A nice bounce back week after my worst week of the year. I'm also slightly ahead of the over/unders which is surprising to me because I haven't had a great feel for those. There are some very interesting games this week which should be a great week of football. Teams battling for playoff berths, and of course for fantasy fans the playoffs. Also, the Giants might string together a huge winning streak this week with another victory (a whole two-week winning streak!). Here's how I think things could shake out.
Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) at St. Louis Rams O/Under 40
You have to feel bad for the Cardinals. This is one of the best teams they have had in their franchise and it's going to be derailed by the loss of quarterback Carson Palmer. Drew Stanton is not good and the Rams are really making a late surge here. I always feel Jeff Fisher coaches teams are ready to play, they don't always win, but they always play to win the game as they say. The Rams have the ability to generate a ton of pressure which is bad news for a quarterback who is already completing under 55 percent of his passes on the season.
Oakland Raiders (+10) at Kansas City Chiefs O/Under 41.5
I'm not a huge fan of giving big points to divisional opponents because for the most part you get tough match-ups. Now Brees, Manning, Brady, and Rodgers can skew this a bit, but Alex Smith is not one of those guys. I don't think I could comfortably spot the Chiefs 10 points against anybody they just don't have the kind of offense that lends itself to decisive victories. Also, the Raiders have actually won two games in their last three!
Pick: Chiefs win, Raiders cover
Jacksonville Jaguars (+13.5) at Baltimore Ravens Over/U45
The Jaguars lose big and big often. They have by double digits 9 times this year (considering they have lost 11 times that's impressive in all the wrong ways). The Ravens actually have the third highest net points in the league at 101 even though they are only 8-5. The Ravens should be able to blow out the Jaguars at home, especially since they can't afford to overlook anyone as they are only third right now in their division.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) at Atlanta Falcons Over/U 54.5
The Falcons covered for me last week with a late surge, but early on (and when I went to bed) they were getting demolished by the Packers. They looked inept as they have for much of the season. The Steelers have been very inconsistent this year, but have managed to win enough to be in a good spot to make a late surge to the playoffs. Both teams have good passing offenses and really struggle on defense. I expect the Steelers to go on the road against the division-leading Falcons (yes, they are 5-8) and come away with a win. I don't see how the Falcons can stop the Steelers with the league's worst pass rush.
Houston Texans (+6.5) at Indianapolis Colts Over/U 49.5
The Colts are 7-2 in their last nine games only losing to the Patriots and the Steelers. They have the league's best offense and a competent defense. The Texans have J.J. Watt and Arian Foster, which is enough for them to win seven games this year. Those two players will keep the Texans in the game, but in the end the Colts and Andrew Luck are just too much.
Pick: Texans cover the spread, Colts win.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1) at Cleveland Browns O/Under 44
Johnny Football time! This is an exciting game which means the Bengals might now show up, which they are prone to do. The Bengals despite being 8-4-1 have a -8 point differential on the season. They are a shaky team. This game is tough, but I'm going to take the homefield advantage and the mystery factor here. It's possible that Manziel is over-matched and makes a ton of mistakes, but it's also possible that the Bengals, with no tape of Manziel as a starting NFL quarterback have trouble defending him. It also helps that the Browns offensive coordinator has a good feel on how to use a dynamic talent like Manziel.
Miami Dolphins (+7) at New England Patriots Over/U 48.5
Tom Brady has everyone's number, but the Dolphins have been able to take the last two from the Patriots. Now both of those were in Miami, which makes a big difference, but this is a good, solid Dolphins football team. They are in every single game they play. They beat the Patriots earlier this year, they kept within three of the Packers (and should have won), they should have beat the Broncos.
Tampa Bay (+3) at Carolina Panthers O/U 41.5
Last week I said "I'm done with the Panthers" and then they blew out the Saints. What do I know? But this week they trot out Derek Anderson at quarterback. Derek Anderson!
Pick: I'll take the Buccaneers outright.
Washington Redskins (+6.5) at New York Giants Over/U 46.5
When the Giants met the Redskins on Thursday night earlier in the year they absolutely embarrassed them. Since then the Giants and Redskins have both spun out of control (in all the wrong ways). The Giants, though are a team that is without the head coaching/Quarterbacking drama. So even when you're down about the Giants season you can see and appreciate the way in which the organization is responding to a poor season compared to the Washington team. Still, who trust the Giants with 6.5 points? Would it surprise you if the Redskins won out right? How could you be surprised? The Giants just lost to the Jaguars two weeks ago.
Pick: Redskins cover, Giants win
Green Bay Packers (-5) at Buffalo Bills O/Under 50.5
The Bills have a very good roster all around. The Packers have never won in Buffalo in their history. The Bills though have Kyle Orton.
Minnesota Vikings (+8) at Detroit Lions O/Under 42.5
I don't think the Lions are a bad football team. They are like the Bills with a very good roster that is missing exceptional quarterback play. The Vikings might be ahead because they have a promising rookie quarterback. The Lions offense has struggled much of the year and while they continue to win games, I don't expect blowouts from them anymore.
New York Jets (-1.5) at Tennessee Titans O/Under 42
This is an important game for draft order and I think the Jets win this one. No, not the game, the draft position.
Pick: Titans win outright!
Denver Broncos (-4) at San Diego Chargers Over/U 42
The Broncos need to put together a complete game before the season ends. They have a good offense, they have a good defense, something is just not clicking right now. Peyton has had trouble with the Chargers in the past (as a member of the Colts and Broncos), but I have a feeling they put on a show this week.
Pick: Broncos win big
San Francisco 49ers (+10) at Seattle Seahawks O/Under 51
I know the 49ers seem like they are collapsing while the Seahawks are regaining their championship swagger, but the 49ers are still a good team with a good coach. I wouldn't be surprised to see a tough defensive struggle and that usually doesn't lend itself to double digit wins.
Pick: 49ers cover, Seahawks win
Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles O/Under 55
The Cowboys have been knocking on the door of the playoffs the last few years and are in a great position to make the playoffs this year, but winning in Philadelphia would ensure it. I actually think the Cowboys are a slightly better team despite what happened on Thanksgiving in Dallas.
Pick: Cowboys win outright
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Chicago Bears Over/U 54.5
I don't know what to think about the Saints, but I'd expect a bounce back effort on offense (and my fantasy team is depending on it) against one of the league's worst defenses.
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
Week 10: ATS; 6-7 Straight up: 8-5 Over/Under 6-7
Week 11: ATS: 7-6-1 Straight up: 8-6 Over/Under 7-7 Locks-2-1-1
Week 12: ATS: 8-7 Straight up: 12-3 Over/Under 9-6 Locks: 1-3
Week 13: ATS: 5-10 Straight up: 7-8 Over/Under 7-4
Week 14: ATS: 11-5 Straight up: 10-6 Over/Under 6-6
Season -- ATS: 108-78-2 Straight up -- 120-61-1 Over/Under 35/30