Not only did our resident degenerate gambler Greg Kaplan post his first sub-9 loss week, he posted a winning record! Don’t worry though, he still found a way to be frustrated after entering the Sunday night game 8-4. But hey, take what you can and move on.
What does he have in store for us this week? Is this the continuation of a turnaround? God, we hope so.
Last Week: 8-6
Look at that. Isn’t that cute? A winning record? But seriously, what the hell San Diego and Houston? Can’t get me to double digit wins? What did I ever do to you?
Alright, I move on…
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) @ Tennessee Titans
Last week, I thought it was a little strange that the Steelers were favored at home against the Eagles considering that Pittsburgh had under-performed all year, while the Eagles were the kings of the close game wins. Well, picking the Eagles did prove worthy, as they continued to play close games and covered the spread.
There are some important pro-Steelers things to take away from the Philly game, including the win. None are more important than the return to health of Rashard Mendenhall. Pittsburgh has been punchless in the run game all year, but Mendenhall made an immediate impact despite being restricted. Going up against the Titans, who continue to underwhelm and will be playing without Jake Locker for a second week seems to be the ideal match-up.
The Pick: Steelers
Oakland Raiders @ Atlanta Falcons (-9.5)
Resident Raiders fan and good friend of the blog John Yorke tried to point out to me that the Falcons have a hard time against a good running game and that outside of the Chiefs, the Falcons haven’t laid the smack down on anyone. My counter: Oakland just isn’t anything to worry about this year. That, and Run DMC has been far from what experts thought he would be this season. The Falcons are riding high at 5-0. I’m going to ride that wave until it crashes against the shore.
The Pick: Falcons
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) @ Cleveland Browns
There I was, sitting at the assignment desk at WTOC listening to a police scanner, updating our station’s website and keeping tabs on the only two games I could. Imagine my excitement when after picking the Browns as a 10.5-point underdog when they busted out to a quick 14-0 lead on the road. Even if the Giants came back in the game, there’s no way they’re going to outscore the Browns by 25 points from here on out! Right? Right ?!?!?
Wrong. Tragic. Thought I had it. With that said, it would be foolish to pick the Bengals who need a bounce back after a disappointing showing against the Dolphins. The likes of The Law Firm, A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Andy Dalton and Jermaine Gresham should have fun against whatever you want to call the Cleveland defense.
The Pick: Bengals
St. Louis Rams @ Miami Dolphins (-4.5)
If you listened to our podcast this week, you would’ve heard me being a devil’s advocate to Vinny’s selection of his Fins. 48 hours later and thinking about it more, I don’t know how the Rams win this game. Danny Amendola is out with injury and Steven Jackson, who has been ineffective all year long, is now going up against the #1 rush defense in the league. The Rams beat the Cardinals (a team the Dolphins should’ve beaten, too) by 14 despite their anemic offense. The Dolphins offer many more weapons than the Cardinals, and yes I remember Larry Fitzgerald. Take the better defense and the more balanced offense in this one.
The Pick: Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts @ New York Jets (-3.5)
I counted the crazy spreads last week. Not to be redundant, but this spread is cRaZyYyYy. Really? One week after the Colts marched back from a 21-3 halftime deficit, capping it off with the last minute game-winning touchdown drive orchestrated by Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, we’re going to give them points against a team with a astronomically worse offense and arguably worse defense? What about this makes sense to anyone? At the risk that this is actually a computer glitch, I’m taking the points and the Colts at the risk of someone going back and correcting this before I can.
The Pick: Colts
Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
While we’re at it, this one feels a little crazy, too. The Eagles are yet to beat an opponent by more than two points, and have played in only one game where the final was more than a field goal. Working on that notion, why are we making them a favorite by nearly a touchdown? The Lions offense, while it has been sputtering this season, is good enough to keep pace with the Eagles. Michael Vick is a few weeks and a couple fumbles away from getting benched. This is going to be a close game. That’s why you should pick the Lions and not think twice about it.
The Pick: Lions
Dallas Cowboys @ Baltimore Ravens (-4.5)
I looked long and hard for reasons to pick the Cowboys in this game after a bye week. Couldn’t find a one. Tony Romo? Nope, still have the taste of five interceptions in my mouth. DeMarco Murray? Nope, has disappointed all season thus far going up against a solid defense. I will say that the Cowboys defense is plenty good enough to keep the Ravens from putting up more than 21 points, but I have absolutely no faith in Dallas scoring enough points to make this a game. I’m thinking something along the lines of a 17-3 final.
