|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-08-13||Minnesota Vikings v. Baltimore Ravens -6.5||26-29||Loss||-110||86 h 1 m||Show|
Baltimore plays much better at home going 7-1 ATS in its last eight. This is a key game, too, for the Ravens since they are in the playoff hunt and their closing three games are against much tougher opponents - Lions, Patriots and Bengals.
The Vikings are off two tough division games. They tied the Packers on the road two weeks ago in overtime and then edged the Bears in overtime at home. The Ravens also are off a tough division game - but that was on Thanksgiving so they've had extra rest.
The Vikings' motivation won't be as high as the Ravens. The weather forecast is for rain and temperatures in the 30s. The Ravens are 7-1 at home since 2008 when the game-time temperature is 33 or below.
Minnesota is practically a one-man team with Adrian Peterson. The Ravens rank No. 6 in run defense. They've allowed an NFL-low two rushing touchdowns. Baltimore's pass rush is far more effective, too, with facing non-elite quarterbacks.
The Vikings have yet to win on the road this season. Baltimore is 5-1 at home where Joe Flacco has historically has played much better.
The defending world champion Ravens are much the better team with a vastly superior coach and they also draw a favorable situation.
|12-02-13||New Orleans Saints +5 v. Seattle Seahawks||Top||7-34||Loss||-110||11 h 3 m||Show|
Sean Payton would like nothing better than to prove his Saints can win a big outdoor road game. They stand an excellent chance tonight against Seattle.
New Orleans' defense is greatly improved and the Saints have a much stronger passing attack. Seattle is a super home team, but once again its home number is inflated. The Seahawks are 3-3 ATS in their last six games CenturyLink Field. The Saints are a take at plus 4 or more with a healthy Brees against any foe.
Drew Brees is 9-0 the past nine times on Monday night with a 123.6 passer rating. He has the weapons to successfully pass on a Seattle secondary missing injured Brandon Browner and suspended Walter Thurmond.
The weather forecast is for temperatures in the high 30s with little wind.
The Seahawks actually have a bigger game on deck when they take on the 49ers next week in a division showdown.
|12-01-13||St. Louis Rams +8.5 v. San Francisco 49ers||13-23||Loss||-110||41 h 47 m||Show|
Under Jeff Fisher, the Rams are a perfect 5-0 ATS when taking eight or more points. It's not a fluke. Fisher is a tremendous 'dog coach and has made the Rams a tougher, more physical team.
St. Louis is playing its best ball right now despite losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford. In their last two games, the Rams have defeated the Colts by 30 on the road and the Bears by 21. They should have defeated the Seahawks four games ago, losing, 14-9.
The Rams have achieved this by applying tremendous quarterback pressure, becoming a run-first team thereby taking the pressure off backup quarterback Kellen Clemens and watching Tavon Austin step up as a dangerous multi-threat.
The 49ers are on a short week following a road victory this past Monday against the Redskins. Prior to facing a Washington defense that gives up the second-most points in the NFL, Colin Kaepernick had passed for 165 yards or less in three straight games.
|11-28-13||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens -2.5||Top||20-22||Loss||-120||32 h 28 m||Show|
Both teams are way down this season, but the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens still remain tough at home where they have covered all five of their games.
Baltimore has allowed only two legitimate touchdowns at home this season while giving up an average of 10.8 points per game.
The Steelers lack the necessary ground attack to keep the Ravens, particularly Terrell Suggs who has been a terror against Ben Roethlisbeger, from applying plenty of quarterback heat.
The Steelers are 7-15 ATS in their last 22 road games.
Joe Flacco has a history of playing much better at home and he's coming off one of his best games of the season. Ray Rice should be more effective in this game, too, as the Steelers' No. 23 run defense will be minus injured 325-pound nose tackle Steve McLendon.
As far as playing any props for this game, I would look to go over on sacks for Baltimore, under on receiving yards for Steelers tight end Heath Miller and over on rushing/receiving yards for Ray Rice.
The Ravens rank first in sacks. The Steelers are passing a lot more than perceived and Terrell Suggs as always been a terror against Ben Roethlisberger.
Miller isn't the same since coming back from serious knee ligament surgery. He had only two catches for 17 yards in the team's first meeting this season. The Ravens are extremely tough against tight ends.
Rice should have one of his better games with the Steelers missing McLendon and he will see a lot of touches.
|11-25-13||San Francisco 49ers -4.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||27-6||Win||100||43 h 30 m||Show|
I'm surprised this line is under a touchdown. Yes, the 49ers have lost two in a row. Those two losses, though, were by a combined four points at New Orleans and against Carolina. Those two teams are a combined 16-5.
The Saints and Panthers also have tough defenses. The Redskins have one of the worst defenses in the NFL giving up more than 31 points a game. This is a breakout game for Colin Kaepernick. He'll have a healthy Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, who has totaled 100 yards rushing and/or scored a touchdown in seven of his last eight games.
While the Redskins have a bottom three defense, the 49ers entered Week 12 giving up the fourth-fewest points per game. Robert Griffin III is not close to being what he was last season and will be without his No. 2 and No. 3 leading receivers as tight end Jordan Reed and Leonard Hankerson are out.
San Francisco has covered 74 percent of its last 32 games on grass and is 11-4 ATS following a loss. Washington is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games.
Regarding props, I would also look to play the 49ers over 26 1/2 points and to play on some of their players to have strong individual games.
The Redskins' defense has been dreadful from the start and it hasn't improved. The safeties are among the weakest in the NFL. The 49ers haven't put up strong offensive numbers in their previous two games because they've faced two strong defenses - Carolina and New Orleans.
Now the 49ers step way down in defensive class. Prior to their last two matchups, the 49ers had scored 31 or more points in five consecutive games.
|11-24-13||Tennessee Titans v. Oakland Raiders||Top||23-19||Win||100||76 h 5 m||Show|
This is the first of three consecutive road games for the Titans. After this matchup are games against the Colts and Broncos. The Titans will be big 'dogs in those games. This is the game they need to win - and they know it.
The Raiders are off an upset win against the Texans. After each of their previous three victories this season the Raiders followed it with a loss.
Rookie Matt McGloin is the Raiders' 15th starting quarterback since 2005. He threw three touchdown passes against the Texans. I don't see him duplicating that success against the Titans, who have allowed just seven touchdown passes while intercepting eight passes.
Opponents also have film now on McGloin, who is not considered a major talent. He's not helped playing in back of one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
Tennessee also is using a backup quarterback with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is playing well, though, completing 44 of 61 passes during the past two games for 486 yards and three touchdowns.
Chris Johnson gives Tennessee the best running back, too, in a matchup that should be decided in the trenches with a lot of running. The Titans hold the edge in the trenches also.
|11-24-13||Indianapolis Colts +3 v. Arizona Cardinals||11-40||Loss||-120||76 h 3 m||Show|
The Colts own victories against the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos. The Cardinals are not at that level where they could defeat those teams.
The Cardinals can't run the ball and have an inconsistent passing attack. Carson Palmer has more interceptions than touchdown passes. Last week was the first time this season he went a game without being picked off.
The Colts hold a huge quarterback edge with Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis is 21-9-2 ATS versus opponents with a winning record. The Cardinals are 2-5 ATS when meeting an opponent above .500.
|11-24-13||Carolina Panthers v. Miami Dolphins +4.5||20-16||Win||100||73 h 57 m||Show|
Fresh off their huge and satisfying Monday night home win against New England, the Panthers now have to travel on a short week to play the Dolphins.
Miami is in the playoff hunt and has a respectable defense. A lot has been made of Bullygate, but since Jonathan Martin left the team the Dolphins have gone 2-1.
The Panthers are in a letdown spot and could be missing star defensive Charles Johnson, who has 8 1/2 sacks. He has a sprained knee.
Carolina already has lost to the Bills and Cardinals on the road. The Panthers are vulnerable in this spot against a desperate Dolphins team.
|11-17-13||Atlanta Falcons -1 v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Top||28-41||Loss||-117||122 h 7 m||Show|
It has been a terrible year for the Falcons, the worst by far of Mike Smith's six-year tenure. But the Buccaneers beating a disjointed Dolphins squad on Monday night doesn't erase the fact that Atlanta still is at least one level higher than Tampa Bay.
The Falcons have a lot of pride under Smith, having made the postseason under him four of the past five seasons. They are a much better organization than Tampa Bay with a far superior coach and quarterback.
Playing on grass hasn't hurt the Falcons in Tampa Bay as they've won and covered during their past four visits. The Falcons have been racked by injuries this year, but are starting to get back some of their key people, including wide receiver Roddy White and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Before playing Miami with its inept offense, the Buccaneers had allowed 31, 31, 31 and 27 points in their previous four games. They do not generate much quarterback pressure, which is needed to rattle Ryan.
Ryan shredded the Buccaneers for three touchdowns and 273 yards passing when Atlanta beat the Bucs, 31-21, in Week 7.
The Buccaneers have been hit by injuries on their offensive line and now are without sparkplug running back Mike James, who had replaced injured Doug Martin. That leaves Tampa Bay with an immobile rookie quarterback and a running attack that is composed of castoffs.
Even with their victory against Miami, the Buccaneers are still 5-19 ATS as a home underdog. They are 1-13 straight-up when foes weren't resting their starters. They don't figure to be so motivated with the national spotlight moving away from them and having achieved their first win.
|11-17-13||NY Jets +1 v. Buffalo Bills||14-37||Loss||-115||46 h 58 m||Show|
The Jets come off their bye rested and brimming with confidence having been one of the few teams to keep New Orleans in check during a 26-20 victory.
The Jets have defeated Buffalo in seven of the past eight meetings, going 6-2 ATS. The Jets beat the Bills in Week 3 despite committing 20 penalties for 168 yards. New York held Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel to just 19-for-42 throwing.
New York has the No. 1 ranked rushing defense. Manuel is still rusty from having missed four games with a knee injury. Manuel will be without his two leading wide receivers, Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods. Both have been ruled out with injuries. In addition, C.J. Spiller isn't close to 100 percent bothered by an ankle sprain.
|11-17-13||Oakland Raiders v. Houston Texans -7||28-23||Loss||-110||46 h 46 m||Show|
The Texans have out-yarded their opponents by more than 1,000 while ranking No. 1 in total defense and pass defense.
This road contest is too daunting of a challenge for the Raiders minus their top running back, Darren McFadden, and most likely their starting quarterback, Terrelle Pryor.
Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin is slated to make his first NFL start. McGloin has to go against their fierce defense behind one of the worst offensive lines and with below average skill position talent.
Case Keenum isn't making the bad mistakes Matt Schaub was. The frustrated Texans would like nothing more than to steamroll the Raiders for their sick coach and to regain their confidence.
|11-10-13||Buffalo Bills v. Pittsburgh Steelers -3||10-23||Win||106||14 h 6 m||Show|
Embarrassed and humiliated after giving up 55 points to New England last week, the Steelers will be fired-up for this matchup. Luckily, they draw a gutsy but bad Buffalo team.
The Bills need to win the turnover battle to win because their talent is so lacking. Buffalo gets back its starting quarterback, E.J. Manuel. But Manuel still is a rookie and figures to be rusty after being out the past four games following a knee injury.
Since Dick LeBeau took over as defensive coordinator in 2004, the Steelers are 16-2 when going against a rookie quarterback. Just four games ago, the Steelers beat the Jets and their rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, 19-6. Rookies have a hard time facing LeBeau's various zone blitzes.
Pittsburgh's defense is long in the tooth, but it's a prideful unit that had held up fairly well until being torched by Tom Brady. E.J. Manuel is no Tom Brady.
The Steelers' much maligned offensive line gets a lift with the return of right guard David DeCastro. That should help the ground attack while setting up Ben Roethlisberger for play action facing a Buffalo secondary that has allowed 20 touchdown passes, which was the most given up entering this Week 10.
Buffalo doesn't have a good track record either on the road. The Bills are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games, including 1-3 ATS this season.
|11-10-13||Philadelphia Eagles v. Green Bay Packers +1.5||Top||27-13||Loss||-110||14 h 2 m||Show|
The oddsmaker and marketplace have way overreacted to Aaron Rodgers not being available for this game.
Thrown in unexpectedly against the Bears this past Monday night, it was no surprise Seneca Wallace looked terrible. Wallace will be coached up this week and, for the first time, will get enough reps in practice to get the rust off.
The Packers still have a very solid offense without Rodgers with Eddie Lacy, emerging as one of the better running backs in the league, along with a deep group of wide receivers and an offensive line that will be fired-up for this game. Keep in mind, too, how bad Philadelphia's defense is. The Eagles rank last in total defense and last in pass defense.
The Eagles are going with their own backup quarterback, Nick Foles. Green Bay has greatly improved its run defense. The Packers have a deep defensive line group so they can stay fresh going against the Eagles' up-tempo offense. The Packers also could have back Clay Matthews, their best pass rusher.
Even with that loss to Chicago, Green Bay still has won 18 of its last 20 games at Lambeau Field going 15-5 ATS.
The Packers have the talent, drive and motivation to prove they can win without Rodgers. They certainly can accomplish that against a flawed Eagles team that has their own backup quarterback going.
|11-07-13||Washington Redskins -1 v. Minnesota Vikings||Top||27-34||Loss||-135||49 h 18 m||Show|
The Redskins have the better coach, quarterback and motivation to beat the Vikings by more than a field goal. These three edges are magnified even more on a short week.
Robert Griffin III is running more each week as he tries to regain his superstar status of a year ago. Griffin, even at 80 percent, is far superior to Christian Ponder and Minnesota's other worthless quarterbacks. Ponder is without his security blanket, too, with tight end Kyle Rudolph out with a broken foot.
Griffin should put up big numbers against a decimated Vikings secondary than ranks 29th in pass defense.
The Redskins are highly motivated after holding off San Diego last week in overtime thanks to a goal line stand at the end of regulation. The Redskins know they're still alive in the weak NFC East.
The Vikings aren't so fortunate. They are hopelessly out of contention at 1-7 with road games looming the next two weeks against Seattle and Green Bay. Leslie Frazier is in over his head as coach of the Vikings. The Vikings face a fatigue factor, too, as this marks their third night game in 18 days.
|11-04-13||Chicago Bears v. Green Bay Packers -10||Top||27-20||Loss||-110||117 h 28 m||Show|
The Packers have won 18 of their last 19 regular season home games. They are 15-4 ATS in these games. They've defeated Chicago six consecutive times.
