Let’s review how accurate Vinnie has been against the spread, 15 weeks in:
Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills (+1.5): The Broncos’ defense not only struggled as most do against Tom Brady, but also got lit up by New England’s trio of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley. So, Tim Tebow needless to say failed to come away from Week 15 with the home win. Remaining a game up in the AFC West standings, the Broncos now take to the road, which is precisely where they have posted an impressive 6-1 record against the spread. Tim Tebow and his offensive teammates will be hitting on all cylinders, thanks to a Bills team that routinely affords opposing quarterbacks more time to throw than they need while giving up nearly two passing touchdowns per game. Willis McGahee will surpass 1,000 yards rushing against Buffalo’s pitiful run defense, and should be good for at least one score. Note that Buffalo is riding a seven-game losing streak, going 1-6 against against the spread over that period.
Gimme the Broncos minus the points.
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (-13): As cliche as it probably sounds, Baltimore’s 24-10 defeat of Cleveland several weeks ago was not even as close as the final score indicated. Ray Rice and Ricky Williams gouged the Browns defense for 280 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, then, and you have to like their chances of sort of an encore this weekend. With Cleveland’s pass defense coming down to earth lately, you have to like Joe Flacco to do somewhat well too. Seneca Wallace did a respectable job filling in for Colt McCoy in Week 15 and Peyton Hillis has had his moments, but Vinnie doesn’t particularly like any of them to stand out against the Ravens; this remains one of the better defenses in the league, and you better believe Ray Lewis & company did not take kindly to getting annihilated by San Diego last week. Of note: John Harbaugh has yet to lose to Cleveland since being installed as head coach.
Gimme the Ravens minus the points.
Arizona Cardinals @ Cincinnati Bengals (-4): As of late Thursday, A.J. Green is banged up but planning to play on Saturday. Take away or limit his best weapon, though, and how good is Andy Dalton? It bears note that the rookie quarterback has been less stellar in his last three games, by the way. Good thing Cedric Benson has been a reliable facet of the Bengals offense. Here’s the thing, though. The Cardinals defense, if evaluated over the entire season, is below average. John Skelton, Chris Wells and Patrick Peterson have been faces assigned to their six wins resulting from the last seven games, but don’t overlook how much better this same defense has been playing. Opponents have been scoring around one touchdown per game – that’s passing and rushing combined – against the Cardinals over said seven-game stretch. While it is impressive, certainly, that the Bengals might still clinch a wildcard berth, you can make a solid case that Cincinnati’s early season success was more an evidence of just how soft the schedule was at that point.
Gimme the Cardinals plus the points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers (-7.5): Odds makers have apparently felt at times that the Buccaneers were on the verge of taking opponents unawares, as evidenced by the current eight-game losing streak Tampa Bay is mired in coupled with the team’s 1-7 mark against those spreads. You needn’t come to a conclusion such as that, in Week 16, as Vinnie is convinced the Panthers are going to absolutely whale on their division rival. The Buccaneers defense has regressed terribly, which Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart took full advantage of a few weeks back. Don’t be surprised when DeAngelo Williams pours it on as well, the final margin of victory probably being at least the 19 points Tampa Bay was beaten by in Week 13. Of note: the Panthers have covered in three of their last four games.
Gimme the Panthers minus the points.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-10): You hate to pick against New England right now, but look closely at the Dolphins. It was not until Week 9 that Miami got into the win column, but including that game Reggie Bush has totaled close to 800 combined yards and six touchdowns, while Matt Moore has passed for 1,375 yards and 11 touchdowns (with only two interceptions). Consider then that the bottom has fallen out of the Patriots defense in recent weeks. This is going to be a closer game than you would have thought to be the case, immediately following New England’s 38-24 victory over Miami in Week 1.
Gimme the Dolphins plus the points.