Week 7 turned out to be another winning weekend for “Casino” Joe and his team. With the Sunday and Monday night primetime sweep, we went 8-7 on the week and turned in our third straight winning week.
But in the world of sports handicapping it can go south in a flash.
At this point in the season Vegas is as good as it gets. They know the teams and their point spreads are typically spot on. We’ll need our best effort to continue this hot streak and improve on our 53-50-2 against the spread overall record.
San Diego at Denver (-7.5)
What more can be said? We’ve been just horrible on Thursday Night Football so far this season. Time and time again we’ve been behind the eight ball going in to the weekend. According to RJ Bell (@RJinVegas), the Broncos have played 25 games since the start of last season and have won 20 with all but one of those wins coming by a touchdown or more. They are coming off a record-setting Peyton Manning game and a thrashing of the San Francisco 49ers. All signs point to Denver. Not on Phil Rivers’ watch and bolo tie.
THE PICK: Chargers (+7.5)
Detroit (-3.5) at Atlanta – LONDON
This game is across the pond in London for an afternoon affair that will start at 9:30 a.m. ET. Perfect for tea and crumpets on this side of the pond. Atlanta started 2-1, they’ve lost four straight and haven’t been very competitive. They can’t run the ball, stop the run or protect Matt Ryan. Welcome the NFL’s #1 ranked defense in Detroit. They should be getting X-factor Reggie Bush back and Calvin Johnson made the trip so there is optimism he laces up the cleats as well. Atlanta is the “home” team in this one, but they’re away from the Georgia dome and are awfully tough to back in this situation.
THE PICK: Lions (-3.5)
Minnesota at Tampa Bay (-3)
The Vikings gave one away last week in Buffalo with a last-second loss and go on the road again. This is a very tough situation for any team, let alone one that lost Adrian Peterson and has a rookie quarterback trying to find his way. Tampa Bay is coming off their bye week, which came at the right time as they were thoroughly embarrassed by Baltimore two weeks ago 48-17 and it was 38-0 after halftime. Tampa Bay comes in to the game last in total defense and Minnesota does have one bright spot: Jerick McKinnon totaled 103 yards against Buffalo’s elite rush defense. He’ll have a big game Sunday and keep the game close.
THE PICK: Vikings (+3)
Chicago at New England (-6)
The Bears fell to 0-3 at Soldier Field last week and the rumors coming out of their locker room depict a very hostile environment. Winning cures all, however, and they have a prime matchup in New England’s 24th ranked rushing defense. The effort last Thursday at home against New York showed that the Patriots aren’t elite in talent and their defense can be gashed. They looked vulnerable defensively without Jerod Mayo and have now lost their best pass rusher in Chandler Jones for a month.
THE PICK: Da Bears (+6)
St. Louis at Kansas City (-6.5)
What a perfect time to fade the Rams. They are off their best win all season against the Seattle Seahawks at home, but we’re not buying it. The Hawks were reeling going into that game and the Rams needed a trick play punt return, a fake punt and a botched replay by the officials to hang on for the win. Overall, the Rams aren’t a very good team and there aren’t too many winnable road games for them and quarterback Austin Davis. This is the soft part of the Chiefs schedule and they can get back in the playoff picture with a series of wins. It starts Sunday.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-6.5)
Seattle (-4.5) at Carolina
Both these defenses are really struggling as of late and Seattle seems to be reeling after the Percy Harvin trade, as they fell miserably to the Rams in Week 7. These two teams played a nail biter in Carolina last year Week 1 with Seattle coming out victorious. Both teams are different this year and not in a good way. The result will probably be the same: a narrow Seahawks victory.
THE PICK: Panthers (+4.5)
Buffalo at New York Jets (-3)
The Bills have found their stud in Sammy Watkins as he hauled in two touchdowns last week, including the game-winner with one second left. However, they lost a lot of talent around Watkins with injuries to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Rex Ryan does a great job of taking away the other team’s best player as he did last week with Rob Gronkowski (5 catches for 68 yards). Geno Smith looked particularly good last week against the Patriots and will look to build off that this week against Buffalo’s 19th ranked pass defense.
