Free NFL Picks: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

This is a tough one to get a read on, how weird, right? I mean, it’s only a game that absolutely doesn’t matter at all to the Patriots, but Tom Brady has supposedly asked to play and Bill Belichick has supposedly answered with “You bet, it’s your world, you’re in.” So Tom’s telling everyone and their mother that he’ll be playing this week. Now I don’t know Bill Belichick personally, but this seems like a great time to pull an awesome trick on just about everyone (including my fantasy team) and play Brady for about a quarter before giving way to some guy most of the fans don’t even know. That’s right, name the Pats’ back-up and I’ll give you some Flutie Flakes. Nope, Doug Flutie is on ESPN analyzing college football games, but if you answered Andrew Walter, you’re close – that guy’s the #3… Brian Hoyer is the right answer, and I’m not promising we’ll see him – but I’m telling you, Tom coming out saying he’s going to play seems way too easy to be real.

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And while the Patriots have shown they’ll go for the wins late in the year instead of rolling over for their opponents, this is also a game that holds no significance for New England what-so ever. They know they’ll be playing next week and they know they’ll be playing a home game – this game means nothing.

For the Texans, this game is a chance at the playoffs – it’s not a “win and you’re in” situation, but a win keeps them alive. They have a powerful enough offensive attack to put pressure on the Patriots anyway – in a meaningless game for the Pats, I expect Houston to win by double digits.

New England Patriots @ Houston Texans (-7.5)

Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons Free Football Pick

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Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons Free Football Pick: The Philadelphia Eagles have proven they can’t be trusted, and while the Falcons are definitely seeing some tough times with injuries to key players, their back-ups have shown they can win in a tough spot – but can a guy really go with the Falcons to win at home against a healthy Eagles team that needs all the wins they can get? A team that has struggled to win against low-level opponents? A team that has should have realized by now that they can’t come in without focus? Against a defense that can’t stop the run or pass? Keep reading…

The answer is no, despite seeing the Eagles go on the road where they have already lost to the Oakland Raiders and struggled against the Washington Redskins (twice), and barely beat a bad Chicago Bears team – I can’t see the Eagles struggling here. Atlanta doesn’t bring enough pressure to seriously disrupt Donovan McNabb, the Eagles should also find room to run, and defensively the Eagles are just far superior to the Falcons.

You add in the injuries, the two key players that helped turn this team around last year, both unlikely to play this Sunday, and I have to stick with my first impression of this game, the Eagles have to win this, they should win it, and they should do so in rather convincing fashion.Three isn’t enough for me to take Atlanta – to be happy about taking the Falcons, I’d need more than a touchdown.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings Free Football Pick

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Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings (-16) Free Football Pick: The last time these two played the line was (-10) in Detroit, and it was actually pretty close to a Lions cover. This time it’s (-16) and it’s not like people think of either of these teams any differently. They still think the Vikings are legit and they know the Lions smell like… Sour beans. So, I would say this line is inflated a couple points – it should probably be 13.5, maybe, at the very most 14 – but it’s on the move and already up to 17 at a couple books. But I’m not scared.

Okay, I’m a little scared – I don’t like taking anybody at -16. This is pro football and if you’re ever a 16 point dog you are probably a good value bet. But even good value bets lose. And the way Matthew Stafford has been playing, and the way Minnesota just got two weeks to heal up and prepare for a Lions team that just pissed away a 17 point lead against the Seahawks a week ago, I just have to go against value and stick with Adrian Peterson and company.

Only 3 of the Lions 7 losses are by 16 points or more. They lost by 18 to New Orelans in Week 1. They were tied at 21 with the Bears in Chicago at half time, but they were outscored 27-3 in the second half and lost by 24. And they got shut out by the Packers 26-0. Last time around, Minnesota fought back after being down 10-7 at half time to win by two touchdowns and cover the 10 point spread.

The Lions have been double digit underdogs five times this year (which is amazing all by itself) and in those five games, they’ve lost against the spread four times (which is even more amazing. As double digit favorites this year, the Vikings are 2-0 ATS.

So, all things considered, all values ignored, I’ll put a little on the Vikings expecting more problems from Detroit.

Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts Free NFL Pick

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Houston Texans (+10) @ Indianapolis Colts Free NFL Pick: As you know, it’s hard to bet against the Colts right now. Peyton Manning is at the top of his game, and his game was pretty impressive before he was at the top. They find ways to win when it’s tough, they cover spreads (5-2 ATS so far this season) and they bring an undefeated record home to Indy to host the 5-3 Houston Texans. But 10 points is too much for me, mainly because good teams shouldn’t get double digits, and Houston is a good team. I know, it sounds as weird to say it out loud as it does to write it, as I’m sure it’s just as odd to read. But it’s true.

The Texans have won 4 of their last 5, three straight, playing good football all season long. Even their losses (for the most part) have been close games. They lost by 7 at Arizona, by 7 against the Jaguars, and their only blowout was Week 1 against a Jets team that came right out and out-physicaled the Texans from the get go. I think Houston is playing the best football they’ve played in their short history, Matt Schaub has been awesome, and despite seeing their star running back get benched last week, they’re always a threat for a big play on the ground. During their current three game winning streak, they’ve beaten a couple pretty good teams in Cincinnati and San Francisco. It will be tough to continue, but they’ve out-passed their opponents in 7 straight games.

Another thing, Houston seems to always play Indy tough. Indy’s won 9 of the last 10, but this game has been decided by a touchdown or less in 4 of the last 5 contests. The Texans might not be getting over the hump, but they’ve been pretty damn close. 10 points for a good team is just good value-betting.

Green Bay Packers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Pick

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Green Bay Packers (-9.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Pick: I normally don’t even like thinking about Green Bay as a big favorite, they just don’t commit to running the ball enough to be a sure thing as a big favorite -but this Bucs team, they make the whole process a lot easier. I do think Tampa Bay can find some running room against the Packers run defense, especially if Green Bay comes in thinking they are going to win because they are better. But a tough loss to Brett Favre and the Vikings should be enough to sober them up for a big performance against a Bucs team that really shouldn’t compete.

The Packers have shown more of a commitment to the run against bad teams. Maybe they feel like they have time to score, and thus they don’t rush the big plays as much, and Grant gets to pound away at lesser defenses. If the Packers continue that trend, and I have to think they will, this should be an easy cover.

The Packers have an aggressive defense and Tampa Bay is starting their first round quarterback for the first time. The Packers have aggressive corners that should test Josh Freeman’s confidence early and often. A couple mistakes by the Bucs, and this thing can turn into a blowout in a hurry. 76% of the public likes Green Bay, yet the line moved away from it’s opening -10. That’s always something that makes me wary. Still, I have to go with the Pack here, it’s their side or no side at all.

Arizona Cardinals vs Chicago Bears Football Prediction

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Arizona Cardinals (+3) @ Chicago Bears Football Prediction: I think Arizona’s the better team, but more-so I think Chicago is at the wrong side of a tough match-up in this one. The Bears struggle against accurate passers, they struggle against teams that stop the run, and when they can’t run the ball with ease, they make mistakes that really kill them. I know, the story of Jay Cutler’s life.

Now, I think this could be a close game, but Arizona’s chances of winning this thing are pretty good. The Bears don’t really eliminate anything Arizona does, so the Cardinals should dictate the flow of the game. That’s bad news for Bears fans. Usually, the fact that Arizona is traveling eastward would be bad news for their chances, but as it seems, pulling off multiple road upsets on their way to the Super Bowl had done wonders for their road confidence. They are 3-0 away from home this season, dominating at Jacksonville, Seattle, and ousting the Giants in New York. Those last two are tough places to play, too.

These two teams don’t have much of a recent history, in fact, I don’t think Kurt Warner has played the Bears while in a Cardinal uniform. I do know that Chicago has struggled against solid passing attacks, losing to Green Bay, Atlanta, and Cincinnati so far this season. 3 of their 4 wins also don’t impress me much – we’re talking Seattle, Detroit, and Cleveland here. Beating Pittsburgh was a good win, definitely, so the talent is obviously there.

What it comes down to is match-ups and the Cardinals get the nod in a lot of key areas. I’ll take them to continue their undefeated road record in 2009, at least against the spread.

