Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Last week was letdown because we were 6-2 in the morning games and 37-17 on the season, before losing all three afternoon games, (and our survivor pick, to boot). It was bound to happen sooner or later, but that doesn't make it any less distasteful. Even the Raiders who were up 15-0 and tied 18-18 late, gave up the cover. But I'm sure we had some lucky breaks in the first three weeks, so there's no point in bitching about that.
This week's slate was tough, and I'm not in love with some of the picks. For instance, it seems stupid to lay the points with the Packers, given all those injuries, but it feels like the right play if Aaron Rodgers can go. If he can't we'd still take the Pack at whatever the new line is. I actually switched from the Giants to the Seahawks, which is always dicey, but while writing it up, I couldn't shake the feeling that it would be a tough game. I also very nearly switched to the Chargers, but stuck with our Dolphins pick after reading about Miami's improved offensive line play. What I read was unconvincing, actually, but the more I read, the more likely I am to stick with the original pick because I realize that none of it means anything. It's all just idle chit chat.
Titans -3 at Ravens
We've gone against the Ravens every week, and they've covered every week. Luckily for us Week 2 was postponed, otherwise we'd probably have lost that one, too. Now the Titans, a legitimately nasty team unlike overhyped Pittsburgh, come into town, and Baltimore is a three-point home dog. There's nothing worse than going against a team for a while and losing, and then finally jumping on the bandwagon just when the tide turns the other way. But we're going to jump on nonetheless - Tennessee might really be that good, but the Ravens have shown they're not a total fluke, and the onus is on the Titans to separate themselves at this point, not the other way around. Back Baltimore.
Ravens 13 - 10
Seahawks +7.5 at Giants
Damon and I agreed on the Giants, but I'm going to do something rash and switch to the Seahawks. The Giants might physically overpower Seattle, but without Plaxico Burress and with the Seahawks desperately needing a win, I think the game will be close. Also, that both teams haven't played in two weeks adds uncertainty, and uncertainty always favors the underdog. Back the Seahawks.
Giants 19 - 17
Redskins +6 at Eagles
The Redskins played awfully well against Dallas on Sunday, physically dominating them down the stretch to seal the game. Moreover, Jason Campbell continued his Pro Bowl-level play against what was at least considered a top defense. Still, we like the Eagles at home coming off a tough loss and facing a must-win game to stay in contention in the tough NFC East. Back Philly.
Eagles 24 - 17
Chargers -7 at Dolphins
The Chargers are explosive enough to cover big spreads on the road, though last week was a bit lucky as LaDainian Tomlinson broke a long TD as they were killing the clock. And Damon even had a "Chargers feeling here". But we're going ugly with the Dolphins - as Damon said, "You're right to take the home dog in these cases more often than not." Back Miami.
Chargers 21 - 16
Bears -3.5 at Lions
The Bears have played like a legitmate team, beating Indianapolis and Philly, while barely losing to Tampa and Carolina. But we have to go ugly here and take the desperate home dog. It's just the right thing to do.
Bears 20 - 19
Falcons +7 at Packers*
Most of the sportsbooks had this game off the board due to the uncertain status of Aaron Rodgers and the huge dropoff to Matt Flynn, but one of them (Pinnacle, I think) had the line at seven. That seems like a lot considering Green Bay is not only worried about Rogers, but also A.J. Hawk and Atari Bigby, and starting defensive end Cullen Jenkins and Pro Bowl corner Al Harris are both out. Still, we agreed on the Packers based on their two losses in a row, and the Falcons' problems on the road. Let's hope Rodgers plays. Back the Pack.
Packers 27 - 16
Colts -3.5 at Texans
The Colts finally have their offensive line intact, but we're not comfortable laying more than three on the road against a desperate Houston team that took Jacksonville to overtime last week. Back the Texans.
Texans 27 - 23
Chiefs +10 at Panthers
The Panthers are playing well, and we don't particularly like the Chiefs coming off an upset win, but 10 points is full value here with Damon Huard starting. Back Kansas City.
Panthers 20 - 17
Buccaneers +3 at Broncos
We went back and forth on this one. On the one hand, we expect Denver to be focused after a bad road loss. On the other, Tampa Bay seems to fly under the radar given their lack of star power. In the end, this is probably the right line - we could see either team winning this game, so we'll take the points.
Broncos 21 - 20
Bills pick 'em at Cardinals
We went against the Cardinals two weeks in a row with our best bets (Redskins, Jets) - as we felt they were overrated at 2-0. But now that they've been cut down to size, we like them again, especially at home against a Bills team that's inflated. Back Arizona.
Cardinals 23 - 19
Patriots -3.5 at 49ers
This line looks like a gift in San Francisco, but we're concerned about Mike Martz's tendency to leave his quarterback unprotected - there's little doubt that Bill Belichick will take advantage of that. Moreover, Belichick-coached teams typically have success against inexperienced quarterbacks. That said, the Patriots need to re-prove themselves after that diastrous loss to the Dolphins. Back the 49ers.
49ers 20 - 16
Bengals +17 at Cowboys
Initially this line was off the board, and for some reason Damon and I thought it was 11 and agreed to take the Cowboys. But at 17, and with some chance Carson Palmer will play, we have to take Cincy.
Cowboys 30 - 16
Steelers +4 at Jaguars
Damon and I both agreed on the Jaguars here, because it seemed to us as if the Book was begging us to take Pittsburgh plus more than a field goal. But surprisingly, 73 percent of the action was on Jacksonvlle. Still, the Steelers struck us as soft on Monday night, and we don't trust them on the road. Back the Jaguars.
Jaguars 27 - 17
Vikings +3.5 at Saints
The Vikings were probably the most overhyped team in the league heading into the season considering they didn't even make the playoffs, and their coach and quarterback had never distinguished themselves. But, as long as Brad Childress doesn't tip his king again before the game's over, we think Minnesota will be focused in a contest they badly need to win. Back the Vikings.
Vikings 24 - 23
We were 7-6 in Week 4, to put us at 38-21-1 on the season. We were 127-120-9 last season. From 1999-2007, we were 1184-1018 - not including ties - (53.8 percent).
Article first appeared 10/1/08