The Black Cat's 128K Picks of 2012
$100 Bet Net: -$2017.45
Week 1: 3-3 (50%) -$34.85
Week 2: 4-6 (40%) -$240.31
Week 3: 2-8 (20%) -$613.84
Week 4: 4-4 (50%) -$36.32
Week 5: 3-4 (43%) -$127.24
Week 6: 4-3 (57%) +$63.68
Week 7: 2-4-1 (33%) $-118.16
Week 8: 4-2 (66%) $+163.68
Week 9: 3-4 (43%) -$127.24
Week 10: 2-7 (22%) -$518.18
Week 11: 3-2 (60%) +$72.73
Week 12: 4-4-1 (OT win on Pats) -$36.32
Week 13: 4-6 (40%) -$236.32
Week 14: 4-4 (-$36.32)
Week 15: 3-4 (-$138.16)
Week 16: 3-4 (-$127.24)
Week 17: 3-2 (+$72.76)
Playoffs: 5-3 (7-3 Straight up)
128k Overall: 55-71-2
BW Official GOW: 3-14
BW Hilton Contest: 30-47-2
Ok so I have a lot of work to do in the offseason. But in the meantime, we still have one more game and it'd be nice to finish the playoffs 6-3!
San Francisco -3.5 -110 Baltimore [BC Line: SF -6]
I think its become an annual ritual that I call one of the SB contestants hopelessly horrible and having "no chance". Such it was for the Ravens. In fact, both teams made midseason critical decisions that seemed to catapult them to the Grand Finale, the 49ers with the overwhelmingly successfuly switch to Kaepernick and the Ravens changing up their offensive coordinator, a move that is typically ill-fated. The Ravens received a lot of bettor support with a large line against the Patriots, but Kaepernick -- who has looked unbelievable in the past 2 games -- will likely draw more attention and push the line slightly up again as he did for the NFC Championship, so get in early.
The 49ers will have maybe 1 turnover, throw about 30 times for 210 yards giving 2 or 3 sacks, and rush 35 times for 170 yards. The Ravens will have a 1-2 turnovers, throw 35 times for 250 while yielding 2 sacks, and rush 30 times for 120 yards. This is good enough for a 49ers victory and a cover of the 3.5 point spread, although don't expect it to be particularly easy or without any doubt on the overall outcome.
49ers 27, Ravens 21
Final Power Rankings
San Francisco -3.5 Atlanta [BC Line: San Francisco -11] **WIN**
San Francisco should have a good time dissecting Seattle's pistol against the Falcons and figuring out how to exploit it further with their even-more dangerous pistol Qb, who looked as good as RG3 last weekend. This is a great projection for the computer, which loves similarities. The numbers look much the same, with a big rushing edge obviously for the 49ers and the more efficient passing game. Atlanta had a good time with the refs, who I think nailed them for all of 11 penalty yards vs. Seattle. Unless the Falcons can muster the same explosive running game they did against the Seahawks -- something I am not projecting -- this will be a 49ers victory. While the statistical matchup heavily tilts to the 49ers, the computer is not all that happy about laying 3.5 points on the road and would rate it more like a pick'em given the quality and success of the overall teams. Still, no guts no glory, so we'll ride the statistical edge...
49ers 30, Atlanta 19
Baltimore +9 New England [BC Line: Baltimore -6.5] **WIN**
Much like the Texans did, the Ravens stack up pretty well statistically. Its dead even outside of turnovers (which favor the Pats by 1) on paper. So while I don't doubt the Patriots will win, I'm going to have to suggest taking 9 points. The biggest number my computer can muster is Pats -8.5, so the upside is all to the Ravens.
Patriots 30, Ravens 24
Denver -9 Baltimore [BC Line: Denver -9] N/A
With Peyton pushing 300 yards sitting in a comfortable pocket and handing off productively, the focus goes to Flacco who figures to be harassed constantly every time he drops back to pass.
Denver 26, Baltimore 17
SF -3 +100 GB [BC Line: SF -7.5] **WIN**
Aaron Rodgers is holding the ball too damn long, and I think he'll pay the price for it in this game. Green Bay's inability to run the ball puts them at a big disadvantage against a SF team that can dominate time of possession. I really like the 49ers in this game as my play of the weekend.
San Francisco 24, GB 17
Seattle +2.5 +100 Atlanta [BC Line: Seattle -2] **WIN**
Speaking of inability to run the ball, Atlanta could pay a huge price for that in this one. Rushing yard differential could be huge and I worry about the Falcons turning over the ball. Atlanta may pile up more yardage but it'll be very inefficient yardage relative to the Seahawks. In the Falcons corner, they are a dominant home team playing a poor road team, and the Seahawks are a bunch of jerks anyway so I'd love to be wrong here, but I smell an upset in Atlanta.
Hawks 34, Falcons 19
Houston +9.5 New England [BC Line: Houston +7.5] LOSS
Statistically, this piles up as a very very close game. The biggest concern is that if the Texans turn over the ball twice, they have little chance to win this ball game. I think we may get a cover here even though I don't see the Texans winning out.
Patriots 29, Houston 20
Cincinnati +4.5 Houston [BC Line: Bengals +1/2] LOSS
Houston has done very little to distinguish themselves from the no-name Bengals at this juncture. In fact, Cincinnati ranks above the Texans in many areas. Houston's vaunted offense doesn't even outpace the Bengals, and their defense isn't nearly as good, netting a higher overall power rating for the Bengals. The Bengals have the sack edge over the Texans. Cincinnati should outgain the Texans thru the air, and the ground advantage for the Texans is surprisingly negligible. In a game where the average bettor will undoubtedly load up on the Texans, the Bengals look like a clear cut "wise guy" bet.
Bengals 21, Texans 24 (OT FG)
Minnesota +7.5 Green Bay [BC Line: Minnesota +3 +100] LOSS
Coming off of a heroically fought victory last week, the question is can the Vikings do it again? Can Ponder exceed expectations with a few big plays? Can Peterson run up 150-200 yards on the road? Can the Vikings pass rush get to Rodgers? On paper, this looks like a good matchup, if the Vikings haven't run out of gas.
Vikings 21, Packers 24
Baltimore -7 +100 Indianapolis [BC Line: Baltimore -11] **WIN**
A couple years ago, the Seahawks entered the playoffs as one of the worst playoff teams in history winning the NFC Least. They won the home game over the Saints in stunning fashion. The Colts, a wildcard, now challenge that history by being another truly horrible entry into the playoffs. They have no defense. The offense is mediocre at best. They give up a ton of sacks to the sack happy Ravens, and are totally devoid of playoff experience. This has "one and done" written all over it. Sure, the line is high, but statistically, this could and probably should be a total blowout.
