Just as Sportsmasher was starting to think that he had this season figured out, that the ship had righted itself, last weekend happened. Sportsmasher got screwed by the referees, his teams no showed, and he went an awful (5-9) for the week. This was his worst week of the season by far, while both Sportsmasher and Rex Rated when a sobering (1-2) in their best bets of the week. Rough week for the staff, but do you feel that? There is a chill in the air and football weather is finally here, and with this cold breeze brings better football picks. Time to right the ship.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans (+6.5) – The Titans (1-4) have really struggled during the early part of the 2012 season, however the home team seems to continue to win these Thursday night games, the only exception was the Giants week three win at Carolina. The Steelers (2-2) need to win this game if they want to be playoff contenders, and I think they get a big win in this Thursday night showdown. I expect the Steelers to stuff Chris Johnson and Tennessee’s run game, then bring pressure when the Titans try to throw. On offense, the Steelers now have a seemingly healthy Rashard Mendenhall and he and Ben Roethlisberger should have no problem moving the ball against Tennessee’s second to worst ranked defense.
The Pick: Steelers (-6.5) FINAL SCORE: Steelers 27 Titans 13
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns (+3) – I am surprised this line. You are telling me that if the Browns (0-5) played the Bengals (3-2) on a neutral field that this game would be a pick’em? That is ridiculous, the Bengals are a far superior team, who should be able to move the ball with ease on the Browns both on the ground and through the air. When the Browns have the ball, I expect a good Bengals defense to stuff rookie running back Trent Richardson and force Brandon Weeden to throw the ball. I’m not picking the Browns until their 28 year old rookie quarterback wins a game.
The Pick: Bengals (-3) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 24 Browns 10
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Bengals (-3)
REXRATED BEST BET: Bengals (-3)
Indianapolis Colts @ New York Jets (-3) – The Jets (2-3) have looked awful offensively and have struggled to stop the run defensively, but I think they turn it around a bit against a young Colts team. The Colts (2-2) are coming off of an emotional win against a heavily favored Green Bay Packers team, this could be a letdown game for impressive rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. I think the Jets find ways to move the ball, and possibly get Tim Tebow more involved in the offense, while a young Colts team coming off of an emotional win struggles, take the Jets.
The Pick: Jets (-3) FINAL SCORE: Jets 23 Colts 17
Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4) – For me this game comes down to one thing, can Tampa Bay stop Kansas City’s running offense? The Buccaneers (1-3) are coming off of a bye week and should be well rested with a strong game plan entering this contest. The Chiefs (1-4) may be without starting quarterback Matt Cassel, who suffered a concussion last week, and would start Brady Quinn in his absence. I’m not picking a backup quarterback on the road, I think that the Bucs put eight in the box and force the Chiefs to throw the ball, and end up defending home turf.
The Pick: Bucs (-4) FINAL SCORE: Bucs 20 Chiefs 13
Oakland Raiders @ Atlanta Falcons (-9) – I think the Falcons (5-0) have one major Achilles heel, lack of a pass rush, which will end up costing them this season and normally I would think that this spread is far too big. Not against the Raiders (1-3), especially at home. The Raiders are just plain awful, their defense is horrendous, and Matt Ryan and his offensive weapons will have no problem moving the ball on them. The Raiders will likely use their usual offensive strategy (hand off to Darren McFadden, handoff to McFadden, dump pass to McFadden, Punt) and the Falcons are simply too good to fall for that nonsense. Falcons in a blowout.
The Pick: Falcons (-9) FINAL SCORE: Falcons 41 Raiders 17
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: FALCONS (-9)
Dallas Cowboys @ Baltimore Ravens (-4) – The Cowboys (2-2) have struggled this season and they are picking the wrong time to run into a red hot Ravens (4-1) team on the road. I expect the Ravens to enter this game fired up, and think that the Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith connection will find success early and often against the awful safeties in Dallas. This will open up the running game for Ray Rice, while the Ravens pass rush will bring a ferocious pass rush after Tony Romo on every drop back. I expect frustration in Dallas after a big Ravens win.
