Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We'll take 10-6 any day, especially in Week 1 where you never know what's going to happen. This week's slate is a bit different - not nearly as many home dogs, but some interesting matchups between the old guard and the new. Sometimes we go with one, and other times the other - if our reasons seem contradictory, that's because they are. The reason is always an afterthought - an ex post facto explanation of convenience that doesn't quite do justice to the original apprehension of the truth. So don't get too hung up on the logic - beating the book is a spiritual endeavor, and matters of spirit will always lie beyond our linear thought process. Read and react. Make the play. Don't think. Don't think. Don't think.
Raiders +3.5 at Chiefs
Normally it's time to reverse direction and take the team that looked worse in Week 1, but the Raiders might be in real trouble as a franchise. That display on Monday night at home against a hated division rival was unprofessional. It's possible Al Davis is losing it, and hiring Lane Kiffin might have been a symptom. The Chiefs aren't great, either, of course, but Herm Edwards gets them to show up at least, and Damon Huard is an upgrade over the injured Brodie Croyle. Back the Chiefs.
Chiefs 24 - 13
Packers -3 at Lions
We went back and forth on this. Normally a home dog in this case is automatic, but why the lack of respect for the Packers? Is everyone drinking Tony Kornheiser's crack-laced Kool Aid? Compare this to the Giants-Rams game (nine points), and ask yourself whether the G-Men are that much better than the Pack or the Rams are that much worse than the Lions. We'll be suckers here and take the road favorite. Back Green Bay.
Packers 24 - 20
Titans +1 at Bengals
This must be a trick line - the Titans are actually pretty good, and Cincy hasn't been in sync for a couple seasons. We must be missing something here, but we'll do the obvious and take the Titans.
Titans 23 - 17
Bears +3 at Panthers
This line is about right. Most people think the Colts were just out of sorts on Monday night, but we thought the Bears defense had something to do with that. And Carolina also won impressively on the road. We could go either way here, but we'll take the home team with the better quarterback. Back Carolina.
Panthers 17 - 13
Bills +5.5 at Jaguars
Jacksonville was the better team for the past couple years, but in 2008, who knows? And that was before the Jaguars were missing three starting offensive linemen. Take the points - this game should be close.
Jaguars 17 - 16
Saints -1 at Redskins
The Redskins looked awful against the Giants last week, but this was a playoff team a year ago, and the Saints were not. Everyone's going to be on New Orleans, but Washington, win or lose, is the right play.
Redskins 23 - 20
Colts -2 at Vikings
We went back and forth on this one, too. Damon wanted the Colts, and I suggested the Vikings. But the more I thought about it, he was right. Indy's a top team when in sync, and over the last half decade they've earned a one-game mulligan. And what have the Vikings done lately? Back Indy.
Colts 27 - 23
Giants -9 at Rams
The Rams looked awful in Week 1, and we expect them to show some desperation especially in front of the home crowd. The Giants are physical enough to pull the game out, but nine points is too much here. Back St. Louis.
Giants 24 - 21
49ers +7.5 at Seahawks
The Seahawks are typically tough at home, but they're playing with receivers who haven't had a chance to jell with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and their running game is below average as well. Unless the 49ers give it away, they should be able to keep this one close enough. Back San Fran.
Seahawks 19 - 16
Falcons +7.5 at Buccaneers
The Falcons looked good last week, but that was at home game against the Lions. Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan will find the going tougher against Tampa's Cover 2. Jeff Garcia's out, but the downgrade to Brian Griese shouldn't be all that steep. Back Tampa who pulls away at home.
Buccaneers 24 - 13
Dolphins +7 at Cardinals
The Dolphins hung with the Jets, and we're not convinced the Cardinals are anything special. Sure, the game's in Arizona, but we still think it'll be a battle. Back Miami.
Cardinals 20 - 19
Patriots +1.5 at Jets
If you assume most people would rather bet on Brett Favre than Matt Cassel, you'd be wrong. That almost makes us want to bet the Jets, but we'll take the points in what should be a tight game. Back the Pats.
Patriots 20 - 19
Ravens +4.5 at Texans
We knew better than to pick the trendy Texans last week in Pittsburgh, but we botched it anyway. It's not all about picking home dogs and ugly plays - it's also about taking smart favorites that have track records of success against overhyped upstarts that do not. Games are not played on paper, and stats are accumulated in all different circumstances - sometimes against weak opponents, in garbage time and on flukey plays. It's tough to sort out all of the noise, so it's best to be agnostic. A little knowledge can be dangerous, and it's why so many system bettors get crushed. That said, we like Houston to bounce back at home against a Ravens team led by a rookie quarterback. Back the Texans.
Texans 17 - 9
Chargers -1.5 at Broncos
What did we say about hype vs. teams with a track record of success? Throw it out the window here - we believe in Jay Cutler and the Broncos, and now he gets Brandon Marshall back. Plus, San Diego lost arguably its best player for the season in Shawne Merriman, and another key player, Antonio Gates, seems less than 100 percent healthy. Back Denver at home.
Broncos 27 - 23
Steelers -6.5 at Browns
It's one thing for the Steelers to roll at home, but quite another to lay close to a touchdown on the road against a division rival with a quality offense. Back the Browns.
Steelers 30 - 27
Eagles +7 at Cowboys
The Eagles looked good in Week 1, but they did it at home against the Rams. Dallas, on the other hand, went into Cleveland and routed a winning team. In other words, Dallas' challenge in Week 2 is probably not much harder than last week's while the Eagles go from the easiest matchup imaginable to the toughest. Back the Cowboys.
Cowboys 31 - 17
We were 10-6 in Week 1 and 127-120-9 last season. From 1999-2007, we were 1184-1018 - not including ties - (53.8 percent).
Article first appeared 9/10/08