Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Football Pick

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Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-14): Taking the Steelers as a double digit favorite is always scary, and especially this season considering they haven’t beaten anybody by that kind of margin, even allowing a late touchdown last week to the Lions to win by just 8 – and yes, I’m still a little bitter about that. But this match-up begs me to take the Steel City, and I won’t fight it. If you’ve read my picks, you know I love picking against a team that won last week and probably should have lost. When your quarterback goes 2-17 you should lose. When it’s against a defensive secondary that had 3 of 4 starters out with injury, you should really lose. When the most your entire team can score is two field goals, in a game where you were handed two turnovers deep in the opponents zone – you should definitely lose. But the Browns defied reality, beat logic, and tricked reason – and they got the win last week. The Steelers can run the ball, haven been doing it effectively since Rashard Mendenhall took over starting duties, and they can throw the ball very effectively as well. The Browns offense is brutal and their defense is rated at the bottom of the league in both passing and rushing. What can I say, this is the safest survivor pick this week, two touchdowns is a lot, but I’m taking the Steelers.

Five for Friday

I missed a couple this week, but I can only blame Comcast – those bastards!!! Here’s some help for those in need. 

For those Dynasty Gurus – watch these guys this weekend- they are all special and should find places in your early rookie draft next season. 

LeSean McCoy – Underrated and a definite NFL runner. Great power and slide and speed. He has the vision to be good from the get go. 

Beanie Wells – This one is obvious, but I expect just about 200 yards against the Illini. He’s going to be a good one and runs with some toughness you don’t normally see. 

Darrius Heyward-Bey – Special player. He might not get all the pub that Maclin and Crabtree and Dez get down there in the Big 12, and his numbers won’t match up, but this kid is a beast and fast enough to make all the plays. Get him late on draft day and reap the benefits. 

Glen Coffee – I imagine Coffee comes out, and he should. He had a huge game last week against LSU and should continue to prove himself. He’s a fast kid and has a great frame to add some size. He is just 21 and could be a very good one with his slashing style. 

Now for some guys I expect to have huge Sundays…

Brandon Marshall – he hasn’t done all that much lately – that should just get him ready for a humongous day this Sunday against Atlanta. 

Tyler Thigpen – New Orleans will score points, but I like KC to possibly pull the upset here – that means Tyler will have to be on his best behavior. 

Ronnie Brown – It seems like Ricky has been getting more looks than Ronnie lately, but Brown is the better runner and I think he has 100+ yards against the terrible Raiders this weekend. He might even throw one, hasn’t had a TD pass in a while. 

Matt Forte – he’ll do it all for the Bears against the Pack this weekend. 

Frank Gore – should be HUGE against the Rams – he’s too good to not bust out in this game against a terrible defensive front. 

Chris Johnson – after a very tough week against Chicago, this super rookie will dominate the Jags front line – I’m willing to suggest he has one of his best days as a Titan. 

Upsets of the Week… 

Cleveland will take down Buffalo I reckon, and I’m looking at the Chiefs to grab a big one at home against the overrated Saints.

NFL Free Picks: Week 11

9 in 9, 10 in 10, does that make 11 in Week 11 a lock? Hardly. However, I’m on to something here and we’ll see if I can’t make it work three weeks in a row. Here goes something big…

New York Jets (+3.5) @ New England Patriots: New England has lost just once to the Jets since 2004 – that’s 9 wins and 1 loss. New England has taken the last four contests, and the games haven’t been closer than 9 points. That being said, I don’t think the Patriots have been this decimated by injuries since, well, forever. The Jets come in 2-2 on the road, a beatdown at the hands of San Diego and a pathetic loss to the Raiders, but a couple solid wins over Miami and Buffalo. They are winners of 3 straight, and they seem to have their running attack going pretty good lately. I don’t think the Patriots will be able to run against Kris Jenkins and his marry men. I also know that the Patriots can’t gang up to stop just one part of the Jets offense, as the run and the pass are both options for Brett and the Jets. This is a tough one for me, that’s right folks, I’m not beaming with confidence on my side here, but I’ll take the healthy road team in this one. That extra half a point will make me a winner in case of a field goal loss, and that’s enough for me in this even battle. I also like the thought of New York splitting this series. I don’t think this game will have many fireworks, so don’t expect a repeat of the Browns/Broncos from last Thursday night. Both of these teams play defense.

Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons (-5.5): Once again, if the Falcons can run, they’ve shown they can win. They have just three losses on the season, and those games were against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Carolina – three very good run defenses. The Broncos can’t bring pressure, they definitely can’t stop the run, and the can’t run the ball either. Don’t sleep on the Falcons just because they are the Falcons – this is one of the better stories in football, and a Mike Smith team will always take advantage of turnovers. The Broncos are bound to give the ball away a few times. Also – the Falcons are undefeated at home – lots working in their favor here.

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins (-10): Like the Falcons and the Panthers, the Dolphins have shown that if they can run on you, they will beat you. But by 10? 11? 12? That makes it a little tougher – so while I’m surely on the Dolphins to oust the Raiders for a surefire Survivor pool pick here, I need more reasons to bet on them as a big favorite. I know that the Raiders are 1-3 as an underdog of 9 points or more. Their losses come to San Diego (lost by 10 in a 9 point spread, but it was a late LT touchdown that did it, a TD that was unneeded really), Baltimore (beat 29-10, easily), and Carolina last week in a game they had covered until a late field goal put the Panthers up 11. So, overall, they’ve actually played well as a big dog this year. The Dolphins have been a favorite in 3 games, they are 2-1 but 1-2 ATS. Last week they barely beat the Seahawks, they lost to Baltimore 4 weeks ago, and they beat Buffalo at home as a 1 point favorite 3 weeks ago. The Dolphins do play well against bad rushing defenses, though, upsetting the broncos by 9 in Denver and taking down the Chargers by a touchdown in Miami. Still, the Fins have won by 10 or more just once all season long, and while the Raiders are indeed bad, they have played better defense lately and haven’t played that bad on the road this season. I also don’t think the Dolphins should be a double digit point favorite against anyone in the league, besides maybe the Rams. I hate taking the Raiders, they have so many things going wrong that they are never a safe bet. After nearly losing last week, I think the Dolphins come out with a sense of urgency, and having the Raiders fly across the country to play them in the morning doesn’t hurt either – Oakland hasn’t been so hot crossing the midwest and they’ve lost 6 of their 9 games by 10 or more points. Take Miami. One more thing, Al Davis just took play calling away from the offensive coordinator – what a joke – who is he giving it to then? Wow.

Houston Texans (+10) @ Indianapolis Colts: When Houston can run, they’ll be alright. Sure, the Colts came back late in the game against the Steelers, and beat a very good PIttsburgh team on the road – they also got a couple gimmies and managed a 3 point win at home against the Patriots two weeks ago. That’s two wins in a row – and now everyone and their ESPN analyst wants to announce that the Colts are back. Please. They still look sloppy and not as confident as they’ve been. That worries me against a Texans team coming off a really bad game, a Texans team that is pretty decent and in big trouble. What does that mean? That means they’ll fight. The Texans do alright against teams that don’t stop the run really well. They barely lost to Jacksonville, they barely lost to Indy (by 3 and 4 points respectively), and their 4 other losses come against very good defensive fronts. The Colts will need to play very well to cover a 10 point spread against the Texans, and I don’t see that happening. They’ve played 2 good games all season long, last week against PIttsburgh and 5 weeks ago against Baltimore. 2 good games. That’s it. I’ll take the Texans and 10, thank you very much.

