Things I am thankful for: going 10-5-1 in the picks last week. It was a nice change to get 10 wins in a weekend. It sure helped that we had a full slate of 16 games, but I was proud of the picks. Sure, we had a few stinkers (Packers +2 1/2? Raiders +8? Both games were blowouts) but underdog picks on the Dolphins, Jaguars and Chiefs were winners, along with laughers like the Patriots, Bears, and Panthers. And here we are in Week 13, the playoff races are tightening up so the Giants/Redskins, Ravens/Steelers and Seahawks/Bears game take on even more significance.
I went with 11 favorites this week. I don’t know why, I just think in those games the favorites are better than the spread indicates. But time will tell, and that’s the fun of the NFL, you never know who can pull that upset.
Stay in the loop. I usually tweet out some picks on Sunday morning, so follow me on Twitter (@Fantasource) to get the latest.
Another week of 10 winners? Ok, let’s do it…
Last Week: 10-5-1
Season Record: 76-69-3
Sunday, Dec. 2nd
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-3 1/2, O/U 37 1/2)
I’m calling an upset here. I think Seattle can win this game straight up. This is a battle of two great defenses. So which offense can do enough to get their team the win? Well, the Bears offense isn’t really lighting the world on fire. They put up 28 points on Minnesota last week but only mustered 296 yards of total offense. Seattle has scored 21+ points in 5 of the last six games. I think this will be a close, low scoring game, the defenses are probably even but the team with the better offense is Seattle, and they are getting points?
Yes, I know two Seattle DB’s tested positive for Adderall, but they should be playing this week. I’ll take the points and I even think the Seahawks can win this game outright.
Pick: Seahawks +3 1/2
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-8, O/U 46 1/2)
The Packers are coming home off of a bad loss to the Giants on Sunday night, and I think they will bounce back here. Laying over a touchdown is never something I like to do but I don’t think the Vikings will be able to keep this one close.
The Vikings lost to Chicago 28-10 last week on the road, now they stay on the road for another division game (their third division game in a row). The difference here will be the Packers passing game against a weak Vikings pass defense. I think Aaron Rodgers will have a big game and keep the Packers in the hunt for first place in the NFC North.
Pick: Packers -8
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (+7, O/U 40)
Three weeks ago the Rams went into Candlestick Park and pulled off a 24-24 tie, a big feat since they were 13-point underdogs. But this week will be a different story, the 49ers changed quarterbacks after that game (Alex Smith suffered a concussion) and the new QB, Colin Kaepernick, has been nothing short of amazing in the last two games. He has led the 49ers to two big wins, over the Bears and at the Saints, and I think he keeps the streak going this week.
This is a revenge game for the 49ers, because that tie may as well have been a loss, and I expect San Francisco to come out this week and put it to the Rams.
Look for the Rams to have trouble moving the ball this week, and Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers will move to 9-2 with the win and the cover.
Pick: 49ers -7
Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets (-4 1/2, O/U 36 1/2)
Everyone is dumping on the Jets this week and with good reason, they have been a disgrace for the past few games. And the display they put on against the Patriots last Thursday was just the icing on the cake. If you saw the game you know what I mean; they looked lost, the fans were booing even before halftime, Mark Sanchez was running head first into his linemen and the Pats cruised to a 49-19 win.
But despite all of that, I am going with the Jets. < ducks, avoids bottles being thrown at my head > Ok, ok, hear me out. This Jets team is playing poorly, no question. But the Cardinals aren’t very good either. They’ve lost seven games in a row and their quarterback is some guy named Ryan Lindley with a QB rating of 47 which puts him….. last in the league. I can’t really put my money on a sub-par rookie QB on the road (see: Foles, Nick).
I may be nuts, but I am going with the Jets at home. It’s now or never for Gang Green.
Pick: Jets -4 1/2
Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs (+3, O/U 40 1/2)
Give me the Panthers and get out of the way.
After last weeks “almost, but not good enough” effort against the Broncos I expect KC to have a letdown in this one. Let’s be honest, both teams stink but I’m putting my faith in Cam Newton. He had a good game on Monday night at Philly, and I think he can do it again here against a pretty bad defense.
