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.
Trevor Lawrence didn’t get much time to rest his banged-up knee.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) and their hobbled quarterback take a three-game winning streak to New Orleans (3-3) to face Derek Carr and the Saints on Thursday night.
Lawrence, who is wearing a brace after spraining his knee late last week, aims to play. How effective he’ll be is the big question. If needed, the Jaguars will turn to veteran C.J. Beathard.
The Jaguars shouldn’t need too much offense thanks to an improved defense that leads the NFL in takeaways and has allowed 15.7 points per game the past three weeks.
Also, Carr hasn’t given the Saints a big boost on offense just yet. They’re 24th in scoring and 20th in total yards.
Lawrence’s iffy status makes the Saints 1 1/2-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. In a week filled with road favorites — six total — Pro Picks likes a road underdog.
Line: Bills minus 8 1/2
The Patriots (1-5) are a disaster for the first time in Bill Belichick’s tenure. The Bills (4-2) were lucky to escape with a win last week and that near-upset should’ve served as a wake-up call.
BEST BET: BILLS, 30-13
Line: Packers minus 1 1/2
Sean Payton is off to his worst start as a head coach in his first season with the Broncos (1-5). Struggling Jordan Love and the Packers (2-3) provide an opportunity for Payton, Russell Wilson and the Broncos to get on the winning track.
UPSET SPECIAL: Broncos, 19-17
Line: Browns minus 2 1/2
The Colts (3-3) need to rely on Jonathan Taylor now that Anthony Richardson is done for the season. If Deshaun Watson doesn’t return from a shoulder injury, the Browns (3-2) can count on a stingy defense that helped them upset the 49ers.
Line: Commanders minus 2
The Giants (1-5) would’ve upset Buffalo on the road if two drives didn’t stall at the 1 to end both halves. They’ll likely start backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor again this week in a winnable game against the Commanders (3-3). Washington can’t afford a letdown as it aims for a second road win in two weeks.
Line: Buccaneers minus 2 1/2
This NFC South matchup will help determine whether the Buccaneers (3-2) or Falcons (3-3) are real contenders in the division. Tampa needs to improve its woeful rushing attack to help out Baker Mayfield. That’ll be difficult against Atlanta’s defense, but Desmond Ridder faces a tough challenge against the Bucs defense.
Line: Raiders minus 3
A potential battle of backup quarterbacks with Justin Fields sidelined by a thumb injury for the Bears (1-5) and Jimmy Garoppolo dealing with a back injury for the Raiders (2-4). Las Vegas isn’t good enough to be a road favorite, even against lowly Chicago.
Line: Ravens minus 3
The Lions (5-1) are off to their best start since 2011 and looking to improve to 4-0 on the road. The Ravens (4-2) try to avoid a London hangover. They can’t settle for six field goals against Jared Goff and Detroit’s offense.
Line: Rams minus 3
Perhaps a bye helped the Steelers (3-2) figure out how to score points. The Rams (3-3) have an opportunity to get over .500 in a season that began with low expectations.
Line: Seahawks minus 7
Rookie coach Jonathan Gannon has the Cardinals (1-5) playing hard, but they’re just too overmatched. The Seahawks (3-2) need to bounce back after a mistake-filled loss in Cincinnati in which Geno Smith threw two picks.
Line: Chiefs minus 5 1/2
The Chiefs (5-1) are winning despite a spotty offense thanks to a suddenly strong defense. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Co. should get going against the Chargers (2-3).
Line: Eagles minus 2
A pair of 5-1 teams with high-powered offenses led by former Alabama teammates Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa is the marquee matchup NBC wanted for “Sunday Night Football” when the schedule came out. It should be a shootout with home-field advantage giving the Eagles an edge over the Dolphins.
Line: 49ers minus 7
Brock Purdy and the 49ers (5-1) need Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel back. Winning a second straight game without Justin Jefferson won’t be easy for the Vikings (2-4) against San Francisco’s stout defense.
Last week: Straight up: 11-4. Against spread: 6-9
Overall: Straight up: 61-32. Against spread: 49-40-4.
Best Bet: Straight up: 5-1. Against spread: 3-2-1.
Upset Special: Straight up: 4-2. Against spread: 4-2.
Thursday: Straight up: 4-2. Against spread: 5-1.
Monday: Straight up: 6-2. Against spread: 6-1-1.
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