Week 12 consisted of my second push in as many weeks, and I’m just about plenty tired of that. I was 3-2 with my top picks of the week, but 8-8 overall still doesn’t cut it. I’m looking for a big Thanks Giving Thursday and then some momentum carrying me right into the weekend games. I have 4 home teams covering this week, is that bad? Nan. Every week is different – this is how I see ’em in Week 13.
Thanks Giving Day Games
Tennessee Titans (-10.5) @ Detroit Lions: Together these teams are 10-12 on the season, but that hardly tells us anything. Ha. The Lions haven’t won a game against the spread at home this season. They play terrible in Detroit, and that makes sense, everyone in Detroit thinks they are a joke. And they are. But it has to be tough when your home crowd would rather laugh at you than root for you. The Titans have destroyed bad teams this year. They beat the Jaguars by 10, the Chiefs by 24, the Texans by 19, and the Bengals by 17. I know the Lions don’t want to be completely defeated by season’s end, but nothing about this game says “Lions Win!” to me. Look for Chris Johnson to outscore the Lions by at least 10 points.
Seattle Seahawks (+13) @ Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys aren’t this good, and despite the Hawks 2 win record, they aren’t this bad. Sure, the Cowboys could win by a couple touchdowns, but 13 points is too many points for them to give. They only beat the 49ers by 13 last week, and there were too many bounces that went their way. Cowboy fan is definitely going to be sweating this one out.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) @ Philadelphia Eagles: This one is actually very tough for me. Just letting you guys know, besides a few tweaks here and there, I basically pick teams based on what types of teams they are compared to what types of teams they struggle with. The Cardinals are a pass heavy team with a suspect rushing attack. They have a defense that can stop the run alright, but that generally struggles stopping the pass. The Eagles have a good defense, and a very talented secondary. From what I see, the Cardinals have yet to beat a team with a good secondary so far this season. But I’m still taking the Cardinals. I think they are even with the Eagles, as far as team strength goes, but Philly is in shambles a little bit, and that’s never seemed to work for Donovan or the rest of the National bird. Going against my own flow here, that’s not always a good thing, so be careful with this one.
San Francisco 49ers (+7.5) @ Buffalo Bills: As a big favorite (4 or greater), the Bills are 1-3 ATS. They have lost two of those games outright and while they have won by a more than a touchdown four times this season, they haven’t played their best ball at home. The 49ers have to travel a long way to play the Bills earl in the day, and that generally isn’t a good thing, but the Niners are tougher than people think, that’s obvious to me when watching them play. They lost by 13 to the Cowboys, but that game score should have been closer. All the Niners have to do is limit the big plays (something that’s fairly easy against the Bills) and they’ll have a nice chance to pull the upset in this game. SF has played well of late, look at what they’ve done and it’s hard to argue with that. They’ve been in most of their games this year, and with Mike Singletary at the helm, they are taking less chances and playing better football. I like the 49ers to cover here.
Baltimore Ravens (-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals: In the 9 games Cincinnati has lost, they’ve lost by 7 points or more (mostly more) eight different times. They have one win, against a listless Jacksonville group. They have really struggled against teams (almost every team) that can run the ball and play some defense. Just about everyone is on the Ravens here, and while that’s not usually a good thing, it’s also not a reason to go against your gut. That’s right folks, sometimes the book is wrong. So, while the “sharp” money won’t be on Baltimore here, my heat seeking money definitely will be.
Indianapolis Colts (-4.5) @ Cleveland Browns: This game I’m not so sure of. I’m not impressed with the Colts, I can’t make that any more clear. However, they are playing the Browns. A Browns team that will be under a new coach and possibly a new GM as soon as the season commences. The Colts are still fighting for their playoff lives, properly stacked amongst the 7-4 wild card hopefuls heading into Week 13. About 84% of the public likes the Colts here. There’s that. Indy has won 4 straight, and probably should have won just one of those games. Maybe two. They’ve basically played with fire in every single win except their drubbing of Baltimore in early October. Also, I think they should have lost last week, but they won. That’s usually and auto pick against for me. But the Browns? Not this time folks, I have to take the Colts on the road. And I’ll be praying for Bob Sanders’ health to come in and make this one gold to me.
Carolina Panthers (+3) @ Green Bay Packers: There are some contrasting reports from me on this game, so proceed with caution. The Panthers should have 1 ATS road win this year. As it stands, they got some lucky points and covered in Oakland by a point, and have 2 so far this season. They got slapped around last week in Atlanta, the first time they’ve lost to a team with a suspect run defense. But the Falcons are magic, so how can I run away from my Panther hypothesis based on that one game? The Packers have dominated in each of their last home games, and that says a lot because they’ve done it against the Bears and Colts. In those two games they won by a combined 71-17 margin. The Panthers haven’t played “good” football since ousting Arizona just before Halloween. They were terrible in a win over Oakland, mediocre-bad in a win over Detroit, and they lost by 17 to Atlanta last week. That being said, anybody can run on Green Bay. The Panthers aren’t just anybody, they are the league’s #6 rushing offense. A team that has (for the most part) shellacked defenses that can’t stop the run. The Packers need this though. They really need it and it’s at home and the Panthers haven’t been playing well. Tough one. I’m taking the Panthers with a field goal on their side, but I’m also advising that you don’t play this one. Good luck.
