NFL Betting: Weekend Tips

Lock of the week (sure thing): Pittsburgh (-5) v New York Jets at 2.00.

A lot of people may call me crazy for expecting a lot less of the Jets than they showed last week against Buffalo. But a lot of people call me crazy anyway, and these are the Steelers coming off a loss, not the Bills. What I see is an offensive line that will be vulnerable to Pittsburgh's rush. Now that they aren't playing at altitude, the Steelers may well be able to confuse Mark Sanchez a lot more than they did Peyton Manning. Now Tim Tebow could always float down over the stadium on a white cloud, and strap on his wings, and do to the Steelers what he did to them last year in Denver, but they didn't have Ryan Clark then either, and somehow I think the halo has been a bit tarnished in the Big Apple this year.

Shock of the week (long odds, small wager): Atlanta v Denver (+3) at 2.00

I picked the Broncos straight up, and while I can see a scenario where Atlanta wins, I think Peyton Manning will be able to keep it close. I worry that the Falcons will miss Brent Grimes - one of my favourites back in the days he was playing for Hamburg in NFL Europe - more than you'd expect from a team that loses its third corner. I can see Asante Samuel or Dunta Robinson gambling on a Manning pump fake and giving up a big play, but equally Julio Jones could always bust one for the Falcons. I think Peyton's going to relish going up against a more straight-forward 4-3, and though the Falcons are usually very tough at home, I like the Broncos to keep it very close.

Hock of the week (value bet): San Francisco v Detroit (+7) at 1.81.

Although I have the Niners as firm favourites, they aren't likely to run away with this game, unless Matt Stafford starts trying to fit large footballs into small windows while under extreme pressure from a very good D. This is known as Jeff George Syndrome, and it has plagued better QBs than Stafford. The Niners D is balanced, and Detroit's offence isn't, so if they can tee off against the Lions' line, or sit back with extra defenders, they stand a good chance of holding the Lions short.

Schlock of the week (one to avoid): St Louis v Washington

When you look at the talent Washington has against an already-depeleted Rams' offensive line, you have to think they will put Robert Griffin in position to win this game. Before the season I thought Griffin was a good bet to outshine fellow rookie Andrew Luck because he was going to a team with a good defence and an offence into which he would fit perfectly. He brings Mike Shanahan a lot of the same qualities John Elway did in Denver, and Shanahan smartly seems to be adapting his offence to use elements with which Griffin is familiar from his college days. I like that formula, even if the idea of the Redskins' contending bothers me. Do you really want to see Dan Snyder happy? If you do, maybe you could offer to polish his spectacles.