Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We went 10-6 last week, and won our best bet, the Eagles. In fact, we won several of our favorite games including the Titans and Redskins. The one game we liked that we blew was the Chiefs, but that one was close enough to a cover - especially when you consider that San Diego got its first score after converting a fake punt, and it's second after a blocked punt turned into a first down (albeit at their own 15 yard-line). This week, we're taking 11 more dogs.
Incidentally, one last time: please stop touting your picks in the comments - it undermines the quality of the blog.
Vikings +3.5 at Packers
We liked this line a lot better at three, but a rookie quarterback making his first start in Lambeau in late December is a tough sell. Sure Tarvaris Jackson played well last week, but that was garbage time. Plus there's a chance that this is Brett Favre's last game at Lambeau, and the emotions should run high. Back the Pack.
Packers 23 - 17
Chiefs -6.5 at Raiders
It's hard not to like the Raiders at home and getting almost a touchdown against a hated division rival. Sure Oakland got shut out 20-0 by a weak Rams team last week, but that only served to inflate the line. Back the Raiders who keep it close enough.
Chiefs 17 - 16
Ravens +3.5 at Steelers
The book is begging us to take the Ravens who are getting more than a field goal against a team they annihilated a few weeks ago, so the Steelers are probably the savvy contrarian play. Still we're taking the bait and backing Baltimore for value. Back the Ravens.
Ravens 20 - 17
Panthers +6.5 at Falcons
The Falcons are still in the playoff hunt, while Carolina has all but hung it up, especially with quarterback Jake Delhomme still out. Still, we like the Panthers to make this a game Sunday - they don't strike us as a team that will completely quit - the six and a half should be enough. Back Carolina.
Falcons 23 - 19
Bears -4.5 at Lions
The Bears have three things going against them: (1) They're on the road; (2) They're parting with more than a field goal; (3) They've got nothing to gain from winning this game, as they've wrapped up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. As such, we're backing the Lions even though they cost us more often than not.
Bears 20 - 17
Colts -9.5 at Texans
We were going to take the Colts on a "turned the corner against Cincinnati" theory, but then realized that's what everyone's thinking. The Texans are abysmal, but they're at home and getting close to 10 against an Indy team that hasn't consistently put bad teams away. Back Houston.
Colts 24 - 17
Patriots +3 at Jaguars
We went back and forth on this one - the Jaguars can be very good at home, just ask the Jets and Colts. But with Fred Taylor banged up, and David Garrard still relatively inexperienced, we expect Bill Belichick's defense to cause some problems. Not that Jacksonville's won't, too. Just that Tom Brady's better equipped to handle it, the Dolphins game notwithstanding. Back New England.
Patriots 20 - 19
Saints +3 at Giants
The Saints are a great team to watch, but we weren't surprised when they struggled against Washington, and going into the Meadowlands in December is unlikely to be a picnic for them, either, especially with the Giants' possibly getting Michael Strahan back. Back the Giants who win this one fairly easily.
Giants 27 - 17
Buccaneers +3 at Browns
The Bucs played a great game last week, but this is a winnable home game for Cleveland, and they're likely to play with more urgency than Chicago did in the second half. Typically, we don't like warm weather teams travelling to cold-weather venues, even though it didn't seem to bother Tampa last week. Back the Browns.
Browns 19 - 13
Titans +4.5 at Bills
These are two roughly equal teams having good second halves after rough starts. In the end, the four and a half swayed us as we expect the Titans to hang around behind their playmaking young quarterback and corner. Back Tennessee.
Bills 23 - 20
Redskins +1.5 at Rams
The Redskins are blocking well for Ladell Betts and giving Jason Campbell some time to throw, and that should be enough to handle a soft Rams squad. St. Louis should move the ball, though. Back Washington.
Redskins 27 - 24
Cardinals +4 at 49ers
Damon had a Niners feeling, but I saw this line, and thought: "Cardinals." Not sure why - maybe because they beat San Fran earlier in the year, maybe because this seems like one of those back and forth games where each team scores late in the fourth quarter, and the four will make the difference. Or maybe it's because I think Matt Leinart will be a very good quarterback, while last week's game by Alex Smith is probably his best for a long time to come. Back the Cards.
49ers 24 - 23
Bengals +3 at Broncos
Cincy could bounce back after a bad loss to the Colts, but Jay Cutler looks better every game, and going into Mile High in December is a tough task. Back the Broncos who defend their home turf.
Broncos 24 - 20
Chargers -4.5 at Seahawks
As horrendous as the Seahawks were last week, and as dominant as the Chargers have been, I think you have to go against the grain here and take Seattle at home, getting the points. Don't ask me how they'll stop LaDainian Tomlinson - it's often better not to involve yourself in the how, but instead trust in the line, see which way it's steering you and do the opposite. Remember, they didn't build those palaces in Vegas by giving money away. Take the Seahawks who keep it close.
Seahawks 27 - 24
Eagles +7 at Cowboys
The book is begging us to take the Eagles with this line, but they did that last week when Philly was getting five and a half in New York, and we all know how that turned out. For the second straight week, we're taking the bait. Back Philly who keeps this one close.
Cowboys 24 - 23
Jets +2 at Dolphins
We like the Dolphins back at home, facing a division rival and coming off a 21-point road loss. The Jets played very well in Minnesota last week, but Miami's defense is a tougher challenge. Back Miami.
Dolphins 20 - 10
We were 10-6 against the spread in Week 15, to put us at 120-95-9 on the season. From 1999-2005, we were 918-790 - not including ties - (53.7 percent).
Article first appeared 12/20/06