We're a little late in getting to these, and for that we apologize. We did have a pretty good week last week, going even money against the number and 10-3 straight-up. Sadly, we managed not to pick two games because, at the time we wrote our original picks, there weren't lines on Rams/Cardinals and Patriots/Eagles, and yours truly failed to update things to pick those games, so we've just tossed those two out.
So, with no further ado, let's get into this week's picks, shall we? Keep in mind, we're 1-0 this week (both straight-up and against the spread) thanks to our brilliant pick of Seattle over Philadelphia this past Thursday night, so we're off to a decent start.
Man, what a couple of weeks it's been for the Houston Texans. They lose Matt Schaub to a foot injury, get Matt Leinart all ready to go, and Leinart actually looks pretty good for a half. . .until he gets dumped on his shoulder and breaks his collarbone, ending his season, too. So the Texans, who should cruise to the AFC South title despite the injuries, turn to rookie T.J. Yates to run their ship.
I've seen a lot of people taking the Falcons in this one, based on the supposition that Yates can't lead the Texans' offense to a lot of points. He might not have to. . .at last check, the Texans still have Arian Foster and Ben Tate carrying the proverbial mail, and still play hellacious defense. Matt Ryan and company are going to have to make the most of their possessions, because the Texans will likely shorten the game enough where they won't get many. This one really is a toss-up, but I'll go with the home team.
Straight-Up - Texans, ATS - Texans
The Niners are favored by more than 15 points? Do you think the Rams are going to score 15 points in this one?
Yeah, neither do I.
Straight-Up - Niners, ATS - Niners
The Dolphins are favored here? Really? I mean, I know they're at home and Raiders' linebacker Rolando McClain spent his week in Alabama shooting at people and all that, but come on. The Raiders are still the better team here, as Carson Palmer continues to get comfortable in the Raiders' offense. The Dolphins played themselves out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes with their recent three-game winning streak, but they've still be atrocious at home recently, and I think the Raiders will take this one in what's really only an upset in Vegas.
Straight-Up - Raiders, ATS - Raiders
The Rest of the Week
In the two games the Chiefs have played since Tyler Palko took over as the starting quarterback, he's thrown six interceptions. The Chiefs might even start newly-acquired Kyle Orton in this one against his former team. Regardless of who the Chiefs start at quarterback, I don't think it's going to make a huge difference in this one. The Bears are in the playoff hunt in the NFC, and they know it. They may be starting Caleb Hanie at quarterback, but I think with their defense, combined with the lack thereof from Kansas City, is going to equate to a victory for the Bears in this one.
Straight-Up - Bears, ATS - Bears
The Titans still have a shot at the AFC South, although it seems to be a bit of a long shot. The Bills, on the other hand, are fading fast in the AFC East. These two teams are going in opposite directions, as the Titans are looking for their fourth consecutive win, while the Bills are looking to avoid a fifth consecutive loss after starting the season 5-2. Fred Jackson is out of this one for Buffalo, as he's been placed on the injured reserve list, and I'm not sure how well the Buffalo defense is going to function without him. Look for these teams to continue on their current tracks in this one.
Straight-Up - Titans, ATS - Titans
This was originally supposed to be the prime-time game on Sunday night. Now it's such an afterthought that it's been moved to a 1 PM Eastern time kickoff. And do you know what's scary? I don't think there's any way that the Patriots don't cover this spread. Heck, they could add another ten points to it, and I'd still pick the Patriots to win and cover. This is going to be one ugly, ugly football game, ladies and gentlemen. It isn't Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning any more.
Straight-Up - Patriots, ATS - Patriots
The Jets need a win in this one to stay relevant in the AFC playoff picture. The Redskins need this one to. . .well, to stay ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the NFC East basement. Washington snapped their six-game losing streak last week, but they're still a dumpster fire, and they're going to find the Jets' defense slightly less hospitable than the one they faced last weekend in Seattle. I'm not sure why the Jets are only favored by a point in this one, to be honest.
Straight-Up - Jets, ATS - Jets
This is a battle for the basement in the NFC South. The difference is that the Buccaneers were supposed to be pretty good this season, while the Panthers were expected to be awful. It's also a tale of two quarterbacks, as Cam Newton is likely going to be your Rookie of the Year (though he'll be challenged by Cincinnati's Andy Dalton), while Josh Freeman has shown some serious regression from what appeared to be a breakout season in 2010. Both of these teams are pretty bad defending the run, too. . .I think the Panthers have a better chance of exploiting that than the Buccaneers do.
Straight-Up - Panthers, ATS - Panthers
The Cincinnati Bengals have played both Pittsburgh and Baltimore close in the past couple of weeks, but wound up with two losses for their efforts. As of now, the Bengals are holding down a playoff spot in the AFC, but if they want to stay there, they're going to need a win in this one. I don't know if Andy Dalton can go into Heinz Field and pull this one off, but like their last match-up, I expect it to be close. When it's all said and done, though, it's hard to go against Pittsburgh in this one.
Straight-Up - Steelers, ATS - Bengals
The Ravens have showed a disturbing propensity of following up big wins with embarrassing losses this season. They got a big win on Thanksgiving night over San Francisco, racking up nine sacks in the process. Yes, it's a division game, throw the records out the window, yadda yadda yadda. I don't see any way Baltimore blows this one.
Straight-Up - Ravens, ATS - Ravens
I'm starting to resign myself to the fact that the Packers are probably going to make it through the regular season undefeated. And, as a Viking fan, that sucks. On the other hand, if they do crash and burn like the 2007 Patriots, that will make everything okay. As far as this one, though, the Giants are starting to fall apart, as is their wont in the second half of the season under Tom Coughlin. I don't see any way they put Green Bay's first loss on them here.
Straight-Up - Packers, ATS - Packers
It sounds like the Cardinals might get Kevin Kolb back this week. Unless he can play defense, I'm not sure how much he's going to help Arizona. If they had a special teams Rookie of the Year, I'm pretty sure that Patrick Peterson would get it, but he and Beanie Wells are pretty much the lone bright spots in the desert this year. The Cowboys know they have a chance to take control of the NFC East with the Giants likely losing to Green Bay, and they should take full advantage of that.
Straight-Up - Cowboys, ATS - Cowboys
Since getting off to a 5-0 start, the Lions are 2-4, and are playing this one with out defensive tackle/cheap shot artist extraordinaire Ndamukong Suh, who will be serving the first half of his two-game suspension for this one. Granted, the Lions weren't going into New Orleans and beating the Saints with Suh. . .but his loss, coupled with the fact that Matthew Stafford has developed an acute case of color-blindness in the past few weeks, pretty much guarantees that they're going to lose by a lot.
Straight-Up - Saints, ATS - Saints
Least interesting Monday night game ever? Least interesting Monday night game ever. But, since I'm dominating the "bad quarterback league" I'm in with some friends due largely to the play of Blaine Gabbert, I'd like to see that continue. Let's go with the Chargers to get off the schneid here.
Straight-Up - Chargers, ATS - Chargers
Straight-Up For Season: 101-60 (10-3 last week)
ATS For Season: 76-78-7 (6-6-1 last week)
Lock of the Week: 6-5
Upset of the Week: 4-7