Side note: Vinny called me out on all my whacky final score predictions that we don’t keep track of for some reason. Starting now, we’re keeping track of these kind of things.
The Pick: Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
Brady Quinn is likely to start this game for the Chiefs. Need I say more? Want one more reason to pick the Bucs? Gerald McCoy is a one-man running back eating machine. Ta-daaa.
The Pick: Bucs
New England Patroits (-4.5) @ Seattle Seahawks
If the Seahawks played any other team last week not named the Titans or Bills, they probably would’ve lost. The won because somehow Cam Newton played worse than Russell Wilson. If you think Seattle is going to be able to make the exact same mistakes against the Pats and be able to keep this game competitive, you’re nuts. Yes, the Seahawks defense is in the Top 7 in the league. Yes, Seattle is a tough place to play. But this is Tom Brady. And he finally has a dynamic run game to back-up his passing genuis. And he may be getting Aaron Hernandez back. Be smart here, people.
The Pick: Patriots
Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
The Buffalo Bills have been outscored 90-10 in their last 5 1/2 quarters. Let that sink in for a moment.
You good now? Great. The Cardinals offense is certainly not on the level of the 49ers or the Patriots, but they do have Larry Fitzgerald and honestly William Powell may be their best running back they’ve started so far. Their defense is still lights out, and I really don’t think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel just yet in Buffalo. Their travel has been borderline unfair. They went to San Fran, back home to Buffalo to practice this week, only to head back out to Arizona. That’s just mean.
The Pick: Cardinals
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)
Ahmad Bradshaw is not going to rush for 200 yards this week. Eli Manning is going to be uncomfortable in the pocket, making the lack of Hakeem Nicks all the more evident. I don’t think the 49ers are poised to blow out the Giants in a revenge game of last year’s NFC Championship game, but thinking they’re capable of beating the Giants by more than a touchdown is totally within the realm of possibility. I do think the 49ers have found themselves a gem with Colin Kaepernick as a change-of-pace option to give Alex Smith a breather now and then. He’s everything the Jets thought Tim Tebow would be.
Yes, I know the Giants are incredible against the spread on the road. But, the day I find myself rooting for the New York Giants against my San Francisco 49ers is the day you find me face down in a shallow pool not breathing. I’d rather lose the money then be at a bar rooting for the Giants. Fact.
The Pick: 49ers
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins (-2.5)
At first, I thought this spread was ridiculous because I was working under the assumption that Robert Griffin III wasn’t going to play due to his concussion. Apparently, I was dead wrong. RG3 is suiting up and he’ll be playing on Sunday. Had Griffin stayed healthy last week, I think the Redskins would’ve knocked off the Falcons. While I am a true believer in the Vikings this year, this has all the makings of a let down game after that thrashing of the Titans last week. This one will be close throughout, and I can totally see the Redskins winning by a field goal.
Even though their kicker, you know, can’t make field goals. God, I don’t feel good about this pick anymore…
The Pick: Redskins
Green Bay Packers @ Houston Texans (-4.5)
You want to know the difference between the Texans and the Packers right now? The Packers under-performed last week and lost to the Chuckstrong Colts on a last second drive. Meanwhile, the Texans under-performed on Monday Night Football in New York and still won by 6. Green Bay are without Cedric Benson for an extended period of time, and their running game was already in shambles. As great as Aaron Rodgers is, the Texans defense (J.J. Watt specifically) has the potential to eat up everything about the Cheese Heads.
Oh, and Arian Foster is really, really good. Imagine what would happen if Andre Johnson got back on the same page with Matt Schaub, who is undefeated in his last 9 starts.
The Pick: Texans
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers (-3.5)
Damn you, Philip Rivers and Norv Turner! DAMN YOU BOTH! They were up 24-14. I was cruising to a 9-4 Sunday. But no. No. Nope. Take it away from me, why don’t you.
All the Broncos need to do is stay in the game early. Yes, that may actually be asking a lot. They’ve fallen behind by 20 points and have to claw their way back into games multiple times this season. The Chargers aren’t the type of team to put distance between their opponents. Or, for that matter, keep a lead. Believe in the Noodle!
That’s a reference to Peyton Manning’s right arm, in case you didn’t get it.
The Pick: Broncos