Ravens 28, Colts 17
Seattle -3 -115 Washington [BC Line: Washington +3] N/A
Ranked #1 defense. Scoring like crazy. A turnover machine. One of the few teams who can ground and pound yard-for-yard with the Redskins. The Seahawks are coming to play! The Redskins will have to counter by pressuring the Qb, winning the turnover battle (both teams force the ball well), and hoping that the Seahawks trend of playing sucky on the road will hold through the playoffs. In fact, if you were to carve the Seahawks in half, the road team is likely nowhere near as good as the hometeam, and this may be the deciding factor as they enter insanely-crazed Landover Maryland this Sunday.
Seahawks 24, Redskins 21
124. Cleveland +10 Pittsburgh **GOW** [BC Line: Cleveland +3.5] LOSS
For the second straight week, the play of the week is a runaway choice against Pittsburgh. Last week I flipped it and took Pittsburgh, noting my horrendous record this season on GOWs. I'll go with the pick this time, having been burnt last week. Pittsburgh is littered with injuries and the Browns flummoxed them last time.
Steelers 21, Browns 17
125. Minnesota +3.5 Green Bay [BC Line: Minnesota +1] **WIN**
Peterson runs for 200 yards! QB throws for 20 yards! Sounds like a Chiefs game, and it might look like one. Look, this is a big big big game for the Vikings and they are going to give it all they got, no doubt. It doesn't figure to be enough to "win" but cover? Yes.
Packers 22, Vikings 21
126. Indianapolis +7 Houston [BC Line: Indy +1.5] **WIN**
As the Texans seem to backslide into the playoffs, the Colts will come to play and are getting a huge spread at home. Sure, they can't tackle a RB to save their life, but I wonder how many carries Foster will see anyway.
Texans 23, Colts 22
127. Atlanta -3.5 Tampa Bay [BC Line: Atlanta -6.5] LOSS
Home field advantage through the playoffs is at stake here, and the way Atlanta plays at home, that could translate into an easy Superbowl ticket.
Falcons 28, Bucs 19
128. New York Giants -6.5 Philadelphia [BC Line: NYG -6.5] **WIN**
Eagles o-line is useless and that's never good against the Giants pass rushers. Wanting to win for Reid won't change that fundamental flaw.
Giants 31, Eagles 21
Bonus round: I like Norv to win his final game as a Charger big, even if the spread is too high statistically. And while the game could be very tight and they may not cover, I think the Redskins will scalp the Cowboys Sunday night!
118. Pittsburgh -3 -120 Cincinnati [BC Line: Pitts +1.5] LOSS
Pittsburgh should be the underdog against the Bengals, but have garnered an even spread playing at home for all the marbles. Cincinnati is my runaway Game-of-the-Week. However, my Game-of-the-Week is a disastorous 2-13 and I can't even remember when the last time it hit. Now, in this case, I think the spread is understandable and the Bengal value is real, but I'm going with the trend and picking the Steelers.
Steelers 27, Bengals 22
119. Kansas City +6.5 Indianapolis [BC Line: +2.5]] LOSS
The Colts will learn that every game is a struggle in the NFL, even ones against the Chiefs. This is the franchise who famously gave up an undefeated regular season to rest for the playoffs!
Colts 22, Chiefs 20
120. Tennessee +12.5 Green Bay [BC Line: Tenn +8.5] LOSS
A solid underdog play on a fat line. Tennessee has no reason to pack it in, a young team still trying to learn to win games. Green Bay is banged up and may be thinking about resting for the playoffs.
Titans 20, Packers 28
121. New Orleans +2.5 Dallas [BC Line: New Orleans -1] **WIN**
Last week, the Saints shocked the world by shutting out an NFL team. Now, I have no idea why the nutcases are bashing Drew Brees this season, he's kept a 0-16 team highly competitive, and they no longer compete like an 0-16 team. The Cowboys got their due props getting listed as a top offense this week, but don't try to beat the Saints in a shootout.
Saints 30, Cowboys 26
122. Minnesota +9 Houston [BC Line: Minn +5] **WIN**
The Vikings, playing for history, face a Texans team coming off the emotion of a playoff-clinching victory.
The quality of the Vikings as an underdog can be represented in that the computer sees this a near-even matchup, even if the Texans prolific throwing game gives them a statistic edge. The Texans are known for running, but nobody puts Peterson in a corner baby! a Buck-70 vs. 136 rushing.
Texans 25, Vikings 21
123. Cleveland +13 Denver [BC Line: Cleveland +10] LOSS
Now this game I genuinely LOVE! Not only do you have the Browns credible interception happy D, but the Broncos will manage this game with the rushing attack and only break out Manning to the extent required. We've seen this formula add up to non-covers before in recent weeks.
Broncos 27, Browns 17
117. Atlanta -3.5 Detroit [BC Line: -4.5] **WIN**
They got blown out by the Cardinals. The Cardinals?
Atlanta 56, Detroit 0
111. Tampa Bay +3.5 New Orleans [BC Line: Tampa +1] LOSS
Both of these teams have explosive offenses, but the Bucs are the only team in this contest with a defense.
Bucs 31, Saints 24
112. NY Giants +1.5 Atlanta [BC Line: Giants +1/2] LOSS
Atlanta doesn't lose at home, so this is a nerve-wracking pick even with the suddenly-hot Giants. With a surging running game thanks to their rookie and Eli back on a run, the Falcons will have their hands full in this one.
Giants 32, Falcons 24
113. Chicago +3 -115 Green Bay [BC Line: Chicago +1/2] LOSS
I look at this game and think it'll take a miracle for the Bears to cover. Cutler may not make it thru the game behind that line and his lingering injury, and the Bears are so beat up they couldn't even practice on Wednesday. But the Bears do matchup well in theory and have the ability to give Rodgers a rough time himself if the offense doesn't sink the ship.
Bears 24, Packers 21
114. Carolina +3 San Diego [BC Line: Carolina +1] **WIN**
Chargers are at the point where playing at home is a disadvantage. Cam seems set on finishing the season strong, the Chargers are headed for offseason changes.
Panthers 25, Chargers 20
115. Kansas City +3 +100 Oakland [BC Line: KC +1.5] LOSS
Like most people, I can't sleep at night waiting for this barn burner of a game! Now, there's a school of thought that the Raiders have the upper hand, as Cincinnati's Qb has shredded the Chiefs. But I'm looking at the Chiefs running game and I think that's the most bankable thing in this matchup. Its always better to wager on the worst game of the week than the game of the week for good betting value!
Chiefs 29, Raiders 27
116. Denver +2.5 Baltimore [BC Line: Denver +4] **WIN**
I'm still unclear on why firing the offensive coordinator made any sense after last week's defensive loss, and question how yet another dramatic change is going to impact a Ravens team that is just looking for reasons to fail.
