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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Tennessee Titans: TEN -3
It's not very often that I put a team like TEN on my card, but it's also not everyday that they play a team like TB. I don't really understand why TEN is only a 3 point favorite at home, because I don't see these teams as even on a neutral field. TB is simply a team that doesn't do very much right. The running back position has been a sore spot all year and Freeman has taken a big step back in his development. His play is even more glaring when you consider that his offensive line has done such a good job protecting him this year. Adding to the problems is the lackluster receiving core he has to throw to. This is a team that can't drive the ball very well and once they do get in the red zone, they rarely score touchdowns (where they rank dead last in the league). Granted, TEN's defense isn't much to get excited about either, but that's hardly a worry when TB will do enough to stop themselves.
On the flip side you'd think that TB would have a much stronger pass defense when you consider the names on the back of the uniforms. Instead, they continue to get torched week and week. This is great news for a TEN team that doesn't strike fear into many defenses. While TB is dead last in red zone offense, TEN ranks at the very top of the list. They don't get inside the 20 very often, but when they do it's usually money. Roll with the home team and lay the points. Prediction: Bank TEN -3.
Carolina Panthers vs Indianapolis Colts: CAR -3
You'll have to shop around or buy the hook in order to get CAR at -3, but it would be well worth the effort. I'm not quite sure why IND is only getting 3 points at home when you consider who they are starting at QB. What person in their right mind would put their hard earned money on this winless team? They are almost as horrible against the spread as they are in the win-loss column. Admittedly, CAR have burned me a couple times this year, but when I see value I'm going to take it regardless of the track record.
To wrap this game up in a nutshell, it's advantage CAR offense, disadvantage everything involving IND. CAR should be able to do whatever it is the draw up in the playbook this week. They are one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to execution and self-defeating mistakes, but seriously--if you can't get it together vs a team like IND than how bad are you? IND rank near or at the bottom of almost every meaningful defensive category. Newton should have a huge game in the air and the ground. The only hope IND have here is if they can get their running game going. This is where CAR bleed the most. Thankfully for them, IND is a horrible rushing team. I think CAR win this one convincingly. Prediction: Bank CAR -3.
Arizona Cardinals vs St Louis Rams: STL -2.5
STL had a huge letdown game last week at home vs SEA, but it's not going to deter me from taking them vs ARI. I'm not really concerned who plays QB for ARI because STL will have the advantage defending the pass either way. Say what you want about their record this year, but they can do some things well. In fact, what's going to be more problematic for ARI is protecting their QB. They have the worst pass protecting offensive line in the NFL and STL boast one of the better defensive fronts. Even if Long is out for this one, STL know how to scheme enough blitzes to generate a pass rush.
If ARI do stay in this game, it's going to have to come from Wells, the defense, and special teams. Unfortunately for ARI, there isn't any one area that they can consistently depend on this year. Their main challenge on defense will be slowing down the STL running attack. I expect STL to be able to do enough on the ground to put some drives together and walk away with points. Much like last week, it's going to be an ugly game to watch, but the matchups favor STL and they are at home. If they can't win this by a field goal then I'll have no choice but to blindly fade them for the rest of the year. Prediction: Bank STL -2.5.