Last week, I went 8-5 picking games. I was helped by two close calls that went my way. The Chargers (-4.5) won by five, and the Jets (+9.5) lost by nine. For the year, I’ve picked 57 percent of games correctly, a rate that would earn you a nice profit in Las Vegas (even with the casinos taking their cut). Given my general level of cluelessness, this is also completely unsustainable.
I rode the favorites a little too hard last week, and it came back to bite me. The worst of the bunch was probably picking the Giants (-9.5) over the Seahawks. New York lost that game straight up—by 11. As always, I’ll try to learn from my many mistakes when thinking about this week’s lines. On with the picks:
Lions (-4.5) over 49ers — At 4-1, San Fran is much better than I expected. Jim Harbaugh deserves a lot of credit for turning that team around so quickly. Still, I like the undefeated Lions to win by at least a touchdown. At home, they look unstoppable.
Giants (-3.5) over Bills — Just four or five sentences ago, I was lamenting picking the Giants as a favorite last week. Well, I’m doing it again. Here’s my thought: Ahmad Bradshaw is still looking for his first 100-yard game of the season, and the Bills’ porous defense should give the Giants a chance to get back to their rushing roots.
Redskins (+2.5) over Eagles — The Eagles are 1-4 in real life and 1-4 against the spread, but they’re still a favorite on the road against the 3-1 Redskins. Seems odd. To me, we’re far enough into the season that results should count for more than expectations.
Steelers (-13.5) over Jaguars — The Steelers have played like two totally different teams this year. They’re mediocre on the road (1-2) and spectacular at home (2-0, winning by 24 and 21). The Jaguars are the same team (a terrible one) no matter where they play. This game is in Pittsburgh, so I’ll take the Steelers.
Rams (+15.5) over Packers — This is one of those lines that just feel a little too wide. It’s a dangerous guessing game, picking a terrible team to get blown out by slightly less than the odds makers predict, and it didn’t work out so well for me a couple of weeks ago when the Packers destroyed the Broncos. Here’s hoping the fighting Bradfords can keep it within a couple of touchdowns.
Panthers (+4.5) over Falcons — Cam Newton is a thrilling rookie quarterback. He is also the king of the backdoor cover (that is, losing in real life and winning in Las Vegas). The Panthers are 1-4 straight up and 5-0 against the spread.
Texans (+8.5) over Ravens — The Texans are still going to be without Andre Johnson, but I think they can keep this game within a touchdown or so. Then again, the Ravens did beat the Steelers 35-7, so this pick could go south quickly.
Raiders (-7.5) over Browns — The Raiders have a great running back, a great kicker, and Jason Campbell has limited his mistakes. That’s been enough to make them a Top 10 offense. As we saw first hand Week 1, the Browns stink.
Patriots (-7.5) over Cowboys — Dallas’s defense is underrated, but Tom Brady and the Patriots can put up points against anyone. And I like Tony Romo more than most, but yeah, he’s no Brady.
Saints (-3.5) over Buccaneers — After last week’s debacle in San Fran, my man crush on Josh Freeman has all but evaporated. Without LeGarrette Blount, Tampa’s offense could go from limited to putrid. I’ll take the Saints.
Vikings (+3.5) over Bears — I’ll be honest, I don’t have a great feel for either of these teams. The Vikings have a positive point differential for the season despite being 1-4. The Bears’ offensive line is a total train wreck, but Matt Forte is a special talent. I’m taking the points, but if you prefer the Bears at home, I won’t argue.
Jets (-7.5) over Dolphins — Have you ever noticed that ESPN spends extra time on SportsCenter talking about teams that are about to play on Monday Night Football? It seems like more than a coincidence that this Derrick Mason trade is getting so much attention right before ESPN broadcasts a Jets game. I mean we’re talking about Derrick Mason. He has 115 yards this season. Who cares!
Colts (+7.5) over Bengals — Sure, the Colts are 0-5. But their last four games have all been decided by eight points or fewer. Still, I think the Bengals will win straight up, 21-17. There are seven lines of a touchdown or more, so this could be a blowout-filled week in the NFL.
Record last week: 8-5
Record overall: 44-33
Record picking Bengals games against the spread: 3-2
Record picking Bengals games straight up: 1-4