Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We're more dog-heavy than Michael Vick's drowning pond this week (I know, that's terrible, but I had originally gone with Joey Chesnut, and that seemed a bit trite), with 13 of the 16 on the slate. We had originally picked 14, but I switched our Redskins pick to the Eagles without Damon's consent. We actually felt bad about it when going through the picks - we don't want to reflexively assume all the teams are equal and take the points - so we went through them again but came up with the same result. In the end, we're not committed to having 10 dogs and six favorites, or any other number. We call it as we see it, and if it's all favorites or all dogs or half and half, so be it. The teams we feel mostly strongly about are the Titans, Dolphins, Bucs, Cardinals and Chargers, for what it's worth.
Falcons +10.5 at Jaguars
I've gone back and forth on this a few times. Damon and I agreed on the Falcons - after all, we love to go ugly, and the Falcons are our type, but I started wondering about Joey Harrington facing a tough defense on the road that was just embarrassed by the Titans last week, and I'm having second thoughts. Still, we're going to stick with Atlanta - Jacksonville's got to do it this year before we lay double-digit points with them. Back the Falcons.
Jaguars 21 - 13
Bills +10 at Steelers
The Steelers took care of the Browns in Cleveland pretty easily, but it didn't seem like that was a high bar to clear. The Bills aren't great, either, but at least their starting quarterback's not likely to be on another team next week, and they're getting enough points. Plus, the good news on Kevin Everett might be something for them to rally around. Take Buffalo.
Steelers 21 - 17
Bengals -7 at Browns
Is the Book giving money away? I mean who in their right mind would take the Browns getting just a touchdown when the Steelers went into Cleveland last week and absolutely destroyed them? Apparently nobody last we checked. Nobody except us. Don't try to explain it, don't try to understand it, just trust in the wisdom of the line and the blindness of the herd. If it makes you feel better to have an explanation - the Bengals are coming off a short week, and the Browns are as desperate and hungry as a team can be in Week 2. Back Cleveland who keeps it close.
Bengals 20 - 17
Packers pick 'em at Giants
Eli Manning's status matters a lot - if he plays, and it's about 50/50 right now, we like the Giants at home straight up. The Packers defense is improving, but an ancient Brett Favre and Donald Driver, and the Brandon Jackson/Vernand Morency combo should be easier on the Giants' out-of-sync defense than Dallas was. If Manning doesn't play, the line would probably move, but we've got to make the pick now, and we're taking New York.
Giants 21 - 20
Texans +6.5 at Panthers
We're not sold on either of these teams despite their impressive Week 1 showings. Carolina hasn't been consistent in a couple years, and the Texans never have. As such, why not take the six and a half?
Panthers 19 - 16
Colts -7.5 at Titans
We backed the Saints plus six last week, and the Colts absolutely annihilated them. So why are we going back to the well against them? First off, this game isn't on Indy's speedy home turf. Second, the Titans are a physical power-running team that should give the Colts speedy defense problems and third, the teams split two very close games a year ago. Seven and a half is a lot for Indy to lay on the road under these circumstances. Back the Titans.
Colts 21 - 20
Saints -3.5 at Buccaneers
The Saints should bounce back from their Week 1 no show, and maybe they'll even do it this week. But after what we saw last week, we can't in good conscience back them as more than a three-point favorite against a division rival on the road. Back the Bucs who keep it close.
Saints 24 - 23
49ers +3 at Rams
This game must be a trap because it's so clear that we have to take the 49ers getting the full three even though the Rams have big problems on their offensive line. We're sure the strange, contrarian play is the Rams, and it'll pan out, but we're going to do the obvious here and back San Francisco, who's better defensively.
49ers 21 - 16
Cowboys -3.5 at Dolphins
This is best bet material - Miami's a tough place to play in September - it should be close to 90 and humid, and Dallas has to lay more than a field goal. We have very little faith in the Cowboys defense, and Miami's defense is far better than the Giants' one the Cowboys torched. Back the Dolphins who win this game outright.
Dolphins 23 - 17
Vikings +3 at Lions
If the Lions offense and Vikings defense could form one team, it might be pretty good. Instead they're going to match up, and it will be interesting to see whether Minnesota's pass defense (the weaker part) can hold up against the Lions' downfield weapons. And it'll also be interesting to see whether Adrian Peterson can break Jamal Lewis's single-game rushing record against Detroit. But this is all just idle speculation. The line is right, and we have to pick a side. Take the Lions who will find some success throwing down the field.
Lions 24 - 20
Seahawks -3 at Cardinals
Seattle handled Tampa Bay at home last week, but they weren't overly impressive in doing so, and we're not comfortable backing them as a road favorite in the desert. Take Arizona who wins outright.
Cardinals 21 - 17
Chiefs +13 at Bears
I really want to take the Bears here - the Chiefs are a mess, and for most of Sunday's game against the Chargers, Chicago looked like last year's team which blew out weaker opponents at home. But 13 is a lot of points for a defensive minded team to part with, and the Chiefs will probably get 25-30 carries from Larry Johnson in Week 2. Back Kansas City.
Bears 20 - 10
Jets +10.5 at Ravens
It doesn't look like Chad Pennington's going to play this week which means Kellen Clemens is likely to make his first start on the road against a very nasty (and justifiably angry) Ravens defense. Anything's possible, but we see a blowout here. Back the Ravens who roll.
Ravens 33 - 6
Raiders +10 at Broncos
We like the Raiders to play better defense this week and possibly pressure Jay Cutler into some bad decisions. Moreover, if Josh McCown can't go, and Daunte Culpepper is forced to start, we'd consider that an upgrade. Take the Raiders and the points.
Broncos 17 - 9
Chargers +3.5 at Patriots
How can anyone not take the Chargers considering the cloud of bad karma under which the Patriots are playing after the spying scandal. That, the loss of Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison and the extra half point - very generous to a Chargers team that's looking for revenge and wondering if the Patriots didn't steal their plays as well - make this an easy call. Back San Diego.
Chargers 33 - 23
Redskins +7 at Eagles
Another game I'm back and forth on - we cavalierly took the Skins reasoning that seven points was plenty for two teams that didn't distinguish themselves in Week 1, but the more I think about it, I like the blitz happy Eagles to beat up on a Redskins team that lost right tackle Jon Jansen for the season. Back Philadelphia.
Eagles 27 - 13
We went 5-9 against the spread in Week 1. We were 139-108-9 last season. From 1999-2006, we were 1057-898 - not including ties - (54.1 percent).
Article first appeared 9/13/07