Chicago Bears (+5) @ Green Bay Packers: The Bears have won three straight games in Green Bay, and have taken 5 of the last 6 against the Packers. Interesting. All of those games were against Brett Favre and the Packers, though. Aaron Rodgers will be happy to get out of that Dome – not only was the pass rush from Minnesota causing him to run for his life, but it looked like the lights in that Dome were playing evil tricks on his perception as well. Green Bay has lost 5 of their last 7 games, including two home losses (24-27 to Atlanta; and 16-27 to the Cowboys). However, Green Bay has played well enough to win in all four of their most recent games, losing their last two contests by a total of 4 points. If they would have pulled their offensive coordinator’s head out of his own ace, they probably would have beaten the Vikings last week. However, they seemed happy with a 50+ yard field goal to win it. How happy are they now? Taking all things into account, I have to go with the Bears, despite the fact that I really liked the Packers coming into the season. Chicago may have 4 losses, but all 4 came to good teams, and 3 of those losses were by a field goal or less (Atlanta by 2, Tampa by 3, and Carolina by 3). Their only “big loss” came last week to Tennessee by 7, and it was closer than that. I see Chicago taking full advantage of the Packers weak run defense, and while I hope Green Bay gets to 5-5, I like the Bears and 5 points.

New Orleans Saints @ Kansas City Chiefs (+5.5): This is an interesting one, because there are some conflicting numbers – but I’ll get to the bottom of it. Here goes what I see: The Chiefs have played good football lately. Say what you will about this 1-8 team, they’ve taking the Jets, Bucs, and Chargers to the limit over the past three weeks, and all of it has been done without the guy everyone said was their best player to start the year. They did get killed by Carolina and Tennessee just before that, but these New Orleans Saints are a lot less like the Titans and Panthers, and a lot more like the Denver Broncos. They aren’t that bad defensively, but they are a team that can’t really run the rock, depend solely on Drew Brees’ arm, and have a secondary that has the stamina and staying power of the first guy you fight on Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. That said, whenever they’ve been dogs of 9 points or less, they’ve gotten hammered. Basically, they haven’t thrived when given a shot in hell to win the game. Then you have New Orleans, a team that has absolutely taken advantage of the leagues “not so elite” teams. They beat Oakland 34-3 and smoked San Francisco in a game they ended up winning by 14. I think KC would fit into that group of the “not so elite”. But Tyler Thigpen has been so good, the Saints have been bad, even worse on the road, and despite all the injuries and the losing, Herman Edwards has the Chiefs playing as good a football as they’ve played this year. They also have played pretty well against Pass-heavy teams this year. Ah, forget it, I’ll take the Chiefs in this one +5.5, but I bet if YOU wait long enough you can get 6.

Baltimore Ravens (+7.5) @ New York Giants: I’m all for taking the Giants, I’ve done my fair share of it and reaped the benefits this season. However, I see this game being within a touchdown, so I have to take the Ravens with that nice 7.5 line I got. Despite winning against Pittsburgh earlier in the season, the Giants didn’t play very well against that stellar defense. I think that the Ravens will be the second team to shut down the Giants rushing attack, and while Baltimore will have their fair share of trouble trying to score against New York, their running game will give them enough balance and short yardage conversions to keep this game close. Baltimore has played 1 bad game so far this year, a 31-3 drubbing at the hands of the Colts. Their other two losses were to Pittsburgh by an overtime field goal, and the Titans by a regulation field goal. Those last two teams are on the same level as the Giants, this game should be close as well.

Detroit Lions (+15) @ Carolina Panthers: An interesting match-up here. The Panthers have dominated as a big favorite this season, (which is rare for them), covering spreads of 10 (Oakland), 9.5 (Kansas City), and 7 (Atlanta). However, look at these tricky Lions for a second and you’ll see that in every game that they’ve been dogged by double digits, they’ve covered easily. What else? Everyone of those “big dog” ATS wins have come on the road. At Chicago they almost pulled one off and ended up losing by 4 (they were 12.5 point dogs), at Houston they were 11 point dogs and lost by a touchdown, and in Minnesota they were 13 point dogs and they lost by 2 and only because of a phantom pass interference penalty. I’ve said all year long that if the Panthers can run they they are one of the best teams in football. Conflicting stats? You bet. But I’m going to forget stats this week and just take the team that is winless thus far against a team that historically struggles at home as a big favorite. Plus, the Lions are getting 15 freaking points here – that’s a good thing if you’re betting the dog. Go Daunte, go!!!

Minnesota Vikings @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3): Boy, the Vikings sure are tempting fate this year. four of their five wins have come by a touchdown or less and they’ve only lost one game by more than a touchdown (against Tennessee, weird). But away from Minnesota, the Vikes are just 1-3. Playing in Tampa Bay where the Bucs are 4-0, I have to say I like the home team. Tampa Bay’s defense may not be big, but they are playing very well against the run,  and have beaten every run-heavy team they’ve faced. (They did lose to Dallas without Tony Romo, but that game was so flukey and weird, I don’t know what to call it). Both teams are coming off of wins in which they didn’t play very well, but Tampa is coming off a bye. Minnesota should have lost to Green Bay last week, and you all know how I feel about teams that should have lost but won – bet against them in a hurry. I’m taking the Bucs.

Philadelphia Eagles (-9) @ Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have lost 8 games this year (1 win), and in 7 of those 8 losses, they’ve been outscored by a touchdown or more. The Eagles are really good, good enough to be a 3 point favorite against the Giants last week and play pretty well down the stretch. They’ve lost 4 games this year, all to pretty good teams. Washington, Chicago, Dallas, and last week New York (Giants). The Eagles have been favored by a touchdown or more 3 times, they are 3-0 in those games. The Eagles dominate teams that don’t have good run defenses – like, fore arguments sake, the Bengals. This is a HUGE spread for a 5-4 road team to cover, but I like my chances with Philly this week. What’s a bye week going to do for the Bengals besides make them realize how pathetic they really are? No longer winless, I don’t think they have a chance to do anything worthwhile against the Eagles.

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers (-5.5): The Rams beat the Redskins and then the Cowboys (or the shell of the Cowboys without Tony Romo). That’s it. Over the last two games they’ve been absolutely embarrassed by the Cardinals and then the Jets. The 49ers also have 2 wins, but I like the way they played on Monday Night. Despite all the penalties and the turnovers, they fought until the last second and finished 2 yards shy of a huge upset. The Rams don’t pass well, and thus they won’t be able to take advantage of the Niners shaky secondary. I actually like San Francisco’s run defense enough to take them in a game where they are as big a favorite as they’ve been all season long. Go Samari Mike!

Arizona Cardinals (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck is back this week, or so the fortune teller says. Regardless, my magical bald brother Matt or not, I don’t think the Hawks match up well against the Cardinals. Arizona is coming off a game that should have snapped them back to reality, and they have a passing attack that should pay dividends, even against a solid Hawks secondary. Too much size for the little Hawk corners. The Cardinals have been favored in 5 games this season – they are undefeated in those contests. That’s just a stat, and honestly, it means nothing to me except it helps me argue my point. Which is this – to start the season I didn’t expect the Seahawks to win the West- I thought there was a Cardinal team that was better than them. That was when the Hawks were relatively healthy. Right now, they are still beat up, and while they have some players coming back, they still aren’t as good as the Cards. The Cardinals may be 2-3 on the road, but they’ve played well away from home. They lost to Carolina by just 4 points, and while they took 6 touchdowns from Brett Favre right on the chin, they played within a touchdown of a tough Redskin team in Washington. I know Seattle is historically solid at home in that rainy and unbelievably loud stadium, but throw history out the door and while you’re at it, look at how much better the Cards are than the Hawks. They’ll stuff the Hawks rushing attack and make plays against a stagnant Hawks offense. I’ll take the Cards – even with 70% of the public following me here.

Tennessee Titans (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: I would love to take the Jaguars here. The Titans can’t win them all, and despite the Titans defensive presence, they can be run on. But, that doesn’t mean the Jaguars can run on them. Jacksonville is still missing offensive linemen, and 4 wins against bad rushing defenses doesn’t a win against the Titans make… errr.. something like that. Basically, here it is. The Titans have struggled a little bit against legit passing attacks, Indy, Green Bay – they won, but they struggled. They also struggled against a couple very good run defenses in Chicago and Baltimore. THey won, but they struggled. The Jaguars happen to be nothing that the Titans struggle with. Jacksonville has a reputation of being a good run defense, but that’s just not true this season. Look for Tennessee to keep on winning this week in Jacksonville – that’s the only bet that makes sense.

