San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos Point Spread Pick

no banners

San Diego Chargers (-4) @ Denver Broncos Pooint Spread Pick: Sorry for the late post. This game was unavailable all week long, showing up on Saturday at one sportsbook. It’s still the only sports book where the game is available, and the line is 4.

The value is with the Broncos – I know that because they have a good defense, better than the Chargers have, and they are at home and getting 4 points – that’s one more than a field goal and that can make all the difference. The Broncos are 3-1 at home (their only loss coming to the Pittsburgh Steelers) and they’ve beaten New England and Dallas at home in Denver. It’s not like they’ve only played powder-puffs. But with all that being said and realized I’m not taking the Broncos, oh no.

First of all, when two teams are close to or equal, I almost always like the team that lost the first game to pull the second game out. It’s tough to beat a good team twice in a row. But that’s not it, last time these two teams played, I actually think San Diego played a better game than Denver. Offensively and defensively (key areas if I don’t say so myself) I think the Chargers were more impressive. Special teams (and namely Eddie Royal) won that game for the Broncos with two return touchdowns. I don’t buy that happening again this time around.

Not that history means much, but the Chargers have owned this series, especially when it matters most. San Diego has won 5 of the last 7, including last season when a playoff spot was on the line. In that game, the Chargers ran Denver (and Coach Mike Shannahan) right out of the building, something to the tune of 52-21… You bet.

If you take Kyle Orton out and put Chris Simms in, you can see where I’m coming from. I hate giving the Broncos and their solid defense 4 points at home, but I’m going to have to do it.

Philadelphia Eagles vs San Diego Chargers Prediction

no banners

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) @ San Diego Chargers Prediction: I got this spread late Monday Night, and I’m happy about that. As the week has moved closer to Sunday, the spread has moved closer to even, and while the people that bet early on Philadelphia get the 3 points, a field goal push, those betting this weekend will be lucky to get +1-1.5 on my side of this game.Still, 57% of the betting public likes the home team in this one.

The Chargers are 2-2 at home this season, winning 23-13 against Miami and 24-16 in a close game with the infamous Oakland Raiders. They’ve lost to Denver and Baltimore in two close gams. Basically every game San Diego has played in this year has been a close contest. Their biggest loss was by 10 to Pittsburgh, and it probably wasn’t that close. Their most lopsided victory was a 37-7 shellacking of the Kansas City Chiefs. San Diego has won three straight coming in, and while the first two hardly count (KC and Oakland) the last win on the road against the New York Giants was impressive.

But Philadelphia kicked around New York one week before San Diego played them, 40-17. The Eagles had one of their “what the hell just happened” games against Dallas last week, making too many errors, missing throws, dropping balls, and being unable to stop the Cowboys late in the game. The Eagles definitely have been up and down this season, losing at Oakland, beting up on Carolina and the Giants, kicking around teams they should beat.

The Eagles should beat San Diego. They are better than the Chargers. They score more points, allow fewer, play well on the road, can stop the pass and limit the run – they are better in almost every statistical category. I like them to win outright in San Diego, but I’ll happily take my free field goal just in case.

San Diego Chargers vs New York Giants Pick & Preview

no banners

San Diego Chargers @ New York Giants (-3.5): When this line came out I was very excited, somehow, somewhere, somebody decided the Chargers were a complete enough football team to compete with even a struggling Giants squad. Nope.

I know the Giants have struggled, I mean, look, my record has taken at least three straight hits on their behalf – but I’m not ready to give up on what I think about the Giants. They still have an elite defense and an offense that has been moving the ball, just struggling to get into the end-zone. I know Eli’s ouchy footsy injury might be hampering his ability to plant his foot, but I have a feeling the Giants show up this weekend.

If that means Brandon Jacobs and Ahamad Bradshaw running the ball 35 times, or if Ellie gets back to being Eli, or if it’s big plays on defense that set up Giant scores, what ever it is, I think the Giants have a very good chance to beat a Chargers team that just can’t make the big stop defensively. San Diego can throw the ball, but they don’t have the same rushing game they’ve had over the years, and the defensive problems that they ran into last season are still very evident.

