For the Win - Week 8
Updated 10/29 by Jeff Pasquino, Exclusive for Footballguys.com
Well now -that's more like it! A nearly perfect week in the best Bets and a 9-3-1 record for Week 7 is pretty darn good. Only the Pick of the Week continued to confound me as Atlanta failed to show up against the Cowboys, but I'll still take the 7-2-1 record for Best Bets. Now that I'm over 54% in all categories for the year, I can hopefully kick it up another notch the rest of the way. As always, you must stay humble as last week means nothing for the week ahead. I do see a few interesting lines, but it could be another wacky blowout kind of week. Let's see how it shakes out, shall we?
Let's get going and make some picks!
Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.
DALLAS (-9.5) vs. SEATTLE
So last week I called Dallas a fraud. I'm still not sold on them, but you have to give a team credit for beating Atlanta soundly last week. Seattle won't pose nearly as much of a threat this week as Miles Austin-mania continues. Even though Julius Jones goes up against his old team, the loss of Walter Jones for the season is devastating to that offensive line. Marcus Trufant is likely back but even if he shuts down Miles Austin it will not be enough. If Dallas can manhandle the Falcons, I have to believe that Seattle will pose even less of a challenge. Pick: Cowboys.
HOUSTON (-3) at BUFFALO
The Texans continue to get no respect. Last week they beat a very good San Francisco team soundly for an entire first half and held on for dear life as they forgot to cover Vernon Davis. Buffalo doesn't have anything close to Vernon Davis, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is several pegs below Alex Smith and Shaun Hill. Andre Johnson may not be at full strength but Matt Schaub, Owen Daniels and Steve Slaton are more than enough to handle the Bills. Pick: Texans.
DETROIT (-4) vs. ST. LOUIS
Detroit is not that bad - really. I know they have but one win, but that's infinitely more than the Rams. Let's look at other items here - the Lions have scored 103 points and yielded 188 in six contests. The Rams are down 60-211 in seven games. Yes, I think I'm leaning towards Detroit here. Sure I would like to see Matthew Stafford (probable) and Calvin Johnson (questionable), but Kevin Smith should be able to score twice on his own which should be enough to handle St. Louis. Personally I expect Detroit to roll, something like 31-17, but stranger things have happened. The only surprising part of that score is the "17" in my mind, but I'm a big proponent of sleeper Danny Amendola, who could break out this week. If you are in a PPR league, take a look at him. Pick: Lions.
DENVER (+3.5) at BALTIMORE
Speaking of teams who do not get much respect (see the Houston comments above), Denver is 6-0 and is getting points this week against a 3-3 team. Now, I'm not a believer in the Broncos either, but at some point you have to start thinking that they can actually accomplish some things when they have won six games. Some of them have been in the fluky column, no doubt, but after they have played six games you have to start thinking that maybe they are better than we were led to believe. Baltimore is a Jekyll and Hyde team - where the offense is now the better side of the ball and the defense, well, makes you want to hide. If the rule is "whomever Champ Bailey is covering is not open", then Frank Walker is the anti-Champ Bailey. If Eddie Royal or Brandon Marshall get him one on one, well, it won't be pretty. Ray Rice and Joe Flacco will keep this one close and could easily win it by a field goal, I'll take the perfect team and the points in a close call. Pick: Broncos.
PHILADELPHIA (EVEN) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
What a day it will be in South Philly on Sunday. Eagles vs. Giants for first place at 1PM, Phillies - Yankees in Game 4 of the World Series at 8PM. Get your parking spot early and enjoy. The Giants come in to the Linc after losing a tough one against Arizona last Sunday night, their second loss in a row after a dropping the Week 6 game in New Orleans. The Eagles had good news and bad news last Monday after beating the Redskins but losing Brian Westbrook to a concussion. Odds are that Westbrook will be out and at best he will be limited, but that's not how the Cardinals beat the Giants anyway. The Eagles will have to throw to beat the Giants, which is music to Andy Reid's ears. Donovan McNabb will have to be more accurate than he was in Washington, but I think that Philadelphia will do just enough to get the job done in a hard fought, 23-20 type game. Pick: Eagles.
NEW YORK JETS (-3) vs. MIAMI
Does anyone else remember the Monday Night Football game just a few weeks ago between these two? In what was a forgettable first three quarters in South Florida, the game exploded in the fourth quarter as the score ballooned from New York's 13-10 lead to a Miami 31-27 victory. The game was dominated by Miami's Wildcat offense and Chad Henne's short passing attack and one big play to Ted Ginn. The disappointing part of the game for New York was their inability to stop the Wildcat and Miami's 64% efficiency on third downs. Look for Rex Ryan to rev up his defense and get that Wildcat defense ready for this week at home in a big AFC East contest. Pick: Jets.
CHICAGO (-13) vs. CLEVELAND
I could go on and on why this game is watchable and why Cleveland has a chance, but that would be padding the inevitable. The Bears laid an egg against the Bengals last week but they get healthy fast here with their homecoming weekend against the Browns. I expect some ugly uniforms to boot in a game that may cause many to become ill just by watching this contest. Expect Jay Cutler and Matt Forte to try and get big numbers to boost their collective confidence and get them geared up for the second half of the season. The Bears will top 30 while the Browns yet again will not get to double-digits. Pick: Bears.
