Packers vs. Vikings comes down to Rodgers over Cousins

Packers (+3½) over VIKINGS: With the Bears percolating on their comfy NFC North lead, these combatants scuffle for table scraps. Aaron Rodgers continues to compete, despite philosophical differences with his head coach, but Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has beaten just two good teams since 2016 — the Rams and Seahawk last season, when Cousins was in Washington. A healthier Rodgers has bested the Bears and Seahawks this year.

Giants (+6) over Eagles: Despite Philadelphia’s crushing decade-long grasp on this series, Big Blue has been played down hard off the open. To label the Eagles’ secondary “shredded beyond repair” is being kind — and because Eli Manning managed to hang up 38 against Tampa Bay’s revolving-door defense, Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquan Barkley are likely to enjoy multiple moments against the champs’ declining stop unit.

Patriots (-9½) over JETS: It isn’t as if the Jets never play this difficult foe close, and only their most ardent admirers think this is a vintage New England edition, but with both sides off byes — and the favorite looking to snap back from a skin-stripping 24-point loss to the Titans — it isn’t easy to go to war with Josh McCown under center, given Sam Darnold’s sustained foot issues.

BILLS (+3) over Jaguars: There’s a class difference here, but the Jags just lost their sixth straight, to the hated Steelers, in the most gut-rending manner possible. Florida visitors “got lucky” weather-wise, with projected game-time highs in the mid-40s, but favorite still must deal with the Bills’ enmity stemming from last season’s playoff loss to Blake Bortles and Associates.

Raiders (+11) over RAVENS: Oakland has now slipped to third place in the enduring 2019 Draft Derby, behind the 49ers and Cardinals. Oakland is looking to cause trouble for Ravens stand-in rookie QB Lamar Jackson. We like Jackson’s upside, and he demonstrated meaningful dual run/pass versatility against the Bengals in winning in his league debut (a rare feat!) … but he’s now expected to dominate a game?

49ers (+3½) over BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay’s team-turnover ratio continues to “lead” (a dubious honor) the league by a Secretariat-like margin. Niners QB Nick Mullens arrived with scant fanfare, but he’s standing up to pressures so far, thus lean visitors’ way, though this ’dog is now atop next year’s draft list.

BENGALS (-3) over Browns: Very murky Buckeye State read, with A.J. Green highly unlikely to achieve his hoped-for return. Ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson is now a defensive assistant whispering in Marvin Lewis’ ear in Cleveland — not certain that’s a positive. Slightest of leans to home side.

PANTHERS (-3½) over Seahawks: Seattle remains among more difficult of upper-middle-class sides to subdue. They seldom get blown out — but they’re in a scheduling vise Sunday, forced to face up to the equivalent of a 10 a.m. PST kickoff against an angry Panthers bunch that has lost two in a row, and is averse to dropping three straight with postseason in view. ’Hawks may be without receiver Doug Baldwin.

Cardinals (+12) over CHARGERS: We don’t expect the total points in this affair to threaten the market number (45), clearing more room for this defensively committed visitors to hang in. You’re being asked to trust rook QB Josh Rosen. Arizona is banged up a bit, but other than Cleveland, Bolts have laid waste to no non-divisional foe all season.

BRONCOS (+3) over Steelers: Off maximum-pressure, come-from-behind win over the gag-when-it-counts Jaguars, Pittsburgh is now compelled to make long westward trek to play at altitude against infrequent opponent they might not respect. Broncos have endured issues finishing foes off, but they don’t get blown out at Mile High. Close call!

COLTS (-10) over Dolphins: Look to maintain this position (though with diminished enthusiasm), even after notice was posted that QB Ryan Tannehill should be back in the saddle for the visitors. But Tannehill doesn’t play defense, and the state of the Miami secondary is doubled and vulnerable, up against an Andrew Luck who is benefiting from a bolstered offensive line — and is deadly, given time.

Monday

Titans (+6) over TEXANS: With Marcus Mariota not missing a beat in Friday’s practice, after missing the second half in Indianapolis with a stinger, this underdog (a consistently good Monday-night outfit) should hunt after catching a cramp against the Colts following their huge upset of the Pats.

Last week: 5-7.
Season: 71-75-2.
Follow Richard Witt on Twitter: @rich_witt1

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