San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-4): I wrote a nice write-up about why I was taking the Chargers, and then I did a little bit more research and realized that San Diego’s defense isn’t good enough to upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers lost last week to Indy, but they played awesome defensively. They should be too much for the Chargers offense, especially against the run. I like Pittsburgh here. I’m trying real hard not to think too far into this one.

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (+2): The Redskins haven’t played well over their last 4 games. They are 2-2, but their wins come against Cleveland by 3 and Detroit by 8. They lost to St. Louis and then to PIttsburgh two weeks ago. They looked lost against the Steelers defense. Tony Romo comes back this week, and you can bet the Cowboys are ready to make a playoff push after struggling without their signal caller. I even like the Cowboys talent level. But I can’t even think about taking the Cowboys as a favorite in Washington. The Redskins have done enough to show me that they can pick apart a bad secondary, and there has to be some rust on Tony’s Cowboy machine. Look for the Redskins to come back with a huge win that should cripple the Boys in Week 11.

Cleveland Browns (+5.5) @ Buffalo Bills: I like the Browns in this one. I think the Bills will have a hard time rushing against the Browns front line, and I think Brady Quinn gives the Browns enough accuracy to stay on the field that much longer. He didn’t look as great as everyone likes to say he did, last week against a bad Broncos defense, but he is accurate enough – and that’s huge for the Browns. This should be a close one, like most Brown and Bill games, so those 5.5 points should come in handy on Monday Night.

Three for Thursday

Okay, in just a second I have three teams (with player sets) that you might want to trade off or stay away from because of their tough schedules moving forward. But first, here this… 

I forgot the Broncos yesterday – they have one decent secondary for the rest of the season (Carolina in Week 16) – aside from the Panthers, Denver plays Cleveland, Atlanta, Oakland, the Jets, Kansas City, Buffalo, and San Diego. Not that Brandon Marshall wasn’t a great option before, but how does he look now? With Tony Scheffler coming back and Eddie Royal completely healthy, and a possible starting option at running back (Ryan Torrain) coming into the mix, I think the Broncos passing attack looks scary as ever. Scheffler and Torrain might be on waivers right now, if that’s the case, rock out and pick them up. 

Okay, now for some tough schedules you may want to avoid…

Cincinnati Bengals: As if the situation in Cinci could get any worse, they have a brutal schedule moving forward. Talk about tough, after this week against Jacksonville, the Bengals have a bye. Then it’s a place where two star receivers go to die – that’s right, they play the Eagles, Steelers, Ravens, and Colts – all top ranked pass defenses. Redskins, Browns, and Chiefs, to finish the season, but it gets a heck of a lot worse before it gets better. If there’s any value out there for Housh, Chad Johnson, or (well that’s it I guess) – I would make good and see them off. 

The Browns are in the same division as the Bengals, and it looks like their schedule has some big time tough ones as well. Lucky for you guys, the Browns also play the Broncos, Texans, Colts (Jamal Lewis owners anyway), and Bengals. Who else do they play? Well it starts this weekend against the Ravens, and the Bills, and the Titans, and the Eagles, and they end the season with the Steelers. This years’ Saints could end up looking a lot like last years’ Saints, without all those late season offensive numbers – yeah, uh oh. 

The 49ers also have a little bit of an interesting go. Aside from the Rams twice, San Francisco doesn’t have another great match-up for Frank Gore owners. The Cardinals, Cowboys, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, and Redskins are all solid if not very good run defenses. I know Frank Gore can do good work against anyone (except the Giants – 11 rushes for 11 yards, also 3 grabs for 50) – but his first half was riddled with Seahawks (twice), Lions, Saints, Patriots – he’s got some tough ones down the stretch. Still, I’d keep him unless you get good value for him, which you probably can considering the goods he’s put up so far this season.

NFL Free Picks: Week 6

I had a solid week in Week 5, pulling 3 more games up on the season while going 8-5-1. This week I’m looking for another winning week to keep my game going. Here’s what I like and the other ones I have to pick. The road teams seem to be getting most of my attention this week, while dogs and favorites are split right down the middle. Enjoy the show.

Baltimore Ravens (+6) @ Indianapolis Colts: I can’t see value in the Colts right now. I don’t love Baltimore and I think Peyton has played well against them in the past, but right now I think a tough Ravens running game will give an inconsistent Colts team trouble, even if the Ravens can’t pass real well with Flacco running the show. I expect Addai to get close to nothing and Willis McGahee to have his best game of the year. Picking against the Colts always makes me worry a bit, but this seems like pretty solid value.

Cincinnati Bengals (+6) @ New York Jets: I hate taking the Bengals, really, I do. I just think they are better than their 0-5 record and it has to turn around somewhere. I’m not dying in love with this game, but +6 for a Bengals team that’s played a lot of close games recently, I like that more than taking a Jets team that hadn’t really impressed me before two weeks ago against Arizona.

Carolina Panthers (+2.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I’ve always liked the Panthers as a dog, and even though I buy Tampa Bay as an underrated team, and probably see some value with them at home in this one, my gut is telling me to go with the Panthers – so, screw a bunch of value, I’m going Carolina Blue on this one.

Chicago Bears (-2.5) @ Atlanta Falcons: Am I living on the edge here? Picking against the Falcons once again? I know they’ve been killing me a few times this year, but I think Forte is too much of a force for the Falcons defensive front and I like what Orton has been doing through the air. I think Atlanta is much improved, but the Bears are back (at least better than they were). I’m still not ready to fully buy in to the Bears rolling to the playoffs, but week after week they move up in my book.

Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints (-7): I think the Raiders with Lane Kiffin is a great value here – but Lane was fired because Al Davis was beginning to look like an idiot -fair enough. Until the Raiders prove otherwise, I’m definitely not picking them. I actually felt comfortable taking Oakland in this situation, because I’ve never thought much of the Saints, but at just a touchdown this one is a home team special for me.

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings (-13): Similar to Washington State sports, you can’t see much love for Detroit or St. Louis in the NFL right now. The Vikings are a decent team, they should have lost on Monday Night, but they are a decent team. They will run more and be more effective doing it against the Lions, and of course they can always throw if the need to. Detroit won’t be able to run, and their whole plan to do a scaled down offense with the hurry up seems like a backfire waiting to happen. Gimics don’t get you wins in the NFL, take the Vikings or don’t bet this game at all.

Miami Dolphins (+3.5) @ Houston Texas: The 3.5 (the .5 part) gives me some value on the Dolphins. They do a good job of following their game plan, play discipline football, and make few mistakes offensively. I think the Texans are a much better team than 0-4 indicates, though, so if I had the choice I wouldn’t play this game. Houston has a solid offense and a defense with lots of talent, I think they will only get better as the seasons moves forward. I just like the fact that if Miami loses by a field goal I still win.

St. Louis Rams @ Washington Redskins (-13.5): All those points, what shall we do with them? Juggle them, shoot them in a hoop, I don’t care, I’d just stay away from any kind of “value bet” involving the St. Louis Rams. At -13.5 they might have some value, if they weren’t the Rams. If Detroit wasn’t around, the Rams would the be the sure thing worst team in football. Cincinnati and Cleveland would wallop the Rams. I like what the Redskins are doing, and honestly, they don’t have a weakness right now. They are getting healthier on defense and even with two touchdowns needed to cover, I think this is a solid bet.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) @ Denver Broncos: This is another tough call for me. I like the Jaguars to run all over the Broncos, but I also like Denver to throw the ball all over the Jaguars secondary. It’s like these two teams are made to put up loads of points on each other. At 48, I’d be taking the over instead of playing either side of this game. I guess, like the Miami game, I see a little bit more value in +3.5, because if Denver comes down and kicks a field goal to win it I still win with the Jags. If Cutler and his receivers don’t hit on all cylinders then that also gives the value nod to Jacksonville. Even with a mediocre offensive line, the Jags should be all ball control in this one. Tough call, but my lean is on Jacksonville at +3.5.

