Week 13 was a lesson in the ‘backdoor cover’. Some people call it a ‘moose’ or a ‘bad beat’, but no matter what you call it, when you lose a game in the final minutes of a game it is heartbreaking. Last week we went 7-8 in the picks, but we could have easily gone 11-4.
So, it was an average week that could have (should have) been a very good week with the picks. Oh well, onto the next battle. Week 14, here we come!
Stay in the loop. I usually tweet out some picks on Sunday morning, so follow me on Twitter (@Fantasource) to get the latest.
Let’s hope the backdoor covers break our way this week…
Last Week: 7-8
Season Record: 83-77-3
Sunday, Dec. 9nd
Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins (-2 1/2, O/U 47 1/2)
Old and Busted: Tim Tebow. New Hotness: RG3.
It’s Robert Griffin’s world, and we’re just living in it. Griffin is leading the Redskins to serious playoff contention after rolling off 3 straight wins (and 3 straight covers) against the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants. They are playing very well, and most of it can be credited to Griffin.
Baltimore had a tough loss on Sunday, blowing a late lead and losing at home to the rival Steelers 23-20. Baltimore has been underdogs twice this season, and they lost both games. But the numbers that make me pick the Redskins this week are: 16, 13, 25, 13, 9. That’s the number of points scored by the Ravens in each of their last 5 road games. They’ve played some pretty weak competition on the road, yet they still can’t score.
Baltimore will probably try to rely on Ray Rice and the rushing game, but Washington is only surrendering 97 rushing yards per game, so it won’t be easy. Baltimore, on the other hand, is letting up 125 yards per game on the ground. RG3 and Alfred Morris should be able to run wild this weekend.
I’ll say that the Washington speed will be too much for Baltimore’s old, banged up defense, and the home field advantage in DC will lead the Redskins to a win and a cover at home in the ‘Battle of the Beltway’.
Pick: Redskins -2 1/2
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns (-6 1/2, O/U 37 1/2)
What a week for the Chiefs. We’ve all read the tragic story about WR Jovan Belcher, and despite that tragedy happening only 24 hours prior the Chiefs go out on Sunday and beat the Panthers. Wow, an emotional win for sure. But I think it catches up to them this week. I like the Browns to win and cover at home.
Everyone’s first thought should be “Do the Browns deserve to lay 6 points to anyone?” Probably not, but the Chiefs aren’t your usual team. They are 2-10, and had lost 8 games in a row before knocking off the Panthers. QB Brady Quinn was pretty good last week, but I’m not buying it.
Let’s be honest, both teams stink. Browns and Chiefs are both at the bottom of the league in offense and defense. But I’m expecting a big game (maybe even a huge game) from Trent Richardson, and I think that will be the difference here.
The Browns are on a two game winning streak and I think they can do it again, and cover the 6 1/2 at home.
Pick: Browns: 6 1/2
San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, O/U 43)
The big question is ‘will Ben play QB this week?’ As of Thursday morning it looks like he might play on Sunday, but regardless of Ben playing or not, I think I’ll take the Chargers getting 7 points.
Since their bye week the Steelers have only won one game by more than 7 points. And I don’t think they have the shutdown defense that they have had in the past.
Sure, the Chargers have been a huge disappointment this season but I think that they can give the Steelers a game this week on the road and if I’m getting seven points, I’ll take it.
Pick: Chargers +7
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-5, O/U 48)
This Colts train has to derail at some point, right? They are 6-1 in their last 7 games and last week QB Andrew Luck pulled out a game winning drive in the final 2 minutes to beat the Lions on the road. Their coach is fighting cancer and says he may even coach again before the season is over.
There’s just too much momentum for Indy, so I’ll take the Titans. Call it a hunch. But also factor in that the Colts defense is terrible. So in a high scoring game I’ll take the Titans and the points here.
Pick: Titans +5
New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars (+2 1/2, O/U 38 1/2)
Who knows what to make of these Jets. They stink for like 5 games in a row, and in the 3rd quarter of last week’s game against the Cardinals, where they were losing 6-0, they switch up quarterbacks and replace Mark Sanchez with Greg McElroy. And guess what, the new QB leads them to a 7-6 win. So what does Rex Ryan do? Yup, he names Sanchez the starter again for Week 14. What?
Even so, I’m still taking the Jets. The Jaguars just are not good. They had a two week run of good play from Chad Henne, but that balloon has popped.
Jacksonville is 1-5 against the spread at home so that is a factor in my selection.
The Jets are a circus, but they do have a decent defense. I think that defense can do enough to shut down the Jags offense and get a comfortable win and cover.
Pick: Jets -2 1/2
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (+3, O/U 39)
Yes, these teams played 2 weeks ago. Yes, the Bears won 28-10. But I’m taking the Vikings at home. And I think they can win this game outright.
Bad news for Minnesota this week, they announced that WR Percy Harvin is out for the rest of the season, and he was a big part of their offense. But after seeing what Adrian Peterson did last week, I think the Vikings can get it done by running the ball. AP looked like the best running back in the NFL last week, I think he is fully healed from his injuries. And no Brian Urlacher for the Bears is a big blow to their defense.
The Vikings actually have a pretty good rush defense and they should be able to contain Matt Forte. So can Jay Cutler win this game on the road? I’ll say no, and I’ll take the home team getting points in this NFC North battle.
Pick: Vikings +3
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (+3 1/2, O/U 47 1/2)
The Falcons are the worst 11-1 team in NFL history. That’s what the stat geeks say. But who cares, the bottom line is that they’re 11-1, and (more importantly for us) they are 4-1-1 against the spread on the road.