Green Bay has a couple of important players out - Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb. But the Bears' injury situation is far worse.
The Bears are without Jay Cutler and their defense is minus star defensive tackle Henry Melton along with linebackers Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams. Star cornerback Charles Tillman has a sore knee and 33-year-old Julius Peppers has one sack. The Bears still can be opportunistic on defense, but much of their talent and leadership is gone from that side of the ball with Brian Urlacher retired and Lovie Smith let go.
Chicago's defense entered this week ranked 27th in yards and 29th in points allowed. Sparked by rookie running back Eddie Lacy, the balanced Green Bay offense has gained 449, 438, 357 and 464 yards in its last four games. The Packers entered the week averaging 30.3 points per game.
It's safe to assume Green Bay is going to get its share of points against a Chicago defense that no longer is any good. The Bears' offense isn't going to be able to keep up with 34-year-old backup Josh McCown, who has a career passer rating of 72.
|11-03-13||Kansas City Chiefs -3 v. Buffalo Bills||23-13||Win||100||92 h 22 m||Show|
I don't consider the Chiefs, the league's lone unbeaten team, to be a serious Super Bowl threat. But the Chiefs are far superior to the Bills.
This gap may grow even wider because of Buffalo's injuries. Thad Lewis has sore ribs. Star running back C.J. Spiller missed last week's game with a sore ankle. Neither may play Sunday. That would spell disaster for the Bills.
So I'm getting on the Chiefs now in full anticipation of the line climbing.
The Chiefs are giving up 12.3 points per game, fewest in the NFL. They lead the NFL in sacks with 36. The Bills are surrendering 14 more points per game than Kansas City.
The Bills need to come up with turnovers to beat decent teams. They intercepted five passes to beat Baltimore at home by just three points. Alex Smith doesn't commit turnovers. The Chiefs rank first in the NFL in takeaways/giveaways at plus 12.
|10-27-13||Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings +10||44-31||Loss||-120||23 h 39 m||Show|
After laying an egg on Monday night and being a laughing stock all week, the Vikings are going to come out with their "A" effort against their biggest rival.
The Packers have multiple injuries, are 0-5 ATS in their last five road games and failed to cover in three of their last four visits to Minnesota.
The Vikings aren't nearly as bad as they looked against the Giants. Josh Freeman, mercifully, will not be behind center. The Vikings have the best running back in football, Adrian Peterson, to help out Christian Ponder, who also has a good receiving corps headed by former Packer Greg Jennings, who knows his former team well.
Aaron Rodgers is a tremendous quarterback, but his options are limited minus Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finely. Because of these missing players, the Packers will be running more than usual. On defense, they miss their best defender, Clay Matthews.
The Vikings have the superior special teams and will be highly motivated. This is going to be a close game.
|10-27-13||Dallas Cowboys v. Detroit Lions -3||30-31||Loss||-115||99 h 52 m||Show|
The spot is right for the Lions to pound the Cowboys.
Dallas is off an impressive offense showing against Denver and division victories over the Giants and Eagles. The Cowboys are 5-15 ATS following a victory.
The Cowboys have key injuries. Their best running back DeMarco Murray didn't play last week and their best defensive player, DeMarcus Ware, is likely out again with a quad injury. The Cowboys lack a pass rush without Ware and Anthony Spencer, their second-best pass rusher who is out for the season.
The Lions have a top-flight defensive line that can shut down Dallas' ground attack, which is way below average minus Murray, and pressure Tony Romo, who can be turnover prone.
Matthew Stafford has a 12-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio when Calvin Johnson has been in the lineup. Johnson had a dominant performance last week against the Bengals. Johnson being in the lineup makes Reggie Bush far more dangerous because defenses can't key on Bush.
|10-27-13||Miami Dolphins v. New England Patriots -5.5||17-27||Win||100||15 h 8 m||Show|
The Dolphins have lost three in a row. They have been outgained by 149 yards on the ground and 148 yards passing. It comes out to the opposition averaging close to 50 yards more than Miami per game.
Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more than any other quarterback. He has a sore throwing shoulder and doesn't catch a break as Patriots shutdown cornerback Aqib Talib is expected back this week.
The middle of the Patriots' defense has gotten softer with season-ending injuries to nose tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo, but the Dolphins lack the dynamic ground game to take advantage.
New England has won 33 of its last 36 regular season home games. The Patriots are 22-9-1 ATS in October. They have defeated Miami during the past six meetings.
The Patriots offense is going to start picking up with Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup and Danny Amendola expected to play, too. Gronkowski makes the Patriots far more effective in the red zone.
|10-20-13||Cleveland Browns +10 v. Green Bay Packers||13-31||Loss||-106||101 h 10 m||Show|
Green Bay is far less potent minus Randall Cobb. The Packers don't have anyone who can match his speed and big-play ability from the slot.
Cobb's absence causes the Packers to readjust their offense where an already emphasized ground attack will get even more work and tight end Jermichael Finley becomes more wide receiver than tight end. It changes the offense from a big-strike one to more of a grind-out-the-yards type.
Defensively, the Packers have a cluster injury problem at linebacker. They are without their best pass rusher and defender Clay Matthews.
The Browns are perceived as a lower rung team because they dealt what is looking like a vastly overrated Trent Richardson. In truth, though, the Browns are much more of a 7-9 to 8-8 team. Their 3-3 record reflects that.
The Browns have a stout defense - ranked No. 1 in holding opponents to 4.4 yards per play - and a very good offensive line and stars at tight end with Jordan Cameron and wide receiver with Josh Gordon. All the Browns are missing is a decent quarterback. But because of that and wrong perceptions, the Browns are priced too low here.
|10-20-13||San Francisco 49ers -4 v. Tennessee Titans||Top||31-17||Win||100||101 h 53 m||Show|
The line is short here. Tennessee has been a tough out this season, but the Titans have played a murderous schedule, are not talented at the skill positions and the 49ers have recaptured their ground attack, which makes Colin Kaepernick more dangerous.
The Titans have a bye next week. It comes at a good time. The Titans have faced three top-five defenses during the past three weeks in the Jets, Chiefs and Seahawks. Not only are these outstanding defenses, but they are extremely physical. The Titans just got through from a very physical 20-13 road loss to the Seahawks. Teams that have played Seattle are 0-5 ATS the following week.
Now the Titans have to take on the extremely physical 49ers defense that features the best inside linebackers in the NFL. Chris Johnson is averaging 3.1 yards per carry and doesn't have a rushing touchdown. Tennessee's defense is down a starter at linebacker.
The 49ers' offense is coming around. Vernon Davis had a monster game last week, the ground game spearheaded by a still highly effective Frank Gore has rushed for a combined 444 yards during the last three games and Kaepernick's confidence is up with the threat of the read-option now back.
The 49ers have done well in October covering nine of their last 11 October games.
|10-20-13||San Diego Chargers v. Jacksonville Jaguars +9.5||Top||24-6||Loss||-133||98 h 49 m||Show|
Kudos to San Diego coach Mike McCoy for a solid game plan this past Monday night at home in beating the Colts.
That was a nice win for the Chargers, but it doesn't change the fact they are not a very talented team. Their offensive line is below average, made worse by dealing with multiple injuries, and their wide receivers are well below par, too.
San Diego ranks 25th in pass defense. The Chargers have intercepted two passes and given up 10 touchdowns through the air.
Jacksonville's offense is much better with Chad Henne at quarterback instead of the hopelessly overmatched Blaine Gabbert. Justin Blackmon is a top-15 receiver with Henne behind center. Maurice Jones-Drew is starting to run better.
The Jaguars gave the Broncos their toughest battle of the season in Denver.
I'm not trying to camouflage that Jacksonville is the worst team in the league. But the Chargers are a below average team, too, and are in one of the worst spots of the season.
The Chargers have to travel cross-country for an early Sunday start after having just won perhaps their most satisfying game of the season this past Monday night.
The setting and points are right for the Jaguars to get the cover if not their first win of the season. The Jaguars should be going all out knowing this is a winnable game to satisfy their restless fan base.
|10-20-13||New England Patriots -3.5 v. NY Jets||27-30||Loss||-115||93 h 59 m||Show|
The Jets have been getting a lot of mileage out of upsetting the Falcons two weeks ago on Monday night.
New York played well particularly Geno Smith, who played well above his head against a crippled Atlanta team that is turning out to be a fraud.
The Patriots hold a huge talent gap even with their injuries. It's a plus if Rob Gronkowski makes his season debut. But New England doesn't need him to cover this number.
The Jets outplayed the Patriots when they met in Week 2, but still lost by three points. It was the fifth time in the last six meetings the Patriots have won and covered the spread in the series.
Tom Brady has had five more weeks now to get in sync with his new receivers since the team's first meeting. Bill Belichick is a master at confusing rookie quarterbacks such as Smith, who take away the Falcons game has a 4-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Patriots picked off Smith three times in the fourth quarter.
Smith needs plenty of help on offense, but the Jets have multiple injuries at their skill positions, which weren't strong anyways.
The Patriots are 21-9-1 (70 percent) during their last 31 games in October.
|10-13-13||Washington Redskins +6 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||16-31||Loss||-115||34 h 37 m||Show|
This isn't just a division game, it's a monster rivalry game. The Redskins play the Cowboys extremely tough. Only once during the past 10 meetings between these two teams have the Cowboys won by more than four points. Washington has covered in the last six meetings.
Washington also has covered in 12 of its last 15 division games.
The Redskins were 3-6 at their bye last year and turned their season around. This is the game after their bye. Robert Griffin III has had four games and now a bye to get the rust off and get back into his superstar groove. I'm expecting his best performance of the season as he's continually getting better since returning from serious knee surgery. He should have his full complement of receiving weapons, too, as Washington's tight ends appear healthy.
The Cowboys' offense is clicking, but their defense ranks 30th in passing and 28th in total yards. Dallas has surrendered a score in 13 of its opponent's last 16 possessions.
The Redskins' defense is playing better. It has better talent than their statistics indicate. The Redskins were caught off guard opening week taking on the new look Chip Kelly Eagles and then had to play a fired-up Packers team on the road.
Dallas is not a good home team as evidenced by its 6-13 ATS mark.
|10-13-13||St. Louis Rams v. Houston Texans -7||Top||38-13||Loss||-115||99 h 13 m||Show|
This is a circle--the-wagons game for the Texans after three consecutive losses.
Last week the Rams got well picking up their first win because they got to play Jacksonville. Now the Texans get well playing the Rams.
There is nothing wrong with Houston's defense. It remains outstanding with J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing in the lineup. There is nothing wrong with Arian Foster and Andre Johnson either. They remain among the best at their respective positions.
Veteran Matt Schaub has been the issue with nine interceptions and pick-sixes in four straight games. Now Schaub is playing for his starting job.
The Texans need to go back to basics and that's run the ball with Foster and Ben Tate. This what I see Houston doing here against a St. Louis defense that ranks 29th versus the run.
The Rams have allowed 508 yards rushing in their last three games. The Rams also are giving up 28.2 points a game, which ranks them 28th. Schaub has been an effective game manager in the past. He should be able to manage well against this weak defense being home and with arguably the best running back tandem in the league to rely on.
Hold off burning those Schaub jerseys this week because I see the Texans winning by double-digits.
|10-13-13||Pittsburgh Steelers +1.5 v. NY Jets||19-6||Win||100||26 h 1 m||Show|
Don't get fooled by this past Monday night. The Jets aren't that good. They are in a letdown spot facing a desperate and proud Steelers team and have key injuries.
Pittsburgh's defense remains highly respectable. The Steelers' offense is picking up, too, with rookie Le 'Veon Bell making a difference in the run game and Ben Roethlisberger getting more in sync with his receivers and having security blanket Heath Miller back.
Roethlisberger can take advantage of a battered Jets secondary that won't have Dee Milner and could also be missing Antonio Cromartie.
The Steelers' defense is due to get takeaways. Rookie Geno Smith played well against a soft injury-riddled Falcons defense, but entered that matchup with a 4-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and being sacked 14 times. Defensive gurus Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau have had two weeks to game-plan for Smith.
Smith won't have his best receiver either, in injured former Steeler Santonio Holmes. The Jets won't have suspended tight end Kellen Winslow either.
|10-10-13||NY Giants v. Chicago Bears -7.5||Top||21-27||Loss||-108||45 h 39 m||Show|
Being the visiting team on a Thursday game is hard enough. But when you're 0-5 like the Giants and already out of playoff contention it becomes especially rough.
The Giants' winless record isn't a fluke. Their offensive line is a major liability, there is no semblance of a ground game with David Wilson out and the defense is a mess yielding an NFL-high 36.4 points per game while recording only five sacks.
The Giants are a hideous minus 13 in turnover ratio. The Bears have one of the most opportunistic defenses in football. Chicago led the league in takeaways last year and have 14 this season. No team has returned more of their takeaways for touchdowns than Chicago during the past two seasons.
New York has won just three of its last 13 games and is 0-7 ATS in its past seven away games.
The Bears are off a home loss to the Saints. They are in prime position to take their frustrations out on the morale-challenged Giants. Jay Cutler is deadly with time to pass and now has two excellent tall targets to throw to in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
|10-06-13||San Diego Chargers v. Oakland Raiders +5||Top||17-27||Win||100||51 h 48 m||Show|
Philip Rivers is having a nice comeback season. But public perception of the Chargers, based on this line, is way out of whack.
San Diego isn't nearly good enough to be laying this high of a road number against a division foe. It should be noted that while the Chargers have won eight of the last nine in this series - with much stronger teams than their current one - the underdog has covered the past eight times.
The Raiders rank near the bottom in overall talent. They likely will be missing their best skill position player in Darren McFadden. However, Terrelle Pryor is back this week. Pryor is much improved, one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL. He upgrades Oakland's offense and covers up many of the Raiders' offensive line warts.
The Raiders are far more dangerous with Pryor than with Matt Flynn, who does not fit Oakland's system at all.