Broncos 25, Ravens 20
110. Cincinnati -3 -125 Philadelphia [BC Line: Cincy -6.5] **WIN**
Last week, these two leaders of my board had the game's in grasp as I looked to wipe the entire NFL slate. And then...reality set in. Dallas surged under the spectre of death, and the Eagles took it to the "play to the last second" Bucs in an upset. And now, these two face each other a few days later. The Bengals can't afford to stumble again, and there's no need for them to stumble against the hapless Eagles.
Bengals 27, Eagles 19
103. Cincinnati -3 Dallas [BC Line: Cincy -6.5] LOSS
Another good value on the spread. The law firm rumbles, the Cowboy stumbles. I don't feel the situation on Saturday will help the Cowboys perform better, as it did with KC last weekend.
Bengals 29, Dallas 19
104. Tampa Bay -7.5 Philadelphia [BC Line: Tampa -10] LOSS
For good or for bad, the Eagles have shelved Vick and their season. The fat lineman has sung and Tampa plays host with a very good team, both offensively and defensively. Expect the Eagles to move the ball ok, but would it shock you if turnovers doom the Eagles?
Bucs 31, Eagles 17
105. Detroit +6.5 Green Bay [BC Line: Detroit +3.5] LOSS
Green Bay will win this game, but I think Stafford is playing well and the cover will be difficult.
Green Bay 27, Detroit 24
106. Carolina +3 Atlanta [BC Line: Carolina +3.5] **WIN**
Its always better to get the Falcons on the road, and with a fair line, I'll take the home team that matches up well and has played some good ball in recent weeks, despite running into an emotional buzzsaw in KC. Upset???
Panthers 24, Falcons 23
107. Miami +11 SF [BC Line: Miami +6.5] LOSS
The Dolphins defense is still fairly tough against the run, and they can do some things on offense every few possessions or so. Is the shine coming off the 49ers new golden boy?
Dolphins 17, 49ers 26
108. SD +7.5 Pittsburgh [BC Line: SD +6] **WIN**
Ben is playing but can we expect him to be at his best? Many a Pittsburgh fan will tell you Monday morning the Steelers should have rested him another week. The Chargers, those lovable losers, could show up in this one.
Pittsburgh 24, Chargers 19
109. StL +3 Buffalo [BC Line: StL +2.5] **WIN**
In an epic ground battle, this one is a tossup that tilts towards the more diehard Rams. Bills 22, Rams 21
-- THURSDAY NIGHT GAME --
102. Denver -10 Oakland [BC Line: Denver -9] **WIN**
The line is about right but I'll reference the same statistic I did last week, that large road favorites cover. Now, this one is a bit more concerning because of the short week, Denver's habit of underperforming lately, Denver coming off a divisional clinch game. But the 2nd seed is still very much in play in the AFC and Oakland should have a tough time preparing for Manning on a short week. Statistically, the Broncos should come out ahead early and we'll see if they can hold the margin of victory past 59 minutes of action. Oakland struggles to run the ball.
Denver 33, Oakland 17
93. NYJ -4.5 Arizona [BC Line: Jets -10.5] LOSS
While I find the line to be rather reasonable, Arizona tends to be a team with very limited upside, where the Jets seem to dominate lesser opponents consistently.
Jets 27, Cardinal 17
94. New England -7.5 Miami [BC Line: Pats -12.5] LOSS
Road teams getting 7 or more points historically are an extremely solid bet. Certainly there is nothing in this matchup to make me think otherwise.
Pats 34, Dolphins 21
95. Houston -6.5 Tennessee [BC Line: Texans -11] **WIN**
Texans 35, Titans 24
96. Cleveland -2.5 Oakland [BC Line: Browns -7] **WIN**
Expected to play in a monsoon, one needs to wonder how the Browns will fair. Considering all they have is a running game, one that should be more productive than Oakland, and they are playing in horrible weather after somehow forcing 8 turnovers last week -- and that Cleveland is no stranger to bad weather -- I like their chances in this one.
Browns 17, Raiders 10
97. Indianapolis +5 Detroit [BC Line: Colts +1] **WIN**
The red hot colts stack up well against Detroit too, playing with all the heart and courage that the Cowardly Lions lack.
Lions 24, Colts 23
98. Cincinnati -1.5 SD [BC Line: Bengals -5.5] **WIN**
4th and 29? 4th and 29???? I'll go with the team with the coach returning next season and who is vying for a playoff spot. SD needs to recharge.
Bengals 26, Chargers 20
99. Dallas -10.5 Philadelphia [BC Line: Cowboys -14] LOSS
This game ranks a bit lower than the ones previously mentioned, but only because the margin for beating a 10.5 point spread is pretty low. Truth is, this seems like as certain of a double-digit cover as you'll find. Dallas plays to expectations every week, and the Eagles tend to underperform weekly. What more could you want in a numeric prognostication?
Boys 34, Eagles 20
100. SF -7 StL [BC Line: 49ers -10.5] LOSS
And yet ANOTHER big road favorite checks out on what historically is a very lucrative road play. So we'll play this one too, even though the # of favorites selected gets a bit artificially high this week as a result. Of the 3 favorites, we'll get at least 2 winners.
49ers 27, Rams 17
101. Minnesota +8 Green Bay [BC Line: Vikings +5] LOSS
Not to disappoint dog players, here's another woofer that has some legs and bite. While the Pack figures to win this game, there's every reason to think the defensive line of the Vikings will continue to give the soft Packer front fits and have success on the line on the other side too.
Packers 28, Vikings 23
Note: Carolina -3 was going to be a pick, however, will be removed from the list given the events today.
-- THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL --
92. New Orleans +3.5 Atlanta [BC Line: New Orleans -1.5] LOSS
No, I don't have it in for Atlanta. Playing at home, where the Falcons are invincible, against a dome team on Thursday night football against an opponent with a short week. Sounds pretty bad for the Saints, doesn't it? And the line is not high at all, with a very small tilt towards the Falcons. On top of that, Julio Jones returned and made some hey, helping the Falcons stave off a solid Bucs challenge and the Falcons showed a lot of grit, refusing to lose that game. BUT...there is a definite sense of motivation from Brees coming into this contest, and the Easy Breasy has been amazing at holding up a franchise that had every reason to throw in the towel and be this year's 2011 Indianapolis Colts. Josh Freeman had HOURS to throw the ball last week and still made some pretty bad tosses that could have won the Bucs the game. Wanna bet that Brees will do that too? I don't. I think the bookies knew what they were doing on this line and while Atlanta being 3.5 point favorites seems like a bargain, I think it'll be enough to cover this close contest of determined teams. The Saints will help themselves if they can avoid being absolutely terrible defending the pass. Stat to note: the Falcons should have 1 more turnover than the Saints.
Saints 27, Falcons 26
85. Denver -10 KC [BC Line: Denver -20.5] LOSS
Expect this game to be led not by the Broncos offense, but the Broncos defense. The Chiefs will struggle to do any damage, unless it is to themselves.
