Early NFL Lines Offer a Few Road Favorites

Dalton
Dalton
Andy Dalton and the Bengals host Cleveland in a key AFC North game Thursday night.

Road favorites aren’t uncommon but this week we have three plus a “pick’em” game so you’ll need to do your homework and I’ll do my best to help later this week.

Cleveland (+6) at Cincinnati – The AFC North is a logjam and all four teams are above .500. I expect a great effort from the Browns who I like getting those points.

Dallas at Jacksonville (in London) – There is no line yet because of the situation with Tony Romo.

Miami (+3) at Detroit – This should be one of the best games of the day. Will a hot Miami team handle a rested Lions’ team getting Megatron and Reggie Bush back? I like the Fins getting the points.

Orton
Can Kyle Orton and the Bills upset the Chiefs this Sunday?

Kansas City (-1.5) at Buffalo – The Bills are one of the hardest teams to figure out this year especially at home. If Kyle Orton can get protection I like the Bills getting the points.

San Francisco (+4.5) at New Orleans – What a brutal loss for the Niners on Sunday. Now they have to play in New Orleans against the surging Saints. I like the Saints to cover.

Tennessee (+10) at Baltimore – The Titans no doubt paid attention to the Steelers’ destruction of the Ravens’ secondary. The problem is that Zach Mettenberger isn’t exactly Ben Roethlisberger so take the Ravens even giving ten.

Pittsburgh (-4.5) at NY Jets – This is a situation where normally the Steelers play down to the competition. The Jets are reeling and their secondary is a mess as is their offense. Take the Steelers to cover on the road.

Atlanta (Pick’em) at Tampa Bay – Flip a coin here right? Personally I think Atlanta’s Mike Smith is a dead man walking so let’s see how his team rebounds following the bye. I like the Bucs to win at home.

Denver (-11) at Oakland – The Raiders get the honor of hosting Denver following the Broncos loss at New England. Tony Sparano has these guys playing hard but the talent just isn’t there. Take the Broncos to cover.

St. Louis (+7) at Arizona – In recent weeks, St. Louis has beaten Seattle and San Francisco so now they go for the trifecta. The problem for the Rams is that neither of those teams is playing as well as the Cardinals are. I like Arizona to cover at home.

NY Giants (+9) at Seattle – The Seahawks really disappointed me last week. Double-digit favorites over Oakland and they couldn’t close the deal. This week will be more of the same. Take the Giants and the points.

Chicago (+7) at Green Bay – The NFC North rivalry returns to the frozen tundra where the Packers are leading the division along with Detroit. The Bears have been a huge disappointment in recent weeks and Jay Cutler has struggled to the point where frustration has settled in. Take the Packers at home to cover.

Carolina (+5.5) at Philadelphia – Cam Newton is coming off of a poor performance at home in the loss to New Orleans while it looks like Mark Sanchez will get his first start in quite a while with Nick Foles out with a clavicle injury. The Panthers just haven’t proven any sort of consistency to me this year so I like the Eagles to cover.

Here’s Your Early Look at NFL Lines for Week Nine

Graham
Graham
A healthy Jimmy Graham would be a welcome sight for Saints' fans.

Tuesday means I’m giving you an early look at the National Football League schedule and who is favored and who is not. Here’s you’re sneak peek.

New Orleans (-1) at Carolina – The Saints got a much-needed win over Green Bay and now can take over first place with a win over the Panthers. Were the Saints in any other division, they may have been left for dead, but not this one.

San Diego (+2.5) at Miami – Very interesting game here with the Chargers getting ten days to prepare for a Dolphins’ team that has struggled offensively but is playing very well defensively. This is a monster game for both teams in terms of their respective divisions.

Jacksonville (+11.5) at Cincinnati – The Bengals appear to have righted their listing ship with a tight win over Baltimore on Sunday. They had gone 0-2-1 in their previous three games. Jacksonville got that all important first win over Cleveland but then was just awful in losing to Miami. A.J. Green may return for the Bengals as well even though I don’t think they’ll need him.

