Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) @ Green Bay Packers: Now it’s very hard to beat a good opponent twice in the same season, but I just don’t see these two teams as equals. Last time out, the Packers did a good job of shutting down Adrian Peterson, but Brett Favre had wide open places to throw the ball, basically beating his old team single handily. I don’t see the Vikings getting their rushing attack shut down again, especially against a Packers team that doesn’t normally do a great job stuffing the run. AP is one hell of a player, one of the most powerful and physical backs I’ve seen, and his running style should pierce the Packers front 7. Green Bay has beaten Minnesota 5 out of the last 6 times they’ve played coming into this season. But the Vikings are obviously a different team now. Minnesota is coming off a loss to the Steelers in which they should have won. They moved the ball better, were in position to put points on the board more, but just couldn’t find a way to get the points side of the job done. This is the first time Brett Favre will find himself back in Green Bay playing football, something that will surely be emotional for him. He’s always been better with emotions flying, I see no reason to believe this will be any different. Vikings and points? You bet, sign me up!
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-3) NFL Free Pick: The Titans have obviously been brutal, at least lately. People forget that they challenged to win each of their first three games, losing by 3 to the Steelers on opening night, by 3 to the Texans in Week 2, and falling by 7 to the Jets in Week 3. After that it’s pretty much been a vertical slip’n’slide into a pit of lava. The Titans have lost three more since their defeat at the hands of the Jets, getting outscored 127-26. That includes one of the most lopsided defeats in NFL history, a 59-0 drubbing by the Patriots that included 5 touchdown passes in the 2nd quarter alone by Tom Brady. The Titans also lost 17-37 at Jacksonville to start off that three game self destruction. Yes, needless to say, it has been bad in Tennessee.
It hasn’t been flowers, sunshine, and sausage gravy in Jacksonville either. The Jaguars have 3 wins to their names, but most recently needed overtime to beat the Rams (that’s like losing) and prior to that were embarrassed by the Seahawks, of all teams, 41-0 in Seattle. Despite being a running team, Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t been as effective as many expected, getting held under 70 yards in three games this year, including a 6 carry for 14 yard performance against Tennessee. MJD is still having a solid season, but he’s done that primarily when taking advantage of good match-ups against bad run defenses. The Titans insert Vince Young into the starting quarterback role this week, and that could go one of two ways, bringing the Titans forward or dropping them back. It can’t get much worse than 0-6, no doubt, and, at the very least, Vince Young has been a winner throughout his football career. Will it be enough to win by more than 3 points against the Jaguars? I think so. I think the extra week off helps the Titans, gets them off the snide, and back in the winner’s column.
Oakland Raiders (+17.5) @ San Diego Chargers Prediction: The Chargers aren’t a great football team. They aren’t in the Patriots, Giants, Colts, Saints, Vikings, type group. That pretty much makes them a bad-value-bet as a double digit favorite. When that double digit favorite moves over 3 scores (a couple touchdowns and a field goal) they move even farther away from value and into a whole new category of auto-fade. Can the Chargers beat the Raiders by 3 touchdowns? You bet. It’s just not a great bet to happen. Oakland is bad, no doubt, but they aren’t the Rams. Defensively they have the talent to make some big plays, rush the passer, force the Chargers into some mistakes. San Diego doesn’t have a run-stuffing defensive front, so if Oakland can run the ball even a little bit (which I believe they can) they have a pretty good shot at keeping this one close. It’s never one of the safest bets in the world to take the Raiders, they’ve lost four games by 20 points or more so far this season. But they’ve also won twice, and kept their opening night game close against San Diego, despite terrible offensive play from their side. Defensively, they should keep this closer than 17. Any team (+17.5) against San Diego has solid value.
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals (-10)Football Pick: Many sharp bettors see this game as great value for the Panthers. They have a rushing attack that should be able to get some yards against an Arizona front 7 that has basically eliminated rushing attacks all season long (ranking #1 in stopping the run) and Arizona is coming off a huge win, almost surely ready for down game. And this line, in my opinion, is too close to wager too much, but I like the Cardinals despite the inflated spread. Definitely, this one can’t be considered a value bet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t expect the Cardinals to cover. What I see from Carolina is a team that should be 0-fer the season. They are only so lucky to have Tampa Bay and Washington in back to back games a couple weeks ago. Anybody that watched either of those games knows that the Bucs and Skins will beat themselves if you just give them time. Carolina tried, but they couldn’t lose those two games. Arizona isn’t going to beat themselves, which could cause trouble for the Panthers’ chances in this one. Arizona has found a bit of a rushing attack with Beanie Wells, and they always have Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and a young fella named Kurt Warner to distribute the ball. The Cardinals are a good team, last season wasn’t a fluke. The Panthers are a turnover waiting for Jake Delhomme to happen, and the Cardinals definitely have enough playmakers to take advantage of that. Great value? No sir, but if I have to pick a side, my money would be on Arizona.