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots Preview, Pick

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Miami Dolphins (+11) @ New England Patriots Preview, Pick: Again, I just don’t think you can go against good football teams and double digit points. The Dolphins may be 3-4, but hey, they are a good football team. They can stuff the run, and if anything, they can really run the ball well offensively. They play sound football, get tough yardage, and use that dreaded and famed Wildcat offense to chew up the clock, shorten games, and keep elite offenses off the field. That’s a covering dream right there. Then you give them double digit points? Come on, this is too easy right?

The Pats opened as 12 point favorites, early bets on Miami moved that down to 11 and the small majority of public bets seem to like Miami enough to keep this thing moving down, if you like the Patriots, you can get them -10.5 at some books. But Miami with double digits looks good to me. The Dolphins may be 3-4, but they’ve lost just two games by double digits, a game they freakishly failed to cover in when the Saints returned a late interception for a touchdown after an improbably comeback, and their opening 7-19 loss to Atlanta. They’ve won 3 of their last 4, including two wins against the Jets. They’ve been running wild, and first year starter Chad Henne has proven he can make any throw on the field, making defenses prepare for that for the first time in a long time when facing the Dolphins.

The road team has taken this game in 5 of the last 8 contests. Miami broke out the wildcat to dominate the Patriots in New England early last season. This game has hit the over in 3 of the lat 4 meetings, and Dolphins have busted the over in each of their last 4. I like this one to stay close, and 11 points looks sexy, even against Tom himself.

Green Bay Packers vs Cleveland Browns Free NFL Pick

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Green Bay Packers (-6.5) @ Cleveland Browns: Lots of stuff has me thinking this is a great bet. There’s the Flu that’s going around Cleveland like flies swarm cow poo, there’s the fact that Cleveland’s quarterback has a 44% completion rate on the season, or that Green Bay has played much better defensively over the past three games – many, many things say Packers. But 81% of the public likes this bet, and that’s a red flag if I’ve ever seen one. One thing Cleveland does better than Green Bay is control the ball, their time of possession is solid despite the inability to complete passes and being prone to turnovers. Big spreads for road favorites can often backfire with a pass happy team struggling to complete passes. But I see the Packers running the ball more this Sunday, holding the ball longer, and covering by at least a touchdown in Cleveland. Vegas or the people? Who wins this Sunday? Damn the man!

Week 5 NFL Free Picks

I had some tough luck last week, and I picked a lot of big underdogs that got pushed around by the actual big dogs. Apparently it’s good bye to the days where double digit dogs just covered and made life tough on all those people that think NFL teams usually kill each other. Maybe. We’ll see. I’m not changing my whole approach based on a couple weeks of tough records, I still only dropped two games last week, and just as easily could have been 8-6 with a little better luck here and there. Week 5 promises to be intriguing, with new trades taking place, top notch surprises meeting top notch expectations, and some teams that are struggling and fighting for their lives way too early in the season. I pick ’em all, follow along and enjoy!

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Cincinnati Bengals (+9) @ Baltimore Ravens:I think the Ravens and Bengals are eerily similar as far as team skill is concerned. So 9 points obviously seems like way too much for me. Many are forgetting that the Bengals are one hail-mary away from being 4-0 to start the season. They haven’t dominated their competition, but 3 wins (two against quality opponents like Green Bay and Pittsburgh) give me a lot to like. A lot of people like to say that spreads don’t mean much, that the team that wins covers 80% of the time – and that may be true, but I think this game has the makings of a down-to-the-wire contest, with either team needing a big play to get the win. In that case, I’ll take the team with the 9 points, even if I’d give the Ravens a slight not in chance to win straight up.

Cleveland Browns (+6) @ Buffalo Bills: I hate to do this, because seeing Eric Man-Jina trade away his star offensive receiver only to put together his first win of the season in the process kind of makes me sick to my stomach. But, as the cards begin to stack, I can see too much to like about Cleveland and the points. They proved last week that they can run the ball well against a good defense. That should go a long way to covering the spread against the Bills. Then I see the injuries mounting in Buffalo. Offensively, they are probably fine, but they are already down two offensive linemen since the start of the season. Defensively it seems like every starter in their secondary is injured. Their starting safeties could both miss the game, their #1 pick from last year’s draft is now on IR, and their highly touted linebacker, Paul Posluszny is also out. This team needs to grind out clock, and instead the Bills rock the hurry-up. Until they figure that out, I’ll happily take their opponent and 6 points. I’m not sure how this spread started this high in the first place.

Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5): I don’t think this bet has great value. This line started out at -6 for the Panthers, but has moved to just -3.5 – on the other hand, most of the bets continue to come in on 0-3 Carolina. However, I think the Panthers have enough big play ability to capture their first win. They are coming off two weeks of preparation, are better than 0-4, and should be able to run the ball against the Redskins. Washington’s two wins come against two of the worst teams in football, and neither were decisive. The Panthers have shot themselves in the foot repetitively, and have suffered greatly from a lack of good play calling. I think they re-commit to the run and stay relatively mistake free on Sunday to take down the Redskins by a touchdown.

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Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5) @ Detroit Lions: Let me preface this with telling you that Detroit covers double digit spreads most of the time. However, despite their single win two weeks ago, this team has been hit by the injury bug. Now, some of the injured players might make it to the field on Sunday, but I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. I expect the Steelers Defense to give Matthew Stafford fits if he plays. I expect that physical Steeler style of play to be tough on the guys out playing with physical problems. I also expect the Lions to continue their brutal play at home. They were 1-7 ATS in Detroit last season. That’s right, 1-7. ATS… And they were often huge dogs. They don’t play well against the fans that have become accustomed to watching them lose. I expect more Steeler fans than Lion fans, the Steelers here are an easy pick.

Dallas Cowboys (-8.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: I know KC is a tough place to play, and I know the Cowboys haven’t been very good this year. But Tony Romo will find room in that secondary, plenty of it, and lets just say the Chiefs defense can cure a lot of ills for the Cowboys offense. On the contrary I don’t think KC will find much room to run against Dallas’s front line. They’ve been good much of the year and I think that continues. Dallas came into the season a little overrated, and their Week 1 win just added to that, but I still expect them to fight for a playoff spot in a tough NFC East – if they are going to do that, destroying a team like KC is expected. Dallas does their best work against bad teams, the Chiefs are that.

Oakland Raiders @ New York Giants (-15): I absolutely hate doing this, taking a 15 point favorite. But the Giants play at home, and with Eli hurting I think they run even more than usual. That might keep the game close, sure, but it will also keep the Giants on the field offensively, running the life out of that Raiders defense. This has the looks of a 27-3 game if I’ve ever seen one. 27 minus 3 is 24, that’s a cover. The Raiders have given up 23 points or more three times this year, I expect that to happen for the 4th time. If that does indeed happen, like I expect, then the Giants have to cover. Because no way are the Raiders scoring 10 points against the Giants defense. The Raiders have been out-rushed and out-passed in every single game this season. Oakland = JV team (with some varsity studs suiting up for fun) and one lunatic owner that likely enjoys making people millionaires that very well shouldn’t be. All this has me taking the Giants, even if I am with the public on a huge NFL favorite.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+15) @ Philadelphia Eagles: Here I am again, taking a huge dog. They surely didn’t help me last week, but if I believe anything it’s that last week rarely means much when picking this week’s games. What I like about the Bucs as a 15 point dog is that they’ve lost just one game by more than 13 points this season, a 24-0 trouncing at the hands of the Giants in a game where absolutely everything that could have gone wrong actually did. In the last 3 years they’ve only lost 3 games by more than 15 points. I know this is a different team than they have been. The Bucs aren’t a good football team, they aren’t as good as I expected them to be even though the most I expected was mediocre. But McNabb should be a little rusty, and Tampa should run the ball a lot, eating away at the clock and Philly’s chances to win by three scores. It’s always tough to take a huge dog, a team with a 95% chance to lose, but I have to here, the value is too good. The Bucs aren’t the Raiders after all.

