By IAN WUKITSCH
Howdy everybody, happy Halloween, and most importantly: happy freakin’ Friday! The weekend is near, and you are less than 48 hours away from another full slate of NFL games. It’s a new week with new fantasy lineups, new stupid flags for bogus penalties, and new spreads to help you win, or lose, a nice wad of cash.
HOME team in CAPS
Oakland Raiders (+15) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
I’m starting this week off with a nice bold prediction. I’m not saying the Raiders will win, but they WILL cover. This game has nothing to do with numbers for me. You may be thinking, “Really Ian? The Raiders are winless. You suck.” I know the Raiders are winless, and I know I suck, so tell me something I don’t already know. However, I don’t think the Seahawks are as good a team as Vegas thinks they are. They play down to their level of competition and they are going to come out flat, especially after a rough game last week against the Panthers, which drained that team physically and mentally. The way I see it is that the Seahawks are going to take this game lightly and treat it like it’s in the bag. Cue Derek Carr and a 65-yard bomb to leading receiver James Jones, right over the over-hyped, ego-filled head of Richard Sherman. The Raiders, believe it or not, have a decent passing attack, and the Seahawks have been exposed thus far this season in their secondary. I wouldn’t take Carr, or this team, lightly, as the rookie QB is looking better and better each week. I think the Seahawks will win this one, but not by a two TD margin. Take Oakland with the points.
Arizona Cardinals (+4) at DALLAS COWBOYS
This should be a great game between two really good teams. Both teams enter this week with 6 wins apiece, and both sit on top of their division. The Cowboys have the edge in total offense here, averaging roughly 80 more yards per game, and nearly three more points per game. Both defenses are pretty good as well, with the Cowboys having a slight edge. It is going to be a great matchup to watch between the Cardinals’ rush defense, allowing 78 ypg against the early season MVP Demarco Murray. If the Cardinals can stop the run I think they might stand a chance, but if they don’t, it’s gonna be a long night for the boys in red. If the Cowboys can establish the run, it opens up huge passing lanes for this team, and once those corners creep up, it’s time to send Dez Bryant streaking down the sideline for six. Look for this talented Cowboys team to bounce back against a heartbreaker last week, and for Tony Romo to exploit a weak secondary which is allowing 300 ypg. I really think this is going to be a complete slaughtering act by the Cowboys. The Cardinals’ only hope is that their defense can keep it close enough for Carson Palmer to be able to find two lucky touchdowns like he did last week, but I don’t see that happening. Take the Cowboys to cover the spread this week. Jerry Jones promises it.
Not So Fast My Friend
The following games are ones I’d try and stay away from this weekend — unless you’re a complete degenerate gambler and are feeling lucky. In that case, good luck.
Baltimore Ravens (-1) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
In the wise words of Bobby Shmurda, “Get up out my TRAP house!” That’s what this game is, a TRAP. You may feel compelled to take the Steelers because they are hot right now, and Big Ben Roethlisberger went absolutely off last week. But can he possibly do it again? The Ravens’ defense doesn’t allow many points (only 16 per game), holds offenses to under 100 yards rushing per game, and they can hold their own in the secondary. And what about Joe Flacco? Certainly he can go off right? He has the weapons, and Steve Smith Sr. has somehow found the magic fountain of youth that has turned him into one of the league’s elite again. Oh, and not to mention that the Steelers allow nearly 25 points per game. Easy to pick the Ravens here right? Wrong. If I have learned anything from betting, it’s that if it seems too good to be true, there’s probably a catch. Inter-Division games are always close battles, especially between two rivals. Vegas knows something that we don’t here, which is why this game is basically a pick ‘em. I’d stay away from this one, and just sit back and watch a grudge match between two stellar offenses.
St. Louis Rams (+10) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Another HUGE trap game here. Vegas is giving the Rams ten points in San Fran, and I don’t like it at all. First off, it’s another Inter-Division game, which is always tough to bet on because teams seem to lay it all on the line in these games. Second, the Rams held their own against the 9ers last time they played. Although San Fran pulled it off in the end in a 14-point win, the game was much closer than the final score indicated, and the Rams gave away the W in a poor second half showing. Both teams give up a TON of points, Rams allowing 30 per game and the 49ers allowing nearly 24, and neither score all that much. Unless San Fran can pull away like they did the last time they played, I don’t see this one being decided by double digits. Coach Jeff Fisher is a possible Hall of Fame coach, and I doubt he will let this Rams team collapse like they did a few weeks ago. Look for this defense to contain Colin Kaepernick, and bait him into making bad decisions in the pocket, which he is very prone to. This is another game that looks great on paper for the 49ers, but my gut is telling me that we could expect another upset in the Rams’ favor, like we did when they played the Seahawks. Austin Davis is developing into a good QB, and he doesn’t turn the ball over much, only five picks in seven games. If this team can establish their running game, Zac Stacy has to show up at some point, then look for them to try to control the clock and keep Jon Haurbaugh’s team off the field. I’d stray away from this game – too many variables to say that San Fran is going to win by ten or more points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) at CLEVELAND BROWNS
There’s bold, and there’s stupid, and this game is in the middle of both. This game has all the makings for the Browns to win easy. They are statistically better than the Buccaneers in every category both offensively and defensively, have a better record, and are also at home. So this should be an easy win for them. BUT, how good can Brian Hoyer be? The guy has never been a consistent starter in the NFL before, he’s in his sixth season now, and the wear and tear of a full slate of games mentally and physically have to affect him at some point. It’s also the Browns man. This team has been the joke of the league for so long, sooner or later their luck has got to run out. Just like sooner or later these Pirates from Florida are going to put it all together. Mike Glennon is a good freakin’ QB, and he is showing no signs of a sophomore slump after a solid rookie campaign. He has all the tools of being a potential Pro Bowler one day, and he has a nice receiving combo in Vincent Jackson and the young, and now fully healthy, Mike Evans. This game could very easily go to the Buccaneers if they find a way to get the ball in the hands of these two receivers who have been too quiet for their skill set. Pair that with a Browns defense which is allowing over 250 yards through the air per game (for reference, I didn’t say their defense was good, it’s just better than the Buccaneers) and this could be the week this duo gets it going. Look for the Bucs to shock the NFL this week and upset the Browns. Unless Hoyer gets hurt and Johnny F-ing Football comes in – then expect the Browns to put up 100 behind Money Maker Manziel.
There it is gambling fans, more predictions from yours truly. I’m not gonna lie, this is a tough week for betting. Vegas is really screwing America with these spreads, they must still be pissed off over the amount of money they lost when the Redskins beat the highly favored Cowboys Monday night. Nonetheless, I wish you all the best of luck in your bets. And remember, if you think it’s a lock pick, chances are, you’re wrong.