There’s a lot of good football to be played today while we’re waiting for the Pats game to come on later today. Almost all are in-conference games, and the two inter-conference games – Bills at Giants and Cowboys at Pats – are very intriguing as well.
4-1 New Orleans Saints at 3-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Line: Saints by 6½; over/under 49½
I was actually able to jump on this earlier in the week when the line was 5, but even at 6½ I still consider this to be the week’s best bet. An already reeling Bucs defense will be without their best lineman, Gerald McCoy and LB Mason Foster is dinged up. On offense RB LaGarrette Blount is out, which means over-the-hill Earnest Graham will start. TE Kellen Winslow has practically played his way out of the starting lineup and the offense has virtually no mid-range passing game; it’s either a long bomb to a relatively mediocre corps of wide receivers, or a swing pass behind the line of scrimmage. Tampa Bay has been sloppy on both sides of the ball and Drew Brees and crew will take full advantage of their mistakes.
Pick: Saints -6½, 7 units
3-2 Houston Texans at 3-1 Baltimore Ravens
Line: Ravens -6½; over/under 44
Houston is having to (a) go on the road, against (b) against one of the NFL’s best teams, who (c) are coming off a bye week and therefore have had two weeks to prepare to stop the Texans. Houston is without stud WR Andre Johnson; did you notice how well Jacoby Jones took advantage of his opportunity filling in for Johnson? Jones had eleven passes thrown his way last week; he had just one catch for nine yards.
Pick: Ravens -6½, 3 units
1-4 Carolina Panthers at 2-3 Atlanta Falcons
Line: Falcons -3½; over/under 49½
Yes, Carolina has Cam Newton, who is playing way better than I thought he would. And yes, the Falcons have taken a step back from where they were last year. But the Panthers are still a bad team, and the Falcons are still much better than them. According to this spread there’s only a half point difference between the two on a neutral field? I don’t think so.
Pick: Falcons -3½, 2 units
4-1 Buffalo Bills at 3-2 New York Giants
Line: -3½; over/under 49
The Bills defense has an NFL-best 16 takeaways, and their turnover differential of +11 also is the best in the league. I see them picking Eli Manning a couple of times and not just covering, but winning this game straight up.
Pick: Bills +3½, 2 units
1-4 Philadelphia Eagles at 3-1 Washington Redskins
Line: Eagles -3; over/under 46½
I’ll go with the home underdog to win straight up. Until they prove me wrong the Eagles are still over rated in my opinion.
Pick: Redskins +3, 2 units
4-1 San Francisco 49ers at 5-0 Detroit Lions
Line: Lions -5; over/under 45½
Did anybody notice what happened late in the Bucs-49ers game last week? I didn’t think so. Basically the situation was this: San Francisco was absolutely crushing Tampa Bay late in the 4th quarter, up by something like 41-3. On 4th down Jim Harbaugh decides to go for it rather than kick a field goal. Instead of running the ball he throws a pass, and what happens? His WR, Josh Morgan ends up breaking his leg on the play and is now out for the season.
Now here’s the thing: I don’t have any problem with Harbaugh going for it, but the reality is that he does have a history of running up the score going back to when he was the head coach at Stanford, sticking it to Pete Carroll and USC. Can you imagine if Bill Belichick and the Pats made the same decision, with the same result? It would have been the number one story all week long on every sports site and channel. Yet because it was not Belichick and the Pats, the story was so buried most fans outside of the bay area are not even aware of thanks to the bunch of hypocrites dominating the sports media.
I got in earlier this week when the line was four points, but I still like Detroit at five – though not nearly as much as I did when it was four.
Pick: Lions -5, 1 unit
0-5 Indianapolis Colts at 3-2 Cincinnati Bengals
Line: Bengals -6; over/under 40½
Indy keeps it close enough to cover. I liked this better early in the week when it was seven points.
Pick: Colts +6, 1 unit
Rams at Packers -14; over 47
Jaguars +12½ at Steelers; over 40
Redskins – Eagles under 46½
49ers at Lions over 45½
Panthers – Falcons under 50½
Colts – Bengals over 40
Bills – Giants over 49
Texans – Ravens under 44½
Browns +7 at Raiders; under 45
Pats -6 vs Cowboys; under 56
Saints – Bucs under 50
Bears -2 vs Vikings; over 41
Dolphins +7 vs Jets; under 43
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