Falcons QB Matt Ryan
Last week: 11-3-2. Season totals: 21-9-2, Pct. .688. Best Bets: 3-3, Pct. .500.
Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.
N.Y. GIANTS 27, Carolina 17 (+1)—If you think of the Giants as the defending Super Bowl champions, then this line is a massive underlay; but if you think of them as a team that finished 9-7 last year, then the line is about right. Either way, though, the Giants have been more than merely all right on natural grass of late, going 20-7 straight up and 18-8-1 against the spread thereon dating back to 2007.
N.Y. Jets 20, MIAMI 14 (+3)—Can't see the Dolphins playing well on offense two weeks in a row and the Jets have covered in seven of their last nine at Miami, with one of the two losses coming in last year's season finale when they had clearly given up.
WASHINGTON 31, Cincinnati 24 (+3 1/2)—The season-ending injuries last week to two of Washington's defensive front seven (defensive end Adam Carriker and linebacker Brian Orakpo) are worrisome, but Robert Griffin III should sparkle in his NFL home debut against a defense that just allowed 322 yards passing to Brandon Weeden.
CLEVELAND 17 (+3), Buffalo 7—What one week can give, the next week can take away: Where last week the Bills were finally getting to face a team at home after having played them on the road four times in a row, here they have to go on the road and play a team they previously faced at home three straight, and lost two of the three games. Not only that, but Buffalo is batting .333 on grass since 1995: 27-54 straight up. Best bet.
Jacksonville 20 (+3 1/2), INDIANAPOLIS 16—Beating one of the dregs of the league at home on a 53-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the game hardly makes the Colts respectable, and the Jaguars are 6-1-1 against the line in their last eight at Indy. Not really an upset because the wrong team is favored, or at least the line should have been pick 'em.
Detroit 27, TENNESSEE 13 (+3)—The Titans haven't been competitive in either of their games and even with Sunday night's loss in San Fran the Lions are still 9-3 against the line outdoors in this decade.
CHICAGO 34, St. Louis 14 (+9)—The media is making entirely too much of Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler, which is what his testy exchange with one of his offensive linemen last Thursday night amounts to—and since moving their home games into a dome midway through the 1995 season, the Rams are 34-64-3 against the spread outdoors, including 1-6 in their last seven.
MINNESOTA 24 (+7), San Francisco 23—The 49ers haven't won at Triple H since 1992, and are 1-5 against the line in their last six there—and since Steve Young retired their respective straight-up records on artificial turf and indoors are 18-35 and 12-23. Super Upset Special—big balloons!
NEW ORLEANS 37, Kansas City 20 (+9)—This is a de facto elimination game for the Saints, in that no team that has started 0-3 has ever so much as made it to the conference championship game, let alone won the Super Bowl, and the Chiefs are 4-11-1 against the line in domes since 1998.
DALLAS 31, Tampa Bay 13 (+7)—Yes, it is Josh Freeman on the carpet again, but Dallas has won the last four against the Bucs by a combined 61 points (also covering in all four), and it may take Tampa Bay more than just one week to recover from blowing that huge lead against the Giants last week.
Philadelphia 21, ARIZONA 20 (+3 1/2)—Michael Vick threw "only" two interceptions last week after serving up four picks in the opener, leaving him on pace to break George Blanda's record of 42 set in 1962. Maybe the Eagles will convert Vick into a kicker too? Take the points as Philly just might make it a "Holy Ghost" of one-point wins after becoming the first team in NFL history to open a season with two such victories.
Atlanta 37 (+3), SAN DIEGO 27—The Falcons are 7-1 straight up lifetime against San Diego, including 5-0 both ways on the road. The Chargers fail their first class test of 2012.
DENVER 30 (+1), Houston 23—Should the Texans really be favored here? Especially with the game in Denver and the home team in this series having won and covered all three prior meetings. If the Broncos don't have four turnovers in the first quarter like they did Monday night, they've got this—but if these two meet again in the AFC title game, it may be a different story altogether, particularly if that one's in Houston.
Pittsburgh 17, OAKLAND 14 (+5)—Both teams looked sloppy last week, and the Steelers are 7-12 against the line as a road favorite since 2009 so take the points.
BALTIMORE 27, New England 20 (+3)—If the Patriots couldn't beat a team they had owned epically until last week, that must be a sure sign that the Super Bowl Runner-Up Jinx has lost none of its deadly sting. Ravens have won twelve straight at home.
Green Bay 31, SEATTLE 21 (+3 1/2)—Going from a Thursday night game one week to a Monday night game the next, the Packers might as well be coming off a bye—and they have had their way with Seattle recently, taking the last three by 70 points, and have won six in a row on artificial turf, covering in four.
BEST BETS: CLEVELAND, ATLANTA, DENVER