Houston Texans (-3) @ Buffalo Bills: The Bills have feasted on opposing quarterbacking mistakes – but I’m sorry, Matt Schaub isn’t a rookie and he’s definitely not Jake Delhomme. Also, the Texans don’t need to pass the ball to win, and the Bills can’t focus their defense on one thing the Texans do to win. Houston can win a lot of ways, and they have a lot of weapons. If you haven’t noticed, Matt Schaub has become one of the better QBs in the NFL. He can throw the ball against anyone, and he has. The Bills’ defense still has a lot of people either missing from or questionable in Sunday’s game. They have an offense that is limited at best. Despite Houston’s history they have been better defensively of late. Sure, the 49ers got back in the game in the 2nd half last week by finding Vernon Davis for 3 touchdowns, but the Texans shut down one of the better rushing attacks in the league, and have shown the ability to make opposing offenses do something they don’t want to do. In a shoot out, the Texans get the nod. In a close game, the Texans have the ability to make that big play that wins the game. They are favored by a field goal on the road, something that has been scary for Texans’ backers for a long time. But this team is a little different. I expect them to battle for a playoff spot, they know this one is important with some big games against solid teams coming up – they have to beat the teams that they are supposed to beat. I’m taking the Texans by a field goal and expecting them to win by a touchdown, maybe two.
San Francisco 49ers (+3) @ Houston Texans: One down game from the 49ers doesn’t have me going away from them here. Now, I like both teams. I thin the Houston Texans are going to put up some wins this season, no doubt, their 3-3 record thus far isn’t a fluke, but the 49ers are too tough for them. San Francisco is coming off a bye, and an off week of feeling that Falcon blasting from Week 5 might just be the thing they needed to step up their play. This will be Michael Crabtree’s first NFL appearance, after he finally signed his rookie deal two weeks ago. But I don’t think Crab will be the guy that makes the difference here, that title goes to the return of Frank Gore. That’s right folks, the spoon that stirs San Francisco’s offense will be back and starting in this one, and that Houston front 7 (or 8 during this game) will have their hands full. I expect the 49ers to win in Houston, so taking them to cover here (getting a field goal free) is just bonus!
Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5): This game started out as a 6.5 point spread favoring the Bengals, and I think that was more accurate in terms of value. Now I’m not sure 2 points will make all the difference, but I’d rather see a 4.5 point fave than a touchdown favorite, at least when I’m taking the home favorite. The Bengals have shown a lot of toughness in the first few weeks of the season. Seemingly down and out in each contest, they’ve fought to get 4 wins in 5 chances, their only loss coming on the Week 1 Hail Mary caught by Brandon Stokely. 65% of the public like the Bengals, but the early money came in on the Texans. 3 of the Bengals wins were certainly worthy, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and their latest W came against the Ravens. Those are 3 solid teams. The Texans have played decent football on the road this season, but I think that trend fails to continue. The Bengals have the rushing attack to punish the Texans while Carson Palmer certainly has the arm, and weapons, to punish Houston for stacking the line of scrimmage. I like the Bengals a lot!
I started tough last week (4 losses to bound my morning up) but finished strong and hope to keep that mo going heading into Week 7’s games. Here’s how I see them getting figured out…
Tennessee Titans (-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs: Thanks books. The Broncos, sure, the Chiefs can magically beat a team like Denver from time to time. Denver throws the ball a lot and hardly relies on the run to even keep teams honest. Offensive football teams like that can lose to bad teams because of freakish mistakes and miscommunication. Teams that pound you into smithereens on both sides of the ball, like Tennessee, don’t lose to bad teams that don’t do anything well, like Kansas City. The Titans are fresh after coming off their bye week and I expect them to get close to a shutout in KC.
San Diego Chargers @ Buffalo Bills (+1): This one is tight, hence the pick em, but I have to take the Bills here. San Diego and Buffalo are different places to play and the Chargers will find that out promptly. It’s an early game, which means the Chargers fly to Buffalo to play at 10 am their time, which usually doesn’t bode well. The Bills aren’t a dominate team by any means, but they play sound football and have an offense that doesn’t produce many mistakes. I like Buffalo in October, like them even better at home, and like them even better early at home against a team from Cali. SO I like this play here a little bit. Still, the Chargers are showing life and they don’t have the time to mess around and lose more games. I still don’t see it from LT yet, and thus I’ll lean toward the Bills.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (-3): The play here is Minnesota, but I’m going against my initial feeling and taking the Bears. I think Chicago can pass on Minnesota and I’m pretty sure that if the Vikes had trouble running on the Lions and Saints, they’ll be bottled up against the Bears. I also love betting against teams that won their game but got beat on the field of play – that’s Minnesota two weeks in a row.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-9.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals: The road team always wins this match-up and while it’s normally pretty close, I just don’t think the Bengals have much confidence, leadership, sense of understanding or hope. They are sending Ryan Fitzsomething to the wolves here, and while Pittsburgh has struggled a bit with injuries, it is expected that Fast Willie Parker could return for this game, and that boost alone should get the Steelers and extra touchdown. That being said they are already a touchdown better than the Bengals. Put those two together and a 28-13 game is what I expect.
Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins (-3): The Ravens just out-physical opponents, and that’s how they win. The new coaching staff in Miami has neutralized that problem by becoming one of the more physical teams in football, on both sides of the ball. Chad Pennington is worth 3 or 4 points over Joe Flacco, and therefor I’m taking the Dolphins. I think they are a pretty solid bet here.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers (-3): I’m against the Saints again, and maybe it will crush me, but until they start doing better work in the red zone I have to go against them on the road against a more complete team. Unlike AP and the Vikes, I do think the Panthers will be able to run against the Saints, and remember what I said, when the Panthers can run they are a top tier team in the NFC.