Then again, there’s room to question the Giants here. They played mediocre football in Week 1 against Washington, of all teams. They won a game they should have lost against Dallas in Week 2. They then proceeded to win 3 more games against Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Oakland – woohoo! 3 straight embarrassing losses to good teams brings a little question to the equation, but I still think New York is the much better team here.

Oakland Raiders vs San Diego Chargers Prediction

no banners

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.

Papas Picks NFL Week 7: Only Underdogs! Bears, Chiefs, Falcons

So, I went 2-1 last week, and look to, at the very least, keep that 66.6% rocking hard as the season moves forward. I’m taking dogs here, nothing but dogs from here on out, and going to show you that if you pick right, the dogs can make you money. I have another trio of games this week, expecting three outright wins but I’ll take the points. Here goes!!!

no banners

Chicago Bears (+1) @ Cincinnati Bengals: A lot is being said about Cedric Benson’s 1st game against the Bears since they cut him, blasted his work ethic, and basically told anybody that would listen how Ced was never going to amount to anything despite them spending a Top 5 pick on the guy. So at least one Bengal is going to be motivated come Sunday. But that’s not enough for me, and I think Jay Cutler has one of his “accurate games”, you know, 1 interception or less, carving up the opposing defense (though Cinci has been good this year on that side of the ball). I like the Bears to win on the road, I think their running game finally gets going a little bit, but not enough to make those owners that picked Matt Forte happy. Not that much.

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (+4.5): The Chiefs are better than people give them credit for, the Chargers are much, much worse. Seems like enough for me, but wait, I have more. The Chargers defense hasn’t show the ability to stop anyone (even last week, they stopped Denver a bit, but Kyle Orton still came back to slice them up just enough to give the Broncos an easy win). If your defense can’t get off the field, then you can’t consistently cover road games where you are favored by 4.5 points. It could happen, sure, but the good money is on KC, and I’m a good money bettor.

no banners

Atlanta Falcons (+4) @ Dallas Cowboys: This is hardly a true underdog, as a majority of the public likes Atlanta at most sports books, but they are still 4 point dogs, and in Dallas where the Cowboys have a lame-duck coach, their offensive coordinator seems to be slipping, their huge investment “best” receiver is probably still out with ouchy tummy, and their defense hasn’t been able to put pressure on anyone, it’s just hard to like the Cowboys. Tony Romo should turn it around a bit this week, but Dallas can’t lock down on opposing offense’s #1 threats, and thus Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez should find wide open spaces in the friendly confines of Cowboys Stadium. If that big ass TV screen doesn’t get in the way, and if they can keep their focus on the game and off the hundreds of cheerleaders acting as cage dancers, I think the Falcons pull away from Dallas late. There it is.

San Diego Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs Football Pick

no banners

San Diego Chargers (-4.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: I know KC is tough at home, and I know this game was very close twice last year (though San Diego won both, KC covered each) but I’m with the public in this one. I think most of the spreads this week are pretty tough, but I like the Chargers by a touchdown here. I actually think San Diego played very well last week against the Broncos. They allowed two kick return touchdowns to Eddie Royal (well one punt and one KO) and besides that they were stingy on defense. They held a pretty tough rushing attack to 101 yards on 33 carries, and the secondary made some nice plays. And that’s all against a very efficient offense that boasts one of the best offensive lines in football. Kansas City doesn’t have that. Offensively, Phillip Rivers and company moved the ball fairly well, and LT actually ran with solid effectiveness against a defense that has shut down the run all season long. There’s some questions in San Diego, no doubt about it, and Kansas City has played pretty decent over the last couple weeks, going to OT with Dallas and getting their first win of the season against Washington, but I have to go with the Chargers here. Four and a half isn’t crazy. The Chargers have played some close games with some good teams, and at 2-3 on the season with Denver at 6-0, they can’t afford to take the Chiefs lightly. I’ll take the road favorites here.

Denver Broncos vs San Diego Chargers Football Pick

no banners

Denver Broncos  (+3.5) @ San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are and have been overrated. Sure, their backs are against the wall here, but that wall is high, and sitting on top of it is a bunch of Broncos ready to straight donkey punch them right off the wall like Humpty freaking Dumpty. The Broncos are even better than I thought they would be, and I expected a lot more from Josh McDaniels’ guys than most. They run the ball well, throw the ball efficiently, make few mistakes, and play hard-nosed tough tackling defense. I’m sure the Chargers will put up some points, maybe even keep it close, but the better team getting 3 points, I like that value.

