We're just about at the quarter-pole of the 2011 NFL Season, which means we're learning more about each team in the NFL. Unfortunately that will likely be of little use for our picks against the spread. As last week's NFL picks showed, Both James and I were unprepared for Buffalo's continued onslaught around the league. Throw in getting nailed on multiple 1/2 points and it was a less than stellar week. I finished up 7-7 while James was 5-9.
And so we move on to week four with a host of touch matchups to call once again. Last week we only picked 14 of the 16 games because the Eagles and Cowboys both were off the board. Injuries to MIchael Vick and Tony Romo left plenty of question marks, although both players ended up playing Sunday and Monday. There are plenty of question marks as we head into week four so we'll see how far off we are in our predictions.
David - OAKLAND RAIDERS (+4) over New England Patriots: Few results would surprise me in this game. I don't think the Raiders can win a blowout, but I do think they could very well be blown out. And yet I find myself picking them. They are on a nice little roll and with McFadden healthy heading into this game, I think he could keep them in line to spring the late upset.
James - OAKLAND RAIDERS (+4) over New England Patriots: Did you really expect me to pick the Patriots over my Raiders? Seriously though, Im not picking the Raiders as a homer, I honestly believe they are going to win this game. New England has one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season. They have struggled in both pass and rush defense and I think the Raiders offense is going to lite them up. This is going to be a high scoring shoot out and I think that the Raiders defense will get more stops than the Patriots defense will.
David - CHICAGO BEARS (-7) over Carolina Panthers: My gut is making me second-guess this pick a little bit, and if it was in Carolina I'd be all over the Panthers on this one. But a road game is gonna be tough and I think the Bears defense will teach Cam Newton a thing or two.
James - CHICAGO BEARS (-7) over Carolina Panthers: This is a tough call. Both teams have not had the greatest of starts to the season. The Panthers must be happy to see Cam Newton doing so well, but the lack of any running game to speak of, and an average defense has left them with a 1-2 record. The fact that this game is in Chicago and that the Bears running game is so much better than Carolina's makes me lean towards the Bears in this one.
David - Buffalo Bills (-3) over CINCINNATI BENGALS: I'm gonna go with the hot team. Road teams can cause trouble for just about anybody, but the Bills are hot right now. And yet, I have a feeling I'm going to make a lot of incorrect predictions with this Bills squad in 2011.
James - Buffalo Bills (-3) over CINCINNATI BENGALS: I am not completely sold on the Bills just yet. I think they are much better than anyone expected them to be, but I certainly do not think they are one of the top teams in the NFL. That being said, I am pretty sold on the mediocrity of the Bengals. The Ryan Fitzpatrick led Bills are just a better team than the Bengals and should win this by more than three points.
David - CLEVELAND BROWNS (even) over Tennessee Titans: This was a tough one but a road game for Tennessee following the loss of Kenny Britt and I'm just not feeling it. Add in the return of Peyton Hillis after a one game absence with strep throat and I think the Browns are looking at 3-1.
James - CLEVELAND BROWNS (even) over Tennessee Titans: Both of these teams have been relatively big surprises this season. If not for the hot starts by the Detriot Lions and Buffalo Bills, these two could be the teams people are talking about as defying everyones expectations by being 2-1. Unfortunately for the Titans, Chris Johnson still doesn't look like Chris Johnson, and Kenny Britt, their leading receiver, is out for the season. Colt McCoy leads the Browns to a win and a 3-1 start.
David - DALLAS COWBOYS (even) over Detroit Lions: The Lions have become the darling of the NFL alongside the Buffalo Bills, but I think they get tripped up. The Cowboys escaped with a win over the Washington Redskins in spite of what was actually a less than stellar Romo outing (in spite of media reports to the contrary). I think even if Dez Bryant is out they'll figure out a way to win this one at home.
James - Detroit Lions (even) over DALLAS COWBOYS: I may not have bought into the Buffalo Bills yet, but make some room on the Lions bandwagon for me. These guys look real good. A great defensive line, a real good quarterback and of course Megatron is off to the best start of his career. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have limped their way to a 2-1 start. Lions improve to 4-0.
David - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-1.5) over Minnesota Vikings: We have our first Suck For Luck Bowl Game with two winless squads squaring off. I was leaning towards Adrian Peterson being the difference, but I'm gonna go with a throwback game from Thomas Jones to get the Chiefs on the board with a victory.
James - Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: It's the battle of the inept! The Chiefs look like they, along with the Colts, are the current front runners in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes. While the Vikings are win-less, if NFL games were half an hour long, instead of an hour, they'd be undefeated. So while the Vikings are kings of the first half, the only thing it can be said the Chiefs are kings of is injuries.
David - ST. LOUIS RAMS (+1) over Washington Redskins: Consider it NFC West homerism at its finest. But in reality, if Steven Jackson is able to go (limited in practice this week), I think the Rams can hang in there and spring the late upset. They're reaching a point where they really can't afford many more losses if they want to remain competitive in the NFC West. Desperation could do the trick.
James - Washington Redskins (-1) over ST. LOUIS RAMS: Both of these teams have been somewhat of a surprise this season. At the end of last season, I had thought that the Rams were headed in the right direction while the Redksins were headed in the wrong direction. Now, three weeks into 2011 and the opposite appears to be true of both teams. Right now, the Redskins simply look like a more complete and better coached team.
David - San Francisco 49ers (+10) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: There's no way I can pick against the 49ers this week or any week. The 49ers could get obliterated in this game or they hang close enough to potentially spring the upset. I'm not holding my breath for a road win, but if they can hang with the Eagles, it makes the rest of 2011 look a little brighter.
