The NFL is a league of haves and have-nots. Each week there are matchups in which, on paper, it looks like one team has absolutely no chance of winning or even coming close to the team it is matched up against.
There is no shortage of those this week, with five teams taking a six-point spread or more into the weekend over their opponents.While it's not smart to pick against the spread in all of those games—Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sports wrote that the Browns have two concussed quarterbacks and signed Caleb Hanie against the New England Patriots—a few teams look likely to cover the spread.
|Away Team||Home Team||Spread||Pick ATS|
|Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||HOU (-3)||Jaguars|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN (-6)||Colts|
|Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||PK||Packers|
|Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||NE (-13)||Patriots|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||NYJ (-2.5)||Raiders|
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||PHI (-3)||Eagles|
|Miami Dolphins||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT (-3.5)||Steelers|
|Buffalo Bills||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB (-3)||Buccaneers|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Washington Redskins||KC (-3.5)||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||BAL (-7)||Ravens|
|Tennessee Titans||Denver Broncos||DEN (-13)||Broncos|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||ARI (-6)||Cardinals|
|New York Giants||San Diego Chargers||SD (-3.5)||Chargers|
|Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||SF (-2.5)||Seahawks|
|Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||NO (-3.5)||Panthers|
|Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||CHI (-1)||Cowboys|
Spreads provided by Vegas Insider
Indianapolis Colts (+6 at Cincinnati Bengals)
The Colts are erratic, and Andrew Luck hasn't looked the same without Reggie Wayne. These are things we've seen over the last few weeks. But going against an equally flappable quarterback in Andy Dalton, Luck and the Colts might have a chance to win or at least make this a close game.
For all the Bengals have done this season, they still struggle to solidify themselves as a top team in the AFC with losses to the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. The only factor here that screams to stay away is that the Bengals are 5-0 at home.
Indianapolis needs another quality win to put some of those question marks to rest. The inconsistency of Dalton paired with the loss of Geno Atkins and Leon Hall might set up for a lock to line bettors' pockets this week.
Oakland Raiders (+2.5 at N.Y. Jets)
This might actually be a matchup of two have-nots. The Raiders are 4-8, but they have looked much better than their recent 1-3 record would leave people to believe.
Before the season, Matt McGloin wasn't exactly seen as a franchise quarterback or even a starter in the NFL. But he has proven over the last three weeks that he is more than capable. Much of this prediction does rely on Rashad Jennings starting at tailback, who, despite suffering a concussion, returned to practice on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press (via the San Francisco Examiner).
The Jets do have a stingy defense against the rush, but Jennings has proven he can continue to get yardage after contact. John Middlekauff of CSN Bay Area tweeted about that exact point this week:
#Raiders RB Rashad Jennings since week 9 is 2nd in the NFL in yards (448) & 3rd in the NFL in yards after contact (231)— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) December 5, 2013
Carolina Panthers (+3.5 at New Orleans Saints)
The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in football thanks to one of the best defenses in the NFL and an offense that features Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith and a healthy DeAngelo Williams, according to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com:
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams, who missed Sunday's game, was limited today, but he told me in locker room he wants/expects to play Sunday.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 5, 2013
The Saints have been just as lethal in the Superdome as usual, winning all six games played in New Orleans. But outside of wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, as impressive as they were, wins over the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons hardly stack up to what Carolina offers on both sides of the ball.
Riding an eight-game winning streak and touting a defense that is arguably one of the best along with the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers have a good shot at not only covering the spread but beating the Saints and taking the NFC South lead after 14 weeks.