Week 8 gave me one of my few losing records of the year, but there were some crazy things that went down to get me in the gotcha. This week there are some games I fancy, and some I am just barely leaning one way or the other. Like always, I’ll let you know.
New York Jets (+6) @ Buffalo Bills: This is an interesting one. The Bills haven’t won a game against a good run defense yet this year. Seriously, Arizona and Miami are both solid run defenses – the Bills have two losses, one loss in Miami, one loss in Arizona. They are undefeated at home this season, against the spread as well. The Jets gave the ball to the Chiefs numerous times and still came out on top last week, but they were playing the Chiefs. I understand that the only road win New York has this year was in Miami in Week 1, and they got beat by Oakland last time they went traveling (gag reflex there). All that being said, I like that the Jets can stop the run (4th in the league with just over 80 yards given up per game) – and I like how that corilates with the trouble Buffalo has had with defenses that make running tough sledding. So, I’ll take the Jets and all 6 of those points in this divisional “HUGE” game.
Detroit Lions (+14) @ Chicago Bears: The Lions have played better on the road than at home, they are getting 14 points at 5 Dimes. Orlovsky has proven to be a decent option, and Calvin Johnson is borderline unguardable. I like the Bears to win this game, and bring the Lions to 0-8 during the first half of the season (probably not winning 10 games like Jon Kitna says, just my observation, but who knows). However, I do like Detroit to play better than a two touchdown dog to a Bears team that definitely has flaws on either side of the ball. The Bears should no be favored by two scores against anyone in the league.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-7.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Fitzpatrick complete’s just about 60% of his passes, he has 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, he is heading up a team that doesn’t believe in him, and it’s basically crushing news every time he comes onto the field because it’s a reminder that Carson is still out with an arm ouchy. Sounds like a recipe for success. On the other hand, the Jags just lost to the freaking Browns, at home, in a game that they needed to win. They are now 3-4, tied with the Colts and Texans and 4 games back of the Titans in their own division. They need to get things straight right away. Jacksonville has beaten the Bengals in 9 out of the 10 times these two teams have played since 1998. The Jags are 7-2-1 ATS over that time period. I’m not one for history calling the shots, but there’s lots of things working against the Bengals here, not to mention the Jags just lost a big game at home, and they are 2-1 on the road this season with wins in Denver and Indianapolis. Yeah, I like the Jaguars by 10 in this one for a small wager.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (PK): I don’t know what to think about Cleveland except I think they are just about as good as the Ravens, they are at home, they will likely be a .500 team this year, and this game would split the season series with Baltimore. I like all those things working in my favor here, and I see both teams being 4-4 after Week 9’s action.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8) @ Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs can’t run and they only put up a reasonable fight if teams hand them turnovers like free cans of spam at the light house mission. Jeff Garcia won’t be doing that this week in KC, especially not after getting beat by a hapless Dallas team. I expect a lot of running game action this time around, and that’s not coming from KC. Tyler Thigpen’s chances of building off last week’s big game look really bad, as the Bucs will key in on the young quarterback. Tampa is a lot better than they were last week and the Chiefs are a lot worse – in that match-up I’ll always take the Bucs side.
