It’s been made clear to me by some of my readers that it’d be helpful if I gave up some of my Top Bets of the week. I like giving my thoughts on each game, and I’ll keep doing that, but if I like my chances a little more on certain games, I’m going to put a (*) in my write up. Hope that helps. A week after finishing in the green with an 8-5 record, I’m coming right back at my goal to get another perfect week. Follow along as we’re back to 14 games this week. Just one more for me to win.Arizona (+4) at Green Bay – (*) I know Green Bay has won a couple lately, and Arizona is down in the dumps, fired their offensive coordinator, has a rookie at QB, and might not have Larry Fitz for the 3rd straight week, but I’ll take the Cardinals to win in Green Bay. Like Isaiah Thomas once said, “It’s crazy enough, it just might work.” Okay, so I have better reasoning than that, but if I’m ever getting paid millions of dollars to sign overpriced babies, I might think along the same lines as Ike. The Packers haven’t given up less than 23 points all season long, while even with all the turnovers from their offense, Arizona has been pretty stingy on defense. Chicago didn’t have an offensive touchdown. This will be Edge’s best game of the season. 100+ yards? You heard it here. With a new offensive look from Dennis Green, I expect a better plan on O. It looks weird now, but the Cards are a safe bet here.
Atlanta at Cincinnati (-4) – The Falcons have looked pretty good offensively, but as Mike Vick has shown, he’s anything but consistent. Hell, 4 touchdowns last week makes him a numerical lock for none this week. No, but honestly, Marvin Lewis will have a nice plan to detain the Mighty Falcon, and Chad Johnson and company will have a nice outing against a lack luster pass defense from Atlanta. By the way, it’s nice to see Chad back running his mouth in Cinci!
Baltimore (+2.5) at New Orleans – (*) As much as it’d be great to see New Orleans finish the season undefeated at home, I think that dream will end this week against the Ravens. New O has a nice shot at hitting the playoffs, but their defensive difficiencies will catch up with them sooner or later. The Ravens don’t have much punch on offense, and I don’t trust Brian Billick to do much better than Jim Fassell, but I have a feeling Baltimore will get their running game together against the Saints. If and when that happens, Baltimore could trot or with a win rather easily.
Houston (+3) at Tennessee – (*) The Texans are getting better, and they are better than their record. Coach Kubiak is a very smart man, and a great running teacher. With David Carr starting to find his timing and accuracy, I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more of the Texans who beat the Jaguars last week, and a lot less of the Texans that got the number one pick last season. I like the Titans young club, but I don’t know how much a bye week is going to help them. If anything, it cut their streak short of 2 straight solid football games.
Jacksonville (+8) at Philadelphia – The Jaguars are a very good football team, still on their way to the playoffs. 7 points is too many. Philly hasn’t held down a score all season, sans the 49ers, and even in that game I was frightened for my spread. Jacksonville had a head gasket blow last week against the Texans, and their the type of team that comes back stronger after a loss like that. I think the Eagles will pull this out by a point or 3, but that’s why I have to roll with the Jags and that touchdown on their side.
Seattle (+7) at Kansas City – (*) It’s nice to see everyone giving up on Seattle now that Matt is out with a bum knee. Look for Seneca Wallace to impress the football world with a solid performance against the Chiefs. I don’t think the Hawks will pack it in like everyone else is trying to say. Maurice Morris needs to play better, and he will. Wallace will use his feet a little more this week, and with a week of taking all the reps under his belt, he’ll run the team more efficiently. Wallace is talented, but even more importantly, so are the Seahawks. Don’t forget that.
San Francisco (+17) at Chicago -The 49ers will give the Bears a run in this one. I think Chicago is much better than they showed two weeks ago in Arizona, but not nearly as good as they were against Seattle. You know, the game before everyone and their mother wanted to call them the best team in football. The 49ers get two starters on their offensive line back this week. They’ll pound Frank Gore all day, or until he fumbles. Don’t expect him to lose the rock. I’m not supporting a 49er upset, but 17 points is a lot, too much to handicap the Bears.
Tampa Bay (+10.5) at N.Y. Giants – I like the Buc’s defense. I’ve liked them for a few years, and I like them this season. The Giants beat the Cowboys, so what, Dallas hasn’t looked good. Tampa struggled early, but they’re starting to pull it together. Their rushing attack is solid with Caddy, and their rookie QB makes just enough plays to give them a chance to win. That means they’ll be closer than 10. That half point makes me feel that much better. Expect a let down from New York after a big win last Monday Night.
St. Louis (+10) at San Diego – The Chargers showed last week that they can be passed on. Last year was the same thing. Against the run, San Diego is as good as it gets, but through the air, they are susceptible to a solid passing attack. Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Steven Jackson… Anything starting to click? Yes, the Rams have All Pro talent in the passing game. The Chargers are the better team, but St. Louis is a tough match-up for the Chargers. 10 points is too many. The Rams 5-1 ATS record makes me feel all cushy inside as well.
Indianapolis (+3) at Denver – The Colts as an underdog. Yep, in almost every regular season situation I’ll take them Indy boys. But this should be one hell of a test for the run-struggling Colts. They’re missing Edge nearly as much as James misses them. Rhodes averaged 2 yards a carry last week, allowing me to ponder Addai’s growing roll in the Colts offense. I think this will be his week. Against a defense that is sure to donate more time to stopping Peyton, Wayne, and Harrison, Joseph will get his shot to take advantage. Nothing has been said about the Broncos’ ailing defensive line. After this game, that topic will be more talked about.
N.Y. Jets (+2) at Cleveland – Offensive coordinator issues, like the Browns OC quit after last weeks terrible performance against the Broncos, have me steering clear from taking the Browns. The Jets aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be, and the Browns just haven’t been able to put it together. I like what the Browns are going to be, but New York should take this game in Cleveland.
Pittsburgh (-9) at Oakland – I just can’t take the Raiders. They got their win, they still wreak of a solo win season, and unlike the other three teams that needed to fire their Offensive mind, the Raiders are sticking with their guy. The story on the street is, Ben might not play. Charlie Batch has played well enough to oust the Raiders by a touchdown and a field goal. Walter and the Black and Silver will get sacked and smashed all game long. Oh, and mark my words, Ben will play if he’s even close to full speed.
Dallas at Carolina (-4.5) – If Dallas doesn’t know what to do with Plaxico Burress, I can’t even imagine how dumbfounding practice is going to be all week as they prepare for Steve Smith to come in and single handily beat them in Carolina. The Panthers haven’t really impressed me all year, but I’m sticking to my guns with them. Defensively, they are very, very good. Offensively, they haven’t clicked yet. Expect that to happen at home this week in Dallas. Another loss in Big D would make things a lot more fun anyway.
New England at Minnesota (+3) – (*) Minnesota just flat out covers spreads. 5-1 ATS this season, and I know they had a nice record last year as well. The Vikings are tough, way tougher than a 3 point underdog at home to an overrated Patriot team, I’ll tell you that. It wouldn’t surprise me if Minnesota came out and shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots, while rushing to run the clock. This one will be close, but Minnesota should win this game.