San Francisco 49ers +7 @ Detroit Lions
One of these young, upstart squads has to falter at some point. Detroit’s offense has gotten off to slow starts each of the past three weeks. Eventually, as I’ve written, that has to catch up with them. San Francisco has the team to take advantage. They can run the ball, control the pace, and have the defense to tamp down on Detroit’s offensive attack.
St. Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers -14
The Packers are a full-blown juggernaut while the Rams are…what’s the opposite of juggernaut? Bottom-feeder? That doesn’t have the same ring to it. I propose the word “Lucktastic”!
Carolina Panthers +5.5 @ Atlanta Falcons
Purely a feel pick, as you really shouldn’t trust rookies on the road. My defense:
-its Cam freaking’ Newton!
-It’s in a dome and the Falcons can’t play defense.
-Julio Jones has been ruled out meaning the Falcons are down to Roddy White and…and…and…
-One last point: overlook Carolina’s offense at your own risk. It’s extremely legitimate.
Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals -2
I know, I know, the Bengal’s accomplished the rare feat of making the Jaguars look competent, but still, they’re a decent squad. As I wrote in my ‘Morning After’ column, the Andy Dalton-AJ Green draft picks are working out pretty well. I tried to come up with a reason to like the Colts, but then I realized their defense allowed Kansas City Quarterback Matt Cassel to have this line: 21 of 29, 257 yards with 4 TD’s and 0 picks. Oh, and in that same game running back Jackie Battle—who you have probably never heard of—ran for 119 yards on 19 carries. I rest my case.
Buffalo Bills @ New York Giants -1.5
Here’s what we know: The Giants are incredibly inconsistent, they struggle to run the ball, their pass rush is fierce, and the Bills are good at forcing turnovers but that’s about it defensively. After a miserable outing against the Seahawks it’s time for the Giants to convince everyone they’re good again, right? Oh, and here are some stats because I’m obligated to be informative: Per DVOA, the Bills own the league’s 20th best run defense. Could this be the game New York finally gets its ground game on track?
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers -11
The Jaguars are a painful team to watch—don’t let their semi-competent game against the Bengal’s fool you. THEY SUCK.
Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 @ Washington Redskins
We’ve got two rather powerful psychological factors in play for this contest: a revenge game for the Redskins after getting slaughtered by the Eagles on Monday Night Football last season, and an Eagles team with its back to the wall—in desperate need of a win. If Philadelphia loses they’ll likely need to go at least 9-1 the rest of the way to secure a playoff spot. I see an Eagles win here, even if Washington’s pass rush scares the hell out of me.
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens -6.5
You don’t run on the Ravens, you just don’t. Are we sure the Texans can sustain a passing attack again the best pass defense in the NFL without Andre Johnson? I highly doubt it.
Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders -5
Oakland’s the best running team in the league while the Browns are giving up over 120 yards a game on the ground. That simple stat tells me all I need to know…
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots -1
This Rob Ryan vs. the Patriots offense narrative is actually starting to scare me. He DID devise a scheme capable of shutting down New England’s vaunted offense with the Browns, who happened to be last year’s 17th ranked defense. Imagine what he’ll be able to devise with the talent of the Cowboy’s defense?
Here’s what’s keeping me from taking Dallas: their secondary. New England’s spread attack is the perfect offensive scheme to take advantage of that defensive weakness. This game could easily go into the seventies—or even eighties, and I trust the Patriot’s offense just a little bit more.
New Orleans Saints -7 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers aren’t as bad as they showed in a 45 point loss to the 49ers. I firmly believe that, HOWEVER, if you can’t throw you can’t beat the Saints—their offense is simply too good. Tampa Bay Quarterback Josh Freeman has averaged 231 pass yards per game, half a touchdown, and an interception. I rest my case.
Minnesota Vikings +3 @ Chicago Bears
New rule: under no circumstances shall you put faith (or money) in the Chicago Bears if they’re up against an elite pass rush. Just don’t do it. Cutler was—dare I say heroic—against the Lions fierce pass rush on Monday Night Football, but he can’t do it two weeks in a row, can he?
By the way, here’s a good under the radar story if you’re tired of ESPN force-feeding us the same tired narratives of Tony Romo, Brandon Marshall is insane, the Packers are kinda good, and Tony Romo: Jared Allen is having a MONSTER season. 8.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Fairly certain the Bears don’t have a soul that can block him.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets -9
As many things that have gone wrong for the Jets in 2011, pass defense is not one of them. Despite giving up over 300 yards to Tom Brady last week, the Jets still have the league’s second best pass defense per the Football Outsiders DVOA metric. Recall that the Dolphins are starting Quarterback Matt Moore (a journeyman at best…although he did throw 8 TD’s to 2 interceptions in 2009) and Brandon Marshall has vowed to get ejected by the middle of the second quarter. Yup, he’s still crazy, and the Dolphins still suck.
Last Week: 10-3
Upset of the Week: San Francisco 49ers OVER Detroit Lions
Lock of the Week: Minnesota Vikings OVER Chicago Bears
Pounding of the Week: Green Bay Packers OVER St. Louis Rams