The bye weeks continue in full force this week, taking Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, and San Francisco out of the wagering equation this week.
Kansas City (2-3) comes off their bye having played 3 consecutive competitive games – they have won two straight (Minnesota and then at Indianapolis) and prior to that played very competitively at San Diego in losing 17-20 to a good Chargers team. Now they come into Oakland as a 3.5 point underdog after the Raiders backed up the draft truck and unloaded picks onto the Bengals for QB Carson Palmer. I fully expect Palmer to play some as he will be fresh and the alternative, Kyle Boller, is not appealing in the slightest. Boller may start but surely Palmer will see the field. The line was Oakland -6 on the understanding that Palmer would start, then dropped to -3.5 when it was revealed that Boller would likely take the first snaps – an indication of the influence the Raiders new QB has on the point spread.
Scrappy Seattle heads to Cleveland (-3 +100) and it looks like a reasonable spot for the Seahawks. I expect a close competitive game there and the +3 -120 is appealing although trusting the Hawks to go anywhere East and win has never been a profitable spot. Washington is another case where they seem to have decent shot of winning outright getting +2.5 at Carolina. I appreciate that the Panthers are an improved team and respect all what rookie QB Cam Newton has done so far, but it takes a lot of getting used to seeing Carolina favored over anyone. Denver at Miami is another example where neither should be favored given that the Dolphins are at home. Miami was -1.5 for much of the week and has since fallen to a Pick.
The NFL should look into their television programming. Off a bad Miami at NY Jets Monday game, this week we get Indianapolis at New Orleans (-13.5) Sunday Night and then Baltimore (-8) at Jacksonville . . . neither of those is very attractive.
10:00 Pacific: Washington Redskins (43.5) at Carolina Panthers (-2.5) – Bank of America Stadium
Yes Cam Newton is good, but he still throws the ball just “okay” and some of those errant passes are now ending up in the oppositions’ hands (7 TDs and 9 INTs on the year). Redskins QB Rex Grossman has always had that problem and it has now landed him on the bench of the 3-2 ‘Skins. Washington hasn’t scored much as many expected but their defense has been solid this season. To illustrate the difference in the two defenses in this game, Carolina has allowed 163 points in 6 games (27.2 average) while Washington has given up 83 in its 5 games (16.6). I respect the Panthers for the new attitude they have but it remains to be seem if they are in fact a better team, or merely more fun to watch. On the season they are 1-5, after going 2-14 the year before, but I will concede that they are a much more competitive team. I think the move to QB John Beck will be a positive one but the Redskins will be the same team in terms of their offensive mix and results, but likely fewer turnovers. Washington will have success running and I see lots of work for talented TE Fred Davis, a very trusted and capable receiver. When taking dogs I like spots where either I feel the line is inflated, or spots where the dog can win outright and the points are a bonus, as is the case here.
I am betting Washington Redskins +2.5
1:15 Pacific: Green Bay Packers (-9) at Minnesota Vikings (46.5) – Mall of America Field
Last week I liked Minnesota to put up a better effort against Chicago and was way wrong on that one as they laid an egg and just never seemed to be into that game. Here’s hoping they respond better this weekend being a big home dog and having rookie QB Christian Ponder replacing Donovan McNabb. I think McNabb has simply lost some of his passion for the game and the team felt it this season – he didn’t put up terrible numbers in recent weeks, but nothing was close to what one might have hoped. Ponder should inject some life into the offense and from what we have seen his ability to scramble is a great dimension to keep the Packers honest. Of course there simply is no stopping the Packers offense, but a solid game by Vikes RB Adrian Peterson will go a long way to helping Minnesota control the clock a little. Green Bay likely won’t get way out in front in this one, and even if they do I like Minnesota with Ponders’ enthusiasm to battle back and cover.
My bet is on the Minnesota Vikings +9
Teaser Time: Tampa Bay +8.5, Washington +9, St. Louis-Dallas Over 36.5
Neutral site game in London, England at Wembley Stadium, expect Tampa Bay to be tough with their good defense, improved running game with Earnest Graham in place of LaGarrette Blount and the creative QB Josh Freeman running the show. Not much separates these two in what should be a close game and the neutral site favors neither. I covered much of the Washington play previously, bumping this number up to +9 is a strong play. Appreciate the fact that QB Sam Bradford won’t be there for St. Louis and a back up QB can mean fewer points, but it can also translate to turnovers and more points combined. Dallas should have an easy time of it through the air and I expect a lot of work for RB Steven Jackson of the Rams, and that is a good thing.
Two-team 6.5-Point Teaser +160: Tampa Bay +8.5, Washington +8.5, St. Louis-Dallas Over 36.5