After an 8-21 stretch, an 11-3 week was a welcome relief. I'm just glad the Texans got blown out Sunday night, otherwise I'd still be thinking about the Rams' two-point conversion on Sam Bradford's roll-out, and Dallas' last minute touchdown drive. The closest I've ever come to a perfect week was 12-0-1 heading into Monday night in 2001 and laying points with the Rams against the Bucs. The Bucs won outright.
We liked this week's slate initially but weren't happy a lot of the lines moved away from us. We had the Niners minus 7, the Redskins plus 6.5, the Bucs plus 3, the Texans minus 6, the Rams plus 5.5 and the Patriots minus 10.5. But we take the average of these lines at the time of write-up, rather than cherrypicking the best ones. We do this mainly to stay in line with people's office pools, and also to keep the Staff Picks competition fair. The O/U for how many games these moves will cost us is probably only .5 or so, but it's still worth shopping lines if that's an option for you.
We particularly like the Bills, Vikings and Redskins.
Seahawks +7.5 at 49ers
The Niners just got embarrassed at home by the Giants, and the Seahawks defense won't be a picnic, either. That said, Seattle's much worse on the road, has to travel on a short week and San Francisco's defense should be a problem for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Niners pull away late.
49ers 24 - 10
Redskins +6 at Giants
Just as the solution to the Seahawks is back at home, fade on the road, with the Giants it's back as a significant dog, fade as a significant favorite. Here they're six-point favorites and coming off an emotional win. I expect Washington to hang. Back the Skins.
Giants 23 - 20
Cardinals +6 at Vikings
This might be a square play, but unless the Cardinals offensive line plays a lot better, it's going to get ugly for them in Minnesota. Back the Vikings.
Vikings 23 - 13
Cowboys -1.5 at Panthers
Like the Chargers, the Cowboys play well unpredictably, and it's possible they do that here. But I can't lay points on the road with this squad, and the Panthers are coming off a bye. Back Carolina.
Panthers 21 - 20
Saints -2.5 at Buccaneers
I liked this a lot better when the Bucs were getting three, but the Saints don't deserve this much respect given their losses to the Chiefs (at home) and Panthers. Moreover, even when the Saints were good last year, they were only 5-3 on the road and didn't beat quality opponents. Back the Bucs.
Buccaneers 24 - 23
Packers -5 at Rams
The Packers are back. How else can we interpret that dismantling of the AFC's best team in its own building? Be that as it may, we have to sell them high and buy the Rams - who play everyone tough - at home with the points. Back St. Louis.
Packers 20 - 19
Ravens +7 at Texans
This seems like an awfully big line given what happened to the Texans Sunday night, but the Ravens defense isn't good anymore, and that was before it lost LarDarius Webb and Ray Lewis. Back the Texans who roll.
Texans 28 - 17
Browns +3 at Colts
With Joe Haden back, the Browns defense is considerably better than that of the Colts, and that's good enough for us to take the points. Back Cleveland.
Browns 24 - 21
Titans +3 at Bills
The Titans were lucky to beat a depleted Steelers team at home off a short week, but they're still among the league's doormats in my opinion. The Bills looked bad against the Pats for a half and the 49ers for a whole, but overall, they're still a league-average type team. Back Buffalo.
Bills 27 - 17
Jets +11 at Patriots
This is an awfully big number, especially with both teams 3-3 and the Jets coming off a decisive win last week. But the Patriots have won by 24, 10 and 21, while losing by a combined four points, and the Jets have lost by a combined 57. Back the Pats who roll.
Patriots 31 - 13
Jaguars +4 at Raiders
I have no particular read on this game except to take the uglier team with the points off the bye. Back Jacksonville.
Raiders 20 - 19
Steelers -1.5 at Bengals
Maybe the Steelers bounce back here, but they need to show it first before we lay points with them on the road. Back Cincy.
Bengals 27 - 23
Lions +6 at Bears
We went back and forth on this game a few times. I had a Lions hunch, given the improved play of their defensive line, but Damon liked the Bears at home on Monday night. I hate the Lions personally, so I'll defer to him. Back Chicago.
Bears 27 - 20
We went 11-3 last week to go 46-43-2 on the year. From 1999-2011 we've gone 1,689-1,512 (52.8%), not including ties.