I took some bad beats which I more or less shook off in prior weeks, but Week 11 was just bad picking. The Steelers-Raiders was an obvious bounce-back game at home that I simply missed, and though I had a bad feeling about Vikings-Packers, I had reflexively taken the Vikes in East Coast Offense as a divisional home dog and felt I had to stick with it. The Chargers at home against Denver who was coming off the blowout home win over Kansas City was also obvious, and again, I missed it. In fact, I was lucky to go 6-10 as the Giants probably should have covered, too. This week, I like the Jets, Giants and Lions as my best bets. I struggled with a lot of the games, particularly the Dolphins-Raiders and Bucs-Ravens.
Patriots -7 at Lions
The Lions haven't covered on Thanksgiving since 2003 (their 11-point loss to the 3.5-point favored Packers in 2007 was the closest game in that span). And I'm pretty sure I've taken them just about every year. But though the team's record isn't much different from the teams that got blown out in the past, the current version has more fight in it, and certainly more talent. Going back to the well with the Lions in what I expect to be a close game. Back Detroit.
Patriots 23 - 20
Saints -3.5 at Cowboys
These are two recently resurgent teams of late, and I'm not sure which I trust more. The Cowboys have a journeyman at quarterback and can't run the ball, while the Saints have been mostly a dink and dunk squad with a gimmicky defense that Matt Hasselbeck shredded last week. I like Dallas on the merits getting more than three at home, but I'm worried about Jon Kitna turnovers. Still, I have to back the Cowboys.
Saints 24 - 21
Bengals +9 at Jets
The Jets seem to be life and death with everyone of late - the Lions, Browns and Texans, and now they're laying nine points against the Bengals? That might have something to do with the Cincy defense's total collapse at home against the Bills last week, and there's no reason to believe Mark Sanchez can't do to them what Ryan Fitzpatrick did. Back the Jets who roll.
Jets 31 - 13
Vikings +2.5 at Redskins
The Vikings could get the "dead cat" bounce from firing Brad Childress, but this game is more about how Brett Favre plays after back-to-back terrible outings and being humiliated at home by the Packers. I think Favre will play better, and the Vikings will win this one on the road. Back Minnesota.
Vikings 23 - 20
Steelers -6.5 at Bills
I'd like to sell both teams off last week's showing, but the question is which one's stock got inflated more? Probably the Steelers since it's easy to dismiss Buffalo's win due to Cincy's collapse. Take the Bills at home.
Steelers 22 - 20
Panthers +10 at Browns
The Browns looked fantastic against some of the league's best teams, winning in New Orleans, blowing out New England and going toe-to-toe with the Jets. But despite causing six turnovers in Jacksonville last week, they still managed to lose, and now Colt McCoy is iffy with an ankle sprain. This strikes me as too many points. Back Carolina.
Browns 23 - 13
Titans +6.5 at Texans
Rusty Smith will be Tennessee's starting quarterback, which means a heavy dose of Chris Johnson and hoping the defense holds up. Houston is so terrible in pass defense, it might even make Smith passable, but I think I have to part with the points here. Back Houston.
Texans 27 - 20
Jaguars +7.5 at Giants
I realize the Giants are missing their best playmakers, but the Jaguars pass defense is so poor, I expect Eli Manning to get it done with Mario Manningham, Derek Hagan and maybe even Travis Beckum. David Garrard has had a good year so far, but the Giants defense is still one of the league's best, and I think they'll limit Maurice Jones-Drew and force some mistakes. Back New York.
Giants 27 - 13
Packers +2.5 at Falcons
I think the Packers are the better team because they can stop the pass, and Aaron Rodgers could have a big day. But Atlanta's awfully tough at home, and they're laying less than the full three. Back the Falcons.
Falcons 27 - 24
Chiefs -1 at Seahawks
The Chiefs are a nice story, but I don't think it's wise to lay points with them against a team that's battling for a playoff spot and who plays much better in its home stadium. Back the Seahawks.
Seahawks 26 - 23
Dolphins +3 at Raiders
My brain says Raiders at home laying only three - after all, the Dolphins are likely missing Brandon Marshall, and their quarterback situation is unsettled. But the Dolphins have been at least as good as the Raiders all year, it's not that important which quarterback plays and Marshall's not really been a game changer so far. Going with Miami on a hunch which you should probably ignore.
Dolphins 20 - 19
Buccaneers +8 at Ravens
The Bucs have outplayed their component stats for most of the year, but after the win in San Francisco maybe they're starting to grow into them. The Ravens didn't really dominate Carolina last week until getting two defensive TDs to put them away. I'm torn here because the 49ers game strikes me as meaningful, but I"m going to bet on the correction one more time. Back Baltimore.
Ravens 27 - 17
Eagles -3.5 at Bears
I actually buy into the Bears defense, and think they have as good a chance as anyone to slow down Michael Vick. What worries me more is the Eagles defense against Jay Cutler who isn't well protected and prone to turning the ball over. Still, I can't lay 3.5 on the road, coming off the big division win against the Giants. Back the Bears.
Bears 19 - 17
Rams +4 at Broncos
This is an oddball line as the Rams were in the game against Atlanta before an ill-advised shovel pass interception by Sam Bradford near the goal line, and the Broncos just got absolutely destroyed in San Diego. I suppose the memory of Denver crushing the Chiefs at home has this line at four, but I have to take the Rams to keep it close. Back St. Louis.
Broncos 24 - 23
Chargers +3 at Colts
It's hard to bet against Peyton Manning staring at his fifth loss in 11 games, but I think I have to do it. Malcom Floyd looks like he's back, and Vincent Jackson will be playing, too. San Diego's defense is better, and its quarterback is too. Back the Chargers.
Chargers 31 - 27
49ers -1 at Cardinals
I know the Cardinals are a disaster, but the 49ers laying even a point on the road? I just can't do it. Back the Cardinals at home.
Cardinals 20 - 17
We were 6-10 last week to go 73-82-5 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)