For Sportsmasher, week four started off with a bang, and at one point I was (7-1) and it looked like I would have back-to-back landslide winning weeks. Well the tables turned, and the universe righted itself, I ended up (8-7) and (2-1) in best bets just barely keeping my head above water. My fellow blogger RexRated got back to .500 by also going (2-1) on his best bets. We have a short slate of games this weekend due to bye weeks, so let’s get into it, time for the picks:
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams (+2) – The Rams (2-2) have been quietly good this season, and are a miracle Detroit Lions comeback week one away from being (3-1), they have been efficient on offense and effective on defense. Meanwhile, their divisional rival Arizona Cardinals (4-0) have been the surprise of the 2012 NFL season, and are getting the job done with a nasty defensive unit. The bet on this game might be the under, but I expect this young Cardinals team to be fired up to be playing on the national stage, and have an excellent game tonight. Arizona’s young defensive stars such as cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive end Calais Campbell and linebacker Daryl Washington lead the charge and get noticed nationwide.
The Pick: Cardinals (-2) FINAL SCORE: Cardinals 20 Rams 13
Atlanta Falcons @ Washington Redskins (+3) – The Redskins (2-2) may be decimated by injuries worse than any other team in the league right now, and were still able to upset the Buccaneers last weekend in Tampa Bay. I actually think the Falcons (4-0) are a good matchup for the Redskins, because Atlanta has no pass rush (which will be their Achilles heel come playoff time) and I expect redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to have a big game. However, I do not see how the Redskins stop Atlanta’s high powered offense, when current league MVP quarterback Matt Ryan has the ball. I could see the Redskins upsetting the Falcons here if Atlanta gives RGIII enough time to make plays and a few balls bounce their way, but I have to take the Falcons.
The Pick: Falcons (-3) FINAL SCORE: Falcons 31 Redskins 24
***REXRATED BEST BET: FALCONS (-3)***
Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) – I am still not convinced that either of these teams are that good, however I expect the Steelers (1-2) to blitz early and often, and hit Eagles quarterback Michael Vick a lot in this matchup. Pittsburgh could also be getting three key players (running back Rashard Mendenhall, linebacker James Harrison, safety Troy Polamalu) back from injury following their bye week. The Eagles have been resilient, winning three close games, including beating the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants on Sunday night football last week. Coming off a bye, at home, give me the Steelers in this one.
The Pick: Steelers (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: Steelers 27 Eagles 23
Green Bay Packers @ Indianapolis Colts (+7) – This one is an easy call for me, quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts (1-2) have been impressive so far this season, and they are going to be great in the not too distant future. Although the Packers (2-2) have been slightly disappointing this season, they are a talented team, and they play fast which will help them on the turf. A year from now, this is a much more interesting matchup, but with Clay Matthews chasing Luck and Aaron Rogers at the helm of the Packers offense, I do not think this is close.
The Pick: Packers (-7) FINAL SCORE: Packers 34 Colts 17
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: PACKERS (-7)***
Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants (-9) – The Browns (0-4) are not as bad as their record looks, they had a chance to beat the Ravens in Baltimore last Thursday, and lost due to a ridiculous number of dropped passes. Rookie running back Trent Richardson is the real deal, and the Giants will have difficulty stopping him inside, with defensive tackle Chris Canty out with an injury. The Giants known for not showing up to home games where they are heavy favorites and they think they should win, if they come out firing on all cylinders, they should make quick work of the Browns. I think the Giants win this one in the end, but the Browns have had a lot of time to prepare, and it will be a lot closer than New Yorkers think.
The Pick: Browns (+9) FINAL SCORE: Giants 23 Browns 17
Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals (-4) – The Bengals (3-1) are underrated, they are a smart offensive team and the addition of power running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has added some much needed pop to this unit, which also has one of the best wide receivers in the game A.J. Green. The Bengals defense is also tough, they have an excellent pass rush, and their secondary is getting several key players back for this game. The Dolphins (1-3) are scrappy and better than anyone who watched HBO’s Hard Knocks would have thought, they have been in every game so far this season. The Bengals seem like the team that beats everyone that they should, I have been riding them all year, and they cover this spread at home.
The Pick: Bengals (-4) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 27 Dolphins 17
Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs (+6) – The Chiefs (1-3) are first in the NFL in rushing yards, and one of the top offenses in the league on paper, but this is not currently translating to wins. I know Arrowhead is a tough place to play, but the Ravens (3-1) are a very bad matchup for the Kansas City Chiefs, and their defense will slow down the Kansas City offense quickly. I project a big game for Ray Rice, a few deep connections between Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith, and an easy Baltimore Ravens victory.
The Pick: Ravens (-6) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 41 Chiefs 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: RAVENS (-6)***
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers (-3) – I think I have figured Panthers quarterback Cam Newton out. He plays well against teams who struggle to rush the passer, however, he really struggles against teams that do not give him time to make plays. Carolina will eventually be a good team, but they first need to fix their defense and give Cam Newton a few more targets in the passing game, which they have not done. The Seahawks have one of the best pass rushes in the league, and a few Thursday nights ago, we saw how much trouble the Giants pass rush gave Cam Newton. I think this will be a tight game, decided by a field goal or less, however Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch proves to be the difference.
The Pick: Seahawks (+3) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 24 Panthers 21
***REXRATED BEST BET: PANTHERS (-3)***
Chicago Bears @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+6) – The Bears (3-1) are coming off a huge victory over the Cowboys in Dallas on Monday night, their defense is playing absolutely incredible football, and the offense seems to be coming around. Despite getting them on a short week, I expect the Jaguars (1-3) to really struggle to move the ball on a stingy Bears defensive unit which will stuff the bread and butter of their offense, tailback Maurice Jones-Drew. If the Bears take away MJD, I am not sure how quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jags offense moves the ball at all. I think the Bears take this one easily.
The Pick: Bears (-6) FINAL SCORE: Bears 24 Jaguars 10
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: BEARS (-6)***
Tennessee Titans @ Minnesota Vikings (-6) – I know that I trashed the Vikings (3-1) this offseason, and caught a lot of flak for it, and I am by no means a believer in this team. However, I will admit that they are a scrappy bunch offensively who know how to stay turnover free, and their defense and special teams are good enough to give them a chance to win most games. Unsung hero of this team is rookie left tackle Matt Kalil, who did not allow one sack at USC, and has not allowed one though four NFL games. The Titans (1-3) are struggling as a team, but they have been extremely disappointing defensively as they are second to last in the league in total defense, an area where I thought their young core would be a strength. The Vikings will win this game, but I would take the points, I still do not think they have the offensive firepower to blow anybody out.
The Pick: Titans (+6) FINAL SCORE: Vikings 24 Titans 20
Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots (-7) – Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (2-2) love playing against Peyton Manning and will be fired up for this home game, they also got the offense rolling last weekend when they scored 52 points in a route of the Buffalo Bills. Peyton Manning played his best football of the season last weekend and looks to be working himself into playing shape as the Broncos (2-2) head to New England. The Patriots win this game for one reason, the Broncos defense is quietly not very good, and Tom Brady and the Patriots offense will shred them on Sunday.
The Pick: Patriots (-7) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 35 Broncos 23
Buffalo Bills @ San Francisco 49ers (-10) – The 49ers (3-1) absolutely manhandled the New York Jets at the Meadowlands last weekend 34-0 and their best in the league defensive unit seems to be hitting full stride as they host the Buffalo Bills. To me, this is one of those games where the line cannot be high enough, the 49ers will stuff the Bills (2-2) one-two punch of CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson in the running game and will force Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw the ball. I think that the Bills will turn the ball over, and the 49ers, glad to be home after two weeks on the road, will handle them easily in San Fran this weekend.
The Pick: 49ers (-10) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 27 Bills 10
San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints (-4) – This is the most surprising line of the weekend to me, the Saints (0-4) have by far the worst defense in the NFL and should not be giving points in any game, I do not care about how many names they have on the offensive side of the ball. As long as the Saints are giving points, I will be picking against them, but especially against a solid Chargers (3-1) team on Sunday night football. The Chargers defense slows the Saints down and Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense shred an awful Saints defense in a Bolts victory.
The Pick: Chargers (+4) FINAL SCORE: Chargers 27 Saints 24
Houston Texans @ New York Jets (+9) – I see absolutely no way that Mark Sanchez and the Jets (2-2) can move the football against one of the best defenses in the league, the undefeated Houston Texans (4-0). The Jets have now suffered demoralizing injuries and their best offensive playmaker (Santonio Holmes) and best defensive player (Darrelle Revis) are both out for the remainder of the season. The Texans have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL and I am fairly certain that they will be the AFC South Champions and the top seed in the AFC Playoffs when all is said and done. Although the Jets defense takes away some of what the Texans like to do offensively, they are unable to move the ball, and the Texans win easily.
The Pick: Texans (-9) FINAL SCORE: Texans 28 Jets 10
***REXRATED BEST BET: TEXANS (-9)***
Week 1: (9-7)
WEEK 2: (7-8-1)
Week 3: (10-5-1)
Week 4: (8-7) 2012 Season: (34-27-2)
Sportsmasher Best Bets: 7-5
RexRated’s Best Bets: 6-6-1
BYE WEEKS: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders