NFL Week 7 Gridiron Guide: Bet against Giants, Jets
John BoellJohn Boell
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REDSKINS (3-3) at GIANTS (4-2)
Giants by 5 1/2; O/U: 50
TV: Ch. 5 Radio: WFAN (660)
Any doubts that the defending champs could repeat were cast aside after Sunday's impressive thumping of the 49ers. The Giants now must carry that effort over to one of the most storied rivalries in the NFC. The Giants, which lost both meetings last season, lead the all-time series vs. the 'Skins, 91-63-4. Super-talented rookie Robert Griffin III leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.2) and is third with a QB rating of 100.5. However, Washington is 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight road games vs. the G-Men. A theme of the Coughlin Regime has been to play up vs. great opponents (like last week), but also play down against lesser foes.
THE PICK: Redskins
JETS (3-3) at PATRIOTS (3-3), 4:25 p.m.
Patriots by 10 1/2; O/U: 47
TV: Ch. 2 Radio: ESPN (98.7)
Rex Ryan's gift of gab comes from his father, Buddy, architect of one of the greatest defenses of all-time in Chicago, and later a head coach in Philadelphia. But Buddy's talking eventually grew old in Philly, where they never won a playoff game under him. Rex had the chance to quietly prepare for the Patriots this week, but he just couldn't resist: "I don't feel like tugging on Superman's cape today, but maybe tomorrow." Sure enough, less than 24 hours later Ryan said his Jets would "beat the Patriots." I don't think one game vs. a young Indy team equals a turnaround. This is the only game this week with a spread of more than a touchdown, and for good reason: The Pats have won 14 of the last 18 meetings overall, and Tom Brady is 16-5 in his career vs. the Jets. The Jets are 6-13-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 20 meetings vs. the Pats.
THE PICK: Patriots
RAVENS (5-1) at TEXANS (5-1)
Texans by 6 1/2; O/U: 48 1/2
"Next man up" is the key phrase for the Ravens since CB Lardarius Webb and LB Ray Lewis went down with season-ending injuries last week. There were rumblings that LB Terrell Suggs could be back for his first game of the season -- and this rematch of last season's AFC playoff game won by the Ravens -- but he appears to be a couple weeks from returning. The balanced Ravens are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 games against teams with a winning record. I expect this to be a close one.
THE PICK: Ravens
COWBOYS (2-3) at PANTHERS (1-4)
Cowboys by 2; O/U: 45 1/2
They should call this one the Jekyll & Hyde Bowl. Would the real Cowboys, or Panthers, come out and play up to your potential, please?! I know Eagles coach Andy Reid is squarely on the hot seat (even on a bye week), but 'Boys coach Jason Garrett can't be too far behind. His clock-management skills make Herman Edwards look like a genius. Even if his glass-half-full owner, Jerry Jones, thinks Dallas can contend for a Super Bowl (wait for it) . . . this season. I guess anything is possible.
THE PICK: Cowboys
PACKERS (3-3) at RAMS (3-3)
Packers by 5 1/2; O/U: 45
The Rams lost a tough one to Miami last week, but continued its NFL-best 5-1 mark ATS. Green Bay, off a huge win at Houston, has not covered the spread in four of its last five on turf. Also, the Rams have covered five straight games as underdogs of six or fewer points. I usually like the Pack, but I'm rolling with the home underdog trend (read Steelers-Bengals game).
THE PICK: Rams
CARDINALS (4-2) at VIKINGS (4-2)
Vikings by 6; O/U: 40
The Cardinals' QB Carousel continues as Fordham alum John Skelton replaces Kevin Kolb, who suffered one of the worst injuries I've ever heard: according to reports, multiple ribs were detached from Kolb's sternum after a vicious hit last week. Ouch! Vikings RB Adrian Peterson missed yesterday's practice, so I'm thinking underdog here.
THE PICK: Cardinals
SAINTS (1-4) at BUCS (2-3)
Saints by 2; O/U: 49 1/2
Not sure if we saw the best of the Saints a few weeks ago at home against the San Diego Ch-Chokers, I mean, Chargers. The Bucs are 4-1 ATS this season, but I like Drew Brees and the Saints' top-ranked passing offense to have a big day against Tampa Bay's 31st-ranked pass defense.
THE PICK: Saints
BROWNS (1-5) at COLTS (2-3)
Colts by 2 1/2; O/U: 45
Nugget of the week: There have been 24 games this season in which the winning points were scored in the last two minutes of regulation or OT, the most through six weeks since the 1970 merger. Of those 24 games, 10 saw the winning points scored in the final 10 seconds of the fourth. I'll take the underdog Browns, 13-6-1 in their last 20 on turf.
THE PICK: Browns
TITANS (2-4) at BILLS (3-3)
Bills by 3 1/2; O/U: 46 1/2
Titans RB Chris Johnson and the up-and-down Titans should be able to run the ball at will against the NFL's worst rushing defense. A belated happy birthday to Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who turned 94 on Wednesday. Not sure he'll be happy after Sunday's game.
THE PICK: Titans
JAGUARS (1-4) at RAIDERS (1-4), 4:25 p.m.
Raiders by 4; O/U: 43 1/2
Oakland gave the Falcons all they could handle last week, and nearly pulled out a rare East Coast win (at least they covered). As bad as the Jags are, the Raiders are 4-16 ATS in games where they're favored by four or fewer points dating to October 2005. Yuck!
THE PICK: Jaguars
STEELERS (2-3) at BENGALS (3-3), 8:20 p.m.
Steelers by 1 1/2; O/U: 45 1/2
TV: Ch. 4 Radio: WFAN (660)
Heading into last night's game, underdogs were 57-32-2 (64 percent) ATS this season, including 22-11 (nearly 67 percent) ATS as home underdogs. I know the Steelers are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 meetings in Cincinnati, but Pittsburgh (1-4 ATS in '12) is banged up, especially on the offensive line. Take a shot with Cincy, led by LB Rey Maualuga and his team-best 50 tackles.
THE PICK: Bengals
LIONS (2-3) at BEARS (4-1), 8:30 p.m.
Bears by 6 1/2; O/U: 47 1/2
TV: ESPN. Radio: WFAN (660)
Detroit has lost five straight ATS vs. NFC North foes, but is 7-2 ATS in its last nine as an underdog of six points or less (the line moved a half-point yesterday). Still, I'm going with Da Bears (4-1 ATS in '12), off a bye and at home.
THE PICK: Bears