BALTIMORE RAVENS -7 @ CINCINNATI BENGALS (PERSONAL FAVORITE)
The Ravens defense should make the Bengals look like a high school team. I expect a minimum of 3 turnovers to be forced by that Ravens defense. The Bengals injury list is about a mile long and includes T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Probable), S Chinedum Ndukwe (Doubtful), DE Antwan Odom (Doubtful), Chad Johnson (Probable), Carson Palmer (Out Indefinitely). However, the Ravens injury list is pretty long too and unfortunately includes Chris McAllister (IR), Sammarri Rolle (Questionable), Le’Ron McClain (Probable), and Derrick Mason (Probable).
I say that the Ravens defense dominates, holds the Bengals to under 6 and the Ravens coast to about 24 points (Bengals give up an average of 25 PPG) to cover in comfortable fashion. Out of all the games I previewed so far, this is the one I love most since it’s the most one-sided. The Bengals have the league’s worst offense against a tough Ravens D. The Bengals should not get more than 13 points and the Ravens should be due for at least 20 seeing as the Bengals give up an average of 25. I’m putting 6 units on the Ravens.
* I may just be in love with this game because my logic is saying if the Eagles tie the Bengals and the Ravens kills the Eagles, the Ravens must kill the Bengals.
DENVER BRONCOS @ NEW YORK JETS -8
This is a bad spread to taker regardless of which team you take. I say Jets win by 7-10. I like the Jets offense to score in bunches, but the Broncos can keep pace, but the Jets defense is tough. I’m leaning more towards a Jets cover and I do see them dominating this game, but the 8 points is too much against an offense that can score.
SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS @ BUFFALO BILLS -6.5
The Bills finally had their rebound game last week at the Chiefs. I expect the 49ers to struggle on the East, which has been the trend of the year. I say the Bills win by a TD, but the 49ers have a good enough chance of covering for me to pass on this one.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS -4
The Saints proved me wrong last week. I underestimated their home-field advantage against a strong Packers team. Drew Brees was insane, but he’ll be facing a much better defense on the road. The Bucs aren’t 8-3 by accident. They know how to win games and their defense is stout. 3rd in points allowed. 4th in yards allowed. Saints barely won the first one in New Orleans, winning by a score of 24-20. Brees finally has all his offensive weapons back, so I’m going to say Saints have a solid chance of covering with the 4 points, but it’s no easy match against the Bucs. The Saints have struggled a bit on the road, but I like the way their offense exploded with Colston and Shockey. Now, they’ll have Reggie Bush too. Saints may be the play with +4, but I’m in love with it due to the stingy Bucs D and Saints on the road.
CAROLINA PANTHERS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS -3
I want to say take the Panthers since the Packers let me down last week, but that was on the road. This week they’ll be at home and in the cold where they have thrived and the Panthers have not. The Panthers are playing very good football, but I don’t like their chances in Green Bay. I see this game going either way, so I’ll avoid this one.
NEW YORK GIANTS -3.5 @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg, but there is no life-threatening damage. I’m not joking. Since this one is in Washington and the Giants are without Plaxico, that helps the Redskins chances, but the Giants have been able to win without Plaxico. Their running game hasn’t failed them and Hixon and Steve Smith have been able to get the job done along with Amani Toomer and Kevin Boss. The defense should shut the Redskins down and Clinton Portis is banged up and playing as questionable, but he played great last week against the Seahawks when he was questionable. I see the Giants getting the early lead, Redskins will hang around with for a bit, but eventually fall in the 4th quarter. Giants win 24-20. Redskins stand a chance to cover 3.5, but I prefer the 10-1 Giants even without Plaxico. They’re road warriors too, so it doesn’t bother me that they’re on the road.
MIAMI DOLPHINS -9 @ ST. LOUIS RAMS
The Rams allow 31 PPG and are 30th against the run. That doesn’t spell good things for the Rams when Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams come to down. Stephen Jackson may be back, but I don’t think it matters. The Rams are extremely bad and I think the Dolphins will cover, but giving up 9 points on the Dolphins on the road bothers me a bit. I’ll consider the Dolphins, just gotta think it over more.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -4.5 @ CLEVELAND BROWNS
I love the Colts in this one. They just won on the road against the Chargers to make it 4-straight wins. 7-4 vs. 4-7 and 4-0 vs. 1-3 in their last 4. I think the Colts are good play. They have been scoring well against tougher defenses. I’ll put 3 units on the Colts. They should easily win by 10.
ATLANTA FALCONS @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -5
The Chargers offense has been average and their pass defense has been a huge liability, which doesn’t bode well when they have to face Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Michael Turner, and company. The Chargers pass defense is ranked 32nd. The Chargers are averaging only 25 PPG, which matches the Falcons, but the Chargers allow slightly more points. Couple that with the fact that the Falcons are 7-4 compared to the Chargers 4-7, so I like my chances by taking the 5 points. Even if the Chargers comes out with a 24-20 win, I’m in the money. This is a good spot to take the 5. I’ll put 3 units on the Falcons.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -1
I’ve been a Matt Cassel hater at the beginning of the year, but he’s really gotten it together. Passing for over 400 yards in the last two games. I obviously don’t expect another 400 yards against this defense. In fact, he may not even get 200 yards, but the Patriots have been playing very well and I don’t want to bet against them at home even though I think the Steelers come out on top.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ OAKLAND RAIDERS-3
The Chiefs looked like a complete joke last week, but they also almost beat the Chargers on the road. I like the Raiders in this one and they’re coming off a huge win on the road against the Broncos, but I can never get myself to bet on the Raiders. Ever since their -2 yards of offense in the first half one week, that’s enough to never take them although I think they’ll win this one and cover.
CHICAGO BEARS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS -3.5
The Vikings have been hot lately, but they have a tough test against the Bears defense. The Bears can shut down the run and the Vikings are only as good as their running game. I’m not going to take my chances against the Bears run defense. I say Minnesota covers, but the Bears solid D is preventing me from taking this one.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ HOUSTON TEXANS -3
I don’t have a lot of faith in either team. I’ll get back to this one on Monday Night.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
My favorite games this week are the Ravens (-7 over Bengals), which I put 6 units on. I also put 3 units on the Colts (-4.5 over Browns) and Falcons (+5 over Chargers).
I have been striking out on the teasers, but it’s usually just 1 team that’ll screw me. I’ll still throw in a 1-unit, 7-team teaser (pays 12:1) on the following: Bills (PK), Jets (-1.5), Colts (+2.5), Dolphins (-2), Falcons (+12), Steelers (+8), Giants (+3.5), Ravens (PK), and Saints (+11).
My last play is a 3-unit, 3-team teaser (pays 4:3): Jets, Ravens, and Bills. All three are pick ’ems. I took them because the Jets and Bills are at home against weak defenses (Broncos and 49ers). The Ravens have to come through on the road, but the Bengals average 13 points per game — i.e., they’re not going to score much on the Ravens defense.
As always, the NFL has been crazy. Anything can happen. Use your own judgment. Thanksgiving Day picks were 2-0, but this is a tough week in the NFL. Good luck to everyone.
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