This week’s lines are from usatoday.com (as of Thursday night).
ATS – Against the Spread
SU – Straight Up
O/U – Over/Under
Byes: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears (-9)
The Bears sit atop the NFC North at 5-1 and are one of the top teams in the league. Their defense has been dominant, and they rank first in the NFL in rush yards allowed (71 yards per game) and points allowed (13 points per game). They also lead the league in takeaways with 21 (14 interceptions, seven fumble recoveries). Cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs are tied for third on the team with two touchdowns each. Quarterback Jay Cutler (ribs) is expected to play after taking a big hit from Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh last week.
The Panthers are 1-5 for the season and rank near the bottom in both offense and defense. Quarterback Cam Newton has had a rough go at it this season, throwing for only five touchdowns while also throwing six interceptions. As a result of Newton’s struggles, the offense is only averaging 17.7 points per game, ranking 28th in the league.
The Panthers fired general manager Marty Hurney last week after their 19-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Carolina is a mess right now, and who knows how long it will take for them to turn things around. One thing I know for sure is it won’t start this week on the road in Chicago.
The Bears are 5-1 ATS for the season while the Panthers are 1-5 ATS.
Gimme the Bears minus the points.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers (-14.5)
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been on fire. He completed 30-of-37 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns versus St. Louis last week. With wide receiver Greg Jennings missing most of the season so far due to a groin injury, Randall Cobb has stepped up in his place. In his last three games, Cobb is averaging 91 yards receiving and a touchdown a game. Wide receiver James Jones has also been very productive, catching seven touchdowns, already matching his career high in a season.
Jacksonville has struggled on both sides of the ball this season. The Jaguars rank dead last on offense in points scored, passing and total yards. To add insult to injury, running back Maurice Jones-Drew is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Rashad Jennings will takeover duties for at least the new few weeks, if not longer. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is also dealing with an injury that he sustained last week. He has a torn labrum in his left shoulder but is expected to play.
I know this is a big number to cover but these teams are heading in different directions. I don’t see any way that the Jaguars stay in this game and expect it to be a rout.
Gimme the Packers minus the points.
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos (O/U 55.5)
In Week 6, the Denver Broncos scored 35 straight points to defeat the San Diego Chargers, 35-24. Peyton Manning has shown detractors that he can still play, leading the Broncos offense to 28.3 points per game, seventh in the NFL.
The Broncos are also fourth in the league in passing yards (290.8 passing yards per game) and sixth in total yards with 384.7 yards per game. Denver was off last week and had a week to prepare for the Saints, who have the worst defense in the league, giving up 465.5 yards per game and 30.3 points per game. Not surprisingly, New Orleans also ranks among the top teams in offense. They are first in passing and third in both total yards and points scored. Quarterback Drew Brees has thrown for 18 touchdowns this season, including four against Tampa Bay last week.
The Saints are 5-1 ATS Over for the season while the Broncos are 4-2 on the Over.
Gimme the Over.