Tampa Bay (+6) at Cleveland – I think the Browns got a significant wake-up call after they beat rival Pittsburgh and then lost to Jacksonville. They got past the Raiders Sunday and now entertain the Buccaneers who are about as bad as it gets right now.

Washington (+2.5) at Minnesota – Depending on what happened last night in Dallas, we could see Robert Griffin III return, Kirk Cousins get another shot or maybe Colt McCoy again. The biggest thing about this game however might be the protests going on outside regarding the Redskins’ nickname.

Foles
Nick Foles and the Eagles look to bounce back in Houston.

Philadelphia (-2.5) at Houston – The Eagles hit the road again following a tough loss at Arizona on Sunday. The Texans will not be an easy challenge as they typically play well at home. If the Eagles can put the clamps on Arian Foster then they should win going away.

NY Jets (+9.5) at Kansas City – Rex Ryan wasted no time in announcing that Michael Vick would get the start against the Chiefs following Geno Smith’s brutal performance against Buffalo. Ryan is as close to a dead man walking as anyone could be right now so he needs to get something going immediately or he’s gone before the season ends.

Arizona (+4) at Dallas – The Cowboys played last night and barring an enormous injury things should be set up for the game of the week with the 6-1 Cardinals. The formula will be simple for Dallas; run the ball and limit the Cards’ offense. This should be a great game.

St. Louis (+9.5) at San Francisco – The Rams looked to be on the right track when they beat the Seahawks but then they played poorly in losing to Kansas City. Now they head to San Francisco where the 49ers are getting healthy and seem to be putting any issues with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh behind them.

Denver (-3) at New England – Stop me if you’ve heard this but Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are meeting once again an the media will do everything to not fall all over themselves. Actually this should be a great match-up where both QBs will need to find the mismatches at the line of scrimmage. Hard to believe the Pats are underdogs at home where Brady rarely loses.

Oakland (+15) at Seattle – I expected a bit more from the Tony Sparano-led Raiders but the talent just isn’t there. While I think the Seahawks still have some issues, they should roll over Oakland.

Baltimore (+1.5) at Pittsburgh – The Ravens beat the Steelers in week two and have a 2-2 divisional record. Pittsburgh is 1-2 in the division and still has two games remaining with Cincinnati. These two almost always play games to within a field goal and I expect this to be no different.

Indianapolis (-3) at NY Giants – The Colts look to rebound from their 51-34 loss to Pittsburgh while the Giants come off the bye week. You can pretty much pencil in a 300-yard passing game for Andrew Luck who seemingly does it every week, but now the Colts’ defense appears to be a weakness. Can the G-Men take advantage at home?

Here is Your Brief Glimpse at All of the NFL Lines for Week Seven

Romo
Romo
Tony Romo and the Cowboys are red-hot and now host a depleted Giants' team this week.

As is the usual case, I’m taking a look at the early lines for this week’s National Football League schedule. These are, and will change in almost all cases so stay tuned but here are my thoughts on each game as they exist today.

NY Jets (+10) at New England (O/U 46.5) – Double-digit spreads in the NFL are always tough to swallow and this rivalry game in the AFC East will be no different. Right now I like the Pats to cover simply because I have zero faith in the Jets’ offense to score more than 14 points.

Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis (O/U 49) – This line will move solely on the availability of A.J. Green. Doctors are recommending rest and no surgery but that rest means he is likely out another week or two. The Colts offense will be licking its’ chops after the Bengals surrendered 37 to Carolina this past Sunday.

Tennessee (+4) at Washington (O/U 46) – Here is you ugly game of the week… The Titans seem to play everyone tough and they were fortunate to get a few win over Jacksonville. The Redskins need to get the running game going because while Kirk Cousins can put up impressive numbers he also makes mistakes. Right now I like the Titans and the points.

Philbin
Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin need to get their act together as they head into Chicago.

