Pro Picks not enamored of Thursday night matchup

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BARRY WILNER (AP Pro Football Writer)
·4 min read
Indianapolis Colts middle linebacker Anthony Walker (54) tackles Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
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After the worst week for Pro Picks all season - we looked like the Saints, as in unprepared - our confidence isn't shaken. Well, not too much.

Having to start with the slumping Raiders hosting the who-knows-what-they-are Chargers is not the most enticing way to rebound. It's difficult to find the positives in Sin City - there's an understatement to some - but clearly Jon Gruden recognized the defensive deficiencies of his team by firing coordinator Paul Guenther.

''We have to do everything better, honestly,'' Gruden said of his defense. ''Not just one kind of run. Inside runs, outside runs, the run game. With that said, you have to stop the play-action pass and we have to stop a lot of other things that have been problematic. We've got a lot of work to do, but we have good players here.''

As for the Chargers, sure they beat Atlanta last weekend, with the Falcons pretty much handing over the win. And they tend to play some better teams close.

Las Vegas, No. 16 in the AP Pro32, is a 3 1-2 point favorite over the No. 26 Chargers. Some lukewarm support for Gruden's bunch.

RAIDERS, 27-22

KNOCKOUT POOL: At least we got this right in Week 14 with the Seahawks. That leaves us pulling for TENNESSEE.

No. 32 New York Jets (plus 16) at No. 6 Los Angeles Rams

Yes, this is a case of piling it on, exactly what the Rams will do to the winless New Yorkers.

BEST BET: RAMS, 40-10

No. 18 New England (plus 3) at No. 13 Miami

The Dolphins usually do well at home vs. the Patriots, but they are so undermanned.

UPSET SPECIAL, PATRIOTS 20-16

No. 1 Kansas City (minus 3 1-2) at No. 4 New Orleans

It's unfair to pick this game without knowing Drew Brees' status.

CHIEFS, 24-21

No. 3 Buffalo (minus 6) at No. 21 Denver, Saturday

Think the Broncos regret they ignored that QB in Wyoming, Josh Allen, back in 2018?

BILLS, 27-15

No. 25 Carolina (plus 8 1-2) at No. 2 Green Bay, Saturday

The Packers have their sights set on that lone NFC playoffs bye.

PACKERS, 30-19

No. 10 Cleveland (minus 3 1-2) at No. 20 New York Giants

A letdown by the Browns would not be a shocker here.

BROWNS, 23-21

No. 31 Jacksonville (plus 13 1-2) at No. 11 Baltimore

Even with a letdown here, the Ravens should prevail.

RAVENS, 24-16

No. 28 Houston (plus 7) at No 8 (tie) Indianapolis

After that Texans stinker in Chicago, why is this spread so low?

COLTS, 30-20

No. 24 Detroit (plus 10 1-2) at No. 8 (tie) Tennessee

As with the Saints' Brees, not knowing Matt Stafford's status is troubling. So a hedge:

TITANS, 30-22 (if Stafford plays)

TITANS, 30-15 (if Stafford sits)

No. 22 San Francisco (minus 2 1-2) at No. 29 Dallas

This line, with the 49ers so banged up, shows how far Dallas has fallen.

COWBOYS, 20-19

No. 7 Seattle (minus 5) at No. 15 Washington

Imagine this: A Washington win has it at .500 in the NFC East. Sorry ...

SEAHAWKS, 20-13

No. 12 Tampa Bay (minus 5 1-2) at No. 27 Atlanta

Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan. No huge comeback needed this time.

BUCCANEERS, 27-22

No. 5 Pittsburgh (minus 12 1-2) at No. 30 Cincinnati, Monday night

Yes, the Steelers have some issues after two straight defeats. This will cheer them up.

STEELERS, 30-9

No. 19 Chicago (plus 3) at No. 17 Minnesota

Somehow, both of these teams are in the playoff hunt.

VIKINGS, 23-16

No. 23 Philadelphia (plus 6 1-2) at No. 14 Arizona

Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts should provide some entertainment in this one.

CARDINALS, 25-17

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2020 RECORD

Last Week: Straight up: 7-9. Against spread: 5-9-1

Season: Straight up: 136-71-1. Against spread: 103-90-5

Best Bet: Straight up: 11-3. Against spread: 7-7

Upset Special: Straight up: 6-8. Against spread: 6-6-2

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