This is getting a bit ridiculous. For the fifth straight week, I was exactly at .500, making it 37-37. Overall, though it was a good week, as my best bet, the Panthers, won easily, and I split with my other two favored picks, the Eagles and Raiders. The problem was I went 2-5 on my "coin flip" games, but there's not much I can do about that. This week, I especially like the Eagles, Bears, Broncos, Texans, Cardinals and Steelers. MIN-STL, CAR-SD, KC-OAK, NYJ-TEN were coin flips.
Bengals -4 at Eagles
This is a big number for a league-average team to lay on the road, especially off a short week. The Eagles were a league doormat for a couple weeks, but now look like closer to an average team themselves. Back Philly.
Eagles 19 - 17
Packers -3 at Bears
The Packers have been winning, but hardly in style. Against the Lions they got a junk fumble return TD, for example, and the week before Christian Ponder essentially gifted a competitive game to them. The Bears have been even worse of late, but as long as Jay Cutler plays I think this will be competitive. Back Chicago.
Bears 20 - 19
Giants +1 at Falcons
I can see both sides of this. The Giants are the better team, need to win and should be up for a matchup with the current No. 1 seed in the conference. On the other hand, Atlanta plays better at home and has the weapons to exploit the Giants suspect pass defense. I'll take the Giants, but I'm not nearly as confident as I was last week against the Saints.
Giants 24 - 23
Buccaneers +3.5 at Saints
I feel as though the smart play is to take the points in a game between essentially equal teams, but I'm backing New Orleans because I trust Drew Brees at home more than Josh Freeman. Take the Saints.
Saints 34 - 24
Vikings +2.5 at Rams
Adrian Peterson will probably get 200 yards, but with Christian Ponder under center it's unclear whether that gets Minnesota within 2.5. I'll say it does. Back the Vikings.
Vikings 17 - 16
Redskins pick 'em at Browns
Obviously this hinges on whether Robert Griffin, III plays. I think he will given the stakes, and in that case the Redskins will probably win. Back Washington.
Redskins 23 - 20
Jaguars +7 at Dolphins
I don't have any particular insight into how this will play out. I want to root for the Jaguars since I'm fading Miami in survivor, but my gut says Miami. Back the Dolphins.
Dolphins 31 - 17
Broncos -2.5 at Ravens
This game is a good test for both teams as the Ravens seem like a fraud but can dispel that with a win over one of the league's elites, and the Broncos can impress by winning in Baltimore, something that's not been easy to do in recent years. And the Ravens have shaken things up by firing their offensive coordinator this week, too, something that's typically disastrous in midstream. Even though the public's going to be on Denver, I think I'm with them here. Back the Broncos.
Broncos 31 - 27
Colts +9 at Texans
It's probably a good time to buy the Texans low and sell Indy high. Nine seems like a lot of points, but it's actually the rare case where taking the dog in the trap. Back the Texans.
Texans 34 - 16
Lions -6 at Cardinals
You pretty much have to buy the Cardinals low out of principle here. They'll be like a wounded animal, and the Lions can't be counted on in any event. Back Arizona.
Cardinals 21 - 20
Panthers +3 at Chargers
I never get the Chargers right, so whatever I pick here, please do the opposite. I want to pick the Panthers, but have a Chargers hunch. I'll fade my hunch and take Carolina.
Panthers 21 - 17
Seahawks -5.5 vs. Bills (in Toronto)
The Seahawks are playing like serious contenders of late, but I'll fade them on the road in Toronto coming off a massive blowout and having to take a cross-country trip. No idea whether the Rodgers Centre roof will be open, though. Back the Bills.
Seahawks 21 - 20
Steelers -1 at Cowboys
I know I'm being a square here, but please don't waste my time with the season-long per-play success rates and any other sabermetric claptrap. I would be borderline shocked if Jason Garrett's Cowboys beat Mike Tomlin's Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger back and their backs to the wall. Moreover, Cowboys Stadium confers almost zero home-field advantage, and Steelers fans travel better than most. That Dez Bryant might not play only makes things worse. The margin is the only thing in question. Back the Steelers.
Steelers 27 - 17
Chiefs +3 at Raiders
I guess I'll take the Raiders off the 10-day break at home.
Raiders 27 - 23
49ers +5.5 at Patriots
I think it's probably a good time to fade the Pats who just steamrolled the Texans. The 49ers are inconsistent on offense, but they should move the ball against the Patriots secondary. Back San Francisco.
Patriots 27 - 23
Jets +1.5 at Titans
Given how ugly the Jets play, I'd really like to see Tim Tebow under center. With Mark Sanchez, they'll win this game as long as he doesn't turn it over more than once. Back New York.
Jets 19 - 14
We went 8-8 last week to go 96-107-5 on the year. From 1999-2011 we've gone 1,689-1,512 (52.8%), not including ties.