Rivers is a name player. However, the Chargers aren't any better than Oakland in the trenches. San Diego has a cluster injury problem in its offensive line and ranks 30th in total defense giving up 432.8 yards per game. The Chargers are 29th in pass defense and 26th in run defense. San Diego ranks last in yards per play at 6.7.
The Chargers are overly dependent on Rivers. They lack a deep threat and have a pedestrian ground attack. The Raiders have a veteran secondary with Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. These guys have all made big plays in their career and they certainly are capable of doing it again.
|10-06-13||Baltimore Ravens +3 v. Miami Dolphins||26-23||Win||100||40 h 56 m||Show|
I feel a lot better about the Ravens now that they're going back to featuring Ray Rice rather than Joe Flacco. The right formula for Baltimore is using Rice to set up Flacco rather than the other way around. It's a plus for Baltimore if Cameron Wake, the Dolphins' star pass rusher, has to miss a second straight game. Stealing Eugene Monroe from Jacksonville is a big plus for the Ravens' offensive line.
Baltimore's defense is better than perceived. The Ravens being torched by Peyton Manning on opening night doesn't look so bad now. Since that game, the Ravens defense has held their last three opponents - Browns, Texans and Bills - to a combined two touchdowns. Both of them were scored by the Bills last week when Flacco was picked off five times.
Miami isn't that good. The Dolphins have been outgained in every game. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league-high 18 times. He's vulnerable to Baltimore's blitzes and to Terrell Suggs, one of the top pass rushers in football.
The Dolphins have had one less day to practice after playing this past Monday night. Miami has covered only 32 percent during the past 34 times it has been home chalk.
The Ravens, on the other hand, are 6-2 ATS as road 'dogs during the last three years.
|10-03-13||Buffalo Bills v. Cleveland Browns -4||Top||24-37||Win||100||34 h 11 m||Show|
The common theme is that this is a matchup of two bad football teams. That's only part true. The Browns, now that they've found the right quarterback and have dynamite wide receiver Josh Gordon back to go with an underrated defense, are not far from respectability.
The Bills are terrible, totally reliant on coming up with turnovers to be able to stay in games.
The combination of the Bills traveling on a short week, having their best player limited, dealing with a cluster injury problem in their secondary and going against a fired-up Browns squad playing their best ball puts me on the favorite.
Cleveland ranks third in total defense and has allowed only two touchdown passes. The Bills are running a limited offense for rookie E.J. Manuel. They are in trouble here with a short preparation week and having C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson banged-up. Doug Marrone has yet to figure out how to get the dangerous Spiller in space. Spiller isn't a given either to play after suffering an ankle injury last week.
Buffalo has lost 14 of its last 16 away games, going 4-11-1 ATS. The Bills also are 3-11-1 ATS following a victory.
Brian Hoyer has surprised his critics. He's been aggressive with his throws and has two outstanding targets in Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, who is emerging as the second-best tight end next to Jimmy Graham. These two should have a big night operating against a depleted Buffalo secondary that could be without three starters again. The Browns really don't need overrated Trent Richardson and his 2.9 yards per carry average since they've become a passing team.
|09-30-13||Miami Dolphins v. New Orleans Saints -6.5||Top||17-38||Win||100||34 h 3 m||Show|
Both Miami and New Orleans are 3-0. But the Saints are the more legitimate undefeated team. Miami has been outgained in each of its three games.
The Dolphins are improved, but they are far from an elite team.
The Saints are regaining elite status with Sean Payton back coaching. New Orleans has won AND covered its last 11 home games when Payton has been its coach. The Saints are also 19-6-1 ATS when hosting a non-division opponent and have won eight straight games on Monday night. They are used to center stage. The Dolphins aren't.
Both teams have trouble running the ball, but the Saints don't need an effective ground attack because they have one of the four best quarterbacks in football in Drew Brees and the No. 1 tight end, Jimmy Graham. Payton and Brees mastermind a highly effective air attack that no team has been able to stop, especially inside the Louisiana Superdome's fast track.
The Saints' defense is highly improved under new coordinator Rob Ryan. The Saints defense has given up just 31 points in dispatching the Falcons, Buccaneers and Cardinals. A key to the Saints' defensive turnaround is a better rush. The Dolphins have allowed 14 sacks and rank 26th in total yards.
|09-29-13||Arizona Cardinals v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5||13-10||Loss||-123||137 h 10 m||Show|
The Cardinals keep suffering injuries on defense, have yet to figure out an effective offense and are making their third long trip in four weeks making this a bad situational spot for them.
Tampa Bay has some team friction. Josh Freeman has been disappointing so far. But the Bucs' defense has been outstanding and their offensive line should get even better now that Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks has returned.
The Bucs have given up just four touchdowns despite having faced New Orleans and New England as two of their three opponents. Their secondary is much improved with the addition of Darrelle Revis. This is important because the Cardinals have become a heavy passing team with the addition of quarterback Carson Palmer and new head coach Bruce Arians.
The Cardinals haven't played well in their last two games. They have yet to establish a ground game or protect the immobile Palmer. Arizona's best player, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, has been less than 100 percent because of a hamstring injury.
Arizona has lost four defensive starters and will be without suspended linebacker Daryl Washington. The Buccaneers have skill position talent with Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams to take advantage especially with Nicks solidifying the offensive line.
|09-29-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Houston Texans +3||23-20||Push||0||37 h 50 m||Show|
Certainly I respect the undefeated Seahawks. But I'm not ready to anoint them as the best team in football, or to agree that they should be a road favorite against the Texans. The Seahawks were very fortunate to beat Carolina in their only other road game this season.
An early start time and a cluster injury problem on their offensive line isn't going to help the Seahawks.
The Seahawks already are without their best offensive lineman, left tackle Russell Okung. Now they aren't likely to have center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini. Both are listed as doubtful. This should set up more dominating performances from dominant defensive players J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing.
The Seahawks are ground-oriented. Russell Wilson has attempted the fewest passes in the league of any starting quarterback. He has no marquee receivers. The Texans are giving up just 3.2 yards per run, fifth-lowest in the league.
Seattle has been playing great defense. The Texans have a balanced attack, though. Their passing attack gets a big boost as Andre Johnson is expected to play.
The Texans have won nine of their last 11 home games. The Seahawks aren't nearly as intimidating away from their noisy outdoor stadium. The Texans have been a strong September team going 10-3 since 2010. They also are 10-1 ATS in Week 4 the past 11 years.
|09-26-13||San Francisco 49ers -3 v. St. Louis Rams||35-11||Win||100||24 h 39 m||Show|
Could the 49ers lose three in a row for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era?
I don't see it happening here.
The 49ers' problems are well documented. Their offense hasn't moved the ball the past two weeks. Aldon Smith is suspended. Patrick Willis is hurt and may not play. Vernon Davis is a game-time decision. Yes, the 49ers have lost their mojo. But they still are much superior to the Rams.
The Rams very well could be 0-3 if not for the Cardinals blowing an 11-point fourth-quarter lead against them opening week. The Rams fell 21 points behind the Falcons, who haven't looked good, and then were absolutely destroyed by Dallas last week.
DeMarco Murray came to life to bash the Rams for 175 yards rushing, averaging nearly seven yards per carry. The 49ers can bash the Rams' defense, too, behind one of the best offensive lines in football with the running of Frank Gore and Colin Kapernick operating option plays. Kaepernick is going to be tougher to handle playing on turf.
The Rams have covered all four of the matchups between the two teams under Jeff Fisher. There's no way the 49ers will underestimate St. Louis in this matchup.
St. Louis has become one dimensional with no running game. That puts the entire onus on Sam Bradford, who is far from an elite quarterback. I would easily take Kaepernick over Bradford. The Rams have improved their speed,but their offense is a work in progress way too ovrereliant on passing.
|09-23-13||Oakland Raiders v. Denver Broncos -14.5||Top||21-37||Win||100||143 h 59 m||Show|
Forget about all that nonsense about taking more than two touchdowns with a division rival. That's old school NFL.
New school NFL is all about passing. The Broncos are the best at it and the Raiders are one of the worst.
Peyton Manning has been unstoppable this season thanks to an upgraded receiving corps. He's thrown nine touchdown passes in two games. Manning's touchdown-to-interception ratio is up to 46-to-13 in 18 regular-season games with Denver.
The Raiders' defense is no match for Manning especially after losing safety Tyvon Branch to an ankle injury last week.
Oakland played hard in getting a cover against Indianapolis in Week 1 and then took care of the worst team in the NFL by far, Jacksonville, last Sunday at home. But now the Raiders are stepping light years up. Denver very well could be the best team in the NFL right now,
Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor can't throw downfield. He's just dangerous with his feet. Denver won't be fooled by him. The Broncos aren't going to let Pryor run. The Raiders are not build for shootouts, or for coming from behind. So they're going to be in big trouble once they start surrendering touchdowns to Denver's high-powered offensive machine.
Don't look for a Denver letdown either following its impressive road win against the Giants last week. The Broncos hate the Raiders and this is on the Monday night stage.
|09-22-13||NY Giants +1.5 v. Carolina Panthers||Top||0-38||Loss||-110||154 h 20 m||Show|
The oddsmakers have opened a wrong favorite. We've been down this path before with these two teams.
They met in Week 3 last year at Carolina and the Panthers were favored. The Giants ended up blasting them, 36-7, scoring on eight of their last 10 possessions.
The Panthers are operating the wrong offense for Cam Newton and their secondary is highly vulnerable to the Giants' excellent passing attack. Already weakened by the retirement of cornerback Chris Gamble, the Panthers lost their leader in the secondary this past Sunday with free safety Charles Godfrey going down with an Achilles' injury.
The Giants should have beaten Dallas on the road opening week but were done in by a minus 5 turnover ratio. There was no shame in losing to Denver this past Sunday. The Broncos are in the argument for best team in the NFL.
The Panthers, on the other hand, let the Bills and a rookie quarterback beat them. They couldn't protect Newton surrendering 4 1/2 sacks to Mario Williams alone.
Carolina is just 2-5 ATS when chalk. The Panthers are poorly coached. They are 2-14 SU in games decided by seven points or less under Ron Rivera.
The Giants, on the other hand under future Hall of Fame coach Tom Coughlin, are 8-3-1 ATS as underdogs.
|09-22-13||Arizona Cardinals v. New Orleans Saints -7||7-31||Win||100||110 h 1 m||Show|
The Saints have won AND covered their past 10 home games when Sean Payton has been coaching. Look for that streak to continue in this matchup.
This is a bad situational spot for Arizona traveling cross-country following a highly-satisfying home win against Detroit. An early start time is not good either for the Cardinals.
New Orleans has covered 17 of its last 22 in the Superdome. The Cardinals have been strong against the run, but rank 21st versus the pass and only have one sack, tied for last in the NFL. The Saints only pay lip service to running the ball. They are a throwing team all the way and will be at the goal line, too, after watching disappointing Mark Ingram get stuffed again trying to score on a short run.
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has improved the Saints' defense. New Orleans held Atlanta to just 17 points opening week and last Sunday gave up just 14 points and 273 yards on the road to the Buccaneers.
The Cardinals are passing a lot more under new coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer. But those two aren't on the same page yet. Arizona's passing attack is a work in progress. Not helping matters is star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a nagging hamstring injury that reduces his effectiveness.
The Saints are far more aggressive on defense under Ryan. They will be blitzing Palmer in the loud Superdome. Palmer is a statue in the pocket. He could be in for a rough afternoon.
|09-19-13||Kansas City Chiefs v. Philadelphia Eagles -3||Top||26-16||Loss||-121||58 h 15 m||Show|
As expected, the Chiefs are much improved under Andy Reid. But this a terrible situational spot for them traveling on a very short week following a big home win against Dallas.
What makes it worse is tangling against the Eagles and their new look fast-break offense.
The Eagles' offense hasn't been slowed this season. The Eagles rank second in yardage at 477 per game and third in points at 31.5 per contest. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are all healthy again and having major seasons.
A lot is going to be made of Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia. That's another distraction for Reid and the Chiefs to deal with. The Eagles are going to be steaming mad after losing at home at the end to San Diego.
Alex Smith isn't nearly a good enough passer to trade points with such a high-powered opponent. The Eagles have a weak secondary, but Smith is a dink and dunker who is unable to take full advantage.
The Chiefs rely heavily on Jamaal Charles and he isn't 100 percent.
|09-16-13||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Cincinnati Bengals -6.5||Top||10-20||Win||100||127 h 47 m||Show|
Sometimes it can be a mistake to overreact to what happens on opening week.
But not in the case of the Steelers. Pittsburgh is in deep trouble.
The Steelers were the AFC's lowest scoring team during preseason when they went 0-4. Their troubles continued at home against Tennessee as their offense produced just seven points and 195 yards. This was against Tennessee, which gave up the most points per game last year of any team.
Pittsburgh has its youngest offensive line in 56 years. The Steelers' one key offensive lineman, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, was lost for the season against the Titans. Pittsburgh's offensive line imploded without Pouncey. Cincinnati has one of the 10 best defenses and had a franchise-best 51 sacks last year.
Ben Roethlisberger has no ground game to turn to with a running back committee of rejects and his passing attack is minus deep threat Mike Wallace and reliable tight end Heath Miller.
The Steelers' defense still is good, but it's not dominant anymore. The linebacking corps took a hit with a season-ending injury to Larry Foote. Pittsburgh's defense is getting old and missing several former mainstays, including linebacker James Harrison, who is now with Cincinnati. The emotional Harrison will be super psyched going against his former team.
The Bengals have won seven of their last nine regular season games. Their only losses during this span were by one point to Dallas last year and by three points to Chicago on the road last week in a game they should have won.
Cincinnati's offense is improved with Andy Dalton more experienced and rookie running back Giovani Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert joining A.J. Green, the best wideout in the AFC.
The Steelers have dominated Cincinnati through the years. Now the Bengals have a chance for payback on national TV catching the Steelers when they are physically down and their confidence is at low ebb.
|09-15-13||Dallas Cowboys v. Kansas City Chiefs -2.5||Top||16-17||Loss||-115||110 h 34 m||Show|
Andy Reid knows more about the Cowboys than the Cowboys know about Reid's Chiefs.
Kansas City has four Pro Bowl players on defense and an improved offense. The Chiefs won't commit the turnovers they did last year with Alex Smith behind center.
