Before we get to the picks, a tip of the hat to 49ers head coach and freaking hero Jim Harbaugh is necessary after he gave us one of the great moments in gambling history last night. Late in the fourth quarter Harbaugh turned down a safety (the Niners received the ball on a turnover on downs) and the game ended 13-6. Most lines had the Niners giving 7-9 points (boo yah) leaving the Seahawks with one of the most incredible covers ever.
Home teams in caps, lines courtesy of bet365.com
Titans (+3) over BILLS
I hate this game, for both football and gambling reasons. There are three reasons to watch this game: you’re from one of the two cities playing, you’re related to somebody on one of the teams, you’re a masochist. This has been a year of parity, however, so grab the points.
Titans 28, Bills 27
Cardinals (+6.5) over VIKINGS
The sexiness of the Cardinals has been all but washed away, and the Minnesota bandwagon keeps on chugging. These are two good-not-great teams, and to say there’s more than 4 points separating them seems foolish.
Vikings 24, Cardinals 20
COLTS (-2) over Browns
Fresh off a stoning from the Jets, the Colts should be motivated at home. And despite the the Browns winning last week they’re still, y’know, the Cleveland Browns. Andrew Luck has his bounce back game on, Colts win big.
Colts 30, Browns 17
TEXANS (-6.5) over Ravens
The Ravens beat the Cowboys last week (well okay, the Cowboys beat the Cowboys, as usual) while allowing 227 yards on the ground. The mythology of the Baltimore Ravens is that they’re always going to play elite defense, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth (22nd pass defense, 26th rush defense). And now they face Arian Foster, the best running back in football. Who is ready for some “Is Joe Flacco elite” discussion on Monday?
Texans 27, Ravens 20
RAMS (+5) over Packers
I have admittedly watched zero offensive snaps by the Rams, yet I have them winning outright against the Packers. Why? Is it because Packers fans are insufferable blowhards who practically think their team invented football? Of course not, that would just be petty.
Rams 26, Packers 24
PANTHERS (+2.5) over Cowboys
Speaking of insufferable fans and blowhards in general, the Cowboys are playing this week! Against Cam Newton! We should call this the Overrated Bowl, but I’m pretty sure you can already order those from KFC. Newton is quickly becoming an afterthought thanks to the current crop of rookies (even Ryan Tannehill is looking friskier out there), but the Cowboys circus might just be what the doctor ordered. Dallas misses yet another last second field goal as Cam salvages the season (for now).
Panthers 24, Cowboys 21
Saints (-2) over BUCCANEERS
Drew Brees looks to extend his record of consecutive games with a touchdo — what do you mean nobody cares anymore? Well in any case, the beautiful train wreck that is the 2012 New Orleans Saints’ season takes the stage again, so start every Buccaneer you own in fantasy. This one could be a lot of fun, as Josh Freeman and the Bucs hung around in an earlier shootout versus the Giants.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 27
REDSKINS (+6) over Giants
Game of the weekend. The Redskins have recently played the Giants tough (2-0 last season), and now they have Robert Griffin III. I know the Redskins secondary is beat up, and Eli Manning is your early favorite for MVP, but man. That run RG3 made last weekend was breathtaking, and it singlehandedly made up for the Nationals completing one of the worst collapses in postseason history.
Giants 34, Redskins 30
Jaguars (+4) over RAIDERS
Not the game of the weekend. (Tangent: terrible job by the NFL slating only two afternoon games this week. What gives?) Unfortunately, this game has to be played, and somebody has to win it (just ask Donovan McNabb!). If Maurice Jones-Drew has a break out game in him it’s bound to come off a bye week against a bad team. Look out Oakland.
Jaguars 23, Raiders 10
PATRIOTS (+10.5) over Jets
If you are laying money on this game you’re a braver soul than I. Sure, the Jets are terrible. And yes, the Pats are once again an offensive machine. But to give up 10.5 points in a division game against a team you’re currently tied with? I just don’t see it. Then again, Mark Sanchez in a game where he’s bound to be trailing early isn’t exactly all that enticing either.
Patriots 34, Jets 17
Steelers (-1) over BENGALS
These AFC North games are going to be great, with three teams (sorry Cleveland) having a shot to take the crown (Baltimore may be 5-1 but they’ve yet to play a division game). The return of Rashad Mendenhall is going to be huge for Pittsburgh, who can now hopefully add a running dimension to their pass-happy offense.
Steelers 24, Bengals 19
BEARS (-6.5) over Lions
Detroit is my fraud of the year (honorable mention: New Orleans), and Chicago my NFC favorite. Simple math. People may hate on Jay Cutler, but you’re a dolt if you think he’s worse than Matthew Stafford. However, if Stafford can get it together we may see some fireworks, as each former SEC quarterback has a cannon for an arm.
Bears 34, Lions 27
BYE: Falcons, Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, Chargers
Last week’s record: 3-9
Overall record: 49-40-1