Philadelphia Eagles (-4) @ San Francisco 49ers: I like the Eagles in this one, in fact I love them. Philly has played like poo-poo over the last two weeks, and the week before that they weren’t brilliant either. That usually means good things for Eagles’ backers, as Philly is a one team slump buster. I think they do a lot right this weekend, even without Westbrook (if he indeed doesn’t play). Buckhalter is a nice running back, and without Westy they’ll just have to plan to get the ball to receiver’s hands more. The Eagles going to 2-4 with a loss to the 49ers, I don’t see it.

Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) @ Arizona Cardinals: I like Dallas to dismantle the Cardinals, or at least win by a touchdown. I think the Boys bring a lot of speed at the quarterback, and while Warner has been pretty good (despite one turnover happy game) he has always been prone to the mistake, and Dallas has the athletes and offense to really make him pay. Arizona has a chance because of their run defense, but I like Barber to have a solid game against the Cardinals – that should cut out any hopes the Cards have at an upset here. Jason Witten and Terrell Owens should be enough to keep the Cardinals’ secondary occupied, meaning that extra help the front 7 usually gets won’t be there for much of the game. Cowboys are the play here.

Green Bay Packers (+2.5) @ Seattle Seahawks: Stay away from Washington sports. Seattle’s bound to have another receiver injury this week, and if that happens they’ll have to dress up Charlie Frye in an 80 number and see if he can’t pass for Steve Largent. Green Bay had a little bit too much hype after the first couple weeks, and now look where they are. Still, I don’t see them coming into Seattle and not running the ball right down the Seahawks throats. Ryan Grant should have his first big fantasy day of the year, and that will lead the Packers to a victory over their former coach.

New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers (-5.5): Lets see, the Patriots don’t run the ball real well right now and their passing game doesn’t flourish either. They capitalized on a lot of 49er mistakes in Week 5, but I doubt the Chargers will be so kind on Sunday Night. I’m willing to bet that LaDainian Tomlinson actually has a decent day on the ground, and Phillip Rivers continues to be his accurate self. The Patriots at +5.5 seem like a great bet, but my feeling has me taking the Chargers to win by a touchdown. Come on SD, this is your chance, get those Patriots while you can.

New York Giants @ Cleveland Browns (+9): Mistake? Maybe so. But the value is on Cleveland in this one. They play close games and they have talent. They will be as healthy as they’ve been all season, and New York is coming off one of their best games ever. Cleveland is coming off a bye week and while the Browns have stomped me down a couple times this season, I have to believe they’ll play up to their potential on Monday Night at home against the Super Bowl Champs. I also think this line should be somewhere close to 3.5 to 5 points, so 4 points of value is the way I have to go. Tough to pick against the Giants after the way they’ve started, but I’m not too amazed by their weak competition thus far – so maybe I’m right about this one after-all.

NFL Free Picks REVIEW: Week 4

Hey!!! Finally the Brownies win one. But it wasn’t all sunshine on Sunday, some shoe shine busted the scene up pretty good, but after Monday’s tight contest I ended up at .500 – 6 and 6. This is where my pinks went right, and awry.

Denver Broncos (-9)Kansas City Chiefs:
Larry Johnson was back and crushing any hope the Broncos had at winning this game. When all they needed was a stop to get a chance at a win, Larry put no his working boots and crushed some Bronco hearts. I must say, I like when Mike Shannahan loses, but it’s better when I win and he loses. Maybe next week.

Cleveland Browns (+4) @ Cincinnati Bengals:
“As much as I hate betting on the Browns right now, there’s just no way I can justify taking the Bengals as a favorite. You know why? Because they shouldn’t be favored to do anything but lose.” Alright both of these teams are officially brutal, and things might have gone a little differently had Carson Palmer suited up, but a win is a win, and on .500 weeks I’m grateful for those.

Houston TexansJacksonville Jaguars (-7.5):
Those damn Texans had this one, and they played well most of the game. I think they’ll fight back to around .500, we’ll see, 0-3 is often a tough hole to fight your way out of. Houston covered easily, taking the Jaguars into overtime in Jacksonville. Maybe they’re turning around their poor road runs.

Green Bay Packers (+1.5)Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Green Bay seemed to fold it up after the first drive of the game. Interesting for sure. Honestly, if it weren’t for some amazing Aaron Rodgers throws the Pack wouldn’t have had a chance. I’m beginning to think that Tampa Bay is the most underrated team around. The Packers will be back, but maybe I gave them a little too much credit after a quick start.

San Francisco 49ers (+6.5)New Orleans Saints :
The 49ers gave up too many big plays, and for once the Saints got me. When will Martz learn that Frank Gore’s rushing is the key to his success? I got one for you… NEVER. Damned again by my arch enemy Mike Martz.

Atlanta FalconsCarolina Panthers (-7):
“If the Panthers can run, and they can against Atlanta, they are a top notch football team. A touchdown seems like a lot, but I’d bet they cover.” I didn’t like giving a touchdown here, but I’m glad I did. Carolina is the much better football team and their defense stepped up to slam the door on the Falcons rushing attack. Making Atlanta throw to beat you is a good thing to do if you want a win.

Minnesota VikingsTennessee Titans (-3):
“I think the Titans are the better team here, they are playing in Tennessee, and their secondary isn’t as much of a question mark as the one in Minnesota.” Let me say this, Adrian Peterson is a beast. He needed about 15 more carries and the Vikings would have had a chance. Minnesota’s rushing attack gets better from here on out as their starting left tackle is back from a four game suspension. The Titans, on the other hand, look legit. Collins, as drunk as he looks, is coherent and doing enough through the air to keep defenses honest. Chris Johnson is everything this team needed to become scary offensively. Winner winner.

Buffalo Bills (-8)St. Louis Rams:
The Rams had this one in the bank, and then they turned into the Rams. Thank God! I needed this win something fierce and I was certainly worried until I actually watched the wheels come right off. And with the wheels went the head coach. Sigh.

San Diego Chargers (-7.5)Oakland Raiders:
This was a bad beat for Raider backers. Certainly Oakland was up late in this game and if it weren’t for a burst and long touchdown by LT this game would have never been this close, or shall I say far away? The Raiders once again played well in a loss, and they did just little enough late to give me a cover here. I’ll take it. Without some close calls, this would have been a tough week for me.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Chicago Bears:
“I don’t buy the Bears as a playoff team. I’m buying the Eagles as a threat to be in the Super Bowl come February though.” Hmmm… Can I get a discount on the Bears as a playoff team? That defense in Chicago is legit, and the Eagles, without Brian Westbrook, just didn’t have enough to win this one. I may be wrong about the Bears, but it will take one more shot in the arm for me to believe in them.

Washington Redskins (+11.5)Dallas Cowboys:
“I do think the Cowboys are one of the best teams in football, but I don’t think they are a good value at +11.5 against the Redskins, even with the game being played in Dallas. Washington has a nice passing attack and a runner in Clinton Portis that poses enough of a threat to keep the Cowboys on their toes.” Washington did the unthinkable and notched a loss in the Cowboys’ record. This Redskin team has lots of talent, speed on the outside and a workhorse toting the rock up the middle. Defensively they have some playmakers. This was a nice bet from the get go.

Baltimore RavensPittsburgh Steelers (-7):

The Ravens keep surprising me. The Steelers are really hurting and I didn’t properly take that into account. Now they are decimated. After a tough Monday Night match-up, a loss for the Ravens and a devastating win for the Steelers, I’m not sure I like either of these teams next Sunday. As is, I took my 6th loss in 12 chances, breaking me even at .500 on the week.

