My Week 14 sees a lot of covers from road teams – and I’m not too sure what to think about that after Week 13 was basically all road team. I do know that I didn’t plan it this way and it’s just the way my eyes see each individual game working out. After another winning week in Lucky Week 13, I’m on to some good things here as well. Don’t trick yourself, check out my free picks!
Oakland Raiders (+11) @ San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have 2 wins by 10 or more points, and last time they played the Raiders they needed 25 4th quarter points to win by 10. What else is that San Diego can’t seem to find a way to come to play against bad teams. The beat KC, sure, but it took a KC missed 2-point conversion to get that win, as they took the Chiefs by a score. It hasn’t been pretty for one of the more talented teams in the AFC, as seen by their 4-8 record after 13 weeks. The Raiders have just 3 wins, but they are playing close with opponents. They’ve finished within 11 points of their opponent in each of their last 4 games, including a big win over Denver in Denver. Should the Raiders be in this game? No, but this is the NFL and the Chargers defense hasn’t been good enough. The whole team hasn’t come to play against lesser opponents. The Raiders are terrible. Getting up for this game during a lost season seems unlikely. I’ll take Oakland on upset Thursday.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Chicago Bears (-3): The Jaguars have 4 wins this season, all coming against teams that can’t run the ball with consistency and power. They have been better on the road (3-3), but that might just be a coincidence based on the teams they’ve played on the road. Indy, Denver, and Detroit were 3 road wins. Indy was brutal early, and still can’t find a consistent rushing attack. Denver is a freaking yo-yo, and they haven’t been able to run the ball consistently all season long, and Detroit – well, they are freaking Detroit (and Kevin Smith still rushed over 100 yards against the Jags). The Bears can really run the ball. Matt Forte is a special big man. He does everything well and that’s everything bad for Jacksonville. I like the Bears to win this one by a touchdown (because, honestly, they haven’t played well over the last half of the season either). They’re still better than the Jags.
Minnesota Vikings (-9) @ Detroit Lions: (NOTE AT THE END OF THIS PARAGRAPH) I can’t bet on the Lions at home. I’m telling you, for a team like Detroit, playing at home isn’t a good thing. You have a stadium that is half empty if you know what I mean, and that empty half is hoping to watch a little piece of history – they are there at the expense of the winless team on the field. Minnesota has a rushing attack good enough to crush the Lions defensive front, and Gus, Bernard, and company do enough through the air to take advantage if Detroit lines up 15 in the box. This game still means a ton to the Vikings, and it’s not like playing in a dome is going to bother them all that much. Daunte Culpepper can’t feel good about going up against that defensive front. They cause lots of injuries and get after quarterbacks like it’s their job. And it is. I expect the Vikings to win by 21-28 points. It will be that bad. The Vikings only won by 2 last time out, and that game should have been the Lions only win, and I’m being dead honest. But this game will be different, you can bet on that. (Okay, here it goes, a few minutes after finishing my write-ups and publishing them, I saw that the defensive tackle Williams guys won’t be suiting up for the remainder of the season. Don’t worry, I’m not off of this game, I’ll hold true to my 9, because, well, that’s the way it goes. My advice is to wait on this game though. With those guys out it might come down to 7 points – and I like the Vikings even more at that price. Good luck, but remember, the Vikes just lost 2 All-Pro players, two of the best players on their team, and they play the same position. Somebody will step up for the Vikes, but it’s just a lucky week to have the Lions.)
Houston Texans @ Green Bay Packers (-5.5): The Texans are 1-5 on the road, with their one win coming against a Cleveland Browns team that finds ways to lose football games. I like the Texans, I think they are a talented team with a bright future, and if they could just get over their road woes and turnover happy quarterbacking, they could be a pretty good team. But the Packers know how to make the most out of turnovers and special teams blunders, and that should be the difference on Sunday. I imagine it will be cold and miserable in Green Bay, and that doesn’t bode will for the Houston Texans chances on the road. The Texans will be coming of the high of a Monday Night Football win in front of everyone, and that, going along with the short week, will probably get them down a little bit. Green Bay is a pretty complete team (besides their rush defense) and I think they have a nice advantage over the Texans because Houston hasn’t beat a complete team all year long. Jacksonville, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Miami – the Dolphins are easily the best of those five, but not one of those teams strong on offense and defense. The Packers make big plays defensively, and while they give up a lot of yards, it will be those big plays that get them a double digit home win over Houston.
Cincinnati Bengals (+15) @ Indianapolis Colts: The Bengals are winless on the road this season, but then again they have one single win, so that’s almost a given. The Bengals have actually played some pretty tough games. They were outmatched by Baltimore’s defense, but all in all they played pretty well against Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Jacksonville – and that’s three of the last four games. The Colts don’t have a stellar defense, and Indy has found ways to play tight with many teams this year, (they’ve won one single game by more than 6 points. I know the Bengals are bad, but it’s not like Indy has been at the top of their game either. Sure, they’ve won 5 straight, but in the last two they won by 3 and 4 disrespectively against teams like San Diego and Cleveland. Not only that, but they should have lost last week to the Browns – you know how I feel about taking teams that should have lost.
Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) @ New Orleans Saints: The Saints have given up 20 or more points in every single game they’ve played in this season. When the Falcons have scored at lest 20 points, they are 8-1 (they lost one game scoring 20 against Denver). I haven’t bought in to the Falcons much, and they’ve been killing me because of it. I’m still not completely sure about them, I’m a stubborn bastard, but if you know one thing, you know I don’t think too much of the Saints. Atlanta is the much tougher team and that keeps Drew Brees off the field. This game should be a tight one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Saints pulled out with a split of this season series, but the side to play is Atlanta, especially with that extra half point.
