There are more big games this weekend as we try to figure out the playoff picture. Buffalo and Tennessee fight valiantly to stay in the discussion, although neither has a great chance. The Bears try to overcome the loss of Jay Cutler and get a gift in facing the Chiefs at home. The Raiders try to hold of the Broncos for the division title and both get winnable games, although the Dolphins (hosting the Raiders) are much feistier than the Vikings (hosting the Tebows). Perhaps the biggest game is Bengals-Steelers as the AFC North tries to sort itself out. The Texans are down to their 3rd QB as they host the Falcons; the Texans need to hold off Tennessee while the Falcons need wins to grab a wild card. The Giants have a tough game against the Packers as they try to make up ground on the Cowboys, who have a much more reasonable game against the Cardinals. And finally in the Sunday night game, the Lions travel to New Orleans to face the Saints needing a win to keep up with Chicago and Atlanta. Here’s how the model sees it all shaking out.
Over/under: again, just for entertainment purposes. I expect a 50/50 split pretty much every week.
Moneyline: A few potential upset picks here. Cleveland has a decent shot against Baltimore, better than the Lions against the Saints (sad face). I have the Steelers and Bengals at virtually dead even. The model actually makes the Redskins a small favorite over the Jets, which I’m not sure about but would love to see happen. Houston is also a favorite, but Luigi doesn’t know that Schaub is out. And Arizona isn’t too far off from Dallas in their game.
Spread: Two games are particularly interesting this week by virtue of their big lines – 49ers – Rams and Patriots – Colts (Packers over the Giants by 7 on the road is pretty impressive too). A few years ago when the Patriots were crushing everything, they had a few 20 point lines and they were covering them. However it’s hard to actually predict a team to win by that much. In this case, Luigi picks the 49ers and Pats to win by 13 and 14, which are still huge amounts but not quite as huge as the lines. By my count, double-digit favorites this year are only 9-15-2 against the spread with at least 4 outright losses. We’ll have to see if the 49ers and Pats can overcome the trend.
Simmons: Bill fooled me with his Thursday pick. Instead of going with Seattle at home and injured Eagles (which would have turned out to be correct) he went with Philly torturing its fan base with a win before further embarrassment kicks in. Apparently the Eagles went for the embarrassment right away. So we’re both 0-1 this week, and the rest of his picks (and his lines) are below. My fake SuperContest picks (against Bodog lines), by the way, are the Colts, Texans, Bengals, Browns, and Lions.