Holy mackerel what a sporting weekend ahead. Ireland tonight in the European Championship qualifiers, Ireland tomorrow in the Rugby World Cup quarter final, the Dublin City Hurricanes in the final of the Irish Baseball League Saturday afternoon, and then NFL Sunday, and the Patriots against the Jets. Gosh. That's a whole lot of action.
Let's break with tradition and go straight to the fascinating Monday night game between the Bears the suddenly amazing Lions, then on to the rest.
- Last weeks totals against the spread - 10-6
- Running total against the spread - 39-24
Chicago Bears (2-2) at Detroit Lions (4-0) -5.5
OK, imagine at the end of the 2009 NFL season you got hit by like, a bus, or something. You survived but you went into a long coma. The reason you were hit by said bus is you were busy reading the paper (back in 2009 people still read broadsheets). You were reading about the Lions going 0-16. You can probably see where I am going with this now. So, imagine you woke up from your coma today. You started playing with your iPad, iTouch, iPod, HTC, Acer, Sony whatever, and you notice the line for this Bears v Lions show down. You probably go right back into a shock related coma, right? The Lions are purring after last week’s absolutely stunning, magical come back against the Cowgirls. The Bears clung on against the upstart Panthers. This could represent a seminal moment in the Lions 2011 season. And you, the Lions backer, you need to have that ‘all in moment’. Either stand up and push all your chips into the middle of the table, or walk away.
The score: Chicago 23 Detroit 38
The Pick: Detroit -5.5
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1) +2.5
The Dream Team, eh? How’s your Autumn going, Philly? With the completely over hyped Eagles struggling mightily and the super star laden Phillies grinding against the workmanlike Cards, what stage of depression will Philadelphia drop into if the Eagles lose in Buffalo and Chris Carpenter (who is pitching out of his skin right now folks) and the Cards knock the Phillies out? One thing is sure, get ready to hear an awful lot of booing. Philadelphia fans are famous for booing, so much so, they actually booed Santa once. Well, they got their ‘Dream Team’ with Vick and the cornerbacks, the problem is someone in the Eagles front office forgot to sign any decent linemen. Teams have noted this and are running through the Eagles like water through a leaky bucket. Buffalo are playing with no fear, scoring points for fun, and beating good teams. They can beat this very suspect team on home turf to go 4-1.
The score: Philadelphia 24 Buffalo 27
The Pick: Buffalo +2.5
Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) -2.5
The Bungles are about as predictable as the lottery. There is almost no way of knowing what kind of a display they are going to put up, week to week. They are a gambling man’s nightmare. They are also flying somewhat under the radar because of their inconsistency. Jacksonville are not an appealing play, even at home. Their passing attack has been almost the worst in the league, if it wasn’t for Maurice Jones Drew they would be completely flat. The Bengals plus the points seems the only play here.
The score: Cincinnati 27 Jacksonville 17
The Pick: Cincinnati +2.5
Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) -7.5
That -7.5 is the ESPN line at time of writing, but you can bet that’s going to change dramatically as we approach game time. The Steelers are struggling with injuries, not to mention form. Meanwhile, Tennessee are one of the surprise packages of the 2011 NFL season thus far. Even Chris Johnson has perked up, he actually ran into a three figure Sunday last weekend, rushing for 101 yards for the first time since 1782 or something like that. Matt Hasselbeck, released from limbo (otherwise known as Seattle) is looking like the veteran, sturdy, game managing QB he is, and the Titans D has been especially stifling. They are catching Pittsburgh at exactly the right time, and should be able to take advantage.
The score: Tennessee 23 Pittsburgh 20
The Pick: Tennessee +7.5
Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) at Indianapolis Colts (0-4) -2.5
Wait a second, there is life in Kansas yet! Funny thing is, there is clearly life in the Colts too. This Column has been saying for weeks that there is too much talent, particularly on the defensive side, for the Colts to keep losing. This week it finally comes to pass, as the Colts, at home, in front of their piped fan noise, take out their frustrations on the Chiefs (who did not turn into the 2007 Patriots after one win).
