I was debating whether to do all the games at once or just the Thanksgiving games tonight and then wait to see if the spreads changed in the next couple days. I'm just going with all the games because 1) I have time right now, and 2) I can change them later if I want.
An amazing 8 teams are favored by at least a touchdown, which seems a little out of the ordinary for me, but perhaps there just is that much disparity between the top and bottom of the leagues right now. Hopefully I can sift through and improve on my .500 record last week, thanks in large part to the Browns' FG that wasn't then was.
So as I wait to see where my Illini, and potentially I, will be going for New Years, here are the picks for the week. As always, spreads can be found here.
Green Bay (-3.5) at Detroit - The Lions lost to the Cardinals then lost again at home to the Giants, and that was supposed to be the relatively easy portion of the second half schedule. With two games against the Packers, plus the Cowboys, Vikings, Chargers, and Chiefs, the Lions may not win again this season. And going against Favre on national TV... This stretch isn't going to start well for the Lions.
Dallas (-14) vs New York Jets - I actually started writing this paragraph with the Jets covering, but going with my national television logic, T.O. is apt to explode once again in this game. He's been a force these last several weeks, and after a close game against the Redskins, I'm thinking the entire Cowboys offense will want to flex their muscles.
Indianapolis (-11.5) at Atlanta - Okay, this will be the week that the Colts get back on track, right? I mean, we went through this little stretch last year too, but the Colts always snap out of it. Byron Leftwich can't possibly keep up with the Colts, can he? I say no.
Chicago (-2.5) vs Denver - I'm afraid that I might be picking this one more with my heart than head. But I'm trying to convince myself of the road game after a Monday night game syndrome. The Bears don't make me feel confident in any area of the game, but I'll stick with them this week just out of sheer hope. One more loss and we may see the Kyle Orton era emerge, and then I can start picking against this team without fear...
Cincinnati (+1.5) vs Tennessee - Yes, I'm going with the Bengals again. I don't entirely know why, but it's not like the Titans lit it up last week. Vince Young looked solid for the first time in ages, but it's still Justin Gage at the other end of those passes and I think we know how that story goes. Carson Palmer can't have another 4-pick day, right?
Buffalo (+7.5) at Jacksonville - Perhaps not last week, but typically, the Bills play games pretty close, so I'm not ready to give them a touchdown head start in this matchup. The Jaguars could put up 40 points. They could score 14. I wouldn't be surprised either way, but I'm thinking that they'll end up doing just enough to win or perhaps looking ahead to the Colts next week.
Oakland (+6) at Kansas City - And welcome to the Kolby Smith era! Can you feel the excitement? Yeah, me neither. But that's what it's come down to as Priest Holmes is retiring and Larry Johnson is still on the shelf. After playing the Colts tough last week, I see the Chiefs coming back to earth a bit. They'll still probably win, but Justin Fargas and company keep it close in this divisional matchup.
Cleveland (-3.5) vs Houston - I've watched the Browns in the 4th quarter the last couple weeks and Derek Anderson has me worried. Meanwhile, the Texans seem to be getting their early season groove back. Having Andre Johnson back probably doesn't hurt. But things just seem to be going the Browns' way this season. I'd need one more stinker to jump off the bandwagon while Houston needs one more solid win before I jump on theirs.
St. Louis (+3) vs Seattle - The Seahawks play much better at home, but they won't have that luxury this week as the visit the Rams, who seem to finally be coming around these last couple weeks. Bulger is more comfortable and Steven Jackson appears healthy. If Cedric Benson can pop off for 60+ yards on two carries (nevermind the fact the Bears got away from him the rest of the game...), I can only imagine what Jackson could do in this game.
New York Giants (-7) vs Minnesota - The Giants barely got by the Lions while Chester Taylor has a huge day, helping the Vikings beat the Raiders. But the Vikings still only barely managed to beat the Raiders at home, while the Giants, despite not putting up the points, held the Lions to barely any rushing yards. Now back home, I see the Giants taking advantage of whatever quarterback suits up for the Vikings this week.
New Orleans (-2) at Carolina - The Panthers showed some life last week when the outcome was already decided. And the Saints... well, they just have blown the last two games after fighting their way back to .500 on the season. If Steve Smith doesn't go again, then this pick is even easier, but either way, the Saints firepower should be too much for the Panthers.
Tampa Bay (-3.5) vs Washington - Jason Campbell is finally finding his WRs, hooking up for numerous touchdown passes these last couple weeks, and hey look... a Santana Moss sighting! But before I'm convinced, let's see them do it against the Bucs, who have continued their solid play much longer than I anticipated. Earnest Graham has shouldered the load while Jeff Garcia is doing what Jeff Garcia does (non-Detroit version...).
Arizona (-10.5) vs San Francisco - I don't know what's scarier... that the Cardinals are favored by this much or that I'm thinking this could be a lock of a game. Both definitely send shivers down my spine, but that's the world we live in, as the Cardinals have put up points and played great defense while the 49ers have struggled in all facets of the game, even in their 2 victories on the season.
San Diego (-9.5) vs Baltimore - Norv Turner is worse than I expected, which is saying something since I didn't expect much from him anyways. But the Chargers do play better at home and the Ravens are a prime candidate for emotional letdown after what happened at the end of the Browns game. I will most likely spend most of this game looking at my preseason predictions for these two teams and slowly shaking my head for three hours.
New England (-21) vs Philadelphia - It's like Vegas is thinking "two touchdowns aren't enough for you to go the other way... how about three?!" Seriously, this looks like a college spread. But as I've been doing since Week 2, it's Patriots coming out on top, especially if McNabb is out of this game.
Pittsburgh (-16) vs Miami - I apparently think it's going to be a boring week of football as I just realized that I went with 7 of the 8 touchdown favorites. But after their loss to the Jets, I don't think the Steelers will show any mercy as they try to get back on track and keep up with the division leaders of the AFC. And the Steelers always do well on MNF.
Last Week 7-7-2