Last week was a fun week in football (unless you're a Giants fan!) as there were some very good close games and some records broken. Personally, my picks were pretty good, too, as I went 8-6, and felt pretty good about a couple of other predictions that just didn't turn out right because of some strange things (the Texans game especially). There is no Giants game this weekend, but there are some things to root for (especially an Eagles loss). Here's how I think things will work out.
San Diego Chargers (+7) at Denver Broncos
I keep thinking I can't believe how big the point spreads for the Broncos are, but they keep covering because the offense is unstoppable and love or hate Peyton Manning I hope everyone appreciates the greatness he brings every weekend. As Giants fans, we have been fortunate to have Eli Manning who has given fans many brilliant performances over his career, but as good as Eli is, Peyton makes it look like he's not even playing the same position. Anyway, the Broncos are grooving right now and they'll win this game, the question is by how much. I don't like giving up a ton of points in division games, but road team on Thursday night coupled with the fact that the Chargers are very banged right now (six guys didn't practice yesterday, and 3 others had limited practice) have the makings of a blowout. I will not be surprised if the Chargers keep it close because they are a very good team, but it looks like they just won't have the numbers on Thursday.
Pick: Broncos cover the spread
Detroit Lions (-4) vs Atlanta Falcons (in London)
I think the Lions are more than four points better than the Falcons on a neutral field. The question is are they more than four points better on that pitch they play on in London. And who knows how traveling London will affect a team. And there is also the matter of the Lions still missing Calvin Johnson. Still, the Falcons are awful and they know their coach is on the way out. I'm not sure they have mailed it in yet, but that is coming soon.
Pick: Lions cover the spread
The Buccaneers are the girl with the curl. I have no idea what to expect out of the Buccaneers, who have looked like the worst team in the league on more than one occasion this year, but have also played well at times. They are coming off a bye and look different with Mike Glennon at quarterback. I also think from top to bottom they are more talented than Minnesota and with the extra week of preparation they should be able to do enough to confuse a rookie quarterback.
Pick: Buccaneers cover the spread
Chicago Bears (+6.5) at New England Patriots
The Bears have been disappointing this season, even to the point where Brandon Marshall called out the entire team. I know the Patriots have been better since blowing out the Bengals, but we've learned since then that the Bengals are not all that good. The public over-reacted to the Patriots slow start (they weren't that bad) and they are over-reacting to their recent three-game win streak (they are still not that good). Tom Brady does not lose in New England, but I expect this game to be much closer than people think.
St. Louis Rams (+6.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are starting to put things together, they started slow, but they have probably the best running back combination in the league in Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles. They also have one of the best pass rushing duos in the league in Jusitn Houston and Tamba Hali, what they need to do better is force turnovers. I don't expect the Rams to bamboozle the Chiefs on special teams like they did to the Seahawks and despite the short trip for the Rams there will be a big home field advantage for the Chiefs, 6.5 points is a lot, but I feel good about this game for the Chiefs.
Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) at Carolina Panthers
Last week I thought the Seahawks would come out and put a hurt on the Rams after losing to the Cowboys at home. If they don't come out and blow out the Panthers this weekend I'll be concerned for the long-term success of the Seahawks. The Panthers have been blown out three times already this year -- two of those times at home (Pittsburgh, Baltimore). This is not a great team. Seattle needs to make a statement here.
Buffalo Bills (+3) at New York Jets
I tell you the Bills get no respect. The Bills are 3-point underdogs to the Jets? I don't think the loss of Spiller and Jackson will be huge. Yes, it will hurt, but the one position where the Bills had depth was running back as they have both Anthony Dixon and Byrce Brown -- two guys who have been very good in sub-roles who will now split full time duty. I expect them to produce. Sammy Watkins is playing well and no one on the Jets can cover him, and the Bills defensive line gives everyone problems -- Geno Smith should be under constant duress.
Pick: Bills with the upset
Miami Dolphins (-5.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Dolphins are a good football team coming off a good win in Chicago. The Jaguars are a bad football team coming off a win vs the Browns. I think the Dolphins win this game pretty decisively.
Houston Texans (-1.5) at Tennessee Titans
If Jake Locker doesn't play Charlie Whitehurst will have nightmares all week because of J.J. Watt. The Texans might be better at every position on both sides of the ball than the Titans except maybe tight end (Delanie Walker is pretty good). The Texans really need a win, and they should have won on Monday. I expect them to roll over the Titans.
Baltimore Ravens (+1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
What does Vegas know that I don't know? The Bengals are still favored after everything they have (not) shown the past few weeks? This line is weird too me and makes me nervous. Jedi Mind trick accomplished Vegas, well done.
Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
I would really like this game for Arizona if the Eagles weren't coming off a bye, which gives me some pause. But I'm in the camp of the Cardinals are for real. They were 10-6 last year, and they are talented all over the field. Very good defense, very good wide receiver corps (Fitzgerald, Floyd, and the emerging John Brown) and they are taking care of the football with a +7 turnover ratio. The Cardinals special teams are also competent. Cardinals are also very good at home. Like I said it makes me nervous the Eagles had a whole week to game plan, but I'll stick with who I think is the better team.
I wouldn't expect the Colts to give up 24 points in three minutes of game play vs the Steelers to bail them out here. I don't see any way the Steelers can stop the Colts offense, and the Colts defense keeps improving. Plus this is a young team going against a franchise that's always a prime-time game feel. I expect them to bring their best.
Oakland Raiders (+7) at Cleveland Browns
The Jaguars just embarrassed the Browns in a game I thought the Browns would come out and try to make a statement in. I don't know what to do with them. They really needed to win that game and take advantage of what was set up as a soft schedule over this part of the season. I expect a big bounce back game and while Derek Carr has made the Raiders more exciting they are still bad. They should be able to stay within seven, but I predict this is the statement game for the Browns here they should have had last week.
Green Bay Packers (+1.5) at New Orleans Saints
I will, with very few exceptions, take Aaron Rodgers if he is getting points.
Washington Redskins (+9.5) at Dallas Cowboys
The Redskins are going to start Colt McCoy, which isn't good news for Washington. The hope here though is that the Cowboys have come off some big games, first in Seattle then vs. New York. They have won six games in a row and are climbing the power rankings. With all that being said, the Redskins seem to play the Cowboys tough often regardless of the circumstances and I don't like giving up nearly double digit points in general for division games.
Pick: Cowboys win, Redskins cover
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
Week 7 -- ATS: 8-6 Straight up: 8-6
Season -- ATS: 62-39-1 Straight up -- 67-34-1