Let’s check in regarding Vinnie’s accuracy against the spread, through Week 14:
picks have gone 16-10 (61.5 percent)
picks have gone 17-15-1 (53.1 percent)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way …
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers (over/under 37.5 points): Two of the NFL’s doormat teams here, obviously, both featuring the sort of defense you want to key on when picking an over. The Panthers haven’t been statistically as disappointing, defensively, as have the Cardinals for example, but have found a way to give up 26 points per game (26th in the NFL). Arizona may have been picking on a woeful Broncos team, last week, but got things rolling with rookie John Skelton at quarterback and Tim Hightower running the ball effectively. Carolina is moving the chains and scoring some touchdowns almost entirely on the legs of Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson. Key stat: wierd perhaps, but of Arizona’s last 16 games played in December, the final score in 14 of them qualified as an over.
37.5 total points.
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (-1): The Titans used the threat of Chris Johnson running the football, in Week 14, to take advantage of an injury-riddled Colts secondary to the tune of three Kerry Collins touchdown passes. Tennesse may well be able to score points often against a very bad Texans defense, but recent history suggests it is the Texans who will enjoy better success. Not only does Houston have the best running back in the league this year – that would be Arian Foster – to turn loose on what has been a suspect Titans front seven lately, but Matt Schaub has tossed eight touchdowns (no interceptions) in his last three games against this team. Although it is an intradivisional matchup, Vinnie counts this as one of those every other week sort of “I cannot believe that team is favored” scenarios.
Gimme the Texans plus the point.
Kansas City Chiefs @ St. Louis Rams (Even): Finally, two teams with legitimate playoff aspirations pitted against one another. And what’s not to like about the Battle for Missouri, NFL style? Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson figure to make a very solid accounting of themselves, on behalf of St. Louis. What you might find surprising, however, is how much Vinnie likes the Rams defense to show up in a massive way – yes, even if Matt Cassel is quarterbacking the Chiefs. There are too many question marks surrounding K.C. whether it’s Matt Cassel versus Brodie Croyle, the offense’s puzzling inability to get the football into Dwayne Bowe‘s hands, problems the Chiefs secondary has had versus opposing wideouts, or third down ineptitude offensively.
Gimme the Rams straight up.
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5): It is bewildering how effective Mark Sanchez looked at times, earlier this season, versus how damaging his game has become for the Jets offense. Nine consecutive quarters without an offensive touchdown, coming into Week 15. No problem though, right? Sanchez will start playing smarter from the quarterback position, Santonio Holmes catching the ball like he used to, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene racking up more than enough rushing yards between them? Oh wait, probably not on the road against the Steelers. Nope, Vinnie’s steering clear of favoring the Sal Alosi Jets in any way, until further notice.
Gimme the Steelers minus the points.
Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5): Vinnie went over the rash of devastating injuries to key Bucs’ players a week ago – Davin Joseph, Aqib Talib, Jeff Faine. Another game in the books, now Gerald McCoy and Quincy Black have been added to that list. Tampa Bay still has the late-game heroics of Josh Freeman and the dependable power running of LeGarrette Blount to rely on, but at some point the thin roster depth is going to become a glaring problem. Against a Lions team that gets by on fumes, at this point, on offense, but has a knack for keeping games close? Vinnie has a difficult time envisioning a Bucs victory by a margin of seven or more points. Interesting stat: the Bucs have gone only 2-7 against the spread in their previous nine home games versus the visiting Lions.
Gimme the Lions plus the points.