The Cowboys were celebrating like crazy after beating the Giants at home Sunday night. Dallas won by five points despite having a plus 5 turnover edge. That's not impressive.
The Cowboys have problems on both their offensive and defensive lines. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant aren't 100 percent either.
The Chiefs have one of the best home field edges in football. Dallas is playing outdoors on grass, which isn't a natural setting for them. The Cowboys also are 0-4-1 ATS the last five years when playing in Week 2.
|09-09-13||Houston Texans -3 v. San Diego Chargers||Top||31-28||Push||0||346 h 16 m||Show|
Just like last year, the oddsmaker opened the Texans too short in Week 1. The Texans were steamed last year against Miami and they easily covered that opener, 30-10. It was the third straight time the Texans have won and covered their opener with their average victory margin being by 19 points.
I see the same thing happening here. The best time to back the Texans is now because this line is only going to go higher.
I rank the Texans with the Patriots and Broncos as the class of the AFC. The Chargers are rebuilding at best and are a bottom three team at worst.
The Texans are solid at every position and should dominate the trenches. The Chargers are breaking in new corners, are thin on the defensive line, have beat-up wide receivers and a bad offensive line making them prey to J.J. Watt. In fact, the Chargers have an extreme talent deficiency all across their team.
Perhaps the linesmaker isn't fully aware yet - but San Diego is going to be very bad. This is the chance to get a far superior team at a very cheap price.
Arian Foster should play. But even if he doesn't, I'm fine with Ben Tate getting the majority of carries. He's one of the best backup running backs in the league.
|09-08-13||New England Patriots -9 v. Buffalo Bills||23-21||Loss||-110||101 h 6 m||Show|
New England has owned Buffalo beating the Bills 23 of the past 26 times. This game shouldn't pose any problems either for New England.
Tom Brady lost his main receivers from last year and won't have Rob Gronkowski. But he does have Danny Amendola and a much improved ground attack. The Patriots have averaged 40.1 points in their last six games versus Buffalo.
The Bills have a new defensive system, have a cluster injury problem in their secondary, inexperienced wide receivers and a rookie quarterback.
Bill Belichick can easily game plan to stop rookie E.J. Manuel, who didn't play in the last two preseason games because of swelling in his knee, or undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel, who has little arm strength.
There is no way for the Bills to keep up with Brady, who shouldn't have any difficulty picking apart the Bills' battered secondary.
|09-08-13||Cincinnati Bengals +3 v. Chicago Bears||Top||21-24||Push||0||75 h 40 m||Show|
I'm always attracted to the superior team getting points. That's the case in this matchup.
Cincinnati holds key edges in the trenches against the Bears and has greatly upgraded at the skill positions giving Andy Dalton additional weapons to work with besides the great A.J. Green. The Bengals very well could have the best tight end tandem in the NFL with Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert.
The Bengals covered six of their eight road games last year. They have won seven of their past eight regular season games and were 5-1 in their last six games versus NFC foes. Their only loss in these six games was to Dallas by one point.
The Bears are 1-5 ATS in their last six games at Solider Field. They have failed to cover the last four times they've been favorites of 3 1/2 points or less.
The Bears are old on defense - while the Bengals defense is in its prime. Chicago lost a lot of leadership - especially on defense - with Lovie Smith getting fired and future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher retiring.
Marc Trestman is unproven as a head coach. He's an offensive coach who inherits Jay Cutler, a hot-and-cold gunslinger who has yet to prove he can win. Cutler is a pocket passer and the Bears haven't been able to protect him. He's been sacked 61 times in the last 25 games.
The Bengals set a franchise mark with 51 sacks last year. They have a number of excellent pass rushers, including Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. They can take advantage of a new Chicago offense that very much is a work in progress.
|09-08-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Carolina Panthers +3.5||Top||12-7||Loss||-100||13 h 57 m||Show|
Carolina should have beaten the Seahawks at home last year, but were stopped on the 1-yard during a goal line stand when Cam Newton misfired with a receiver open in the end zone.
The Panthers have revenge and like Seattle are better now than when they faced the Seahawks in Week 5 last year. Carolina finished last season winning six of its last nine as Newton played much better. The Panthers knocked off the Falcons, Redskins and Saints in New Orleans during this span.
The Seahawks have numerous defensive injuries and face a strong look-ahead game. They host the 49ers next Sunday night in one of their biggest games of the season. The Seahawks are not helped either by the early start time since they playing three hours ahead of their normal time.
Seattle has a new defensive coordinator after Gus Bradley took over as head coach of Jacksonville. Star pass rusher Chris Clemons may not play due to a knee injury. Linebacker Bruce Irving is suspended and tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel are dealing with injuries. Free agent acquisition defensive end Cliff Avril has a hamstring injury.
This is a classic ambush spot. The Panthers are underrated and motivated. Seattle has become a public team and is overrated.
|01-20-13||San Francisco 49ers -3 v. Atlanta Falcons||Top||28-24||Win||100||159 h 40 m||Show|
The 49ers are stronger physically than the Falcons - and mentally, too, under Jim Harbaugh.
The Falcons had problems with Russell Wilson. They'll have worse trouble with a red-hot Colin Kaepernick, who runs better than Wilson. The Falcons could be missing their top pass rusher, John Abraham, too.
The 49ers ranked second in scoring defense and were either third or fourth in the rest of the major defensive categories. They played a much stronger schedule than Atlanta meeting playoff foes Green Bay, Minnesota, Seattle twice and New England. The Falcons just drew the Broncos and Redskins - and both of those games were early in the season before those teams were playing well.
No team played a softer schedule than the Falcons.
For all the talk about Atlanta's home field edge, the Falcons actualy scored fewer points per game at home than on the road and Matt Ryan had 10 fewer touchdowns at home and is quarterback rating wasn't nearly as good in the Georgia Dome compared to the road.
The 49ers' offense has gotten much more explosive with Kaepernick. The Falcons are weak versus the run giving up 4.8 yards per carry. A still highly effective Frank Gore can take advantage not to mention Kapernick. Under Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree has reached his enormous potential becoming one of the better wideouts in the league. Vernon Davis still remains dangerous, too.
|01-13-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Atlanta Falcons -1||Top||28-30||Win||100||144 h 12 m||Show|
I'll take the Falcons at home in this short price range. Atlanta has won 11 of its last 12 games at Georgia Dome. The Falcons' only home loss during this time span occurred in Week 17 to Tampa Bay when the Falcons already had home-field advantage clinched.
Matt Ryan led the NFL in completion percentage while finishing in the top five in touchdowns and yardage. Russell Wilson is a nice story, but he can't compare to Ryan especially in Ryan's home dome where he has won 33 of 38 regular season games. Ryan has thrown 11 touchdowns in his last five games with just one interception. Wilson, by contrast, has a 9-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the road.
The Seahawks have a losing road record. They have lost to the Cardinals, Rams, Lions and Dolphins away from home. The Falcons are much more dangerous in their home dome setting then the Lions, who put up 28 points and 352 passing yards on Seattle.
The Falcons are healthy while the Seahawks are without their best pass rusher, Chris Clemons. The Seahawks are traveling for the second time in two weeks while the Falcons are well rested.
I'm not sold on the Seahawks' offense either. I like Wilson, but he's not an elite quarterback like Ryan. I also like Marshawn Lynch, but the Falcons will be keying on him. The Falcons faced Cam Newton twice and Robert Griffin III - when he was healthy - so they have experience with option-type quarterbacks such as Wilson.
Much is being made of the Falcons being 0-3 in the playoffs during the Mike Smith-Matt Ryan era. Don't put any stock in it. Two of those defeats came when the Falcons were on the road.
Atlanta is the better team and in the better situation.
|01-12-13||Baltimore Ravens +10 v. Denver Broncos||38-35||Win||100||25 h 56 m||Show|
The combination of the Ravens and road hasn't been a good one. But Baltimore is playoff road-tested under John Harbaugh with a winning spread mark in eight away games.
The Ravens' defense isn't nearly what it was in the past, but it still has good players and has gotten healthier with the return of Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbee and Bernard Pollard. That's 244 tackles. All three missed the Dec. 16 game when the Broncos beat the Ravens, 34-17.
A lot is being made of Denver crushing Baltimore as the game was more lopsided than the final score. However, the Ravens were right in there but couldn't overcome a possible 14-point turnaround when Joe Flacco was intercepted at the goal line and the interception was returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
Since that game, Flacco has not committed a turnover. The Broncos have a solid offense and defense. But I'm not convinced they are a dominant team that can beat a prideful, playoff-tested opponent by double-digits. Denver picked up six of its victories playing division patsies Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego while also beating Cleveland.
Beating those lower tier opponents can built up misleading statistics. I see the Ravens, with their experienced proven leadership, stepping up and keeping this matchup close.
|01-06-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Baltimore Ravens -6.5||9-24||Win||100||70 h 23 m||Show|
Baltimore hasn't looked good, but my feeling is the Ravens will show up strong at home where they have won 15 of their last 17 and Joe Flacco has a history of playing well. Ray Rice should have a big game, too, going against the Colts' 29-ranked run defense.
The Colts are a nice story, but the bottom line is they aren't very good. They compiled their record by beating a lot of bad teams in close games.
The Colts have been outscored by 30 points on the season. They've struggled big-time on the road when they've faced superior opposition getting blown out by the Bears, Patriots and Texans.
Aside from their 29th-ranked run defense, the Colts rank 26th in total defense. They don't run the ball well and Andrew Luck finished 26th in the passer ratings behind Blaine Gabbert.
This is the game where the Colts get exposed.
|01-05-13||Minnesota Vikings v. Green Bay Packers -7.5||Top||10-24||Win||100||57 h 28 m||Show|
For one of the rare times this season, Aaron Rodgers is going to have all his weapons as Randall Cobb is expected to play. The Vikings don't have nearly the defensive backfield depth to stay with Cobb, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, who has played well down the stretch. Green Bay's improved rushing attack and Rodgers' outstanding mobility can keep the Vikings' pass rushers in check. The Vikings' secondary could really be down if Antoine Winfield, Minnesota's best cornerback, is rendered near helpless with a hand injury.
The Vikings have stepped up with their two best games of the season during the last two weeks upsetting the Texans on the road and Packers at home. I don't see Minnesota being able to play its "A" game a third consecutive week, especially after just beating the Packers. Christian Ponder isn't as bad as he looked earlier in the season, but he's not as good either as he played last week. He's a dink-and-dunker nearly totally dependent on Adrian Peterson.
Peterson isn't going to be that much help, though, if the Vikings fall behind, which I expect to happen.
Green Bay has a history of coming back strong after a loss covering eight of the last nine times in that situation.
The Lambeau Field playoff mystique can't be discounted either. Green Bay is 21-8-1 ATS in its last 30 home matchups. The Packers are used to pressure January games. This is the first time the Vikings have made the postseason under Leslie Frazier.
Peterson and Rodgers are both great players. I wouldn't have a problem if either one was named MVP. But Rodgers has far more weapons and is home. The Packers' defense is better than it showed at Minnesota last week, especially Tramon Williams. Green Bay will be helped, too, by return of Charles Woodson.
|12-30-12||Dallas Cowboys +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||18-28||Loss||-110||53 h 34 m||Show|
Sparked by fantastic Robert Griffin III, Washington just has to win this game to capture the NFC East Division despite a 3-6 start.
The Redskins are playing well, but so are Dallas and Tony Romo. The Cowboys have won five of their last seven with one of those defeats occurring in overtime to New Orleans. Romo has thrown for 1,328 yards with a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last four games. Romo has a 104.4 quarterback mark since the start of November, which is the second-best in the league during that time frame.
Romo has been aided by the return to health of DeMarco Murray, who provides the Cowboys with a respectable ground game, and the emergence of Dez Bryant as a consistent elite wide receiver. Bryant has turned his vast potential into great production scoring 10 touchdowns and picking up 808 receiving yards during the past seven games.
Griffin returned last week against the Eagles after missing the Redskins' win against the Browns with a sprained knee. Griffin was sharp again passing going 16-for-24 for 198 yards and touchdowns, but his mobility was severely restricted wearing a knee brace. He carried just twice against the Eagles for only four yards. Griffin remains good, but he's not a dominant two-way threat like he was before the injury.
The Redskins beat Dallas on Thanksgiving, but prior to that had lost three of the last four meetings. Washington hasn't been in this big of a pressure game this late in the season since 1999. They are not used to these situations. Expectations are even higher with the Redskins playing at home.
This is the Sunday night game. So if the Vikings lose to the Packers and the Bears, a 3-point road favorite against Detroit, should also lose the Redskins would clinch a playoff berth even before this game started. If that were to be the case, the Redskins' intensity level could drop leaving just Dallas to need a victory for a playoff berth.
|12-30-12||Green Bay Packers -3 v. Minnesota Vikings||Top||34-37||Loss||-120||124 h 1 m||Show|
It's not a fluke the Packers have defeated the Vikings in 10 of the last 13 meetings, including the past five times. The Packers are the superior team. Green Bay beat Minnesota, 23-14, in Week 13 despite not playing well.
Look for Green Bay to play much better this time around. The Packers are clearly peaking winning nine of their last 10. Green Bay is 12-3 ATS the past 15 times they've met a foe with a winning record.
The Vikings took advantage of a surprisingly flat Houston squad this past Sunday. Kudos to the Vikings for that. But the Vikings remain a limited team with a major weakness at quarterback.
Adrian Peterson is getting a lot of MVP run. No one has made a greater comeback in his first season back from a serious knee injury like Peterson. He's a great player. But Aaron Rodgers is quietly having another MVP-type season, too, with a 35-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
The Vikings' strengths are Peterson, their pass rush particularly Jared Allen and a decent secondary. The Packers are well aware of Peterson. They are going to key on him knowing they don't have to respect the downfield passing of Christian Ponder. No Minnesota wide receiver has more than 53 receiving yards in a game since Week 10.
Rodgers nullifies Minnesota's pass rush with his quick release and outstanding mobility. The Packers quietly have improved their ground attack rushing for triple digits in six of their last seven games. So the Vikings have to pay at least lip service to Green Bay's rushing attack.
|12-30-12||Baltimore Ravens v. Cincinnati Bengals -1||Top||17-23||Win||100||48 h 53 m||Show|
Cincinnati is playing well going 6-1 in their last seven games with its only loss during this span coming to Dallas by one point on a Cowboys field goal with four seconds left.