Broncos 30, Chiefs 9
86. Tampa Bay +1 Atlanta [BC Line: TB -6.5] PUSH
Sometimes the computer spits out things that are surprising, and I had to be careful not to think it hadn't chosen the Falcons. The Falcons are going through their low point of the season right now and it could extend another week, as the matchup for the Bucs appears to be quite favorable. A healthy Julio Jones could take the value down a notch, but not by enough. This is one of two eye-popping upset specials!
Bucs 28, Falcons 22
87. SF PK NO [BC Line: SF -7] **WIN**
Whether its Krispy Kreme or plain old Mr. Donut, it doesn't seem to matter with the 49ers defense, dominant o-line, and Gore-gashing running back. Sure, the Saints are hard to stop but there's just too much defense on the other side, and Gore is slated for a big big day.
49ers 34, Saints 27
88. Seattle -2.5 Miami [BC Line: Seattle -9.5] LOSS
I think the NFL has the Dolphins figured out, and the head games with Bush aren't helping a team that was carried solely by his efforts.
Hawks 21, Fins 12
89. Carolina -3 Philadelphia [BC Line: Carolina -8] **WIN**
And upset special #2, the winless Panthers go on the road to face the scrambled Egg-les. The odd thing is that the computer is hardly aware of the Qb and Rb problems for the Eagles, yet STILL felt this was a lopsided game.
Panthers 24, Eagles 16
90. StL +2.5 Arizona [BC Line: StL -2.5] **WIN**
While some recent blowouts standout for the Rams, they've been solid more games than not. This is not the Patriots they face and I think a defensive standoff plays right into the Rams wheelhouse.
Rams 20, Cards 17
91. GB +3 NYG [BC Line: Green Bay -2] LOSS
The Qb formerly known as Eli faces the Qb sort of resembling Aaron Rodgers. We shall see if the Giants can pull it together but in a fairly tight matchup, I'll go with the reliable pack.
Packers 27, Giants 25
83. Washington +3.5 Dallas [BC Line: Washington -4] **WIN**
Having won just twice in the past n-teen home games, the Redskins probably have little issue going to Texas to beat on the boys. Rookie sensations RG3 and Alfred Morris are ready to lead a new era for the skins and there is no better way to do that then on Thanksgiving Day! Turkey Day has always been an awful wagering day for me, as I typically take dogs that get neutered. However, I'm not picking the Skins on a couple points of hangaround value. They are going to WIN baby. This is a very favorable matchup and the Redskins are capable of winning by a large margin. A Dallas victory figures to be marginal at best.
Redskins 28, Cowboys 24
84. Houston -3.5 Detroit [BC Line: Houston -8.5] LOSS
Speaking of dogs I take every Thanksgiving just to be disappointed, I think an annual losing play on Detroit is about as common as Thanksgiving stuffing. Not this year! Detroit is a very stupid team that does very stupid things, and they are at their dumbest in primetime.
Texans 29, Lions 21
And yes, I like the Patriots in what Brady calls their most important game for the rest of the season (at least until next week). But with the lack of consistency of these teams and a huge -7 road spread, I can take or leave it.
Dallas figures to have a very bad day on the ground, while RG3 and Alfred Morris should run wild. Romo should have a great day against the Skins sucky secondary.
Stafford and Schwarma should have huge yardage in the air, but expect an "ordinary day" for Foster.
Balanced attacks should rack up big yardage on both sides for New England and the Jets. A couple defensive splash plays should tilt things in favor of the Pats.
After last week's nightmare, I'm taking a bit of a different approach this week. Of course, its all still sourced from my numbers but I went into deeper detail this week.
78. Houston -15.5 Jacksonville [BC Line: -23.5] LOSS
While there's no real safety in a huge line, I found the consistency of these teams to be very appealing.
Texans 30, Jags 6
79. Denver -7.5 San Diego [BC Line: Denver -13] LOSS
Denver remains one of the hottest and most consistent teams in the NFL. Consistently bad is about the only description you can affix to San Diego.
Broncos 30, Chargers 17
80. Washington -3.5 Philadelphia [BC Line: Skins -8.5] **WIN**
Washington returns from a bye week with starters returning to the lineup, whereas Philadelphia will be trotting out a rookie. Morris figures to have a huge day while RG3 may be re-energized after the break. The defense gets a break with a returning safety and an inexperienced signal caller. Can the Redskins win one at home?
Skins 31, Eagles 23
81. New Orleans -4.5 Oakland [BC Line: NO -7] **WIN**
While the Saints seem to overperform week after week, they should find the Raiders implosive defense to their liking.
Saints 37, Raiders 30
82. Cleveland +7.5 Dallas [BC Line: Cleveland +5.5] **WIN**
I don't see a lot of upside for Dallas in this game, which could be fairly close.
Dallas 22, Cleveland 17
Last week was a statistical step backwards, but it was more a problem of ranking than wins/losses as my board was oddly but correctly lit up with favorites covering. Seriously, while maybe I should have known the Giants would choke in the wake of Sandy, how did the Redskins choke predicting a 300+ electoral win? This week started off on the wrong foot again with Jacksonville imploding against the now...6-3 Colts? And how is that possible?
THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIAL:
69. Jacksonville +3 +100 Indianapolis (BC Line: Jax -1.5) LOSS
Coming off of two straight double digit losses and a loss to the Raiders, I'm looking for a bit of a rebound by the Jags in what otherwise would be a close game. Don't expect the 400 yards from Luck I predicted correctly last week, and its always a plus to be home Thursday night!
Jags 23, Colts 21
70. Oakland +7.5 Baltimore [BC Line: Oak PK] LOSS
The overrated Ravens are a shell of themselves now, and losing or squeeking by Oakland could be the watershed moment.
Raiders 27, Ravens 27
71. Philadelphia +1 Dallas [BC Line: Phily -8.5] LOSS
For one week, all is good in Eagle-land as they get a badly needed win in the division.
Eagles 30, Cowboys 22
72. Tampa Bay -3 SD [BC Line: Tampa -10] **WIN**
Now sporting an identity for something other than poor sportsmanship, the Bucs romp over the underpowered Chargers.
Bucs 31, Chargers 21
73. NYJ +6.5 Seattle [BC Line: Jets -1/2] LOSS
Coming off a bye and playing against a younger version of themselves on the road, the team formerly known as the J-E-T-S Jets have the potential of taking down a less experienced team.
Jets 24, Hawks 23
74. Atlanta -2 New Orleans [BC Line: Falcons -8.5] LOSS
Saints, meet reality. No chance in this one...
Falcons 28, Saints 20
75. StL +11.5 SF [BC Line: Stl +6] **WIN**
The Rams once again try to hang in a football game, although the inconsistent 49ers offense could help.