Philadelphia Eagles (+9) @ New York Giants: I’d love to take the Giants again – they are a very good football team. But I found +9 on Monday Night, and the Eagles have too much talent to get killed in this game. They also consistently play tight with good football teams, and who knows, maybe they figured it out after Thanksgiving’s destruction of Arizona. I know the Giants don’t have those 3 days of extra rest like Philly, and I know they will be even more exhausted after the Plaxico fiasco. The Giants have been playing great football, but they should come down off their high horse a little against the Eagles. I’ll take the Eagles and 9.
Cleveland Browns (+15) @ Tennessee Titans: I like the Titans to win this game, but coming off a huge win against the worst team in the league, they might be a little bit full of themselves coming home to play a flailing Browns team. The Titans are the better team, no doubt, but they play a lot of close games, and the Browns run defense can be pretty good. Going up against one of the league’s best, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a spirited performance out of that group, and I doubt Cleveland will take a lot of chances with Ken Dorsey at the helm. Less chances means less mistakes, and that’s good when you’re playing the Titans. Tennessee grinds it out, and that means they need help to outscore their opponents by more than two touchdowns. Now I’ve seen some shady tackling out of the Browns this year, but I’ve also seen some well played football. They played well enough defensively to keep Peyton Manning struggling all game long, he looked as bad as I’ve seen him last week. Shaun Rodgers is a beast. I like the Browns and all those points.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (pk): After losing to the 49ers, I like the Bills to rebound. They sure haven’t played well lately, but neither have the Dolphins for that matter. For the same reason as those teams that play the Lions and then struggled, I think the Dolphins will hit the breaks after dabbling with the Rams. Miami couldn’t dominate a bad team once again, and their last 4 weeks have done more to make me question the Dolphins than to fall in love with them. 2 points wins at home against Seattle and Oakland are basically losses in my mind. Then they get crushed by Matt Cassel and the Patriots – and a 4 point win in St. Louis definitely puts up some red-flags. The Bills have really struggled, no doubt, but they played tight with the Jets, Patriots, Browns, killed the Chiefs, and pissed away their game against the Niners. Even if Edwards is out, I think Losman keeps the field open for their running game. Look for Lee Evans to get lost in the Dolphins secondary and end up in the end zone once or twice.
Kansas City Chiefs (+10) @ Denver Broncos: Unlike most teams, the Chiefs won’t abandon the run. And that factor will keep them in this game. The Broncos don’t like to play well against bad teams, that seems to be their season-long weakness, and I don’t think that changes in this game. The Chiefs have played good football over the last half of the season, losing big just once in their last 6 games. They only have 2 wins, I understand that, but their 6-6 ATS mark is an example of the way they’ve been playing. The Broncos are coming off a season high last week when they tortured the Jets secondary and won big in New York. Season highs are bound to be followed by less than stellar performances, look at the history of such outings. I’ll take the Chiefs.
New York Jets (-3.5) @ San Francisco 49ers: I don’t see the value in San Francisco here. I like the 49ers – heck, I like them a lot. They’ve played good football lately, and honestly, they have a chance to cover this spread. But the chance isn’t that good in my opinion, and just about 100% of the public agrees with me. I probably wouldn’t play this game for too much out of the wallet, it has the makings of a huge upset. However, I think the Jets can do enough defensively to stymie the 49ers rushing attack. And putting all that pressure on Shaun Hill seems like a losing battle from SF’s perspective. New York should play better after getting embarrassed by the Broncos. My side is on that happening.
St. Louis Rams (+14) @ Arizona Cardinals: I sure hate the Rams, and I like the Cardinals, but Arizona hasn’t shown me that they are a two touchdown favorite type team. Steven Jackson is back, and he gives the Rams a little bit more of an identity. Orlando Pace might return as well, and he could give Bulger just enough time to score a couple times. I think Arizona will run the ball a little more than usual against the Rams, because St. Louis’s run defense is brutal, and that should cause for longer drives and less points. I’ll take the HUGE dog here.
Dallas Cowboys @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5): A little too much Dallas love for me here. The Steelers are the better team. They aren’t as dinged, and if that’s not enough, they are just flat out better than the Cowboys. So, if a field goal wins it for me, I’ll take it with a smile.
New England Patriots (-4) @ Seattle Seahawks: The Patriots need to win to keep their playoff veins pumping blood. The Seahawks don’t need to do anything except continue to disappoint their lame-duck coach. I think Seattle is better than 2-9, but they aren’t as good as the Patriots – not at home, and certainly not when the prime time game was taken out of that National TV spotlight because they are so bad. If that’s not a confidence killer I don’t know what is. The Hawks got killed by Dallas, but prior to that they had played 3 straight solid games with close losses to Miami, Arizona, and Washington. I think New England will have the upper hand in this one, even with the extra rest for Seattle, the Patriots should win by a touchdown.
Washington Redskins @ Baltimore Ravens (-5): I don’t know how the Redskins are going to score against the Ravens. Clinton Portis is the walking wounded, he hasn’t practiced in weeks, and the Redskins haven’t been all that good with him on the field in the first place. I like the Skins, but they don’t take enough chances down field, and Santana Moss has been ignored lately. Baltimore’s defense is awesome, but it’s their offense doing enough that has me on their side. I don’t think the Redskins can hold Baltimore under 17 points, and I don’t see the Redskins scoring more than 10. That’s a cover in my book.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) @ Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are a great team when they can run with ease. You can’t do that against the Bucs. Tampa Bay dominated the Panthers last time these two teams played, and while normally I’d like to look for the home and home split in this situation, I just don’t think this is a good match-up for the Panthers. Getting a half point more than a field goal makes me feel that much better, too. On Monday Night Football, I’m willing to bet the Bucs wily old vets do work and win this game on the road.