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Minnesota Vikings (-10) @ St. Louis Rams: My opinion, the Rams are the worst team in football. Another opinion, the Vikings are one of the best. I know this game is on the road in a dome after a short week, but I can’t over-think this match-up too much. It’s the Vikings and the Rams – and I have to think the Vikings are at least 10 points better than the worst team in football. A dissolved offensive line, a running game that will find no room, and a quarterback issue that has no answer on the team. Adrian Peterson couldn’t tear up the Packers, but I bet he makes his mark on St. Louis. I’ll take the Vikes, me and everyone else.

Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) @ San Francisco 49ers: I want to take the Niners here, before any research I liked the 49ers, especially just -2.5 at home. I think the 49ers are one of the better teams in football. Atlanta travels a long way to play an old foe, and the Falcons offense hasn’t been nearly as successful as they were last year. The running game has slowed down to a crawl, and Matt Ryan hasn’t thrown the ball all that much, taking very few chances. But I wonder what a week away will do to the Falcons, and I wonder what a week away from playing the JV team in St. Louis does for the 49ers. What I’ve found in my research with Atlanta is that they generally struggle against teams that throw the ball real well, not necessarily a strength of the 49ers. Over their last 14 games, they’ve only lost to the Eagles, Patriots, Cardinals, and Saints – what do all those teams have in common? Prolific passers, air attacks that do most of their offensive damage. Atlanta isn’t great against the run, but they seem to do okay if they can key in on that part of an offense. Shaun Hill has done a good job, but the Falcons will make him win the game for the 49ers. History says he won’t be able to, and that has me going with the small road dog.

Houston Texans @ Arizona Cardinals (-5.5): I like the Cardinals to win. Now, they don’t run the ball real well, so they won’t be taking full advantage of teh Texans defense, but Houston is generally terrible on the road, Arizona stops the run well, and the Cardinals score enough to keep up with and out-do the Texans. This game opened as a 7 point favorite game for the Cardinals, I think that’s more even value. But, since the line has moved, I see the Cardinals as a solid side bet here.

New England Patriots (-3) @ Denver Broncos: I’ll take Bill against his old assistant coach. Everybody has been talking about how the Patriots miss Josh McDaniels, about how the offense doesn’t look the same without him, well, I expect that to motivate a couple Patriots this week, and I’m still one of the few that think New England is an elite team in this league. Denver just can’t go 5-0, can they? They have a chance, definitely, I doubt this game will be a blowout. However, the Broncos beating the Cowboys last week doesn’t make them a great team. If they ice the Patriots in Week 5, I’ll give them their due, but until that happens, the Patriots as a 3 point favorite against a team that has beaten Cincinnati, Cleveland, Oakland, and Dallas – sure, I’ll take my chances and like them. Plus, if all else fails, I can just wait for the refs to give a huge call to New England, right?

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Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks: As if the Hawks needed more problems, their best pass rusher (Patrick Kerney) is out on defense while their offensive injury woes continue with the loss of starting OT, Sean Locklear. It’s getting gross. I don’t know what it is about Seattle, one of the healthiest major cities in the world, but the home town Seahawks just can’t seem to stay healthy there. Injury free, I would probably take the Hawks here. But injury free isn’t an option, and Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars’ physical style of play only make room for more Seahawks injuries. David Garrard has played very well, and there’s holes in that Hawks secondary. If Matty Hasselbeck comes back, the Hawks have a chance, but I don’t know how the Hawk brass could put their main guy out there with rib problems and neither of his starting OTs to protect him. I’ll take the healthy team.

Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) @ Tennessee Titans: Bad value, bad value, but I pick them all! The Titans and Colts have split each of the last 3 years. That’s pretty interesting to me considering the persona of these two teams during that time period. Last year’s win by the Colts was basically meaningless, as it was Jim Sorgi leading the Colts to victory in a game where most starters sat from both teams. But this is a different year, no doubt, and the Colts have yet to lose while plowing through their last two opponents by a combined score of 65-27. The NFC West hasn’t stood a chance thus far. Peyton Manning has come in dominating, and the Colts defense that normally gives up tons of rushing yardage, has tightened a little. The Titans, on the other hand, are winless after 4 attempts. The best regular season record from yester-year hasn’t gotten over Alberty Haynesworth’s departure, and surprisingly it’s their secondary getting pushed around because of it. I really want to go against the Colts here, I know the public will be throwing everything at Indianapolis, and besides last week’s destruction at the hands of the Jaguars, the Titans have played pretty good football and lost to some pretty good teams (Pittsburgh, Houston, the New York Jets – all losses by a touchdown or less). But I believe the Titans secondary to be a lovely match-up for Colts’ backers. Peyton should pick apart one of the more porous secondaries in football, so I have to take the Colts, even with the bad line value.