Baltimore has lost three of its last four and does not perform nearly as well on the road as it does at home. Before scoring 33 points against the Giants at home last week, the Ravens had averaged 18.2 points in their last five games.
Joe Flacco has his lowest road completion percentage of his career this season at 57.1 percent, averaging just six yards per attempt on the road. The Ravens' defense, racked by injuries to key performers, is down from past editions. The Ravens have surrendered 29 or more points five times this season.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will not be resting starters. He wants to win this game to go into the playoffs with momentum. The Bengals have been eliminated in first-round playoff action two of the past three years because Lewis sat out starters and his team was flat.
The Ravens, by contrast, are best served by actually losing this game. That would give them the No. 4 seed in the AFC and allow them to play the Colts and then possibly the Texans instead of a second-round draw against the Patriots or Broncos.
|12-23-12||Chicago Bears -5 v. Arizona Cardinals||Top||28-13||Win||100||111 h 13 m||Show|
OK, the Bears failed in their big NFC North Division showdown last week against Green Bay. But let's not get carried away. The Bears, despite their second-half slump, are still more than a touchdown better than Arizona.
The timing of this matchup, though, makes this a lower than it should be point spread. The Cardinals just defeated Detroit, 38-10, at home. That victory, though, doesn't obscure the fact that the Cardinals have the worst offense in the NFL.
Thanks to their defense coming up with turnovers, the Cardinals scored three short touchdowns on offense against Detroit last week. That gives Arizona's offense 11 touchdowns in its last 10 games. The Cardinals rank last in yards and rushing. They are in the bottom four in scoring and passing. Ryan Lindley and John Skelton have combined to throw just two touchdown passes with 15 interceptions. Lindley, who gets the start here, has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has eight turnovers.
The Bears still have an upper tier defense ranking in the top five in yardage and fewest points. The Bears own the skill position advantages with Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, who has 46 more receptions than Larry Fitzgerald, 724 more receiving yards and six more touchdowns.
Prior to defeating the listless Lions, the Cardinals had lost nine straight. Arizona has failed to cover in four of its last five home contests.
Chicago hasn't lost to a losing team all season. The Bears' losses have been to the Packers, Texans, Seahawks, 49ers and Vikings. The combined record of those teams is 49-20. The Bears are 10-4-1 ATS on the road when playing a foe with a losing home mark.
All of this makes this my NFC Game of the Year.
|12-23-12||Buffalo Bills +4.5 v. Miami Dolphins||10-24||Loss||-110||108 h 18 m||Show|
Buffalo is out of the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year. But it's wrong to assume Buffalo won't have anything to play for in this matchup. Jobs are at stake. This is a division rivalry matchup.
Miami doesn't have a strong enough offense to lay this big of a number and Buffalo's defense isn't nearly as bad as last week's 50-17 score might indicate. Prior to losing to Seattle, the Bills had held their last four opponents to 15, 18, 20 and 14 points. The Dolphins have failed to reach 280 yards of total offense in seven of their last 10 games. Only twice in their last seven games have the Dolphins exceeded 20 points.
Buffalo and Miami met in Week 11. The Bills held the Dolphins to just 184 yards in winning 19-14. The Dolphins are 1-2 ATS as home favorite. They have been terrible in that role through the years covering just 21 percent of the time since 2003.
The Bills have the edge at the skill positions. Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown twice as many touchdowns as Ryan Tannehill. Stevie Johnson is the best wide receiver on either team and C.J. Spiller is better than Reggie Bush. It's a plus for the Bills if injured center Eric Wood is able to return.
|12-23-12||Tennessee Titans v. Green Bay Packers -12.5||Top||7-55||Win||100||107 h 58 m||Show|
Despite giving up 45 sacks and Mason Crosby missing at least one field goal in eight straight games, the Packers have gone 8-1, 7-2 ATS.
The Packers are getting healthier and draw one of the league's weakest teams, Tennessee. This game is made far worse for the Titans because they are traveling into cold weather on a short week following their 14-10 Monday night win against the Jets.
The Jets are terrible, too, but the Titans just managed to squeak past them at home despite a plus 5 turnover advantage.
Now the Titans, a warm-weather team, are facing a late December day in Green Bay with the temperatures expected to be in the 20's. The Titans haven't played a cold weather game in three years. The last time they did was against New England - and they got buried, 59-0.
The return of star linebacker Clay Matthews last week was huge for Green Bay. Matthews makes everyone around him better. The Titans are down four starting offensive linemen plus underrated tight end Jared Cook. Tennessee's only healthy offensive line starter is Michael Roos, who is having a down season.
Some people don't believe in laying double-digits in the NFL. Don't get caught up in any rules like that. The Packers have the explosive offense to put up big numbers against much better defenses than the Titans. The timing of this matchup - a horrendous situational spot for Tennessee - and the Titans' cluster injury problem in the offensive line should ensure Green Bay winning by more than two touchdowns.
|12-22-12||Atlanta Falcons -3 v. Detroit Lions||Top||31-18||Win||100||130 h 55 m||Show|
Matt Ryan is back on track. The Falcons still have motivation needing a win here to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Lions' vulnerable secondary can't handle the Falcons' high-tier passing attack featuring Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.
The Lions have lost six in a row. There is no guarantee they will even come to play after rolling over dead this past week against Arizona. Even if the Lions do come to play, they don't know how to close games. They are the biggest choke artists in the league having blown three double-digit leads.
The Lions have a startling lack of discipline, which is reflected in a large number of penalties and stupid plays. Their strengths are stopping the run and throwing the ball. Atlanta's major weakness is stopping the run, but the Lions lack a strong ground game to take advantage of that.
This is a cheap number considering how much better the Falcons are than the Lions.
|12-17-12||NY Jets v. Tennessee Titans -1||Top||10-14||Win||100||18 h 22 m||Show|
The Jets get far more publicity, but with injuries to Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes they are not better than Tennessee.
My matchup analysis rates the Titans as the superior team on a neutral field. Throw in home-field and the Titans are worth backing at this low number.
Both teams are run-oriented. The Titans have the better run defense, though, and Chris Johnson rates far ahead of New York's plodding duo of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell. New York ranks 29th in run defense. Johnson has had four games of rushing for more than 125 yards in his last 10 games.
The Titans also have the better quarterback with Jake Locker over Mark Sanchez and the better wide receivers. The Jets have the weakest wide receiving group in the league.
The Titans also rate an edge on special teams and their defense has improved.
|12-16-12||Pittsburgh Steelers -1 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||24-27||Loss||-110||55 h 39 m||Show|
Pittsburgh is the better and more desperate team. Dallas is terrible at home. How terrible? Try 0-9 ATS in its last nine home games, including 0-6 ATS this season. Dallas also has a poor history in December failing to cover seven of the last nine times.
The Steelers were caught overlooking a San Diego squad that rose from the dead to deal them a stunning 34-24 home loss last week. That was the Steelers' worst game of the season. Expect a much better effort and result. The Cowboys, on the other hand, could have trouble focusing as the reality of linebacker Jerry Brown's death hits home.
The Steelers just assumed they could whip the Chargers at home with Ben Roethlisberger back. They will be much more focused here. Roethlisberger is one of the elite quarterbacks because he upgrades everyone around him including make Mike Wallace relevant again. Dallas has surrendered 971 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns in its last four games facing only one really good quarterback, Robert Griffin III. The other three quarterbacks were rookies Brandon Weeden, Nick Foles and second-year man Andy Dalton.
The Cowboys have a leaky offensive line and their most dangerous receiving threat, Dez Bryant, has a serious finger injury that is going to hamper his performance if not keep him out. The Cowboys' run defense has suffered, too, losing both of their inside linebackers, including the highly talented Sean Lee.
|12-10-12||Houston Texans v. New England Patriots -4||Top||14-42||Win||100||11 h 46 m||Show|
On the surface, this seems like an equally big game for both sides. But it actually means more to New England.
If the Patriots lose they would trail Houston for best overall record in the AFC by three games with three left and would have lost the head-to-head tiebreaker. Denver is in the picture for best record in the AFC at 10-3, but the Texans own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos.
The Texans can lose this game and still control their own destiny as far as getting homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They would have to win out, but that's very possible with their last three games against Indianapolis twice and Minnesota.
Matchup-wise and situational-wise the Patriots are the right side, too. New England leads the NFL in scoring and total offense. No team is better on third down or in scoring touchdowns in the red-zone. They also don't turn the ball over. Not once have the Patriots lost the turnover battle in any game this season.
Houston's defense is down from what it was at the beginning of the season due to injuries at linebacker and in the secondary. The Texans are allowing 352 yards during their past three games and an average of 26 points. They should have lost to Detroit and Jacksonville during this recent span.
New England has won 28 of its last 30 regular-season home games. The Patriots are much more experienced in marquee nationally televised matchups. They are 10-1 in their last 11 Monday night games winning by an average of more than 20 points per game. The Texans have yet to earn that kind of trust failing to cover on Monday night against the lowly Jets, laying an egg at home against Green Bay on a Sunday night game and sneaking past a generous Lions squad on Thanksgiving.
The Patriots also have a history of playing their best late in the season. New England is 19-1 in the last four games of the regular season since 2007.
|12-09-12||Detroit Lions +7 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||20-27||Push||0||17 h 44 m||Show|
Playoff-wise, the Lions are dead. But they're very much alive for this matchup against the division rival they want to beat the most.
The Lions should have beaten the Packers three weeks ago leading by six with less than two minutes left. Detroit wants revenge and to stop hearing about its ghastly 21-game losing streak at Lambeau Field.
The Packers are going to do more running than usual in this matchup for two reasons. The weather isn't going to be pleasant with temperatures in the 20's, a slight wind and scattered snow showers. The other reason Green Bay will run more is to protect the health of Aaron Rodgers, who already has been sacked 39 times not to mention taking a huge amount of hits after passing the ball. The Packers won't be running because they're good at it.
Green Bay has been forced to switch up its offensive line because of a season-ending injury to Bryan Bulaga. The latest change is rookie offensive tackle Don Barclay probably making his first NFL start. The Lions have two major strengths - their top-rated passing attack and an excellent defensive front seven. The Packers are going to have problems handling Detroit's defensive tackles and always have difficulty, as do most teams, keeping Calvin Johnson in check.
The Packers, remember, are still without their best defensive player, Clay Matthews, and their defensive backfield leader, Charles Woodson.
Detroit's secondary is much better with safety Louis Delmas back in the lineup. The Packers are without Jordy Nelson, arguably their best wide receiver.
It would not be shocking in the least if the Lions ended their long losing streak in Green Bay with a win on national TV after blowing three straight home games after leading during the final two minutes in each of them.
|12-09-12||New Orleans Saints v. NY Giants -4.5||Top||27-52||Win||100||36 h 18 m||Show|
When is the betting market going to realize that the Saints aren't very good? This is not their season and this game will emphasize that. The Giants are much better than they showed this past Monday night in losing to the Redskins. Yet so far the money has been on the Saints.
The Saints rely way too much on Drew Brees. They are forced to do this because their defense is 30 yards worse than the next closest defense. The Saints can't rush the passer, tackle well or cover. Despite having the magnificent Brees, the Saints have lost the yardage battle in all but two of their games. Only once in the last six games have the Saints surpassed 385 yards in a game.
And now Brees hasn't been so good because injuries have greatly reduced the effectiveness of New Orleans' offensive line. Brees has been under more pass rush pressure than he's used to as he's been sacked six times in the last two games. Brees has been picked off seven times in the last two games. The Giants' front four rushes the passer as well as any in football. New York is 12-3 when getting three or more sacks in a game. That's very likely to occur here.
Not only is Brees going to be facing a premier pass-rushing unit, but he's outdoors, on a slow track in colder weather than what his offense is used to and might have to deal with rain. The Saints are not built for these conditions. They operate far better at home on turf in a climate-controlled environment.
The Giants have a history of stepping up this time of year as they make a Super Bowl run. The Saints are leaderless and have chemistry issues knowing they don't have a realistic chance of making the playoffs.
|12-09-12||Baltimore Ravens +3 v. Washington Redskins||28-31||Push||0||33 h 55 m||Show|
You would have to go to October of 2009 to find the last time Baltimore lost two games in a row. The Ravens have been that consistent. I don't buy them as an underdog to the Redskins, a mediocre NFC team that is overrated because they're off a Monday night victory and Robert Griffin III is so exciting capturing the imagination of the public.
The Ravens have played much better at home, but they are a playoff-tested team - one of the four best in the AFC - that is used to big pressure December games. The Ravens' offense isn't flashy away from home. But they don't need to be to beat a Washington defense that ranks 29th in total defense, has the second-worst third-down mark in the league and is second to last in yards allowed after the catch while ranking 31st in pass defense. Look for the Ravens to ride splendid Ray Rice and for Joe Flacco to effectively pick his spots against a weak Washington secondary.
Griffin isn't putting up the huge numbers he was earlier in the season as defenses know how to prepare better for him. The Ravens have a veteran stop unit and catch Washington on a short week after its huge division win against the Giants. Washington is 0-7 the past seven times the week after meeting the Giants.
The Redskins are 3-9 in their last 12 home games and their coach, Mike Shanahan, is a disgusting 4-21 ATS as a home favorite. Baltimore has covered three of the past four times it has been a 'dog during the past two seasons.
|12-09-12||Atlanta Falcons v. Carolina Panthers +3.5||20-30||Win||100||33 h 54 m||Show|
The Falcons aren't nearly as good as their fancy 11-1 record indicates, while the Panthers are much better than their 3-9 record. Carolina has the fourth-best mark in yards per play. The Panthers have such a terrible record because they've lost seven games by six or fewer points.
One of those close defeats occurred to Atlanta when the Panthers had the game won. They were running out the clock, but Cam Newton fumbled. The Falcons recovered and ended up kicking a field goal with five seconds left to win, 30-28. That was back in Week 4 and it took a long time for the Panthers to recover from that devastating loss.
Carolina is playing better going 2-3 its last five games after a 1-6 start. That record should be 3-2, but Brandon LaFell dropped a sure touchdown pass against the Chiefs last week. It looks bad that the Panthers lost to the Chiefs, but Kansas City played its finest game of the season.
