Alrighty, so I bounced back last week, going 4-1 (though did not publish it…take my word for it) after going 0-5 the previous week…which was just horrendous. So I’m 42-27, so I’m still hovering around the 60% success rate mark.
Steelers (+2 ½ ) over 49’ers
I’m taking the points with Pittsburgh. First off all, you’ve got two stingy defenses, you’ve got the Steelers with 10 days off, who have won 4 straight and are still battling for playoff position. The 49’ers on the other hand, have lost 2 of 3 and are banged up physically. What I don’t like about San Francisco is that they are atrocious in the redzone offensively. Last 19 trips have resulted in only 3 TD’s –worst in the NFL. If they do win, it’s close. When I get stingy defenses and I get a huge quarterback edge here, I’ll take the points. Pittsburgh beats San Francisco, take the 2 ½ at 17-16.
Buffalo (+1 ½) over Dolphins
The theme today in my picks is home dogs! The Dolphins are going to be missing Jake Long – they’re offensive tackle, they just lost their head coach Tony Soprano, you’ve also got front office moves…I’m not sure what they have to play for. The thing that Buffalo does very well is to protect their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick has only been sacked 17 times – that’s the best in the NFL. Which means that he’ll be able to exploit –what I think is a good secondary that takes a lot of chances and can get burned. The Bills passing execution is very good – 5th best completing percentage in the league, Scott Chandler, David Nelson and Steve Johnson. I’m going to take the point and a half, I think Buffalo bounces back and beats a lifeless Miami team, 23-20.
San Diego (+3) over Ravens
I like the Chargers here…by the way, 7 TD’s with no picks for Philip Rivers in the last 3 weeks. Antonio Gates is healthy as he has been all season. Ryan Matthews has 3 straight 100+ yard rushing games…San Diego my friends, has gotten healthier. I’m sure you’ve heard the whole Philip Rivers/Norf Turner December thing; San Diego’s defense has now stepped up with only 4 turnovers in the last 2 weeks. I get a big edge because when Philip Rivers gets comfortable and they’re running the football and its play action…that’s a big advantage to me. Joe Flacco is still very much unsteady and he’s been unsteady in the second half of the season. Few teams do a better job at creating mismatches on offense than San Diego. I don’t like Norf Turner as a leader; I like him as an offensive coach. Baltimore – a team hard to figure out, are much better at home, travel across the country…I’m going to take San Diego with the points and the upset, 23-21.
Tampa (+7) over Cowboys
Dallas on the road this year has had 3 overtime games and 2 have been decided in the final seconds. By the way, Tampa is a young team….young teams tend to play high and low and better at home. As well, Tampa has beaten divisional rivals New Orleans and Atlanta on their grass. This game is on the NFL Network, it’d might as well be the biggest game of the year for Tampa Bay. Dallas is now in a sandwich spot, their coming off the emotional loss to the Giants, facing Philadelphia…generally teams, with a little bit of a letdown when you’re in the sandwich divisional thing. The Cowboys’ defense is leaking by the way. Rob Ryan is overrated! They gave up 510 yards!! Like I mean, I’ve always thought that Rex Ryan talks too much, but at least he backs it up! The Cowboys’ defense is getting worse under Rob Ryan. Dallas can run the football – that’s what Tampa does poorly, defend the run. In this instance, with DeMarco Murray out, they’ll be more passing. Felix Jones – made of glass, they’re not banging on his to have 25 carries. I’m going to take Dallas to win this football game 27-23 but I think Tampa plays inspired football and the Cowboys come out a little flat to start it off.
Broncos (+7) over the Patriots
80% of the fans are betting New England…that’s why I’m going the other way. 3rd road game in the past 4 weeks for New England, Tebow is 11:2 in touchdown to interception ratio. New England has got 2 receivers playing cornerback. Remember this about Denver… they haven’t allowed more than 13 points in 4 of their past 5 games – and that’s with a couple of those games going into overtime. The Patriots do a nice job of pass protection, but the Broncos have 37 sacks and they know that with a young rookie secondary, they’re going to have to put major major heat on Tom Brady. So I see a football game…low scoring, pound the rock, New England’s defense is the liability here, not Denver’s….yeah Gronkowski’s a nightmare to match up with, but Denver’s linebacker’s of Von Miller, Joe Mays and D.J. Williams are above average. Kicking game? Slight edge to the Broncos, cross country travel…New England wins 26-23 and I will take the 7 points.