It was nice to get in the green last week, in a must win week for Good ol’ Lucky Lester. In-between sweating out a couple big wins, eating fresh salsa, and drinking an assortment of frosty cold beverages, I was picking Week 10’s games. With bye weeks out the window, this is the time to get back on track with a huge week right off the bat. How will I manage? Like this…TOP 5 Bets
Jacksonville over Houston
Chicago over New York Giants
Philadelphia over Washington
Jets over Patriots
Tampa Bay over Carolina
Baltimore (-7) at Tennessee: The Ravens have been pretty good on the road all season long, 3-1 with two 13+ point wins, and they’ve been playing well lately with back to back wins over New Orleans and Cincinnati. Tennessee has played decent at home, a close loss to the Jets and a win over Houston, and they had two wins in a row going in to Week 9. But they promptly came back to reality last week in Jacksonville. Baltimore has that kind of defense (like Jax) so I don’t see a rookie, Vince Young, doing to well against the Ravens. Tennessee won’t be able to run, so expect some tough mistakes from Vince.
Buffalo at Indianapolis (-11.5): I know Buffalo just won a game 24-10, but Green Bay doesn’t count, and this week they’ll have to stop Peyton Manning, who is by far the best regular season quarterback in the game. Buffalo’s defense hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant taking them under a 14 point spread against a Colts team that looked very good on defense last week against the Patriots. Without Willis McGahee (broken rib) running the ball, Buffalo doesn’t stand a chance.
Chicago (+3) at N.Y. Giants: Chicago has played very well the week after a bad game all season long…. After close Minnesota win, killed Seattle… After barely beating Arizona, killed San Francisco, and this week, after getting rocked by… Miami, the Bears will come back and play a very good game against a Giants squad without their two best pass rushers, and maybe even Plaxico Burress. Eli Manning will struggle in this game, in the limelight, as he often does. Even at home, New York will make too many mistakes to win this contest.
Cleveland at Atlanta (-7): The Falcons sure struggled last week against the Lions. Detroit threw all over Atlanta, which was nice, because DeAngelo Hall turned quiet in a hurry, always nice. However this week, Atlanta will take out their frustrations on a rather slow Cleveland defense. Vick, Dunn, Norwood, and Ashlie Lelie are all a couple steps ahead of the Brownies, so expect an early lead to get bigger throughout. I like Braylon Edwards, but he doesn’t have Roy Williams’ speed, so Hall shouldn’t have as much trouble. Darn.
Green Bay at Minnesota (-5): I guess I just don’t see Minnesota playing as terribly as they’ve played over the last few weeks. They aren’t a bad football team, and especially defensively, they’re strong. The play well in a gross Metro Dome, while Brett and the Packers are often terrible in Domes. The Packers haven’t played well, aren’t very good, and are even worse when matched up against a stout run defense. That, the Vikings have.
Houston at Jacksonville (-10.5): Jacksonville is more consistent eith David Garrard at quarterback, making wins against lesser teams easy for the Jaguars. Without a pure passer in there, they do what they should have been doing all along, and rely on the ground game. Fred Taylor still has plenty of yards left in him, and Maurice Drew has been one of the most promising young backs in football. With a couple big plays through the air, Jacksonville will roll at home against Houston.
Kansas City (E) at Miami: Kansas City has been flawless in the air, and naturally, as dominant as ever on the ground. Larry Johnson has his step back after a slow start, and he’ll be able to use that step to smash a fragile Dolphins’ defense. That defense won’t be as hard on Huard as they were on Grossman, because Damon isn’t the mistake prone gun slinger that Rexxy is. Kansas City has really improved defensively under Herman Edwards, something they’ll use to take their second road game in a row.
New Orleans +4 at Pittsburgh: The Saints shouldn’t be getting 4 points against a Steeler team that can’t buy a win. I’ve lost my fair share of games betting against Drew Brees. I’ve lost plenty this year, and in his first big year with the Chargers, I poured plenty of green into the bucket watching him prove himself week in and week out. Even though Pitt is tough at home, I have to go with Brees and his boys. With New Orleans getting all the right bounces, and the Steelers imploding to a point where they are nearly eliminated from playoff contention half way through the season, my money is on those resilient New Orleans boys.
