Saints (-11) over Lions
New Orleans is a huge favourite at home against Detroit as New Orleans is -11 now. So I look at this 11 point spread and think “ wow, that’s stupid…that’s like a college football spread” But Vegas keeps moving the lines up and the Saints just keep covering these spreads – especially in the Superdome. They have covered all 8 of their home games, averaging over 41 points per game. I know a lot of Lion fans look at the game against the Packers but remember the Packers rested starters. In the end, Detroit has two fatal flaws. Firstly, their secondary is a mess, it’s not good and it’s beat up. Secondly, they just make a ton of mistakes. I think you have to nearly play flawless football to beat this Saints team, which right now is the hottest team in the league. Now the Saints’ pass defense is ranked 30th and all the Lion fans are saying “look at that!” But that’s simply because the Saints are winning by 28 points and nobody is running the football – it’s really a misguided stat. Quarterback? Big edge goes to the Saints. Offensive line? Big edge goes to the Saints. Special teams? Edge goes to the Saints. Coach? Big edge goes to the Saints. Home field? Big edge goes to the Saints. Now, the Lions’ offensive tackles have not been particularly strong in protection, you know Greg Williams is going to send the hounds after Matt Stafford, Detroit is not very good against the run and the Saints have been incredibly efficient running the football lately. I think the Saints cover an enormous spread at 38-23.
Bengals (+3) over Texans
So I’m taking the dog in this game because the pressure is on Houston, in fact all on Houston. Cincinnati was supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league – they’re playing with house money. Now you’ve got a couple of rookie quarterbacks in this game but there is a huge difference. T.J Yates for Houston is a 3rd string game manager…that’s all he is. The Texans have managed only 9 TD’s in their past 6 games…that’s it folks! This is certainly not the Matt Schaub Texans. Okay so Cincinnati has lost some games, but have you realized this that 5 of their 7 losses are to 3 teams and they’re all great: Ravens, Steelers and Niners. Houston is certainly not those teams, so I like Cincinnati in this spot. Now that I think I’m getting the better team, they were also 5-3 on the road this year. It’s probably going to be a low scoring game, special teams will play a role and that also favours Cincinnati. Cincinnati is also pretty good in the redzone especially when throwing the football. I like the Bengals to win outright and the points, 20-13.
Broncos (+9) over Steelers
The toughest game for me to call, as far as a better, was this Broncos/Steelers game. Pittsburgh is a lot better than Denver, no questions asked. But Denver at home is getting 9 points? I don’t necessarily know what the numbers are, but a home playoff team getting 9 points…you have got to take it! How many points can Tebow score? Probably 6 or 9? Yet that’s all he needs to score. Now Big Ben is coming out of the shotgun in this game…he is not good out of the shotgun because his timing goes into the tank. Seven starts for the Steelers missed practice time: Clark it out, Lamar Woodley is limited, Marquis Pouncey is questionable and yes I know, other than offensive line and running back, the Steelers are better at every spot in this game. But Isaac Redmen is your running back and he’s got no burst whatsoever. That’s the one thing Mendenhall gave you, he gave you burst! So you’re going to have to hope that Redmen doesn’t put it on the carpet – which he is prone to doing and although Pittsburgh led the league in pass defense, but it was kind of confusing to be honest because they don’t have great corners and here is something else – they didn’t produce a lot of turnovers this year. This Steelers defense is good, but it’s not your typical overwhelming Steelers defense like in the past. Elvis Dumervil and Vaughan Miller are great edge rushers for the Broncos and Big Ben is going to be sitting like a “sit and duck” in that pocket. I think Pittsburgh wins the game 13-6 but I’m going to take the 9 points here because the Steelers offense, as it is right now personnel wise, is not very good.
Giants (-3) over Falcons
This game I really came to terms with last night because the Giants are a hard team to figure out. You know they lost at home to the Seahawks…but one thing we’ve learned about the Giants is for us not to use their previous game to judge them. I mean they are a dog as a favourite and sometimes, in an impossible situation, they are great. Here’s what I think it comes down to and it’s that the Giants have really shown in the last month or two clutch plays i.e. against Green Bay, against Dallas twice and the Jets. In real crisis, redzone situations and third down situations, they have been absolutely great. This is all part of the Victor Cruz thing, Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz getting healthy and Eli Manning has had a tremendous year. But their pass rush is the kind of pass rush that bothers immobile quarterbacks and Matt Ryan is not a mobile quarterback. You have to remember that Atlanta does not block or defend the left tackle spot very well. I get, in my opinion, a quarterback having a better year, a better coach and better line play. I’m going to take the New York Giants – even though as a favourite they are scary, I’m going to take them to win by a touchdown in Jersey, 27-20.
Alabama (+1) over LSU
Listen, this is a coin flip folks! I honestly don’t know. I know I’m suppose to know, but all I know is this: For the last 5 or 6 years , I’ve been pretty good at picking the National Championship before the season starts. I had Alabama beating Boise State – that’s what I had in the National Championship this year. I’m going to stay with Alabama. Now, the first time they played, Alabama was a little more efficient. They had 17 first downs to 15, 290 yards to 240. Alabama has got more tactical options on offense because they have a much better quarterback. But the thing about LSU, LSU just likes to overwhelm people physically, but they don’t overwhelm Alabama physically. That’s the one team in the country that they don’t. So if you don’t make mistakes….never forget in the Oregon/LSU game, Oregon outgained LSU but had 4 turnovers. In the LSU/West Virginia game, West Virginia outgained them by almost 200 yards and also had 4 turnovers. Alabama, well coached, solid quarterback, run the football, is not going to give you 4 or 5 turnovers. I picked them to win the National Championship, I do realize that LSU is playing with a larger crowd this time and they are a better team than they were 2 months ago. I would be the least shocked guy in the world if LSU won. But I’m just going to stay with my pick before the year and go with Alabama, 19-16 Alabama where I get the better coach, the better quarterback and the thing is, you can move the ball on LSU. Oregon did and West Virginia did, but they just kept turning it over and Alabama certainly won’t and I’ll take Alabama.