New York Jets (-2) @ Miami Dolphins: It comes down to the Jets slowing the Dolphins rushing attack so Miami can’t score many touchdowns, the Jets pass rush putting too much pressure on a quarterback starting his second game at the NFL level, and an offense that struggled last week and will re-commit to the run this time around. The Dolphins are a solid football team, I like them, they are much better than their 1-3 record insists – but they just don’t have a good match-up with the Jets. The Colts are a nice match-up for them. Lots of good teams will have plenty of trouble with the Dolphins, I just don’t think the Jets are one of them. Neither does the public, but so what, the public wins sometimes too. Scary spread, it hasn’t really moved at all despite nearly 70% loving the road Jets on Monday Night Football in Miami. But I ain’t scared. Lets do work!

Free Week 4 NFL Predictions

Well, if I would have just asked the public who to take last week in my free NFL predictions I would have ended up way ahead – that’s for sure. As far as I can see, the public went 12-4 last week. That’s a good day for the people and a bad day for the books, but don’t you worry, they books will be back to get theirs. I’m not sure that will happen this week, but it will happen in good time. As it turns out, I’m going against the public in 9 of 16 contests, that sounds good enough. Here’s how I see the games going in Week 4.

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Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears (-10): Believe it or not Joe Public is loving the Detroit Lions in this one. How much? Well, after the public has spent much of the last few years running away from the Lions like the Road Runner from Wiley Coyote, 61% of the bunch likes Detroit this week. That might be giving them a little too much credit huh? I mean, it took them 20 games to win once over the last year plus. The Bears are a good football team, despite their early struggles – they sit at 2-1 with at least one very good win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game is in Chicago, and Detroit’s secondary shouldn’t have an easy time with Jay Cutler, even if Jay is locking in on his receivers. Detroit has covered in 4 of the last 5 contests in this match-up, but I like the Bears in this one. 10 seems like a lot for a Bears team that has yet to play a game decided by more than 6 points this year, but like I said, I like them to have their way with the Lions.

Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5) @ Cleveland Browns: The Bengals beat the Browns, that’s the way it has gone in 7 of the last 9 games between these two franchises. But history shmistery, I have better reasons for taking Cincinnati. One, the Bengals are actually good. Now the public apparently knows this as the game started out with the Bengals favored by jut 3.5, but the spread has shot up 2 full points already. I imagine it gets to 6, maybe 6.5 by Sunday. I think Vegas just put this spread out way too low, thinking the public still things the Bengals are the Bungles. Now don’t get me wrong, Cincinnati has proven over the years that they are always ready to take a step back into the Bungle past, but I don’t think it’s this week. Unlike year’s past, the Bengals are committed to the run these days. Cedric Benson may not be flashy, but he gets the job done, and I expect that to especially be the case against the Browns. The Brownies have been outrushed by 339 yards over the first three games. You can go ahead and do the math on that one, yes, lots of yards per game. I don’t know what Eric Man-Jina has done to this defense but they weren’t this bad against the run last year. They did have to play Baltimore and Minnesota in 2 of their first 3, but Denver outrushed the Browns by 132 yards. I think the Bengals kill in this one, but so does the public, 77% of them… ugh.

Oakland Raiders (+9) @ Houston Texans: This game has moved up to 9.5 and even 10 on some books, as 54% of the bets are still coming in on the Texans despite seeing the spread move 1.5 points in the Raiders’ favor. Listen, I like the Texans and I think Al Davis is the designer and carrier of all major diseases, but the Raiders shouldn’t be a two score underdog in Houston. Houston’s rushing attack hasn’t been good enough, but even if it is better against the Raiders, I know their rush defense won’t be. If you can’t stop a running team from running, it’s very hard to win by 10 points. You look at Houston’s past and you’ll see how rare it is that they kill an opponent. That’s because if you can’t stop the run, you rarely win big. I think the Raiders run the ball well here, keeping it close if nothing else.

