Arizona Cardinals @ New York Giants (-7) Free NFL Pick: I think one of the best teams in football will rebound against a one-dimensional Arizona team. I think the Giants pass rushers will pin their ears back and get to Warner a handful of times – everybody knows, if you can get to Kurt you can take down the Cardinals. People look at last week’s game against the Hawks and have to see a 27-3 game that Arizona dominated, but in reality the Hawks just sucked offensively. It was pressure, sure, but the Cardinals will have to bring more guys if they want to penetrate that offensive line in New York. That will open up big plays for Eli, and as much as I’ve been on the guy over the past few seasons, calling him overrated among other things, he looks like a Top 10 QB in the league these days, and his confidence and will to win has me appreciating him a lot more, even though he has a gooey saddest boy face on the sidelines. No running game against the Giants spells trouble, Justin Tuck and company spell’s sack city.
New York Jets (-5.5) @ Oakland Raiders Football Pick: The Oakland Raiders threw a wrench into everybody’s well laid out plans boasting them as one of the NFL’s worst teams when they upset the heavily favored Philadelphia Eagles last week. Now it was nearly as much the Eagles’ fault as it was the Raiders, but when a team wins they need to get some credit. The Eagles decision to forget the run and rely almost exclusively on the pass got in their way of victory last Sunday, and needless to say, that wasn’t the first time. But who benefitted? The Raiders. They brought lots of pressure defensively, and despite good yard per carry averages from Brian Westbrook, the limited number of carries limited the damage. But now Oakland comes off that huge high to play a Jets team coming off their 3rd straight loss. Yeah, I like the Jets chances. Unlike the Eagles, the Jets won’t forget the run, in fact, I think they’ll rely more heavily on it than any game this season. The pressure won’t be on Mark Sanchez’s arm, but the offensive line and a talented running back group. That should spell certain doom for a Raiders team looking to make it two wins in a row. The line coming down from 7.5 to 5.5 has me going with the Jets with some good confidence.
Oklahoma Sooners (-7.5) @ Kansas Jayhawks Fre Pick: This is one of those fantastic situations that shows you how much Top 25 rankings really mean. The Sooners are missing at least 2 First Round NFL Draft picks, one of which won the Heisman Trophy last season, Sam Bradford, and was pretty universally listed as the Top NFL Prospect in all the land heading into the season. They are heading into 6-1, 21st ranked Kansas to play the Jayhawks, and who’s favored? The Sooners, by a touchdown, and get ready for this, they are a good bet. Rankings are a joke, it’s too bad they mean anything at all. I’ll take the unranked road favorites here. Believe it.
Atlanta Falcons (+4) @ Dallas Cowboys Free Pick: The Cowboys have allowed #1 receiving options to run free most of the season, that doesn’t bode well for their chances at beating up on the Falcons. With Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White getting open and picking apart the Cowboys secondary, I don’t think the Cowboys’ ability to stop the run will have much to say about the outcome of this game. Plus, I get the feeling that the Falcons can run the ball on anyone if they really set their minds to it. But Matt Ryan should find open spaces, despite big names in Dallas’s secondary, and a couple great defensive line players, the pressure hasn’t been there this season, and thus opposing quarterbacks have had lots of time to throw the ball. If Matt gets time, his receivers will get open. Thinking that will happen, I like their chances to cover against the Boys.
Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals (-1): The Bengals, favored at home, against a mediocre NFC team – yeah, I like my chances. Now, the Bears shot themselves in the foot all week long against the Broncos, and the game was still very close – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to carry over here. The Bengals also have a very good defense, a secondary that preys on mistakes by opposing quarterbacks, often baiting them into poor throws. It’s also a defense that rarely breaks completely. The Bengals have given up 21 points or more just twice this season, making offenses work for their touchdowns is a big reason they are 4-2. I know Jay Cutler has a rocket cannon arm, but the Bears will once again be limited to their passing game as the Bengals have the ability to shut down a Bears run game that has been weak all season long. Cedric Benson will have something to prove in this game, and I think he’ll get his teammates to climb on his back for this victory. He’s been running angry so far this season, and I think he’s been looking forward to this match-up for a long time. The Bengals are good, they’ve had some late comebacks, but they aren’t flukey, they are a good value bet at home against the Bears.
