Last minute addition to the picks.
Saints -3 & Ravens -3 & Chiefs PK
If anyone watched the Jaguars on Monday night you will be asking how in the world did this team beat the Colts? David Garrard is out with a concussion, but will it really matter who's at QB? Trent Edwards is also banged up. Either way JAX have serious problems at QB and it is likely irrelevant in this matchup anyways. KC will own a huge edge in the running game with Charles and Jones providing a lethal 1-2 punch. JAX have also had a terrible time rushing the passer this season despite their offseason acquisitions. Cassel showed last week that he can throw the ball more than 12 yards down field and should get some opportunities in this game to make more plays. If KC can keep their third downs to third and four or less in this game they will be driving up and down the field all day long. JAX's defense haven't found a way to stop drives this season. They are having just as much trouble sustaining drives of their own, turn the ball over too much, and are traveling to a tough place to play on a short week. I'm not saying it's impossible for JAX to win this game, but what is one notch below that?
Meanwhile the Ravens have a cupcake matchup against the Bills. Easy cover right? Maybe not. BAL is coming off a tough game against NE in which they lost in OT. Coming home to play perhaps the worst team in the league doesn't exactly inspire motivation. This is a classic letdown situation which is why I would stay away from the standard -13 line. Having said that, I love them at -3. What they will be motivated to do is win the game. BAL should put up a lot of points in this one. McGee is still not practicing and if he's not 100% then they will have trouble stopping BAL in the air. Even if he does play, BAL can ride Rice to the end zone all afternoon. This defense is so bad that all the retired analysts on ESPN, FOX, CBS and the NFL Network could probably beat them if they played today. BUF ranks at the bottom in third down offense and defense, red zone efficiency, and long-drive points. The only thing going for them is they are a very disciplined team. Too bad for them they aren't playing the Cowboys this week because discipline won't be enough to top the Ravens. Prediction: Bank NO -3, BAL -3, KC PK.
Saints -3 & Ravens -3 & Steelers +7
Both teams are good on third down on each side of the ball and MIA is pretty disciplined in the penalty department. They will need to continue that if they hope to stay in this one because they can't afford to beat themselves against what could be the best team in the NFL right now. MIA have played four good teams so far this year so they are definitely battle-tested, but they don't have enough troops to win this war. PIT is too stacked across the board and 80% of the public have already sided with the Steelers. I'm not so sure PIT -3 is a good play right now because MIA have the capability of keeping it close, but at +7 I feel really strongly about taking them. MIA will have a hard enough time keeping it close let alone winning by two scores. Prediction: Bank PIT +7, BAL -3, NO -3.
Saints -3 & Ravens -3 & Giants +13.5
Last week the Saints finally won a game looking like the defending champs they were. Brees was on point all day and did what good teams should do - bury a lesser division opponent. I'm not about to sit here and say NO is back and ready to roll because they still have a number of problems that they need to worry about. They are not getting the turnovers on defense that they got last year. If any category can mask some deficiencies it's turnovers. Luckily for them the Browns rank near the bottom in turnover differential so that shouldn't be a concern this week. Losing Bush and Thomas hurt their balance and ability to execute the exotic scheme coach Peyton loves to do, but they finally got some production in the running game from Ivory.
Against the Browns, expect a big advantage in the air on both sides of the ball. That might not be the most insightful analysis of the year, but if anyone wants to go into NO and have a hope in hell of winning they'll need to either slow down Brees or match his production. CLE will also have big problems getting consistent pressure on Brees which will only make for a longer afternoon in the dome. Adding insult to injury is CLE's third down defense. They've had a horrible time getting off the field all season long and they are equally inefficient sustaining drives of their own. Give CLE credit for keeping many games closer than they should have been this season, but at the end of the day they are still a far way away from winning on this level.
Prediction: Bank NO-3, BAL -3, NYG +13.5.