Seattle Seahawks (+10.5) @ Indianapolis Colts: Like the Texans, the Colts can play in their fair share of close games as well. Now I don’t expect them to lose, but Seattle is going to run the ball, and they’re going to do it successfully. Seattle has also shown, with the exception of Frank Gore, an ability to stop the run. Now Peyton should pick the Hawks secondary apart, no doubt, but if Seneca can stay mistake free I think it will be very difficult for the Colts to win by more than 10 points. Again, you look at it historically and you’ll see it’s pretty rare. Don’t believe me? The Colts always win big? Try this: Indianapolis won 11 games last season, how many of them were by more than 10 points? You didn’t guess it, the answer is two. The Hawks are full of injuries, no doubt, but they get healthier on the offensive line this week, or so I’ve been reading, and I think that helps their covering cause.

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Tennessee Titans (-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: 70% like Tennessee here. This is a very tough one for me, but in the end I’m with them. I would like to preface my selection with this: if the Titans weren’t 0-3 I would be taking the Jaguars here for sure. I think Jacksonville should find some openings in the Titan secondary, and MJD will probably have a decent day despite Tennessee’s stellar run defense. But the Titans can’t go 0-4. Nope, I don’t see it. This is not a losing team. Chris Johnson will have a big day, and LenDale White will have his best game of the year, scoring a touchdown or two as the Titans pull it off by a touchdown. I don’t think either of these teams is bad enough to be 1-3, but both will be after this weekend.

New York Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs (+9): The Giants have beaten the Chiefs by 10 or more points every time these two teams have played since 1998. Now that doesn’t mean much to me, I’m just saying so you know. The Giants can really run the ball, the Chiefs can’t stop the run. The Giants take full advantage of the passes they do attempt, the Chiefs shoot themselves in the foot with penalties like it’s their job. The Chiefs struggle with pressure put on them by opposing defenses, the Giants can make life hell on most quarterbacks while rushing just four guys. Now, I wanted to let you know all that stuff before I told you this: I’m taking the Chiefs (+9). Call me nuts, it wouldn’t be the first time, but I like the Chiefs to cover. KC isn’t as bad as the Bucs have been, and I’d say they are better than the Redskins. The Giants should have gotten beat by the Cowboys and they couldn’t put the finishing touches on the Redskins despite dominating that game. Everyone and their mother likes the Giants in this one, I think 9 is too many in Kansas City. There it is.

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots (-1.5): The Ravens are a very good team, I just don’t think they match up well against the Patriots. Tom Brady and company should, like other teams the Ravens have played this year, find room to throw on Baltimore’s secondary. And they throw a lot. I don’t think the Patriots have a great defense, but they are the best unit Baltimore has gone against so far this year. KC, San Diego, and Cleveland aren’t going to scare anyone. I think the Patriots started to figure it out late last week against the Falcons, and that continues here. Baltimore has had trouble with prolific passing attacks in the past, and I think that historical norm continues this weekend. The Patriots favored by just a couple at home is good enough for me! As many of you know, I make my picks then check the public numbers, and I’m always excited to be surprised. How the public has forgotten about the Patriots, 57% like the road Ravens in this one. Crazy. That always makes me feel good.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Redskins (-7): Well, I took the Redskins last week, so I have to take them here, at home, against a Bucs team that basically told the world that they are building for the future by benching Byron Leftwich, their starting quarterback that played pretty damn well to start the season. I’ve decided I’d rather take a talented team that doesn’t respect their head coach over a team that has already accepted losing all season long. Tough call, but that’s the direction I’m going. Haynesworth should be playing well this week, he’s listed as probably but said to be healthy, and if that’s the case I think the Redskins do a good job of shutting down the Bucs running game. They’ll have 8 in the box all game long, and I don’t think Josh Johnson in his first career start will torch the Redskins. Jason Campbell has looked decent to me, but the Redskins need to run the ball. I think they will, and that should give them a double digit win.

