Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints Sunday Night Football Free Pick: The Lions without Suh don’t turn into a pile of mush, they still have Jenkins and Fairley – but listen, they were bad against the run in the first place, and despite decent numbers, they make a lot of mistakes in the secondary as well. The Saints will pick you apart with whatever you want to give them. I think this line is pretty fair, actually, and the Lions could pull it off, it’s just that Drew Brees is playing so well right now that it’s flat out hard to bet against him.
It’s not like New Orleans can come in and take a night off, either. They are just a game over the Falcons in the NFC South, and Atlanta hasn’t even played good football yet this season. Drew and company need to find some consistency in their rushing attack to be elite, and this game gives them a great chance to do so. Even with Suh, the Lions are in the bottom 3rd of the league in rushing defense. New Orleans might commit more to the run in this one, and the extra time of possession could help them put the Lions away.
It’s a Sunday Night game and everyone knows how jacked up the Lions get when everyone is watching them. They go stomping on fools when they get the chance. The Lions have lost 4 of their last 6 games after starting the season 5-0. Until they show me that they are actually a consistent football team, going against them on the road against a team like New Orleans makes too much sense.
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) @ Cleveland Browns
This is another one that is VERY TOUGH for me. You look at AFC North football games over the years, and there’s a lot of really close contests. Taking big favorites on the road in this conference is damn near blasphemy. But the Browns don’t have speed threats on the outside, at least not ones that have grown up yet. The Ravens defense can focus in on the first 10 yards and make life a terrible cold place for Colt McCoy and company. I think this one just barely works out for me as the Ravens win by a touchdown.
St. Louis Rams (+13.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
I see the Rams improving a little bit here and there. They have an explosive threat at WR and as Sam Bradford gets healthier and healthier he’ll improve – the kid is a very good young quarterback, don’t forget that. The 49ers don’t score the ball a lot or win a lot of blowouts, so even against a bad team, I can’t take them giving nearly 2 touchdowns.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) @ Arizona Cardinals
The Cowboys should have their way with the Cardinals, even with Kevin Kolb back in the lineup for Arizona. Beanie Wells went nuts last week in a Cardinals win, but his busted up knees probably won’t be able to do it two weeks in a row, especially against a pretty solid Dallas run defense. I think Tony Romo will eat up the Cardinals secondary in this one.
Green Bay Packers (-6.5) @ New York Giants
The Giants are bad. It’s Eli Manning interception season now that December has reared it’s freezing head. The Packers are out of this world for many reasons, but mainly because Aaron Rodgers is the most automatic passer I’ve seen in… forever. Green Bay prepares for every game like it’s the super bowl and if one of their guys is having a bad game, they just go to a different guy. They have plenty of them. If they don’t dominate this game I’ll be stunned.
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) @ Houston Texans
I can’t buy the Texans with their 3rd string rookie quarterback running the show, even if they do have the best rushing attack in the league. You know who stops the run pretty well? The Falcons, that’s who. And guess what, Atlanta’s CBs are good enough to stay close to the Texans’ WRs. I think Atlanta wins this game and the Texans start to worry a lot.
New York Jets (-3) @ Washington Redskins
The Redskins look like a team ready to give up. I know they’ve played a lot of close games, but those Rex Grossman mistakes will likely turn into touchdowns for the Jets this week. New York has a lot of speed and they like to bait QBs into making mistakes. And that’s what Sexy Rexxy does best! If the Redskins can lean on their run game, it’s possible to pull the upset – I’d love it enough to be happy either way in this one.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears (-7)
I don’t know what I’m up to here except that I think the Bears are fine with Caleb Hanie. He hasn’t been that terrible, and the Chiefs have been. I know Kansas City still has a shot at taking the AFC West, even at 4-7, you never know what could happen. But the Chiefs are not good… At anything. The Bears D should keep them in check, even if Kyle Orton steps in.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
I think the Steelers get this one. I know the Bengals have been good and I know the Steelers can fall into spells where they can’t pull away from anybody – but Pittsburgh is going to get some big plays soon, and I think it’s in this game. It seems like every AFC North game is tough and close, but I feel the Steelers winning by double digits at home.
Oakland Raiders (+3) @ Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have been pretty dang good over the last 5 games or so – pulling far enough away from the “Suck for Luck” campaign that they’re currently sitting at the 5th pick if the draft were today. Look at what they’ve done the last 6 games and you’ll see a team playing tough-nosed football. They went to OT in a loss to Denver, lost in the last minute to the Giants by a field goal, ousted the Chiefs, Redskins, and Buffalo for three straight blowouts, then lost to Dallas by a point last week. That’s pretty consistently solid football, especially for a team that is 3-8. That being said, the Raiders seem like they can run the ball on anyone. McFadden is out, but Michael Bush is a bruiser and Carson Palmer is settling in. I like Oakland to pull this one out.
Denver Broncos (+2) @ Minnesota Vikings
Don’t look now, haters, but Tim Tebow has won 5 of his 6 starts to pull the Broncos within a game of the Raiders in the AFC West. They are 6-5 after a 1-4 start and it’s beginning to look like the Broncos (the players at least) are buying into the awkward throwing lefty. Time sure can run though. The Vikings have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, a rookie quarterback, and no Adrian Peterson to lean on. Plus, they’ve been becoming accustom to losing, tough to take them giving points even if they are playing at home. Listen, my buddy calls people who believe in Tebow, “Tebowners” – while I don’t think I quite fit into the Tebowner category, I do think the guy finds a way, despite below average play for much of each game he plays. I’ll take him again, tebowner be damned! Call it what you want, but the Broncos finish with the Vikings, Bears, Patriots, Bills, and Chiefs – as far as I can tell, it’s very possible they finish with 10 wins.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccnaeers (-3)
The Panthers are consistently overrated as I’ve discussed many times. Cam Newton gets a lot of publicity for being a very good player early, but he hasn’t found ways to win football games yet. He struggles late, and despite being explosive at times offensively, the Panthers just aren’t consistent enough. Add in the fact that their defensive front is horrible at stopping the run and you have a scenario where LeGarrett Blount gets the ball 28 times and the Bucs win at home.