Welcome comrades to my weekly NFL football picks column. My aim is to help you with some tough choices, whether it be in your office pool or betting against the spread. I will provide analysis and commentary for both.
~NFL football picks for the office pool~
My season prediction tally to date: 79-37
~Lock of the Week~
Green Bay at Tampa Bay- Tampa Bay rookie Josh Freeman will get his first start as an NFL QB. Not a good recipe for a win versus a Packers team fighting to stay in the thick of the playoff race.
Arizona at Chicago- Two 4-3 teams are always a tough call, but I give the edge to Arizona who usually play well after a loss and are surprisingly 3-0 on the road.
Kansas City at Jacksonville- I'll take Maurice Jones-Drew's team over a 1-6 Chiefs team now dealing with yet another Larry Johnson distraction.
Miami at New England- Miami is coming on strong but I can't pick against a Belichick coached team coming off a bye playing at home.
Washington at Atlanta- Atlanta is looking to rebound from a two game losing streak against a Redskins squad in disarray. Kind of a no brainer.
Baltimore at Cincinnati- I'll admit this one is very difficult to assess. Cincinnati is coming off a bye and is playing their best ball in years, and beat these Ravens just four weeks ago. Baltimore looked much better on defense against Denver though and I think they will even the score.
Houston at Indianapolis- The Texans may finally be putting together a defense that can help support their strong offense. The Colts, however, are not the Bills.
Carolina at New Orleans- The Panthers' victory over the Cardinals saved their season. They have their swagger back and want to be the first ones to knock off their division rivals.
Detroit at Seattle- Seattle is not that great but the Lions can't even beat the Rams.
San Diego at N.Y. Giants- I am not sure what is wrong with the Giants but you'd have to think they will not allow themselves to drop their fourth in a row.
Tennessee at San Francisco- The 49ers need a win after three straight losses and almost pulled off the upset versus the Colts.
Dallas at Philadelphia- A divisional matchup for two teams tied for first in the NFC East. Home field advantage wins out in a toss-up.
Monday Night Football tiebreaker
Pittsburgh at Denver- Apparently Denver struggles against teams that bring their A-game on defense. They hadn't faced that scenario until the Ravens' game and lost. The Steelers will make it two in a row.
Pick: Steelers, 24-17.
~against the spread picks~
This is where things get a little tricky. Veterans know that when you bet against the spread you aren't simply picking the winner, you are also betting how close the loser will be on the scoreboard. When betting against the spread, if you choose the team that's favored, they must win by more than the spread number in order for you to get credit for a correct pick. If you choose the underdog, they have to lose by less than the spread number in order for you to get credit.
Houston at Indianapolis (+9)- While I do think the Colts will win, this is a divisional game and Houston is playing well. In this scenario I am taking the Texans to keep the game closer than the Monday spread of 9 points.
Miami at New England (+10.5)- Similarly, the Patriots are my choice to win but I expect the Dolphins to come closer than the 10.5 betting spread
Green Bay at Tampa Bay (-9.5)- It would be an upset for Josh Freeman to waltz in his first NFL start and lead a bad team to a lot of points.
Arizona at Chicago (+3)- I am taking Arizona to win to go 4-0 on the road, partly because Jay Cutler couldn't manage a TD pass versus the Browns of all teams.
Detroit at Seattle (+10)- I like Matt Hasselbeck to torch the Lions' defense several times over in this one.