What a good weekend of NFL football. There are a lot of important games for this early in the season. The Thursday night game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts is to establish the pecking order of the AFC South. In the AFC East we have a showdown between the upstart Buffalo Bills and the always division champion New England Patriots. And of course there is the big Sunday night showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Houston Texans
I never know what to expect on these Thursday night games, but I'm going to try not to over think it and just take the team I think is better.
Pick: Colts cover
Denver Broncos (-9.5) at New York Jets
I think teams that get embarrassed in games like the Jets did last week generally come back strongly the next week so I could see the Jets playing a good game here, but their secondary is just no good and I can't see how they will slow down Peyton Manning and this terrific aerial attack.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2) at Cleveland Browns
The Browns have to show me they can win these big time games before I pick them to do so. I wouldn't mind taking them here, but not as the favorites.
Pick: Steelers win outright
Jacksonville Jaguars (+5) at Tennessee Titans
I like the Titans to win big, here on paper IF Jake Locker plays, but that looks very iffy. But the Jaguars know they are a bad team and they could be looking at this as a winnable game and bring their A game.
Pick: Jaguars cover the spread (Titans win)
Chicago Bears (+3) at Atlanta Falcons
Logic here dictates taking the over (53.5) and it makes sense both teams are bad on defense and very dangerous on offense, but it always seems like those are the kind of games the defenses come out and play their hearts out because they don't like hearing all week how bad they are. I'd take the under but that's just a gut feeling, as for the game--the Falcons patchwork line finally showed it's weakness in the second half against the Giants, but the Bears can't rush the passer and the Falcons are very good at home.
Pick: Falcons cover the spread.
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Packers looked like they are back and I"m not sure yet what to make of the Dolphins. I'm also interested (but not inclined to look up) what kind of impact the Bye Week after London game has done for teams so far. There are a couple of reasons to like the Dolphins--it'll be hot in Miami on Sunday which could wear down the Packers. Joe Philbin has an inside advantage for the Dolphins as the former coach. I think they can cover and I'll feel even more comfortable later on the week if the line goes up because off too much action on the Packers and though the Packers are playing better I still think they are a very flawed football team.
Detroit Lions (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Lions defensive line will be too much for the Vikings to handle, but the impact of the likely loss of Calvin Johnson and possibly Reggie Bush for the week makes this a difficult game. This team is not the same without these two dynamic players (duh), but I'm going to say the Lions rally after a difficult loss last week against the Bills.
Carolina Panthers (+7) at Cincinnati Bengals
Teams that get embarrassed like the Bengals did often come roaring back the next week, but the Panthers are not a terrible team, and the Bengals could be without A.J. Green. I think the Bengals will play inspired and could win big, but I'll take the pointsl
Pick: Panthers cover the spread (Bengals win)
New England Patriots (-3) at Buffalo Bills
Tom Brady, I believe is 22-2 against the Bills. 22-2 Against the Bills. That's insane. Eventually the Bills have to win another one right? I know how good the Pats looked the other day, but I'm going to play the odds here.
Pick: Bills win outright
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers--the girl with the curl...kind of like Joe Flacco. I wouldn't put actual money on this game, but in this segment...
Pick: Ravens cover the spread
San Diego Chargers (-7) at Oakland Raiders
There's this phenomenon in the NFL where a team fires its coach and the first week under an interim coach the team comes out on revitalized and on fire. Now this is an interesting scenario because the Raiders are coming off a bye. The Chargers are clearly the better team, but I think there is something to this: it's like any job. If you get a new boss you're going to be at your best early because you want to make a good impression. Sure six months from now you'll be back to checking your fantasy team and watching cat videos 20 times a day, but right off the bat everyone's at their best.
Pick: Raiders cover the spread (Chargers win).
Dallas Cowboys (+8) at Seattle Seahawks
Clearly the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the league, and nearly unbeatable at home, but the Cowboys are a solid team too, not only that both teams have dangerous running games, and when the running games get going it can chew through the clock a lot faster and shorten the game. Shorter game could mean less points and more likely the Cowboys cover the spread. Of course I could be over thinking this, but I don't think the Seahawks offense is so great that it'll take advantage of the Cowboys weakest squad, but I do think the Cowboys have enough firepower to keep the game close.
Pick: Seahawks win, but Cowboys cover
Washington (+3.5) at Arizona Cardinals
I thought the Redskins would come out and play well last week after getting humiliated on prime time tv the week before, and they did, but the Cardinals will be in a position looking to bounce back this week and though they will be down perhaps their best player I think they match up well against the Redskins and will handle them...this is also another team that can be very good on the road.
Pick: Cardinals cover
New York Giants (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles
I always get more nervous when the Giants play the Eagles then I do when they play against any other team in the NFL. They just seem to lose games in the most unimaginable ways possible. Eli Pick 6s. Eli fumbling the ball when he's sliding. Desean Jackson punt returns. Vince Young coming back from the dead to pull out victories, so many bad memories. Knowing the rivalry and knowing how things have been going for the Eagles it seems like a guarantee Lesean McCoy has his first big game of the year ... but with that being said if I wasn't being a pessimistic Giants fan, I'd say this.
The Eagles seem to be winning these games with smoke and mirrors and special teams (I believe they have seven defensive/special teams touchdowns this year!). Their wide receivers are not winning a lot of one-on-one battles on the outside. Lesean McCoy is being contained ( in part because of the poor play of the WR). Their defense is suspect, and Nick Foles has bounced back to earth . Their OL is also hurting. The Giants are in a good position to win this game, and in fact if things bounced right I think they could blow them out.
Pick: Giants (Here comes the jinx)
Record picking Giants games: 4-1
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at St. Louis Rams
I know the Rams always seem to play the 49ers tough, but I don't believe in Austin Davis yet. He is putting up good numbers, but the Rams are the Brandon Meyers of the football world this year (Meyers was a garbage time stat collector when he was with the Raiders). This team somehow, can't pressure the quarterback. They lose this game big.
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
Season -- ATS 44-29-1
Straight up -- 51-23