colts managed a 28-27 win over the Jets. Ryan Fitzpatrick can play. This is the week he gets a win against his old team. It is hard to bet on a winless team, but if any team can lose this game it is the Jets. Upset special, Dolphins win outright.
Indianapolis Colts (-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers —
Pittsburgh did beat Miami, but why were they down 14-0 to begin with? Jacoby Brissett is playing well. James Conner is injured. Go with the hot hand. Colts cover.
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (-2) —
After 49 days on the road, the original prodigal sons of anarchy return home. Both of these teams have solid quarterbacks and suspect defenses. The Raiders have the edge in the running game with bruiser Josh Jacobs. The Black Hole will be fired up, and the Raiders have a decent run defense. Their pass defense is awful, but they can win shootouts. Raiders cover.
These teams both entered the NFL in 1976 and went over 25 years before winning a Super Bowl. In this calendar year, the Seahawks are the far better team. Russell Wilson is very good and Jameis Winston is not. Seattle’s defense is very good and Tampa Bay is lacking. At home, trust the very loud 12th man to deliver. Seahawks cover.
Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (-3) —
Forget the drive and the fumble. Both of these teams are bad. Both rookie coaches seem overwhelmed. At home, trust Joe Flacco and the Denver defense over Baker Mayfield and his temper tantrums. The Browns have regressed. Broncos cover.
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers —
Aaron Rodgers has returned to playing lights out football. To give him a defense is just not fair. The Chargers are a mess, and somehow found a team last week more inept than they are. This could get ugly quickly. Packers cover.
While the history books will show the Patriots went 16-0 in 2007, the entire football world knows they lost their regular-season game to the Ravens. Horrendous officiating saved the Patriots. In the playoffs, Baltimore has been the one team to have Tom Brady’s number. John Harbaugh is one of the precious few coaches who can beat Bill Belichick by bringing a tough, physical game. Baltimore still has a solid defense. Forget that New England is undefeated. If they are going to lose a game, this one would be it. Lamar Jackson can play, but pounding the rock and playing defense is what Baltimore does best in big games like this. Upset special, Ravens win outright.
Dallas Cowboys (-7) at New York Giants — The Giants are awful. Daniel Jones is a raw talent who cannot stop fumbling the ball away. Dallas has playmakers on offense and has underachieved in an inconsistent season. The Giants are the perfect tonic for them. The spread is high for a road team on a Monday night game, but the Giants have done nothing to inspire an ounce of confidence. Cowboys cover.