2009 NFL Fantasy Football: Lucky Lester Shares his Predictions

Last year’s predictions had some big winners, a couple tough luck losers, not to mention a handful of “what the hell was I thinking” fortunes that I told all wrong. I won’t get them all right this year either, but I’d like to think my waterfall of fantasy fodder will get you on the right track for your drafts, seasonal trade value, and possibly even a date with that girl that works at Victoria Secret. The brunette. As goes, I’ll spout off some claim, maybe even a sentence explaining why I think this, and will review the whole thing later in the year to see how it all went. All four of the writers doing work on this site will do an article similar to this, and in the end we’ll see who is the sharpest beach ball of them all. Let the games begin!

1. When Maurice Jones-Drew straps up his helmet this season he’ll get 5-10 more touches per game. According to Josh Arsenault’s “Value of Opportunity” article that means big things for MJD. How big? Try 1800+ total yards and 14+ TDs for one of the game’s most explosive players.

2. Through one game last season, Nate Burleson was on pace to have 900+ yards and 80 catches. He’ll get close to that this season, despite being TJ Housh’s sidekick for the Seattle Seahawks. How close? Lets say 70 grabs and 900 yards, plus at least 6 touchdowns. Not a bad output for a guy rarely getting picked before Round 14, if at all.

3. Last year, Donnie Avery posted 53 receptions, 674 yards, and 3 scores for the Rams. He’ll double that last total, while finishing with at least 70 grabs and 850 yards.

4. Two of the following four quarterbacks will fail to play 12 games this year: Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and Big Ben Roethlisberger. O-line questions, style of play observations, interesting coaching decisions, and some bad freaking luck will likely play a role.

5a. If Daunte Culpepper gets the job out of camp, he’ll throw more than 20 touchdowns in 2009.

5b. If Matthew Stafford gets the gig out of camp, he’ll throw for less than 15.

6. At least two of these guys will be in the top 5 in rushing yards this season: LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, and Ryan Grant.

7. There is a business like show business – it’s called professional sports.

8. The last time Tony Gonzalez had less than 73 catches was 2002 and that was the only time that happened in the last 10 years. He’ll have fewer catches this season.

9. Reggie Bush will end up having more fantasy points than Pierre Thomas, despite getting drafted after him in almost every single draft. Many forget that Reggie played in only 10 games (2 of which he barely played in) and he still finished with over 800 total yards and 6 TDs.

10. Matt Hasselbeck is moving up my rankings based on his strength and accuracy thus far in the pre-season. He’ll finish as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback this year.

11. Trent Edwards also has seen a boost. It’s just the pre-season, I know, but I see him being a Top 20 guy, easily.

12. When are people going to recognize Eddie Royal? This kid is going to be special. In his second season he’ll improve on his 91 catches, 980 yards, and five touchdowns. Yes, that means he’ll be even better without Cutler, folks.

13. Last year was amazing for DeAngelo Williams. First the Panthers draft Jon Stewart in the 1st round, then Williams turns into the best fantasy running back in the league. Not a fluke, the guy is a very smart runner. He won’t match his TDs from last season, but his rushing yardage will shoot over the 1500 yard mark once again.

14. Everybody and their mother thinks Ronnie Brown is overrated going into 2009 because “half his points came in one game, blah, blah, blah”. What a joke. The fat lady hasn’t even written a song for this kid yet, he’s going to tear it up in the AFC East this season. Halfway through his 7th game in 2007, Brown was just 9 yards short of 1000 from scrimmage with 5 touchdowns. He was the only offensive threat on the field and he was still rushing for over 5 yards per carry. He’s a beast. He’s fully healthy and more than a year removed from his knee injury. This will easily be his best season. I predict over 1400 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns from the 27 year old with very few miles on his tires.