The Panthers had a tough loss last week against the Chiefs. It was just a tough situation for any team to play in. But I also have to think that if you can’t beat the Chiefs, then you can’t beat the Falcons. Not even if the game is in your stadium.
Carolina has lost 5 straight games at home, and they are 1-5 against the spread. Not good. I’ve always thought the Panthers had a decent defense, but in their last 4 games they’ve given up 27, 22, 27 and 36 points. I expect the Falcons to score a lot this week and I’ll lay the 3 1/2 points on the road.
Pick: Falcons -3 1/2
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7 1/2, O/U 47)
I like the Eagles in this one. I’ll get that out of the way at the jump.
Yes, they are 2-9-1 against the spread this season. And they have lost eight games in a row. And they just fired their defensive line coach. And they are playing a rookie QB and a rookie RB.
But giving me over a TD? Last week proved that over 7 points is a lot in the NFL. The Patriots dominated in Miami, and only won by 7. The Eagles even managed a backdoor cover of their own by scoring late to get within 5 points to cover.
Tampa hasn’t laid over a touchdown all year, and they have lost 2 games in a row. I’m not saying that they will lose, but I just think that the Eagles should be able to find a way to keep it close. And maybe, just maybe, they could pull the upset. But either way, I’ll take the Eagles plus the 7 1/2; points.
Pick: Eagles +7 1/2
St. Louis Rams at Buffalo Bills (-3, O/U 42)
The Rams aren’t a bad team, and they are better than the Bills, so why are they getting points? I don’t know. I like the Rams here.
It comes down to this. Both teams are not that good on offense but the Rams defense is much better than the Bills defense. So, that alone makes me lean to the Rams.
It’s on the road, so I’m not as inclined to call it a ‘lock’ but I like the Rams here getting three points.
Pick: Rams +3
Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals (-3, O/U 45 1/2)
This game is a completely even matchup. Look at the rankings. Offense: Dallas 13th, Cincinnati 12th. Defense: Dallas 23rd, Cincinnati 22nd.
No real advantage on either side of the ball here, but if we look at the recent games from both teams we see that the Bengals are playing much better right now. Four straight wins, four straight covers. And they haven’t given up more than 13 points in any of those games.
Dallas just beat the Eagles last week, not such a big feat these days. And they had to come from behind to do it.
I think the Bengals stay hot and get a win and cover at home. Big games from Andy Dalton and AJ Green will be the difference here.
Pick: Bengals -3
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (-10, O/U 39)
In my Eagles/Bucs preview I said that over 7 points is too much and I’d shy away from laying more than a touchdown in an NFL game. Not in this case.
I’m laying the 10 points. The 49ers are coming off of that overtime loss last week to the Rams, so they are reeling and ready to get back on track.
When San Francisco tied the Rams a few weeks ago, they responded with a 32-7 beat down of the Bears the following week. I expect the same here. I don’t expect the Dolphins to score many points and the score that keeps popping in my head is San Francisco winning 31-13. So, it must be fate, the football gods are speaking to me. I’ll trust my instincts and say the 49ers win and cover this one easily.
Pick: 49ers -10
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants (-4 1/2, O/U 53)
For me this game really just comes down to a huge discrepancy between the two defenses. The Saints are ranked at the bottom of the league (30th) while the Giants are up at number 12, with a pass defense that is in the top ten. I expect Eli to be able to move the ball easily against a weak Saints pass defense (30th ranked). New Orleans is surrendering 440 total yards per game, that’s not good.
The Giants have lost three of their last four games, and the Cowboys and Redskins are creeping up in the NFC East standings, so this game is a ’must win’ for them.
I think Eli can rally the troops and get a win at home by a touchdown or more. I’ll take the Giants.
Pick: Giants -4 1/2
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-10, O/U 36)
Give me the 10. The Over/Under is 36 so Vegas is expecting a low scoring game. It’s going to be two great defenses just beating each other up for four quarters (Arizona is 4th ranked, Seattle is 6th ranked).
Seattle has had one game (one!) where the score differential was greater than 10 points. And when these teams met back in Week 1, it was a 20-16 Cardinals win. I think this one is also going to be close.
The Cardinals offense stinks, but they announced John Skelton would be the starter this week. Maybe the offense will play better? They really can’t play worse. They’re the worst rated offense in the league.
The Cardinals defense is the key here, if they show up then they can cover. And I think they will.
Pick: Cardinals +10
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-6 1/2, O/U 51 1/2)
Under a touchdown, I have to take the Packers at home. I mean Andrew Luck put up 390 yards passing and four touchdowns last week against the Detroit defense, what is Aaron Rodgers going to do?
The Lions defense gets tons of hype (with players like Suh and Fairley) but they really aren’t that good this season. They’re ranked 20th overall and 22nd against the pass.
The Packers should be able to control the Lions passing game. GB has the 7th rated pass defense in the league. And if the Lions can’t move the ball through the air I don’t think RB Mikel Leshoure can carry them on his back.
The 6 1/2 point spread is important here, if it goes above 7 points I would lay off, but under a touchdown I’m all over the Packers.
Pick: Packers -6 1/2
Monday, Dec. 3rd
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-3, O/U 51 1/2)
I’ll call the Monday night road dog an upset. I think the Texans win this one. A combination of good defense and a solid offensive game plan should get the Texans a road win in Foxboro.
We all know how potent the Patriots offense is, they are just shredding teams week in and week out. New England is leading the league with 35 points per game. But the Texans can score points, too. They’re second with 29.3 points per game.
The Pats really haven’t seen a defense as good as the Texans since they lost at Seattle in Week 6.
I’d lean to the OVER here, and I’ll take the Texans and the three points on the road, and I think they’ll win it straight up.
Pick: Texans +3