The 2014 NFL season has been a difficult one to handicap for some reason. After a plus-.500 season picking games last year I can’t seem to find a groove this year as evidenced by my 3-11 crap-job last week. Went against my gut on a couple games (Bills and Pats) which is never good, had a tough one-point loss with Packers/Ravens, and then there was the Jacksonville game.
But much Brandon Weeden and the Browns, though things may seem bleak and very inconsistent, we’re not throwing in the towel just yet. There’s still a long way to go this season to get this thing back on the right track. And it starts this week…
(Home team in CAPS. Lines from SportsBook.com. Gamble at your own risk.)
Browns (+10) over PACKERS
It’s the biggest line of the week which the Cleveland players should take as a huge slap in the face considering that the similarities in records for the two teams. The difference in this game isn’t tough to find: quarterback. Green Bay is rolling out Aaron Rodgers one of the best in the league while the Browns have Weeden and his backhand flip-pass.
The case for the Browns though is pretty simple. The Packers are crazy banged up with injuries on both sides of the ball. They really only have one competent receiver in Jordy Nelson and the Browns have a guy on defense who has shown that he’s capable of taking the opponent’s best WR out of the game. The Packers will also be without three linebackers, including Clay Matthews as well as a couple corners. And while the Green Bay defense has been very good at stopping up the run they’ve been woeful against the pass.
For the Browns with Weeden it might actually be a blessing in disguise that they’re playing on the road, away from all the noise of hate for the starting QB. There is so little faith in Brandon Weeden right now amongst the Cleveland fans and it appears also in Vegas. But I still believe a little in Weeden. At least enough to know that he has the ability to play well at times. And at the end of the day, ten points is a lot of points when you have what it supposed to be a really good defense which the Browns have had all season with the notable exception of the second half against the Lions.
One more thing…I live in Wisconsin and believe me that as overly-confident as Packers fans are at times, they certainly aren’t taking this game for granted. So there’s that I guess.
Patriots (-4.5) over JETS
I’ve been terrible at picking the New England games this season for some reason. But after how both of these teams played last week it’s hard to image how the Patriots are only getting four and a half points. I mean the Jets just lost to the Steelers…the Steelers. And Tom Brady just had a resurgent game. They’ll probably let me down but I can’t bet against the Pats after what they did last week and I certainly can’t bet on the Jets after what they did last week as well.
Chargers (+7.5) over JAGUARS
I still refuse to bet on the Jags. As if it was supposed to be some sort of moral victory that they managed to cover a four-TD spread last week so they’re being rewarded with only laying one TD at home this week. Even with a west coast team traveling east and playing the early game I’ll still take the Chargers.
LIONS (-2.5) over Bengals
If you go by the logic of “the Browns beat the Bengals, and the Lions beat the Browns” then this one should be easy to call. But even though we know that the NFL doesn’t work that way I still like the Lions. They’re a better team at home where their offense is playing indoors. Calvin Johnson is a week healthier. And the Bengals needed overtime to beat Tad Lewis and the Bills. Also, Andy Dalton in a dome should be a fun subplot to watch how he copes with the noise and the pressure.
Bills (+7) over DOLPHINS
Speaking of Thaddy Lew…
I went against him last week against my better judgment and he’s getting a full touchdown this week against a Dolphins team that probably isn’t as good as that 3-0 start made them look. They’re coming off a bye which gives me a little pause but they also looked terrible against the Saints and Ravens the two weeks prior. Also that Falcons win doesn’t look too impressive anymore either. And if you’re looking for “impressive”, you need look no further than Thad Lewis.
One more note for thought: Buffalo is a great running team while Miami is one of the worst in the league. That should add up to a close ballgame in the end.
REDSKINS (+1) over Bears
It’s been tough sledding but I’m beginning to come around to the notion that Washington might just be a really bad football with Robert Griffin at 67% like he is. But the Bears have done nothing to impress me so far this year and the past several seasons this is about the time where they drop a game just like this one. So how’s that for sound logic?
Cowboys (+2.5) over EAGLES
I will gladly take the Cowboys offense getting points against the Eagles defense especially when they’re countering with Nick Foles.
PANTHERS (-7) over Rams
Both of these teams are coming off of lopsided road wins but it wasn’t hard to see how either could happen. The Vikings were dealing with the loss of Adrien Peterson’s son and the Texans were dealing with the loss of Matt Schaub’s quarterback skills. I don’t feel great about laying a whole touchdown but this pick speaks more to just how pathetic the Rams have looked as a team as a whole this season.
FALCONS (-6.5) over Buccaneers
It’s the crap sandwich game of the week! Don’t over-think it, just take the Falcons at home and be glad you don’t have a lay a full touchdown.
49ers (-3.5) over TITANS
The Titans were sneaky tough last week on the road against the Seahawks, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Jake Locker is back starting which is good for Tennessee but the 49ers are just a better team and have been rolling along pretty good the last three weeks. I’ll ride the hot hand over the rusty QB.
CHIEFS (-6.5) over Texans
Hard for me to grasp how anyone would put any money on a team that just lost by 25 at home (against the Rams, no less) and is going on the road against an undefeated squad while starting Case Keenum. It’s even harder for me to grasp how they aren’t even getting a full TD.
Ravens (+1.5) over STEELERS
Pittsburgh finally a won a football game and now they’re actually giving points??? People realize that was the Jets, right?
Broncos (-6.5) over COLTS
I feel like this game hasn’t gotten enough coverage.
GIANTS (-3.5) over Vikings
Who’s actually watching this game besides Adrien Peterson fantasy owners? The only tilt for me in this one is that the Giants are at home. Other than that, both these teams stink. If Eli throws less than three picks I like their chances to cover.
LAST WEEK: 3-11
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