Houston Texans (+5) @ Minnesota Vikings: Hmmm… Really good passing offense versus a really bad secondary. Vikings are coming off a bye week going head to head at home against the Texans team that is winners of three straight… But all home games. The Texans are Ofer on the road this season, and that’s not abnormal for the, they are historically a brutal road team. Minnesota hasn’t been playing well at all. They beat the Lions because of a TERRIBLE pass interference call. They beat the New Orleans Saints some how some way, I watched that game and I still can’t figure it out. It seemed like the Saints hammered the Vikes. They gave up 48 points (a lot via the secondary and such) to the Bears and lost that game. They’ve basically played like poo in their last four games are are 2-2 in those contests – so that’s one thing they have going for themselves. In the end, I think it’s Dunta Robinson’s recent return that pays dividends for the Texans in their first road win of the year, a big upset. With another corner that can lock down defenders, the Texans can use their safeties to help against the run, and that should be just enough for them to cover.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) @ St. Louis Rams: The Cardinals are a bad road team. They have been for a long time, and that trend doesn’t seem to be changing much this season in terms of their win/loss record (1-3). However, you have to consider their competition and how they’ve played on the road as well, because close losses to good teams need to look better than close wins against bad teams (at least to the bettor). The Cardinals lost road games to Washington, the Jets, and the Carolina Panthers last week. Except for the offensive blow-up by Brett Favre and the Jets (6 TDs for the old man), the Cards have played tight with their solid opponents, losing by a touchdown in Washington and by just 4 in Carolina (covering the spread last week). The Rams, on the other hand, have to be considered a new team since Jim Haslet took over because they’ve played much different. They ousted the Redskins in Washington, then slapped around a injury decimated Cowboys team two weeks ago at home. Last week they lost in New England, but without Steven Jackson, and the game was tight late (they covered). Still, I think the Cardinals are that much better than the Rams, and while Arizona is used to losing and falling apart when it matters most, I have to believe that they win this week in St. Louis. At -2.5, a field goal win still gets me a W, and thus I’ll be making a small play on the favored road Cardinals here.
Green Bay Packers (+5.5) @ Tennessee Titans: I would stay away from this line. That’s my suggestion. That being said, I like the Titans by 3 in this one. Their defense is too good, but Aaron Rodgers has one heck of a cannon, and that will test the Titans secondary. Green Bay hasn’t been able to run all year, their yards per carry is gross, and the Titans won’t help that stat improve. Kerry Collins doesn’t do enough to test the Packers secondary woes, but Green Bay’s run defense is basically piss this season. The Titans run with passion and efficiency. And they are absolutely committed to the run as well. The Packers are coming off a bye, and a first hand look at how the Titans secondary can be attacked, as Manning did a nice job in the first half last last Monday Night. There’s lots of things working every which way in this one, and the fact that Tennessee is 7-0 doesn’t help their cause in my book either. Nobody goes undefeated, remember that. The Titans are coming off a little bit of a short week, they are heavily favored, and they have yet to lose. Am I saying Green Bay pulls the upset? No, but there’s a chance. This is just a tough one for me, for the obvious reasons that I listed. Despite the records (4-3 to 7-0) I think these teams are fairly close in ability. I’m taking the Packers here, but you have my advice on betting this game.
Miami Dolphins (+3.5) @ Denver Broncos: The Denver secondary was bad with Champ Bailey locking down one side, I can’t imagine how pathetic they’ll be without him for the next 6 weeks. They can’t put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, can’t even get close to stopping the run, and their offense relies almost solely on the passing game – which always puts a team at risk. MIami has played decent on the road, sans one bad loss to Arizona. They were up on Houston, and if it weren’t for some last minute heroics by Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub, they would have won there. They smoked New England in Week 3. Three of their losses came to great run defenses, Arizona, the Jets, and Baltimore – and believe me when I say that Denver doesn’t belong in that group. I think Denver will put up points, and it’s possible that they jump up early and leave the Dolphins trying to do too much, but I have a feeling that Miami’s run-based attack and precision passing should keep the time of possession in their favor. That might be just enough for a big upset on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants (-8): Too much defensive pressure by the Giants will absolutely make Brad Johnson a sitting duck. The Giants are too tough against the run to allow Marion Barber much room to explode. Dallas played better defensively last week, but honestly, their offense didn’t play well enough for them to win. Dallas got some really bad calls falling in their favor, and that got them over the hump. I don’t like the Giants all that much, and unlike a lot of big names out there I don’t think they are underrated, quite the opposite. I just think that Dallas got beat last week and won the game – I never like that. I also don’t like the Cowboys offense at all right now. New York should win this one in the 24-10 range.
