Detroit at San Diego
Both teams come in off of physically and emotionally draining games that featured opposite results. Detroit's lost five in a row and last week's last minute crippling home loss to Dallas may have effectively ended their season. San Diego overcame a 17-3 fourth quarter deficit in Tennessee to force overtime, eventually winning on a Tomlinson touchdown run. That made it three straight and seven of nine wins for the Chargers.
The Lions have the league's second worst defense that will be challenged by the San Diego running game. Detroit's two road wins have been against losing teams while their four road losses have been by 35, 31, 10 and 32 points. And only one of those losses was to a winning team (42-10 at 7-6 Minnesota). Six of the Chargers' eight wins have been by double digits and they are 7-3 ATS as favorites in 2007 despite a sluggish start. San Diego wears down a stunned Lions team, winning 37-17.
Chicago at Minnesota
Kyle Orton is back as the Bears' starting quarterback after going nearly two years without taking a snap in a regular-season game. QB Grossman's current injury, a sprained left knee, is expected to keep him sidelined the remainder of the season, and it gives Orton a long-awaited (ok, maybe not) opportunity to get back on the field. Three years ago Orton was the starter, throwing nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions for a passer rating of 59.7. Oh yea. That will lift this team. Don’t look for the Bears rushing game to bail them out. RB Peterson managed 35 yards on 17 carries with a long gain of seven yards last week.
In the last meeting the Vikings rolled over the Bears for 311 rushing yards in Week Six, including 224 by Adrian Peterson. Since that Week 6 victory, the Vikings have rolled. They went on the road last week and completely destroyed the 49ers 27-7, scoring 14 seconds into the contest on the second play of the game (a pick six by NT Pat Williams). It was the team’s fourth straight win. They have averaged over 30 points per game in those victories. Chicago’s defense has struggled and there are no signs they are capable of stopping Minnesota this week.
I’ve played the Vikings the last two weeks. Unless the Bears score on a kick return or a defensive touchdown, they won’t score more than 14 points. Give me Minnesota 24-14.
Baltimore at Miami
This is a terrible spot for the visitors. Baltimore got destroyed 44-20 by the Colts last week and this week they travel to Miami to face a Dolphins team desperate to avoid a winless season.
The Ravens are a veteran club that can’t wait to get to the end of a disappointing season. They’ve lost seven straight games and Head Coach Brian Billick's job status has been a hot topic this week. The team wasn’t ready to play last week. QB Boller had 132 passing yards and three interceptions. The running game was non-existent. The Ravens’ leader had to give himself a vote of confidence in the media…pretty sad. It’s not often that a team in the depths of a winless streak is a three and a half point road favorite. I find it hard to believe this squad is capable of coming up with much of an effort in this spot, so I’m going to play against them.
Miami is terrible, but they are trying. The John Beck experiment has ended for at least this week. Beck has yet to lead a single offensive touchdown drive, while throwing three interceptions and fumbling four times. He lasted only eight snaps before getting the hook. That disastrous start in a one-sided defeat to Buffalo was enough to convince Miami to make a change at quarterback. The team will go back to QB Cleo Lemon this week. Maybe the change at quarterback is enough to spark this team. They don’t love their Head Coach Cam Cameron, but it’s a matter of pride now. No one wants to be on a winless team. Miami wins 20-16.
Tennessee at Kansas City
This is a pure streak play. The Chiefs have been in free-fall. They have lost six straight games including a 41-7 punking by the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead last week. How bad was it? The Chiefs managed just 16 rushing yards against a Broncos defense that was next to worst against the run in the NFL. Kansas City managed just 129 yards total offense and went three-and-out or less on 10 of its first 11 possessions. The defense wasn’t any better. Denver had 304 of its 453 yards by halftime, and 27 of 41 points.
So, why would anyone play the Chiefs this week? Tennessee let one get away last week against San Diego. The Titans had this game under control in the fourth quarter and let the Chargers score twice in the last ten minutes to tie the game and then lost in overtime. It was their fourth loss in the last five games. They may have hangover this week as favorites on the road.
The Chiefs have an interesting streak on the line. This is the Chiefs' final home games and even in lean years they have ended their home seasons on a strong note, going 19-9-1 against the spread in their regular season home finale since 1978, including 6-0 as a home underdog. It’s a good spot for the streak to continue. KC wins 17-16.
New York Jets at New England
This is a weather play. The weatherman is predicting bad weather for the New England area. There is a 90% chance of precipitation. There could be a foot of snow and freezing rain come Sunday. Nasty, nasty stuff to play in. The Patriots are such a pass-oriented team that bad weather would slow-down their offense. Time to play the Under.
Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo