Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We went 12-2 last week, which isn't bad, but the Monday night game was disappointing because Damon went to bat for the Pats before I talked him out of it the next day. And rooting for the Bengals was truly a miserable experience. I feel terrible for anyone who has to do it on a regular basis.
This week's slate is a tougher one. There were a lot of games where we were torn (Green Bay-Chicago, Tampa Bay-Indy, to name a couple) and few games (Detroit-Washington, NY-NY) that we felt clear about. We'd love to stay on this roll, but realistically, we're hoping for nine wins off this slate, and would be fine with eight. Once again, we're dog heavy - with nine.
Cardinals -3.5 at Rams
Everyone's left the Rams for dead with Orlando Pace and Steven Jackson out, and now it turns out Gus Frerotte will be starting at quarterback. Still, this is a shut-your-eyes and take the home dog on faith pick - the Book ain't giving it away, and the public's going to be all over Arizona after its win over Pittsburgh. Back the Rams who win outright.
Rams 20 - 17
Falcons +8 at Titans
Damon and I initially liked the Falcons who have played better than their 1-3 record, but then we both had a Titans' feeling - that team dominates on both sides of the line of scrimmage and on their home turf could pound Atlanta into submission and pull away late. Still, we're sticking with the Falcons - unless you have a real vision for the game (like Damon did with the Pats last week, and we foolishly backed off of it), it's better to take the points with a scrappy dog.
Titans 17 - 13
Panthers +3 at Saints
This is an ugly one, and at first we wanted to back the Saints - the team with the good quarterback, underachieving offense, coming off the bye and playing at home against an overrated and reeling Carolina squad with a bad backup quarterback. But that feeling gave way to the thought that everyone would rather go for the Saints here - it just fits the storyline better (Carr loses again, the Saints don't fall to 0-4, Brees and Bush get going again, etc., etc.). So we're going with Carolina.
Panthers 24 - 20
Browns +17 at Patriots
We didn't put a whole lot of thought into this. Just figured the public would be on the Pats, so why not take the Browns with the big points. Someone's got to get within 20 against the Pats this year. Back Cleveland.
Patriots 27 - 16
Lions +3.5 at Redskins
Why are the 3-1 Lions getting more than a field goal against the 2-1 Redskins? It doesn't make much sense, and for that reason, it screams "trap" to us. The Lions won't be as fast on the FedEx Field grass, and the Redskins should be able to move the ball effectively against their soft defense. Back Washington who wins by a touchdown.
Redskins 30 - 23
Jaguars -2 at Chiefs
The Chiefs are no doormat, and we were happy to see them cover the last two weeks against both Minnesota and San Diego. But we're going to sell high here and back the Jaguars who should be happy to slug it out against any team except the Titans. Back Jacksonville.
Jaguars 20 - 17
Dolphins +5.5 at Texans
The Dolphins defense has really been a problem so far, especially against the run, but their offense has moved the ball, and Ronnie Brown seems to have found a nice rhythm. And in any event, they're desperate, and with Andre Johnson still hurting, the Texans don't scare us too much. Back Miami who covers and possibly wins outright.
Dolphins 31 - 30
Jets +3.5 at Giants
The Giants defense has been tremendous over the last six quarters, and their pass rush is for real. Still, a game and a half isn't a big enough sample for us to believe that they've turned the corner completely, and we expect the Jets to show up and compete. Back the Jets who keep it close enough.
Giants 24 - 23
Seahawks +6 at Steelers
We had a Steelers feeling here - shouldn't this line just be three or three and a half? Why the six? Isn't this to sucker you into taking a road dog that doesn't travel well? Maybe, but the feeling wasn't that strong, and we felt better about losing with the Seahawks (smart, underdog play) than losing with the Steelers who are 3-1 in large part due to an easy schedule. Back Seattle.
Steelers 24 - 20
Buccaneers +10 at Colts
We never could decide on this one - the Colts are such a hard-to-figure team, able to blow out anyone, but kind of soft on defense and willing to run or pass depending entirely on what the opposing defense gives them. Damon basically threw up his hands and said, "You pick this one." I feel almost obligated to go with the underdog here (and the Colts, just like Tampa, have some important injuries). But I'm taking the Colts. It seems like power teams (Tennessee, Jacksonville) give the Colts problems, but Tampa's more of a speedy defense and finesse offense, and teams like that don't fare well, especially in Indy.
Colts 30 - 17
Ravens -3 at 49ers
How can anyone in good conscience take the Ravens as a road favorite at this point? I know the 49ers offense is an affront to human decency, but let's not get carried away here. Back the 49ers.
49ers 13 - 10
Chargers +1 at Broncos
A three-point home favorite presumes equal teams, so this line implies that the Chargers are better. Which isn't the case in 2007. There's always a chance that the sleeping giant awakes, but those nervous system depressants with which Norv Turner is spiking the Gatorade sure has this bunch out cold. And what dreadful snoring!
Broncos 24 - 20
Bears +3 at Packers
This is a strange line. The 4-0 Packers giving just three points at home against the 1-3 Bears? It's got to be a setup, but one that's predicated on the idea that the Bears are still good. And we're dubious. The problem is that we don't believe in the Packers, either. In the end, Damon liked the value with the Packers laying just three and home, and while it feels wrong to me, I'm going to roll with it because Week 5 is too far into the season to give the Bears credit for last year. Back Green Bay.
Packers 17 - 13
Cowboys -10 at Bills
The Bills are the obvious play here as the Monday night home dog. Sure, the Bengals failed miserably in that role, but they're horrible. Not that the Bills are good, but Trent Edwards played well last week, and we think he'll have some success against a weak Dallas secondary. Back Buffalo.
Cowboys 24 - 17
We went 12-2 against the spread in Week 4 to go 33-24-5 on the season. We were 139-108-9 last season. From 1999-2006, we were 1057-898 - not including ties - (54.1 percent).
Article first appeared 10/3/07