My sure thing was just slightly off last week—the Giants getting a point seemed safe; on Sunday they needed only 38 more points to cover. The Seahawks covered despite giving 19.5 to Jacksonville, while the Niners have been an average of 17.5 points below the spread after three weeks.
This is Home Dog Week. Seven home teams are getting points, and only two of them receive the token one point, and the Vikings are only nominally the homers. San Diego also gets a point, while the Texans, Rams, Bills, Browns and of course Jags are all getting three points or more despite being in their own house.
Arizona (+3) at Tampa at 2.15
I really thought the Bucs would be the underdogs, especially with the switch to rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. It appears things weren't very good between Josh Freeman and coach Greg Schiano, and Freeman's performances haven't been very good, but the Bucs' could have easily been 2-1 without some non-Freeman errors, and Glennon is far from a finished product. The Crads (half Cards, half Crap) have lost both their starting outside linebackers for the season, which might inhibit their pass rush, but they can call on veteran John Abraham to help fill the gap on passing downs, and I think there are a couple of mistakes coming from Glennon.
Seattle (-3) at Houston at 2.15
The Texans' strength is their defense, which isn't likely to be beaten up the way the Seahawks did the Niners. But their offense is somewhat limited by Matt Schaub's seemingly increasing inability to throw downfield, and with the best secondary in the NFL, Seattle can throttle them. Houston is built on running the stretch play, with Arian Foster and Ben Tate finding space to run, and then throwing play-action off that. This is something Seattle can stop. The Seahawks depend on Russell Wilson to scramble his way to big plays against good defenses, and the Texans have a good defense, so the strength of this bet is the confidence you have in Wilson as a playmaker.
San Diego (+1) v Dallas at 2.00
With the Cowboys coming off a huge win over St Louis, they're road favourites, and the way their O line played against a good Ram front 4 has been rendered less impressive by the Niners' run game last night against the Rams: Frank Gore did exactly what DeMarco Murray had done. Tony Romo and Philip Rivers are both talented passers with some limitations in their game, who have suffered from problems in the teams around them, and to an extent by coaching. I like what Mike McCoy has done converting Rivers to a shorter-passing game, with quicker drops, reads, and releases, but the way the Chargers handed a last-second TD pass to the Titans last week reminded me of vintage Norv Turner. Maybe you can take San Diego out of Norv, but you can't take Norv out of San Diego?
One To Avoid
Philadelphia (+10.5) at Denver
I know I've gone on about this before, and been wrong, so accuse me of airing on the side of caution. But I am not convinced the Eagles won't run out of gas completely at some point in the second half, and give Peyton Manning and the Colts a soft TD to two to beat this spread. The over/under on this one is 57, that's a 35-21 game plus a point, so I'm a little cautious there too. But there's no question the Eagles have big play capabilities, and in Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and the two Thomases, Manning has the Broncos to make a run at the big game.
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