New Orleans Saints (-6.5) @ Miami Dolphins Free Pick: I really want to take the Dolphins here. I know the public is going to be jocking the Saints like nobody’s business, and Vegas is on pace to hit a few like that coming up. But I can’t buy enough into the Dolphins in the match-up. Why? The Saints have been too good against the run, and more importantly, too good running the ball. That’s right, you heard me. Lost in Drew Brees’s amazing season thus far is the glue that’s truly making this team great, the running back by committee approach. While Drew has been on fire, people forget to realize that this rushing attack has out-rushed every single opponent they’ve gone up against this season. That means two things, the offensive line has been dominant, and also, the defensive front has been stellar. You don’t out-rush every single opponent unless you can stop the run when you’re not on the field. That single aspect of this Saints defense makes me think the Wildcat might have met their match. I’d love to see the upset here, I just don’t think it will happen.
Oregon Ducks (-8.5) @ Washington Huskies: I’d love to think the Huskies were a good bet at +8-10 at home, wait, who am I kidding, they passed on recruiting me, still a little bitter, I love betting against the Dogs. But they’ve been tough to go against, definitely. They play close with everyone and possess one of the best players in the Nation, quarterback Jake Locker. But they struggle stopping the run, and Oregon thrives running the ball. I don’t think the Huskies are strong enough up from to stop the Ducks from doing anything. While UW will surely put up a few big plays, and score some points, if they can’t stop the Ducks, no amount of big plays will be enough to cover this one.Like Stanford, the Ducks won’t be tricked into throwing the ball. They will pound it on the ground, thus dominating the Huskies up front. I like the road favorites here, there D has improved a ton over the last 4-5 weeks.
Iowa Hawkeyes (+2) @ Michigan State Spartans: I can’t just pick against the Hawkeyes because they are ranked 6th in the Nation and an underdog against 4-3 Michigan State. I know the Spartans have played better of late, but wins over Michigan (in overtime), Illinois, and Northwestern don’t really blow me away. The Hawkeyes have gotten by in ugly fashion, sure, and they are probably due for a loss, but their fights have shown me how resilient they are, and that alone is worth a small bet to me, especially against a Spartan team that is also due to have a tough go of it after three straight wins. Against my normal system play (unrated favorite over ranked dog is almost always a bet on the favorite) but I like Iowa’s chances on the road.
Penn State Nittany Lions (-4) @ Michigan Wolverines: In two games against decent teams this season (Iowa and Michigan State) the Wolverines were out-gained in total yardage. They lost both of those games. Penn State has out-gained every single opponent they’ve played so far this season. I’m just saying. Both teams have played pretty easy schedules, but at least the Lions have looked good in all games but one. Defensively they’ve been strong, never giving up more than 3 scores, holding opponents to a touchdown or less in 5 of their 7 games. Michigan doesn’t have that kind of ability defensively, they’ll need to win in a shoot-out against the Lions, and I don’t think Penn State will allow that to happen. Four is one point more than I’d like, but I’ll take the Lions over Michigan, making it back to back wins for the first time in a long time.
Boston College Golden Eagles (+8) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Free Pick: The Eagles struggle when teams have the ability to run the ball with speed and power. That’s not the Irish. Sure, they have some talent, and some big boys up front, but when it comes right down to it, they are a foo-foo offense that likes to throw the ball when going gets tough, or right off the bat for that matter. That should allow the discipline Golden Eagles to stay in this game, and cover that 8 point spread against a Irish team with a defense that just can’t get stops. ND might win, with the luck of the Irish and all, but I like the Eagles to cover.