Newton has raised his level matching his outstanding rookie season of last year. Newton has a 9-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last five games without a single turnover during the past three games. The Falcons' biggest weaknesses is stopping the run. Newton has scored 20 rushing touchdowns in his two year NFL career.
The Panthers are 17-7 ATS in Decembers. They have strong motivation to avenge their earlier defeat to Atlanta, which led to the their season spiraling out of control. This is Carolina's Super Bowl, while the Falcons are fat and happy. They also are playing on an off-surface.
|12-06-12||Denver Broncos -10 v. Oakland Raiders||Top||26-13||Win||100||57 h 10 m||Show|
Denver has won seven in a row. The Broncos have scored 30-plus points in all but one of these games. Oakland hasn't broken the 17-point barrier in its last three games.
The scary thing is Denver still can play better. Another scary thing is Denver rolled Oakland, 37-6, in Week 4 when the Raiders were playing better. The Raiders have fallen apart losing and failing to cover in their last five games. Except for last Sunday's home loss to Cleveland, which had lost 12 consecutive road games, the Raiders had lost four straight games by double-digits against competition not as good as the Broncos.
Peyton Manning easily picked the Raiders apart in the first meeting throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns. The Broncos never punted in that game. Is there any reason for this matchup to be different when the Broncos are playing well and the Raiders have regressed?
The Thursday home side for Oakland is negated by what figures to be low attendance as the Raiders already have been eliminated from the playoffs for the 10th year in a row. Their fans are fed up. Team morale is down. Carson Palmer has been a huge disappointment. The defense has gone from below average to the worst in the league.
The Raiders have surrendered an average of 37.8 points during their five-game losing streak. They have given up 24 touchdown passes ranking last in points allowed and 28th in yardage given up. This is a turkey shoot for Manning.
|12-03-12||NY Giants -1 v. Washington Redskins||Top||16-17||Loss||-130||58 h 0 m||Show|
Robert Griffin III has made the Redskins a nice story and a dangerous foe. Griffin nearly led the Redskins to an upset of the Giants in the first meeting. It took a 77-yard touchdown from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz with 1:13 left for the Giants to pull out a 27-23 victory in Week 7.
New York went 1-2 following that victory, before destroying Green Bay, 38-10, last week following its bye. Just like last season, the Giants are hitting their stride as the season winds down. The Giants have righted the ship and are at their best on the road where they have covered eight of the last nine times. The Giant have covered 70 percent of their last 55 away matchups.
The Redskins, by contrast, have one of the worst home field records under Mike Shanahan losing nine of their last 11 at FedEx Field.
The Giants hold major edges on defense and at wide receiver. Griffin is why this spread is low. The Giants were caught off guard by how fast and quick Griffin was when they met the Redskins the first time. They won't be surprised this time around.
Because of their outstanding pass rushers on the defensive line, the Giants will be able to successfully have one of their linebackers shadow Griffin, which lesser defenses couldn't afford to do.
|12-02-12||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens -7||Top||23-20||Loss||-115||29 h 23 m||Show|
Baltimore beat Pittsburgh by three on the road when Byron Leftwich was the Steelers' quarterback. Now the Ravens are home and Charlie Batch is the Steelers' quarterback. He's even worse than Leftwich.
The Ravens have won 20 of their last 21 home games, including the last 15. Their hurry-up offense works much better at home. Joe Flacco has 10 touchdown passes and averages 322 passing yards at home compared to three touchdown throws on the road and a 176-yard passing average.
The Steelers' defense still is good, but it's not nearly dominant enough anymore to hang with the Ravens. The Steelers are going to need to put up points to keep up with the Ravens and that's not going to happen with Batch playing behind a makeshift offensive line and without a strong ground attack.
The Ravens are 5-0 versus the Steelers since 2005 when Ben Roethlisberger doesn't play. This is a kill spot for Baltimore.
|12-02-12||San Francisco 49ers -7 v. St Louis Rams||Top||13-16||Loss||-105||125 h 51 m||Show|
The 49ers have the best defense in football and now their offense is improved with the quarterback switch of weak-arm, conservative Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick already has nearly half as many big passes, consisting of 20 yards or longer, in two starts than Smith had in nine starts. The 49ers dropped a high number of Kaepernick's throws, but that will get fixed as they make the adjustment from Smith's soft lobs to Kaepernick's harder ball.
San Francisco has held six of its last nine foes to seven points or fewer. The Rams don't have the offense to dent the 49ers' dominant defense, which is giving up the fewest points in the league at 14.1 while ranking in the top five in pass defense and rush defense.
The Rams have only defeated the Cardinals during their last seven games. The 49ers will be taking St. Louis very serious not just because of the division rivalry but because of the team's 24-24 tie in the first meeting.
The 49ers are prime Super Bowl contenders. The Rams are young with many weak areas that need shoring up. They aren't ready to hang within a touchdown of a motivated 49ers team that is playing extremely well going 5-0-1 in their last six games.
|12-02-12||Seattle Seahawks +3.5 v. Chicago Bears||23-17||Win||100||45 h 52 m||Show|
First, there's the record. Seattle is 11-1 ATS when taking points the past 12 times it has been an underdog under Pete Carroll, including 5-1 ATS in that role this season.
Second, there's the injury factor. The Bears have a terrible offensive line that has been made worse by a cluster injury problem that occurred last week. Lost for the season is right guard Lance Louis, Chicago's best blocker. The Bears also have multiple injuries at receiver, too, with Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester and tight end Kellen Davis all hurt. In addition, Matt Forte, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs are all less at 100 percent after they were injured.
Third is the matchup situation. Seattle should win the battle of trenches on both sides of the ball. Seattle plays outstanding run defense. Its safeties are the most physical in football. The Seahawks also will have both of their very good cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Those two are appealing suspensions for allegedly violating the league's performance-enhancing drug and are thus eligible to play in this matchup.
Seattle's defensive line should not only win the battle of the pits but dominate the Bears' bad offensive line making it impossible for Jay Cutler to get into a comfortable rhythm.
The Seahawks have the edge running the ball with Marshawn Lynch. The Bears' run defense is wearing down. They've surrendered 521 yards on 102 carries during their last four games, an average of 5.1 yards per run. Russell Wilson is getting better as the year goes on. He's thrown 12 touchdown passes with just two interceptions during the last six games.
This is one of the lowest totals of the season. The Seahawks have held eight of their 11 opponents to 20 points or less. Points are going to be hard to come by so taking more than a field goal is huge.
|11-29-12||New Orleans Saints v. Atlanta Falcons -3||Top||13-23||Win||100||43 h 29 m||Show|
Forget that the Saints have beaten Atlanta in 11 of the past 13 meetings, including edging the Falcons, 31-27, in Week 10 thanks to a late goal line stand.
The Falcons are the right play for many reasons not just being the home Thursday team and having a revenge angle. They are a far better team than the Saints, who have only outgained their opponents twice all season.
The Falcons' defense is of the bend-don't-break variety, but it still ranks light years ahead of the Saints' terrible defense. New Orleans ranks among the three worst defensive teams in both passing yardage and rushing yardage. The Saints can't stop the run, which is going to make Matt Ryan even more effective off play-action.
The Saints can only stay with high-octane offenses by scoring a lot of points. Drew Brees, however, isn't as dominant on the road as he is in the Louisiana Superdome. New Orleans also has a cluster injury problem in its offensive line. The Saints just lost right tackle Bryce Harris for the season with a broken leg. They also have two other offensive linemen injured so there's a distinct possibility they could be starting a fourth-stringer at tackle.
Then there's the situational element. The Falcons are thirsting for revenge. They want to show off on national TV against their long-time hated Southern rival. The Saints are down mentally having lost at home to the 49ers this past Sunday in a must win spot. It's very tough for them to travel and play on Thursday after taking on the punishing 49ers.
|11-26-12||Carolina Panthers -2.5 v. Philadelphia Eagles||Top||30-22||Win||100||17 h 46 m||Show|
The Eagles aren't very good - and that was before losing Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. Their 3-7 record is justified and even a little lucky as their three victories have been by a combined four points. The Eagles last won in Week 4.
Carolina has even a worse record at 2-8. But the Panthers have been far more competitive. They are far closer to being a .500 team than Philadelphia. The Panthers have blown five fourth-quarter leads. They should have beaten the Falcons, Seahawks, Bears and Buccaneers, four teams with a combined mark of 28-12.
The Eagles' defense has fallen apart surrendering an average of 31.7 points per game during the last four weeks. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 143.6 passing mark against the Eagles during this span with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Eagles' offense consists of a rookie quarterback making his second start filling in for Michael Vick, a rookie running back making his first start filling in for LeSean McCoy and a patchwork offensive line consisting of castoffs and draft busts.
The Panthers have 26 sacks led by Charles Johnson, one of the better defensive lineman in the NFL. Nick Foles completed just two passes for five yards to his main wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, last week against the Redskins, who rank last in pass defense.
Carolina has three good runners along with Cam Newton, who ranks with Robert Griffin III as among the best two running quarterbacks in the league. The Eagles are 19th versus the run. So the Panther should have a balanced attack working.
It's difficult to predict turnovers, but the Eagles are minus 14 in takeaways/giveaways. The Panthers have lost the ball 11 fewer times than the Eagles.
|11-25-12||Green Bay Packers v. NY Giants -2.5||10-38||Win||100||105 h 26 m||Show|
With more at stake than the Packers, I see the Giants stepping up and playing much better than they have been. This is a statement game for the Giants and is the time of year when they make their move.
The Giants are the Super Bowl champs and have the confidence of knowing they beat the Packers, 37-20, on the road in the playoffs last season. The Giants are anxious to put behind their worst effort of the year in their last game, a horrendous 31-13 road loss to the Bengals. The Giants are off a bye and far healthier than the Packers, who likely will be missing Clay Matthews along with Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings and Bryan Bulaga.
The Packers have been fortunate to beat the Jaguars, Cardinals and Lions in their last three games. They've been just getting by rather than playing well.
This is a tough matchup for Green Bay, which is trying to get by with two offensive line starters playing out of position due to the loss of right tackle Bulaga. The Giants have the dominant pass rushers to take advantage. New York also has the better ground attack and placekicker.
These edges, along with home-field and motivation, are enough for the Giants to win by more than a field goal.
|11-25-12||St. Louis Rams +1.5 v. Arizona Cardinals||31-17||Win||100||48 h 30 m||Show|
Only the Cardinals, with their inept quarterback and offensive line play, could go plus 5 in turnover ratio and lose like they did last week against the Falcons.
That was the Cardinals' sixth consecutive loss. The Cardinals are playing far worse now then when they met the Rams in Week 5 as a 4-0 team and were whipped, 17-3. Kevin Kolb was the Cardinals quarterback in that game. Now it's rookie Ryan Lindley making his first pro start - and the Cardinals are wishing it were Kolb again.
The Cardinals have bee held to less than 300 total yards of offense in 70 percent of their games. And that was with Kolb, a legitimate starting NFL quarterback although certain a lower tier one, and with battle-tested backup John Skelton. Lindley didn't come close to beating out either of these two weak quarterbacks.
But even Aaron Rodgers would have trouble putting up points behind the Cardinals' offensive line, which is the worst pass protecting unit in the league.
Arizona has a decent defense, but it's wearing out from being on the field so much. The Rams have the much better quarterback, Sam Bradford, and running back, Steven Jackson, who is averaging 4.3 yards during his past 70 carries. The Cardinals rank a mediocre 20th versus the run. It's a plus if Danny Amendola is able to play. The Rams are 5-2 ATS when Amendola is in the lineup.
Look for Jeff Fisher to have the Rams fired up after they laid an egg at home last week as 3 1/2-point favorites against the Jets. Under Fisher, the Rams are 6-3 ATS when getting points.
The Cardinals have been awful as chalk under Ken Whisenhunt going 1-8-2 ATS,including 0-3 ATS this season.
|11-25-12||Atlanta Falcons v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Top||24-23||Win||100||46 h 32 m||Show|
Greg Schiano has toughened Tampa Bay up and Josh Freeman is riding a hot hand. But let's keep things in proper perspective. The Falcons are a much better team than the Buccaneers.
The Falcons have a top 10 defense, including ranking seventh in pass defense. The Buccaneers are very stout against the run, but they lack a pass rush and rank last in pass defense.
Tampa Bay doesn't have nearly the defensive backfield depth to keep up with the Falcons' up-tempo two-minute offense run to near-perfection in most weeks by MVP candidate Matt Ryan. The Bucs' most talented cornerback, Aqib Talib was traded to New England and Eric Wright isn't likely to play due to an Achilles' injury.
The Falcons have proven that playing on an off-surface isn't a hindrance. They have covered in their last five grass games. Atlanta also is 9-3 ATS in its past 12 road contests. The Falcons were very fortunate to win last week after committing six turnovers. They haven't had back-to-back poor performances all season.
The Buccaneers haven't had a strong home-field advantage covering just 28 percent of the time at Raymond James Stadium in their last 32 home contests.
|11-22-12||New England Patriots -6 v. NY Jets||Top||49-19||Win||100||60 h 46 m||Show|
The Jets temporarily saved their season by defeating St. Louis this past Sunday as a underdog. The Rams are a team the Patriots destroyed by 38 points in London.
The problem for the Jets, though, isn't just a divided locker room and serious chemistry issues. It's lack of talent on both sides of the ball. The Jets just aren't very good. New England is. New York is just 4-9 in its last 13 games.
The Patriots are No. 1 in points scored and total offense. Losing Rob Gronkowski isn't going to hurt them so much because their offense is very diversified. They have a strong enough running attack where defenses just can't tee off on Tom Brady.
The Jets have a pop-gun attack. Mark Sanchez may be the least accurate quarterback in the league and could have the worst set of receivers in the NFL. The Patriots are averaging 47 points in their last three games. There's no way the Jets can keep up that pace.
There's certainly no love lost either between these two division rivals so don't expect Bill Belichick to take it easy on big-mouth Rex Ryan. The Patriots have covered in nine of their last 11 road games against the Jets.
|11-22-12||Washington Redskins v. Dallas Cowboys -3||38-31||Loss||-110||49 h 16 m||Show|
Dallas has failed to cover in its last seven home games and will be missing DeMarco Murray and left tackle Tyron Smith.
