Another 7-7 week, this time with two ties. Normally, I have something to complain about - I suppose the Justin Forsett TD would qualify - but I feel pretty lucky to have gotten the push in the ATL-TB game when Matt Bryant missed a chip shot to keep the margin at one. It doesn't all even out in the end, but it's good for one's sanity to acknowledge the occasional good beat, too.
I particularly like the Jets (a game on which I felt stumped initially), Lions, Dolphins, Broncos and Eagles.
Saints +3.5 at Falcons
I don't believe in either of these teams, and while the home team has typically had its way on Thursday nights, the Saints are desperate, and they're getting the half-point hook. Back New Orleans.
Saints 27 - 24
Seahawks +4 at Bears
Until something changes, it's hard not to fade Seattle on the road blindly especially in an early game, and especially after they just had to travel to Miami and back last week. Back the Bears.
Bears 20 - 10
Vikings +9.5 at Packers
I'd like to know Clay Matthews' status before making this pick, but given how bad the Packers defense and offensive line looked Sunday night, I have to take the points here. Adrian Peterson could very well top 200 yards, and the Vikings defensive line should get into the backfield. Packers win, but Vikings keep it close enough, so long as Christian Ponder doesn't give the game away. Back Minnesota.
Packers 24 - 20
49ers - 7 at Rams
This is a big line considering the Rams tied the Niners in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. Still, I'm laying the points as the Niners are less likely to take them lightly, and Colin Kaepernick gives San Francisco a different look.
49ers 27 - 16
Cardinals +4.5 at Jets
I never know what to do with overmatched scrub rookie quarterbacks because on the one hand the obvious play is to fade them, and on the other the obvious play is to fade them. So it's a question of whether one should do the obvious or realize everyone else is doing the obvious and do the opposite. I'll do the obvious. Back the Jets.
Jets 24 - 13
Panthers -3 at Chiefs
I've been backing the Panthers nearly every week with mixed results. They've outplayed teams like the Bears, Falcons and Bucs, and they beat the Saints at home and the Redskins in Washington. But they've botched a lot of close games with bad coaching decisions and clock management, and they probably would have lost to the Eagles but for three second-half fumbles. In the end, I just can't lay three points on the road with them. Back the Chiefs.
Chiefs 20 - 19
Colts +4.5 at Lions
This is a pretty big number for a 4-7 team to be laying to a 7-4 one. You know the public's going to be on the Colts. I'll take the Lions.
Lions 33 - 20
Jaguars +5.5 at Bills
Are the Bills really still 2.5 points better than the Jaguars on a neutral field? I don't know, but it's a good time to sell Jacksonville high and fade them after two good games. Back the Bills.
Bills 34 - 21
Patriots -8 at Dolphins
After the Pats dismantled the Jets last week, they're almost an automatic fade. This line would be 14 in New England, and that's a lot for a team with a poor defense against a non-doormat. Back Miami.
Patriots 24 - 21
Texans -5.5 at Titans
The Texans managed to win two overtime games in a span of four days and now have 10 days off to face a below-average team. Moreover, they should get Jonathan Joseph back. Lay the points here. Back Houston.
Texans 27 - 17
Buccaneers +7 at Broncos
The Bucs had a nice run to get into playoff contention, but this is a big step up in class, and I don't think they'll be able hang with the Broncos in Denver. Not only does Denver have the better passing offense, but Tampa's pass defense is among the worst in the league. Back the Broncos.
Broncos 34 - 16
Steelers +3 at Ravens
Only one of the books I use for the average had a line out, and it was Steelers plus three. That has to assume Ben Roethlisberger's back and maybe someone has some inside info on that. I haven't heard anything definitive, and if he were out, the line would probably be seven or more. Accordingly, I have to take the Ravens at home, though if I knew Roethlisberger were playing I'd take Pittsburgh who I think is the better team. Back the Ravens for now.
Ravens 17 - 9
Browns +1.5 at Raiders
Another game where it would be awfully nice to know the status of the visitor's starting quarterback before making a pick. If Brandon Weeden doesn't play, I'd take Oakland minus just 1.5 in a heartbeat. If Weeden does play, it's 50/50. That means I'm holding my nose and taking the Raiders yet again. Back Oakland.
Raiders 24 - 20
Bengals -1.5 at Chargers
The Bengals are a good sell high here, and how can one not back the Chargers after last week's masterpiece? San Diego is simply operating on a different plane. Take the Chargers.
Chargers 19 - 16
Eagles +10 at Cowboys
The Cowboys don't strike me as 10-point favorites against anyone, and Philly, to its credit, actually got up off the mat after being shredded early by Carolina. In fact, the Eagles probably would have won that game outright had they not fumbled three times in the second half. Back Philly.
Cowboys 24 - 17
Giants -2.5 at Redskins
I don't love the Giants as favorites, but I do like them better on the road than at home, and they did just annihilate Green Bay. The Redskins offense is one of the best in the league, especially with Pierre Garcon back, and RGIII handled the Giants pass rush easily in the first meeting between the teams. The Redskins defense is poor, however, and the Giants should be able to move the ball almost at will. Bottom line, this is a 50/50 game, and the Redskins are getting the points. Back Washington.
Giants 28 - 26
We went 7-7-2 last week to go 80-91-5 on the year. From 1999-2011 we've gone 1,689-1,512 (52.8%), not including ties.