We’ve put together back-to-back winning weeks in the NFL. In the last two weeks, we’ve posted a 5-2 ATS record. We’re looking to pull off a trifecta of winning weeks. I’ve got three picks for you this week and I’m liking them all, handing out 4/5 star picks like it’s Thanksgiving. Feel free to disagree, but we showed the haters last week who tried to call me out on my Chargers (-4) over Broncos and Bengals (+1) over Jaguars picks. This week I’m going with the Lions, Raiders, and Saints.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ DETROIT LIONS (-4)
I have been riding the Lions all year this season as I’ve been hyping them beyond belief the entire season. They’re 4-0-1 ATS. Why stop now? The Lions could very possibly have the best defensive line. Don’t think so? Name another. 11th in sacks, 4th in interceptions, 8th in forced fumbles, 12th in yards allowed, and 4th in points allowed. Does that sounds like the Detroit Lions to you? The 49ers have a very good defense too, no doubt about that. They’re 2nd in points allowed, 13th in yards allowed, and 5th against the rush, but you know what? They’re ranked 23rd against the pass, giving up 264.4 yards-per-game. And they’re facing some fella named Calvin Johnson and his 451 yards (90.9 YPG) and 9 TDs (1.8 TDs/Game).
I’m not overly impressed with the 49ers offense despite their dubious 28.4 PPG (ranked 7th in the NFL). Their yardage per game tells the true story (300 YPG ranked 27th in the NFL). They rely on the run where they’re ranked 12th to bail out their sorry passing game (ranked 27th). If there’s a team that can stop the run, it is the Lions who give up just 114.8 rushing yards per game (ranked 18th). They held Adrian Peterson to 78 yards, the whole Bucs offense to 66 rushing yards, and the 116 yards they gave up to Matt Forte didn’t look like it on tape. The Lions play back-to-back games at home. I would give up 6.5 to take them since I feel the Lions will win this one by 7 or more. Maybe the books are giving you the low spread in the event that the Lions have a “hangover game” after an “emotional” Monday Night game — their first Monday Night game in a decade. I think the odds of that happening are about 15%. The 49ers do have a tough D, so they could keep this one close, but the Lions put up 24 on a tough Bears D and shut their offense down to 13 points thanks to their D-line. I think you see the Lions go 6-0 and compete with the Packers as the only remaining undefeated teams.
Prediction: Lions 24 – 49ers 17
Free Pick Against the Spread: Lions -4 (Confidence: 4/5)
CLEVELAND BROWNS @ OAKLAND RAIDERS (-6.5)
THE RAIDERS are legit. How quickly the tides turn in the NFL: the Raiders, Bills, Lions, and 49ers are all good football teams. The Raiders boast the 2nd best run game with Darren McFadden. They’re ranked 8th on offense in yards gained and 9th in points scored. They spanked the Jets at home. They beat the Texans on the road. Jason Campbell is looking comfortable in this offense. The Raiders defense ranks 31st in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed, but I say they’re better than what their stats say since the Patriots game should be an outlier and the Raiders were involved in a wild shootout in Buffalo.
They did give up 369 yards to Sanchez, 416 yards to Schaub, and 264 yards and 3 TDs to Fitzpatrick, which is alarming, but the Browns don’t necessarily have a passing game that strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. The Browns gain just 235 passing yards per game (ranked 17th) and their run game is even worse, 85 yards per game (ranked 27th). On defense, the Browns rank 25th in the NFL against the run. Look for a big game from Run DMC. The Browns gave up 27 points to the Bengals and 31 points to the Titans. The Raiders should have a big game. The only potential “trap” is the Browns having two weeks to prepare for the Raiders thanks to the bye week, but I see that as a non-factor with them being on a tough road game in the Black Hole.
Prediction: Raiders 31 – Browns 17
Free Pick Against the Spread: Raiders -6.5 (Confidence: 4/5)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-4.5) @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
If there’s one team I haven’t been impressed by based on my expectations coming into this season, it’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite their 3-2 record, I don’t think they’ve played up to it, and they look more like a 2-3 team to me. They score just 17.4 PPG (ranked 28th) and give up 25 PPG (ranked 22nd). They barely beat the Colts at home on a Monday Night game, they escaped with a win against the Falcons at home thanks to their defense, and are coming off a 48-3 loss to the 49ers, where Gore/Hunter went off for 190 rushing yards. The Saints should be able to put up points like they always have and I don’t have any faith in the Bucs offense to do the same. Josh Freeman has a 74.1 passer rating compared to last year’s 95.9 passer rating. Unless his game returns to 2010 form, I think you’ll see the Bucs continue to struggle on offense.
Prediction: Saints 27 – Bucs 17
Free Pick Against the Spread: Saints -4.5 (Confidence: 4/5)
BONUS PLAY — 8-TEAM 6-POINT TEASER– 15:1 ODDS
Lions (+2), Raiders (-0.5), Saints (+1.5), Bengals (-1), Patriots (-0.5), Jets (-1), Ravens (-1.5), Steelers (-6)
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