Still, the price is right to back Dallas at Cowboys Stadium against a Redskins squad that has a great talent in Robert Griffin III, but is highly flawed in many areas.
The Cowboys have the much stronger defense and the advantage of not having to travel on a short week. Tony Romo has far superior receivers than Griffin. Romo and the Cowboys committed 19 turnovers in their first seven games, but have turned the ball over just once in their past three games.
Romo can easily attack a Washington secondary that ranks 29th in pass defense. The Redskins can't help their weak coverage unit because their best pass rushers have been lost for the season.
|11-22-12||Houston Texans -3 v. Detroit Lions||34-31||Push||0||46 h 41 m||Show|
The Texans had a scare nearly falling to Jacksonville at home this past Sunday. But the Texans remain in the argument for best team in the NFL. They are scoring the third-most points in the league at 29.3 per game while giving up the third fewest at 18 a game.
Detroit is perceived as being a decent team and tough on Thanksgiving. Neither is true. The Lions are 9-13 in their last 22 games. They are under .500 this year. The Lions have been turkeys on Thanksgiving losing eight straight times.
Matthew Stafford is having a down season with 12 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The Lions have a below average ground attack and will be missing veteran left tackle Jeff Backus, which makes them even more vulnerable to J.J. Watt.
The Texans can attack the Lions' weak secondary through the air with a fully healthy Andre Johnson or run Arian Foster.
The price is cheap to get the far superior team in the Texans.
|11-19-12||Chicago Bears +7 v. San Francisco 49ers||7-32||Loss||-114||12 h 28 m||Show|
The combination of being at home and facing backup quarterback Jason Campbell still doesn't make the 49ers a full touchdown better than the Bears.
Campbell is going to be better than he looked against Houston last week having had a full week to practice with the first team and get his timing down. The 49ers are excellent against the run, but they can be passed on. Campbell is a low tier starting caliber NFL quarterback. The Bears are fortunate to have him as a backup. He can be effective if he has weapons and he has them with Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte.
The 49ers have allowed three runners to run for 100 yards against them in their last four games. As good as San Francisco's defense is it doesn't produce the takeaways Chicago's defense does, nor does it get that many sacks.
The 49ers don't have a dominant passing attack and are very conservative. They are not the right team to lay a touchdown with against another good team.
|11-18-12||Indianapolis Colts v. New England Patriots -9||Top||24-59||Win||100||153 h 25 m||Show|
The Colts have made for a nice feel-good story winning four in a row behind their star rookie quarterback for their sick coach.
The fairy tale, though, ends in Foxboro when the Colts go up against a real offense.
The Colts' four straight victories have come against the following quarterbacks: Brandon Weeden, Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Tannehill and Blaine Gabbert. If there's a worse starting quarterback in the AFC than Gabbert I've yet to see him. Weeden and Tannehill are error-prone rookies, while Hasselbeck is washed up.
Indy's defense is a work in progress in the first year of a 4-3 after more than a decade of playing Cover-2. The Colts are no match for New England's No. 1 ranked offense, which rates first in scoring and yardage. Tom Brady can burn the Colts' base defense with passes to Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, or he can turn loose a much-improved Stevan Ridley if the Colts go to any sub-packages. The Colts don't have nearly the depth or talent to hang with the Patriots' high-powered attack.
Andrew Luck already is very good. He's covering up the fact than the Colts don't have a good ground game and have only one decent receiver. That's Reggie Wayne and he's past his prime. Luck has played well inside his home dome with an 88.6 passer rating and 8-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Away from home, though, Luck hasn't been so good with a 66.2 passer rating and seven interceptions with just two touchdown throws. The Colts have turned the ball over 12 times on the road compared to just three times at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Patriots rarely lose at home as evidenced by their NFL-best 70-14 regular-season in Foxboro since 2002.
|11-18-12||New Orleans Saints v. Oakland Raiders +5.5||38-17||Loss||-110||153 h 46 m||Show|
Things are looking up for the Saints. They've won four of their last five and just dealt the Falcons their first loss. But the Saints are in a tough spot here and they don't have the defense to make up for it.
New Orleans is flying cross-country and will be playing outdoors on grass. The Saints are a dome team that plays faster on carpet. They are 1-3 in their grass games this season, including losing to 2-7 Carolina.
Not only is this a prime letdown spot for the Saints - who probably are overconfident after seeing Baltimore score 55 points on Oakland this past Sunday - but also in a look ahead spot, too. The Saints' next two games after this one are home against San Francisco and a rematch with their arch-rivals the Falcons.
The Raiders laid an egg against Baltimore. But they have a dangerous passing attack with speed on the flanks, perhaps the best kicker/punter tandem and are 4-2 ATS the past six times they've been underdogs.
Drew Brees is a great quarterback inside the Louisiana Superdome. He's not as great away from home. Yet Brees has to be near perfect along with the rest of his offense to carry such a weak defense. The Saints rank either last or second-to-last in total defense, pass defense and run defense. They are giving up more than 28 points per game and are on pace to surrender the most yards in a single season.
|11-18-12||Green Bay Packers v. Detroit Lions +4||24-20||Push||0||46 h 39 m||Show|
The bad news for the Lions is it's desperation time. They are in a must-win situation and facing Green Bay, a team they've lost to 12 of the last 13 times.
The good news for the Lions is they are home and catch the Packers down nine starters and without many of their key players, including Clay Matthews, Bryan Bulaga, Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson.
The Packers have very little pass rush without Matthews. Matthew Stafford has been hot and can take advantage with a clean pocket and going after a youthful secondary minus their leader, Woodson.
The Packers have been flat the last couple of weeks. They were fortunate to enter their bye having faced Jacksonville and Arizona at home. Those are two of the most inept offenses in the NFL. Facing the Lions and dealing with Calvin Johnson is going to be quite a change and challenge for the Packers.
|11-12-12||Kansas City Chiefs +13.5 v. Pittsburgh Steelers||13-16||Win||100||14 h 11 m||Show|
I know. I know. It's hard to get away from those 29 giveaways and unworldly minus 20 turnover ratio when making a case for the Chiefs. Poor coaching doesn't help the argument either.
At some point, though, the turnover ratio has to come down because the Chiefs actually have a decent defense ranking 13th in yardage. That start could come here because the Steelers have created just eight turnovers, which was second-fewest in the league entering this Week 10. The Steelers are even in takeaways/giveaways so they're not particularly opportunistic.
There's a certain randomness to turnovers, even when discussing the Chiefs. So let's turn to matchup, injuries and situation.
Pittsburgh is a good, but far from great team at 5-3. They have lost to the Titans and Raiders, who are a combined 7-12. The Steelers have gained just 78 yards more than their opponents, which comes out to less than 10 yards more per game. Pittsburgh's average win margin is nine points.
The Chiefs are healthier than Pittsburgh. They also have by far the best running back in Jamaal Charles. The Steelers are missing several key players, including Troy Polamalu, offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert and Antonio Brown, their second-best wideout.
Thankfully this is the Chiefs' last stand-alone nationally televised game. So Kansas City shouldn't lack for motivation to show the nation they are better than its 1-7 record and not the worst team in the NFL. Talent-wise, the Chiefs are far better than Jacksonville, the other contender for worst team.
Pittsburgh is off a big upset road win against the Giants. Up next for the Steelers is a Sunday night home game against Baltimore in a division showdown game. That game is far bigger than this one. So even though this is a Monday night game, it's still not the greatest situational spot for the Steelers.
|11-11-12||Houston Texans +1.5 v. Chicago Bears||13-6||Win||100||54 h 30 m||Show|
Chicago has a great knack for coming up with touchdowns on defense putting up seven scores. But let's knock off all this talk about the Bears being one of the greatest defensive units ever.
The Bears have a number of name defensive players, but Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers are all past their prime. Chicago has beaten only one team with a winning record and that was the Colts.
Chicago's offense isn't anything special with a leaky offensive line, only one good receiver and a streak quarterback, Jay Cutler, who hasn't been a winner his entire career. The Bears' defense has set up their offense with an NFL-best 28 forced turnovers.
Chicago plays a conservative Cover-2 style defense that chokes off big-plays and takes advantage of impatient, inaccurate quarterbacks. The Texans, though, are a conservative, grind-it-out team that uses the run to set up the pass not the other way around. The Texans can do that because they have the best running back in football, Arian Foster. The Texans don't turn the ball over as evidenced by their league-low six turnovers.
Without the benefit of a turnover edge, I don't see the Bears winning this game. Houston has the more talent - on both sides of the ball. The Bears have surrendered 14 sacks in their last three games. The Texans have only given up 10 sacks all season. J.J. Watt has more sacks than the Texans have allowed.
This is a big road test on the national stage for Houston. But the Texans have won seven of their last eight road matchups and are anxious to redeem themselves on national TV after an embarrassing Sunday night home loss to Green Bay three weeks ago.
Houston also is 10-1 the past 11 times Matt Schuab has been under center.
|11-11-12||Detroit Lions -1 v. Minnesota Vikings||24-34||Loss||-124||50 h 7 m||Show|
The Lions are playing well and coming on. It's just the opposite with the Vikings.
Matthew Stafford didn't play well early. But he's a stud and is getting hot completing 68 percent of his passes during the past two weeks for 637 yards and three touchdowns. Christian Ponder is totally going the opposite direction. He's completed 51 percent of his passes for 372 yards in his last three games. This mark is especially alarming since Ponder is a dink-and-dunker. He's been picked off six times in his last four games.
The Vikings' offense entirely consists of Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. The Lions, who have a solid front seven, obviously are going to stack the line against Peterson. Harvin is extremely banged-up and may not play.
Minnesota has dropped three of its last four. Its lone victory during this span was against Arizona at home and the Cardinals outgained the Vikings by 150 yards. The Vikings have lost to the Redskins by 12, to Tampa Bay by 19 at home and last week lost by 10 at Seattle.
The Lions had an easy time beating up on Jacksonville last Sunday. The big news from that game was Mikel Leshoure scoring three touchdowns on the ground. The Vikings have allowed four straight 100-yard rushers. They've given up 663 yards on the ground in their last four games and six rushing touchdowns.
The Lions weren't playing nearly as well as they are now when they lost 20-13 to the Vikings in Week 4. Still, they held the Vikings to two field goals and 227 yards on offense. The Vikings won by returning both a punt AND kickoff back for touchdowns. That's not likely to occur again as the Lions have fixed their special team problems.
|11-04-12||Baltimore Ravens -3 v. Cleveland Browns||Top||25-15||Win||100||147 h 36 m||Show|
Baltimore is just 5-6 in its last 11 road games, including 1-2 this season. But the Ravens still are much better than the Browns, a young team that tries but has no offense.
Cleveland is 2-12 in its last 14 games. The Browns aren't a good home team either going 5-9-2 ATS.
The Ravens have had two week to stew about being blown out at Houston in their last game. They made the mistake in that game of not running Ray Rice enough. That won't happen here.
The Ravens have key injuries on defense, but they do have back their best pass rusher, Terrell Suggs.
Baltimore has beaten Cleveland nine straight times, going 6-3 ATS. The Browns haven't broken the 17-point barrier during the past four years against the Ravens.
|11-04-12||Detroit Lions -3.5 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||31-14||Win||100||141 h 29 m||Show|
Jacksonville is the worst team in the NFL lacking talent and health on both sides of the ball. The Lions have their passing game going. Calvin Johnson is due for a breakout game and could get it against a beaten up Jacksonville secondary.
The Jagaurs have nothing going on offense without Maurice Jones-Drew. He was 41 percent of their offense. Blaine Gabbert is one of the least accurate passers in the NFL and he's playing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
The Jaguars have been outscored 95-20 in three games at home. They've lost every one of their home games by 17 or more points.
There's a huge class difference not reflected in the point spread.
|11-04-12||Arizona Cardinals v. Green Bay Packers -9.5||17-31||Win||100||44 h 17 m||Show|
This is a horrible spot for the Cardinals traveling on a short week following an emotional and physical pounding during Monday night home loss to San Francisco.
The Cardinals' scheme-based defense was exposed by Alex Smith. Now the Cardinals are going to get lit up by Aaron Rodgers, who is as accurate as they come. Rodgers is hot, too, with 11 touchdown passes in his last three games. It doesn't matter if Jordy Nelson can't play a second straight week because the Packers have the deepest set of receivers in the league.
The Cardinals have scored just 36 points in their last five games. They've allowed 33 sacks during this span. They're going to encounter plenty of problems keeping NFC sacks leader Clay Matthews in check.
Arizona doesn't have the necessary quality ground game to keep Rodgers off the field. The Packers were flat last week against Jacksonville. Mike McCarthy will have them playing much better this week heading into their bye next week.
|11-04-12||Chicago Bears -3 v. Tennessee Titans||51-20||Win||100||44 h 15 m||Show|
There's a class difference not reflected in the spread. The Bears are a solid team with a strong defense. The Titans are weak on both sides of the ball.
Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is past his prime. He's no longer able to drive the ball relying on Chris Johnson and a dink-and-dunk passing attack. That's not going to get the job done against the Bears.
Chicago is giving up just 14.3 points per game and ranks No. 1 versus the run allowing less than 78 yards on the ground per game. The Titans have scored fewer than 14 points in three of the four games when Johnson has failed to rush for 90 yards.
The Bears have the most interceptions in the NFL. They have 23 takeaways, second-most in the league. The Titans are minus 3 in turnover ratio. Making things worse, is Tennessee has a cluster injury problem in its offensive line.
The Titans are giving up 32.1 points per game. Only Buffalo is giving up more per game at 32.4. The Titans have just 11 sacks.
The Bears have dangerous skill position players in Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Chicago's problem has been pass protection. That won't be an issue, though, against the Titans' non-existent pass rush.
The Bears have won five in a row. They received a scare last week at home against Carolina in a game they should have lost. The Bears rarely are flat two weeks in a row. That game was their wake-up call.
|11-01-12||Kansas City Chiefs +9.5 v. San Diego Chargers||Top||13-31||Loss||-132||54 h 37 m||Show|
The Atlanta Falcons are 7-0 and have gained 87 more yards from scrimmage than their opponents.
The Kansas City Chiefs are 1-6 and have gained 130 more yards from scrimmage than their foes.