The Pick: Ravens (-4) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 31 Cowboys 20
REXRATED BEST BET: Ravens (-4)
Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles (-4) – The season is on the line for an overhyped Detroit Lions (1-3) team, who is on the verge of having their playoff dreams shattered before midseason, after being named a vogue preseason Super Bowl pick. The Eagles (3-2) have been playing far below expectations themselves, especially with the struggles Michael Vick has had turning the ball over, which he is doing far too often. The Eagles have been in a lot of close games this year, and with the Lions backs against the wall, I think this will be another close one so I’m taking the points.
The Pick: Lions (+4) FINAL SCORE: Eagles 23 Lions 21
St. Louis Rams @ Miami Dolphins (-3.5) – I have to admit, I was down on the Dolphins (2-3) entering this year following their appearance “HBO’s Hard Knocks”, they are at worst a chippy team who plays better at home. The Rams played last Thursday night and are entering this game on 10 days rest, however their offensive line will struggle to block Cameron Wake and a very good Dolphins pass rush. Neither team has a lot of playmakers on the outside of the offense, so I’m going with the better defense/home team combo in this one.
The Pick: Dolphins (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: Dolphins 20 Rams 14
New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks (+4) – One of the first rules of football betting is never bet against the Seahawks (3-2) at home, where they are (9-1) in their last 10 home games. Well I am about to break that rule, because Bill Belichick knows this, and the Patriots (3-2) will be fired up. I expect Seattle’s pass rush and strong secondary to give the Patriots some problems early, and Marshawn Lynch to have some big runs against the Patriots defense, however in the end the Patriots will simply be too much and will end Seattle’s home dominance.
The Pick: Patriots (-4) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 34 Seahawks 23
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Patriots (-4)
Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals (-5) – The Bills (2-3) are coming off an absolute pounding by the 49ers in San Francisco, and now they face another tough defense, coming off a loss and ten days rest in the Cardinals (4-1). The Bills have been turnover prone this year and need to be able to run the ball to be effective offensively, which will be extremely tough to do against a stingy Cardinals defense. Until I see the Bills move the ball against a good defense, it will be tough for me to pick them, they will struggle in Arizona.
The Pick: Cardinals (-5) FINAL SCORE: Cardinals 24 Bills 17
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins (NL) – There is no line on this game due to the injury to Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. We will update this once the line is released.
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) – A rematch of an absolute war of a 2011 NFC Title game, when the Giants edged the 49ers, and ended up winning the Super Bowl. The Giants get up for big games on the road, the 49ers want revenge for last season’s playoff loss, so this game should be a great one. I expect Eli Manning to have the Giants gaining positive yardage against a tough 49ers defense, however, the 49ers will also be able to move the ball on the Giants. 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith has an injured middle finger on his throwing hand, and 6.5 points is just too many in what should be an excellent NFL Battle.
The Pick: Giants (+6.5) FINAL SCORE: Giants 27 49ers 23
SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Giants (+6.5)
Green Bay Packers @ Houston Texans (-3) – The underachieving Packers travel into Houston to take on the undefeated Texans. GB has showed signs of life lately and the Texans are playing on a short week after what was way to close of a game against the Jets. The Texans lost Brian Cushing for the season with an ACL injury and will have their hands full with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
The Pick: Packers (+3)
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers (-1.5) – Monday Night Football this week showcases Peyton back in prime time as him and the Denver Broncos travel into San Diego (Spanish for Whales Vagina) to take on Phil Rivers and the Chargers. This should be a solid game as both teams can put up points and both defenses have underachieved this year.
The Pick: Broncos (+1.5)
REXRATED BEST BET: Broncos (+1.5)
Week 1: (9-7) WEEK 2: (7-8-1) Week 3: (10-5-1) Week 4: (8-7) Week 5: (5-9) 2012 Season: (39-36-2)
Sportsmasher Best Bets: 8-7
RexRated’s Best Bets: 7-8-1
BYE WEEKS: Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars