Handicapping Week Five

By Zack Cimini

This week Vegas has set many lines at touchdown spreads or above. Going with the favorites is always risky but for this week the matchups are very favorable. We do have a few against the grain picks though, just like our Denver selection last week.

Last weeks spread record: 9-5

Minnesota -9.5 at St. Louis- Pick Minnesota
We’re surprised this line isn’t higher. Well it is at St. Louis. This game has all the elements of a blowout shutout. How embarrassing would it be for the Rams to have consecutive games with no points?

Dallas -9 at Kansas City- Pick Dallas
The Chiefs have nothing going on either side of the ball. We currently have the Chiefs and Rams as the worst two teams in football. They’ll prove it again this weekend.

Washington at Carolina -3.5- Pick Washington
This could be a trap game due to how bad the Redskins have looked. Are they playing far below they’re capabilities and are just needing that drive or quarter to kick it into gear? Both teams offensively have looked abysmal especially with the passing offenses. Look for Carolina to get their bread and butter going with the best running back tandem in the NFL. On the opposite side of that though is Albert Haynesworth one of the best run pluggers in the game. That’ll put the pressure on Delhomme’s arm and we all know what happens in those situations.

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia (-14.5)- Pick Philadelphia
So many points to have to put out there on the Eagles side, but they’ve been scoring at a rapid pace. Tampa Bay has had one of the worst defenses statistically dating back to last year, and are currently experimenting with an unproven starter. It’s hard to take all those points but secure a half point and gear up for a blowout.

Oakland at NY Giants (-16)- Pick Oakland
Eli Manning is expected to go but no one knows how well he’ll be able to plant and throw on that foot. Last week against the Chiefs the Giants jumped out on Kansas City but did allow them to score some points and hang around just a tad. Oakland’s defense is a few notches better than the Chiefs and other teams they’ve faced. We like the Raiders to limit the Giants big plays and get just enough offensively to cover this wide margin of a spread.

Cleveland at Buffalo (-6)- Pick Buffalo
This should prove to be a huge home edge factor here. Buffalo is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins and are on the brink of a team blowup. They’ll hold that off one week with a solid matchup against the Browns. Derek Anderson just doesn’t have enough options to throw too and just lost Braylon Edwards. It’ll take Chansi Stuckey a few weeks to a month before he can be comfortable with the Browns offense.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (-8.5)- Pick Baltimore
The Bengals will be able to throw the football on the Ravens who have been surprisingly susceptible in that area. What has been missing from the Bengals offensively is big plays down the field. If they have to keep throwing the intermediate routes all day that will play into the hands of the Ravens ball hawking speedy linebackers and secondary. It might take a quarter or two for things to look smooth but the Ravens should pull away in the second half.

Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Detroit- Pick Pittsburgh
The Steelers will make a statement early and show why they are defending Super Bowl champions. This should be the lock blowout of the week.

Atlanta at San Francisco (-2.5)- Pick San Francisco
Probably the toughest game to cap this week. This game will ride on Shaun Hill’s ability to keep hitting his newfound favorite target in Vernon Davis. The fact that Shaun Hill has yet to lose a home game as a 49er is also a strong reason to give a slight edge to the 49ers.

New England -3.5 at Denver- Pick New England
The true strength of the Denver Broncos will be on display this week. With everyone talking about them now they’re going to feel the pressure to defeat the Brady bunch. In the last few weeks Brady has seemed to calm down just a bit in the pocket and is delivering more throws we’re use too.

Houston at Arizona -5.5- Pick Arizona
They’re two elements that the Cardinals have too worry about in this game, which they’ve had two weeks to prepare for. One is that their shaky secondary can hold and limit the Texans big plays to Andre Johnson. Two is pass protection to ensure Warner is not on his back and getting pressured often which could cause a fumble or two. We expect the Cardinals to get an impressive win here to stay right behind the 49ers.

Indianapolis -3.5 at Tennessee- Pick Colts
Peyton Manning is on his way to notching another MVP. With Brees settling down the last few weeks you’d have to say Manning would be the leader currently. Guess where the Titans have been hurting the worst? In the secondary where they’ve had numerous injuries and have been forced to go with not just backups but third stringers. Manning is on his A game right now and even though a hungry Titans team needs a win badly, they’ll get another loss and be 0-5.

NYJ -2 at Miami – Pick NYJ
This should be a defensive non typical high scoring affair that we’re use to seeing on Monday nights. The Jets know that they’re defense should be fine in shutting down Miami’s offense and Chad Henne gaining his second start. They were one of the better teams last year at shutting down the wildcat and now will have Rex Ryan’s brains to pick away at it. Flashback to the first round of the playoffs last year and remember who was on the opposing sidelines with the schemes that shutdown the Dolphins completely. Yes, Rex Ryan and the Ravens.

Currently OTB
Jacksonville at Seattle
Hasselbeck is expected to go this week and linesmakers are just waiting for the official announcement. Jacksonville should be a 4.5 to 6 point favorite, and will side with the Seahawks and their 12th man crowd here. Jacksonville has some question marks with injuries on the offensive line and are still just a bit shaky and inconsistent as a team. Seattle should get enough balance offensively too keep them in this game. In the fourth quarter they’ll pull it out and get a big home win.