On the other hand, the Panthers are 3-8, but they actually have a decent defense. And that defense should be able to shut down the worst offense in the league. The Chiefs haven’t scored over 16 points in the past 7 games. I don’t see that changing here.
The Panthers should be able to win this game with their defense alone. It won’t be pretty, but Carolina laying 3 points is the play.
Pick: Panthers -3
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions (-4 1/2, O/U 51)
I don’t know why this line is only 4 1/2 points. The Colts have a terrible defense. Now they go into Detroit and face a pretty good Lions offense. The Lions played well on Thanksgiving against the Texans and should have won the game, but a bad call on a late Arian Foster TD run, and some missed field goals sent them away with an overtime loss.
Detroit has lost three games in a row, but I think this week they will break that losing streak. Expect big games from Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, and maybe a TD or two from RB Mikel Leshoure.
The Colts are in the mix for a playoff spot but this is their third road game in four weeks, I think that catches up with them. I’ll take the Lions.
Pick: Lions -4 1/2
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills (-5 1/2 , O/U 45)
I never thought I’d write this sentence, but here it goes… I think Chad Henne will be the difference in this game. Henne has played well since taking over for Blaine Gabbert three weeks ago. He almost pulled off a win at Houston, and last week he led the Jags to a 24-19 win vs. Tennessee. The Jaguars’ season is over, at 2-8 they aren’t going anywhere but maybe this will give hope to their fans that next year could be better.
At 4-7 Buffalo isn’t going anywhere either, they came into this season with some people thinking they could challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title, but that thinking fell apart quickly. They’ve lost four of five games and are battling the Jets for last place in the division.
Neither team really has anything to play for so I’ll take the Jags and the quarterback with the hot hand.
Pick: Jaguars +5 1/2
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+7 1/2 , O/U 51)
I gotta take the Patriots in this one. Their offense is firing on all cylinders. They are averaging 47 points per game over their last four games. Unreal.
Miami pulled off an upset at home last week against the Seahawks on a last second field goal. The Dolphins have a decent defense and they may be able to slow down the Pats (maybe give up only 30 points?) but can they take advantage of a bad Patriots defense to keep the game within a field goal? No, I don’t think so. I like the Pats to cruise in this one and get the win and the cover, open a four game lead in the division and put the AFC East division race to bed.
Pick: Patriots -7 1/2
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (+5 1/2, O/U 47)
Texans, Texans, Texans. I’ll lay the points on the road here. I know everybody, and I mean everybody, is going to take the Texans this week and normally I like to go against a team that the public is in love with, but I can’t think of a reason for the Titans to be in this game.
These teams played in Week 4 and the Texans won 38-14. Expect more of the same here. The Texans should be able to move the ball without a problem, and I know they don’t want a repeat of the last two games where they had to go to overtime to get wins. They will jump out early and not look back, something like Houston 34-17 sounds about right.
I’ll lay the points on the road with the Texans.
Pick: Texans -5 1/2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos (-7, O/U 50)
Denver is playing as well as any team in the league over the past month or so. Six wins in a row, putting up 30+ points in 6 of 7 games.
But you know what, Tampa has also been putting up points. They are right there with Denver for most points per game (Denver 28.9 ppg, TB 28.2 ppg). So why are they getting 7 points? Probably because they are giving up 315 yards per game passing this season, and Denver is the #1 passing offense in the league.
Tampa will have trouble getting Doug Martin loose this week as Denver has one of the stingiest rush defenses in the league. Tampa has the #1 rushing defense unit (81.5 rush ypg) but that won’t matter, it’s going to be all Peyton, all day long.
I’ll lay the 7 points and expect Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas to have huge days and lead the Broncos to a 7th win in a row.
Pick: Broncos -7
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-6 1/2 , O/U 40)
Will Ben play? That is the big question. If it’s Ben, then maybe the Steelers have a chance, if it’s Charlie Batch then it’s gonna get ugly.
Batch played last week, and he looked terrible. He managed 199 yards and 3 INTs (no touchdowns) against the Browns. The Steelers as a group looked horrible on offense, committing 8 turnovers. They lost 16-10, which is an accomplishment in itself, because if they played a team with any kind of offense they would have lost by 30.
