Another week, another bad beat or two that kept me from going .500 or better against Vegas. However, just like a running back, I'll keep plugging away, taking short gains until I finally break one.
Taking a look at the Week 6 lines, it appears the NFL and the oddsmakers have settled in for the season. The head-scratching is no longer because the spreads don't make sense, it's because the accurate lines have made the predictions more difficult.
Still, I feel that hot streak coming on, so here's to continuing to pound away.
Last Week's Record: 6-8
Season Record: 34-41-2
All lines provided by www.bovada.lv, www.sportsbook.ag and espn.go.com.
I should probably roll with the Tennessee Titans because I have yet to nail a Thursday night game. If only the NFL would move them to Wednesday, I'm undefeated on hump day (read: 1-0).
There is plenty to fear in this pick. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been garbage on the road this year, losing to a mediocre Broncos team and a terrible Raiders squad.
However, Rashard Mendenhall (101 total yards and one touchdown last week) has finally returned, bringing some stability to the backfield. His presence will help open up the play-action pass, and it's not as if the Titans have been stopping anyone.
As for Tennessee, there is little reason to believe in the offense (or team really). The only close game (albeit a win) the Titans have been involved in required two special teams scores and a defensive touchdown. Otherwise, the Titans have been averaging 11 points a game.
Nobody should act like they know what will happen when the Cincinnati Bengals travel to play the Cleveland Browns.
Logic tells us that the Browns have to win at least one game. However, the attitude from Browns fans seems quite familiar to a guy from Michigan. The only thing Cleveland is missing is its version of a Million Millen March.
As for football reasons the Bengals will win, their quarterback is much less likely to lose the game. Andy Dealin' Dalton has played well with the exception of last week against the Miami Dolphins. That might not be so surprising in a few weeks, if it turns out that the Dolphins' defense is much better than previously advertised.
Additionally, Trent Richardson is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry, and the Bengals' defense has improved each week.
Finally, the Bengals won by seven points at home against the Browns. Subtract the three-point home-team tax and you get four.
I know. I'm reaching.
Just go with it.
The New York Jets put everything on the line against the Houston Texans and still lost by six. Considering the ragtag crew they have to work with, there isn't any reason to believe they will play nearly as well.
Especially since they are potentially going to be without the services of both their offensive and defensive line anchors.
The Indianapolis Colts are riding high after their comeback win over the Green Bay Packers and have the struggles of head coach Chuck Pagano to motive them.
The Jets won't be able to match that intensity.
As long as Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne (13 receptions, 212 yards, 1 touchdown last week) continue to operate with ease, the rebuilding Colts will take another step forward with their first winning streak of the season.
I almost talked myself into taking the points.
I couldn't do it, though.
The Kansas City Chiefs are probably starting Brady Quinn since Matt Cassel is "unlikely" to play, according to Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star. The same Quinn who was run out of his last two cities by guys who are currently backups (Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy).
He's also going to be playing on the road against a team that ranks fourth against the run.
Josh Freeman and Doug Martin have had two weeks to prepare for the mediocre-at-best Chiefs defense. After a heartbreaking loss to the Washington Redskins, Greg Schiano certainly had the team's full attention over the bye week.
That's worth four points, right?
This game illustrates the difference between having a defense.
Well, that and having Carson Palmer.
The bye week will provide Tampa's decent defense enough time to prepare for the unimpressive Chiefs' offense. That same logic does not apply to the Oakland Raiders.
The Atlanta Falcons have not scored less than 24 points in a contest yet, and there is little hope that the Oakland defense (31.3/game) will be the first to stop them.
I can understand why you'd be nervous about laying nine points. But let me leave you with four words of wisdom: Oakland employs Carson Palmer.
Wouldn't it be just like Tony Romo to have a big game after every fantasy owner has thrown in the towel on him?
Even the statistics back it up. Romo has never had four subpar games in a row.
Besides, when's the last time the Baltimore Ravens covered in a game they seemed to be a lock?
Dallas' defense is giving up seven fewer points per game than the Chiefs' version, the same unit that held the mighty Ravens offense to three field goals. Baltimore will get back on track soon, but it won't be against the Cowboys. Dallas has too much talent in the secondary, and DeMarcus Ware is a bad man.
Weird stat of the week: the Detroit Lions are only giving up about nine more yards per game than the Philadelphia Eagles. And the Detroit defense might get a boost from Louis Delmas' 2012 debut.
Additionally, Matthew Stafford and company are still averaging 25 points per game, compared to Philly's 16.