NFL Free Picks: Week 4

Well, the ever-so-popular sleeper pick Brownies are 0-3, so are the Bengals. Get this, one of them is guaranteed to be 0-4. Which will it be? Is it possible that Cleveland starts the ’08 season just like the Saints started the ’07 season? Did either team make me forget what I thought about them before their Week 3 game? Anything is possible. Check out which other teams I see being winless when Week 4 is over…

Denver Broncos (-9) @ Kansas City Chiefs:
When one team will just put up too many points for another to stay close: The Broncos – Chiefs saga. Unless this game was a 2 touchdown spread, I just can’t buy the Chiefs hanging around. They couldn’t do it with the Falcons, and they were ousted by the Raiders – the Broncos should blow another division foe right out of the water. The only question is how will the Broncos do it? I feel like Splinter Shannahan has taken on the Patriots persona from last year – put up as many points as you can as fast as possible and make teams uncomfortable early and often. The two point conversion. Passing late in the game against the Saints. I think they’ll put up 50 on the Chiefs just to try and piss some people off.

Cleveland Browns (+4) @ Cincinnati Bengals:
As much as I hate betting on the Browns right now, there’s just no way I can justify taking the Bengals as a favorite. You know why? Because they shouldn’t be favored to do anything but lose. I realize that Cleveland has played terrible thus far, and I also know that the Bengals were a couple Eli Manning passes away from a big upset over the Giants – but which team is better suited to win here? I’m thinking the Browns, honestly. Jamal Lewis will run easily on the Bengals, and Cincinnati isn’t consistent enough to pull too far ahead. I like the dogs here – as much as I can like a Brown anyway.

Houston Texans  @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-7.5):
I would take the Texans if they didn’t play such horrible football away from home. Jacksonville is a tough place to play, mainly because they have a defense that halts drives and an offense that pounds defenses into submission. This game should be close early, but I would think a late score puts the Jaguars up by two touchdowns and that’s how the game ends. Again, I like the Texans – in Texas – but when they get mailed a couple states away they just aren’t the same team. If this game gets to +10, then I like then I would advise bettors to steer clear – but you can get 7.5 now, so go for the gusto!

Green Bay Packers (+1.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Packers were handled pretty well by the Cowboys, but Tamps isn’t Dallas, and even though this game is on the road, I don’t see Green Bay losing two in a row. They’ll come back after a mediocre performance against Dallas and handle the Bucs easily. Tampa Bay won’t be able to do to Green Bay what they did to Chicago, 400+ passing yards is out of the question. Expect less scoring and a nice road win against a solid defense for the Packers.

San Francisco 49ers (+6.5) @ New Orleans Saints :
This is a really tough one, so I’ll take the points. I don’t think the Niners are a good team quite yet, but neither are the Saints. New Orleans is getting points as if their best receiver (Colston) and their second best receiver (Shockey) aren’t out for a couple weeks with injuries. News flash, neither will play on Sunday. The 49ers have one of the best corners in the league in Nate Clements, he should shut down one side of the field for Drew Brees. With defensive speed and pass rushing prowess, I think the 49ers can pressure Drew into some mistakes. I’m sure Reggie Bush will find some room to thrive, and certainly New Orleans will rely on the run more in this one(Bush, Thomas, and McCallister), but that helps my case for taking the points. The 49ers look like the best value here.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers (-7):
I don’t know about this one. I don’t like the Panthers as a favorite, they are well known as heart breakers from that side of the betting spectrum, but I think Atlanta is getting a little bit too much credit here. They have a nice rushing attack, surely, but Carolina has a nice defense and a secondary that should be able to snag a couple arrant passes from Matt Ryan. I certainly like the Falcons future, but they are a 7-9 team at best. The Panthers are playoff caliber with a defense that is putting it all together. Coming off a loss last week in Minnesota, I think the Panthers come back strong against a Falcons defense that can’t chose one thing to stop. If the Panthers can run, and they can against Atlanta, they are a top notch football team. A touchdown seems like a lot, but I’d bet they cover.

Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans (-3):
I think the Titans are the better team here, they are playing in Tennessee, and their secondary isn’t as much of a question mark as the one in Minnesota. The Vikings will want to run, and with a stud like Adrian Peterson and a great back up like Chester Taylor, there is definitely something to like there. But they are going up against a Titans defense that is very good at taking the run away. I don’t think the Vikings can succeed without a rushing attack. I think the Titans do enough with their offense to take advantage of a weak secondary, and being at home I really like their chances to go 4-0 with a win in Week 4.

Buffalo Bills (-8) @ St. Louis Rams:
Not much about the Rams to like here. Sure, they could pull a Bengals and do well against the visiting Bills, but the chances of that happening aren’t great. I still don’t like giving 8 points to the Bills – they take too few chances to be a sure thing to win by a large margin, so I pick this game advising that you be a little bit careful – but right now there is absolutely no reason to like anything the Rams put out there. They lost to a Seahawk team that was down and out, and they didn’t even put up a fight. Steven Jackson is running a lot like Shawn Alexander did last year, Bulger is benched, and though Tory Holt is still always open, the offensive line can’t give a quarterback enough time to get him the ball. Take the Bills!

San Diego Chargers (-7.5) @ Oakland Raiders:
Is this the week that Kiffin gets the axe? It must be hard, as a player, to go week to week wondering that same question. Sure, they can look past it for the first week or two, but soon the realization that you are playing for a guy that is inevitably getting fired kicks in. That never helps a team. The Chargers are about to pull off maybe 5 or 6 straight wins, and right now a mediocre Raiders team is trying to play the part of speed bump. Take the Chargers here – it shouldn’t be much of a contest.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Chicago Bears:
I don’t buy the Bears as a playoff team. I’m buying the Eagles as a threat to be in the Super Bowl come February though. Chicago showed me last week, that if Philly wants to, they can throw the ball all over the Bears’ secondary. That’s not a good sign for Bears fans. McNabb isn’t 100% coming into this game, but I think he’ll play, and I think he’ll play well in his home state. Look for DeSean Jackson to shine as well – this should be a big win for the Eagles.

Washington Redskins (+11.5) @ Dallas Cowboys:
I do think the Cowboys are one of the best teams in football, but I don’t think they are a good value at +11.5 against the Redskins, even with the game being played in Dallas. Washington has a nice passing attack and a runner in Clinton Portis that poses enough of a threat to keep the Cowboys on their toes. The Redskins have fought back nicely after getting embarrased a little in their first game of the season. Jim Zorn isn’t as wet behind the ears as he seemed in week 1, and I like their chances to make a couple big plays that keep this game within 10.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-7):
The Steelers are a very good football team, especially at home. The Eagles shut them down a bit last week, but I don’t think the Steelers offense is that questionable. They didn’t look good against the Browns two weeks ago, but like I said, the Steelers are a different beast in Pittsburgh, and even with Willie Parker out, I still expect them to run on the Ravens a bit. Rashard Mendenhall, though he hasn’t done anything yet, is a very good back with the power and speed to do work against the best of defenses. I think that, without Willie, the Steelers will take more chances through the air, and that should mean good things for Santonio Holmes and the Steelers offense. As of right now the only line on this game is from a big casino, and I’m sure the books are waiting to see if Ben Roethlisberger is going to play. If he’s not playing, this line doesn’t exist, and I’ll try to get back on an make a proper pick. But for now, I’ll take the Steelers by more than a touchdown against a Ravens team that will find moving the ball next to impossible versus the Steel Show.

Ask Papa Weimer: Week 4

Here I am, and I’m back early this week. Already on Monday I’ve gotten quite a few emails, and have three that I’d like to share. I’m old, grouchy because the Patriots (my Week 3 survivor) lost, and hungry (because there’s no damn food in the house). So hopefully my anger doesn’t travel through the keyboard. Well, ah, here goes nothing…

Jimmy Z from Portland writes in, “Papa, before the season started you predicted that, Marion Barber would be the best running back this season in fantasy land. So far you’re close, Barber sits at number 2 amongst running backs after Week 2. But there’s this other guy at #1, a little feller named Reggie Bush. How do you like Reggie going forward? Is it time to trade the former Trojan? I’m in a PPR league and he seems like a good bet to continue catching balls. What do you think?”

