Not surprised that I went 6-6. It was a wild NFL week, with a lot of close games. Naturally, the easiest cover was Houston over the Browns, as Cleveland barely even showed up on Sunday. After the .500 week, I'm now 38-28 on the year. Raiders-Chargers kicks off the action in our first Thursday night game of the year, with what could be some other incredible games, including Saints-Falcons, Steelers-Bengals, Pats-Jets, Giants-49ers and Bills-Cowboys. Picks are in bold, and as always, odds are from Bodog (by way of OddsShark).
San Diego Chargers (-7) vs. Oakland Raiders -- I don't quite know what to make of the Chargers. At times, they look like a playoff team. Other times, they look about as dysfunctional as the Browns. Sometimes it's both in the same game. That said, the Raiders look like they will be without Darren McFadden again, and Carson Palmer still isn't quite comfortable in this offense. I'm more willing to take Rivers here than Palmer and Michael Bush to get it done for Oakland.
New Orleans Saints (-1) @ Atlanta Falcons -- Basically a pick'em here. Atlanta impressed against the lowly Colts, but the Saints could make a big statement on the road in the division. It comes down to me thinking the Saints are just a better team, and even though I like what I've seen out of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lately, I trust Brees and New Orleans' weapons on the ground a bit more.
Tennessee Titans (+3.5) @ Carolina Panthers -- Yes, Cam Newton and the Panthers are the best two-win team in football, for whatever that is worth. And they should handle the Titans in Charlotte. I just don't believe they will. Action is on the Panthers so far, but I think this one stays close enough to give Tennessee the cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals -- The Bengals finally sold out a home game. So there's that. And Andy Dalton continues to make good decisions with the football and use his offense effectively to the tune of a 6-2 record and 7-1 ATS. The Steelers, on the other hand, lost a tough one to the Ravens (again), but something tells me they come out firing in this one.
St. Louis Rams (+3) @ Cleveland Browns -- How in the living hell are the Browns favored against anyone right now? The team is a mess, there are walking wounded everywhere, and the Rams are more than familiar with Pat Shurmur's anemic offensive schemes.
Buffalo Bills (+5.5) @ Dallas Cowboys -- The Bills could never really get it going against the Jets in a sloppy, turnover-filled game on Sunday. This week they'll take on the Cowboys, who are out Miles Austin, but have seen the emergence of DeMarco Murray. This should be a pretty entertaining game, but I like the Bills to ride Fred Jackson on the ground and force Tony Romo into a couple ill-advised throws.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) vs. Denver Broncos -- Hunch on this one that Kansas City blows out Denver. The Chiefs need a bounceback game to stay in the division race, and the more game film there is on Tim Tebow, the more he can be exploited. I'm more inclined to take the over (41) than I am to bet the spread in this one though.
Miami Dolphins (-4) vs. Washington Redskins -- The Dolphins have looked like a completely different team the last couple weeks. The Redskins are injured and having all kinds of trouble offensively. Not to mention, John Beck is struggling and you never know, we might see Rex Grossman again.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals -- No line set for this game yet. Probably waiting on Kolb's status. Regardless, even with the short week, I feel like the Eagles should be able to bounce back against Arizona, especially with Kolb possibly out and Beanie Wells's knee affecting his running ability.
Houston Texans (-3.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- I never have any idea how to approach the Bucs. They never blow anybody away, and they play exactly how I expect a .500 team to play. Freeman is a decent quarterback. The running game is okay. The defense is average. I like the Texans to move the football, and I like them as a lock if Andre Johnson comes back this week.
Baltimore Ravens (-7) @ Seattle Seahawks -- This is one of those strange games where a West Coast trip could hurt the Ravens, but they're clearly the better team, and Baltimore's defense should contain Marshawn Lynch and Tavaris Jackson. I still don't love Joe Flacco, but he has weapons, and between Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, they should win this thing easily.
Detroit Lions (+3) @ Chicago Bears -- Letdown game for the Bears, I think. Best was the difference against Chicago the last time these two played and he is likely still out with a concussion, but Stafford had a bye week to heal, and the Lions need this win. I think they'll complete the sweep against Chicago on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) vs. New York Giants -- Incredible performance by the Giants on Sunday. That said, they travel west against a disciplined and physical San Fran team that is 7-0-1 ATS this year. Gotta believe the 49ers run the football and keep Eli Manning in check.
New England Patriots (+1) @ New York Jets -- The Patriots haven't been the well-oiled machine we're used to the last few seasons, but the Jets offense isn't very good, and Mark Sanchez can't get in a shootout against Tom Brady the same way Eli Manning can.
Minnesota Vikings (+14) @ Green Bay Packers -- I feel like the Vikings will use the extra rest from the bye to get Ponder more comfortable in the offense and get Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin healthy and rested. The Packers are the league's best, but it's a divisional rivalry on Monday Night. It should stay close.