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) @ Oakland Raiders: Looking at it from way up here I see a Falcons team that is 1-3 on the road (though their tough road losses came against Philly, Carolina, and Tampa Bay – all solid squads). I see a Raider team that plays pretty well at home, beating the Jets two weeks ago, and playing really tight with San Diego before a late score put the Chargers up 10. The Falcons are 4-3, and they’ve beat some solid teams (Green Bay in Wisconsin) and Chicago two weeks ago at home, by 3 and 2 points respectively. The Raiders don’t stop the run well and don’t create many turnovers on defense. The Falcons only seem to get in trouble when their youth gets the best of them. I also like the Falcons more than the Raiders. This is a very tough one for me, but I’ll have to lean toward Atlanta. They’ve been solid when they can run, and the Raiders will let Mike Turner run. Oakland is not physical up front, and I think Matt Ryan can be effective enough to douse the Raider secondary. I’d stay away from this game, but with all things considered, it looks like Atlanta by a field goal.
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) @ Seattle Seahawks: I know it doesn’t look like the “sharp” bet here, as just about 75% of the public is taking the Eagles, but I can’t see another side. The Seahawks got two 50 yard touchdown catches from Leonard Weaver of all people. Those were Seneca Wallace’s only touchdown passes and almost half of his total passing yardage. Seattle’s defense still doesn’t do enough to disrupt a good offense, and the Eagles (with Brian Westbrook) have one of the most efficient and mistake free units in the league. The Hawks may be without Lofa Tatupu, and that would be a huge hit. The Hawks may have killed a disfunctional 49er team last week, and no win is easy in the NFL, but I see things coming a lot tougher for the Hawks in this one. The Hawks have 2 wins, to the great 49ers last week (after losing to them once already) and to the tough and gritty St. Louis Rams prior to Haslet taking over. They’ve been destroyed by “good” teams that they’ve played. Buffalo beat them by 24, the Giants ran over them by 38, the Packers only won by 10 – but it wasn’t that close – trust me, the Bucs also won by 10 – but that also wasn’t even close. I hate going with 75% of the public, but 6.5 looks nice from my pedestal.
New England Patriots (+5.5) @ Indianapolis Colts: Call me nuts, but both of these teams are up and down so much that I can’t quite figure them out. New England is 5-2 and the Colts are 3-4, but they are eerily similar. Indy actually played pretty well on Monday Night, flailing like lemmings in the 4th quarter, but solid for the first three frames. New England barely took out a bottom tier St. Louis Rams team that was playing without their best player, Steven Jackson. But I see an advantage for the Patriots in Indy. Weird. The Pats have done solid work against teams that don’t have strong rushing attacks. The Chiefs, Jets, 49ers (only because Mike Martz is a tool), and Denver. Those are all wins for the Pats, and all teams that can’t find a consistent rushing attack. Their losses came to San Diego (a team you must respect on the ground) and MIami (Ronnie Brown went nuts on the Pats). Indy doesn’t have Addai, and even when they have had him, their run game has been blah this season. If the Pats can focus on one aspect, the pass or run, their defense is stronger. You know what is also weird here? Matt Cassel and Peyton Manning have disturbingly similar numbers. Matt’s 66% completion percentage is better than Manning’s 61% – Cassel gets 6.84 yards per attempt while Manning has 6.62. Cassel has thrown just 7 touchdowns to Manning’s 10, but he only has 6 picks to Manning’s 9. Cassel has a 6 point QB Rating advantage as well. Anyway, I’m not saying they’re the same guy, I’m just saying you should lay off killing Matt for his shortcomings, the kid is throwing pretty well.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins (-1): This one is tough for me because Jason Taylor is out for sure, and the Redskins are just dealing with a lot of ailments. I actually really liked the Redskins in this one at full health. Against teams I would consider good, Dallas and Philly and maybe even Arizona and New Orleans (though I don’t consider the Saints good, but you might) the Redskins are 4-0. On the other hand, PIttsburgh’s lone good win came against, I don’t know, Jacksonville? Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Houston? I like the Texans but can hardly consider them to be “good”. The Steelers lost to both the Giants and Eagles, and the Redskins will look to make that three in a row from the NFC East. There’s lots of love on the Steeler’s side right now, but I am taking the other half in this one. Take the Skins at home.