Jimmy, I think Reggie is going to have a great year, no doubt about it. In fact, in that same “Papa’s Predictions” article, I said “Reggie Bush – 10+ total touchdowns this season, his highest total of his career.”- but I didn’t think Reggie would ever be leading all running backs in fantasy points. Honestly, if you can get a guy like Marion Barber for Reggie, I say go for it. But right now, in a PPR league, the guys that selected Reggie Bush are patting themselves on the back, and you should be as well. After three games, Reggie has compiled 402 total yards and 4 touchdowns (2 receiving, 1 rushing, 1 special teams score), and while I don’t expect him to tally up 2,200 all purpose yards, it’s not out of the question. That’s right, a guy like Bush that can catch the ball and he gets carries out of the backfield, he has the chance to break 2000 yards from scrimmage for sure. Bush is going to have his best season, I thought that headed in, and while the pre-season brought his value down a little bit for me, I am sticking with my prediction of double digit touchdowns and now I think he’ll approach 2000 yards from scrimmage. In a PPR, I say hold onto him. Reggie is on pace to catch 125+ balls this season. I think he’ll catch about 100. That’s like 1000 extra rushing yards in that scoring format. Hold onto your good pick, Jimmy.

Bad Boy from Jersey thanks me for giving him the reassurance needed to take Marion Barber over LT, he says, “Papa, you are the man! Earlier this year, just before my draft, I wrote in asking you if it was okay to take Marion Barber over AP and LT – I had the #2 pick and though I thought Barber would be the better back this season, I knew the “value” was with Peterson and Tomlinson. Anyway, after your advice to “go for it” I did grab Barber #2 overall, ahead of LT and Peterson (Brady was picked #1 – hahaha), and right now Barber is easily outscoring both of those guys. I got laughed at during the draft we have at my buddies house, but I just shrugged it off and said, “We’ll see.” Well, we’re seeing right now. Barber is a BEAST! Thanks for the courage!”

You bet Bad Boy – anytime I can help. The funny thing is, in a year where everyone was crawling all over quarterbacks and receivers, four running backs sit atop fantasy land’s scoring highs after Week 3. Reggie Bush, Marion Barber, Michael Turner, and Frank Gore. Brilliant – we were higher than most on all 4 of those guys here at, and it’s nice to see our hard work paying off for readers. I still think Barber is the best back in fantasy football as I predicted that he would be the top fantasy back this year. Thanks for the love, but remember, you also thought Barber was the best choice available – you gotta give yourself a little credit, all I needed to do was give you a little push. Good luck the rest of the way!

Dough Slammer from East Carolina writes, “Haha – when I first read this “Barry Sanders and Ahman Green have similar chances to succeed in 2008, so for fun, do draft the former right after the latter is selected,” in your “Dos and Don’ts: Draft Day Trickery!” article I just about pissed my pants… freaking hilarious. Then I started to think about it, and not only are your right, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to do this for the rest of eternity. Anytime somebody does something like this I’m taking Barry Sanders or Bo Jackson, or somebody that was popular back in the day that could still take the ball for 5 yards a carry in their early 40s. Anyway, to my other comment; in that same article you said, “Don’t pick anybody that broke a record last season – the value just isn’t there,” and I couldn’t help but think, this guy is funny, sure, but he’s an idiot – everyone wants Randy Moss and Tom Brady on their team.” Now I’m thinking, okay, this guy is funny and he’s a freaking fortune teller – how did you know they were going to struggle and do you have any other advice for the rest of the season?”

Dough Slammer, a couple things. First of all – your name is to be recognized as a great nickname with epic story lines that could explain why you are indeed called, Dough Slammer. Brilliant. Second, I love your email, it makes me feel all warm and cuddly inside, and appreciate the fact that you appreciate what I’m doing here for next to nothing (My nephew gives me a beer for every article I write – which is nice because I’m not supposed to drink, and he’s the only one that gives me it, but still, next to nothing). Third, I didn’t “KNOW” for sure that Tom and Randy would struggle, but the chances of guys that played every single game of a 19 game season getting hurt are a lot greater than guys who played 14-15 or even 16 games. The Patriots were going all out all the time in every game they played – just more contact, more collisions, and more future problems come from that. But taking a player that just broke a record is never good. First of all, there’s almost 0% chance that they relive those same numbers. And second, everyone else knows about them and wants to have them on their very own fantasy teams. Lastly, I’ll do this one favor for you. Go right to the first Jamal Lewis owner you have in your fantasy leagues, every single one of them, offer that guy or those guys one of your players that is decent, that has played above his pick level, and trade for Lewis if you can. Don’t give up a starter on your team, but for example, you might be able to trade Ronnie Brown for Jamal Lewis and Braylon Edwards (a perfect guy is “pick all the Browns guy” because he should have both Edwards and Lewis right now). Feel good about that trade. Trade Hines Ward for Lewis. Trade Felix Jones for Lewis. Edgerrin James for Lewis – you bet. The point is this. Jamal played pretty well against very tough rush defenses. The hardest part of his schedule is over and he’ll start to put up some big numbers, because just like the Saints last year, the Browns are going to get back to doing what they did in yesteryear, and Lewis is going to be a big time reason why. He’s basically free right now. Make it happen if you can. Good luck the rest of the way Dough Slammer! Keep on reading the good stuff…

NFL Free Picks: Week 3

Two weeks down, 15 to go. That’s right, just a sliver of the NFL season has gone down, and already people are saying teams are in trouble. I’ll tell you one guy not in trouble, that’s me. I haven’t killed it with any undefeated weeks or anything, but two straight winners and a 19-11-1 record stares at me when I look in the mirror, and that’s not a bad way to start. Let’s see if I can make it 3 for 3 with this week’s free picks… Enjoy! Oh, and feel free to donate if I make you some dough. Ha.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Atlanta Falcons (-4): This line has to be climbing up, as the Chiefs are likely to start Tyler Thigpen at quarterback and they are going up against a better all around team in Atlanta. The Chiefs can’t stop the run, and Atlanta is going to hand the ball off 40 times this weekend. That doesn’t bode well for the Chiefs attempts to get that first win of the season. KC isn’t a good road team, they aren’t a good team in the first place, and they have a bad match-up against a strong running team this week. Take Atlanta.

Oakland Raiders (+10.5) @ Buffalo Bills: Oakland’s defense has shown me that they are solid. Sure, Jay Cutler carved them up, but who isn’t that guy destroying? Oakland can run the ball effectively and has a quarterback that can really fire a pass if need be. I think Oakland is better than many give them credit for, and the Bills aren’t quite the 10.5 point powerhouse at home. Take the points and the Raiders here. Expect JaMarcus Russell to have a two touchdown game, and the Raiders to stay close in Buffalo.

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (-5): I don’t think Houston’s run defense can slow down the Titans rushing attack enough to cover in Tennessee. Houston is in a tough spot having to go heads up against the Steelers last week, missing a home game against Baltimore, and then walking into Tennessee to see what they can muster against a very good TItans defense. I like the Texans, but see this as a tough spot for them. Look for Kerry Collins to do just enough, get the ball to Justin Gage and Algae Crumpler, and let Chris Johnson do work on Houston’s front 7.

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Giants (-13): Until the Bengals show me that they are more together than a bucket of busted Legos, I’m not even considering taking them at anything less than +17. Carson Palmer hasn’t gotten the time of day from his offensive line, and receivers seem to be running bad routes. New York’s pass rush won’t help his cause, that’s for sure. I bet he’s sweating bullets just thinking about Justin Tuck and company. The Giants have impressed me thus far, and while I don’t think they are the best team in the league, certainly not as good as they’ve played, they should still dominate a BAD Cincinnati defense and hold that stagnant offense in check.

Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) @ Washington Redskins: I understand that the NFC East hasn’t lost a game out of their own conference this season. It’s only been two weeks, but it is definitely the scariest conference in football. Still, the Redskins had to pull some magic tricks to break off a win against the Saints last week, so much so that I’m betting not much momentum rides into this week’s home tilt against the Redskins. Arizona has played frighteningly good defense thus far, and that athletic secondary should be able to slow down Zorn’s west coast passing attack. Washington will find it hard to slow down Kurt Warner and company without a strong pass rush. If the Cardinals can keep Jason Taylor out of the backfield, and double teams will help, they should have plenty of time to pick apart the Skins all day long. Take the road dogs here.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-12.5): This is going to be one of those Patriotic blowouts. Miami is still one of the worst teams in football and despite Tom Brady’s absence, the Patriots are still one of the best. Miami allows big plays in the secondary, and they don’t have a stout rush defense either. It may be an awkward group of backs for New England, but Sammy Morris, LaMont Jordan, and Kevin Faulk will have answers on the ground. I’m betting on New England feeling free and easy after taking down the Jets last week, and parlaying that into a big offensive day for Randy Moss and company.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) @ Chicago Bears: I know the Bears are 2-0, but I still don’t see them as a good team. Maybe that changes this week if they can fend off the Bucs, a solid team all around, but my bet is that doesn’t happen. I like Tampa to effectively run the ball against a Bears front 7 that hasn’t given up much on the ground this season. Brian Griese has his ups and downs, but he has what it takes to find open receivers and speedy backs. I’m guessing this game is one of those 13-7 contests, or maybe it even gets to the 30’s, but a high scoring affair it won’t be. Tampa should shut down the Bears solid rushing game and do enough to pull the slight upset in Chicago.

Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings (-3): Carolina sure has found a way to win the first few weeks, and now they get back their own personal Vikings killer, Steve Smith. That’s right, Steve does work against the Minnesota boys and he’s back from his two game hiatus. But I don’t think that will be enough. I don’t see Carolina’s rushing attack working too well in Minnesota, and I do think their offensive attack and winning chances depend on that. Gus Frerotte starts this week in Minnesota, so the Panthers will have more to worry about through the air. We’ll see, but I have to believe that the Vikings don’t start the season 0-3. Take the Vikes to get their first win and by just enough to cover at home.

St. Louis Rams (+11) @ Seattle Seahawks: Please. I know the Rams have been bad, but what have the Hawks done to gather an 11 point margin here? Both teams are winless, so there will be an old fashioned struggle to get things on the right track. I like St. Louis’s offense better right now, and no, Koren Robinson’s signing didn’t push me over to Seattle’s side. If the Hawks win it will be there defense that makes it so. My motto there is this, if you are betting on a defense to win you a football game, never ever bet on that team if the spread is bigger than a touchdown. The Rams will score and the Hawks will be lucky if they get out of Seattle with their first win.

Detroit Lions (+4) @ San Francisco 49ers: This game comes down to a couple things. A- the Lions are winless. B- Detroit’s players hate Mike Martz more than Mike Martz wants to prove his worth. And C- these are the freaking San Francisco 49ers and never should you ever take them as a favorite. Neither team is worth their weight in copper, but Detroit has more to play for, more to lose, and a better team than does San Fran – so I’ll go with the road dogs once again.

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos (-4.5): New Orleans isn’t as good as people think they are – Denver is. The Broncos may have gotten a gift last week when Cutler fumbled away their chances only to get a piggy back from Ed Hachuli, a second chance, and a game winning touchdown and ballsy two point conversion to beat the Chargers – but what many people will forget is how the Broncos pretty much handles San Diego. That’s right, it’s not always the case that points tell the entire story, and this was one of those instances. The Chargers were magic late, and that got the game back on their side, but the Broncos were the better team on Sunday. That said, they are much better than a speed bump team from the NFC South. Take the Broncos to do whatever they want at home against New Orleans – pass, run, lateral – I don’t care, they are going to succeed. Take Splinter’s little ninja horses to cover.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3): Everyone and their mother seems to like the road dogs in this one, but I’m not so sold. Pittsburgh is a solid group, but Philly can really play some ball, and I think they should be getting more points at home against a Steelers unit that is a little dinged up. Ben Roethlisberger will have trouble dealing with the Eagles pass rush, especially considering that his shoulder is burning as I write this. The Eagles look very confident and though they did get some help to stay close to Dallas (thank you Tony Romo), they also showed their dynamic flavor in a big NFC East showdown last Monday night. Westbrook will be able to do enough on the ground to keep the Steelers honest, and that’s not a good sign for Pittsburgh’s secondary. In a tight match, I’m taking the Eagles by a touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6) @ Indianapolis Colts: Bob Sanders’ injury wins me over to the dogs in this one. I think the Jaguars will run all over the Colts on Sunday. This is a pretty big game for both teams, and Jacksonville has looked anything but solid thus far, but my instinct is to trust my gut, and my gut tells me that Jacksonville has been playing well below their talent level, and that will stop now. At 0-2 there’s not much room to mess around, and I don’t imaging they’ll come out throwing all over Indy. Maurice Jones Drew should get 15-20 carries and Fred Taylor will get his touches as well. If that happens, and I believe it will, the Jaguars and Colts will both be sitting at 1-2 after Week 3.

Cleveland Browns (+2.5) @ Baltimore Ravens: Free Money! It’s amazing that the Browns love has fallen this fast. I mean, even I was laughing at the “Super Bowl” chances given to the Brownies, but a 2 point dog to the rookie led Ravens? Please. Like Matt Ryan, it will be soon that Flacco learns the ups and DOWNS of the NFL. Cleveland lost a couple tough games to start the season, playing a great Cowboys team and taking a tough 10-6 game on the chin against a very good Steelers team – there will be better days, like, umm, Sunday – for example.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) @ Green Bay Packers: I hate to bet against Green Bay here, but even more so I hate to go against the Cowboys, a team I think is better than any other in football. My bet is this; the Cowboys will put a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers and really stymie the Packers rushing attack. Those two things will get them just over the top for a touchdown victory on the road against a very good Packers team. I also think the Packers run defense isn’t as good as it was last season. If that assessment is true, Marion Barber and Felix Jones will do some damage on the tundra in Wisconsin. Take the Cowboys here, the best team in football.

New York Jets (+10) @ San Diego Chargers: Alright, so the Chargers have been screwed around in Weeks 1 and 2, losing a pair of games on touchdowns in the last 30 seconds. They are definitely the best 0-2 team in football and they will win this week against the Jets. I’m just betting on this game being one of the 17% in which the team that wins doesn’t cover. Brett Favre will do enough in his 3rd game to hit the Chargers where it hurts, their secondary. I expect this to be Brett’s best game in Jet-green, and while I’m thinking the Chargers see the luck turn and win, I do think Brett has a chance. That chance will be good enough to stick within a touchdown and a field goal of the Chargers on Monday Night Football.

NFL Free Picks: Week 2

Week 1 in the NFL saw some big upsets, some big drummings at the hands of the Cowboys and Eagles, the loss of last season’s record breaking MVP, and of course two big fat losses for the Raiders and Rams – so some things are new and some are the same old same. Week 2 is bound to surprise here and there, and remember, one bad week a season doesn’t make – or something like that. 15 more games to go for every single one of these teams – and this Sunday is a new start for every single one of them. This is how I see the cookie crumbling – the way of the road warriors?

Oakland Raiders +4.5 @ Kansas City Chiefs: The Raiders had some tough bounces roll away from them, and they just got caught in a opening night nightmare against the Broncos on Monday Night. I don’t think Denver is quite that good, and Oakland isn’t that bad. In fact, I think the Raiders will go back to the drawing board and see that running the ball will work for them. Also, JaMarcus will get a little more time against the Chiefs, and this game will come down to the wire. Close games are always tough to call, but I’m taking the Raiders and the points in this one, 4.5 is too much for the Chiefs to give – plus, these guys have lost 10 straight games going back to last year.