Rams 14, 49ers 21
76. Miami -6 Tennessee [BC Line: Miami -11.5] LOSS
Locker returns, but I don't think he'll slice up the Dolphins like Luck did, and there will be little room for Chris Johnson this week.
Dolphins 31, Titans 20
77. NYG -4 Cincinnati [BC Line: NY -8.5] LOSS
Getting out of New York could be a good thing right now for the Giants, who uncharacteristically faltered late against the Steelers last week. Does Marvin Lewis still coach the Bengals? Bengals probably won't score as much as I'm projecting here, but we'll say....
Giants 36, Bengals 28
62. NYG -3.5 Pittsburgh (BC Line: NYG -14.5) LOSS
No Dwyer, no hope.
Giants 27, Pittsburgh 13
63. Minnesota +5 Seattle (BC Line: Minn -2.5) LOSS
Tough sledding for the Vikings, but they have the horse to do it.
Vikings 16, Seahawks 14
64. Buffalo +10 Houston (BC Line: Buffalo +3) LOSS
Houston should crush the Bills, but that's as good a reason as any why they won't.
Texans 24, Bills 21
65. Washington -3.5 Carolina (BC Line: Wash -9.5) LOSS
The fate of the political world hangs in the balance, and the polls say the redskins will win.
Redskins 33, Panthers 24
66. Chicago -3.5 Tennessee (BC Line: Chicago -8.5) **WIN**
They are who we thought they were.
Bears 20, Titans 12
67. Atlanta -4 Dallas (BC Line: Atlanta -8.5) **WIN**
The Falcons keep rolling on ....
Atlanta 28, Dallas 20
68. Indy +2 Miami (BC Line: Indy -2.5) **WIN**
In this rookie showdown, we'll find out why Luck was #1. Dolphins will get scorched through the air here.
Colts 24, Dolphins 22
The refunds to my paid subscribers for the first half of the season are in the mail. Last year I started hot and got cold, so odds could still tilt to the reverse happening this year. Alternatively, you could look at it as my having been cold for a full year now...but that's a glass is half empty perspective, ain't it? At least the pick board is stronger this week....
56. Tampa Bay +6.5 Minnesota [BC Line: Tampa Bay -2] **WIN**
Last week, Tampa was my game of the week and they threw the game tying TD...but he stepped out of bounds. Tampa gave up more defensively than I hoped, but their run defense -- one of the NFL best -- is well suited to matchup with Peterson as the Vikings air game is wilting a bit. Meanwhile, Josh Freeman remains hot for Tampa, lighting it up with Vincent Jackson. So I'm going to ride the Bucs again tonight in a very highly rated selection.
Bucs 27, Vikings 25
57. Washington +4.5 Pittsburgh [BC Line: Wash -5] LOSS
Last week, the Redskins overcame 3 straight turnovers and a game winning TD drive to lose to the Giants in true Pearl Harbor fashion. Pittsburgh found a ground game behind an impressive Dwyer, but both RBs face tests on Sunday. While the Redskins figure to get scorched in the air again, the ground game should help wear down the aging Steelers. The Redskins offense is dynamic, whereas the Steelers seem just ordinary this season on defense.
Washington 28, Pittsburgh 23
58. Atlanta +2.5 Philadelphia [BC Line: Atlanta -5.5] **WIN**
The turnovers keep coming for the Eagles and the Falcons have the upper hand on the ground courtesy of their run-stopping defense.
Falcons 21, Eagles 15
59. NY Giants -2.5 Dallas [BC Line: NYG -8.5] **WIN**
The Giants, sporting an explosive offense and one of the leagues better defenses, could have a real laugher with the Cowboys subpar and beatup defense. If the Cowboys hang on to the ball, they have a shot but that’s a very big if and “ain’t gonna happen”.
Giants 33, Cowboys 24
60. Denver -6 New Orleans [BC Line: Den -11.5] **WIN**
Manning will carve up the Saints like a Saintsgiving turkey. Brees has willed this team with outstanding play, but this is asking too much.
Broncos 35, Saints 23
61. St. Louis +7 New England [BC Line: StL +1.5] LOSS
The Patriots defense continues to keep opposing teams in the ballgame. After being lit up by Rodgers last week, the Rams have an easier mark to try and keep pace.
Patriots 25, Rams 24
49. Tampa Bay +2.5 New Orleans (BC Line: Tampa Bay -6) LOSS
This just in: the Saints defense is still non-existent. Freeman could have his best day in 2 years. Its all up to Brees just to hang in, as production on the ground figures to be as non-existent as their defense. Both team had a bye last week, although the Bucs bye was called the Kansas City Chiefs game.
Bucs 29, Saints 23
50. St. Louis +5.5 Green Bay (BC Line: St. Louis -2.5) LOSS
In this week’s edition of “So you think you can block?”, the Packers will attempt to keep the Rams from killing Aaron Rodgers. And it looked so easy last week, didn’t it? UPSET!!
Rams 20, Packers 17
51. Washington +5.5 New York (BC Line: Washington -2) **WIN**
Can Alfred Morris run the ball where Frank Gore could not? (Computer says: yes) Can that sieve of a Redskin defense slow down Eli Manning and keep the salsa dancers at bay? (Computer says: no) Can RG3 lead the Redskins to another win over the Giants, a team they seem to own? (Computer says: yes) UPSET!!!
Redskins 30, Giants 28
52. Houston -6.5 Baltimore (BC Line: Houston -13.5) **WIN**
While Houston licks their wounds, the Ravens defense was harpooned. It was looking a bit shakier than normal before, and facing Houston’s offense won’t do it any favors.
Texans 34, Ravens 21
53. San Francisco -7 Seattle (BC Line: SF -14) PUSH
In a showdown of the league’s top defenses, the 49ers will reestablish themselves. After heroically stabbing New England last week, Seattle’s young Qb will come up empty against this much more stout passing defense.
49ers 23, Seahawks 9
54. Cincinnati 2.5 Pittsburgh (BC Line: Cincinnati -4.5) LOSS
Both teams come off of disappointments last week, with the Steelers falling short of victory and the Bengals throws falling short of their wide receivers. The Bengals have the better offense AND defense in this game, oddly enough. They’ve always done well as a franchise scoring points on the Steelers and they should find the 2012 edition to their liking.
Bengals 26, Steelers 21
55. New England -10.5 NY Jets (BC Line: New England -14.5) LOSS
Tom Brady hates the Jets, and the Jets still completely suck unless their defense dominates an opponent. Do you think the Jets will dominate the Patriots? Neither do I. I wasn't sure about posting this game, a big favorite with a smaller edge than the other ones. But how could I not add the Jets in a week where I "guaranteed" victory?
