My favorite picks this week
Odds vary slightly based on the place, here are the odds I like this week and why
Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Atlanta to win +120
Do I love Atlanta in this game? No, but if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to pick who I thought would win the game I would have to say Atlanta. So if I like the underdog better than the favorite, it has to be a decent bet. The Falcons are a really good team, they find ways to win. The Eagles have struggled against the run and have numerous injuries. I expect Turner to have a big day and Matt Ryan to do enough on the road to get a victory. Kolb did look good Sunday night when he had the full week to prepare, but I would need Vick healthy and starting to take the Eagles here. The Eagles have lost both of their home games. The three teams they have beaten are a combined 4-11. And Andy Reid is still their coach, right? The Falcons might be the best team in the NFC. They beat down on a bad team (Arizona) and won a tough divisional game in New Orleans. They have what it takes to get it done on the road.
Baltimore @ New England
Baltimore to win +120
Am I missing something here? How is New England the favorite? Because it is in Foxboro? Yeah that makes sense. Wait, what happened the last time they played there? Oh Yeah, the Ravens embarrassed them and knocked them out of the playoffs. I like to try and guess the lines before they come out, and I had Baltimore giving two points. As the underdog, I'll happily take them to win it outright. The Ravens are clearly one of the elite teams in the NFL.
New England has beaten the Bills and Bengals (both awful), and the Dolphins through a fluke series of Special Teams and Defensive plays. Patriots fans will argue, that wasn't a fluke, those are all parts of the game! Yeah, but all those things happening on the same night? (kickoff return TD, blocked field goal returned for TD, interception return for TD) It was the first time in NFL history. Sure, the Patriots have had an extra week to prepare, but the Ravens are just the better team. Didn't they just lose Randy Moss? I think they will miss him against a stingy defense like Baltimore. Baltimore reminds me of the Jets, run it, run it, play good defense, and let your quarterback make a few throws. Except Flacco could end up tearing apart New England's secondary, kind of like how Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick did (Palmer and Henne did too for good portions of their games).
Tennessee @ Jacksonville
Tennessee to win -140
Normally I'd be fine with having the Titans -3.5 and that is probably a solid bet too, but the Jaguars are a little frisky at home and could surprise people and hang around. That being said, the Titans, unlike the Colts, who came into Jacksonville and lost, are a complete football team. They can run the ball with Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt has emerged as a strong receiver, Vince Young is a winner, and their defense is very good. The Titans are a better team in every way. And if you didn't hear, they also "play dirty." I expect them to go in there and win a big divisional game. Jeff Fisher is an underrated coach and will have them focused and prepared, success should follow. And if somehow they are losing in the last five minutes, I'm confident enough in Vince, Britt, and CJ2K to lead a winning drive down the field.
Dallas @ Minnesota
The first home team! Minnesota looked pretty dam good coming back against the Jets. They are a better football team than Dallas with Randy Moss. He opens things up deep, he opens up the slot for Percy Harvin, and he opens up the box for Adrian Peterson. And their defense wasn't too bad against the Jets either, holding them to just five field goals until the fourth quarter. Losing a starting corner in Cedric Griffin should not be overlooked, but it does not sway this in favor of the Cowboys. Make no mistake, the Vikings are the best 1-3 football team in the NFL. As long as Favre doesn't break his unbelievable streak of a bijillion consecutive games because of that annoying elbow, I see Minnesota taking care of business. If you have doubt about Favre playing this week, just remember that his teammates flew down south and convinced him to play the season. Surely they can convince him to play the game, right?
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-14)
Detroit @ NY Giants (-10)
Colt McCoy is making his first career start against the most dominant defense in the league and two-time Super Bowl champ Big Ben is getting back behind center. How does Cleveland even keep this close? It's not even fair that the Steelers had an extra week to "prepare."
The Lions won their first game!.. Against the Rams... at home. Lets not get carried away. Have you watched the Giants feast on opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines the past two weeks? How do you think Detroit will hold up against them on the road? My guess is not very well. But if we have learned anything about the Lions, it's don't underestimate their ability to rack up points in a blow out. Keep it safe, bring the points the Giants are giving down to about 3.
The lines have moved a little bit, so it depends when you hit them, but a 6 or 7 point teaser should bring both these teams down to a touchdown and field goal, respectively.
But wait the Saints lost to Arizona and the Chargers lost to Oakland last week, so who really knows what's going on anymore?? Firstly, both of those teams were on the road. Second, rather fluky wins, but they usually are in upsets like that. But most importantly, the Chargers and the Saints were two good teams that hadn't been playing well, and it caught up with them. The Giants and Steelers are both at home, have been playing very well, and are strong on both sides of the ball, AND playing against teams in the bottom third of the league.
Please comment if you disagree, agree, or have other picks you really like (and why) as I am always interested in hearing. Was tempted to pick TB (+5) at home against the Saints and Oakland (+6) in San Fransisco. But had a feeling that this is the week everyone turns on each of these teams (Saints and 49ers), and this is the week they get it done. Just couldn't convince myself to do it, but I can see why they are getting a lot of attention.