It’s been a busy week / weekend, so please forgive me for not having these out earlier.
(Home teams in CAPS. All lines per Sportsbook.com as of 8:20AM on Sunday, December 2nd, except the Thursday night game, which was taken prior to that game being played.)
New Orleans (+3.5) over ATLANTA
Well I basically picked this game correctly, except for my man Drew Brees threw five interceptions. Atlanta all but clinched the NFC South and New Orleans is all but eliminated from the playoffs.
Grantland’s Bill Barnwell wrote a pretty good article Friday morning about how we can keep doubting Atlanta, but we need to do so for the right reasons. This Atlanta team is obviously good, as they keep finding ways to win. How far will they go in the playoffs? That remains to be seen.
CHICAGO (-3.5) over Seattle
The Bears have shown that regardless of how good their defense is, they are a completely different team with vs. without Jay Cutler. When he is under center, he seems to instill some type of confidence in them. In addition, the Seahawks have shown a trend of blowing games on the road. I like the Bears here.
Minnesota (+7.5) over GREEN BAY
I’m not sure anyone expected the Packers to be crushed by the Giants like they were, but it’s evident that something is slightly off about this Packers team. Aaron Rodgers is hurried way too often when passing, and it’s clear that even though he leads the NFL in passer rating, he is nowhere near the zone he played in for most of last year’s MVP campaign.
Also, am I the only one who thinks the Packers run the ball way, WAY too much lately? I get establishing the run to keep defenses off balance, especially for a team like Green Bay that has struggled to run the ball over the past couple of seasons. But, at the end of the day, you have the greatest player in the NFL on your team, and I have to think that defenses would welcome a run versus that terrifying shotgun, 4-wide receiver formations used by Rodgers to surgically pick apart defenses. If the Packers can protect Rodgers in these formations (which has proved very difficult so far this year), they have the ability to blow teams out of the building in a hurry.
With that said, the Packers have so many injuries to key players on both sides of the ball. All year they have overcome adversity, but last week against the Giants their injury woes finally came back to haunt them. Especially evident was the absence of left tackle Brian Bulaga, as Rodgers was hurried on more than half of this 33 drop backs by the Giants skilled front four.
Minnesota’s defensive line, featuring Pro Bowler Jared Allen, is no picnic either. The Vikings also feature the best running back in the league this season in Adrian Peterson, who has seemed inhuman in bouncing back from a torn ACL.
I still think the Packers win, since they are coming back home and should be fueled for a bounce back by the home crowd. I like the Vikings to cover, however, and if this game were in Minnesota this week, it would be hard for me to pick the Packers straight up.
ST. LOUIS (+8) over San Francisco
Maybe I’m not yet sold on Colin Kaepernick, or maybe I just don’t like the idea of Alex Smith losing his starting job due to injury during a season where he is within 1.7 points of the best QB rating in the league. I was at the 49ers / Rams game at Candlestick (the game where Smith was knocked out and replaced by Kaepernick) and saw how easily the Rams ran over the 49ers defense in the first quarter.
I still think Kaepernick is due for a game where he struggles. The Rams are also coming off a nice double-digit road win at Arizona and will looked to build some momentum at home. I think they’ll play the 49ers close once again.
Jacksonville (+6) over BUFFALO
As one reader pointed out last week, Chad Henne’s play isn’t the only new look about him. Too bad Movember is almost over, as all of the glorious mustaches gracing NFL sidelines will slowly start to fade away.
With Henne at the helm the past few weeks, the Jags have looked competitive beating Tennessee and taking Houston all the way into overtime. Meanwhile, Chad Henne has helped turn Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts into players that resemble actual NFL receivers.
I think Jacksonville plays competitive enough once again to keep it close.
BALTIMORE (-7.5) over Pittsburgh
If Charles D’Donte Batch (short list of greatest full names in NFL history) steps onto the field, I don’t see how the Steelers win. They are just not the same offense without Big Ben. Going on the road in Baltimore, I just don’t like the Steelers’ chances.
NEW YORK JETS (-6) over Arizona
KANSAS CITY (+6) over Carolina
DETROIT (-7) over Indianapolis
MIAMI (+9) over New England
Cleveland (-2.5) over OAKLAND
Houston (-7) over TENNESSEE
Tampa Bay (+7.5) over DENVER
Cincinnati (-2) over SAN DIEGO
Philadelphia (+10.5) over DALLAS
New York Giants (-3) over WASHINGTON
Last week: 11-5-0