Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We went 8-5 last week, though after starting 7-0-3 in the early games, it was actually a letdown. Still, we feel pretty good about the way we're seeing the games again, and some of the ones we got wrong (Giants, Cardinals, Ravens) we felt like we knew better in our heart of hearts. (Easy to say in retrospect, I know).
This week, we like our mix of dogs and favorites (nine dogs, seven favorites), and we especially like the 49ers, Bills and Giants.
Colts -6.5 at Jaguars
The Jaguars are having a tough year, but games between these two division rivals are typically close, and this is a pretty big number on the road. Back Jacksonville, who at least as of last week, hadn't quit.
Colts 23 - 20
Ravens +4 at Cowboys
The Ravens are a classic bully, able to brutalize league doormats, but they tend to struggle against tougher competition (NYG, IND, PIT). Dallas is the latter, of course, and unless the Cowboys foolishly opt to slug it out on the ground like the Titans or Steelers, they should pull away from the Ravens at home. Back Dallas.
Cowboys 24 - 13
Bengals +3 at Browns
The Bengals played better last week, and we think most people will probably take them on that basis. But we're going to resist that pull and take the home team. You really can't go right here, which means you can't go wrong. Back the Browns.
Browns 21 - 17
Saints -7 at Lions
The Saints strike us as just the type of team Detroit might get its win against. New Orleans isn't very physical, they have a poor defense, and they like to try goofy things on offense. Detroit will treat this final home game as its Super Bowl, and they'll get it done. Back the Lions. (And take the moneyline).
Lions 31 - 30
Dolphins -4 at Chiefs
The Dolphins keep winning, but not decisively, and we don't see any reason to lay more than a field goal in Arrowhead. Back the Chiefs.
Dolphins 17 - 16
Cardinals +8.5 at Patriots
Initially we wanted to take the Pats (and wrote up as much), reasoning that Arizona was in a bad spot traveling cross country for an early game in the cold. But the Cardinals have to feel a sense of urgency after losing badly at home to the Vikings, and this is a pretty big line. Take the Cardinals.
Patriots 24 - 20
49ers -5.5 at Rams
The 49ers seem to be turning the corner under new coach Mike Singletary, but are they ready to lay this many points on the road, especially with the status of their most valuable offensive player in doubt? Against the Rams, yes. Back San Francisco.
49ers 31 - 16
Steelers -1.5 at Titans
Everyone's jumping ship on the Titans with Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch out. We can see the logic in it, but logic isn't a reliable tool for handicapping NFL games against the spread. Back the Titans who bounce back at home.
Titans 20 - 13
Chargers +3.5 at Buccaneers
We liked it a lot better when it was three, but unless the Chargers can conjure up their 2007 or 2006 incarnation, we like the Bucs to handle them at home. Back Tampa.
Buccaneers 27 - 20
Bills +7.5 at Broncos
We're not sold on the Bills just because of a close loss in New York, but seven a half is plenty against a run of the mill team like the Broncos. Back Buffalo.
Bills 23 - 20
Texans -7.5 at Raiders
We like the Texans as a dog, but at this point, we're not willing to lay major wood on the road with them, especially coming off an emotional win against one of the league's top teams. Expect a letdown and back the Raiders.
Texans 23 - 20
Jets -5 at Seahawks
The Seahawks have played better of late, winning in St. Louis and coming close at home against New England two weeks ago. The Jets have slumped, even having trouble with Buffalo at home. Going across country to a tough venue while laying significant points is probably too much to ask. Back Seattle.
Jets 20 - 19
Falcons +3 at Vikings
Damon and I intially wanted to take the Falcons but realized that's because we both hate Minnesota as a team and also that secretly we thought the Vikings were the right play at home. We didn't talk about why (and I don't have a specific reason). It was just a collective feeling of relief once we let go of our rooting interest in Atlanta and agreed to back the Vikings.
Vikings 30 - 23
Eagles -5 at Redskins
The Eagles are one of the hotter teams in the league of late, but this is too big a number on the road against a division rival that wants to salvage some lost dignity. Plus the Skins will want to win one for the greatest player in their history who passed away Wednesday. Back Washington.
Eagles 20 - 17
Panthers +3 at Giants
The Giants are in a good spot coming off two bad losses but not having done irreparable damage to their season. And Tom Coughlin is doing jumping jacks on account of his excitement over the team's big game. The Giants seem loose, but focused, and Carolina will be in for a much stiffer test than it faced at home against Denver or Tampa Bay. Back the Giants.
Giants 27 - 16
Packers +4 at Bears
You'd think after beating the Bears 37-3 the first time around, the Packers would be getting less than four on Monday night. Or at least most people would. Not us. That game was weeks ago, and not especially probative given the opposite trajectories the teams have taken since. Back Chicago.
Bears 34 - 24
We were 8-5-3 in Week 15, to put us at 112-104-8 on the season. We were 127-120-9 last season. From 1999-2007, we were 1184-1018 - not including ties - (53.8 percent).
Article first appeared 12/17/08