Miami (+3) at Chicago (O/U 49) – It’s going to be a long week in Miami where head coach Joe Philbin didn’t do his team any favors in their last second loss to the Packers. In Chicago, the Bears righted the ship with a solid win over Atlanta that featured Jay Cutler playing much better than he had lately. Take the Bears in this one.

Cleveland (-4) at Jacksonville (O/U 45) – The Jags remained winless last week while the Browns knocked off long-time nemesis Pittsburgh in a big way. The schedule sets up nicely for the Browns who have Tampa Bay and Oakland in the next two weeks. The loss of Alex Mack will hurt but I still like Cleveland to cover.

Seattle (-6) at St. Louis (O/U 43.5) – Seattle is 3-2 and already has a loss at home. In their two losses, both San Diego and Dallas did two things; converted on third down and kept the Seahawks’ offense off the field. Still like them to cover.

Carolina (+7) at Green Bay (O/U 48.5) – Great performance by Carolina last week in a tie. Better performance by Aaron Rodgers in a Packers’ last-second win. Take the Panthers and the points.

Atlanta (+6.5) at Baltimore (O/U 49.5) – Atlanta? Outdoors? Forget it. Take the streaking Ravens to cover.

Minnesota (+4) at Buffalo (O/U 43) – Minnesota was stifled at home by a decent Detroit defense. Look for the Bills to cover here.

New Orleans (+2.5) at Detroit (O/U 50.5) – The Saints understand this game could be their season. Another loss and making the playoffs becomes most difficult. If Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham are both out, expect scoring to be down. Take the Lions to cover.

Kansas City (+5) at San Diego (O/U 44.5) – This could be the game of the week. The Chargers are playing as well as anyone and the Chiefs seem to be in every game they play. I like the Chiefs and the points.

NY Giants (+5) at Dallas (O/U48.5) – Victor Cruz is gone for the season. Dallas is on fire and at home. Take the ‘boys to cover.

Arizona (-3.5) at Oakland (O/U 43.5) – I said last week that Tony Sparano would have his Raiders ready and they were despite losing. The Cards are too good on both sides though. Take them to cover.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Denver (O/U 47) – The 49ers seem to have bounced back a bit and are playing better on defense. No matter, the Broncos offense is too good at home. Take them to cover.

Houston (+3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 44.5) – The Texans are a bit of a mess at quarterback while the Steelers are a mess period. Take the Texans and the points.

I Really Like These Sunday Late Games

Rivers
Rivers
Why shouldn't Philip Rivers be getting some MVP consideration?

I’m taking a look at the late games today which may be capped by the best game of the day when the Giants visit Philadelphia. Let’s go!

San Diego (-7.5) at Oakland (O/U 43.5) – The Chargers are a fourth quarter letdown in the opener  away from being 5-0 right now. QB Philip Rivers is having an MVP-type season and the defense is really coming together. In Oakland, the Tony Sparano era is underway. I can guarantee you that the Raiders will give maximum effort today.

San Diego has to be careful not to rely too much on Rivers with both of their top running backs out of the game with injuries.

Trends: San Diego is 3-7 against the spread in their last ten games against the Raiders… Oakland is 4-17 in their last 21 games against the the Chargers… The total has gone OVER in five of San Diego’s last seven games when playing on the road against Oakland.

Key Injuries: SD RBS Ronald Brown, Ryan Mathews OUT… OAK G Khalif Barnes OUT

The Pick: Take the Raiders getting the points and I like the UNDER.

Murray
DeMarco Murray cannot afford to fumble the ball the way he has against Seattle.

Dallas (+9) at Seattle (O/U 47) – There used to be an old saying that Monday night’s winners were Sunday’s losers. This came about because of less time to prepare and heal up before the next game. I don’t think that’s going to be the case here. Pete Carroll will have his team ready to go because this isn’t the normal Dallas team they’ve seen in recent years.

The Cowboys are running the ball behind DeMarco Murray and their much-maligned defense is doing just fine.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Dallas’ last seven games… Seattle is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against Dallas… The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five games at Seattle.