N.Y. Jets (+12) at New England: 12 points is just too many for me. I know New England is tough at home, and I’m sure they’ll come back strong after getting dumped last week in Foxboro by the Colts, but 12 is still too many. The Jets don’t have a strong defense, and their offense hasn’t been great lately, but they’re coming off a bye, which in my book, helps their cause. The Jets will find ways to get their playmakers, Laveraneus Coles and Leon Washington, the ball, and they’ll put up a tough fight in New England.
San Diego at Cincinnati (+1.5): The Bengals have had a tough go of it lately, in the clubhouse and on the football field. With the team looking happy go lucky this week, I’m going with the stunner, a San Diego loss here. It almost seems unfair, betting against LT when he’s playing against any defense besides the Bears, but I have a feeling this week won’t be as grand for Mr. Tomlinson. The Bengals’ defense is talented, and finally, this week, they’ll show their true colors. With Shawn Merriman out, the Charger pass rush will be less of a factor, giving Palmer just that much longer to complete the pass. Take the home team in this powerful showdown.
San Francisco at Detroit (-5.5): The Lions will have too much offense for the 49ers. Both defenses are less than stellar, or just downright giving on Sundays, but San Francisco can’t put up points like the Lions. Wow. Think about that statement. A couple years, maybe 5, ago, you’d get laughed at for a statement so ridiculous. Now, with the fiery Lions and their high scoring offense, Detroit can play in a shootout. At home, the Lions take this one.
Washington at Philadelphia (-6.5): Those Eagles have to be sick of playing down to the level of their opponents and losing close games at the end. And Washington has to hit a trench the week after pulling out a quickie against the Cowboys. I expect a huge performance from Brian Westbrook, as he’s faster and more explosive than any defender in Washington. (Maybe not more explosive that Sean Taylor, but a much better citizen anyway) Donovan looks like he gets Donte Stallworth and Reggie Brown this week, that should help him crush Washington’s hopes early. The Eagles at home will be way too tough for the Skins.
Denver -9 at Oakland: I hate picking Denver with any more than 3 points to cover, but against an Oakland team that couldn’t even get close to scoring against a Hawks defense that had given up an average of 27 points a game for the 3 games prior to Monday Nights’ match-up, that’s just disgusting. And because of that sickness that Oakland seems to have offensively, I must choose Denver to score at least 10 points while shutting out the Raiders in Oakland. Will that get Tom Walsh fired? For my eye’s sake, I sure hope so.
Dallas at Arizona (+7): The Cardinals play well at home, and with Dennis Green’s job on the line, expect another performance from the Cards like the one they had against the Bears. The Cardinals have powerful offensive players, and while Edgerrin James will most likely struggle again, short precise passes out of Matt Leinart could do just enough to upset the Cowboys.
St. Louis (+3.5) at Seattle: 12th man taken to heart, I still believe the Rams have a passing attack that is too efficient and a running attack that’s too powerful to lose to the Hawks without Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander. Even if the Hawks do pull this one out, it’ll be by a field goal or less, and that would make me a winner anyway. Seattle doesn’t have enough firepower to stick with the Rams, and don’t expect the kind of defensive performance that the Hawks had on Monday Night, this week they don’t play the Raiders. I know Hawks fans, Seattle has been lobbying for that since Oakland won the Super Bowl, it’s just that no other team believes that would be fair.
Tampa Bay (+11) at Carolina: I love Carolina, love them as a team, love their players, and their coach seems like a great guy. Hell, taking them to win here is nearly a guarantee, but a spread that larger is kryptonite to the Panthers. Carolina always struggles against the spread, because they’re always a big favorite, and they love to play down to the level of their opponent. It’s a sickness, one I hope they don’t cure before Monday Night.