Some games this week are worth avoiding like the plague. The New Orleans Saints hosting the Carolina Panthers? No thanks. The San Francisco 49ers hosting the Seattle Seahawks? Stay away. The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions in a shootout? Too tough to call.
But there are still plenty of tasty matchups to exploit and, more importantly, some "underdogs" worth taking a gamble on. If you are looking for a few under-the-radar games to win this week, look no further than my three underdog picks below.
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||Lions|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals|
|Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||Falcons|
|Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||Patriots|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||Jets|
|Miami Dolphins||Pittsburgh Steelers||Dolphins|
|Buffalo Bills||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Bills|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Washington||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|Tennessee Titans||Denver Broncos||Broncos|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals|
|New York Giants||San Diego Chargers||Giants|
|Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
|Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||Saints|
|Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||Bears|
Miami Dolphins over Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are laying 3.5 points at home, making the Dolphins the underdog in this game despite their superior record. That might have something to do with the Steelers winning three games in a row at home—or the Dolphins losing three of their last four on the road—but Miami is still the more talented team.
The strength of the Steelers has been their passing game (eighth in the NFL in yards per game), but the Dolphins are very tough against the pass (ninth in passing yards allowed), and Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake are having excellent seasons pressuring the quarterback, with 17 sacks between them.
The key for both teams will be running the ball. Whichever side can establish the run will likely win this contest. Despite all of the drama surrounding the team this season, the Dolphins remain the better side and should leave Pittsburgh with a crucial win in the AFC wild-card hunt.
New York Giants over San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are laying three points at home, so they are a precarious favorite, especially in a game they really need to win to remain in the wild-card chase. But the Giants have won five of their last six games and are quietly one of the hottest teams in the NFL, in large part due to their defense.
In their five wins this season, they've held their opponents to 20 or fewer points, an ominous sign for a Chargers team that has been held to 20 or fewer points in three of its last four games.
The Giants have also really cut down on their turnovers and should be able to pass the ball against a poor San Diego secondary and a defensive line that shouldn't generate a ton of pressure with Dwight Freeney, Larry English and Melvin Ingram all out with injuries.
Look for the Giants to have more success passing the ball than we've seen this season, Andre Brown to have a strong game running and the Giants to sneak away with a tight win to salvage their season.
Atlanta Falcons over Green Bay Packers
When the season began, you probably circled this game as one of the elite matchups of the season. Now, it's a game between arguably the NFL's most disappointing team and a Packers side that has been just awful while Aaron Rodgers has been sidelined to injury, as he will be again this week.
And really, that's the only reason needed to pick the Falcons, right? Since Rodgers went down to injury, the Packers are 0-4-1 and were absolutely smoked by the Detroit Lions last week, 40-10. Even with the longer week, it's hard to pick them against anyone right now.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off a win and a strong performance in a tough loss to the New Orleans Saints before that. The Packers may be laying three points due to the Lambeau Field factor, but you would be wise to roll with a Falcons team that has started to show some life in the past two weeks, with both Steven Jackson and Roddy White coming off their strongest performances of the season.