Patriots 37, Jets 22
42. Detroit +4.5 Philadelphia (BC Line: Det -2.5) **WIN**
The Lions, kings of the great offense/bad defense, will try to outscore their opponent again coming off the bye. The Eagles offense is in remission, plagued by Vick-generated turnovers. Now the Eagles face a punchless defense at home and they figure to be their own worst enemy. The Lions need this win very badly and have the offense to put up the points, but can the Eagles play the efficient mistake free game necessary to keep the pace or will they simply bust a couple highlight-reel TD plays and be otherwise punting?
Lions 24, Eagles 21
43. Tampa Bay -3.5 Kansas City (BC Line: TB -10) **WIN**
The only reason to watch a Tampa Bay game is to see them defend the opponent’s clock play at the very end. But this week, they drew the lucky straw. KC is in bad shape emotionally and physically after last week’s game where their own fans cheered their franchise Qb getting injured. Its hard to imagine they are going to turn the ship around after that. This is a poor statistical matchup, with Tampa’s strong run defense against the one dimensional Chiefs. If Tampa can get at least 60 yards passing in this game, they will beat the Chiefs.
Bucs 23, Chiefs 13
44. St. Louis +3.5 Miami (BC Line: StL -2) **WIN**
Both of these teams have surprised this year. While neither offense is going to light the world on fire, I prefer the Rams defensively.
Rams 19, Dolphins 17
45. SF -4.5 NYG (BC Line: -9.5) LOSS
This is a fairly difficult game to handicap and its possible the 49ers could get creamed in this one. But the matchup seems incredibly favorable as the 49ers should gore the heck out of the Giants defense, and Alex Smith has the potential of a big day. With the backdrop of last year’s playoffs, this one has some extra special meaning too. At this point in time, the 49ers defense appears vastly superior and they are mimicking a pretty darn good offense.
49ers 30, Giants 20
46. Arizona -4.5 Buffalo (BC Line: AZ -8.5) LOSS
Arizona’s struggling offense should find the Bills defense more accommodating. The Cardinals surprisingly stout defense should wrap up the one-dimensional Bills without too much difficulty.
Cardinals 31, Bills 23
47. Cincinnati -1 Cleveland (BC Line: Cincinnati -4) LOSS
I don’t see the Browns running on the Bengals defense effectively – so I PK Cincinnati.
Bengals 28, Browns 24
48. Denver +1.5 SD (BC Line: Denver -2) **WIN**
Peyton goes primetime on the Chargers, who had a less than stellar experience trying to come back in the Dome on Sunday Night Football. It doesn’t figure to get much easier here. While the Broncos have a running attack that is about as dangerous as a fluffy poodle, Manning has the arm to get it done. While getting a couple points under 3 isn’t a great deal of security, Denver should win this game.
Broncos 23, Chargers 21
While week 4 was hardly the rebound I was hoping for, I did feel tides heading back in my direction. Unfortunately, I placed 3 of my biggest chips on blowout predictions, none of which happened, but all 3 of which I don’t consider entirely misdirected and reasonable values if they re-kicked again this Sunday. Green Bay’s backup fumbled away the spread as Brees shredded their defense, Atlanta found its hands full with a motivated Cam Newton who also responded with a huge day, and St. Louis managed to score on Seattle’s defense by putting up the points when the Hawks defense was off the field. The rest of the board went as called. So this week, the goal is to stay the course but avoid excessive conservatism because the old motto is as true as ever: if it seems too easy, it probably is!
35. Philadelphia +3.5 Pittsburgh (BC Line: -3, Net 6.5) **WIN**
You have to worry about a defensive team that is playing defense this poorly and unable to create turnovers despite heavy blitz schemes. While the Steelers are coming off the bye, that hasn’t been extremely helpful to teams in recent history.
Eagles 27, Steelers 24
36. Atlanta -3 Washington (BC Line: -9, Net 6) **WIN**
Atlanta faces off against another young running Qb for the 2nd week in a row. While last week didn’t go so well for them, the experience should help prepare them better so that they play like the decent defense they really are. Washington’s offense is even better than Carolina’s and they’ll be playing at home. However, despite a decent day against punchless Tampa Bay, the Redskin defense is atroicious and ranks even lower than the pathetic Panthers. Matt Ryan could qualify for the hall of fame by Sunday night. More importantly, in handicapping games, consistency is a valuable asset and the Redskins have been the most consistent and predictable team in the league thus far this season, an odd fact considering their makeup. And if that’s true, its trouble, because the Skins project to be double-digit losers this Sunday while Atlanta attempts to rebound from a less-than-stellar defensive effort.
Falcons 35, Redskins 26
37. San Diego +3 New Orleans (BC Line: -3, Net 6) **BW GAME OF THE WEEK** LOSS
Honestly, a 3 point loss to the Chargers is the best I can give the Saints with that defense. And I’m being generous.
Chargers 27, Saints 24
38. Baltimore -4.5 Kansas City (BC Line: -10, Net 5.5) LOSS
It’s a struggle to assume the turnover machine that is KC can stay under double-digits at home.
Ravens 30, Chiefs 20
39. Seattle +3 Carolina (BC Line: Seattle -1, Net 4) **WIN**
Seattle, coming off arguably their worst effort of the season, would have to play even worse this week not to cover against the erratic Panthers. The question here is where to set the line, to which I’ve rather conservatively layed it at the Hawks by 1. Expect a massively huge rushing day for Lynch.
Seahawks 24, Panthers 23
40. Arizona -1.5 St. Louis (BC Line: -5.5, Net 4) LOSS
And here comes that defensive juggernaut…the ARIZONA CARDINALS! While the Rams are no slouch defensively themselves, the Cardinals bring a little more O to the table.
Cardinals 23, Rams 17
41. Denver +7 New England (BC Line: +3.5, Net 3.5) LOSS
Will Manning outpass Brady? Probably! Both teams woke up from deep slumbers last week but it remains to be seen if the Patriots performed out of desperation or perspiration.
Patriots 27, Broncos 24
27. Green Bay -7.5 New Orleans (BC Line: -14.5 Net: 7) LOSS
The real refs know where there bread is buttered! And it sure ain’t by protecting the Saints. Green Bay should be able to run and pass at will, and have a commanding +2 turnover advantage at home.
Packers 38, Saints 7
28. Atlanta -7 Carolina (BC Line -13 Net: 6) LOSS
Atlanta is peaking in 2012 and they figure to play a big role this season. Carolina is inversely bad even if they put up points once in a while. But not this week in another 40-burger….Carolina has a +4.5 turnover disadvantage, something they struggled with last year against Atlanta.
Falcons 40, Panthers 12
29. Chicago +3.5 Dallas (BC Line: -1.5, Net 5) **WIN**
Dallas couldn’t score on their own cheerleaders. At least not in any way I care about.
