This week’s fail-safe, sure-fire picks against the spread from Confessions of a Sportscaster and yours truly are shown below. If I keep picking up a game a week on Lucas like I did last week, I’ll wind up winning by two games! Marathon, not a sprint! That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. Also, groupthink is apparently back, as we only disagree on two games this week. Subjectively, my hunch is that means we’ll both wind up 5-8 this week, but maybe I’m wrong! Please read our picks below.
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins (+2.5)
Lucas: Bengals. I feel like Cincy might be rounding into form at this point. Also I don’t really trust the Dolphins.
Nathaniel: Bengals. Ryan Tannehill’s on pace to get sacked 73 times this season. 73! If he and the Dolphins offensive line keep this pace up, he’ll be the second-most sacked quarterback in a single season ever. Why not just embrace the whole thing and gun for David Carr’s record, guys? It’d do David a world of good to know someone out there may have POSSIBLY had it worse than him.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-7.5)
Lucas: Panthers. I’m behind you, Riverboat Ron! Don’t fail me now!
Nathaniel: Falcons. Was Matt Ryan’s four interception game last week a fluke, a sign that the wheels are starting to fall off the Falcons offense without Julio and Roddy White, or a reminder that the Cardinals defense is really good? The answer, of course, could very well be “All three,” but I prefer to live in a world where the truth isn’t multi-faceted and difficult to understand sometimes.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills (+3.5)
Lucas: Chiefs. KC reloaded big time in the offseason, which is a big reason why they’ve already notched 6 more wins than they had all last year. Adding Andy Reid also helped. Though personally, I’m a bigger fan of Baby Andy Reid. Happy Halloween!
Nathaniel: Chiefs. Usually the longer a backup quarterback has to stay in, the more cracks and flaws in his game appear. Particularly when you have to go up against the best defense in the AFC. I’m rooting for you, Thad Lewis, but I don’t got a good feeling about this!
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5)
Lucas: Vikings. Look, I know the Vikings aren’t great. I watched most of the second half of Aaron Rodgers taking his time dissecting their defense. And yes, I realize it’s November and this is when Tony Romo and company take off. But I’m not sold on a double-digit spread at this stage.
Nathaniel: Vikings. If I knew for certain that Josh Freeman would be starting Sunday, then I would take Dallas with no hesitation. Unfortunately, Christian Ponder shows enough flashes of competence to make me a think a backdoor cover would be eminently within reach for Minnesota. Of course, what would make this easier is if Leslie Frazier decided to pick his starting quarterback more than three hours before kickoff. I do realize that’s an unreasonable demand, though.
Tennessee Titans at St. Louis Rams (+2.5)
Lucas: Titans. St. Louis blew an easily winnable game against the Seahawks by sucking on offense. Why should I trust them here?
Nathaniel: Titans. The less said about this game, the better.
New Orleans Saints at New York Jets (+5.5)
Lucas: Saints. This is partially a gut reaction to the Jets getting annihilated by the Bengals last week. This is also a gut reaction to “Hey, the Saints are really, really good.”
Nathaniel: Saints. The Jets’ tendency this season has been to win a close game and then lose their next matchup, usually by a big margin. So, using that logic, the Jets should win a close game this week. Of course, that logic doesn’t know that the Saints are coming into town.
San Diego Chargers at Washington Redskins (-0.5)
Lucas: Redskins. I’ll give the thug Brandon Meriweather a week grace period before he either takes out a guy’s knee or goes back to his headhunting and gets suspended for the rest of the season like he deserves. (In his defense though: he does have a point about defenders being forced to go low.)
Nathaniel: Chargers. Philip Rivers is quietly having a season that’s nearly as good as Peyton Manning’s has been. It’s good that he has, because the Chargers defense has been horrible all year. Another 45-41 game may very well be in the cards at FedEx Field.
Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders (-2.5)
Lucas: Eagles. ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook (TMQ) thinks Philly opponents are actually the Borg. These defenses are adapting to the high speed offense Chip Kelly brought over. But unless Terrelle Pryor breaks a 90 yard run again, I think the only Borg in sight might be in the Black Hole.
Nathaniel: Eagles. Chip Kelly’s figuring out it’s tougher to move the ball at warp speed when you don’t have a semblance of a quarterback behind center. That I’m still taking the Eagles anyway either says something about my stupidity or Oakland’s inability to move the ball through the air. Or both!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks (-16.5)
Lucas: Seahawks. Normally I’d be leery here. But I feel like if the Tampa players really want Greg Schiano gone… isn’t this the perfect game to do it? Get the crap kicked out of you, force ownership’s hand… maybe not likely, but there’s no way Tampa is going to keep up with the Seahawks in Seattle.
Nathaniel: Seahawks. Here’s assuming Seattle’s offensive line actually remembers how to block again after briefly forgetting last Monday Night.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (+2.5)
Lucas: Browns. Is it me, or did Cleveland look serviceable last week? Against KC, no less! Pit them at home against a not-that-great Baltimore team… I could go for that. You know, as long as Brandon Weeden doesn’t play.
Nathaniel: Browns. Once the Browns actually find a quarterback in next year’s draft, they could turn into a legitimately good team. For now, having Jason Campbell as their quarterback makes them competent. Progress over Brandon Weeden!
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-7.5)
Lucas: Steelers. Look, I know this game is in Foxboro. Part of me just isn’t sold on the spread. Of course, now Tom Brady will torch the Steelers and beat them by 30 points.
Nathaniel: Steelers. I think it’s safe to say 2007-12 Tom Brady isn’t walking through that door at this point. The Patriots actually have a better record at the season’s midpoint than they have the past two years, but they feel 10,000 times less dangerous.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (+2.5)
Lucas: Colts. Houston is clearly not the team they’ve been the last couple years. I was talking to my supervisor from Indy the other day, and we marveled at the fact that it’s not inconceivable for the Colts to run the table the rest of the day. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’s a scary thought.
Nathaniel: Colts. My hunch is Reggie Wayne’s torn ACL is going to wind up being an insurmountable obstacle to the Colts’s Super Bowl hopes this year, but the Texans have reached the point where every home game is toxic. The fans seem ready to turn on this team from the first mistake they make – and it seems likely that Case Keenum will make a bunch of them Sunday Night.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-11.5)
Lucas: Packers. Bad news for Bears fans: Jay Cutler is out. Bad news for Packers fans: Jay Cutler is out. Seriously, you have no idea how sad I am that he won’t be available to get sacked half a dozen times and throw three picks. Instead, I’ll have to settle for Green Bay rattling Josh McCown while Aaron Rodgers cremates a banged up and past-its-prime Bears defense.
Nathaniel: Packers. This is not going to be fun.
Lucas: 64-57 (6-7 last week)
Nathaniel: 57-64 (7-6 last week)