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Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins (+2): The Dolphins have a great running game that will be used even more extensively now that their starting QB is out. Now that defenses will have to prepare for a quarterback with a strong arm, I think the Dolphins will be tougher stack up against. With elite speed like Ted Ginn Jr.’s and a QB that can make all the throws, I can see the Dolphins getting some big play action plays going here. All Chad Henne has to do is not throw interceptions, and I really like the Dolphins chances – if he does get pick happy, I’m in trouble with this one. This game is close to a toss up for me, and both teams have a lot to play for in a very tough division – but I’ll take the home team and a running game that has really impressed me.

New York Jets (+7) @ New Orleans Saints: I like the Jets. Their defense is better than the Saints, they have great balance on offense, and the Saints didn’t play all that well last week despite winning 27-7 against Buffalo: it was 10-7 Saints in the 4th quarter. The Jets have a great secondary, the best the Saints will see this season. I just think the Jets are the better team, so +7 is way too big for me to think any other way.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) @ Denver Broncos: I think Dallas is a little overrated, but I also think Tony Romo has played poorly to start the season despite being very good. This Dallas team will win a lot of games, and should move to 3-1 with relative ease against the Broncos this week. Now Denver has been solid, and they are a decent team, no doubt, but getting some luck to beat Cincinnati, then methodically galloping through Cleveland and Oakland isn’t the same as matching up well with the Cowboys. The Broncos have used their rushing attack a lot over the last couple weeks, outrushing Oakland and Cleveland by 252 yards – but that won’t happen against Dallas. No-no. Kyle Orton will have to beat the Cowboys, and despite Orton’s winning ways during his tenure as a starter in this league, rarely does his team play well when he has to win with his arm. A road game for the Cowboys, but they’ll be hurting if they fall to 2-2 in the NFC East. I think they play very well in Denver and while the game will be closer than a lot of people think, I still think Dallas wins by a touchdown.

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers (-9.5): The 49ers are as good as they’ve shown. They have a stout defense that brings it every play. They have elite players in the secondary, in the line backing crew, and on the defensive line. They have an offense that pounds it until opposing defenses can’t take it anymore. The only reason I’d take the Rams here is because they actually have a chance now that Marc Bulger is out. I think last week’s last second loss puts some piss and vinegar into the 49ers this week. They should be 3-0 if black magic didn’t strike them dead in Week 3. St. Louis is still the worst team in football, even with Bulger finally on the sidelines. This win would make San Francisco undefeated against the entire NFC West to start the season, and I know Mike Singletary will have made that an emphasis for this playoff bound 49ers squad. Now the 49ers aren’t going to win a lot of games by double digits, but they’re not going to play the Rams very often, either. Take them here, despite the high spread.

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San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5): Even the Steelers can run the ball against San Diego’s defense. Now Pittsburgh has played pretty poorly to start the season, never being able to finish, and lucking out to have just one win thus far (they should have lost to the Titans). But they’ll play better in this one. THe Chargers aren’t good defensively, and I don’t think they run with any success in Pittsburgh. I don’t think the world of the Steelers but doubt they drop to 1-3 to start the season, not with all that open room to accrue yardage against the Chargers defense. How does San Diego’s 24-20 win over Oakland look right now? How about their 10 point win against Miami when they were down 6-3 after Chad Pennington went down? Listen, neither of these teams is as good as everyone thought heading into the season, but Pittsburgh is still the better team. I like the over here a lot as well, but since I only take sides, I’ll just say I’m leaning on the over. Many big plays in this one, Steelers by 10 at home on Sunday Night Football.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings (-3.5): The Vikings are the better team. Defensively, offensively, probably in special teams as well. Green Bay has been pretty mediocre to start the season, both through the air and on the ground. Minnesota has done both well. Now, if you read my picks weekly, you’ll know that I usually bet against a team that I thought should have lost last week. The Vikings should have lost. Nobody throws a 40 yard laser to the back of the end zone with 2 seconds left to win the game – nobody besides Brett Favre and Steve Young. Brett did it last week to the Niners, and some years ago Steve did it to Brett’s defense in Green Bay. I love Brett’s competitive spirit too much to see him losing to his old team. Since Green Bay didn’t want him back, he’s been aiming to beat his old squad. He gets his chance for the first time this Monday Night, I’ll forget what I usually do and I’ll take the Vikings by a touchdown in this one.