San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants (-10): Tougher call than you’d think, but I found a line that got down to 10 and thus I’ll run with New York. After playing some very good football for a few weeks straight the Giants were bound to falter a bit on the big stage. That doesn’t mean they are done. They were a little overrated, but they are still a top team in the league. I think their pressure and run-stuffing prowess will give them this game. O’Sullivan isn’t good enough to throw 30 times against the Giants and not get intercepted multiple times. Mike Martz will ignore that fact and thus lose this game by default.
New York Jets (-3) @ Oakland Raiders: Lane Kiffin’s gone, so the Raiders are going to have to prove to me that they can beat somebody without him. Didn’t work so well last week, as the Raiders looked worse than ever before. I don’t think that game is a fluke, I think the Raiders sans Kiffin are more doomed than ever. Take the Jets by a touchdown.
Dallas Cowboys (-6) @ St. Louis Rams: Do the Cowboys lose a little bit without one of the best quarterbacks in football? You bet. Do they lose something wihtout Pacman Jones? Yep. Do they still have a considerable amount of talent that completely trumps anything the Rams have in St. Louis? Most definitely. I think the Cowboys take less chances, make fewer mistakes, and play better football in their first game without Romo and Jones. They are still loaded on the defensive side of the ball and one more offensive weapon for the Cowboys shouldn’t hurt them. I like Dallas by a touchdown on the road in the face of adversity.
Indianapolis Colts (-1) @ Green Bay Packers: I think the Colts are the play here, even without a rushing attack to lean on. Green Bay is solid, but against a bend but don’t break defense I think they’ll have trouble. They don’t have enough of a rushing attack to make the Colts pay, and if Rodgers is throwing 40 times I see some mistakes popping up. I think this game will be quite the offensive showcase, and in such a game, I like to error on the side of one Peyton Manning.
Detroit Lions @ Houston Texans (-8.5): The Texans are good. They’ve lost a lot of games already. The Lions are bad and they will continue to lose games. I like Drew Stanton but don’t think he’ll be enough to cover this spread. Steve Slaton will be running, Matt Schaub will be throwing, and I think Kevin Walter (of all white receivers) will have a very good game at home this Sunday. I think the Texans win by 2-3 touchdowns in this one.
Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10.5): This is the NFL and anything can happen, just like any other sport, but the Hawks are brutal right now, playing with absolutely no confidence and headed into Tampa Bay where the Bucs play stellar defense that should press Charlie Brown Frye into more than a few mistakes. The Hawks are a lost team and Tampa isn’t a heavy offensive point scorer, but they should still cover this monstrous spread. Defensively the Bucs are too consistent for Seattle to put up much more than 14 points.
Cleveland Browns (+7.5) @ Washington Redskins: The Browns were overrated to start the season and the Redskins were definitely underrated. That being said, I don’t think the current difference between these two teams is more than a touchdown. I think Washington moves the ball well, but if you can take away the run a bit they have trouble scoring. The Browns gain a little confidence back after last week’s big win, and while I do think the Skins are a better team, I think this game comes down to a field goal. Even a touchdown still gets me a win, and I am really liking that extra half a point here.
Denver Broncos (+3) @ New England Patriots: Strength versus weakness here. In a couple ways. The Broncos love to throw early and often, and deep. The Patriots are struggling most in their secondary. The Patriots can’t seem to run the ball and everyone puts pressure on them. The Broncos can’t stop the run and can’t put pressure on anyone – I guess that’s a weakness versus a weakness, but that also favors the Broncos. Without much of a rushing threat, the Patriots won’t be able to trick the Broncos into committing to the run. That means the secondary will be more clogged. The Patriots look bad, and while the Broncos have struggled the last few weeks, I see this as a very nice match-up for them.
My Saturday Pre-Season games locked me into a 3-0-1 start to the season. Yes, I love the pre-season just as much if I can make money. Here’s a look at what happened on Saturday to keep me undefeated thus far.
San Francisco 49ers @ Oakland Raiders (UNDER 33.5) (8-8-08) (WIN!)
There was one touchdown in the first half of play – and it was on a punt return by Johnny Lee Higgens. Joe Nedney added a field goal making the total points scored 10. So, I walk into the 2nd half needing 3 touchdowns and a field goal to bust the total and lose me my first game. No bad luck here, though, as the Raiders and 49ers continued their offensive sluggishness on way to just 14 total points in the 2nd half. Mike Martz has his hands full in the Bay – without quarterbacks to throw the ball, even his lesser named receivers will find life difficult. As for this game, BINGO! Hit it right on the bulls-eye.
Denver Broncos @ Houston Texans (-2.5) (8-9-08) (WIN!)
The Texans were up 13-7 at half, and I felt pretty good about my chances to cover. However, the Broncos kicked three second half field goals to tie it all up at 16 a piece. But, as time expired in this one, Kris Brown hit a very short field goal to not only win, but cover that wonderful 2.5 point spread and keep me undefeated during the first week of the pre-season. Sage Rosenfels looked good for the Texans, and as a team they were 18-25 passing the ball. But, it was the Texans 140 rushing yards that controlled the clock and the game. I love to win games in which 7 field goals passed through the uprights.