It's difficult to decipher the tricks from the treats on this week's board. Of the 11 games on Sunday's slate, eight are projected to be within a field goal, and nobody's favored by as much as a touchdown.
While a cluster of close calls awaits those who dare tune in to the petrifying product that is this year's NFL, there's no need to be spooked away by the gridiron. Edges remain to be found, a process only enhanced by a little Halloween inspiration courtesy of the one and only David S. Pumpkins.
Saints +3 vs. Seahawks
In a word, the Seahawks' defensive effort last Sunday night in Arizona was Herculean. But after keeping the Cardinals' offense out of the end zone despite more than three full quarters on the field, a different word comes to mind this week: fatigue. How can it not play a significant role, considering the quick turnaround to another road game and an early kickoff in the Superdome? The Saints' high-flying up-tempo offense looks like just the matchup to exacerbate Seattle's plight.
On the other side of the ball the Seahawks may struggle to light up the scoreboard the way teams should against New Orleans, with a feeble offensive line showing no signs of improvement and Russell Wilson now hampered by a pectoral injury literally on top of knee and ankle ailments.
Patriots -5.5 at Bills
Oddsmakers have priced the Patriots at a premium throughout the Brady/Belichick era, yet they continue to cover. But at less than -6, it's more of a discount this week on the league's best team.
The Bills are the epitome of average, much like the Steelers without Big Ben. So after New England laid more than a touchdown in Pittsburgh last week, it's hard to see why this line is lower in Buffalo.
LeSean McCoy's absence only makes an uphill climb even steeper for Buffalo, and puts the Patriots in prime position to impose their will.
Pick of the Week: Eagles/Cowboys Under 43
Both of these offenses play it safe. They deploy the two slowest tempos in the NFL. They refuse to take many chances, opting for handoffs and high-percentage passes over downfield attempts that come with bigger risk.
This approach has served them well, producing more wins than losses and enabling rookie QBs Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to stay within themselves as they develop. But the conservative style also limits big plays and shortens games by grinding the clock. This in turn reduces the number of points that can be scored over the course of 60 minutes.
In a marquee matchup for the NFC East lead under the Sunday night spotlight we may see an even more deliberate pace than usual, especially in the early going as both teams get settled on their biggest stage of the season.
Seahawks/Saints: Seattle's weak offensive line not only means poor protection for Wilson, but also minimal room to operate for the running backs. As limited as New Orleans' defense is, the prospect of a one-dimensional offense lacking a respectable ground game positions any opposing defense to look better than it actually is.
Patriots/Bills: Buffalo may have beaten New England in Foxborough earlier this month, but that came against a third-string QB. Tom Brady's presence changes everything, and Bill Belichick's 18-3 record against the spread in his last 21 division revenge games provides a promising indication of the Patriots' mindset heading into the rematch.
Eagles/Cowboys: Both defenses rank among the league's best in yards allowed per point, meaning average yardage output for the offenses can translate to subpar scoreboard output. Stingy red zone defense can make the difference between a touchdown and a field goal, a four-point swing that can work wonders for Unders.
Last Week: 2-1
Picks of the Week: 4-3