Chicago Bears @ Carolina Panthers (-3): Like any capper in the last few seasons, I hate to take the Panthers as a favorite against just about anyone – especially at home where they don’t play their best ball. But these are the Bears here. A Bears team that put it all together and made a mockery of the Colts in Week 1. I can’t buy them doing that again. The Panthers are for real this year boys and girls, not just a finicky team that will be up and down like it’s their job. They have a solid healthy rushing attack with two confident running options. Aside from Steve Smith (out one more week) they still have Mushin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett, two very competent receivers – and a tight end, Donte Rosario, that looks like a nice options as well. At home against a Bears team that played above and beyond last week? You bet, that’s worth a shot right there.

New Orleans Saints (+1) @ Washington Redskins: Little do people know, but New Orleans is better away from New Orleans than they are at home in… New Orleans. I like the Redskins to have a little bit better cohesion offensively this week, but I don’t expect their defense to be as tough in thier own red-zone. The Saints score 3 touchdowns, kick one field goal, and this thing is over. Marques Colston isn’t in action for the next few weeks, so expect some fireworks from little used Robert Meachem. I think Robert is a great option for Drew with Colston out. He’s a big kid and he’s got wheels. Look for New Orleans to utilize him against the Redskins.

Indianapolis Colts (pk) @ Minnesota Vikings: I like the Vikings to exploit the Colts run defense, but this game comes down to the wire and Peyton Manning, with one regular season game under his belt, can do enough against a suspect Viking pass defense to take this game on the road. This is no easy pick, though. The Colts were shredded by Matt Forte and the Bears rushing attack last week, just imagine what the Vikings plan to do with them. Also, Indy looked pretty disjointed without Jeff Saturday handing the ball to Peyton, if it was his absence that had the Colts lost, this could be a long game. I’m betting on Peyton’s rust being more of the problem than Saturday’s musk – we’ll see.

New York Giants (-8) @ St. Louis Rams: This one is tough for me because I expected more out of the Rams this season. The Giants are tough to run against, and they have a pretty nice group of corners as well. Seeing Philly pick the Rams apart has me moving away from them, especially after they showed absolutely no heart during the contests. Still, I wouldn’t wager the world on this game – The Rams will be out to prove their worth once again. The thing that has me siding with the Giants is their run defense and rushing attack – both are powerful. Also, the Giants are a very good road team – that will help them cover.

Buffalo Bills (+6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Tough game for sure. I think a lot of the Jaguars, but without three of their starting offensive linemen, the Jaguars just don’t seem like a good favorite to bet on. I think the Jags will be better against the Bills than the Hawks were, but Buffalo’s physical play is a nice match-up for a physical Jags team. There aren’t many teams that will try to out-tough the Jaguars, and the Bills might just do that in Week 2. Take the points in this battle.

Atlanta Falcons (+9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Way the Bucs play, and the way Atlanta is destined to try and grind it out, I just have to take all of the 9 points here. I know it’s different on the road for a young team, but with two teams not willing to risk a lot, those 9 points look pretty darned good. The Falcons can run the ball, and they seem to be loving life under a real head coach. They have confidence and a young signal caller that is going to be a great one. Lots of weapons of offense will be a tough match-up for Tampa. A good game here – so take the points.

San Francisco 49ers (+9) @ Seattle Seahawks: I like the Niners to cover in this one. Not only did the Hawks get thinner at wide receiver, but they also have to try and stop Frank Gore, a guy that just kills them usually. The Niners will be able to stick to it and put up enough points to stay close in Seattle, even though the Hawks play well at home, they look like a dejected unit right now. They just lost their starting guard for the season, and yet another receiver is out. They also cut Jordan Kent, a guy that played minutes last week, though he was drop-happy. Right now they are trying to get their back-up quarterback on the field to catch passes – yes, it looks desperate in Seattle.

Miami Dolphins @ Arizona Cardinals (-6): I like the Cardinals here. Arizona is a solid team against the run, and that’s really all Miami has. Chad Pennington can throw it accurately, but the safeties in Arizona are really speedy ball hawks, and both Rolle and Wilson will make big plays on Sunday. I expect Kurt Warner to air it out a little more against a suspect Dolphins secondary, as his two receivers look to have big games. The Cardinals are the best team in the NFC West, and while that doesn’t say much, it does mean they can handle the Dolphins with ease.

Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans (-4): I’m willing to believe that the Ravens awesome defensive performance last week was at least partially due to the horrid play by the Bengals. Houston will be a lot tougher defensively and I’m assuming offensively as well. Joe Flacco will have a tough time escaping Mario Williams – that’s for sure. If the Ravens can’t run the ball, this has the makings of a 24-6 ball game. I don’t expect the Ravens to score more than 17 points in half of their games this season. 17 won’t do it in Houston. Take the Texans as a solid bet in Week 2.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) @ Cleveland Browns: I still don’t think much of Cleveland. They’re all probably sitting around practice this week thinking that Week 1 was a fluke, and they’ll get back on track with a big win over the Steelers – wrong. It’s amazing how much the Browns remind me of last years’ Saints. I know Pittsburgh isn’t the same on the road as they are at home, but this one has the makings of a blowout. Jamal Lewis won’t be able to run much, because the Steelers plug up rushing attacks week in and week out. That leaves Derek Anderson, a guy that hasn’t had a good game since Week 12 last year, to beat them. The Steel-Show won’t let that happen. Look for Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall to be a nice 1-2 punch against Cleveland, just like Barber and Felix Jones were last week.

Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Detroit Lions: Come on, this seems like an insulting line. This is definitely one of my picks of the week. Before the season, after the season, before the LIons were killed by Atlanta or after the Lions had beaten the ’89 49ers, I don’t care, I’m still taking the Packers in this one. Aaron Rodgers is a sniper. His accurate air assault and the Packers powerful rushing attack should dominate this game by keeping possession in their hands. Take the Pack to advance to 2-0.

Tennessee Titans (+1.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals: Free Money – even with Kerry Collins at quarterback. The Titans and the Bengals are on a different level, same league, but different level. For example, the Titans have 11 starting defensive players that can really tackle. The Bengals have one, and he’s a rookie. The Titans have a solid offensive attack despite quarterback trouble -the Bengals have a talented quarterback with previous success that looks lost because of how bad his offense is. Things are going bad in Cinci, and a Titan beat down isn’t going to make them feel any better.

San Diego Chargers (pk) @ Denver Broncos: Yes, Denver lit up Oakland in Week 1, but I have to like the Chargers as a pick’em against Denver. I just don’t see San Diego going 0-2 to start the season. Last week was a nice little wake-up call. Take advantage of Denver’s big Nationally televised annihilation of the Raiders on Monday Night Football, and take the Chargers in Denver. San Diego is the better all around team. They will run over Denver like Atlanta did to Detroit. Hundreds of rushing yards are in the Chargers immediate future.

New England Patriots (+2.5) @ New York Jets: At least there was something good out of Tom Brady going down with an injury – we get this spread to play with. I’ll take the Patriots as a dog against the Jets and laugh it all the way to the bank. There’s not much to say about this game besides this, the Jets aren’t as good as the Patriots. They might have a better quarterback right now, but that’s about it. Even the Pats rushing attack will likely out-gain the Jets’. Look for a nice road win from a team that just lost their leader.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (-6.5): This is a tough one for me because the Eagles looked so good and they are absolutely chalked full of talent – however, the Cowboys looked almost equally as good against a better team (or so people think Cleveland is better than the Rams, I’d probably agree). Still, that’s just last week, and how much does last week really matter? Are the Eagles really that solid on offense? Are the Cowboys that legit defensively? It’s a tough game to call, that’s for sure. And then you put in the Eagle/Cowboy rivalry to boot. I’m going to say that Donovan McNabb has a tough time handling the Cowboys pressure, as Dallas forces him into some poor decisions. The Cowboys will also hold Philly’s rushing attack in check – so I’m going with the Cowboys here. Tough call for sure, but the Boys get the nod.