James - San Francisco 49ers (+10) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Yup, I am actually picking the Niners this week, shocking right? I know they are playing the Miami Heat of the NFL, but just like the Heat, the Eagles are failing massively to live up to that billing early this season. Harbaugh will be smart with his play calling, avoid turnovers The Niners defense looks legit, and with Vick playing with a bruised hand, the Niners will not win, but they will keep it close.
David - New Orleans Saints (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: I've got to think the Saints roll the Jaguars with relative ease. Upsets are possible, but when it comes to gambling, this is not the type of game where you roll the dice on an upset. Yes it's possible, but the odds are long enough that is just seems like a sucker bet to go with the Jaguars.
James - New Orleans Saints (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: This is a no brainer. The Jaguars look terrible and the Saints will always look good as long as Drew Brees is their quarterback. Meanwhile, the Jags quarterback situation is in shambles. The Saints will easily win this one by two scores.
David - HOUSTON TEXANS (-4) over Pittsburgh Steelers: The Texans went on the road and gave the Saints everything they could handle. While the Texans look for real, the Steelers look like an over the hill former boxing champ who is barely hanging on. When you struggle to beat the Indianapolis Colts, I think the writing is on the wall.
James - HOUSTON TEXANS (-4) over Pittsburgh Steelers: The Texans are looking like the real deal. With Arian Foster expected back this week, Houston will only get better. The Steelers, on the other hand, are struggling. They barely scraped a win out over the pathetic Colts, were dominated by the Ravens and only looked good against the Seattle Seahawks who are perhaps the least talented team in the NFL.
David - ARIZONA CARDINALS (even) over New York Giants: My NFC West homerism apparently knows no bounds. This pick is predicated in part on Beanie Wells playing on Sunday. He stepped up big the first two weeks before an injury deactivated him in week three. If Wells can play I think he can do enough to get the home victory for Arizona.
James - New York Giants (even) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: After barely pulling out a win in week one against the Panthers, the Cardinals have lost in consecutive weeks to the Redskins and, gulp... the Seattle Seahawks. So far, it does not look like Kolb is the savior that can bring this team back to prominence. The Giants, despite all of their injury woes, are still a pretty good team and should be able to pull out this win.
David - Atlanta Falcons (-4) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: OK, my NFC West homerism is in fact bounded by the Seahawks. They knocked off the Arizona Cardinals at home in week three, but I have faith that they can get back into the swing of being awful this week against Atlanta.
James - Atlanta Falcons (-4) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I get that Seattle is a tough place to go play, but -4 seems like a generous line for the Seahawks. Atlanta is a team who is better than they are currently playing, while Seattle is a team that is worse than it is currently playing (I know, they are playing pretty terrible, but they got a win last week and it was a shocking turn of events). This will be more than a four point win.
David - GREEN BAY PACKERS (-13.5) over Denver Broncos: Double digit spreads can raise plenty of doubts, but not when its the Packers AT HOME against the Denver Broncos. The Packers are just cruising through the regular season right now, looking like they have a legit chance to repeat as champs. Speed bumps will show up along the way, but I've got to think the Broncos will stop the Packers like a bug stops a truck when it splats on the windshield.
James - GREEN BAY PACKERS (-13.5) over Denver Broncos: Wow, this one could be ugly. To be honest, the Broncos are not nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be this year, but this is still the Green Bay Packers, in Green Bay. I don't really think much else needs to be said. Even with a -13.5 line, you would be crazy to bet against the Packers in this one.
David - Miami Dolphins (+8) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: The Chargers normally struggle through the first half of the season before finding their sea legs in November and December. This year San Diego is off to a solid 2-1 start. Consider me in the camp that expects a hiccup along the way. Road games are tough, but with a divisional matchup against Denver looming next week (even though it is only Denver), I think the Chargers are forced into a dogfight by the Dolphins.
James - SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (-8) over Miami Dolphins: This is epic. The Chargers have a winning record in the first month of the season, and Philip Rivers is not even playing that well. They do have some injury issues with Antonio Gates likely to miss the game and Bob Sanders out for the rest of the season. But the Dolphins look just plain bad. Even if the Chargers are not playing at their best, the Chargers at only 75-80% is still far better than the Dolphins.
David - BALTIMORE RAVENS (-3) over New York Jets: The Raiders-Jets game was not nearly as close as the score might have indicated while the Ravens went into St. Louis and absolutely trounced the Rams. I think the Ravens cruise to victory on Sunday.
James - BALTIMORE RAVENS (-3) over New York Jets: The Jets took a punch in the jaw against the Raiders last week. This week, they have to try and recover against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. Not an enviable position. I just do not see the Jets pulling out a win in Baltimore, and I could easily see the Ravens pulling off a two score win, so -3 is an easy take.
David - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-11.5) over Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are coming off a near upset of the PIttsburgh Steelers, but don't let it fool you. That was more the Colts dragging the Steelers into an ugly game rather than the Colts providing an impressive performance. I'll continue to pick against the Colts with virtually any spread, and that is true all the more so on the road.
James - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-11.5) over Indianapolis Colts: The Colts looked bad with Kerry Collins. They will look worse with Curtis Painter. The Bucs are starting to look like the playoff caliber team that many thought the would be last season. Tampa Bay is going to roll this weekend against an absolutely inferior opponent.
Last Week: 7-7-0
Last Week: 5-9-0