Last week I did pretty well again picking NFL games against the point spread. In fact, in a strange turn of events, I was actually better against the spread than I was picking straight up winners, I also had a bonus right prediction (under on the Bears-Falcons game that I didn't include in the records) but where it went horribly wrong is in the game I care about most. I had a good feeling about the Giants vs. the Eagles, even saying I could see a blowout if things bounced right. I was only half right -- there was a blowout, just the wrong way. Can the Giants rebound and keep their season from slipping away?
There's no reason to expect a close game here. It's a Thursday night game (which has been blow out galore), the Patriots are finally rolling along and the Jets are Jets the place up again. Tom Brady has found his groove after getting shellacked by the Chiefs on Monday night the Patriots have scored 80 points the last two weeks. The Jets on the other hand are just terrible--they may be the worst team in the league right now. No reason to think this game will be close, nothing but a gut feeling. I'll take the points.
Pick: Patriots win, Jets cover
This game is a tough one for me. And one I'd stay away from outside this segment. Given the home team gets three points theory Vegas is saying this game is essentially a toss up, and I agree. I think the Bengals are the better team, but I don't trust them in a big spot. But that being saidthis is a 1 p.m. game against a non-divisional opponent in a big spot? The other thing here is also A.J. Green looks to be out, the Colts are getting better and are good at home.
Did I read this right? The Redskins are nearly a touchdown favorite against someone? That must mean whoever they are playing is battling the Jets as the worst team in the league. Despite doing well this year in picking games the one team I haven't figured out well is the Titans. I was right last week (they couldn't cover the spread against the hapless Jaguars), but I still feel like there's more here than the Titans are letting on and despite logic I think they'll play well here and I just can't see how a 1-5 team is 5.5 points better than anybody ... even the Titans.
Pick: Redskins win, Titans cover
Miami Dolphins (+3.5) at Chicago Bears
After narrowly losing to the Packers on a last-minute possession the Dolphins have to travel up to Chicago to try and handle the Bears offense. The Bears have played very well at times this year, but are actually statistically middling, surprisingly, on offense (23.8 points per game, good for 15th), which is slightly less the Dolphins (averaging 24.0 points per game) and I think the Dolphins defense is definitely better. I don't know if they go up to Chicago and win, but I could definitely seeing this being a late field goal finish.
Pick: Dolphins cover, Bears win
The Seahawks are a good football team, but since the first week they have actually only not been playing as well as they can. I think last week's upset loss to the Cowboys is bad news for the Rams. who are about to get beat down. If the Rams can keep this game close I might have to take a closer look at the Seahawks to see if they are perhaps much more susceptible this year than last.
Cleveland Browns (-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are terrible and the Browns are coming off a big win, which usually means sloppy play the next game. But this is the Cleveland Browns they have been obscure forever, they have a first time head coach, very few players on their roster have been to the playoffs and they play in a division with two good teams and the Steelers who are historically good. They should be able to muster up enough will in this game to steam roll the Jaguars and keep things going.
Atlanta Falcons (+7) at Baltimore Ravens
The Giants win against the Falcons looks less and less impressive with each passing week. The Falcons might just be a bad football team and I'm confident in saying at the very least their coach is bad. He makes some very screwy decisions and this team hasn't been able to play defense under his tenure at all. I wasn't sure what to think of the Ravens this year, and I'm still not sold on them but the do play good football from time to time. The Ravens should blow out the Falcons based on everything we've seen on the field, BUT the entire NFC South is down this year and the Falcons despite their 2-4 record are not out of this yet. They need this game more than the Ravens do and seven points is too many.
Pick: Ravens win, Falcons cover
There are a lot of big spreads this week. Again using the Vegas gives three points to the home team theory we're to believe here that the Bills are 8.5 points better than the Vikings. Do I believe that? I think the Bills roster is definitely more talented, but I can envision the Bills losing this game. After all their quarterback is Kyle Orton, so I can't feel comfortable giving up what is essentially 8.5 points.
Pick: Bills win, Vikings cover
The Saints are coming off a bye week with one of the more innovative coaches in the league. Their offense has been okay, but not great but they should get Mark Ingram back, and maybe Jimmy Graham. The Saints defense has been opportunistic often under Sean Patyon and the Lions turnover prone with Matthew Stafford. Calvin Johnson is out.I think the Lions defensive line has the potential to wreck this game, but I expect a good game plan from Sean Patyon.
Pick: Saints with the outright upset
San Diego Chargers (-4) at Kansas City Chiefs
I don't think the Chiefs are bad. They have a good running game and a quarterback who protects the ball. They also have that crowd which provides them with a true home field advantage making it difficult for opposing offenses to communicate. The Chargers are the better team, but the Chiefs keep it close.
New York Giants (+6.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Dallas is home this week and the Cowboys are playing very well. The Giants are coming off a bad loss in which they lost their best receiver, their starting slot cornerback (second one of the year), and Justin Pugh's dignity. The Cowboys are rolling off a big win against the defending Superbowl champions in Seattle, but they lost their starting OL Doug Free, and Tyron Smith needed a MRI yesterday after practice. Last week the Giants lost the game, but maybe we should have seen it coming, with someone in the comments section pointed out that historically teams who had cover the spread by scoring 30 plus points in three weeks in a row only covered the next game about 12 percent of the time. I dont' think the Giants are as bad as they looked last week, I think that Ben Mcadoo got his first coaching lesson as an offensive coordinator and I expect there to be a lot of work on getting the blitz picked up this week. I'm not confident the Giants win, but I'm confident they don't lose by a touchdown.
Pick: The 'Homer of the week' special. Giants win outright (taking off my homer hat Giants cover, Cowboys win).
Surprisingly the Cardinals have a -66.3 overall rating from Pro Football Focus, which is puzzling. This is a 4-1 team that has scored more points than it has given up. Is their success all a mirage? I don't believe so. They were 10-6 last year as well. Carson Palmer is back which should only help their offense. The Raiders are terrible they took their best shot last week (teams who get interim coaches always play well the first week, and usually win) and lost. The Cardinals know they can't get comfortable because the Seahawks and 49ers are nipping at their heels. They win by more than 3.5.
San Francisco 49ers (+6.5) at Denver Broncos
The 49ers are 6.5-point underdogs? I know the Broncos are good, but the 49ers have been very good the last few years and have been in contention for the Super Bowl each year. They are also playing much better right now after adjusting to life without Bowman and Smith. Peyton Manning is terrific, but 6.5 is too much disrespect for a quality team like the 49ers.
Pick: 49ers cover, Broncos win
Houston Texans (+3.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers? What do think of the Steelers? The Steelers are not a good football team, despite having good players. They in many ways seem to mirror the Giants at times. They can't stop the run and the one thing that the Texans can do is run. The Texans really need this game.
Pick: Texans with the upset
Week 1 -- ATS: 8-7-1 Straight up: 12-4
Week 2 -- ATS: 7-8 Straight Up: 8-7
Week 3 -- ATS: 13-3 Straight up:14-2
Week 4 -- ATS: 6-7 Straight up: 7-6
Week 5 -- ATS: 9-5 Straight up: 10-4
Week 6: ATS: 10-4 Straight up: 8-5-1
Season: ATS: 54-33-1 Straight up -- 59-28-1