Atlanta Falcons (+12) @ New Orleans Saints MNF Free Pick: It’s Monday Night Football, these are two good football teams, it’s an NFC South rivalry game, the Saints are coming off a lucky comeback win, the Falcons are coming off a disappointing loss, 12 points is just too much on that stage with those circumstances. The value is with the Falcons. I know New Orleans has been great, just short of unbelievable when you talk about the different ways they’ve found to win football games, cover spreads, and involve every single part of their football team. They are awesome to watch. Drew Brees is one of the better football players I’ve ever watched and I’ve tuned into a couple football games over the years. The Saints have a trio of running backs that are all solid in their own different ways, sometimes downright dominant. But the Falcons have their own punch, surely. Matt Ryan is a very good young QB, and Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner give him an impressive threesome of talent at skill positions. The Falcons lose something defensively in this match-up, but they will find ways to make plays to keep close. It’s a huge game for both teams, I like the Falcons coming off a beat down last week – that should give them enough of a kick in the tail pipe to be ready for the Saints. I know the big favorites have dominated the season thus far, but games like this just don’t get 12 points – that’s way too many.
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) @ Green Bay Packers: Now it’s very hard to beat a good opponent twice in the same season, but I just don’t see these two teams as equals. Last time out, the Packers did a good job of shutting down Adrian Peterson, but Brett Favre had wide open places to throw the ball, basically beating his old team single handily. I don’t see the Vikings getting their rushing attack shut down again, especially against a Packers team that doesn’t normally do a great job stuffing the run. AP is one hell of a player, one of the most powerful and physical backs I’ve seen, and his running style should pierce the Packers front 7. Green Bay has beaten Minnesota 5 out of the last 6 times they’ve played coming into this season. But the Vikings are obviously a different team now. Minnesota is coming off a loss to the Steelers in which they should have won. They moved the ball better, were in position to put points on the board more, but just couldn’t find a way to get the points side of the job done. This is the first time Brett Favre will find himself back in Green Bay playing football, something that will surely be emotional for him. He’s always been better with emotions flying, I see no reason to believe this will be any different. Vikings and points? You bet, sign me up!
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-3) NFL Free Pick: The Titans have obviously been brutal, at least lately. People forget that they challenged to win each of their first three games, losing by 3 to the Steelers on opening night, by 3 to the Texans in Week 2, and falling by 7 to the Jets in Week 3. After that it’s pretty much been a vertical slip’n’slide into a pit of lava. The Titans have lost three more since their defeat at the hands of the Jets, getting outscored 127-26. That includes one of the most lopsided defeats in NFL history, a 59-0 drubbing by the Patriots that included 5 touchdown passes in the 2nd quarter alone by Tom Brady. The Titans also lost 17-37 at Jacksonville to start off that three game self destruction. Yes, needless to say, it has been bad in Tennessee.
It hasn’t been flowers, sunshine, and sausage gravy in Jacksonville either. The Jaguars have 3 wins to their names, but most recently needed overtime to beat the Rams (that’s like losing) and prior to that were embarrassed by the Seahawks, of all teams, 41-0 in Seattle. Despite being a running team, Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t been as effective as many expected, getting held under 70 yards in three games this year, including a 6 carry for 14 yard performance against Tennessee. MJD is still having a solid season, but he’s done that primarily when taking advantage of good match-ups against bad run defenses. The Titans insert Vince Young into the starting quarterback role this week, and that could go one of two ways, bringing the Titans forward or dropping them back. It can’t get much worse than 0-6, no doubt, and, at the very least, Vince Young has been a winner throughout his football career. Will it be enough to win by more than 3 points against the Jaguars? I think so. I think the extra week off helps the Titans, gets them off the snide, and back in the winner’s column.
Oakland Raiders (+17.5) @ San Diego Chargers Prediction: The Chargers aren’t a great football team. They aren’t in the Patriots, Giants, Colts, Saints, Vikings, type group. That pretty much makes them a bad-value-bet as a double digit favorite. When that double digit favorite moves over 3 scores (a couple touchdowns and a field goal) they move even farther away from value and into a whole new category of auto-fade. Can the Chargers beat the Raiders by 3 touchdowns? You bet. It’s just not a great bet to happen. Oakland is bad, no doubt, but they aren’t the Rams. Defensively they have the talent to make some big plays, rush the passer, force the Chargers into some mistakes. San Diego doesn’t have a run-stuffing defensive front, so if Oakland can run the ball even a little bit (which I believe they can) they have a pretty good shot at keeping this one close. It’s never one of the safest bets in the world to take the Raiders, they’ve lost four games by 20 points or more so far this season. But they’ve also won twice, and kept their opening night game close against San Diego, despite terrible offensive play from their side. Defensively, they should keep this closer than 17. Any team (+17.5) against San Diego has solid value.
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals (-10)Football Pick: Many sharp bettors see this game as great value for the Panthers. They have a rushing attack that should be able to get some yards against an Arizona front 7 that has basically eliminated rushing attacks all season long (ranking #1 in stopping the run) and Arizona is coming off a huge win, almost surely ready for down game. And this line, in my opinion, is too close to wager too much, but I like the Cardinals despite the inflated spread. Definitely, this one can’t be considered a value bet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t expect the Cardinals to cover. What I see from Carolina is a team that should be 0-fer the season. They are only so lucky to have Tampa Bay and Washington in back to back games a couple weeks ago. Anybody that watched either of those games knows that the Bucs and Skins will beat themselves if you just give them time. Carolina tried, but they couldn’t lose those two games. Arizona isn’t going to beat themselves, which could cause trouble for the Panthers’ chances in this one. Arizona has found a bit of a rushing attack with Beanie Wells, and they always have Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and a young fella named Kurt Warner to distribute the ball. The Cardinals are a good team, last season wasn’t a fluke. The Panthers are a turnover waiting for Jake Delhomme to happen, and the Cardinals definitely have enough playmakers to take advantage of that. Great value? No sir, but if I have to pick a side, my money would be on Arizona.
St. Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions (-3.5) Free NFL Pick: This game should be switched into the Monday Night slot, why you ask? because we deserve to see it, that’s why! St. Louis and Detroit, two of the more mortal teams in the league, and everyone could be on the edge of their seats hoping for a 0-0 tie. My question is this, if no team every scores, can it really be considered a tie, or can we just go ahead and call it two losses? But lets not talk about losses, because everybody wins in a game like this. It’s a shame the Lions already got of the snide this season, or this could be really special. Okay, all jokes aside, I think the Lions are a much better team that the Rams, but that could just be me getting in the way of my eyes. I’ve said for quite some time, since Week 6 last year maybe, that the Rams were the worst team in football. Don’t look now, but I think I’m right. The Lions are favored by more than a field goal, something I never thought would happen this season, and their best player (Calvin Johnson) is once again probably out for the game. But hey, this Lions team is better defensively, they have an offensive line that cares a little bit, and I think they string together their 2nd win of the season, keeping the hapless Rams, well, hapless – and winless too! You can bet that Detroit doesn’t want to be a team’s first win this late in the season, think of how great it would be for the Lions if somebody else went 0-16. If they win here, that chance remains. Go Lions, boo Rams!
San Francisco 49ers (+13.5) @ Indianapolis Colts Free Pick: I liked the 49ers at -12 to start the week, but this one has a chance of getting to 14 points. Oh, that would make me feel so good. Still, 13 is a good number to get past as well, that way a touchdown and a couple field goals up still keeps me in the money. The 49ers are a good team, and I know the Colts have marched through quite a few squads so far, leaving nothing but Peyton Manning commercials in their wake, but this 49er team has heart, they showed that early in the season and they showed that late last week when they fought and scratched back into a game most teams would have just walked away from. Alex Smith definitely has his hands full in his first start in quite some time, but I think the 49ers can run on Indy if they just full commit to doing so. Frank Gore should be healthier and back in the game this week. I see this game being a lot closer. An out right win would surprise me, but don’t put it past the 49ers, staying within 13 seems like a good bet to me.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (-3) Free NFL Pick: Let me say this, the Dolphins straight kicked around the Jets last time these two teams went at it, and the Jets have only gotten bad news in terms of their run defense since then, Kris Jenkins is out for the season. But the Jets aren’t as bad as they played a few weeks ago, and they won’t be that bad this Sunday. It’s very hard to beat a good team twice, especially in such a short period of time. You think the Jets will walk into this game like they deserve to win? After the beatdown the Wildcat put on them last time around? I don’t think so. If I know what the Jets are looking at, and how they are preparing, I don’t think there will be another defense more prepared for what the Dolphins are going to run this time out. The Dolphins have won 2 straight games dating back to last season, but the Jets have won 7 of the last 10 meetings between the two. They have also have a 7-2-1 ATS record in those last 10 games. Giving the ball to Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene is the answer for the Jets, they’ll commit to that this week.
New York Giants (+1) @ Philadelphia Eagles Free Pick: I’m not sure which team played worse last week. I know the Eagles won, so automatically you have to say the Giants turned up the suck the loudest, but I’m not so sure the Eagles would have beaten anybody else in the league besides say Washington and St. Louis last Monday Night. They looked stagnant offensively, getting bailed out by some poor defensive plays on some big passes. That being said, the Giants only really effective pass play was Eli throwing it off the Cardinals secondary in hopes that they would deflect one to Hakeem Nicks. The worked once, and thus the touchdown happened. The Giants have taken it pretty good over their last two games, and I can’t say that doesn’t make me grin a little. The only problem is I picked them on both occasions, and I can’t say that doesn’t make me frown a little. So I have a weird face on, a grin-frown, and I’m still taking the Giants. I’m still rooting hard for Philly, but if the Raiders front can give Donovan and company fits, I believe the Giants’ front 4 will make life downright miserable for the Philly hurler. 68% of the public is with me, dang them. The Giants are 22-5 ATS over their last 27 road games. That’s filthy. Can you blame the public?