Let’s begin with a review of how accurate Vinnie has been against the spread, eight weeks in:
These last couple weeks have not been kind, but enough lamenting the past. Time to move on to Week 9, which provides us with a surprising number of lock ’em down picks.
San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins (+3.5): Very few running backs have been running the football as well over the past month as Frank Gore, against whom the Redskins defense will plot run blitzes and routinely cram eight or even nine into the box. Won’t matter. And when coach Harbaugh does rely on Alex Smith to move the chains or test the secondary deep, expect enough success that in the end, the time of possession will have swung heavily in San Francisco’s favor. This part of the match up, here, in & of itself could prove sufficient for the 49ers to cover. But oh no, there’s that pitiful Redskins offense to consider. Listen, when injuries have forced you to resort to scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel in order to field an offensive line, John Beck is the quarterback you’re stuck with, your primary receiving option remains out, and your next-best receiving option will (best case scenario) be playing hurt, who’s among the last defenses you want to be facing? Yep, the 49ers.
Gimme the 49ers minus the points.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills (Even): What more must the Bills do to earn our respect, or at least that of the odds makers? Buffalo is undefeated at home this season, New York has yet to win a road game. It’s great that some part of the vaunted Jets defense has been living up to its billing. Darrelle Revis will neutralize Stevie Johnson, to be sure, and to a larger extent the pass defense in which he does his thing will be up to the challenge of knocking Ryan Fitzpatrick down a peg. Buffalo’s defense is wildly unpredictable, breaking up plenty of passes and creating turnovers but giving up the big play here & there as well; the same should be said of Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense too, though. To Vinnie, the biggest difference maker in this game needs little explanation. Fred Jackson, running furiously and catching passes on his way to an All-Pro season, will flat out embarrass the already vulnerable Jets run defense. New York’s streak of beating the Bills four consecutive times at Ralph Wilson Stadium will come to an end this weekend.
Gimme the Bills straight up.
St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals (Even): Until last week’s upset against New Orleans, the Rams defense had been absolutely horrible. Beanie Wells has demonstrated a new level of toughness to his game, playing very well recently despite a painful knee injury which isn’t showing signs of getting better anytime soon. Wells might end up having a lot to do with Arizona tripping up its division rival, his match up is so favorable. But Vinnie thinks not. First reason, John Skelton is poised to start in place of Kevin Kolb. If Chris Long and the Rams defensive front can provide half the pressure they inundated New Orleans with, Skelton’s going to be afraid for his life. Second, Sam Bradford or A.J. Feeley, whomever plays quarterback for St. Louis is going to get the job done. Brandon Lloyd fits about as well in this offense as any of us could’ve imagined when news of Denver’s trade broke, and no one wearing Cardinals red will be able to cover him for very long on Sunday. Third, Steven Jackson versus a defense no other team has yielded more rushing touchdowns than. Arizona may have defeated St. Louis in eight of their nine previous games, but the Rams will win this contest with relative ease.
Gimme the Rams straight up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-9): The stage is set for the Saints to come into Week 9 angry from the spanking they received at the hands of St. Louis last Sunday, and take it all out on the hapless Buccaneers. And Vinnie will grant you that Drew Brees should face little challenge from a Buccaneers pass defense which hasn’t been very good. Josh Freeman is having a tough year, but has a knack for saving some of his best football for the Saints. Don’t be surprised when he connects with Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Kellen Winslow, or maybe even Dezmon Briscoe or Preston Parker for a score or two. This game between NFC South opponents will prove closer than the line suggests, and it also bodes well for Tampa Bay that the Saints run defense has been so porous.
Gimme the Buccaneers plus the points.
Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs (-5): Without three of its better players – no offense, Tamba Hali – Kansas City is riding a four-game winning streak and share of the AFC West division lead into Week 9. Miami is desperate to win its first game of 2011, but won’t find much mercy at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs don’t have much choice but to put the ball in Matt Cassel‘s hands, the running game not often resulting as drawn up. Good thing Cassel has capable receivers to target, Dwayne Bowe continuing to earn his keep as one the best at his position but now finding complementary help in the form of Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin. Miami’s pass defense leaves much to be desired, folks. The Dolphins may get a little something out of running backs Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush, but it won’t be enough to stay competitive through four quarters.
Gimme the Chiefs minus the points.
Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles (-8.5): When Philly plays well, Michael Vick is capable of really impressive stat lines, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson appear the sort of receivers any team would love to have, and the Eagles defense begins to seem like an upper echelon unit. When Philly falls on hard times, LeSean McCoy notwithstanding, you almost have to rub your eyes at how remarkably poor the overall quality of play can sink to. Let’s be honest, Chicago is either going to get blown out of the water or threaten to win this game outright. A look at the numbers reveals that not only has Jay Cutler been playing well as of late, he torched the Eagles defense to the tune of four touchdowns less than a year ago. But the real damage, in what Vinnie sees as an upset in the making, will come from Matt Forte and to a lesser degree Marion Barber; these two will combine to systematically remind us of what Philly’s defense really is, a serious liability.
Gimme the Bears plus the points.