I'm having a bad stretch, and in cases like that I usually hunker down and take a lot of underdogs, knowing that over the long haul, they're the better percentage plays. This week was no different as I went with 10 of them, even if it was hard to resist the temptation in a few games, notably the Pats-Chiefs and Packers-Bucs. I wanted to take the Giants, too, but I just have a strong Philly feeling for that game.
The teams I like best are the Broncos, Redskins and Chargers.
Jets -6 at Broncos
The Jets come off a very short week after a Sunday night game, then fly across country to take on one of the strangest offenses in the league. Tim Tebow can't pass against anyone, so the Jets biggest strength might be wasted on him, and Denver's defense has played better of late. I have an odd Jets feeling about this game, but given the circumstances, the venue and the line, I have to back the Broncos.
Broncos 23 - 21
Panthers +7 at Lions
Both teams got destroyed last week, so there's no real buy-low here. Both quarterbacks also have issues - Cam Newton (shoudler fatigue) and Matt Stafford (broken finger). And Calvin Johnson is banged up, too. Assuming everyone's healthy, it's a question of whether Carolina's passing offense can keep up with the Lions', a tall order given the disparity in pass defenses. I could go either way, here, but let's lay the points in Detroit. Back the Lions.
Lions 30 - 17
Buccaneers +15 at Packers
The Packers have been running roughshod over teams, not only winning but covering consistently, while the Bucs have been on the wrong side of blowouts against good teams like the Texans and 49ers. It's hard to imagine how Tampa will slow down Aaron Rodgers, or how Josh Freeman, who seems to have regressed, will keep up, but Tampa has to be the play here getting this many points. Back the Bucs who come through with a backdoor cover.
Packers 31 - 20
Cowboys -8.5 at Redskins
This is a simple buy-low, sell high play as Dallas is coming off an impressive rout of the Bills at home, while the Redskins are playing games with their starting lineup and seem to have packed it in for the season. Still, in this rivarly, I'll take the big home dog nearly every time. Back the Redskins.
Cowboys 20 - 19
Bills +1 at Dolphins
I thought this line would be closer to three given the recent performance of these teams. Maybe the Bills bounce back, but I think the value is on the Dolphins. Back Miami.
Dophins 24 - 21
Jaguars - 0.5 at Browns
The Browns are dreadful, and yet I keep backing them, expecting them somehow to cover. I'm going back to the well - there's probably value here since no one else is willing to take them. Back Cleveland.
Browns 10 - 9
Raiders -0.5 at Vikings
The Raiders looked good on Thursday night, but I'll buy the Vikings low at home off the blowout loss to the Packers. Back Minnesota.
Vikings 24 - 23
Bengals +7.5 at Ravens
The Bengals are the value here, but the Ravens are the contrarian play, especially coming off a loss in Seattle. It's hard not to take the points with Baltimore's problems on offense, but the injury to Leon Hall bodes badly for Cincinnati. In the end, this line is just a little too big in what should be a tight game between division rivals with good defenses. Back Cincy.
Ravens 17 - 13
Seahawks +1 at Rams
The Seahawks might not be that bad. Their defense has played well against the run all year, and last week they handled the Ravens at home. They also played a tight game against the Niners (for most of it), beat the Giants on the road and nearly beat the Falcons. The Rams beat up on the Saints one week, but their resume pretty much ends there. My first instinct, though, was to take St. Louis at home - this is a winnable game, and I think they're getting better. Take the Rams.
Rams 19 - 16
Cardinals +9.5 at 49ers
The Cardinals have played well the last few weeks, nearly beating the Ravens, beating the Rams and then beating the Eagles in Philly. John Skelton is arguably an upgrade over Kevin Kolb, but he'll face a very stingy defense. I could go either way on this, but when in doubt, take the points. Back Arizona.
49ers 20 - 12
Chargers +3.5 at Bears
The Chargers are an embarrassment to the human race. The Bears, on the other hand, just blew out the Lions after beating the Eagles in Philly, and people are beginning to take them seriously as contenders. That means it's probably time to buy San Diego low. Back the Chargers.
Chargers 27 - 23
Titans +6 at Falcons
I should have stuck with the Titans last week, but they had been so lackluster of late, I panicked and took the Panthers. This week it's a tougher call. I don't think much of the Falcons, but they typically play better at home, and Tennessee is a good team to sell at this point. I don't like that Julio Jones is iffy - he's really the team's only big play threat - but I think the Falcons handle Tennessee at home. Back Atlanta.
Falcons 27 - 17
Eagles +3 at Giants
The Eagles have fallen apart of late, losing home games to the Bears and Cardinals, and now they have to go to the Meadowlands with Michael Vick banged up and Jeremy Maclin possibly out. The Giants played well in San Francisco, but fell a bit short. Philly's the contrarian pick as they're getting just three, and as long as Vick plays, they're still capable of beating almost anyone. As a Giants fan, I hate to do this, but I have an odd feeling the Eagles will come to play. Back Philly.
Giants 24 - 23
Chiefs +15 at Patriots
I have no idea what to make of this. The Pats looked good against the Jets, but this could easily be a letdown game against a reeling Chiefs team missing its quarterback. On the other hand, the Pats will throw all day, and they don't let up just because they have a lead. In the end, these double-digit spreads are usually a crapshoot, but I'll fade the herd and go ugly. Back the Chiefs.
Patriots 27 - 13
We were 6-10 last week to put us at 67-74-5 on the season. From 1999-2010 we've gone 1565-1387 (53%, not including ties).
You can follow me on Twitter at @Chris_Liss