Pick #1: Raiders (-9) @ Falcons – Falcons win it, 31-20.
It’s at Atlanta and it’s a big number at (-9) but the Falcons are averaging 30 a game and the Raiders’ offense is depending too much on Carson Palmer – an aging, past his prime Carson Palmer. Aside from the offensive line, I don’t see the Raiders – maybe special teams (slight edge) having an edge with any unit. Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and secondary are all edges for Atlanta. Oakland’s defense could be overmatched as their not only struggling to cover out wide, but their defensive front is not mounting much of a pass rush. That is a problem because Matt Ryan, especially at home, is money. He is completing his passes – 13 TD’s and only 3 INT’s thus far. Carson Palmer is aging okay? You can’t depend on aging quarterbacks past their prime and to carry you along with the Raiders not being able to run the ball with any consistency. The Raiders’ linebackers are talented but their much stronger defending the run than they are in coverage and right now, Atlanta is using their passing game as well and as efficiently as anybody in the league. Swallow the points and take Atlanta to win it, 31-20 over Oakland.
Pick #2: Lions (+3.5) @ Eagles –Lions win it, 24-20
I get Detroit, a team that’s enigmatic, has some issues and get (+3.5) points. First of all, Philadelphia is just not a great home team. In their last 13 home games, they are 3-9-1 against the spread. The Lions are a motivated group called “over-rated” by a rival GM this week. Quarterback? Huge edge Detroit – I’m not a Vick guy. “O” and “D” lines? Big edge Lions. Vick has been a turnover machine 11 INT through 5 games but it’s also the harassment he has been dealt – 14 sacks, he’s being treated like a hotel room is by a rockband, he is in constant trouble. Suh has had a rough week – another off-field incident, he’ll play inspired football against the makeshift “O” line. Philadelphia makes too many mistakes, they are winning games they could’ve easily lost and I find a Detroit team, inspired, in a must-win situation. Take the +3.5 points, Detroit wins 24-20.
Pick #3: Bills (+4.5) @ Cardinals – Cardinals win it, 21-20
One of the things I remember hearing on the Scott Van Pelt show a couple of years ago is: when there is a game on that everybody is sure is going one way in the NFL. It’s really going the other way. Buffalo is getting +4.5 at Arizona. Buffalo has been clobbered the last couple of weeks. But don’t kid yourself, +4.5 points is a ton against an Arizona team that hasn’t produced 300 yards in any game so far. Their offensive line is the worst in the league allowing 17 sacks in the last couple of games. Buffalo? Though not good as expected up front defensively, has a pretty solid defensive line. What Buffalo does is run the football when Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are healthy and they’re getting healthier. There is no other way around this, Arizona has been super lucky! Now, they’re 11-3 in their last 14 games but 5 of those have been in overtime. The Bills’ running backs that have been fighting injuries all season are now healthy. Their “O” line is a vastly underrated group. Kevin Kolb has been sacked an amazing 17 times over the past 2 weeks
Pick #4: Colts @ Jets (-3) – Jets win it, 27-20
I think this goes down – I feel this game for New York as it feels like a very huge game for Rex Ryan, huge for Mark Sanchez and huge for Tony Sperrano. I don’t feel like it’s huge for the Colts because the Colts are going on the road for the 1st time since opening week and are coming off a highly emotional upset win. They’ve got a cluster of injury issues on the “O” line; Robert Mathis is out on their “D” and Dwight Freeney isn’t as productive as his name. Huge edge for the Jets is at linebacker, special teams, and secondary. The Colts have been rushing the football, which should only help Rex Ryan. Now, Reggie Wayne has been terrific for the Colts. The Jets do a very good job when you’re a team with one star receiver. Revis is out but Cromartie is more than capable on the perimeter. I think the New York Jets – who showed some real fight on Monday night, come back and continue to be the most criticized team with a decent record. Jets win; swallow the points 27-20.
Pick #5: Cowboys (+3.5) @ Ravens – Cowboys win it, 24-23