North Dallas 40 (USP)
The Chiefs pushed us off to a 0-1 hole, so we've got work to do on Sunday in Week 9. Let's put that extra hour of sleep to good work. All lines are taken from the Yahoo! Pro Football Pick-Em Game.
Cowboys +4 at Falcons: I'm not the only person who's lukewarm on the undefeated Falcons. Atlanta ranks sixth in the current Massey-Peabody ranks and eighth on the Football Outsiders page. Their home resume hasn't been dynamic: a big lead almost dissolved against Denver, and the Falcons were flat-out lucky to beat mediocre Carolina and Oakland. The Cowboys match up well with Atlanta (I like the Dallas defense, especially on the flanks) and the Pokes are the more desperate team. That's good enough for me.
Redskins -3.5 vs. Panthers: While the Redskins only scored 12 points at Pittsburgh, I was still impressed with the Washington offense when I watched the tape. Robert Griffin played much better than the final stats showed (oh, those bloody drops) and Mike Shanahan knows how to design big plays. I can't see Washington getting less than 24 points against an ordinary Carolina defense. The Panthers in theory should get their share against a bad Redskins defense, but I don't have a lot of faith in the Carolina play-calling or the receivers (they'll miss Brandon LaFell, and while Steve Smith has flashed now and then, he still doesn't have a touchdown).
Steelers +3.5 at Giants: Pittsburgh has to travel on the day of the game, not ideal, but the Giants have dealt with Hurricane Sandy all week. Call that a wash. Generally I love the Giants on the road and distrust them as a favorite, especially at home. Dallas found plenty of holes in New York's pass coverage last week, something that won't be lost on Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley.
Texans -10 vs. Bills: Some quarterbacks aren't built to play from a deficit — Alex Smith comes to mind, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is also in that club. Generally I'm not one to spot a big number, but if the Texans can merely get a lead and make the Bills somewhat one-dimensional on offense, things could get ugly from there. And Houston should be able to do whatever it wants on offense, by land or by air.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 2-3