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.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals have hit their stride after a poor start.
They need to keep winning because they have no margin for error after an 0-2 start for the second straight year.
The Bengals (4-3) have a difficult challenge on Sunday night facing Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills (5-3) in a playoff rematch. The inconsistent Bills look to avenge a home loss to the Bengals in the divisional round.
It’ll be an emotional return for Damar Hamlin and his teammates. Hamlin, who is expected to be inactive, had to be resuscitated on that same field during a Monday night game in January.
Burrow is healthy again after a calf injury limited him the first month. He was excellent in a win at San Francisco last week and the Bengals are still chasing Baltimore (6-2) in the AFC North.
The Bills have struggled since routing Miami in Week 4. They're 2-2 but should've lost to the Giants and barely escaped with a win over Tampa Bay when a Hail Mary fell incomplete and an obvious pass interference wasn't called on the play.
The Bengals are 1 1/2-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Pro Picks likes the home team.
MIAMI vs. KANSAS CITY, in Germany
Line: Chiefs minus 1 1/2
A potential preview of the AFC championship game featuring two of the league’s most prolific offenses and quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (6-2) look to get back on track after their six-game winning streak ended in Denver last week. The Dolphins (6-2) have the league’s highest-scoring offense and are No. 1 in rushing and passing. Kansas City’s No. 4 ranked defense gives the Chiefs a slight edge.
TAMPA BAY at HOUSTON
Line: Texans minus 3
Despite a three-game losing streak, the Buccaneers (3-4) are in the mix in a mediocre division. Baker Mayfield and the offense have struggled but the defense has 13 takeaways. The Texans (3-4) are going the opposite direction, having won three of four after an 0-2 start. Rookie QB C.J. Stroud is coming off his least productive game as a pro.
UPSET SPECIAL: BUCCANEERS, 20-19
LOS ANGELES RAMS at GREEN BAY
Line: Packers minus 3
The Packers (2-5) have played sloppy football during a four-game losing streak and slow starts have hurt them. The Rams (3-5) could be without QB Matthew Stafford because of a thumb injury.
WASHINGTON at NEW ENGLAND
Line: Patriots minus 3 1/3
The Commanders (3-5) pushed Philadelphia to the limit and then traded their two top pass rushers. QB Mac Jones and the Patriots (2-6) will benefit most from Washington’s fire sale this week.
CHICAGO at NEW ORLEANS
Line: Saints minus 7 1/2
Derek Carr and the Saints (4-4) seem to be coming around on offense. Their defense is already among the best in the league. Maybe Montez Sweat can bolster Chicago’s defense. The Bears (2-6) won’t have QB Justin Fields for a third straight game.
MINNESOTA at ATLANTA
Line: Falcons minus 4 1/2
No Kirk Cousins for the first time and no Justin Jefferson for the fourth straight game for the Vikings (4-4). Rookie QB Jaren Hall gets the start for Minnesota, which has won three in a row. The Falcons (4-4) are turning to Taylor Heinicke over Desmond Ridder.
ARIZONA at CLEVELAND
Line: Browns minus 7 1/2
Too many questions at quarterback for both teams. Deshaun Watson or P.J. Walker for the Browns (4-3). Rookie Clayton Tune or Kyler Murray for the Cardinals (1-7). Arizona has no reason to rush Murray back to the lineup.
SEATTLE at BALTIMORE
Line: Ravens minus 5 1/2
The first-place Seahawks (5-2) don’t seem to be getting much respect from oddsmakers. The Ravens (6-2) have won three in a row and kick off a three-game homestand. Baltimore’s formula for success is consistent. They have the league’s No. 2 defense and No. 3 rushing offense.
INDIANAPOLIS at CAROLINA
Line: Colts minus 2 1/2
Colts QB Gardner Minshew has been a turnover machine during a three-game losing streak yet Indianapolis is a road favorite against a team that finally earned its first win of the season. The Panthers (1-6) are sure going to want to win one for coach Frank Reich, who was fired last season by the Colts.
DALLAS at PHILADELPHIA
Line: Eagles minus 3
The Cowboys (5-2) have to go through the Eagles (7-1) to get where they want to go. Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown have carried Philadelphia’s offense lately. Micah Parsons and Dallas’ defense present a difficult challenge. The Eagles should be up for it.
NEW YORK GIANTS at LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Line: Raiders minus 1 1/2
The Raiders (3-5) are in disarray after firing coach Josh McDaniels. The Giants (2-6) have plenty of issues of their own.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS at NEW YORK JETS
Line: Chargers minus 3
The Chargers (3-4) and Jets (4-3) could be fighting for the AFC’s last wild-card spot so the winner gets an edge. Justin Herbert has a tough task throwing against Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed and New York’s fifth-ranked pass defense. Jets QB Zach Wilson made a couple of big-time plays in the clutch last week.
TENNESSEE AT PITTSBURGH
Line: Steelers minus 2 1/2
Pro Picks nailed the Thursday night game, predicting the exact score.
Last week: Straight up: 11-5. Against spread: 8-7-1
Overall: Straight up: 81-42. Against spread: 67-51-5.
Best Bet: Straight up: 6-2. Against spread: 3-4-1.
Upset Special: Straight up: 6-2. Against spread: 6-2.
Thursday: Straight up: 7-2. Against spread: 8-1.
Monday: Straight up: 7-3. Against spread: 8-1-1.
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