Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We went 8-6 last week, which is a start, and our best bet, the Cardinals even came through - only the fourth time in 10 weeks we've won it. But we're going to have to string together some 10-6s and 11-5s if we expect to finish with a record we can live with. This slate was on the easier side, in my opinion, but there are some tough games and a couple picks that I already hate like the Rams and Dolphins. We were 50/50 on both, and I actually swayed Damon to them, and now I think they're both wrong. The Rams are a sucker pick, and the Dolphins will get blown out on the road with a rookie QB making his first start. I might change them in the comments by Friday, but for now, I'm sticking with them and just noting that they're dumb. (I don't like changing picks because you can go back and forth forever, and in the end, you're just as likely to make it worse as better. It's better to commit and let it go). I particularly like the Packers, Chiefs, Vikings, Jets and Bills. Kiss of death, probably. Bet the house on the Rams and Dolphins instead (You can't sell it in this market anyway).
Cardinals +3 at Bengals
I was agnostic about this game - the Cardinals defense isn't that bad, and they should be able to move the ball against Cincy. But Damon had a Bengals hunch, and I didn't feel strongly enough to override it. Back the Bengals.
Bengals 24 - 20
Panthers +9.5 at Packers
Until the Panthers figure out a better solution at quarterback (and running back for that matter), we don't see them hanging with a Packers team at Lambeau that's taken care of its business all season. Barring a collapse by Brett Favre (unlikely) we expect Green Bay to roll.
Packers 27 - 10
Browns -2.5 at Ravens
The Browns are the obvious play here, and for that reason we're taking the Ravens. Maybe it's Kyle Boller, maybe it's that Baltimore has bottomed out and has nowhere to go but up, but the home dog is usually a good value, and we don't think anyone else will be on them. Back Baltimore.
Ravens 20 - 19
Chiefs +14.5 at Colts
We don't like Brodie Croyle much - just doesn't seem to show any signs of poise under pressure or leadership ability. But with the Colts this banged up on the offensive line, the defensive line and at the skill positions, this line is as high as it could possibly be. Back the Chiefs for value.
Colts 20 - 7
Dolphins +10 at Eagles
We went back and forth on this one a bunch of times. On the one hand, you have the Jekyll and Hyde Eagles laying big points against a desperate Dolphins team that more often than not shows up, and on the other you have a rookie quarterback making his first start on the road against an aggressive, blitzing Jim Johnson defense. We don't like either side, but when it doubt, take the dog. Back the Dolphins.
Eagles 19 - 10
Saints pick 'em at Texans
The Saints let us down big time in survivor last week (though we did take the Rams plus 12 here), and normally we'd expect a team needing to salvage its season to bounce back the subsequent week. But going on the road against a rested Houston team with a healthy Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson won't be easy, and New Orleans isn't getting any points. Back the Texans who stand their ground at home.
Texans 23 - 20
Raiders +5 at Vikings
Adrian Peterson's out, so we figued most people will go against the Vikings, especially after the manhandling by the Packers last week. But the offensive line should open holes for Chester Taylor, too, and we think Oakland will have a tough time going into the dome and playing well on the road. Back the Vikings.
Vikings 21 - 13
Chargers +3 at Jaguars
We prefer the Jaguars as a dog, given their ugly style of play, but with David Garrard likely back, we'll lay the three here against a San Diego team that should be ashamed of the win they got last week - two return TDs, five meaningful picks, an early missed FG, significant injuries to their opponent and home field advantage, and they still needed an improbable missed chip shot FG to win. Get them out of my sight. Back Jacksonville.
Jaguars 20 - 16
Buccaneers -3 at Falcons
This game didn't require much thought - the Falcons aren't one of the truly horrible teams of the league, and the Bucs are nothing special. In which case, three points and home field advantage sound pretty good. Back Atlanta.
Falcons 20 - 17
Giants -2.5 at Lions
The Lions are probably the smart play here, but I have a Giants feeling (overriding Damon's pick). It's not bias - I don't care that much any more after Dallas demonstrated beyond any doubt that the Giants won't beat them should the teams meet again. I just see the Lions as a confused team right now, possibly missing their top running back and unable to protect their immobile quarterback when they do throw. The Giants pass rush will get to Jon Kitna, and Mike Martz won't max protect like he should. Back the Giants.
Giants 27 - 20
Steelers -9.5 at Jets
The Jets should be better coming off the bye and with Kellen Clemens at the helm. Yes, the Steelers are good, but nine and a half is a lot to part with on the road, and remember, Pittsburgh lost to Arizona and Denver away from Heinz Field. Back the Jets.
Steelers 24 - 19
Redskins +10.5 at Cowboys
Everyone will be on the Cowboys after the last few weeks, and with a double-digit line, division rivarly and the knowledge that the book's not giving it away, we have to take the Redskins, who might even win outright. Back Washington.
Cowboys 21 - 20
Rams -2.5 at 49ers
The Niners are disgusting, and we were going to go with them in large part for the same reasons we're taking the Ravens, but I talked Damon out of it, and now I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the Ravens have jettisoned their inept quarterback, and the Niners still have theirs. In any event, this is a sucker pick, but we're taking the Rams as a favorite.
Rams 17 - 13
Bears +5.5 at Seahawks
Seattle played well at home Monday night, but that was against the Niners, so let's not make too much of that. The Bears are rolling the dice with Rex Grossman again, and as bad as he was earlier in the year, we think the underdog role suits him. Back the Bears who keep it close.
Seahawks 23 - 19
Patriots -15.5 at Bills
That Marshawn Lynch might not play worries us a bit, but come on, 15.5 against a winning team on the road? The Book knows everyone's on the Pats, and they're making them pay for it. Plus, if there's ever a game where the Pats would come out flat, it's this one, coming off a layoff and an emotional win in the regular season Super Bowl. For the Bills, this is the Super Bowl - a nationally televised home game against a team with a chance to go undefeated. Plus it's a night game in mid-November in Buffalo - weather could be a factor. Back the Bills who keep it close.
Patriots 24 - 20
Titans +2 at Broncos
Damon liked the Broncos here at home laying less than the full three. A lot of it depends on whether all-world defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's able to play, but I'm agnostic enough to let him have his way here. Back the Denver
Broncos 21 - 17
We went 8-6 against the spread in Week 10 to go 69-67-8 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 11/15/07