Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We were 7-7 last week, which kept our record at .500, and while we're not happy about that, we're not defenestrating, either. We got our best bet, the Colts, right at least, and it's nice to get at least 10 cents of our anti-Patriots dollar back. Of course, we had to sweat it out more than we liked, but the Colts were the right side all day. Too bad the Pats don't play this week, because it would make for another interesting back and forth in the comments... The other team we really liked, the Eagles, got killed, and it's always a good reminder to see something like that. No matter how right a pick seems, it's capable of being spectacularly wrong. It's like an electric shock of sobriety that protects us from getting too hunch-drunk. (Actually, when you're on a bad run like we are, you tend to be too sober, and being wrong just hurts your confidence - but we'll file it away for our next good run).
Bills -2.5 at Dolphins
The Bills are playing well of late, and they should be able to move the ball against a soft Dolphins defense, but we get the feeling that Miami, coming off the bye, is ready to win its first game. Don't ask us how it will happen, just trust in the home dog and the fact that the Book knows most of the public will be on Buffalo. Back the Dolphins who win outright.
Dolphins 24 - 23
Browns +10 at Steelers
The Steelers annihilated the Browns in Cleveland in Week 1, but that was with Charlie Frye at the helm and before the Browns found their identity as a shoot-it-out team that stayed within 10 points of the Pats in New England, before a fluke last second fumble return for a score. This line should be more like seven or seven and a half. Expect the Browns to cover.
Steelers 27 - 23
Broncos +3 at Chiefs
Sure Larry Johnson's out, but the team wasn't blocking much for him anyway, so we don't see that being a major key to this game. Overall the Chiefs defense has been far better than Denver's, and Jay Cutler is banged up but might play. This line should be closer to four or five. Back the Chiefs at home.
Chiefs 23 - 17
Jaguars +4.5 at Titans
David Garrard will try to play, but either way, we expect a smashmouth game between two physical teams that would rather run than pass. In a game like that, four and a half is a lot. Back the Jaguars who keep it close.
Titans 19 - 16
Vikings +6 at Packers
We went back and forth on this one, but are going with the Packers in the end. The Vikings were impressive at home last week, and the public will probably want to ride Adrian Peterson another week, but Green Bay's winning on the road and playing far better as a team. Plus the Vikings secondary has struggled, and the Packers should be able to make a big play or two. Back Green Bay.
Packers 27 - 17
Eagles +2.5 at Redskins
We keep expecting the Eagles to get it together, and they don't, but the last time we gave up on them (after their home loss to the Bears), they went into Minnesota and won. So we liked them last week as a home dog against Dallas, and, of course, they didn't even show up. We're not sure how much of it has to do with Andy Reid's chemically dependent dependents or whether it's just the end of the line for the McNabb-era Eagles. Either way, at this point the burden's on them to show why they merit less than three in Washington. Back the Redskins, even though it's the obvious pick.
Redskins 20 - 17
Rams +12 at Saints
The Rams are probably worse than the Dolphins (though they might well be better than the Niners and Jets), but they're healthier than they've been in a while, coming off a bye week and accustomed to playing in domes. The Saints are playing well, and we expect them to take this game seriously - after all, they're just 4-4, but St. Louis should be able to hang just close enough. Back the Rams.
Saints 30 - 24
Falcons +4 at Panthers
David Carr looked awful in Tennessee last week, not getting the ball to Steve Smith and also holding it in the face of the pass rush far too long. Atlanta's nothing special, but we see these as roughly equal teams at this point, so we'll take the four points.
Falcons 20 - 19
Bengals +4 at Ravens
We went back and forth on this one because both of these teams are so bad, but the Ravens complete lack of a downfield dimension on offense should keep Cincy in this game, barring a huge discrepancy in turnovers. As such, we'll take the points, especially with receiver Chris Henry set to return, giving the Bengals a much needed third option in the passing game.
Ravens 24 - 23
Bears -3 at Raiders
The Raiders aren't very good, but getting points at home against the Brian Griese-led Bears is a nice spot for them. Oakland's pass defense should make some plays, and the Raiders should have success running the ball against the Bears soft front as Tommie Harris hasn't been healthy all year. Back Oakland who wins outright.
Raiders 20 - 19
Cowboys -1.5 at Giants
Look, I'm a Giants fan, so it's dumb for you to listen to my advice here. I think Dallas is going to win because its offense looked very sharp last week in Philly, and I don't trust Eli to play his "A" game which he'd have to do for the Giants to win. That said, there's no way, I'm picking Dallas in a game of this magnitude, so we're taking the Giants as a home dog against a team that everyone's going to be on and that's travelling cross country for the second straight week (and after playing on Sunday night) to face a team coming off a bye. Back the Giants.
Giants 23 - 19
Lions +1 at Cardinals
The Lions have played well of late, electing to run the ball more and not expose Jon Kitna to so many hits. But it's hard to get the beatings they took on the road in Philly and Washington earlier this season out of our minds. We know they won in Chicago, but Arizona took care of Pittsburgh at home earlier this year, and we think the Cards will handle them.
Cardinals 24 - 20
Colts -3.5 at Chargers
The Chargers are probably the value here with the Colts hurting at wideout and travelling cross country after an emotional and disappointing loss. Also, this line would have been at worst a pick had San Diego won at Minnesota. Because the Chargers got embarrassed and the Colts showed they could hang with the Pats, the line skewed heavily - which means it's probably a good buying opportunity on San Diego. Back the Chargers who cover and possibly win outright.
Chargers 26 - 21
49ers +10 at Seahawks
Who knows with these kind of garbage games between perhaps the worst team in the league and one that has no business laying 10 points. When in doubt, take the underdog.
Seahawks 19 - 13
We went 7-7 against the spread in Week 9 to go 61-61-8 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 11/8/07