Lots of quality football today, as NFL fans are treated to seven games in which neither team has a losing record, as a warmup to tonight’s main event between the Pats and the Jets.


Early Games


6-3 Steelers at 6-2 Bengals
Cincinnati +4½; over 40½
Steelers should be fired up after last week’s loss. Bengals should be fired up over the lack of respect they are getting. A 20-17 or 24-20 Pittsburgh win means a Cincinnati win against the spread, so I’ll take the points.

3-5 Broncos at 4-4 Chiefs
Kansas City -3; over 42
The Tim Tebow experiment has had mixed results; 10 points one week, 38 points the next; defensively Denver is next to last, giving up 28.0 points per game. Kansas City is just as inconsistent, averaging 25 points per game in a four-game winning streak, then just three at home versus Miami. Meanwhile their defense has given up 20 or more in six of eight games thus far.

2-6 Jaguars at 0-9 Colts
Indianapolis +3; under 38
No strong feeling either way between these two, other than the law of averages says the Colts should eventually win – and this is probably their best chance to do just that.

5-3 Bills at 4-4 Cowboys
Buffalo +5½; over 48
That point total seems high for two fairly evenly matched teams. Both squads have some injuries on defense, so the point total could be high. Both DeMarco Murray and Fred Jackson should have big games.

6-3 Texans at 4-4 Buccaneers
Houston -4; under 45½
The Bucs have serious issues on defense, whether it’s injuries to players like Gerald McCoy or low production from guys like Quincy Black. Arian Foster should have a big day on the ground which will set up long passes by Matt Schaub. Houston’s defense is vastly improved this year while Tampa Bay is dead last in the red zone in the NFL, converting just 8 touchdowns in 22 opportunities.

4-4 Titans at 2-6 Panthers
Carolina -3½; under 47
Tennessee has beaten just one team with a winning record, Baltimore back in week two. On the other hand Carolina’s defense is still bad enough to make any other team’s offense look good. I’ll take the underdog and the points, but I wouldn’t put any money on it; I do like the under though.

3-5 Redskins at 1-7 Dolphins
Miami -4; under 37½
The Redskins 3-1 start is a distant memory, and in four straight losses they have scored just 44 points total. Miami did score 31 last week after averaging 17.2 ppg before that, but until Matt Moore and crew do that again I’ll view that as an anomaly.

6-3 Saints at 5-3 Falcons
New Orleans (pick); under 50½
The Saints have the better coach, better quarterback, and better team. They’re on the road, but it’s just like at home: in a dome. I’ll go with New Orleans.

1-7 Rams at 3-5 Browns
Cleveland -2½; over 36
I’ll go with the Cleveland defense to be the difference in this game.

2-6 Cardinals at 3-5 Eagles
Arizona +13½; over 47
While Philadelphia be fired up and pissed off? Or are they ready to throw in the towel, with not enough character to handle adversity? If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Arizona and all those points.


Late Games

6-2 Lions at 5-3 Bears
Detroit +3; under 43½
I don’t really have a strong feeling either way in this game, so when in doubt I’ll go with the underdog and take the points.

6-2 Ravens at 2-6 Seahawks
Seattle +7½; under 40½
Even though this game has the league’s #2 yardage defense versus the #30 yardage offense, I’ll go with Seattle. The Ravens tend to play down to their opponent; they lost as 10-point favorites at Jacksonville, and nearly lost as 12-point favorites against Arizona. Add in the inevitable letdown after last week’s big win at Pittsburgh and the effect of the long travel, and Seattle should cover – if not win outright. Pete Carroll gets his team up for these games at home; they are 4-1 against the spread as a home underdog while Baltimore is 1-4 ATS versus teams with losing records.

6-2 Giants at 7-1 49ers
San Francisco -4; under 42½
I’m not a fan of going with a team that has to travel cross country to play a game, but if Frank Gore is not 100% then that will have a big impact. Looking at both teams, and their lines in particular, I am more comfortable with the under.


Sunday Night

5-3 Patriots at 5-3 Jets
New England +2; over 47
For all the talk about the Jets vaunted defense, they’ve given up an average of 28.2 points per game over the last five meetings between these two teams. I can make a solid argument why either team will win this game, but it would be much more difficult to find a reason why this will be a low-scoring game.

As for the game itself though, I do think the public is overreacting a little bit to the two recent losses. Five weeks ago the Pats were eight-point favorites without Jerod Mayo and won by nine. Since home field is worth three points, that line should shift six points today, making the Pats two-point favorites. Instead the line ha shifted an additional four points, with the Jets as two-point favorites. I’ll take the points.


Monday Night

2-6 Vikings at 8-0 Packers
Minnesota +13½; over 50
Division games are usually tough battles, even when there’s a big discrepancy between the talent level of the two teams. Everyone knows how well Green Bay is doing on offense, but they’re giving up over 22 points and 400 yards per game this year. I’d feel a lot better if this was 14½, but I still think Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson make enough plays to keep the final score under two touchdowns. Even with a big point total I still think this goes over 50 points; I’m guessing something like 35-24.



Best Bets

3 Units
Broncos-Chiefs over 42
Texans -4 at Bucs
Seahawks +7½ vs Ravens

2 Units
Titans-Panthers under 47
Dolphins-Rams under 37½

1 Unit
Bengals +4½ vs Steelers
Jaguars-Colts under 38
Bills-Cowboys over 48
Bills +5½ at Cowboys
Browns -2½ vs Rams
Saints (even) at Falcons
Pats +2 at Jets
Pats-Jets over 47