Football forecast: Dolphins host Chargers, Jags travel to Denver

The Miami Dolphins will try to get their first win on Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.

With the Gators getting a layup this week, you would think it would be an easy game to call but as we found out last week with Central Michigan and Miami, “the points” can be a great equalizer.

The most intriguing game with state schools this week is Florida State against N.C. State. Not too many exciting national games, but the Notre Dame – Virginia game could be interesting. New England visits surprising Buffalo in a battle of 3-0 teams for the AFC East lead.

The colleges

 •Southern Methodist (-7.5)  at South Florida

The Bulls broke an ugly eight game losing streak two weeks ago with a 55-16 win and have had 14 days to get ready for the surprising Mustangs.

 But… and it’s a big but…that win came against 1AA South Carolina State and SMU is 4-0 with a big win over Texas Christian.  Still playing at home, I like the Bulls chances to keep it close and will take the points.  

The Pick:  Southern Methodist 40, South Florida 34  

 •Towson at Florida (-35.5)

I don’t like picking monster point spread games as there are too many factors involved, including playing reserves for most of the second half and giving up cheap scores.  That said, I love the Gator defense.   

The Pick:  Florida 52, Towson 7.

 •Connecticut at UCF (-43.5)

See note above about huge point spreads.  After last week’s loss to Pitt on a trick play to end a 25-game regular season winning streak, the Knights should be motivated to put on a big-time show at home against UConn in its AAC opener. That said, 43 points is a lot of points to give and I don’t love the UCF defense nearly as much as I like the Gator defense.

 The Pick:  UCF 57, UConn 20.

 •NC State at Florida state (-5.5)

The ‘Nole doggies (2-2) may have taken a big step in trying to salvage their season with a win over Louisville last week. Despite some erratic play, NC State comes to town with a 3-1 record.

 With the FSU starter at quarterback not playing and some key injuries on defense, it is hard to figure out why the Noles are favored in this one by almost a touchdown. In a “trust the process special” I take FSU to win but will take the points.

 In a close one…The Pick:  FSU 27, NC State 24

 •Virginia at Notre Dame (-12.5)

Although the Irish are a double-digit favorite, this was the most interesting game I could find among non-state schools this week. The resurgent Cavaliers are 4-0 and ranked 18th in the country, while Notre Dame is 3-1 after last week’s hard-fought loss to Georgia. Virginia struggled last week against Old Dominion but they beat Pitt on the road and handled Florida State at home.  That information is enough for me to take the points.   

The Pick:  Notre Dame 27, Virginia 20

The Pros

 •New England (-7) at Buffalo

Not sure what to make of this game. Josh Allen is playing well at quarterback and Sean McDermott and his staff has the Buffalo defense playing well. The Patriots are the Patriots however and both teams are 3-0. A telling stat is that neither team has exactly had a rough schedule so far (opponents are a combined 1-14). I like the Pats to sneak out of Buffalo in a close game.

The Pick:  New England 24, Buffalo 20  

 •LA Chargers (-16) at Miami

Dolphins are bad.  Really bad.  ‘Nuff said.  

The Pick:  LA Chargers 35, Miami 10   

•Baltimore (-7) at Cleveland

Given the way Baltimore has played this season, including a near miraculous come-from-behind effort against Kansas City last week, sort of surprised this point spread is only a touchdown; especially with the Cleveland offense and Baker Mayfield struggling. I like the Ravens to both win and cover in this game.  

The Pick:  Baltimore 31, Cleveland 21

 •Jacksonville at Denver (-3)

Ugly game of week as Denver (0-3) is a three point home favorite against Jacksonville (1-2).  In a game I don’t really want to watch, upset special, I’ll take the Jags defense to find a way.  

The Pick:  Jacksonville 17, Denver 3.

•Dallas (-2.5) at New Orleans

The Superdome is one of the loudest, most hostile venues to play in for visiting teams. Saints got a huge road win over Seattle last week, but the Dallas defense is a lot better than Seattle’s and Dak, Zeke and the offense is on a roll.  

The Pick:  Dallas 28, New Orleans 21

 •Tampa Bay at L.A. Rams (-9.5)

It seems to me the Bucs always fall behind quickly against quality opponents on the road.  They are facing a quality opponent.  

The Pick:  L.A. 35, Tampa Bay 14

Season Scoreboard

Only went 6-3 straight up las week, but recorded a surprisingly good 6-3 record against the spread.  For the season, 28-9-0 straight up (.757) and 20-16-1 (.554) ATS.