Texans Longhorns (-8.5) @ Oklahoma State Cowboys Free Pick: I like the Cowboys, like their confidence and numbers, I just don’t think it’s real. Not against good teams anyway. The Cowboys are 6-1 but they’ve had to fight a very easy schedule for wins, Baylor, Texas A&M, Rice, and Grambling don’t strike fear into my heart, and you should consider that when you’re looking at those 6 wins. 6 wins, sure, looks nice, but against who? The Cowboys’ best win? I’d say a marginal Missouri team. Texas, on the other hand, they haven’t looked like a Top team in the nation this year either, but they have won, and they’ve had to go through Oklahoma, Texas Tech, at Missouri, and a pretty decent Colorado team. They are the better team here, no doubt in my mind, and with Dez Bryant suspended for the season, and more importantly this game, that game breaking presence isn’t going to help bail the Cowboys out. This game could be over quick, or it could take a little while, either way there will be a time when Oklahoma has their spirits broken, and that’s a good sign for a Texas cover. The Longhorns are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games. Texas is 10-0 in their last 10 games against Oklahoma State, they are 7-3 ATS in those games, 4-1 ATS on the road. The last two games have been decided by 7 total points.
Dallas Mavericks (+8.5) @ L.A. Lakers: This game can be seen on ESPN at 10:30pm ET, and it should be a good one. The Lakers are definitely getting a lot of love here, especially considering that they aren’t at full strength, and the Mavericks are much improved. When you add on the fact that L.A. struggled with the Clippers for much of their opening game, I just like the Mavericks and those 8.5 points to cover here. It’s a big game for Dallas when it comes to proving they’re back, and for L.A. it’s just another game in a long line of “should win” contests on way to their next title. Give me the underdog on this one. Underdog Friday!
Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns (OVER 231) Total Pick: That’s a huge over, but neither of these teams even consider playing defense. This game has finished over 230 points in 8 of the last 10 meetings, and the two that were under 230 just happened to be with Shaq on the court. This will be a track meet, one I would love to see so I can get brought back to those old ABA games – the over should be had with 5 minutes left in the game.
Milwaukee Bucks (+7) @ Philadelphia 76ers Free NBA Pick: I’ve had a rough go to start the NBA season, but I think that will turn around soon. I like the Milwaukee Bucks here, something I probably won’t write all that often as the NBA season goes forward. I just don’t think the 76ers are completely sure of what they are doing, and that’s enough for me to go against them, especially when they are a favorite. Brandon Jennings is a very good young PG, and despite what people have been saying about the Bucks, they have some young players that can put the ball in the basket. Hakim Warrick and Andrew Bogut can both score on the post, and Jennings can really attack the basket. The Bucks move fast, and there chances of covering against a 76ers team that looks confused at best is pretty good. I’ll take the dogs here, looking to get my Week 1 record back up to par.
St. Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions (-3.5) Free NFL Pick: This game should be switched into the Monday Night slot, why you ask? because we deserve to see it, that’s why! St. Louis and Detroit, two of the more mortal teams in the league, and everyone could be on the edge of their seats hoping for a 0-0 tie. My question is this, if no team every scores, can it really be considered a tie, or can we just go ahead and call it two losses? But lets not talk about losses, because everybody wins in a game like this. It’s a shame the Lions already got of the snide this season, or this could be really special. Okay, all jokes aside, I think the Lions are a much better team that the Rams, but that could just be me getting in the way of my eyes. I’ve said for quite some time, since Week 6 last year maybe, that the Rams were the worst team in football. Don’t look now, but I think I’m right. The Lions are favored by more than a field goal, something I never thought would happen this season, and their best player (Calvin Johnson) is once again probably out for the game. But hey, this Lions team is better defensively, they have an offensive line that cares a little bit, and I think they string together their 2nd win of the season, keeping the hapless Rams, well, hapless – and winless too! You can bet that Detroit doesn’t want to be a team’s first win this late in the season, think of how great it would be for the Lions if somebody else went 0-16. If they win here, that chance remains. Go Lions, boo Rams!
West Virginia Mountaineers (-3)@South Florida Bulls Free Pick: The South Florida Bulls have hit their common lull. Per usual, the Bulls started the season on fire, winning their first 5 games, only to drop the last two and come right back down to earth. The only difference this time is that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the two straight losses for the Bulls, are very good teams this season. SF is still 5-2, and 3-3 ATS. They look to turn things around and beat the Mountaineers, something they’ve done 2 of the last 3 seasons.
They Mountaineers are coming off yet another win, a 28-24 home win against Connecticut. West Virginia is 6-1 so far this season, but just 2-4 ATS, so they haven’t beaten up on the teams they were expected to. Their single loss came on the road to Auburn. The Mounties still use their vaunted rushing attack, handing the ball to lightning quick running backs, but the question is will South Florida’s elite defensive speed match that speed rushing attack? The Mountaineers have out-rushed every opponent so far this season.
I’m taking the Mountaineers because I think their rushing attack is good enough to keep the ball in their hands. The Bulls have been out-rushed and beaten in each of the last two games, and I think that trend continues against WVU. I think the Mountaineers play better on a short week.