Bears head coach Lovie Smith
Last week: 9-5. Season totals: 50-38-3, Pct. .566. Best Bets: 6-12, Pct. .333.
Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.
SAN FRANCISCO 17, Seattle 13 (+9)—The Seahawks are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven at San Francisco, but one has to assume that the 49ers lack the firepower to cover big spreads against any decent defense so taking the points would appear to be the thing to do in this spot.
N.Y. GIANTS 27, Washington 14 (+7)—Hopefully Antrel Rolle will keep his mouth shut this week (in stark contrast to the run-up to Washington's visit to The New Club Med last year), and if he does the Giants should be able to not only win, but also cover.
NEW ENGLAND 28, N.Y. Jets 23 (+11)—If the Super Bowl runner-up jinx does not exist, then why are the Patriots 3-3? I'm all over the Jets getting this many points.
Tennessee 20 (+3), BUFFALO 14—It goes to show how important depth is: The Titans don't fall apart because Jake Locker is injured since they have Matt Hasselbeck, who despite his backup status is clearly better than Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tennessee has also beaten the Bills four straight, and should make it five here.
Dallas 17, CAROLINA 10 (+1)—The same two themes apply to this game as well: Felix Jones, a former first-round draft pick, keeps the Dallas running game relevant in DeMarco Murray's expected absence, and the Cowboys also bring a current four-game win streak over the Panthers into this one.
TAMPA BAY 26 (+3), New Orleans 24—Not convinced that the Saints turned any corner by beating San Diego, especially after that display the Chargers put on Monday night—and the Bucs may have turned a corner of their own last Sunday by burying a team New Orleans lost to.
Cleveland 24 (+3), INDIANAPOLIS 20—The Browns in their current incarnation are 4-2 pointwise against the Colts despite being 1-5 straight up (and having picked up that win last year). If the roof is closed on Sunday, they are an even more attractive play as Cleveland is 10-2 against the line indoors since the 1999 rebirth. Finally, both Indy running back Donald Brown and linebacker Robert Mathis are expected to miss at least one more game.
MINNESOTA 34, Arizona 13 (+4 1/2)—Kevin Kolb lasted five weeks this time around before getting injured again—and the Cards are 0-7 lifetime at Triple H and have been outscored by 120 points doing it. Best bet.
Green Bay 28, ST. LOUIS 10 (+5 1/2)—The Packers righted themselves in a big way Sunday night, and the Rams may be the one offense that their suspect defense has been to able to handle without much difficulty, holding them to 34 points in the last three meetings, all of which were won, and covered, by Green Bay.
HOUSTON 30, Baltimore 27 (+4 1/2)—The Texans found themselves in pretty much the same situation two Monday nights ago, facing a team they had never beaten (the Jets); and while they did win, they didn't cover. Expect the same in this one.
Jacksonville 20 (+4), OAKLAND 13—It's early yet, but teams coming off byes are 4-2 straight up and 5-1 against the spread so far this year (after going 16-16 and 15-15-2 respectively in 2011), and the Jags have won and covered four in a row over the Raiders. Expect a productive outing from Maurice Jones-Drew against a type of defense he matches up very well against.
Pittsburgh 21, CINCINNATI 17 (+1)—Yes, the Steelers are 0-7 against the spread in their last seven on the road (and have lost their last four road games outright dating back to last year's loss at Denver in a wild-card playoff game), but their most recent cover away from The Big Ketchup Bottle took place guess where? In the City of Satan, last November. Predictably, the Bengals are finding life a lot harder with this year's much tougher schedule.
CHICAGO 31, Detroit 14 (+6 1/2)—The Bears are 8-2 straight up and 7-3 against the spread on Monday night under Lovie Smith, and have had 15 days to prepare for this—and the Lions have had their problems in fatigue games, going 5-9 both ways therein since the "bye era" began in 1990.
BEST BETS: MINNESOTA, GREEN BAY, CHICAGO