A perfect example of the difficulties of NFL short weeks
By BARRY WILNER
For those who oppose Thursday night NFL games, be it players, coaches, fans or bettors, this week is a perfect example of why.
It's difficult enough to prepare for a Sunday game when you have key injuries, particularly at quarterback. And when both teams are uncertain about their quarterback situation, well, it doesn't make for the best brand of football in a short week.
As for Pro Picks, it would be best to avoid making a choice for Denver, ranked 20th in the AP Pro32, at No. 13 Cleveland. The Broncos were a 3 1/2-point underdog, according to FanDuel SportsBook, before the Browns scratched Baker Mayfield because of his left shoulder injury. Case Keenum gets the start and the line dropped to 2 points with that news.
"Case Keenum will be our starter tomorrow night and we have full confidence in him to lead us and do the things necessary to put us in position to win," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday. "Baker fought really hard to play, he's a competitor and obviously wants to be out there, but just couldn't make it on a short week."
Denver, on the other hand, believes starting QB Teddy Bridgewater's sore foot won't sideline him. Drew Lock, who lost the job to the veteran Bridgewater in training camp, is the backup.
Von Miller, the Broncos' star linebacker, virtually assured his team will break a three-game slide. We're not so sure, even against Keenum.
KNOCKOUT POOL: Tampa Bay kept us going and now Pro Picks takes the most obvious pick, unbeaten ARIZONA.
No. 30 New York Jets (plus 7) at No. 22 New England
Yes, the Patriots tend to play to the level of the opponent. A bad habit they will break Sunday.
BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 23-9
No. 25 Atlanta (plus 2 1/2) at No. 29 Miami
Thought about four other potential upsets, but settled near South Beach as the only one.
UPSET SPECIAL: FALCONS, 22-20
No. 31 Houston (plus 17 1/2) at No. 1 Arizona
So wanted to make this the Best Bet, but that's a ton of points and we've been burned already this year.
No. 12 New Orleans (minus 5) at No. 23 Seattle, Monday night
A sign of the times in Seattle with the Seahawks a home underdog like this.
No. 10 Kansas City (minus 5 1/2) at No. 9 Tennessee
The Titans don't get much chance to relish their win over Buffalo.
No. 26 Washington (plus 9 1/2) at No. 7 Green Bay
Can the Packers clinch the NFC North this week? Not quite, but soon.
No. 32 Lions (plus 15) at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford outduels Jared Goff after being traded for each other.
No. 11 Cincinnati (plus 6) at No. 3 Baltimore
The Bengals have come a long way, but they aren't ready to beat the Ravens.
No. 21 Indianapolis (plus 3 1/2) at No. 19 San Francisco
Two of the league's most inconsistent squads.
No. 18 Chicago (plus 12) at No. 2 Tampa Bay
Giving that 44-year-old Bucs quarterback extra rest between games means ...
No. 24 Philadelphia (plus 3) at No. 14 Las Vegas
Philly could be a tough out by December. It's October.
No. 27 Carolina (minus 3) at No. 27 New York Giants
If the Panthers can't end their skid here, they are headed for the bottom.
Last Week: Straight up: 11-3. Against spread: 7-7.
Season: Straight up: 60-34. Against spread: 50-41-2.
Best Bet: Straight up: 4-2. Against spread: 4-2.
Upset Special: Straight up: 6-0. Against spread: 6-0.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated October 20, 2021