If it weren't for the easiest betting decision of the year last week (Bears-Vikings on Monday Night) I'd have thrown up a donut. So much for being able to coast in with an assured over-.500 season. Home teams in CAPS.
Dallas (-6.5) over ARIZONA (Saturday Night)
I've avoided going too Dallas-heavy this year in this space, but I had trouble finding a fifth game and couldn't come up with enough funny foot puns about Rex Ryan to put together an adequate writeup on the Jets-Bears game, so to the old default I'll go on Christmas Night. Dallas has been terrible on defense lately but has found an identity on offense since Jon Kitna got comfortable and Jason Garrett quit trying to be outsmart everyone and started playing to the team's strengths. The Cardinals are the perfect antidote for the Cowboys' defensive problems - they have rookie John Skelton playing quarterback and have averaged less than 150 yards passing per game in their last three. On a side note, does anyone else find it funny how you haven't heard the usual outcry this year from people who can't get NFL Network? Their slate of games has been beyond putrid.
Detroit (+3.5) over MIAMI
The Dolphins have been terrible at home this year and their offense has thrown up three straight stinkers. The Lions won their first road game since 2007 last week at Tampa Bay and are probably as scary as a 4-10 team could possibly be right now. As a result of having Drew Stanton start at quarterback, Detroit has rushed for 168 yards per game in the last three weeks in victories over the Bucs, Packers, and a near miss against the Bears. I like the Lions' chances of making it two road wins in a row this week.
NY Giants (+3) over GREEN BAY
This game is an example of why you can't put too much stock in last week. Yes, the Giants put together a monumental collapse against the Eagles. And yes, the Packers had the Patriots on the ropes in Foxboro until Matt Flynn showed that he's a graduate of the Les Miles School of Clock Management in a game where many didn't give them a chance (my hand is raised). So now that Aaron Rodgers is likely to return for Green Bay, conventional wisdom would tell you to take the Packers at home. After watching both games, I saw a Giants team that moved the ball at will and rushed the quarterback very well for 52 minutes. I've seen a lot of the Packers this year and their ineffective running game often hamstrings their offense - before you go crazy about the 27 they put up against the Pats, remember that is still one of the worst pass defenses in the league. The Giants have a good chance to win the game in any weather.
San Diego (-8) over CINCINNATI
Very Good Team, say hello to Very Bad Team. Oh, and don't worry about having to go on the road - their stadium won't be close to full. This game should be gift-wrapped for the Chargers, and if the weather is remotely manageable Vincent Jackson is likely to eat the depleted Bengal defense for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bolts by at least 10.
ATLANTA (-2.5) over New Orleans (Monday Night)
The Falcons seem to be getting all the same types of breaks that the Saints were getting last year, and are very very tough to bet against at home. If you need more than Matt Ryan's 19-1 home record, then consider the already-suspect Saints run defense was worn down for 208 yards last week and the Falcons run it as well as anyone. Giving less than a FG with a 12-2 team that's undefeated at home this year seems logical enough to me.
Last Week: 1-4-0