Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We went 8-8 last week, which doesn't help our overall record, but in some ways it was a strong week. Our best bet, the Chiefs, covered fairly easily, and the other teams we liked a lot like the Redskins over the Panthers and the Bills over the Jaguars panned out. When you pick all the games, sometimes it's about hitting the ones that you feel strongly about and letting the luck even out over time on the 50/50 ones (if you take a lot of dogs, maybe they're 52/48 ones). This week, we especially like the Browns, Bills, Steelers, Giants and Titans. The other ones are subject to change on Thursday or Friday, so check for an update... I spent most of Tuesday travelling from New York to LA, so we didn't have our usual time to go over everything in as much detail as we'd have liked.
Ravens +3 at Bengals
We went back and forth on this. Cincy's on a roll and at home, and no one can stop that passing game if they can protect Carson Palmer. But we felt that Baltimore, who has been better all year, getting the full three-points was probably the better value. Take the Ravens who keep it close enough.
Bengals 28 - 27
Cardinals +6.5 at Rams
We just don't believe the Rams should be 6.5-point favorites over anyone right now, and the Arizona passing game should be able to keep up with St. Louis. Back Arizona who keeps it close.
Rams 24 - 23
Falcons +1.5 at Redskins
These strike us as equal teams right now, and as such, we'll take the one that's at home and parting with less than three points. Back the Redskins.
Redskins 23 - 20
Lions +13.5 at Patriots
Lines like this are a crapshoot - normally we take the dog, but Damon likes the Pats, and I'm fine with it, so long as they play their B- game or better. Back New England.
Patriots 27 - 13
Colts -7.5 at Titans
The Titans have played better of late, and Vince Young is improving with each game. Tennessee was able to slow Indy down on the road, so they should put up a fight at home as well. You never know when Indy is going to put the gas pedal down like last week, but more often than not, they've been content to grind out the win. Back the Titans who keep it close.
Colts 23 - 19
Chiefs -5 at Browns
The Chiefs are a good team this season, with an improved defense and tremendous running game, but five is a big number to part with on the road. Cleveland's defense is tough against the pass, and the beating they took against Cincinnati last week probably served to inflate this line. Take the Browns who stay in this one and possibly win outright.
Browns 20 - 19
Vikings +9 at Bears
We went back and forth on this one - the Bears have blown out teams at home, and Chicago's defense could be a big problem for a toothless Minnesota attack, but in the end, Minnesota's stout defense getting nine in a division game was enough for us. Back the Vikings who show up and keep it close.
Bears 19 - 13
Jets -1 at Packers
Our instinct is usually to take the home dog, but here we're just picking a winner as the line is so small. The Jets aren't great, but we like Eric Mangini's aggressive playcalling, and the team's been up for most of its challenges this year. Back the Jets.
Jets 24 - 20
Chargers -6 at Bills
The Chargers are an elite offensive team, and this week they get Shawne Merriman back, so the defense could get back on track. Still, we have a hard time backing a Southern California team as a six-point favorite in Buffalo in December. Take the Bills who keep it close enough.
Chargers 20 - 16
49ers +7 at Saints
I would probably have taken the Niners and then points in this spot, but Damon stepped up for the Saints, arguing that seven isn't a huge number at home, and that with their passing offense, they could win by that even in a game that's close most of the way. I'll roll with it. Back New Orleans.
Saints 27 - 17
Jaguars +1 at Dolphins
It feels like this is too obvious, but why are the Jaguars getting less than three on the road against a Miami team that's outplayed them of late? Do the oddsmakers know something we don't? Maybe. But we're going to take the bait here and trust Miami to keep it going at home. Back the Dolphins.
Dolphins 17 - 13
Texans +3 at Raiders
We never really did decide on a pick here. On the one hand the Raiders have one very strong unit (the defense) and one awful one (the offense), while Houston has one mediocre one (the offense) and one awful one (the defense). That would seem to favor Oakland parting with just the standard three for home field, but taking the Raiders as a favorite is uncharted territory this year. Still, there's a first time for everything. Back Oakland.
Raiders 17 - 10
Cowboys -3.5 at Giants
Dallas' stock has gone through the roof of late, while the Giants' has plummeted. Which makes for a good buy-low, sell-high opportunity here. Three and a half is a big number on the road in a division game for supremacy in the NFC East. Expect New York to show up and make it a game. Back the Giants.
Cowboys 27 - 24
Buccaneers +7.5 at Steelers
We've backed the Steelers more often than not, and last week, we took a beating. Still, seven and a half isn't a huge number at home, and a weak Florida team going into Pittsburgh in December should be a good punching bag for a frustrated squad. Back Pittsburgh who rolls.
Steelers 27 - 10
Seahawks +3 at Broncos
This is a tough game to handicap for a few reasons. First, Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck look like they're back, but it's only been two games for one, and one for the other. Second, Seattle is much tougher at home than on the road, and Denver is one of the nastiest places to play in the league. Third, Denver's starting Jay Cutler, and you don't really know whether that will be an immediate improvement over an inept Jake Plummer or not. In the end, we'll have to go against the rookie QB being favored in his first start. Back the Seahawks.
Seahawks 17 - 16
Panthers -3 at Eagles
Carolina's not the team many thought before the season, and we don't think they should be road favorites against too many teams at this point. The Eagles know their season is over, but we expect them to show some backbone on Monday night. Take the Eagles and the points.
Panthers 19 - 17
We were 8-8 against the spread in Week 12, to put us at 93-74-9 on the season. From 1999-2005, we were 918-790 - not including ties - (53.7 percent).
Article first appeared 11/29/06