DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. This week, let us honor a good football coach and an even better man. Ron Rivera is a proud Hispanic. He is also battling cancer. He gets chemotherapy during the week and somehow manages to coach the Washington football team.
Rivera’s tea has no name, and their owner Daniel Snyder is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal involving the team’s cheerleaders. Rivera’s quarterback Dwayne Haskins has regressed and has now been benched. The organization is unstable, but Rivera is tough as granite. He is a rock of stability.
When former Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano battled cancer, the Colts rallied around him and became Chuck Strong. Yet Pagano missed most of the season, as Bruce Arians led the team to the playoffs. Rivera has not stepped down. He keeps battling. His quarterback Alex Smith nearly died due to complications from a gruesome leg injury. Riverboat Ron Rivera stays calm.
They may not have a team name, but Rivera and Smith have inspired fans everywhere with their courage under circumstances that go beyond football. So let us give a tip of the helmet to Ron Rivera, and wish him a speedy recovery.
Sunday, October 18, 1:00 p.m.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (-10) —
Cam Newton is back and the Broncos have been decimated with injuries. The Patriots have a running game as well. This is a mismatch. Patriots cover.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) —
Tennessee has shown a ton of heart as they won the battle of unbeaten over Buffalo despite COVID devastating their locker room. The Texans finally won a game, but if Tennessee keeps handing the ball to Derrick Henry, they keep winning. Titans cover.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) —
The Browns are 4-1, but the Steelers are unbeaten. This is one of those games where the Brows will finally be taken seriously if they win. They won’t and they won’t. Ben Roethlisberger has his receiving corps weapons and a strong running game to take the pressure off. Steelers cover.
Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at Philadelphia Eagles —
The Ravens are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and the Eagles are a mess. Lamar Jackson is playing well and Carson Wentz is not. The spread is high, but Baltimore’s defense is for real. Ravens cover.
Washington Identity Crisis at New York Giants (-2.5) —
The No-Names won one game, while the Giants remain winless. Alex Smith has finally returned to playing football after missing nearly two years with a devastating leg injury. The Giants are talentless, and Daniel Jones keeps fumbling. Smith makes very few mistakes. Jones makes many. Upset special, Non-Redskins win outright.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-4) —
Both of these teams find ways to lose by blowing seemingly safe fourth-quarter leads. At home, go with Dalvin Cook to be the difference. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Detroit Lions (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
Neither team is playing well. Both coaches are on the hot seat. Neither Matthew Stafford nor Garden Minshew has much help. The Lions have blown big fourth-quarter leads. Upset special, Jaguars win outright.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-8) —
Joe Burrow is for real, but the Bengals need to surround him with talent. Philip Rivers has more weapons at his disposal than Burrow does. However, Rivers throws too many interceptions to trust this high a spread. Colts win but fail to cover.
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers (-1.5) —
The Panthers have quietly won three straight while the Bears won a stunning victory over Tampa Bay. Teddy Bridgewater is playing better than Nick Foles. Panthers cover.
Sunday, October 18, 4:00 p.m.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-9.5) —
Nobody knows why this game is being played. It involves something to do with league rules. The Dolphins just won a stunning road game over San Francisco. The Jets are bad at everything. The spread is too high to trust an uninspiring Miami team, even against raw Jets.
Green Bay Packers (-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers —
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers both have weapons at their disposal, but Rodgers is in his second year in Matt Lafleur’s system. Brady is still experiencing the growing pains of being in his first season in Bruce Arians’s system.
Sunday, October 18, 8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers —
Jimmy Garoppolo looked awful in a blowout home loss to lowly Miami. The Rams are getting closer to the team that went to the Super Bowl two years ago. Aaron Donald is still a wrecking machine. The 49ers at home could rebound. Rams win but fail to cover.
Monday, October 19, 5:00 p.m.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills —
Both teams lost their first game last week. Josh Allen has played well overall, but Patrick Mahomes is still on another level. The Chiefs finally have a running back in Edwards-LeClaire; Chiefs cover.
Monday, October 19, 8:20 p.m.
Arizona Cardinals (-2) at Dallas Cowboys —
Dak Prescott is out for the season. Red Rifle Andy Dalton has to right the ship. The Cardinals have been uneven but Kyler Murray does not make plays. While the Cowboys will rally around Dalton, that will not fix their defense. Cardinals cover.