The score: Kansas 17 Indianapolis 34
The Pick: Indianapolis -2.5
Oakland Raiders (2-2) at Houston Texans (3-1) -6.5
It’s about that time, time to decide if this is the Texans year, where it all comes together. Interesting win last weekend, the kind of game Houston teams of old might have lost. The Raiders had some serious issues and holes exposed last weekend. We are sure Houston were watching, and should take advantage.
The score: Oakland 23 Houston 36
The Pick: Houston -6.5
Arizona Cardinals (1-3) at Minnesota Vikings (0-4) -2.5
With jobs on the line, the Vikings will hand the rock to the incredibly reliable Adrian Peterson and say, run Adrian, run, as they attempt to save their season against the absolutely brutal travelling team that is Arizona. The Cardinals turn to putrid mush on the road, and the Vikings can take advantage of this to get on track. Home field, AP and a strong sense of desperation should be too much for the road-challenged Cardinals.
The score: Arizona 26 Minnesota 30
The Pick: Minnesota -2.5
New Orleans Saints (3-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-3) +5.5
I want to pick the Panthers. I really want to. I want to write that splashy, attention grabbing headline, Panthers to shock Saints, but, I just can’t do it. However, I will take the points. Did you know Drew Brees is completing 70% of his passes? Amazingly accurate. Clinical. The Saints are also finding interesting ways to use Reggie-Bush-upgrade Darren Sproles. How over rated was Bush? Miami are finding out right now. Cam Newton and the Panthers have that don’t-know-when-they-are-beat look about them, but the Saints should find a way. Just.
The score: New Orleans 34 Carolina 30
The Pick: Carolina +5.5
Seattle Seahawks (1-3) at New York Giants (3-1) -9.5
Seattle on the road? Against a Giants team that is absolutely humming right now? Now this is a game where I would consider one of those stupid -14.5 lines. Less than 10? Where do I sign up? Seattle are about to get run over.
The score: Seattle 17 New York G 38
The Pick: New York G -9.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1) -1.5
Two teams who appear at first glance to be out-punting their coverage. This could end up a dour affair. San Francisco will have to take care of the rock, it can’t afford any slips on an already relatively anemic offence. Their D and special teams are the elements that keep them in games. Tampa isn’t firing on all cylinders on offence either. Look for a low scoring, hard hitting slug fest, with home field proving crucial in the end.
The score: Tampa 17 San Francisco 20
The Pick: San Francisco -1.5
San Diego Chargers (3-1) at Denver Broncos (1-3) +4.5
Any chance the San Diablo annual slump starts early this season? Every chance! Phillip Rivers has thrown more picks than TDs (Look it up!) and TE Gates isn’t playing. Prior to being mauled last week by the Packers, the Broncos had actually played very tight games. This is going to be the ‘shock’ of the week. Denver at home, against their bitter rival, a little embarrassed after last week’s shellacking.
The score: San Diego 28 Denver 30
The Pick: Denver +4.5
New York Jets (2-2) at New England Patriots (3-1) -9.5
Now this is a test for any relatively logical Patriots fan. 9.5 points leaves no room for error. You either believe the Patriots are going to destroy the Jets, or you don’t. Simple as that. You can go down a couple of lines of thought here, was last week’s embarrassing Jets showing an aberration? Or is their offence really that inept? A key point no one is talking about, it looks like Aaron Hernandez is back, he practiced all week. This means the Patriots suddenly have another huge, physical target downfield. Unless the Jets figure out a way to clone Revis, this could end up being a long game for them.
The score: NYJ 24 New England 34
The Pick: New England -9.5
Green Bay Packers (4-0) at Atlanta Falcons (2-2) +5.5
Steady on now. It’s not often you will see the Falcons at home with a +5.5 spread. Understandably somewhat the bookmakers are running scared from Green Bay. The Packers, unlike Wayne Rooney Snr, don’t give a damn about the spread or the $20 you have on the game. They just want a win. With how poorly the Falcons have started the season, it’s hard not to see them getting it. Just not by more than five points though. A late Aaron Rodgers drive and Mason Crosby kick should do the trick.
The score: Green Bay 33 Atlanta 30
The Pick: Atlanta +5.5
Week one - 11-4
Week two - 12-4
Week three - 6-10
Week four - 10-6