THE NFL DOUBLE TAKE
Our Sportsbook.com writers continue to hand out winners and while they’ve each had a tough week along the way, they are producing more winners than losers.
With a 6-2 record against the spread (ATS) with his picks over the last two weeks, Mike is 24-17-3 through 11 weeks while Cras is 23-18-3 after a rough outing last weekend.
Here’s how they break down four key games for Sunday.
Mike: Tennessee is 10-0 straight up and 9-1 ATS and it doesn’t get much better than that. The Titans are starting to get more national attention about possibly going undefeated and that means the noose will start to tighten each week. The amazing thing about Tennessee is this is the second biggest spread they’ve given all year.
New York is coming off a huge win at New England which vaulted them into first place in the AFC East. While there could be a little letdown, they’ve had 10 days to prepare and this should be a close game barring any turnover disasters. I’m taking the points here with very little hesitation.
Pick: New York Jets +5
Cras: The Jets have covered three games in a row but needed overtime to get the job done against the New England Patriots last week, despite opening a big early lead. New York’s offense struggled in the second half but got the job done in the clutch to take the AFC East lead but this week they face a much tougher test.
While the Titans offense doesn’t match up with that of the Patriots, their defense will give the Jets a lot more problems and should be good for several interceptions. This is a reality check for New York fans that think beating a Patriots team that’s missing its best offensive and defensive players was a huge victory.
Pick: Tennessee -5
Mike: Philly is still over .500 (5-4-1) but how is their mental state after tying one of the worst teams in the NFL, Cincinnati? The Eagles are also feeling the heat because they are in last place in the NFC East and running back Brian Westbrook looks more hurt than he is letting on with both knee and ankle injuries.
Baltimore had a four-game winning streak snapped against the New York Giants last week, but now they return home where they’ll play four of their last six games. This should be a very physical contest on both sides, but I can see Baltimore forcing a couple of Donovan McNabb turnovers and the Ravens even winning by a touchdown.
Pick: Baltimore -1
Cras: Despite a winning record, the Eagles continue to be a disappointment as last week’s tie against a bad Cincinnati team can be tacked onto upset losses to Washington and Chicago, not to mention the mistakes that cost them against the Giants two weeks ago. The pieces are there, but they just can’t produce consistently.
Philly will get a chance to make a much-needed statement in Baltimore on Sunday but the majority of Sportsbook.com members think it’s the Ravens that will get the win. I disagree, however, as McNabb will bounce back from the criticism with a big game against a good defense.
Pick: Philadelphia +1
Mike: This is a statement game for Arizona who wants to show that they’re not only kings of a very poor NFC West, but they’re a legitimate playoff contender. This is also a great opportunity for quarterback Kurt Warner to get back at the team that jettisoned him back in 2004.
What else can you say about the defending champs except they’re kicking butts and taking names even with a difficult schedule the past month. This is another tough game as they have to fly across the country, but the point spread is low enough where that’s taken into consideration. I’m taking a Giants team that’s burned me a few times going against them.
Pick: New York Giants -3
Cras: Sportsbook.com members obviously don’t buy the Arizona Cardinals as a contender in the NFC and we’ll find out this weekend if they’re for real. Only 10% of bettors like the Cardinals as three-point underdogs despite the fact they are 4-0 straight up at home, and 3-1 ATS.
There’s a part of me that likes Arizona in this contest but then I remember that Kurt Warner won’t have time to throw the ball to his wide receivers. If he somehow gets the time, he’ll be able to do damage but I can’t see how he’ll be able to be effective on Sunday.
Pick: New York Giants -3
Mike: Atlanta has had a great season so far at 6-4, but the loss to Denver last week at home could be a real momentum changer. The Falcons are now two games back of Carolina in the NFC South and this is a must-win for them, which means they have to get the running game back up to top speed.
Carolina also wants to run the ball on Sunday and they should have some success. However, if they are going to win they need a better effort from quarterback Jake Delhomme who has been awful the last two weeks. The Panthers have a good-sized edge in overall personnel and I think that offsets the home field.
Pick: Carolina +1
Cras: No-one expected the Falcons to do what they’ve done this season so it’s no surprise that the majority prefer the Panthers as an underdog in Atlanta, especially given the way Carolina handled them in the first meeting this season.
For me, taking Carolina in this game is a no-brainer. They have the talent on offense and the defense is too good to be taken advantage of by a rookie quarterback. It’s been a great year for rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons but this is too tough a task.
Pick: Carolina +1