This week’s lines are from USAToday.com (as of Thursday night).
ATS – Against the Spread; SU – Straight Up; O/U – Over/Under
Chicago at Minnesota (+3)
Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has been placed on the IR this week due to an ankle injury. With Harvin out, quarterback Christian Ponder has no real weapons to throw to. Expect the Vikings to give running back Adrian Peterson 25+ touches Sunday. Peterson is the team’s only real threat on offense, he leads the league in rushing with 1,446 yards. The Bears will look to rebound after a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week.
The defense takes a hit without linebacker Brian Urlacher who is expected to miss their next three games. Cornerback Tim Jennings is expected to miss the game also.
The teams just played each other two weeks ago with the Bears winning 28-10 at home. Even with the injuries piling up for the Bears, I expect the Bears to win this game rather easily. The Vikings simply don’t have enough firepower on offense to stick around.
The Bears are 6-0 ATS in their last six meetings.
Gimme the Bears minus the points.
Atlanta at Carolina (O/U 48)
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has struggled for a majority of the season but has been on fire lately. In his last three games, Newton has averaged 263 yards passing and 57 yards rushing per game, with seven touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns. Expect him to put up good numbers again this week against the Falcons defense, which is giving up 121 rushing yards per game, 20th in the NFL. The Falcons have been average against the pass, giving up 231 yards per game, 15th in the NFL. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has struggled recently, throwing for only two touchdowns in his last three games while throwing six interceptions, including five in Week 11 against Arizona.
Look for Ryan to bounce back this week against a Panthers defense which is giving up 24.3 points per game, 20th in the league. The teams played each other back in Week 4 with the Falcons winning at home, 30-28. Ryan threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns. The Over/Under for that game was 48.
In their last eight meetings, the Over is 5-1-2.
Gimme the Over.
Arizona at Seattle (-10)
The Cardinals are making another switch at quarterback this week, benching struggling rookie Ryan Lindley and going back to John Skelton. This change is good news for fantasy owners of Larry Fitzgerald who has just five receptions and 65 receiving yards in his last three games with Lindley under center. Seattle is the superior team and is playing at home where they are 5-0 ATS. They need this game to stay in the playoff hunt and running back Marshawn Lynch should be in for a good game against the Cardinals run defense which is giving up 128.6 yards per game, 24th in the league.
Gimme the Seahawks minus the points.
Detroit at Green Bay (-6.5)
The Lions have banished Titus Young for the season and his replacement, rookie wide receiver Ryan Broyles is out for the year with a torn ACL.
Recent addition Mike Thomas is expected to step in but is a big downgrade at wide receiver. Matthew Stafford will continue to feed Calvin Johnson who only needs 420 receiving yards in his next four games to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record. The Packers are expected to be without Jordy Nelson, who left last week’s game with another hamstring injury. The team won’t miss him as much since Greg Jennings is back healthy after returning from a groin injury last week.
Gimme the Packers minus the points.
Tennessee at Indianapolis (-5)
The Colts have won six of their last seven games and are in the playoff hunt after winning only two games last season. Andrew Luck has had a terrific rookie campaign but needs to cut down on the interceptions. The Titans played the Colts at home in Week 8, losing 19-13 and have lost four of their last five.
Indianapolis is 5-1 ATS at home.
Gimme the Colts minus the points.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (-9)
The only good thing the Eagles have going on now is Bryce Brown, who has stepped up for the injured LeSean McCoy. He looks to be a future star but needs to work on his fumbling issues. For those that are in keeper/dynasty leaguers, try making a deal for him now before it’s too late.
Gimme the Buccaneers minus the points.
Dallas at Cincinnati (-3)
The Bengals are on a roll, winning four in a row. Their defensive line has been playing well and should be in Tony Romo‘s face all day. Romo is finally gaining the trust of the highly talented Dez Bryant who has 29 receptions, 475 yards and six touchdowns in his last four games. I’m expecting this to be a close game and like getting the extra field goal.
Gimme the Cowboys plus the points.
San Diego at Pittsburgh (-7)
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is back after missing the last two games due to a rib injury. The Steelers rank first against the pass in the league and Rivers has been wildly inconsistent this season.
Gimme the Steelers minus the points.
Kansas City at Cleveland (-6.5)
Rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon is turning out to be a great supplement draft pick and should be a top wide receiver in the NFL in the near future. Gordon should be another acquisition target for keeper/dynasty players. Quarterback Brandon Weeden isn’t scared to throw the ball deep and will connect on a couple of big ones to Gordon against a Chiefs defense which is giving up 26.8 points per game, 27th in the league.
Gimme the Browns minus the points.
N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville (+2.5)
The Jets are going to start Mark Sanchez at quarterback this week, he probably gives them the best chance to win. The Jaguars offense is in shambles. They may be without wide receiver Cecil Shorts who suffered a concussion last week and are starting Montell Owens at running back after also losing Rashad Jennings to a concussion.
Gimme the Jets minus the points.
New Orleans/N.Y. Giants Over 53
Houston/New England Over 51
St. Louis +3 over Buffalo
Baltimore/Washington Over 47.5
San Francisco -10 over Miami
SEASON RECAP (W-L-T)
Total Record: 85-70-5
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