15. Speaking of the fat lady, these old guys aren’t dead yet: Each player, despite their avg. draft slot, will have solid years. Torry Holt (35th WR), Terrell Owens (12th WR), Clinton Portis (14th RB) (only 28 this season, but an OLD 28), and LT (7th RB) should all be good. At least 3 of the 4 will will finish above their average draft slot ranking.

16. Youth Movement? Not this year, not for rookies anyway. After 4 rookie running backs finished in the top 20 in total rushing yards last season (3 in the Top 10), no more than one rookie will match that mark this season (none in the Top 10).

17. Julius Jones is getting picked late. Probably even later than he was before Edgerrin James got swooped up by the Hawks. But Jones will still be the man in Seattle, and that zone blocking scheme should be a good one for his Irish style. He once had 1084 rushing yards for the Cowboys and 4 touchdowns. I’m saying he finishes with more yards and scores than he did during his best season with Dallas. In fact, I’m willing to suggest he has 8 touchdowns or more in 2009.

18. There are 25 running backs getting picked ahead of Darren McFadden. He out produces at least half of those guys, and makes it into the Top 12 this season. He’s moving up my board!

19. Brandon Jacobs finishes the season with more carries and yards than he ever has in his career. Oh, and he at least matches those 15 scores from a season ago. That offensive line is beastly.

20. What does Dallas do with all those TO targets this season? Roy Williams? Sure, Roy will get more targets, but a lot of those TO touches are going to Felix Jones. That means he’ll be much better than his average draft position. His ADP is 36, he’ll be top 20.

21. People are drafting Vincent Jackson as if he will get the same numbers he got last season. So, a couple picks ahead of that, you should grab him. He will have better totals across the board, catches, yardage, touchdowns.

22. Mark Sanchez (the rookie that was “not ready for the NFL” according to the “brilliant” Coach Carol at USC) will win at least 8 games as the Jets starting signal caller this season.

23. Steve Slaton will outscore every sophomore running back not named Matt Forte. That’s right, those in love with McFadden’s upside, Chris Johnson’s speed, Kevin Smith, and Jon Stewart’s all around tools, Slaton is the guy I see being a stud this season.

24. Tim Hightower will be a better fantasy back than Beanie Wells – especially in PPR leagues. Beanie can’t catch. Beanie gets hurt. Tim isn’t my fave, not at all, but his fantasy stats will be better than the Cardinals’ first round pick’s numbers.

25. The San Diego Chargers’ defense will once again be a Top 5 fantasy unit.

26. Anquan Boldin > Roddy White (fantasy points).

27. Derrick Ward, often drafted as the 37th RB overall. He’ll be at least 10 spots higher than that on the end-of-season running back rankings.

28. Mark Sanchez gets drafted ahead of Matt Hasselbeck in most fantasy leagues. I promise Matt will be better than Mark, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt doubles Mark in touchdowns. Shoot, right it down.

29. Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, and Jason Witten will all finish ahead of Tony Gonzalez in the TE rankings.

30. Anthony Gonzalez, Eddie Royal, along with Vincent and DeSean Jackson will all have more fantasy points than Braylon Edwards this season.

That’s it, as promised, I’m first: 3 more prediction sessions on the way before the season begins…

Free NFL Playoff Picks: Week 2

Alright, Week 1 was a push, but being the stubborn personality that I am, I still think I had the right side on the Eagles/Vikings game. Both teams played like garbage, and the score should have been tighter. Basically I’m saying that they played evenly terrible. As for the Falcons, I don’t know, Matt Ryan played great in the first half but didn’t get much help from his offensive mates, and thus they squandered some opportunities to get points. That hurt some confidence and there it was. Also, Arizona had Atlanta’s snap on key, and their jump off the ball, more than any other reason, was why Atlanta’s rushing game was held down. I honestly think that if the Cards didn’t have that hint, it would be Atlanta headed to round two. But, it is what it is, and Arizona finishes as the right side there. But on to Week 2! Gotta get back in the swing of things.

