NFL Gridiron Guide Week 12: Cowboys are the pick vs. Giants; Jets will cover against Ravens

Tony Romo throws a pass against the Giants

Tony Romo throws a pass against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 5, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

COWBOYS (5-5) at GIANTS (4-6), 4:25 p.m.

Giants by 2 1/2; O/U: 45

TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)

This game has been called an NFC East showdown. How about an NFC Least Lowdown? The winner here still has a good shot at winning the NFC East, which is the only way a team in this once-proud division makes the playoffs. Looking at the Giants' last four games, and I know they were probably owed a few breaks. But, boy, have they been fortunate with four straight covers and victories -- all against teams with below-average quarterbacks. They won't be so lucky against Tony Romo, perhaps the most vilified player in the NFL the past few years. There's no middle ground with Poor Tony. He's either loved or hated. I think the Cowboys are the most talented team in the division. They're also 5-2 against the spread (ATS) in their last seven NFC games.

The pick: Cowboys

JETS (5-5) at RAVENS (4-6), 1 p.m.

Ravens by 3 1/2; O/U: 39

TV: Ch. 2; Radio: ESPN (98.7)

It hasn't taken too long for the anti-Geno Smith talk to start picking up, has it? The whispers for backup Matt Simms are starting to get louder. I couldn't believe the Jets got blown out in Buffalo. But even Gang Green's defense has its limits when it is constantly put in bad positions by inopportune turnovers. I'm not sure this is a great spot for the Jets, but if their pattern of win, loss, win continues, they are on course for a win. I just want a cover. The Jets have covered four straight games after a loss. The main reason I'll pick Rex & Co. is his old team, which has won or lost five of their last seven by three or fewer points. Translation: They don't win big and usually play close games. I'll take the points.

The pick: Jets

BUCS (2-8) at LIONS (6-4)

Lions by 9; O/U: 48 1/2

After last week's loss, which included a botched fake field-goal attempt, Lions coach Jim Schwartz made like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz: "Don't say I'm scared because we ain't," he said. "When I say we, I mean me." Scared, no. A bit misguided, yep. I'm not afraid to take the Bucs, who have won two straight and covered three in a row.

The pick: Bucs

BEARS (6-4) at RAMS (4-6)

Rams by 1; O/U: 45 1/2

Quick: Name the No. 3 offense in points per game behind Denver and New Orleans? I was surprised it was the Bears. The Rams are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games.

The pick: Bears

VIKINGS (2-8) at PACKERS (5-5)

Packers by 4 1/2; O/U: 44

Aaron Rodgers held his usual midweek news conference and told the reporters in attendance: "I just missed you guys a lot." I imagine the Packers feel the same way about their injured starting QB as the Pack is mired in a three-game skid. The Pack finds a way to get it done.

The pick: Packers

CHARGERS (4-6) at CHIEFS (9-1)

Chiefs by 4 1/2; O/U: 41 1/2

How will the Chiefs respond after their first loss? San Diego, which has lost three straight, is going to find out. KC, which has something to prove, will get back on track.

The pick: Chiefs

PANTHERS (7-3) at DOLPHINS (5-5)

Panthers by 4 1/2; O/U: 41

TV: Ch. 5

I'm not sure there's a team I'd want to face less than the Panthers, who boast a tough no-name defense and a well-rounded offense. They've won and covered six straight. No letdown here. Miami is just trying to keep things together amid the chaos.

The pick: Panthers

STEELERS (4-6) at BROWNS (4-6)

Browns by 1 1/2; O/U: 40

Two of the six AFC teams with a 4-6 record. The Jets and Miami are 5-5. All eight are battling for the sixth and final playoff spot. The Steelers are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games, but they looked great last week. Call it a hunch.

The pick: Steelers

JAGUARS (1-9) at TEXANS (2-8)

Texans by 10; O/U: 43 1/2

I might have to call Newsday's media writer Neil Best to find out how many people actually watch this game. Then, I can request that they all have their NFL viewing memberships revoked. How is a 2-8 team favored by 10 points?

The pick: Jaguars

COLTS (7-3) at CARDINALS (6-4), 4:05 p.m.

Cardinals by 2 1/2; O/U: 45

I'd love to be on the sidelines before this game and listen to the banter between Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and his former Colts players. Remember, Arians was Indy's offensive coordinator and took over as interim head coach last season when Chuck Pagano battled leukemia. Arizona is 4-7 ATS in its last 11 home games, while Indy is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 as an underdog.

The pick: Colts

TITANS (4-6) at RAIDERS (4-6), 4:05 p.m.

Titans by 1; O/U: 41 1/2

Could there by a QB controversy in Oakland? Penn State product Matt McGloin threw three touchdowns and no interceptions in his debut last week as the Raiders scored a season-high 28 points in a win over the Texans. The Titans are 4-0 ATS on the road this season. Worth a shot.

The pick: Titans

BRONCOS (9-1) at PATRIOTS (7-3), 8:30 p.m.

Broncos by 2 1/2; O/U: 54 1/2

TV: Ch. 4; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9; joined in progress)

This is a game I'll tape and keep on my DVR for historic purposes. When Peyton Manning (470 TDs) and Tom Brady (348 TDs) meet, this game will have starting QBs with the most combined TD passes (818) in NFL history. Brady is 9-4 all-time vs. Manning, who is 2-9 overall -- including playoffs -- in New England.

The pick: Patriots

49ERS (6-4) at REDSKINS (3-7), 8:40 p.m.

49ers by 5 1/2; O/U: 47

TV: ESPN; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9; joined in progress)

The Redskins probably had their playoff hopes dashed in Philly. The Niners have lost two straight and need to rebound quickly with the playoffs nearing. This line scares me because everyone seems to love the 49ers. Tread softly.

The pick: 49ers

STAFF PICKS (best bets in caps)

JOHN BOELL: 68-88-6, 3-8 best bets; Last week: 1-11-3: Cowboys Jets Bucs BEARS Packers Chiefs Panthers Steelers Jaguars Colts Titans Patriots 49ers

BOB GLAUBER: 83-73-6, 4-5-2; Last week: 9-3-3: Giants Ravens Lions Bears Packers CHIEFS Dolphins Steelers Texans Cardinals Raiders Patriots 49ers

KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN: 80-76-6, 5-6; Last week: 7-5-3: Cowboys Ravens Lions Bears Packers CHIEFS Panthers Steelers Jaguars Cardinals Titans Patriots 49ers

TOM ROCK: 74-82-6, 4-7; Last week: 4-8-3: Giants Ravens Lions Rams Packers CHIEFS Dolphins Steelers Jaguars Cardinals Raiders Patriots 49ers