This week’s lines are from USAToday.com (as of Thursday night).
ATS – Against the Spread; SU – Straight Up; O/U – Over/Under
Byes: Minnesota, N.Y. Giants, Seattle, Tennessee
New Orleans at Oakland (+4.5 & O/U 54.5)
The Saints have turned things around, winning four of their last five games including an impressive win over the undefeated Atlanta Falcons last week. The Saints offense continues to click, scoring 27.7 points per game, 6th in the league. The run game has turned it around with Chris Ivory leading the way. The team is averaging 144 rush yards in their last two games. The Raiders defense is in for a long day. They are giving up giving up 31.6 points per game, 31st in the NFL. In their last two games, teams have scored an average of 48.5 points per game against them. In those two losses, quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown for 391 yards per game with six touchdowns and four interceptions. Both teams have defenses that rank near the bottom of the NFL, but the Saints offense is far more superior to that of the Raiders. I’m expecting this game to be a shootout with the Saints coming out on top.
In their last 6 games, the Saints are 5-1 ATS. The Raiders are 3-6 ATS for the season, including 1-3 at home.
Gimme the Saints minus the points and the Over.
Green Bay at Detroit (O/U 52)
Just as Detroit seemed to have turned things around, winning three of their last four games heading into last week’s game versus the Minnesota Vikings,
they came out flat in a must win game that they needed in order to stay in the playoff hunt. They were down a quick 10-0 in the first quarter and wound up losing by a score of 34-24. After a slow start, quarterback Matthew Stafford ended up with 329 yards passing and three touchdowns. Two-hundred seven of those yards were to wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has been pretty quiet for a majority of the season.
The Packers are on a four game win streak, averaging almost 32 points per game during that streak. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will get Jordy Nelson back this week after missing some time due to an ankle injury. Since taking over for Cedric Benson at running back, Alex Green has been a disappointment, averaging only 3.1 yards per carry. He will take a back seat to James Starks this week, who has been declared the starter against the Lions. The Packers defense takes a hit with linebacker Clay Matthews being ruled out due to an injured hamstring.
I’m expecting another shoot out in this game, similar to their last meeting back in January where the teams combined for 86 points.
For the season, Green Bay is 6-3 ATS on the Over while Detroit is 6-2-1.
Gimme the Over.
Philadelphia at Washington (-3.5)
The Redskins are coming off a bye week and are currently on a three game losing streak. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III may get one of his top weapons back this week in wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Word is he may play and it would be a big boost to Washington’s wide receiver corps which is one of the worst in the NFL. The Eagles are on a five game skid and will trot out a rookie quarterback of their own in Nick Foles. Starter Michael Vick suffered a concussion in last week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys and has been ruled out. Even before the game, there was already talk about Vick being benched and now Eagles fans will get to see what Foles can do. Last week after taking over for the injured Vick, Foles had a decent debut, throwing for 219 yards and one touchdown while also throwing a pick-six and losing a fumble.
It seems like a new era is beginning for the Eagles and I don’t see them winning this game on the road with a rookie quarterback.
Gimme the Redskins minus the points.
Cincinnati at Kansas City (+3.5)
Kansas City almost upset the Pittsburgh Steelers last week but ended up losing in overtime. The Bengals are coming off an impressive win over the New York Giants last week and should cover easily. The Chiefs are 0-4 SU at home this season while the Bengals have played well on the road (3-1 ATS).
Gimme the Bengals minus the points.
Tampa Bay at Carolina (+1)
The Buccaneers have been one of the surprise teams of the season and are on a three game win streak. Quarterback Josh Freeman has already surpassed his touchdown total from last year with 18, versus 16 last season. He has also cutdown on the turnovers with only five interceptions this season versus the 22 he had in 2011. In his last four games, Freeman has 11 touchdowns and one interception. Carolina is 2-7 on the season and quarterback Cam Newton has had a tough sophomore season. The two teams played in week one this season with Tampa Bay winning 16-10. Tampa Bay is playing much better since then and should win this game by a wider margin.
Gimme the Buccaneers minus the points.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (+3.5)
Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not expected to play and Byron Leftwich will start. Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t played well on the road but the Ravens know the importance of this game and should win the game with Big Ben out.
Gimme the Ravens minus the points.
Denver -7.5 over San Diego
Indianapolis/New England Over 54
Atlanta -9.5 over Arizona
Cleveland +9 over Dallas
Houston -15 over Jacksonville
N.Y. Jets/St. Louis Under 38.5
Chicago +5 over San Francisco
SEASON RECAP (W-L-T)
Total Record: 60-50-3
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