After a 7-7 week, I'd like to get back on track, but this struck me as a tougher-than-usual slate. Games like Bengals-Bucs, I had no idea about, and teams I'd normally like to buy low like the Eagles and Niners are playing each other. The Jets-Vikings is also a hard game because the Vikings need it more, but they're also the side that makes the better story and therefore the sucker play. The games I liked best were the Jags-Bills, Rams-Lions, Ravens-Broncos and Saints-Cardinals.
Jaguars pick 'em at Bills
I always like taking the winless team in a rare winnable game, and this qualifies. Also now that the four-game showcase of Marshawn Lynch is over, maybe Buffalo will get its playmakers - Lee Evans and C.J. Spiller - involved. Or maybe not. Still, I'm taking Buffalo.
Bills 20 - 19
Chiefs +8 at Colts
I really don't know what to make of this game because 2010 has been so different for these teams than 2009, and the line roughly splits the difference. The Chiefs are also hard to handicap because they have so many big-play weapons who are only erratically integrated into their offense. I'm going to roll with the Colts, though - coming off the loss to Jacksonville, a team against which they always struggle, I think there's a little value here. Back Indy.
Colts 27 - 17
Buccaneers +6.5 at Bengals
I have no idea what to make of either of these teams. Cincy's probably better, and they're at home, but the line accounts for that. Backing the Bucs on a hunch, but don't have much feel one way or the other.
Bengals 21 - 17
Packers -2.5 at Redskins
The Packers have the star players on paper - Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley - but the Redskins own wins over the Cowboys and Eagles and should have beaten the Texans. I'll take them at home with the points.
Redskins 24 - 23
Rams +3 at Lions
Both teams look better this year, but the Rams have the wins to show for it. I think the Lions get over the hump this week at home. Their defensive line is playing well, and Shaun Hill was able to find Calvin Johnson early last week. Back Detroit.
Lions 27 - 20
Bears -2.5 at Panthers
I know the Bears got roughed up pretty badly last week, but this strikes me as a small line against one of the league's doormats. So much so, that it smells like a trap. Take the home dog on principle. Back the Panthers.
Panthers 23 - 20
Giants +3 at Texans
The Giants put a physical beatdown on the Bears the likes of which I haven't seen maybe ever. But Chicago's offensive line is arguably the worst in the league, and that was a home game with their backs to the wall. Going into Houston while tied for first place in the NFC East is a different matter. Maybe the Giants keep rolling, but at this point, the burden of proof they've turned the corner is still on them. Back Houston.
Texans 28 - 20
Broncos +7 at Ravens
The Ravens own road wins against the Jets and Steelers, but lost to the Bengals and struggled against the Browns at home. The Broncos are a hard team to read - do they really have one of the league's top passing attacks, or is it a mirage? I think I'm going to back the Ravens here at home - I think their defense will make some plays, and they'll pull away.
Ravens 31 - 16
Falcons -3 at Browns
The Browns are actually not that bad. Not only did they beat Cincy last week, but they played Baltimore tough on the road and lost a close game to the Chiefs. I think there's some value here with the home dog. Back Cleveland.
Falcons 21 - 20
Saints -7 at Cardinals
Arizona's looked like a doormat, but so has Carolina, and that didn't stop the Saints from nearly giving that game away - at home. There's something not quite right about New Orleans, and the Cardinals will be focused coming off of last week's embarrassment. Back the Cards at home.
Saints 24 - 23
Titans +6.5 at Cowboys
The Cowboys seemed to turn the corner in Houston before their bye, while Tennessee just lost at home to Denver. Dallas is typically overhyped, but this line is still less than a touchdown, and that's not a terribly large number at home. Back Dallas.
Cowboys 28 - 17
Chargers -6 at Raiders
After a tough game in Arrowhead and some bad luck in Seattle, the Chargers look like they're more or less back on track. But the Raiders played them close last year, covering both times, and as six-point home dogs, I like them here. Back Oakland.
Chargers 24 - 20
Eagles +3.5 at 49ers
This is an interesting game because the Eagles with Kevin Kolb were supposed to be pretty good, but after Michael Vick so completely outplayed him, it feels as if they're trotting out Jimmy Clausen. The Niners were supposed to be good, too, but they're 0-4 and as about desperate as it gets in the NFL. The easy read is that San Francisco will finally bust out, but after losing to Washington at home, Philly is in dire need of a bounceback itself. Still, my gut says the Niners will play better defense and do enough to win and cover. Back San Fran.
49ers 20 - 16
Vikings +4 at Jets
My heart's with the Vikings as I'm a huge Randy Moss fan, and I think both he and the Patriots treated each other with respect in an untenable situation caused by the horrible deal to which the players are subjected under the current CBA. And I also hate the Jets. I'd like nothing more than to see Brett Favre and Moss light up Darrelle Revis on Monday night and teach the upstart Jets a lesson. But my brain says the Jets are really good - perhaps even underrated still as Mark Sanchez has played great, Braylon Edwards has been big lately and now they get Santonio Holmes and likely Revis back. Back the Jets.
Jets 27 - 21
We were 7-7 last week to go 31-28-3 on the season. We were 131-122 last year against the spread. From 1999-2009 we've gone 1439-1262 (53.3%, not including ties)