I had a bad feeling about last week's slate, and it was prescient as I went 6-9-1 - only after winning both the Sunday and Monday night games. The Bills loss was a bad beat, and the Titans one was pretty bad, so it could have gone differently. I was also 2-2 on best bets, losing with the Bills and Browns and winning with the Lions and Texans.
I like this week's slate a little better. I particularly like the Texans, Redskins, Niners, Saints and Bears. Ravens-Vikings, Pats-Browns, Dolphins-Steelers, Bills-Bucs, Falcons-Packers and Titans-Broncos are coin flips.
Texans -3 at Jaguars
I've faded the Jaguars the last couple weeks as big underdogs, and they won outright. Now they're still home dogs to a team that's lost 10 in a row, and I'm going back to the well. The Texans have to be the value, I think. Back Houston.
Texans 20 - 16
Chiefs -3 at Redskins
The Chiefs are in a three-game slide (two of which came against Denver), but the shine has come off their star, and I could see a letdown in a lower-stakes contest on the road. Plus, RGIII looked good against the Giants, but his receivers couldn't hold onto the ball. They'll play better this week. Back Washington.
Redskins 27 - 24
Vikings +6.5 at Ravens
The Vikings are probably the value as Matt Cassel
might even be an improvement over Christian Ponder
, but the Ravens are much better at home, and Joe Flacco
should have a big day against this defense. Back Baltimore.
Ravens 27 - 17
Browns +12.5 at Patriots
I'd feel better if Brandon Weeden
were playing, but then again, it's hard to say he's better than replacement value, and maybe Caleb Hanie
or whoever winds up starting will take fewer chances and be more likely to cover a big spread, especially if weather is a factor. Back the Browns.
Patriots 24 - 13
Raiders +3 at Jets
The Jets have been so terrible of late, it's hard to take them as favorites, but I think that's where the value has to be. At least the run defense is still good, and the Raiders aren't a good passing team. Back New York.
Jets 20 - 16
Colts +6 at Bengals
I'm a big Andrew Luck
fan, but I don't think he has enough good players around him. While the Colts eked out a win against Tennessee last week, the Bengals on the road are a taller order. Back Cincinnati.
Bengals 27 - 20
Lions +3 at Eagles
The Lions turn the ball over recklessly at times, while Nick Foles
and the Eagles take good care of it. Were that to persist, there's no doubt Philly's the pick. But the majority of turnovers are due to dumb luck, and if that shifts the other way, I think Detroit covers easily. Back the Lions.
Lions 30 - 27
Dolphins +3 at Steelers
This game gave me a lot of trouble. I want to take the Dolphins as they've been playing well of late, and the Steelers are a name brand that usually comes at a premium. But I don't like the idea of a warm weather team playing on the road against a top quarterback who's comfortable in those conditions. It's a coin flip for me, but my initial instinct was the Dolphins, and I'll stick with it. Back Miami.
Dolphins 20 - 19
Bills +2.5 at Buccaneers
I have a Bills hunch, but the smart play is probably to take the Bucs at 2.5 and the Bills at three. But the majority of the lines on the site we use are still at 2.5, so we're stuck with it. Do I go with my hunch, or the smart play? I'll go with my hunch. Back Buffalo.
Bills 27 - 21
Falcons +6* at Packers
Obviously, whether Aaron Rodgers
plays is going to affect this line significantly, and with his status uncertain until Friday or Saturday, there's not much we can do with the column due Wednesday night. My feeling is the Packers are minus three without Rodgers and minus-nine with him, so I split the difference and made it six. (I actually think he's worth more than six, but Vegas usually pegs star QBs around that number, and Rodgers could be rusty his first game back). In any event, I'll take the Falcons as Matt Ryan
's playing well, and Roddy White
seems like he's back.
*made up line
Packers 27 - 23
Titans +12 at Broncos
I hate double-digit lines where you have an elite team that can lock this up by halftime, and an average one that's probably the better value. I'll hold my nose and take Tennessee, but I'm not happy about it.
Broncos 30 - 20
Rams +6.5 at Cardinals
I've gone back and forth on this one. I typically like the Cardinals at home, but the Rams are a vastly improved team from earlier in the year, and St. Louis beat Arizona at home in Week 1. While the Rams didn't cover last week in San Francisco, they probably would have had they played more conservatively. I'll take the points here even though I think the Cardinals win this game. Back St. Louis.
Cardinals 23 - 20
Giants +3 at Chargers
I'm not sure where the value is here, but I like the Giants defense to slow the Chargers down enough to keep it close, and while Eli Manning
has been disappointing, he could hardly ask for a better matchup. Back the Giants.
Giants 24 - 23
Seahawks +3 at 49ers
The Seahawks are the better team and are getting the full three, but I want to sell them on the road off the Monday night dismantling of the Saints. It's a short week, and they're disproportionately worse on the road than most teams because their home field is such a big advantage. The Niners also have Michael Crabtree
back, something that could make a difference. Back San Francisco.
49ers 26 - 17
Panthers +3 at Saints
Like the Seahawks, the Saints have big home/road splits. The Panthers are an equal team, but that means the Saints are probably a good deal better in New Orleans and a good deal worse in Carolina. This game's in New Orleans, and I expect the Saints to bounce back.
Saints 27 - 20
Cowboys +1 at Bears
I don't respect the Cowboys, and while they should be able to run at will on Chicago, the Bears passing offense is a problem for the Cowboys, and it's not like Matt Forte
won't have an easy time against this defense, either. Back the Bears.
Bears 34 - 30
Last week we went 6-9-1 to go 92-91-9 on the year. Last year we went 121-129-6 on the regular season. From 1999-2012 we've gone 1,810-1,641 (52.4%), not including ties.