Atlanta Falcons +9 & New England Patriots -1Analysis here and here.
NFL Pick: ATL +9 & NE -1.
Chicago Bears -1.5 & New England Patriots -1
BearsThis might be one of the shortest write-ups I do all year.
Speaking of defense, this is where the obvious split takes place. No need to go into detail there.
I will add that the Bears have a huge advantage in special teams and have a much better average starting field position over the Panthers. It also goes without saying Chicago has a great turnover differential.
I almost came close to adding the Bears as a straight play, but I'll take the safer route and throw them in a teaser instead. After you include home field advantage, this choice is a no-brainer.
NFL Pick: CHI -1.5 & NE -1.
Miami Dolphins +8.5 & Denver Broncos PK
DolphinsI'm still holding out hope that I can snag a +3 in this game for a straight bet, so a full write-up with analysis is pending.
When I break this down, there is an alarming trend that emerges if you're a Denver Broncos fan. Statistically, Denver's defense matches up quite well vs the Saints rushing and passing offense, but dig deeper and some red flags appear. When it comes to crunch time, the Broncos can't get off the field or keep people out of the end zone. On the flip side, the Saints offense has been great in make-or-break moments.
Looking at the Saints defense, things are the complete opposite. New Orleans gives up yards up and down the field all day long, but they are trending up a bit in the critical situations. Don't get me wrong, they are still bad on third down and in the red zone, but not as bad as their other stats would indicate.
The huge issue for New Orleans is the fact that they are severely outmatched against Peyton Manning. Without adequate personnel to execute Spagnuolo's scheme, Peyton will be able to sit there all day long and pick them apart. The task for coach Spags is to figure out whether to drop back in coverage or mix things up with blitzes. I think he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
This game has the makings of a shootout, but teasing the Broncos down to a pick em at home is a good bet. Drew Brees is great, but he can't play defense.
NFL Pick: MIA +8.5 & DEN PK.