Let’s begin with a review of how accurate Vinnie has been against the spread, 14 weeks in:
Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears (-3.5): The over/under is 36 points as of late Wednesday, which appears to be lower than that of any other game; this tells you what you need to know. The Bears’ offense is atrocious, with no Matt Forte to bail Caleb Hanie out. Albeit versus lesser competition, Seattle’s defense is no slouch here lately. Marshawn Lynch faces a stiff challenge from Chicago’s defense of course, but this beast of a man has now tied Shaun Alexander’s team record for consecutive games with a touchdown. Tarvaris Jackson is mixing it up with Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin as needed, capably leading his team to wins. Seattle remains in postseason contention, folks. Speaking of which, these two teams last tangled in the second round of the NFC playoffs, following Seattle’s dramatic victory over New Orleans. Chicago may have won that day, but you would do well not to anticipate similar results this time.
Gimme the Seahawks plus the points.
Cincinnati Bengals @ St. Louis Rams (+6.5): This is one of those match ups that probably smacks of “Who cares?” to some. The Rams have regressed to arguably the least competitive team in the league, losing four straight (most of them blowouts), while the Bengals have dropped four of their last five. Listen, a playoff worthy team would have found a way to get through that stretch more intact, but there is little shame in struggling against Pittsburgh twice in one month, Baltimore, and Houston. Cedric Benson and possibly Bernard Scott figure to have a field day against the Rams putrid run defense, Sunday, while Andy Dalton will enjoy his full complement of receivers per the usual. Cincinnati’s defense, which lost some of its luster in said five-game stretch, ought to be just fine against a Rams offense hamstrung by poor blocking and Sam Bradford’s injuries. Quick tip: Cincinnati has gone 5-1 versus the spread in road games, whereas St. Louis has gone 1-5 versus the spread at home.
Gimme the Bengals minus the points.
New York Jets @ Philadelphia Eagles (-2): The Jets have a rough history against Philadelphia, and you might be looking at New York’s 8-5 coupled with Philadelphia’s 5-8 record and wondering what gives. New York has looked like the best team in the AFC East at times, albeit not often, but has also looked like the worst team in the division other times. The best thing Philly has going is LeSean McCoy; he’s been sensational this year, its run defense is easily the most vulnerable aspect of New York’s defense, and Michael Vick is questionable and certainly be 100% if he does play. Vinnie likes the Jets offense to pour it on, here. Mark Sanchez has ratcheted up his game, tossing seven touchdowns the last three weeks, helping his team score 33 points per game over that span, and adding the occasional rushing touchdown. Shonn Greene is running roughshod over, around, and seemingly through defenders.
Gimme the Jets plus the points.
Cleveland Browns @ Arizona Cardinals (-7): What a turnaround, the Cardinals winning five of their last six games while establishing a balanced offense (finally), quality special teams play, and a defense that has held opponents to 17.5 points per game over that span. Whether it ends up being Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, the quarterback of this team need only be caretaker for a week; Chris Wells, right on schedule in his development as the running back Arizona drafted in the first round, faces a horrible Browns run defense. Not that Vinnie subscribes to such things, but the betting trend on this line as been 96% behind Arizona covering. Just saying.
Gimme the Cardinals minus the points.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Atlanta Falcons (-11): The Falcons have been laying all kinds of points on the board, Michael Turner slowing up here lately but Matt Ryan looking nigh unstoppable. Jacksonville’s defense is rather unpredictable, flummoxing really good teams only to give way to others. If Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars offense were playing much as they were two months ago, you’d have to feel confident backing Atlanta in this one. Maurice Jones-Drew is putting up All Pro caliber numbers, though, behind an improving offensive line and interim coach Mel Tucker has these guys showing up ready to play (and then some). Quick tip: Atlanta has managed to beat the spread only once in its last five games.
Gimme the Jaguars plus the points.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (+7): The Titans snapped what had been a five-game winning streak by Indianapolis in the rivalry between their franchises, beating the Colts by 17 earlier this season. Not much has changed since then. The Colts have lost every game since, while the Titans have no shot at winning the AFC South but remain in postseason contention. After being underdog by over 36 points across the last two weeks, what has endeared Indianapolis to odds makers all of a sudden? Vinnie is just guessing here, but part of it must be on account of Dan Orlovsky helping the Colts offense become relevant. Well that is a nice little story and in fairness the Titans pass defense is average, but don’t buy the Colts making this game close. Two words: Chris Johnson.
Gimme the Titans minus the points.