Denver Broncos (+9) @ New York Jets: The Jets have struggled with team that prefer the pass over the run – Kansas City, Arizona (they beat Arizona by 21, but they also gave up a million yards), San Diego, and New England (both times) – these were close games. The Jets have been favored by 9 or more just three times this season, they’ve covered two of the three. I also think the Jets and Brett are up for a let down game after ousting the Patriots two weeks ago and stinging the undefeated Titans by 21 points last week. The Broncos are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Raiders. But I think they give the Jets trouble in Week 13. Jay Cutler is bound to play better after his terrible outing at home last week, and the Broncos have played better on the road than at home this season. 9 points is a lot, especially when one team is coming off their lowest low of the season and the other is coming off their highest high. The only play here is Denver.
Miami Dolphins @ St. Louis Rams: There’s no line for this game as of Wednesday morning. I honestly don’t see what they are waiting for, because like the Rams, I don’t see much difference between Marc Bulger and Trent Green. Steven Jackson? Is he going to make them better? Orlando Pace? Sure, he’ll help – but a line should be up soon. I’ll tell you this, the Dolphins are a good team to bet against when they are favored. They are 1-3 ATS when favored this season, and that one win was when they were favored by a point at home against Buffalo. But aside from their Week 2 loss to Arizona, the Dolphins have fought hard on the road and are 2-2 there this season. The spread definitely is important, but the Rams are BAD. I’ll try to get back to this after Thanks Giving.
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5): The Bucs are 5-0 at home this season, and they haven’t all been crappy teams like Seattle. The Bucs beat Atlanta, Green Bay, Carolina and Minnesota at home – and Seattle of course. Drew Brees went off for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Buccaneers in a 4 point win back in Week 1, but I like a split when two division foes go at it, and a home and home split looks about right. In 5 of the last 6 games, the home team has won this match-up. The Saints aren’t very good and everybody thinks they are, so I also have that on my side.
New York Giants (-3) @ Washington Redskins: The Redskins haven’t played a good game since they beat the Eagles on the 5th of October. They barely beat the Seahawks (failing to cover by a half point, I must add), lost by 4 at home to Dallas, got smashed by Pittsburgh, beat Detroit in a close game by 8, beat Cleveland at home by a field goal, and lost to St. Louis. Right? Nothing too impressive there. Also, nobody can run against the Giants and Jason Campbell hasn’t been as efficient when that’s the case. (Check the Pittsburgh game). Washington hasn’t been great at home, and the Giants are just very good. I think this one is easy, unfortunately, so does everyone else. Oh well.
Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers (-4.5): The Chargers are a good team. They haven’t played like it much this year, but they are good. Look at the talent on that squad. Not only that, but they often start out poorly only to finish strong. They’ll need to now that they are at 4-7. They also have played solid football over the last couple weeks, and with some better coaching decisions they probably would have won one of, if not both of those games. The Falcons have played out of their minds this year, and I haven’t benefitted all that much from their success, but I don’t see them winning this one. The Chargers run defense has been better, and their corners will make some plays on any rookie mistakes Matt Ryan makes. I’ll take San Diego here.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.5) @ New England Patriots: I know the Steelers have trouble with opponents that can really throw the ball (ala Matt Cassel and the Pats- as amazing as that is) – Peyton Manning and the Colts, his baby brother’s Giants, and the Eagles all took games from Pittsburgh, and all are usually pass-happy groups. But the Steelers are good. Their defense is legit. Because of that, and their grind it out style, they are one of the best road teams in teh league. Matt and the Patriots have been very good offensively recently, but I think the Steelers will slow them down. I don’t think the Pats defense can hold Pittsburgh under 24 points, and I don’t see Pittsburgh giving up more than a couple touchdowns. If you add those two things together, and I inevitably do, you have to be on the Steelers here.
Kansas City Chiefs (+3) @ Oakland Raiders: The Chiefs even the season series with the Raiders – that’s my bet. They can throw the ball well, and run it with Larry if they feel so inclined. Tyler Thigpen is a legit force through the air, and he moves pretty well with his feet also. The Raiders had one of their best games of the season, no, they did have their best game of the season last week. The chances they do something like that for two weeks in a row are just too low to accept. The Chiefs have lots of little bumps and bruises, but most of their key players should be starting in Oakland. I like KC to dominate in Oakland, winning by a couple touchdowns. That field goal extra is just a nice little just in case bonus.
Chicago Bears (+3.5) @ Minnesota Vikings: Kyle Orton is enough to get me on the Bears side here. He just wins games. That’s all. Is that enough for me? You bet. Pass the ball to Matt Forte instead of handing it to him, and these Bears will jump to the top of the NFC North all by themselves.
Monday Night Game
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (-3): Oh come one, the Texans are better than the Jaguars. Houston has always been a solid home team, and even this year they are 3-2 at home in Texas. The Jaguars are lost, they are having team issues on and off the field, they are a complete disappointment after many people thought they’d compete for an AFC title. The Texans can throw the ball well, and Steve Slaton was an absolute steal in the draft, he runs exactly how this zone scheme needs. I like the Texans by 10 at home.