We're into the back eight of the schedule, and we're still operating with a 2-1 preponderance of teams with losing records. That imbalance could begin to be redressed this week; I see the opportunity for upsets for Kansas City, the Giants, Tennessee, and of course 4-4 Seattle could easily win at home. I don't quite have enough faith in any of those games to recommend them to you, but keep that in mind as you search for your own picks.
Fortune may favour the brave, but as we saw Thursday night with the Bills beating the Jets in another sloppy short-week game, it sometimes seems to fall at random on both good and bad, like the morning dew on a cow pasture. Which reminds me, on to the picks...
BEST BET: OVER (50 AT 1.92) New Orleans at Washington: Look, the Saints couldn't stop a tricycle with a cruise missile, while the Skins offense last week acted as if the ball were a potato hotter than the fires of hell. But something has to give, and I'm guessing it will be that O; Pierre Garcon will discover that hands are meant to be wrapped around the ball rather than flailing about as a warning system when it approaches, and if they put three TDs or more on the board Drew Brees and his spread the wealth policy will fare better than Reaganomics did inside the Beltway.
VALUE BET: ST LOUIS (-7.5 AT 2.08) vs Chicago: At home the Rams' defense ought to be aggressive enough to pressure Jay Cutler into one or two mistakes, and that would be all the team needs, especially if Todd Gurley continues to make Jeff Fisher's fondest dreams come true by giving the Rams a run game that can allow them to avoid passing. Note that Tavon Austin, arguably their most dangerous receiver, is being used more as a runner these days. You'd also think the Rams would be able to put a cover over Alshon Jeffrey, who's a safety blanket for Cutler, whose biggest fault is that he needs to see receivers open before he throws: with Jeffrey he can just throw it up and hope, a la Matt Stafford with Megatron. PHILADELPHIA (-6.5 AT 2.03) vs Miami looks pretty good to me too: I think the Eagles are finally started to get Chip Kelly's offense, and with the Dan Cameron Ditka Factor wearing off, they should be a touchdown better than the Fins. On the other hand, there is nothing so prone to disappointment as an Eagles team returning home after raising, even slightly, their fans' expectations.
OUTSIDE BET: ARIZONA (+3 AT 2.00) at Seattle: The Seahawks are tough to figure; they've played their best games in the ones they've lost. Their D is still a challenge for anyone, but the last time the Cards came to Century Link with Carson Palmer, in 2013, they won. The key to beating the Seahawks is containing Russell Wilson, not letting him make plays when everything breaks down around him. It's like beating the Panthers: their defense will keep it close and eventually more often than not Cam Newton will so something spectacular to beat you. This could well happen Sunday to the Seahawks, but the key here is the keeping it close, and I think the Cards will be able to stay within a field goal. NEW ENGLAND (-7.5 AT 2.08) at New York Giants is a riskier propostion: lots of folks would pick the Giants as an upset winner here, and that also might tempt you more, given the Pats' beat up O line and the loss of Dion Lewis. But the Giants and the points at 1.78 seems like a hedge to me. The UNDER (55 AT 1.92) may be more tempting.