Bears 17, Boys 14
30. Seattle -3 +105 St. Louis (BC Line: -7.5, Net: 4.5) LOSS
***BW GAME OF THE WEEK***
Seattle held Dallas to 7 and Green Bay to 13 (including some PI help from the refs). St. Louis has thrived on offensive pass interference, and by “thrive” I mean they have racked up several first downs this season. I don’t see how much of a threat the toothless Rams are going to be in this one.
Seahawks 26, Rams 7
31. Minnesota +4.5 Detroit (BC Line: PK, Net: 4.5) **WIN**
Peterson is back, and he looks like Adrian Peterson. Their Qbs short game may not be impressive, but its working and the defense is better than average. Detroit, including special teams, has been a massive disappointment in defense. While Detroit plays at home, the Vikings have the advantage in the dome! The ground advantage of the Vikings in this game is enormous.
Vikings 30, Lions 24
32. San Diego -1.5 Kansas City (BC Line: -5, Net 3.5) **WIN**
The impotent offense meets the invisible defense when Rivers has the ball, but their defense should give them plenty of opportunities.
Chargers 24, Chiefs 20
33. Denver -7 Oakland (BC Line: -10.5, Net: 3.5) **WIN**
With the real referees returning, the Raiders run as the least penalized team is OVER. And they stink anyways….
Broncos 34, Raiders 23
34. Jacksonville +2 Cincinnati (BC Line: -1, Net 3) LOSS
Dumping on the Redskins defense didn’t impress me, and we can always put faith in MJD.
Jaguars 27, Bengals 23
*** WEEK 3 ***
Week 2 was a rare disaster for me, as I overprojected statistics – particularly in the running game – from Week 1 that proved to be terrible assumptions. Several teams found running games using no namers despite my expectation that these people wouldn’t mysteriously beam in. Had I stuck to my early season power ratings, I would have posted solid numbers but there are no do-overs in handicapping. Anyway, I enter Week 3 prepared and confident that I’ll be back on track starting with….
17. San Francisco -6.5 -115 Minnesota (Game of the Week) LOSS
The Peterson-led Vikings 4 face the brick wall that is the 49ers defense while the powerful 49ers offense toys with their JV D like a kitty with a ball of yarn. This one should be ugly.
49ers 30, Vikings 17
18. Washington –3 -115 Cincinnati (4 Stars) LOSS
The Redskins offense did little to show me they weren’t for real against the Rams, at least so long as they are playing teams with lousy defenses like the Saints, Rams, and Bengals. This figures to be a spread beater if RG3 plays decent, and a spread killer if RG3 plays off-the-hook in his first home game.
Redskins 28, Bengals 20
19. St. Louis +7.5 -115 Chicago (4 Stars) LOSS
Chicago did little against the Packers to instill confidence in their always-lackluster offense. While the Bears defense remains formidable, the Rams did a nice job using contact down the field effectively against the new officials. These teams mirror each other more than people realize and if the Rams are starting to find a decent offense, they could be trouble. Both teams enter with injury problems at running back, another balancing factor. Certainly enough trouble to cover the spread, and they have upset potential in this game if the offense continues to play well.
Bears 21, Rams 17
20. Detroit -3.5 Tennessee (4 Stars) LOSS
Detroit, a team with a powerful offense and a weaker defense, should have no problems in a game like this against a weak offense and a worse defense. Detroit opened against 2 tough opponents, but expect Detroit to win easily here.
Lions 28, Titans 21
21. Atlanta +3 -105 San Diego (4 Stars) **WIN**
San Diego may be 2-0, but I’m not impressed by defeats over the lowly Titans and Raiders. Atlanta has one of the most recognizable offensive cores in football now and a stiffening defense. To the degree that Atlanta is progressing over the hump, the Chargers are regressing under the hump. I’m concerned about a hangover going into this game following the party on Monday night, but if the Falcons come to play, they’ll win.
Falcons 24, Charger 23
22. Pittsburgh -3.5 Oakland (3 Stars) LOSS
Arguably one of the lifetime best plays in the NFL is the Steelers traveling to take on an incompetent team.
Steelers 24, Raiders 17
23. Denver +2.5 -105 Houston (3 Stars) LOSS
Two teams in the flux of playoffs will face off here. Manning has said he intends to make the Broncos home field one of the best advantages in football this season, and he helped make that true by tanking in Atlanta Monday night. So far, the Broncos are much better at home then on the road, well done! (We’ll see about the Falcons this week….) Both of these teams rate somewhere in the range of slightly-better-than-average but no real proven edge to either team, so take the points.
Broncos 24, Texans 23
24. Arizona +3.5 Philadelphia (3 Stars) **WIN**
Arizona, dating back to the end of last season, is ON FIRE and they led the way against the Patriots with their…ahahahahahaa…”defense”. Defense? Arizona? Are you KIDDING me? This team didn’t have a defense worth spit when they went to the Superbowl. Now, the Patriots can’t match up with them? The last time the Cardinals went on the road to face the Patriots, they lost about 52-3. Philadelphia brings their turnover machine to the desert and I’ve already opinioned that I see the Eagles as being very strong at home but probably not so much on the road. Nothing here makes me want to lay 4 points on the home team! Still a team that wins barely will win more consistently then one that blows out teams only to get blown out the following week, so I’ll give the Eagles D another squeeker here.
Eagles 21, Cardinals 20
25. Dallas -8 Tampa Bay (2 Stars) LOSS
The Cowboys, fresh off their 7 point – hahahahaha – “performance” against…wait for it…the SEAHAWKS, now face the Tampa Bay Chumps. Tampa Bay gave up nearly 2 200 yard games to Giants wideouts to blow a huge lead, allowed a TD with the famous no-defense effort, and then ridiculously squashed the Qb on a kneel down. So we know the Bucs are led by an absolute idiot and we can expect stupid things from their team all season and teams to run up the score on these a-holes. Oddly, they found a supporter in idiot Jerry Jones, who used the opportunity to express his view that the kneel down play should be banned. You sure about that Jerry, because you are going to need that play this week. If your boys don’t stomp the crap out of the Bucs, you can rot in the basement of the NFC East for all I care.
Cowboys 27, Bucs 17
26. Cleveland +3 -115 Buffalo (2 Stars) LOSS
The scheduling gods smile at this matchup of explosive running games. While the ball won’t travel many frequent flyer miles through the air, there will be trains running back and forth in this one. Buffalo hasn’t done anything to make me look at them as a road favorite and Cleveland looked nearly competent at times last week so we’ll take the points in an up-for-grabs game.
Browns 24, Bills 23
7. Bears +6 Packers (4 Stars) LOSS
Most people are expecting a rebound effort from the Pack, but it may not be that easy. The Bears bring a similar challenge that the 49ers do, with a defense that is about as bankable as any in the NFL. And while I wouldn't infer much from a Colts home game, the Bears come well rested from a laugher while the beat up Packers contend with injuries as important as their #1 wideout. The final nail in the coffin for a very solid pick is Green Bay's inability to run the ball, which could be a problem if the Bears double up on rushing yardage.