Key Injuries: DAL LB Bruce Carter OUT… SEA TE Zach Miller OUT

The Pick: Take Dallas getting the points and the UNDER.

Washington (+3.5) at Arizona (O/U 45.5) – This is all going to depend on who is starting at quarterback for Arizona. There’s talk it could be Palmer, Stanton or even rookie Logan Thomas who came in last week. I think you’ll see Bruce Arians rely on the running game a bit more either way.

For the Redskins, can Kirk Cousins bounce back from a rough go against the Seahawks? I think you’ll see them go with Alfred Morris and the running game a bit as well but the Cardinals’ defense is tough so he’ll have to throw at some point.

Trends: Washington is 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games on the road… The Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last six games when playing the Redskins at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of Washington’s last five trips to Arizona.

Key Injuries: WAS QB Robert Griffin III OUT… Qbs Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton QUESTIONABLE

The Pick: Take the Cardinals to cover and the UNDER.

NY Giants (+3) at Philadelphia (O/U 51) – With Dallas playing earlier in Seattle, this becomes a monster game for both of these teams. A Cowboys’ loss means the winner of this game takes first-place in the NFC East. The Giants will be hurting without running back Rashard Jennings but don’t be a bit surprised if rookie Andre Williams has a big game in his place.

For the Eagles it’s quite simple; they need to get LeSean McCoy going. He’s averaging less than three yards per carry right now and that’s not going to cut it.

Trends: The Giants are 3-9 against the spread and are 3-9 straight up in their last 12 games against Philadelphia… The Eagels are 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… Philly is 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 games at home.

Key Injuries: NYG RB Rashard Jennings, OUT… PHI C Jason Kelce OUT

The Pick: Take the G-Men getting the points and I like the OVER.

Embrace J.J. Watt in a Time Where Others Are Embarrassing the NFL

Watt
Watt
J.J. Watt is having a season for the ages. We all need to be paying attention.

I wasn’t one bit surprised to hear some fans of the National Football League actually complaining about how much attention Houston Texans’ defensive lineman J.J. Watt has been getting. Fans by nature get tired of feel-good stories long before they tire of dramatic or controversy-filled ones.

I guess this is just how we are wired because it isn’t any different in the larger society is it? For every piece of good news there are the Ray Rice’s and Kim Kardashian’s of the world who demand our attention.

My message to those who are tired of hearing about and seeing J.J. Watt on all kinds of commercials is this; Shut up!

This guy scored his third touchdown in as many games Thursday night and just in case you forgot, he plays on defense! Watt has more touchdowns right now than Calvin Johnson does. He has more touchdowns than Roddy White does. He also has more TDs than DeSean Jackson or A.J. Green as well.

But you’re tired of hearing about him and seeing him on television all the time huh?

Peterson
We need to be less interested in Peterson and more interested in players doing the right things.

You obviously want more coverage of Ray Rice knocking his wife out cold in an elevator. Perhaps you need to hear more about Adrian Peterson telling a court official that he got high just before his first court appearance for abusing his child with a tree branch.

Right now, Watt could probably miss the remainder of the season and still win defensive player of the year honors. Furthermore, if he continues on his torrid pace, there’s a good chance that he could be deemed the most valuable player in the entire NFL.

Only two other defensive players have ever won the award and they would be Lawrence Taylor and Alan Page. There will certainly be calls for quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers to win the award and both are having good seasons, but what Watt is doing right now is as dominant as anything anyone in the NFL is doing.

The other reason you shouldn’t be tired of Watt is that he’s a quality individual. He’s active in the Houston community and rarely turns down an opportunity to do things with or for kids. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself either as he does in commercials for any number of advertisers recently.

This is a time where we as fans should be embracing a guy like Watt rather than “tiring of him.” We should be making more out of guys who take time out of their Tuesday off-days to spend time doing charitable works but we don’t. We’d rather hear salacious stories of what guys are doing wrong.

I’m not a Texans’ fan in any way, shape or form but I’m a J.J. Watt fan and you should be too.

