I won't dwell too much on last week. I was off on some games, and a few others just broke the wrong way. I like this week's slate better, with my strongest plays being the Jaguars, Redskins, Bills, Rams and 49ers. I agonized over the Cowboys-Eagles, Giants-Vikings, Broncos-Cardinals and Jets-Dolphins.
Colts -3.5 at Titans
You might want to do the opposite of what I do here because I can't win the Thursday night game to save my life. My inclination is to take the Titans because they're home dogs, and no one's ready yet to bury the Colts. But I just can't figure out what Tennessee's problem is - it's one thing for the team not to target the enigmatic Randy Moss, but when even Chris Johnson can't produce on a regular basis, something's seriously wrong. Still, the Colts can't stop the run, so if there's ever a game Johnson will get back on track, it's this one. Back the Titans who win outright.
Titans 23 - 21
Falcons -8 at Panthers
I think the Falcons are overrated - as Yahoo!'s Jason Cole pointed out today, they're one of the rare winning teams with a negative "yards per play" number. That doesn't mean they won't beat a terrible Panthers team, but they fall short of the cover. Back Carolina.
Falcons 19 - 17
Bengals +9 at Steelers
The Steelers gritted out a big win last week, but it wasn't very impressive. Cincy is like Houston in that it finds a way to collapse at the worst times, but the Bengals don't fear their smashmouth division rivals, and they should be able to move the ball through the air. Back Cincy.
Steelers 20 - 16
Giants -2 at Vikings
The savvy play is probably the Vikings at home - after all, it's a tough place to play, and they're getting a couple points. But the Giants might get Hakeem Nicks back, and their pass rush should cause problems for whoever's under center. Back New York.
Giants 23 - 20
Packers -7 at Lions
The Packers are statistically one of the best teams in the NFL, but the Lions typically play hard at home, and I'll take the seven points in a divisional matchup. Back Detroit.
Packers 24 - 23
Raiders +4 at Jaguars
The Raiders are Jekyll and Hyde, but seem to struggle more against physical teams like the Dolphins and Steelers, and thrive against finesse teams like the Chargers and Seahawks. The Jaguars are the former. Back Jacksonville.
Jaguars 24 - 17
Buccaneers -2 at Redskins
The Redskins suspended Albert Haynesworth finally, so maybe they'll get a kind of "dead-whale" bounce. The Bucs played well enough to beat the Falcons at home last week, but I think both teams are largely frauds. Washington surprises with a win.
Redskins 27 - 17
Browns +1 at Bills
I think it's time to sell the Browns off the win in Miami and buy the Bills off their disastrous loss, laying only one point at home. Back Buffalo.
Bills 17 - 9
Rams +9.5 at Saints
The Saints were life and death with the Bengals last week, and the Rams are playing better on both sides of the ball. New Orleans is actually the *sharp* play as this is a rare case where the majority is slightly on the dog, but I don't care. The sharps are only right 53 percent or so of the time anyway. Back St. Louis.
Saints 23 - 20
Seahawks +5 at 49ers
This seems like an awfully large line, especially with Seattle winning decisively last week, and the Niners losing badly in Green Bay. But Seattle's far worse on the road, and Alex Smith is likely an upgrade at quarterback this week. Go contrarian and take the Niners who incidentally were blown out in Seattle earlier this year.
49ers 27 - 21
Patriots -3 at Bears
What the Pats did to the Jets was awfully convincingly, and they did the same thing in the second half at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. Can they do it against again in Chicago against a stout defense? Maybe, but the degree of difficulty in what could be cold and windy conditions is higher. Back the Bears.
Bears 20 - 17
Dolphins +5.5 at Jets
Make no mistake, the Patriots didn't just set out to beat the Jets, but to destroy their very identity. Beginning with "Hard Knocks," Rex Ryan sought to instill the brashness necessary to win a Super Bowl, and Bill Belichick and Tom Brady publicly eviscerated it. The question is whether Ryan and his team can pick up the pieces off a short week against a division rival that typically gives them problems. They might, but I'm going to bet against it. Back the Dolphins.
Dolphins 24 - 20
Broncos -5.5 at Cardinals
The Cardinals are the worst team in the NFL, but the Broncos - even with the dead-cat bounce from the McDaniels firing - probably shouldn't be laying 5.5 on the road against anyone. Can I fade both of these teams? Back the Cardinals.
Broncos 27 - 23
Chiefs +7 at Chargers
Crazy that the first-place Chiefs are getting the full seven against the third place Chargers. And as we saw last week against Oakland, sometimes the stats do lie. Still, I think San Diego's the right play here as the rare unpopular favorite. Back the Chargers.
Chargers 27 - 16
Eagles -3.5 at Cowboys
Dez Bryant's out, and Asante Samuel should be back, but Dallas has enough weapons to keep up as long as it puts some hats on Michael Vick and punishes him for his scrambling. Back the Cowboys who have been pretty tough ever since Jason Garrett took over.
Eagles 30 - 27
Ravens -3 at Texans
The Monday night home dog is tough to resist, but the Ravens need this game badly, and Houston has a disastrous habit of falling apart at the most crucial moments, e.g., the Thursday night game against the Eagles. Still, I think Houston's offense will move the ball and keep up. Back the Texans.
Ravens 24 - 23
We were 5-11 last week to go 89-98-5 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)