We're still stuck at only 11 teams with winning records in the NFL right now; thats just slightly more than one-third. We're down to only four unbeaten teams; the Bengals advanced to 8-0 with an easy win over Cleveland Thursday night, the Pats, Panthers, and Broncos are all 7-0. This week marks only the third time in NFL history that two teams will play games against teams with 6-0 (or better) records in back to back weeks.
Green Bay, having lost at 6-0 Denver last week (you did take the Broncos and the points, right?) go to Carolina, and Indianapolis, having lost to Carolina last week despite a furious comeback to send the game into overtime, take on Denver at home this week. You have to appreciate the trivia the NFL's mainframe can spew out.
Although the attention will likely be on the Packers and Panthers, the week's toughest calls may be the Rams at the Vikings, in a matchup of the league's former best runner, Adrian Peterson, with the rookie pretender with the inside shot at being the next one, Todd Gurley. Both teams are tough defensively, and somewhat challenged offensively if their run games don't work.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia travel to Dallas in a matchup of two teams reeling this season, where Dallas would be the easy pick were it not for Matt Cassel being their starter at QB. And the Giants, who had Eli Manning throw six touchdown passes last week, but lost, travel to Tampa to take on the Bucs, who upset Atlanta in the Bubbadome.
BEST BET: DENVER (-5 AT 1.97) at Indianapolis. The Colts' biggest problem is at offensive line. Well that and defensive line. And defense in general. The Broncos have the league's best pass rush, and Andrew Luck will not be able to avoid it for the whole game. Denver's secondary can keep the Colts' receivers quiet, and the Broncos, who won last week despite Peyton Manning throwing no TD passes (check that out, brother Eli!) ran the ball well and had Peyton playing efficiently. They've added Vernon Davis from the 49ers at tight end, which ought to give them another weapon to exploit, and a win by a TD on the road seems a pretty safe bet to me.
VALUE BET: BUFFALO (-3 AT 2.02) vs Miami. The Bills have had a bye week to prepare for this game, get starting QB Tyrod Taylor, power RB Karlos Williams, and CB Leodis McKelvin back from injury, and might even have WR Sammy Watkins too. Miami, coming off a bad loss to the Pats a week ago Thursday, have also had extra time to prepare, but the new-coach kick-ass factor that Dan Campbell brought with him may have worn out, and the Bills, needing to regroup after losing to the Jags at Wembley, should be worth more than a field goal at home. There is the chance Rex will over-think things, but with some weapons returning, they should be able to get their defense moving toward the level of what we thought it should be (or was last season without Rex).
OUTSIDE BET: DALLAS (+2.5 at 2.08) vs Philadelphia: I picked the Eagles but it's easy to see a scenario where Matt Cassel doesn't turn the ball over, Greg Hardy drives Sam Bradford to turn overs, and DeMarco Murray doesn't burn his old team on the ground. Getting points at home, they may be worth it. If not, you could consider CAROLINA (+2.5 at 2.00) vs Green Bay. Again, I've picked the visitors, but the Panthers have a great defense, Aaron Rodgers is coming off his worst game in ages against the Broncos, and the Panthers have this way of sticking close to teams and making them play ugly. When they do, they pick up some ugly wins. I'd like either game better if the home dogs were getting three, but that's what it's all about.