Pro Picks is a weekly column where AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi shares his picks for upcoming games. For all previous Pro Picks, head here.
The Buffalo Bills haven’t looked like Super Bowl contenders in a month.
Since whipping Miami 48-20 in Week 4, the Bills (4-3) have lost twice and barely beat the Giants thanks to a pair of stops at the 1-yard line.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) present an opportunity for Buffalo to get back on track.
With Baker Mayfield under center and a dismal run game, the Buccaneers have struggled on offense. Their top-10 defense has kept them in games.
They’ll need that D to step up Thursday night in Buffalo.
Despite slow first-half starts in the past three games, the Bills have a dynamic offense behind Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.
“We’re very aware that we haven’t played up to our standard and our potential the last couple of weeks and we’re looking to fix that,” Allen said. “So any opportunity that we get to play this game, you know, we’re going to jump at it.”
Allen is 5-0 on Thursday in his career. The Buccaneers are 2-0 on the road this season.
“I always love road games,” Mayfield said. “Just being in an environment where it’s just your team against everybody else, the fans included. You just enjoy the environment, and as competitors, you kind of thrive on that. We’re looking to be really focused, play for each other and go in and somehow find a way to win.”
The Bills are 8 1/2-point favorites, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Pro Picks expects a close one.
Line: Ravens minus 8 1/2
Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level and the Ravens (5-2) have a nasty defense. The Cardinals (1-6) play better than their record but are overmatched every week.
BEST BET: RAVENS, 30-17
Line: Texans minus 3
Bryce Young vs. C.J. Stroud in a matchup featuring the top two picks in the draft. Stroud and the Texans (3-3) have been formidable. Young and the Panthers (0-6) are seeking their first win. Carolina has started strong, trailing after one quarter only once. Figuring out how to stay ahead is the problem.
Line: Eagles minus 6 1/2
After a convincing, statement win against Miami, the Eagles (6-1) need to avoid a letdown against a Commanders team that gave them trouble in Week 4. Washington (3-4) has lost four of five and Sam Howell is getting pounded, taking 40 sacks.
Line: Jaguars minus 2 1/2
The Steelers (4-2) are finding ways to win despite spotty play. A four-game winning streak has the Jaguars (5-2) off to their best start since 2007. They seek their ninth straight win outside of Jacksonville with Trevor Lawrence getting a few extra days to rest his knee after playing last Thursday.
Line: Saints minus 1 1/2
The Saints (3-4) have lost four of five after starting 2-0 and the offense is struggling on third downs and in the red zone. They’ve got a chance to get it going against a team that’s allowed the third-most points. Gardner Minshew led the Colts (3-4) to the best offensive performance Cleveland’s top-ranked defense has allowed but Indianapolis still lost.
Line: Cowboys minus 6 1/2
The Cowboys (4-2) look to build momentum after a bye and make it a sweep of L.A. teams. They’ve been too up-and-down for a squad expected to contend for the Super Bowl. The up-and-down Rams (3-4) have covered three straight games when they’re underdogs by at least four points.
Line: Falcons minus 2 1/2
The first-place Falcons (4-3) need quarterback Desmond Ridder to protect the ball better. The Titans (2-4) traded away two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard, signaling a commitment to rebuilding. They could get a look at QBs Malik Willis and Will Levis this week.
Line: Jets minus 3
Points should be hard to come by in the battle of MetLife Stadium tenants. The Jets (3-3) got healthier after a bye and have a chance to get over .500. The injury-filled Giants (2-5) have looked better with Tyrod Taylor filling in for Daniel Jones.
Line: Dolphins minus 9 1/2
The Dolphins (5-2) play their best against losing teams. Tua Tagovailoa and the high-powered offense look to bounce back after getting shut down by the Eagles. The Patriots (2-5) are coming off a big upset over Buffalo and played Miami tough in Week 2.
Line: Vikings minus 1 1/2
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings (3-4) are 2-0 since losing Justin Jefferson, including an impressive win over the 49ers. Jordan Love is slumping and the Packers (2-4) have lost three straight. But Green Bay’s defense has played well for the most part and the Vikings are on a short week after playing Monday.
Line: Seahawks minus 3
P.J. Walker has led the Browns (4-2) to consecutive wins filling in for Deshaun Watson, including a comeback when Cleveland’s stingy defense had a rough day. The Seahawks (4-2) haven’t allowed more than 250 yards in three straight games. Cleveland is 14-3 against the spread after a win since 2021.
Line: 49ers minus 5 1/2
Suddenly the 49ers (5-2) look vulnerable and Brock Purdy is making mistakes with key players injured. Joe Burrow and the Bengals (3-3) hope a week off doesn’t stop their momentum after winning two in a row. San Francisco has won its three home games by an average margin of 23 points this season.
Line: Chiefs minus 7 1/2
The Broncos (2-5) are improving. They battled Kansas City on the road two weeks ago and beat the Packers. Now, they have to face the Chiefs (6-1) again. The defending Super Bowl champs have hit their stride. Patrick Mahomes and the offense are clicking and the defense is ranked seventh.
Line: Chargers minus 8 1/2
Rookie QB Tyson Bagent tries to lead the Bears (2-5) to consecutive wins for the first time since 2021. Coach Brandon Staley could be out of a job if the Chargers (2-5) lose this one.
Line: Lions minus 8 1/2
The Lions (5-2) aim to rebound after a beatdown by Baltimore. The Raiders (3-4) can’t even get All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs going.
Last week: Straight up: 8-5. Against spread: 9-4
Overall: Straight up: 69-37. Against spread: 58-44-4.
Best Bet: Straight up: 5-2. Against spread: 3-3-1.
Upset Special: Straight up: 5-2. Against spread: 5-2.
Thursday: Straight up: 5-2. Against spread: 6-1.
Monday: Straight up: 6-3. Against spread: 7-1-1.
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