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Against the Odds – Week 12

Let’s begin with a review of how accurate Vinnie has been against the spread 11 weeks in:


With the Thanksgiving Day games already in the books it

s time now to focus on the remaining games of Week 12.

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons (-9): Michael Turner will find some room to run, even though Minnesota is annually better suited to defend the run than the pass, and this season has been no exception. As such, Matt Ryan will shine brightest against the Vikings’ defense. It is important to note that Adrian Peterson is very unlikely to suit up against Atlanta. Also important to note – the Falcons have won seven of their last eight games in November and have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games as the home favorite. Matt Ryan owns a 23-4 career record at home with 41 touchdowns as compared to 17 interceptions, and conversely the Vikings have gone 3-7-1 in their last 11 games as the road underdog.

Gimme the Falcons minus the points.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5): Perhaps the biggest factor in this game is how efficient fill-in starter Matt Leinart can be, and by extension how much respect Houston

s passing game can garner from an underrated Jaguars’ defense. Listen, he won

’t have to play at the level of the franchise quarterback the Arizona Cardinals thought they were getting when they spent a premium draft pick to bring him in. He need only minimize mistakes and get the ball to Andre Johnson and possibly other receivers often enough to keep Jacksonville

s defensive playcalling honest. It sure helps that the Jaguars’ defense will have their hands full trying to slow down Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Oh, and it also helps that Houston

s defense is drastically improved from 2010. Maurice Jones-Drew will get his to some degree, but don

t expect anything from Blaine Gabbert – other than an interception or two.

Gimme the Texans minus the points.

Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts (+3.5): This late in the season it becomes a matter of when the winless Colts will surprise an opponent, and Carolina certainly has its flaws. Both run defenses represented here, in fact, are right there among the worst in the NFL. Think about that, though. Who seems more likely to cash in on that matchup – a Panthers’ ground game that features Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams or some combination between Donald Brown, Delone Carter and Joseph Addai? Exactly. Then there

s the Cam Newton versus Curtis Painter angle to consider. One more thing: the Colts have gone 2-8 against the spread in their previous 10 home games.

Gimme the Panthers minus the points.

New York Giants at  New Orleans Saints (-7): This has the promise of a high-scoring game, in which Drew Brees, the Saints’ running backs trio and especially Jimmy Graham figure to do well. Eli Manning has been playing at a high level and the Giants have a turnover differential of plus-7, while New Orleans has a turnover differential of minus-5. Coming out of its bye, though, New Orleans will win decisively on primetime television. Of note: the Saints have gone 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as the home favorite.

Gimme the Saints minus the points.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-8.5): Jets fans have seen better days. Mark Sanchez has not played particularly well lately, although it bears note that he was sharp against the Bills several weeks ago, completing 20-of-28 passes for 230 yards and a score. It shouldn

t surprise when Sanchez performs similarly on Sunday, with Buffalo in a huge slump and running backs Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight looking to spark something in the Jets’ ground game. You have to establish the run in order to get one over on New York, whose pass defense makes it difficult for most opposing quarterbacks to get anything going. Advantage New York, as Fred Jackson finds himself on Injured Reserve and the Bills offer little in the way of a viable replacement at the running back position.

Of note: the Jets have an 8-4 record against the spread in their last 12 games against AFC East teams.

Gimme the Jets minus the points.

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