Yet another .500 week showing last week. I think I would rather have a .200 win percentage so that I could at least just go against my gut on all picks and expect an 80% success rate. With a .500 record, you don't know which games to go the other way on, so you kind of just have to keep plugging away. Sooner or later, the hours of weekly spread studying will pay off for all of us…
(Home team in bold)
Vikings (-4.5) over Texans
You might look at this line and say two things: a) the Vikings are giving way too many points, and b) why the heck are these experts picking the Vikings? Well, first of all, the Vikings are coming off a bye week at home. Second, they've played a very, very tough schedule in their first 7 games. In fact, if you take the Lions out of the equation, the only other team they've played with a losing record is the Colts (who are much better than their record shows). They handed Carolina one of their only two losses on the season, and they had to face the undefeated Titans. Their other games were against the Packers, Saints and Bears (all .500 or better), and they're still very much alive with a 3-4 record. No, it's not meeting their extremely high expectations going into the season, but it's also a deceiving record.
Jaguars (-7.5) over Bengals
The Bengals have replaced the Rams and joined the Lions in the "teams I'm going against until proven wrong" group. They've only scored more than 14 points twice all year (and no more than 23), and they're giving up more than 27 points per game, more than 2 TDs more than they're scoring. Home dog, schmome dog…don't bet on them until they actually show up for a game.
Bucs (-8.5) over Chiefs
The Chiefs are dangerously close to being in the same group mentioned above, and were it not for Larry Johnson's one good game this year, they might be. Don't expect them to move the ball on a solid Tampa Bay defense.
Browns (-1.5) over Ravens
Look out, the Browns have won three of their last four games! They did lose pretty badly in Baltimore earlier in the year, but this is not the same team as the one the Ravens saw in Week 3. The Ravens' other wins aren't impressive, either (Bengals, Dolphins and Raiders), so they've got some serious room for improvement.
Bills (-5.5) over Jets
The Jets came dangerously close to losing to Kansas City at home, thanks to some great passes to the red team by Brett Favre. The main difference-maker in this game? The Bills are great in Buffalo (undefeated this season) and the Jets are weak on the road (one road win, and even that one required a Chad Pennington INT in the end zone with 5 seconds left).
Cardinals (-2.5) over Rams
The Rams are a completely different team since Jim Haslett took over as head coach, having won games against the Redskins and Cowboys, and playing the Pats very well last week. The Cardinals just have too much firepower, leading the league in scoring (28 points per game) and shouldn't struggle too much this week going against the league's 7th-worst pass defense.
Bears (-12.5) over Lions
Final score prediction: Bears Forte, Lions Nothing.
Packers (+4.5) over Titans
Something tells me that the Titans put so much into that statement game on Monday night that the well-rested Packers have a good chance of coming in and stealing one from them this week. I have no additional support for this theory other than it's just a hunch…
Dolphins (+3.5) over Broncos
The inconsistencies in the Dolphins' game will be overshadowed by the consistent failures by the Broncos' defense in this game. They're giving up about 28 points per game, and even with a strong offense, they can't stop anyone (including Sammy Morris, who set his career high in rushing yards against them, AND HE DIDN'T PLAY IN THE SECOND HALF!). Denver residents are hoping that they spent their entire bye week working on improving that side of their game, and if they didn't, this team isn't going very far this season.
Falcons (-2.5) over Raiders
The bottom line here is that neither of these teams can play defense, but the Falcons actually have a respectable offense.
Giants (-7.5) over Cowboys
The Giants are the best team in football, and Dallas doesn't stand a chance to beat them without Tony Romo running the show. This is good news for Giants fans, though, because every single one of the Giants' remaining opponents until the final week of the season has a winning record. And if the Vikings turn it around, there is a legitimate chance that the Giants don't play another game against a team with a losing record until September 2009. This is a big one for them.
Eagles (-6.5) over Seahawks
Yes, the Hawks took it to the Niners so badly last week that Mike Singletary dropped trou, but the headlines that game attracted is quietly taking points away from the Seahawks. I'll lay a TD against them with a team like the Eagles all day…
Pats (+6) over Colts
See last week's column
Steelers (+2,5) over Redskins
The Steelers had one slip away last week, so don't expect it to happen again. They're a solid team, and it looks like they're going to get Fast Willie back this week. If they can contain Portis, the Skins are going to be hard-pressed for points.