It was nice to have a good week, but Week 13 is a brutal slate. The teams I like best are the Titans, Redskins, Dolphins and Bengals, but even then I'm only lukewarm. I agonized over the Cowboys-Colts, Eagles-Texans, Packers-49ers and Jets-Pats. Actually, I agonized over most of the rest of them, too.
Texans +8.5 at Eagles
I've gone back and forth on this a few times. On the one hand, the Eagles should light up the Texans secondary and score almost at will. On the other, Andre Johnson's finally getting healthy, Asante Samuel is questionable for the game, and Houston's still very much in contention in the AFC South. I could see this going either way - a Philly rout, or a tight game that either team can win. And I'm not sure which storyline is more compelling to me. When in doubt, take the points. Back the Texans.
Eagles 30 - 23
Jaguars +3 at Titans
The Titans should get Kerry Collins and possibly even Kenny Britt back this week. That makes them a different team entirely, and I think they'll bounce back at home. Back Tennessee.
Titans 24 - 20
Redskins +7.5 at Giants
This strikes me as a big line with the Giants missing their top two receivers. The Giants defense has played well in the second halves of the last two games, but hasn't been consistent of late. Back Washington.
Giants 20 - 16
Browns +4.5 at Dolphins
Normally, I'd love to fade Miami as a favorite here, but Jake Delhomme is such a disaster, I don't think I can do it. Back Miami who covers thanks to a couple picks.
Dolphins 23 - 17
Bears -3.5 at Lions
The Lions essentially beat the Bears in September but for a technicality, but that was with Matthew Stafford, and now Drew Stanton's starting. The Bears just handled the Eagles at home, while Detroit got blown out at home by the Pats, so you'd think this line would be bigger. That it's not tells me it's probably a trap game, and I'm rolling with Detroit who keeps it close enough. Back the Lions.
Bears 24 - 21
Broncos +8.5 at Chiefs
This is an odd game because the Chiefs are the far better team, but Denver blew them out the first time they played. Kansas City is better at home, but this is a big number, and it might just be that Denver matches up well here. Back the Broncos.
Chiefs 31 - 23
49ers +9.5 at Packers
This game gave me a lot of trouble. Like the Eagles-Texans, I can see both storylines (the blowout, or the dogfight) easily playing out. In the end, I have a gut feeling the 49ers will come to play, but when I consider the personnel (no Frank Gore, Troy Smith at QB), I'm not sure how that'll happen. The Packers defense should dominate, and Aaron Rodgers should light the Niners up. But my overall sense of a game is usually a better basis for a pick than pulling out a couple names and making assumptions. Back the 49ers.
Packers 26 - 17
Bills +6 at Vikings
I want to be contrarian and take the Vikings here, but the Bills had the Steelers beaten last week, and they took both the Chiefs and Ravens to overtime on the road. This line is too big. Back the Bills.
Vikings 24 - 23
Saints -7 at Bengals
The Saints have come on of late, but I like the idea of fading a less-than-dominant dome team on the road in a cold weather venue. The Bengals keep losing, but they're not hopelessly out of games, and I expect them not only to cover but win outright. Back Cincy.
Bengals 24 - 20
Raiders +13 at Chargers
The Raiders have fallen apart the last couple weeks, while the Chargers look like the best team in the league. Still, we're being properly compensated here, and AFC West games have been pretty unpredictable so far. Back Oakland.
Chargers 27 - 17
Falcons -3 at Buccaneers
I'm not a believer in either of these teams, and I wish I could fade them both. But I have to pick one of them, so give me the home dog as I think Tampa will make it a game. Back the Bucs.
Buccaneers 20 - 17
Panthers +6 at Seahawks
Seattle's typically tougher at home, but Carolina isn't bad against the pass, and the Panthers finally got their running game going against Cleveland. Back the Panthers who keep this one close.
Seahawks 20 - 19
Cowboys +5 at Colts
I can't visualize this game very well. I have an image of Jon Kitna under assault by the Colts' pass-rushing defensive ends and making some key mistakes. But Indy has no running game, a decimated receiving corps and injuries to key players on defense. Back Dallas.
Colts 24 - 20
Rams -3.5 at Cardinals
This game is just painful to pick. I know the Rams (as 3.5-point road favorites!) are the sucker play, and public is all over them, but having picked the Cardinals at home on Monday night, I'm not sure I can stomatch rooting for them again. The one almost certainly irrelevant hope I'm clinging to (besides blind faith in Vegas' wisdom) is Derek Anderson's outburst during Monday's post-game press conference. Maybe it'll spark a better effort. Hold your nose and back Arizona.
Rams 19 - 16
Steelers +3 at Ravens
These teams are equal, and the line accounts for the home field advantage, so you can flip a coin here. My first instinct was Baltimore, so I'll stick with it.
Ravens 17 - 13
Jets +3.5 at Patriots
I was initially going to take the Jets as either team can win this game, and they're getting more than a field goal, but the Pats are undefeated at home, and Tom Brady seems to have acclimated completely to life after Randy Moss. Back New England.
Patriots 24 - 19
We were 11-5 last week to go 84-87-5 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)