I’m going to assume Ben plays this week, and he is not 100% when he does. The Steelers need him back, they are right on the cusp of a playoff berth and a loss this week would probably knock them out of the last wildcard spot.
Still, even with the return of Ben I don’t think they can do it. I like Baltimore here. They beat the Steelers two weeks ago in Pittsburgh, they are averaging 37 points per game at home and I think they can take advantage of a banged up Steelers team and get a win and all but clinch the division. If the line is under a touchdown then I like the Ravens.
Pick: Ravens -6 1/2
Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders (-1 1/2 , O/U 45 )
Ugliest game of the week. Wow, who’s going to watch this one? Last week, Cleveland got a win at home against the Steelers (who committed 8 turnovers and were without Ben Roethlisberger), while the Raiders are in the midst of a four game losing streak, and have given up 34 points or more in those four games.
After looking at the matchups I’ll take the Browns. Both teams have pretty bad offenses, both averaging under 20 points per game. But the Raiders defense is the X factor here. They aren’t very good. They are giving up 32 points per game this season. I can’t say I expect Brandon Weeden (or Colt McCoy if Weeden can’t go due to a concussion) to run up 32 points, but I think Cleveland can get in the 20’s and that should be enough to get a win. I’m expecting something like Browns 27-17. Take the points, but you may not need them.
Pick: Browns +1 1/2
Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers (+2, O/U 46)
The Eagles have been the most disappointing team in the league, but not close behind them is the Chargers. 4-7? They have 2 wins in their last 9 games, and both wins are against the 1-10 Chiefs.
Cincinnati is riding a three game winning streak and I think they can continue that on the road this week.
The Bengals have played well during this three game winning streak, scoring 28 points or more and giving up 13 points or less in each of those games.
Not much more to say, the Chargers are floundering, and I like the Bengals to win this game and cover on the road.
Pick: Bengals -2
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-10, O/U 43)
I hate to pick against my Eagles, but I really have no choice. They looked terrible on Monday night, they have lost 7 games in a row, and they are 1-9-1 ATS this season.
Now Nick Foles is expected to go on the road into JerryWorld and pull out a win? That’s not going to happen. But can they keep it close enough to cover the 10 -point line? I’m not sure about that either. Dallas has only won one game this year by more than 10 points, but it was against the Eagles, by 15 in Philly.
Without Vick, without LeSean McCoy and without Desean Jackson it will be hard for the Eagles to find any offense. Plus, Dallas D-line is 4th in the pass rush. While the Eagles are 24th in pass protection. Nick Foles is in trouble. He has not had a very good start to his career the past few weeks, and he will have a hard time on Sunday night in Dallas. Eagles RB Bryce Brown had a nice game on Monday night, but I don’t think he can carry this offense on his back, on the road, in his 2nd game as a starter.
One trend in the Eagles’ favor is that divisional home favorites of 10+ points are only 1-5 this season against the spread. But despite that trend, I still like Dallas to win and cover and the Eagles nightmare season continues.
Pick: Cowboys -10
Monday, Dec. 3rd
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (+2 1/2, O/U 51)
This is going to be a good one. The suddenly frisky Redskins going against the “now we make our move” Giants.
New York always seems to take a nap during the middle of the season and this year was no exception. They had a recent four game stretch where they pulled out two close “should have lost” wins over the Redskins and Cowboys, and also two losses to the Steelers and Bengals. But last week they blasted the Packers, so it seems like they are back in the groove.
Washington is quietly making a move on the Giants and Cowboys and creeping into contention in the NFC East, they beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and this week they look to narrow the gap with the Giants on Monday night.
Monday night home dogs in division games are 1-8 against the spread in the last 9 games. So the whole “take the points at home on Monday night” theory isn’t really working here. But I still like the Redskins to win the game. RGIII is coming into his own more and more every week, he seems to be a much better player over the last two games (at Dallas, vs. Philadelphia), maybe the Redskins are using him better, or maybe he has gained enough confidence to know what he should and shouldn’t do on the field. He is scrambling and running when he needs to, but he is also throwing nice passes and leading long scoring drives as well.
I think this will be a close, high scoring game. I’ll take the points and I think the Redskins should be able to win this game straight up.
Pick: Redskins +2 1/2