THE PICK: Jets (-3)
Miami (-6) at Jacksonville
According to Vegas Insider, the last time the Dolphins were this high of a road favorite was in 2008 at St. Louis (-7) where they did not cover in a 16-12 win. This looks like your prototypical trap game. Miami off a big win playing a bottom team in the league in Jacksonville on the road, looking ahead to San Diego next week. However, Jacksonville just won their first game and to win consecutive games in the NFL you must be a good team. Miami is that and Jacksonville is not. Miami is a matchup nightmare for Jacksonville with the Dolphins pass rush against the Jaguars’ sieve-like offensive line.
THE PICK: Dolphins (-6)
Houston (-1) at Tennessee
What a tough game to pick. Both teams stink. But we’ve been good fading Tennessee without Jake Locker and he may not play again this week. Houston is desperate after blowing the Monday night game in Pittsburgh. Arian Foster is still a stud and will have a nice game against Tennessee’s 22nd ranked rushing defense. Whether it’s Charlie Whitehurst or Zach Mettenberger at quarterback they’ll have trouble sleeping knowing J.J. Watt is a few feet away.
UPDATE: Mettenberger will make his first NFL start. Say hello to J.J. Watt.
THE PICK: Texans (-1)
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-1.5)
Does A.J. Green play? That’s the overwhelming question here. Because without Green in the lineup the Bengals looked overmatched last week in the shutout loss at Indianapolis. He has not practiced through Wednesday and it’s looking like a long shot for Sunday’s matchup against Baltimore. Cincinnati will need a play on special teams or defense to win this game. Remember Cincinnati took the Week 1 matchup against Baltimore and the Ravens will be looking for revenge.
THE PICK: Ravens (+1.5)
Philadelphia at Arizona (-2.5)
No doubt this is the toughest game on the board to pick. This game displays two good teams, one off a bye and another on a serious roll that isn’t getting much national attention. Arizona brings in its number one ranked rushing defense to this matchup against Philadelphia that wants to run the ball with LeSean McCoy but hasn’t had a whole lot of success doing so. Carson Palmer appears to be healthy and has weapons at his disposal.
THE PICK: Cardinals (-2.5)
Indianapolis (-3) at Pittsburgh
Indianapolis is really thriving right now on offense as Andrew Luck leads the NFL in passing. They are even finding some help from the running backs as of late with Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson providing balance to the high-octane offense. If it weren’t for a 2-minute stretch at the end of the first half, Pittsburgh could have lost that Monday night game at home to Houston. However, the public will be all over Indianapolis here as they’ve won five straight. Not us.
THE PICK: Steelers (+3)
Oakland at Cleveland (-7)
To steal a page from Dennis Green, the ex-Cardinals head coach, with an ad lib of our own, “The Browns are WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE.” The Browns showed they aren’t as good as everyone made them out to be with an embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7 giving them their first win of the season. We aren’t saying Oakland will get their first win of the season in Cleveland, but Tony Sparano has them playing tough and because this game is a 4:25 pm ET start, Oakland shouldn’t feel the effects of the time zone change.
THE PICK: Raiders (+7)
Green Bay at New Orleans (-1.5)
Another interesting note from RJ Bell (@RJinVegas), this is the first time since 2008 that the Saints – with Sean Payton coaching – have not been favored by at least 2 points at home. This tells us a) Rodgers is red hot and Vegas respects that and b) Vegas does not think the Saints are any good. If you figure home field advantage in the NFL is worth 3 points, then add in that it is the Superdome where the Saints are historically dominant, then Vegas sees Green Bay as the much better team. We’ll play with the hot hand.
THE PICK: Packers (+1.5)
Washington at Dallas (-9)
There’s a reason Colt McCoy is on his third team in his professional career. He’s a backup. Now he makes a start on the road, in his old state where he made his fame against maybe the hottest team in football. Sorry Colt, the magic stops here. DeMarco Murray continues to run rapid and Dallas rolls BIG on Monday Night.
THE PICK: Cowboys (-9)
Best of luck in Week 8!
Follow Joe on Twitter @jscum13