Baltimore Ravens (+3) @ Tennessee Titans: That whole “a can’t believe we’re not heavily favored, we’re the #1 seed in the league” garbage can only work so many times. Tennessee wasted that excitement a couple times earlier this year. Another thing that has me riding Baltimore’s hot streak into an upset here is the fact that it’s really hard to beat a good team twice in the same season. One more thing you ask? Well, these teams are eerily similar in talent and game plan. Both run the ball a lot. Neither has a prolific passer. One QB hasn’t reached his prime and one is past his prime, but both are about the same level. Both play great defense and bring the physical nature of football to another level. Both have solid kicking games and both won their fair share of close games. I would say Tennessee’s rushing game (and offense) is a little better than Baltimore’s, but I would say the Ravens have a little bit better defense. But neither difference is that great. Both teams have mediocre passing attacks with solid running games and good defenses. But Baltimore just has that playoff winning swagger – and while I know that no rookie quarterback has won two playoff games in his rookie season, I think records are meant to be broken, and that will happen this week in Tennessee.

Arizona Cardinals (+10) @ Carolina Panthers: I think Carolina wins this game, but 10 is too much, especially for a Carolina team that is a little overrated in my opinion, and an Arizona team that showed some defensive excitement last week. Earlier in the year, Arizona was tough to run against. They got after the run and the quarterback, and while they gave up big plays, the didn’t give away free rushing yards. If they come out like that, and in their biggest game in a million years – I think they will, they will be close in this game. They are a tough match-up for the Panthers, even in Carolina where the Panthers have yet to lose a game this season. Double digits is just too much for me. Carolina may have won 4 of their last 5, 3 out of 4 were a play away from a different outcome. They barely snuck by New Orleans in Week 17, lost to the Giants late in Week 16, beat the Broncos (but who didn’t down the stretch), rushed for a gazillion yards against Tampa Bay, but still had to convert a late 3rd and 5 to keep Tampa’s offense off the field in a game that was a touchdown away, and they barely beat the Packers after losing to the Falcons 28-45 in Atlanta and playing an amazingly tight one against the 0-16 Lions, same goes for their two game prior to that against the Raiders and these Cardinals. I’m not saying they are a bad team, but 10 point favorites in the playoffs? I don’t think that has any value at all. I’ll take the Cards.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (-4): Just wait, Andy Reid will let Eagle backers down with poor play calling sooner or later, I’ll bet sooner. The Eagles will stop running, start throwing three yard stop patterns on 2nd and 10 and 3rd and 7, and that’s when the frustration on blogs and message boards will hit an all time high. Nobody is playing better than the Eagles right now, and why not, look at all that talent on that team. Young and veteran players alike, new Eagles and old Eagles – this team certainly has the talent to make an unlikely trip to the Big Show. But, that play calling – the “not to lose” attitude that seems to ward off momentum like the Bills and Super Bowl Trophies – that will get the Eagles in the end. The Giants have already lost once to the Eagles, and got a tight win earlier in the year as well – these teams know each other, that’s for sure. But Brandon Jacobs seems fully healthy and back, and he’s a battering ram weapon that New York didn’t have last time these two went at it – not in full health anyway – but even then, his 10 carries for 52 yards might have been a precursor of what is to come when he gets 20 or more totes this weekend. This is a tough one for me, because the Eagles are so up and down and this game is huge. But the Giants aren’t so up and down, they are just flat out good and play to win the game every time out. I’ll take my chances with them.

San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5): I feel as good about this game as I did about the Ravens last week – I think the Steelers cover easily, winning by double digits. Now, that’s not their style, I understand – but that’s the way I see it. This same Steelers team came in and stomped the Chargers in Pittsburgh earlier this year – well, physically stomped them anyway, the score was an improbable 11-10 and a Charger cover for sure. But it was an unlikely set of circumstances that finished with the Steelers needing a late field goal to win it. LT was held to 57 yards on 18 carries while the highest rated quarterback this season, Philip Rivers, was eaten up by Pittsburgh’s defense, completing 15 of 26 tosses for just 159 yards 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions; easily his worst game of the season. On the other hand, Willie Parker had 115 rushing yards, and Big Ben threw for over 300 yards as well. The Steelers just couldn’t get it in the end zone. I doubt it if the same story is played out this week. Big Ben, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, and a defense full of absolute beasts that have been here before – I give them the advantage in this one, and advantage I don’t see them wasting against an inferior Chargers team.

NFL Free Picks: Week 14

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.