Bears 28, Packers 23
Typically, I post this column Saturday night, but I’ve been working obsessively on these lines and have things ready early. So here we go!
8. San Francisco -6.5 -115 Detroit (4 Stars) **WIN**
Similar to Green Bay, San Francisco also finds themselves against an opponent similar to week 1. Detroit brings a powerful passing offense that could certainly rack up 300+ yards. However, can they run the rock against the 49ers? If they can’t, those 300 yards will mostly come in garbage time. And while Matthew Stafford salvaged the game, the first half was extremely rough. If he turns over the ball like that again, this will be a laugher.
49ers 28, Lions 20
9. Jacksonville +7 Houston ***GAME OF THE WEEK*** LOSS
Jacksonville came out of last week’s game extremely banged up, and the fear is that they lack depth and could be seriously shorthanded against a Texans line that, at least publicly, is very highly rated. And this indeed may prove to be a huge problem giving Houston 2 straight laughers including the gimmee putt against the reeling Dolphins. But the Jags seem to be healing a bit better than anticipated and the hope is they will not field a total turnstile. If that’s the case, it’s the Texans that could be in for a really long day. The Jags can run the rock for sure, remember MJD? And they figure to move the ball in the air pretty well against the Texans, if their Qb survives. With those elements in place, its going to be a tough game for the Texans and the Jags could even pull off a bit of a shocker by upsetting the Texans.
Texans 24, Jags 20
10. Philadelphia -2.5 Baltimore (3.5 Stars) LOSS
Baltimore is the toast of the town as their offense looked good on Monday night. The Eagles struggled with the Browns, shocking many by having to pull out the game on the road. However, the Eagles are going to be a very tough team to beat in Philadelphia this season. They are one of the scariest teams on the ground, and the Ravens failed to shutdown the running game last week. And the offense can certainly run up big numbers. If the Ravens bring their A game, it certainly could be a fun wild game, but anything less and their odds of covering are slim as I feel the Eagles offense will be very productive.
Eagles 30, Ravens 27
11. Tampa Bay +7.5 New York Giants (3 Stars) ***WIN***
When this line posted, I spontaneously started to drool over the prospect of taking the Giants. Last season, this would have been one of the larger mismatches on the slate and Tampa’s passing offense was very disappointing in their win over Carolina. So why’d I go all the way to the other side on this one? I’ll give you 10 reasons: the total yards Carolina managed the entire game. If I’m the Giants, who had a lot of trouble running the ball against the Cowboys, that’s downright frightening. Now, Carolina was without Jonathan Stewart and certainly that was a factor, but Tampa’s defense looks vastly improved facing a yardage machine like Cam Newton and should give them a chance to hang in this game.
Giants 21, Bucs 17
12. Carolina +2.5 New Orleans (2 Stars) **WIN**
The Panthers draw the falling Saints at a good time here. Not only will Cam Newton register 2011 yardage, but Jonathan Stewart should return to bring life to a running game that generated an embarrassing 10 yards last week. Sure, Brees will toss the ball around, but it could be the Saints that struggle to get that 11th yard, so you have to love the Panthers getting points at home!
Panthers 26, Saints 24
13. Washington -3 St. Louis (2 Stars) LOSS
Jeff Fisher got off to a good start with the Rams, who looked really good at times defensively. They held the Lions on the ground and picked off Stafford like apples off a tree in the first half. Still, this is a work in progress and the Rams defense likely has some holes to fill. More concerning, the offense is still sputtering, particularly Steven Jackson who didn’t go far last week. This puts the Rams in real jeopardy with the red hot Redskins coming to town. RG3’s skills will challenge this team, and the running game – while maybe not as productive as it was against the Saints – will generate yards both on the feet of Morris and RG. I say ride that bandwagon another week, because there could be an encore performance!
Redskins 26, Rams 17
14. N.Y. Jets +6 Pittsburgh (2 Stars) LOSS
I think both offenses will play well against highly-rated, perhaps overrated, defenses. The Steelers should win this game, but I think 6 points is too rich in a matchup that should be closely contested. The Steelers failed to generate turnovers last season and I’d like to see more of that. While reasonably productive, I also think the Steelers running game is at risk and the line probably can’t hold off the Jets well enough for Roethlisberger to have anything more than a decent game.
Steelers 23, Jets 20
15. Cincinnati -6.5 Cleveland (2 Stars) **WIN**
This is a percentage play. The Bengals can clearly run the ball, and should rack up 200 yards on Cleveland easily. Cleveland figures to struggle with the forward pass and I don’t see them winning without a more potent air game. So will the Bengals cover? I think they’ll play a bit better than they did against the Ravens and that’ll be enough. A little pressure on the Browns passing game, and they’ll turnover the ball.
Bengals 26, Browns 17
16. Titans +6 Chargers (2 Stars) LOSS
We’ll see how Chris Johnson looks when he isn’t playing the Patriots in a game they fell behind in rather quickly. The Chargers without a RB are a scary sight, and they were extremely unimpressive squeezing out an 8 point win against a team that couldn’t punt. The Titans can outthrow them and if Johnson gets going, they figure to outrush them too…possibly by a large margin. I’m not laying 6 on that!
Chargers 21, Titans 17
1. Colts +9.5 Bears LOSS
This is the line I'd have expected last year. The Colts were horrendous last year, a team the Saints beat 62-9 before halftime. They have to be better this year! Are the Bears equally improved though? Luck will face a tough defense, that much is sure.
2. Jets -2½ -120 Bills **WIN**
I don't pay much attention to preseason. Last I checked, the Bills weren't very good and don't pose a tremendous threat to the Jets defense. I don't see how much has changed since last year. Sanchez sucks, so what else is new?
3. Saints -8 Redskins LOSS
Last year, the Saints would have 21 before the end of the first quarter. They figure to bring a pretty potent offense again. The Redskins bring a rookie QB who figures to have a slow adaption and we don't even know who their RB is going to be.
4. Bucs +2½ Panthers **WIN**
I think this is the "smart guy" play. Every casual fan knows Cam Newton, but few remember, uhmmm, the bucs qb dude. He has a lot to prove in this game, and many new weapons to prove it with. Remember, the Panthers weren't exactly world beaters even with Cam's gaudy numbers. I think this game could be about who wants it more and the Bucs need it.
5. Detroit -7.5 StL LOSS
The Lions have a great offense. The Rams? Not so much...Stafford is very underrated going into this season.
6. Bronocs -1.5 Steelers ***GOW WIN***
The best Qb returns and it will be with a thunder, not a whimper. The Steelers were hurt last year with their missing safety by Terrible Tebow, and the offense is extremely beaten up. All signs point to the Broncos having the upper hand in this rematch.