The winless New York Giants try to avoid national TV humiliation, a possible Super Bowl preview in Foxboro, a battle for first place in the NFC East that underscores divisional weakness and a Monday night battle that conjures up memories of playoff battles in the late ’00s.
TheSportsNotebook’s NFL analysis looks at the four main national games of Week 6 that most everyone will see, and then runs through some moneyline predictions on the rest of the card.
My picks last week got sunk by Atlanta going down at (-550) and turning a modestly profitable week into one with an ugly (-415) bottom line. It’s how I’ve managed to win three of the five weeks, yet still be in a (-1015) hole for the year. When those big favorites nail you, it’s tough to recover
NY Giants (+280) Chicago (-340) (Thur, 8:25 PM ET, NFL): The Giants are a turnover machine going against a defense that knows how to take the football. The Giants have an injury-battered offensive line that should allow Julius Peppers and his mates to get untracked with sacks. And they’re traveling to play on a short week against a pretty good team coming off a loss.
Even though Chicago lost to New Orleans at home, I like the way Jay Cutler played and now he gets a crack at a team with a heckuva lot more problems. This game is a referendum on the Bears’ ability to stay focused and take care of business at home. The price is high, but the pick is Chicago.
New Orleans (+125) New England (-145)(4:25 PM ET, Fox): New Orleans continues to play some really good defense and the New England passing game without Rob Gronkowski remains a work in progress. The Patriots are playing some pretty good defense themselves, and while the Saints look Super Bowl-caliber and Drew Brees is playing efficiently, they aren’t blowing out the scoreboard lights. In short, a Brees-Brady battle might have more defense involved than one might expect at first glance.
It’s hard for me to go against the Patriots on their homefield coming off a loss, but I’m just so totally sold on New Orleans right now that I can’t pass on them at a dog price.
Washington(+195) Dallas (-235)(8:30 PM ET, NBC): Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett better have spent his team’s bye week working on tackling, because it’s going to be necessary against a Dallas offense that just dropped 48 on Denver, even if the Cowboys came up short in that game. Washington also needs to have some creative ways of stopping blitz packages–such as running traps, misdirections, or…dare I say it, the read-option with RG3?
The ‘Skins won both games against the Cowboys a year ago and it’s hard to see them making it three in a row. But not quite as hard as (+195) might suggest. As pathetic as it sounds, the ‘Skins can take first place in the NFC East with a win here and I’m going to pick them to get it. Not only because they’re my troops, but I see the offense coming on strong with the bye week and some continued strengthening of the knee for RG3.
Indianapolis-San Diego (Mon, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN): These teams played in some great playoff games in 2007 and 2008, both won by the Chargers and San Diego also stopped Indianapolis’ push for an undefeated season in 2005. Of course Mike McCoy and Chuck Pagano were a long way from their current posts as head coaches for the Bolts and Colts respectively.
The moneylines on this game aren’t posted yet, which is strange because the pointspread is up at (-1.5). The Colts are getting some good run-pass balance with now with the addition of Trent Richardson, they’ve got Andrew Luck playing well and they have wins over San Francisco and Seattle.
Unless you think they’re going to have an emotional letdown after the Seahawk win–a not unreasonable notion–than the Colts merit a bigger edge over the Bolts. I’ll take Indy to win and just bill myself (-125) if they lose, which based on the pointspread is more than fair.
TheSportsNotebook’s moneyline picks on the rest of the Week 6 games…
Green Bay (-140) Baltimore (+120): Baltimore–Fox will show this game to a lot of the country in the 1 PM ET window.
Pittsburgh (+110) NY Jets (-130): Pittsburgh–this is CBS’s top game, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on hand for the broadcast. Steelers-Jets might have been worthy of that status back in 2010 when it was the AFC Championship Game matchup, but now it’s merely a sign of how badly the network got hosed on this week’s schedule.
Oakland (+310) Kansas City (-380): Kansas City
Cincinnati (-300) Buffalo (+250): Buffalo
Carolina (+100) Minnesota (-130): Minnesota
St. Louis (+290) Houston (-350): Houston
Philadelphia (-120) Tampa Bay (+100): Philadelphia
Detroit (-140) Cleveland (+120): Detroit
Tennessee (+510) Seattle (-700): Seattle
Jacksonville (+2100) Denver (-6600): Denver
Arizona (+390) San Francisco (-500): San Francisco
As you can see, I’m on a lot of hefty favorites again this week. Is this me never learning, or taking an easy (+100) where it exists. Let’s find out.