Well, unfortunately last week went about the way to be expected for the New York Giants. It seems most other teams in the league (especially underdogs) you might expect an inspired performance in a prime time game, but the Giants are a different breed. They have put up a number of duds in prime-time over the past few seasons. This year doesn't look great either on paper (and well get to that), but the rest of the league has some interesting games.
This week I'll also be giving guesses (and emphasis heavily on guesses) for the over and under just to try something new. But I can not warn you enough that though I have in the past (and this year as well) been pretty good in picking NFL games against the spread the over under is new territory for me so the risk is all yours! My over/under pick will be spelled out (the other will be just an "O" or an "U").
Cleveland Browns (+6) at Cincinnati Bengals (Over/U 44.5)
I have to weigh here the inability of the Bengals to play in prime-time games vs. my lack of trust in the Cleveland Browns. The Browns seem to find something good with Terrance West last week and have, (except for the potential play-off costing loss to the Jaguars), played good football this year. The Bengals had an early season lull but have played better the last two weeks. The Bengals will be without RB Giovani Bernard tonight as well as LB Vontaze Burfict and CB Leon Hall. Those are three big play makers, which I think favors the Browns well. The Bengals are also likely to be without starting RT Andre Smith and linebacker Rey Maluaga. The Browns will be without TE Jordan Cameron. Still, six points is too high for me.
Pick: Browns cover, but Bengals win
Dallas Cowboys (-6.5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars in London (O/Under 44.5)
Brandon Weeden vs Blaine Gabbert! The excitement! The field in London is always terrible. The play always seems to start sloppy (perhaps because of the field--or perhaps the travel and novelty of the situation), and the two things the Jaguars do better than anything else is stop the run (though they are only marginal at that) and run the ball (because of the emergence of Denard Robinson). I don't expect the Jaguars to win, but I've watched enough football to know one thing: Weeden is awful. Bortles might not be.
Pick: Cowboys win by less than 6.5
Miami Dolphins (+3) at Detroit Lions (Over/U 43.5)
Quietly, the Dolphins have become one of the league's better teams. They are 5-1 in their last six games losing only to the Packers in the final minute (remember Aaron Rodgers fake spike throw at the end of the game?) in Miami. They have one of the best defenses in the league (third in points, second in pass yards, and 12th in rush yards, fifth in sacks), and a running game that is gaining traction (averaging 4.8 yards per rush tied second in the league behind Seattle and tied with Dallas). Simply put, the Dolphins are the better team here and we're getting points. I like the Dolphins to win out-right despite the return of Calvin Johnson for this game and the fact that the Lions are coming off a bye.
Pick: Dolphins with the mild upset
San Francisco 49ers (+5) at New Orleans Saints (Over/U 49)
I know the 49ers haven't been as good this year as they have been in the past, but the Saints are a flawed team as well and five points seems too high. I know the Saints are terrific at home, but if I told you the 49ers beat the Saints it wouldn't be shocking, so five points is too many.
Pick: 49ers cover the spread, Saints win
Tennessee Titans (+9.5) at Baltimore Ravens (O/Under 44)
I'm bailing on the Titans. Prior to the season I thought they might be average, but they are not. They are terrible. Of their six losses four of them have been by more than 14 points.
Pick: Ravens cover the spread
Kansas City Chiefs (-2) at Buffalo Bills (Over/U 41.5)
I will actually be in attendance for this game, which I think will be a good one. The Chiefs are a solid team with one dynamic playmaker on offense (Charles) and some good pass rushers on defense (Houston/Hali--Houston leads the league in sacks with 12 if you didn't know). The Bills are an exciting defensive team because they pressure the quarterback and create big plays on defense and special teams. They have one dynamic WR on offense (Sammy Watkins), but mostly solid players the rest of the way. I think the Chiefs are slightly better, and their pass rushing ability with the Bills struggling offensive line could make things bad for the Bills, but the Bills are coming off a bye, are at home, it's an early start game and I think the crowd will be rocking because this is the first meaningful game the Bills have had in November in a long time.
Pick: Bills win outright
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5) at New York Jets (Over/U 45.5)
Someone told me that teams that score 30 or more points three weeks in a row in wins are only about 12 percent likely to cover the spread in the fourth week. The Steelers offense HAS to come back to earth sometime though the fact that the Jets cornerbacks are awful could mean it'll be next week and not this week. I'm not a "trend" guy, but I'll take this one. The Steelers win, but the Jets keep this closer than they should because the Jets get the good Michael Vick on Sunday (though tunrover prone Vick is always possible to stink up the joint).
Pick: Jets cover, Steelers win
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (O/Under 46)
Neither team is good and the Falcons will mail it in soon because they are going nowhere and they know their coach is gone, but I'll say not this week. I also like that the Falcons are coming off a bye -- they are a team that needed the rest.
Denver Broncos (-11.5) at Oakland Raiders (Over/U 49)
I don't like to give up double-digit points to divisional games (especially when one team is on the road) and the Raiders are playing much better lately, but the Broncos might be taking something out here on the Raiders after a bad performance against the Patriots last week.
Pick: Broncos win big
St. Louis Rams (+7) at Arizona Cardinals (O/Under 43)
The Cardinals are legitimate because they have a good defense, good receivers, a good running back and for the first time in a long time a competent offensive line. The Rams have finally found their pass rush. I lamented a few weeks ago about how crazy it was Robert Quinn still had zero sacks through Week 6. He now has five in the last three weeks. The other reason I like the Rams to cover is because Jeff Fisher coaches with chutzpah. He'll fake punt from his own 30-yard line, or run some gadget play. Anything to make a big play.
Pick: Rams cover, Cardinals win
New York Giants (+9.5) at Seattle Seahawks (Over/U 44.5)
We all know the Giants are terrible. They are traveling cross country for another showcase game (Fox Game of the Week) so a stinker is definitely possible. But I actually feel good about this one. I wouldn't say good enough for the Giants to win, but I would say good enough that the Giants can stay within 9.5 points. The other big reason I like the Giants here is that one they got blown out 23-0 last year to the Seahawks last year and you'd have to hope they play better this time. But, more importantly the Seahawks have 10 guys on the injury report as "Did Not Practice" or "out" (Bobby Wagner and Zach Miller). Most of the Did Not Practice guys will play, but they are beat up ... beat up enough for the Giants to stay within 9.5
Pick: Giants with the upset! No, not really. Giants cover the spread, but also improve their draft position.
Chicago Bears (+7.5) at Green Bay Packers (Over/U 53.5)
Everything tells me I should pick the Packers. But gut feeling is Bears keep this close! (How's that for in-depth analysis)
Pick: Bears cover the spread
Carolina Panthers (+6) at Philadelphia Eagles (O/Under 48)
I know the Eagles are a pretty good team. But are they so good that they should be six points better than ANYONE with Mark Sanchez at quarterback? The answer is no. It won't surprise me if the Eagles blow out the Panthers because the Panthers are a train-wreck this year, but at the beginning of the game Cam Newton is quarterbacking one team and Mark Sanchez is quarterbacking the other.
Pick: Eagles win, Panthers cover the spread.
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
Week 8: ATS: 9-6 Straight up: 10-5
Week 9: ATS: 8-5 Straight up: 8-5
Season -- ATS: 78-50-1 Straight up -- 85-44-1