The oddsmakers are counting on the public betting on the Eagles' name recognition, as opposed to their actual play.
How about the Detroit's plus-170 money line?
I rode the half-point-too-much train last week and it paid off. Let's give it a shot again.
The Miami Dolphins, and especially Ryan Tannehill (654 through the air), have been putting up a lot of yards over the past two weeks. What they haven't been doing is scoring.
In fact, Miami is averaging just under 20 points per game over that same span. Don't point to the Oakland Raiders game. They'd have trouble stopping Notre Dame's offense.
The St. Louis Rams have been playing excellent scoring defense, holding their last two opponents to a total of 16 points. Yes, those games were at home, but defense usually travels well.
However (there's always a however), Sam Bradford has completed 23 total passes in those same two games.
See why I love the half-point now?
You knew the New England Patriots could pass better than the Seattle Seahawks, but were you aware they're also better at running the football?
So what does it mean for our bet? It means quite a bit in the matchup of the game: the Pats offense against the stout Seahawks defense.
The Seahawks won't be facing the old one-dimensional attack that the Pats formerly employed. Seattle has yet to face a diverse attack of New England's caliber.
As for the Seattle offense scoring points on the New England defense, I'm not too worried about it.
There isn't any certainty regarding Robert Griffin III's status this week. Thus, uncertain times require us to grab the points and hold on tight.
Even if RG3 does play, the Washington Redskins will surely use him in a different capacity than they have to date. He won't be unleashed to run as much, and the coaches will be adamant that he avoids taking unnecessary hits.
Taking away such a vital threat will require the Redskins to rely on the traditional running game, which plays right into the Minnesota Vikings' hands. Alfred Morris has been impressive, but he has benefited from all the attention paid to Griffin.
The Washington defense will hold up nicely against Adrian Peterson. However, if Christian Ponder can limit his mistakes (as he has most of the season), the Vikings should pick up a win.
Not even the oddsmakers know what to make of this game. A spread of five points put it squarely in Bill Simmons' "Vegas Zone," which means the casinos don't know what to expect.
Frankly, neither do I. Say it with me now: When in doubt, grab the points.
Exactly one of the Arizona Cardinals' wins have come by more than four points. In said blowout, Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy happily gave up three fumbles.
Plus, the Cardinals' offensive line must have returned from a Spanish honeymoon a couple weeks ago. Their infatuation with bullfighting has even seeped into their play.
Not that the Buffalo Bills' defensive line has done much pass-rushing this season, but the opportunity is there to jumpstart the unit for the season.
Or provide the Bills fans false hope going forward.
I hear Buffalo has some experience in that department.
Every year, the New York Giants struggle at the midpoint of the year and make everyone believe that they are done. So why would 2012 be any different?
It doesn't hurt that the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely dominating everyone lately. They have won their last two games by a combined score of 79-3.
The large spread creates a difficult decision. But there are reasons to believe that the Niners can ward off a backdoor cover.
The Giants have played poorly to start out multiple games this year (i.e. down 14 to the Browns), and mounted comebacks. San Francisco's defense is built to excel regardless of the situation, but the Niners are at their best when they have a lead. Justin and Aldon Smith should keep Eli Manning from pulling another out from behind.
The last place the Green Bay Packers need to visit right now is Houston.
The Houston Texans, even with their "stumble" against the New York Jets, are the best team in the league. They can shut down any type of offense (only allowing 14.6 points), and the offense is capable of scoring in a number of ways (29.8/game).
Want to shut down Arian Foster and Ben Tate? Matt Schaub will connect with Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to move the chains. And that's assuming you can shut down Houston's powerful running backs.
The Packers are a polar opposite.
They can't stop people with the game in the balance (see Luck, Andrew) and the offense has been too mediocre (22.4 points per game) to overcome the defense's deficiencies. So Houston giving three points seems to be a no-brainer.
Therefore, the rest of you should probably take the Pack.
The Denver Broncos are not that good. I'll keep saying this every week until people finally understand.
The San Diego Chargers might not be great, but they're better. The loss to the New Orleans Saints has probably thrown a few people off the scent. That's a mistake.
Yet, there were a few positives to be gleaned.
Philip Rivers has finally developed some chemistry with the recently added Robert Meachem (3 catches, 67 yards, 2 touchdowns), who was dealing with knee issues in the offseason.
Additionally, Rivers looked for and found Antonio Gates in crunch time. If those two get clicking again, this offense will be tough to stop.
The Broncos have only been able to put together hectic, late-game comebacks. Nobody should wager on them continuing such a difficult-to-sustain trend.