SAN FRANCISCO (+13.5) at INDIANAPOLIS
Wait - what? Really? The 49ers are getting almost two touchdowns this week? This is the same team that put up 21 points in the second half against Houston on the road last week, right? And that was with a backup QB coming off the bench and playing what was mostly a one-dimensional offense. Yes, the Colts are better, but Frank Gore is not going to be minimized this week and now Alex Smith gets all week to practice with the first string. I expect Indianapolis to win, but the 49ers are good enough to get 20 points on Indy, meaning that the Colts would need 34 to cover. They got 42 against the Rams last week, and I think that the 49ers defense is at least 10 points better than that. 34-21 is a winner here, and Joe Nedney is also a strong kicker, so give me a good team on the rise in perfect weather conditions to cover this line. Pick: 49ers.
JACKSONVILLE (+3) at TENNESSEE
Like a bug drawn towards a bug zapper, I cannot avoid liking this matchup. Jacksonville and Tennessee are such similar teams with struggles on both sides of the ball, and now we learn that Vince Young is going to be starting for the Titans. I have to go with the team that has the better quarterback (Garrard), running back (Maurice Jones-Drew) and wide receiving corps here in a matchup of two teams that will be battling for Top 10 draft picks for 2010 in April. Tennessee cannot stop anyone in the passing game (59-0? Hello!) and even with some DBs getting healthy, Garrard and Mike Sims-Walker should have a big day. I know I shouldn't violate a rule of thumb here ("don't count on bad teams") for my Best Bets, but I think I am going to be picking Jacksonville again very shortly. Pick: Jaguars.
SAN DIEGO (-16.5) vs. OAKLAND
This one will not be pretty. Oakland is struggling just to get JaMarcus Russell to understand his job, both on and off the field. Their best players are on the defensive side of the ball and they cannot get the few playmakers on offense (Zach Miller, Louis Murphy) the ball from Mr. Russell in time or on target. The Chargers? They just pummeled Kansas City last week 37-7 and now they get to go home and feast on another AFC West patsy. Look for LaDainian Tomlinson to finally score and Philip Rivers to have another strong game against Oakland as the Chargers likely have 24 by halftime, which should be enough to cover against a bad Raiders' team. Chargers 41-6. Pick: Chargers.
GREEN BAY (-3) vs. MINNESOTA
Anyone think that this is a big game this week? Everyone in Wisconsin and Minnesota circled this date as soon as the "Purple 4" rumors started. Favre's return to Lambeau will be marked by a very good game on both sides, but Aaron Rodgers will be ready. The only question is will the Packers' offensive line be ready, as they were what really cost Green Bay in the first matchup in Week 4 between these two franchises. Look for Favre to throw a few interceptions in this one and a swarming Packer defense to feed off of the home crowd as the home team wins a big game on multiple levels. At the end of Sunday both teams will have two losses as they will be in a virtual dead head atop the NFC North. Green Bay in a close one, 27-23. Pick: Packers.
ARIZONA (-10) vs. CAROLINA
I have to start typing these out faster, as when I checked this game last night 9.5 was still available. Now the line is at 10 and heading upward, so grab onto this one quickly. Carolina's best offensive weapon is DeAngelo Williams, and here he runs up against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Cards stopped Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw last week enough to beat a good Giants team on the road, and here they return home to face a reeling Carolina team. Jake Delhomme still has the job despite every effort to throw it away - almost literally. Steve Smith will be doubled and frustrated again as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lines up against him all day. Arizona will score in the 20s for certain, while the Panthers will have issues all day long against a very good and underrated defense. Pick: Cardinals.
NEW ORLEANS (-10) vs. ATLANTA
I'm calling it now - the Saints are on their way to a 16-0 season. With nine games left they face all of their divisional foes twice, and two of them are terrible. Carolina and Tampa Bay are already four wins not yet recorded in the standings, but they may as well be at this point. Add in two trips to St. Louis and Washington and you can see why I have just three chances left for them to lose - two games against Atlanta and a big Monday Night Football clash with New England in Week 12. Atlanta looked to be a playoff caliber team during the preseason, but after their terrible road game in Dallas I cannot see them competing on Monday against the Saints. If you lose to Dallas by 17, how can you cover 10 against New Orleans? Simple pick for me. Pick: Saints.
This section will be different this year, as I will give not only the "Best
Bets" but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 "Star" scale. The more stars, the
more I like that side of the game.
* ONE STAR GAMES *
- HOUSTON (-3) at BUFFALO
- DETROIT (-4) vs. ST. LOUIS
- DENVER (+3.5) at BALTIMORE
- SAN FRANCISCO (+13.5) at INDIANAPOLIS
- JACKSONVILLE (+3) at TENNESSEE
- NEW ORLEANS (-10) vs. ATLANTA
** TWO STAR GAMES **
*** THREE STAR GAMES ***
PICK OF THE WEEK: Detroit Lions
- OVERALL: 9-3-1 (73.1%)
- BEST BETS (STARS): 7-2-1 (75%)
- PICK OF WEEK: 0-1 (0%)
- OVERALL: 60-42-1 (58.7%)
- BEST BETS (STARS): 51-42-2 (54.7%)
- PICK OF WEEK: 4-3 (57.1%)