I'm not in love with this slate. There are too many games like TB-NO, ATL-IND and CHI-PHI where the favorite is clearly the better team, and I expect them to win, but I still took the points. The idea is even if they don't win, maybe they cover. And who knows, I could be wrong, and maybe the dog wins outright. It's not as if just because I think something, there's a zero percent chance the opposite happens. In fact, the chance that I'm wrong is substantial. But it puts you in an uncomfortable place, taking the points with a team you expect to lose.
The other games I don't like are ones like CIN-TEN, NYJ-BUF and SF-WAS where I know where the value is, and I don't like it. It's always hard to fade your own inclinations out of principle. And sometimes even though the principled play is correct from the macro/historical perspective, your inclination would have been correct in this instance.
The only games I actually like are San Diego getting points at home, Seattle in Dallas and maybe the Rams gettng more than a field goal.
Dolphins +4 at Chiefs
The Chiefs look like a real team these days, and the addition of Jonathan Baldwin gives them a more versatile passing game. But the Dolphins show up more often than not, and the desperation factor is on their side. Expect a close game. Back Miami.
Chiefs 20 - 19
Buccaneers +9 at Saints
It's possible the Saints will dominate now after their embarrassing loss to the Rams last week, but Tampa won the first meeting between these teams, and nine strikes me as a big line in the rematch. Back the Bucs.
Saints 24 - 23
Falcons -7 at Colts
The Colts are in my opinion the worst team in the NFL, thanks in large part to their coach - who kicks a FG on 4th and goal from the 4, down 20 on the road (with an 0-7 team, no less)? But Atlanta typically travels poorly, and this is a lot of points for an average team to part with on the road. Back Indy.
Falcons 23 - 17
Browns +11 at Texans
The Texans have played surprisingly well the last couple weeks even without Andre Johnson, and the Browns look more or less like a doormat. But I'm not ready to be laying double-digits here. Back the Browns.
Texans 27 - 17
Jets +1 at Bills
The Bills have been the better team so far this year, and they're being treated as the lesser one by this line (home field advantage is typically worth three). Is there some hidden value here? If there is, I can't find it. Back the Bills.
Bills 19 - 16
49ers -3.5 at Redskins
I don't know how the Redskins allowed nine sacks to a Bills team that had gotten just five all year prior to that. It's odd that this line isn't even bigger given the disparity between these two teams, and that makes me wonder a bit. The sharp money has got to be on Washington because if left up to the squares this line would be seven or eight. Back the Redskins.
49ers 13 - 10
Seahawks +11.5 at Cowboys
This line strikes me as too large, given that Dallas just lost top cover corner Mike Jenkins and could be without top interior tackler Sean Lee. Tarvaris Jackson has been okay this year, and Seattle's receiving corps is capable of making plays. Back the Seahawks who keep it close.
Cowboys 24 - 21
Bengals +2 at Titans
The sharp angle has got to be the Titans who look terrible and are still laying two points against a Bengals team that's been fairly consistent. I don't see it, but I'll take it on faith. Back the Titans.
Titans 20 - 16
Broncos +8.5 at Raiders
Both teams are so volatile with Tim Tebow capable of horrible stretches and also frantic comebacks, and the Raiders trying to break in a rusty Carson Palmer. I could see this game going any number of ways, but given the uncertainty, I'll take the points. Back Denver.
Raiders 17 - 16
Giants +9 at Patriots
Full disclosure, I'm a Giants fan, so you might want to ignore this pick. But this strikes me as an awfully big line in a game between two teams that throw the ball well and have struggled on defense. In fact, both average 8.4 YPA, but the Pats have allowed a full yard per attempt more than the Giants on defense (7.8 to 6.8). The Giants can't run the ball, and Hakeem Nicks' status for the game is in question, but I expect the Giants pass rush to get to Tom Brady and this game to be pretty close. Back the Giants.
Patriots 34 - 31
Rams +3.5* at Cardinals
With the status of both starting quarterbacks in question, it was hard to find a line for this game. But as long as it's more than three (and that's what I'm seeing now), I don't see how I can take the Cardinals. They haven't developed a reliable second target in the passing game, they don't defend the pass and they just collapsed in Baltimore this week. Back St. Louis.
Rams 20 - 17
Packers -5.5 at Chargers
I'm not going to lie – I despise the Chargers and absolutely hate backing them. But after their embarrassing debacles the last two games, this is the perfect time to buy low, especially against the league's only undefeated team and defending Super Bowl champs. I'm sure Norv Turner will make me regret this, but I'm saying Chargers not only cover, but win outright at home. Back San Diego.
Chargers 27 - 24
Ravens +3 at Steelers
The Ravens destroyed the Steelers the first time around, but since then Pittsburgh's been the better team, shoring up its pass defense and realizing its strength is throwing the ball. Maybe Joe Flacco plays a better game, or maybe Baltimore's excellent defense levels the playing field, but for now the Steelers have a huge advantage at quarterback. Back the Steelers.
Steelers 24 - 17
Bears +8.5 at Eagles
I've been back and forth on this game a few times. On the one hand, the Eagles looked unstoppable Sunday night, and Chicago's defense is pretty weak. On the other, that was Andy Reid off the bye week (where he's 13-0), and the Bears, a team that figured out how to beat Michael Vick last year, are coming off the bye this week. In the end, it's probably smart to sell the Eagles high and take the points. Back the Bears.
Eagles 31 - 24
We were 5-7-1 last week to put us at 56-55-5 on the season. From 1999-2010 we've gone 1565-1387 (53%, not including ties).
You can follow me on Twitter at @Chris_Liss