I point this out not to argue that the Chiefs are in any way better than the Falcons, but to show that statistically speaking Kansas City isn't that bad.
Talent isn't the problem with the Chiefs. Turnovers, caused by bonehead quarterback play, is the major reason why Kansas City has just one win. The Chiefs have by far the NFL's worst turnover differential at minus 18. Dallas is the next closest team at minus 11.
San Diego has a negative turnover ratio, too. The Chargers have almost been as disappointing as Kansas City. San Diego has lost three in a row, failing to score during the last six quarters. Philip Rivers hasn't been an elite quarterback for the past two years. He hasn't been any better than Matt Cassel when it comes to protecting the ball having turned it over 37 times in his last 23 games.
The two teams met in Week 4 and San Diego won, 37-20. That score is misleading, however. The Chiefs outgained the Chargers, but were done in by a minus-five turnover ratio.
I don't see the Chiefs committing nearly the turnovers they have because this week they have finally figured out that their best offense is featuring Jamaal Charles. Cassel is going to pick his spots and let Charles set him up rather than the other way around, which has been a disaster. I rank Charles as one of the four best running backs in the NFL.
If the Chiefs don't self-destruct they definitely can hang in if not win outright. The Chargers are far from a dominant team, have turnover problems themselves and are just as poorly coached.
It is a disadvantage to travel on a short week, but the Chiefs know the Chargers well being in the same division and having already played them this season. It's actually a plus for the Chiefs to get out of Kansas City where they are being heavily criticized.
The pressure in this matchup is all on the Chargers. Little is expected now of the Chiefs. They'll be motivated to prove themselves with a national TV audience viewing.
|10-28-12||NY Giants v. Dallas Cowboys||29-24||Win||100||145 h 48 m||Show|
The Giants are the superior team and have covered the past seven times on the road, Dallas is 5-13 ATS in its last 18 home matchups.
New York also has won and covered the last three times in Dallas. This is a big division revenge spot for the Giants. They've been pointing to this matchup ever since the Cowboys embarrassed them at home in Week 1 on national television.
Eli Manning is 25-5 in October. The Cowboys have lost nine of their last 11 games in October. Tony Romo already has nine interceptions. There's a difference in quality between these two quarterbacks just like there is in the teams.
The Cowboys are constantly overrated year after year. They've won one playoff game since 1997. They are just a .500 team since 2011. The Giants win Super Bowls. The Cowboys just talk about them.
New York's offenisve line has only allowed one sack during the last five weeks. The Giants are healthier than they've been while the Cowboys are dealing with injuries to their center, Phil Costa, and best running back, DeMarco Murray.
|10-28-12||New England Patriots -6.5 v. St. Louis Rams||Top||45-7||Win||100||129 h 32 m||Show|
Jeff Fisher has done a great job with the Rams, but this is where his team gets exposed.
The Rams don't have the offense to keep up with high-powered offenses. This was proven this past Sunday when the Packers beat St. Louis, 30-20. The Rams played hard, but they were out-classed. The score wasn't as close as even 10 points because the Rams scored a meaningless touchdown with 15 seconds left.
The Patriots are healthier on defense than Green Bay, have a more stout run defense and the league's No. 1 offense. The Patriots rank first in points per game at 31 and in total yards averaging 436.1.
The Rams have managed just 11 touchdowns in seven games. New England has 10 touchdowns on the ground and 12 more through the air. The Rams have an active defensive front line, but they don't have the secondary depth to stay with all of Tom Brady's targets.
I like Sam Bradford, but he has no chance to be an elite quarterback with his present surrounding cast. The Rams' battered offensive line is full of castoffs and street free agents. Their wideouts are all backup type quality. Steven Jackson, their most productive offensive player, is averaging less than 54 yards rushing per game and has only one touchdown.
Technically this is a home game for St. Louis. However, the matchup is at Wembley Stadium in London. This is a venue the Patriots are familiar with having buried Tampa Bay there, 35-7, in 2009. The Patriots have a strong fan base in England. Traveling to London is a new experience for the Rams, one of the youngest teams in the NFL.
|10-28-12||San Diego Chargers -1 v. Cleveland Browns||Top||6-7||Loss||-130||106 h 36 m||Show|
The last thing people are remembering about San Diego is the Chargers blowing a 24-0 lead to the Broncos on Monday. That was inexcusable. But it doesn't alter the fact that there is a class difference between these two teams that isn't being reflected in the line.
Cleveland is 1-12 in its last 13 games. The Chargers are better than the Browns on both sides of the ball. The Chargers are giving up 70 yards less per game than the Browns, who rank 27th both offensively and defensively in yardage.
Philip Rivers isn't the elite quarterback he was two years ago, but he's still far better than rookie Brandon Weeden. Rivers should be more steady and less turnover-prone with a cleaner pocket as left tackle Jared Gaither is expected back. Rivers is 45-for-65 for 563 yards with a 4-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the two games he's had Gaither protecting his blind side.
The Browns rely heavily on Trent Richardson. However, Richardson is dealing with a painful rib injury and is less than 100 percent. There remains the possibility of the Browns holding Richardson out for the next two weeks when they reach their bye.
Historically, the Chargers don't travel well going to the East Coast for an early start. This, though, is negated by the Chargers having been idle last week. The Chargers are sick of hearing about their Monday night choke job. They've had two weeks to stew and prepare for this matchup.
Cleveland is 4-9-2 ATS at home while the Chargers have covered in seven of their last eight games versus AFC opponents.
|10-25-12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 v. Minnesota Vikings||36-17||Win||100||28 h 60 m||Show|
NFC underdogs have been golden this year cashing an unbelievable 83 percent of the time. I see that trend continuing with this matchup.
The Vikings are improved, but they don't have strong enough quarterback play to cover this big of a number against a Tampa Bay squad that also has improved, particularly mentally under new coach Greg Schiano.
The Buccaneers are 2-4, but their four losses have been by a combined 22 points. That's an average loss of 5.5 points. The Buccaneers have yet to lose by more than seven points in any game. Minnesota has the better straight-up record, but Tampa Bay is better against the spread going 4-2.
The Buccaneers have won the last five in this series, including 24-20 last year at Minnesota. The Bucs came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit.
Josh Freeman and Doug Martin, the Buccaneers' two key skill position players, have been performing better lately. Vincent Jackson is averaging 21.7 yards a catch while proving he is indeed one of the best wideouts in football.
The Vikings rely on Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. The Buccaneers' strength is stopping the run, though, where they rank third allowing just 76 yards per game on the ground.
Christian Ponder, the Vikings' second-year quarterback, has tailed off the last three weeks committing seven turnovers during this span with a 5-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
|10-21-12||NY Jets v. New England Patriots -10||Top||26-29||Loss||-110||124 h 59 m||Show|
This is no contest. The Patriots have retained their high-powered offense - which is now even better with Aaron Hernandez back - while improving their defense, especially against the run.
The Jets, on the other hand, have regressed. They are missing their best defensive player, Darrelle Revis, and lone playmaker on offense, Santonio Holmes.
Mark Sanchez has failed to complete 50 percent of his throws in four of the last five games. The Patriots are in a foul mood after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead last week against Seattle. They are going to show no mercy to their hated division rival and their loud mouth coach, Rex Ryan.
This is the Jets' first road game in four weeks. They are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road matchups. The Jets are run-oriented. They can't play from behind and their defense has regressed. The Patriots beat the Jets twice last season winning by an average of 15 points. New England is just as good this year and the Jets are worse.
|10-21-12||Jacksonville Jaguars +4.5 v. Oakland Raiders||23-26||Win||100||49 h 9 m||Show|
The Jaguars have had two weeks to stew and be embarrassed about a 41-3 home loss to the Bears.
The Jaguars are making the long trip to the West Coast, but that is negated by being idle last week. As bad as the Jaguars are, they have covered both of their road contests beating Indianapolis and losing to Minnesota in overtime. The close loss to the Vikings is impressive considering how improved Minnesota is.
The Raiders aren't very good either. They have been terrible as a home favorite failing to cover 16 of the last 20 times in that role. Even the Jaguars should be able to pass on the Raiders' depleted secondary, especially with extra time to put in some added wrinkles.
|10-21-12||New Orleans Saints -2.5 v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||35-28||Win||100||92 h 27 m||Show|
I'm not impressed with the Buccaneers. They've been outgained in every game except one.
The Saints finally got their much needed first victory beating San Diego at home. The Saints have now had two weeks to rest and game plan for this matchup. Drew Brees remains in his prime and has too many weapons for the Buccaneers to handle, especially with cornerback Aquib Talib suspended.
New Orleans isn't going to have a top-notch defense, but the Saints players are starting to get more used to the schemes and new system brought in by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Saints held the Chargers to 113 yards in the second half.
The Buccaneers have a below average quarterback and ground attack. The Saints just need to pay attention to Vincent Jackson. The Saints will be able to handle Tampa Bay's offense while generating plenty of points themselves taking advantage of Tampa Bay's 31st-ranked pass defense.
|10-21-12||Green Bay Packers -5 v. St. Louis Rams||30-20||Win||100||92 h 26 m||Show|
The Packers finally are getting it together. Aaron Rodgers is heating up.
The Rams are 3-0 SU and ATS at home this season, but they've been playing way above their heads. This isn't going to continue.
Kudos to Jeff Fisher, but the reality is the Rams may have the worst offensive line in the NFL and not one of their wide receivers is starting quality with Danny Amendola out. They aren't going to be able to keep up with Green Bay's high-powered offense, which is even better on carpet.
The Packers are 20-8-1 ATS on the road versus foes with a winning home record.
|10-21-12||Arizona Cardinals +7 v. Minnesota Vikings||14-21||Push||0||46 h 45 m||Show|
Minnesota is improved, but the Vikings are not a full touchdown better than Arizona.
The line is climbing because backup John Skelton is the Cardinals' starting quarterback replacing injured Kevin Kolb.
Two things about this. First, the Cardinals win with their excellent defense. Second, Skelton is the Cardinals' most effective quarterback. He beat out Kolb during preseason, but got hurt allowing Kolb to take over the starting spot.
Skelton has better chemistry and statistics with Larry Fitzgerald, who is the Cardinals' key playmaker. It's easy to rip Skelton, but the Cardinals were 5-2 last year during his starts. Two of those victories were against the Eagles and 49ers, teams better than the Vikings.
The Cardinals are not considered a good road team, yet they are 4-3 ATS in their last seven away matchups. Earlier this season they upset the Patriots on the road holding New England to its lowest point total of the season in a 20-18 victory. Last year, the Cardinals beat the Eagles on the road and shoud have beaten the Ravens in Baltimore losing 30-27 after leading 24-6.
The Cardinals have covered eight of the last 10 times they've been a 'dog while the Vikings are 2-7 ATS when favored.
|10-18-12||Seattle Seahawks v. San Francisco 49ers -7||Top||6-13||Push||0||9 h 26 m||Show|
The 49ers have been golden off a loss during the Jim Harbaugh era winning and covering all five times. The 49ers have won most convincingly, too, beating their opponents by a combined 90 points while covering the spread by an average of 15.2 points. The 49ers also are 10-2-1 ATS at home under Harbaugh.
Seattle is 4-11 SU in is last 15 road games, 5-9-1 ATS.
Seattle's doesn't have the offense nor the quarterback to put up many points in this game no matter how strong its defense is. The Seahawks are traveling on a short week after posting a big upset home win against New England. So it's also a bad situational spot for the Seahawks.
The 49ers are furious after being embarrassed at home by the Giants. Russell Wilson is far from Eli Manning. He's going to have problems against San Francisco's elite defense.
The 49ers have owned the Seahawks at home winning the past three games by a combined 48 points. Look for a bounce back game from Alex Smith, who before last week had a 30-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
|10-15-12||Denver Broncos v. San Diego Chargers||Top||35-24||Loss||-110||14 h 8 m||Show|
All the early money has been on Denver. But I see the Chargers winning this game. It's a huge home game for San Diego.
San Diego has beaten Denver five of the last six times at home. The Chargers rank third in run defense giving up just 74 yards on the ground.
That statistic would hold more meaning if Denver didn't have Peyton Manning. San Diego has defensed Manning well through the years, though. The Chargers are 5-1 against Manning. Defensive coordinator John Pagano has been one of the architects to this success. The key is applying pressure from the inside on Manning making him uncomfortable in the pocket. San Diego has executed this maneuver well against Manning.
The Chargers have the better balanced offense with Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews, who has rushed for 382 yards in three games against Denver averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He's rushed for at least 120 yards in each of those games.
October hasn't been a good month for Denver. The Broncos have failed to cover in eight of their last nine October games while the Chargers are 7-0 ATS in their last seven AFC matchups.
|10-14-12||Green Bay Packers v. Houston Texans -3||Top||42-24||Loss||-130||89 h 36 m||Show|
This is a good time to be playing the Packers and a bad time to be taking on the unbeaten Texans. This is an especially bad matchup for Green Bay.
The Packers are still out of sync offensively. Aaron Rodgers isn't having the MVP season he had last season. Greg Jennings remains out. The running game, not good to being with, is at its lowest point with Cedric Benson out. The offensive line is soft and is going to have problems with J.J. Watt, who is putting up MVP numbers with 8 1/2 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 11 tackles for losses and eight knocked down passes. Rodgers has already been sacked 21 times. It's scary to think how many more times he would have gone down behind the line of scrimmage if he wasn't highly mobile.
The Packers had problems with Seattle's defense three weeks ago scoring just 12 points. Houston's defense is much bigger and stronger. Green Bay's offensive line has yet to prove it can handle pressure from a very good defense on the road. Rodgers' ability to freeze the defense with play-action is severely restricted without any threat of a ground attack.
Green Bay's defense is improved, but not nearly enough to the point of making crucial stops. The Texans can control possession with their balanced attack. If nose guard B.J. Raji can't play the Packers are in even more trouble defensively trying to stop Arian Foster.
The Texans have won their last nine games with Matt Schuaub under center, winning by nearly 20 points a game. The Texans have covered 11 of their last 14 games. Houston is 4-1 ATS this season covering by an average of nine points in those four covers.
The Texans should be pumped playing a rare nationally televised game at home with this being the Sunday Night Game.