Sparano Buries the Past

In case you missed it this past week, new Oakland Raiders’ Head Coach Tony Sparano’s first act as the new leader was to gather the team at the far end of the practice for a meeting. Upon their arrival, the team found a small hole dug and a shovel.

Sparano took the shovel and announced that he was burying the first four games of the season. He then invited each and every member of the team to drop some dirt in the hole.

I’ve seen and heard of this type of thing before and frankly if I were Sparano I’d be looking for some way to change the culture too. While burying a ball isn’t going to make players better it at least sends the message that things are changing if even a little.

Three Great NFL Games to Add to Your Thanksgiving Table

Johnson
Johnson
Megatron will need a monster day in order for the Lions to beat the Packers.

Happy Thanksgiving!! Enjoy the turkey and the football and of course good luck in your Turkey Day betting!

Green Bay (+7) at Detroit – Here’s the one stat you need to know heading into this one; Detroit has lost nine straight Thanksgiving Day contests and of course those are all at home. Whatever you choose to do with that is up to you but this is the one time to be extremely cautious. The Packers have not won a game since Aaron Rodgers went down on the Lambeau Field grass with a broken collarbone.

Despite this, the team showed some offensive gumption when Matt Flynn was inserted into the game last week. Ironically, the last time Flynn started a game for the Packers was against the Lions and he threw for over 480 yards that evening.

The Lions’ secondary is weak so they must get pressure from the front four. If not, Flynn could have another one of those days but don’t sleep on rookie Eddie Lacy though either who was over 100 yards last week.

The formula for the Lions is simple; take care of the ball and rely on Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. Detroit is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games at home against the Packers while Green Bay is 6-1 straight up against the Lions in Detroit over that same span. With the over/under at 50, take the over with confidence (both teams average about 25 per game) and take the Packers with that hefty touchdown advantage.

Romo
Against a tough Raiders' run defense, the game could fall on the arm of Tony Romo.

Oakland (+9) at Dallas – I really hate that new stadium that Jerry Jones has built in Arlington. The old Texas Stadium offered the perfect backdrop to the numerous Thanksgiving shenanigans that seemed to happen back in those days. Now we’re stuck with a perfectly pristine field and video boards bigger than an aircraft carrier.

Oh well…. The Raiders enter the Turkey Day showdown with Matt McGloin at quarterback and he has been OK but the Cowboys might be peaking right now and that spells trouble for him and the Oakland offense. If the Raiders have any chance it’s to expose the Dallas defense which gives up over 25 points per game and over 133 yards per game on the ground.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys’ offense ran the ball pretty well last week against the Giants but the Raiders have been good against the run all season allowing less than 100 yards per game. That means Romo will take to the skies more and when that happens his chances for mistakes rises as well.

Oakland is 2-4 against the spread in their last six trips to Dallas while the Cowboys are 5-11 against the spread in their last 16 home games. The over/under is 47.5 and I actually like the under today. I also like the Cowboys to win, but love the Raiders getting nine.

Pittsburgh (+3) at Baltimore – What a way to rekindle the NFL’s best rivalry. Both teams sit at 5-6 and have their eyes on the final wild-card spot. Pittsburgh defeated the Ravens by three back in Heinz Field several weeks back and now Baltimore looks for revenge. Neither team has run the ball well most of the season and that will be a key today. Keeping the opposing defense unbalanced can help keep the QBs clean.

Since starting 0-4, the Steelers have ripped off five of seven. Since being destroyed by Tom Brady four weeks ago, the defense has been outstanding over their last three games with the exception of the second quarter against Detroit where they gave up 27 points. The other 11 quarters they’ve only surrendered 21 total.

The Ravens will need Ray Rice to get going and need Joe Flacco to take care of the ball which is something he hasn’t done real well in 2013. Flacco will try to get Torrie Smith deep which is an area the Steelers’ defense has been poor at covering.

The Ravens are 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games against the Steelers while Pittsburgh is 5-13 against the spread in their last 18 road games. The over/under is 41 and I love the over. I will also take the Steelers and the three.