Ross Mandel is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, the editor-in-chief ofNFLDraftBible.com, and co-host of a weekly online radio show. Russell Colburn is a former intramural football stud. Together, they tell you where to throw your money for some solid returns…
Tim “Son of
Jor-El God” Tebow came through in the clutch once again to surprise everyone in America in Week 11. The Betting Men are still befuddled by his ability to win football games despite the fact that he plays like a running back with a gimp arm. Meanwhile, the other New York football team managed to score just 10 points against the Eagles without the presence of Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin. The Giants will look back on this game and wonder what happened to their NFC East title. Maybe Eli Manning should reattach his brain before his Monday Night date with the New Orleans Saints in Week 12. And let’s give a standing ovation to the Ravens and Falcons for blowing huge 4th quarter leads and giving our Betting Men a big fat PUSH in the record books.
Turkey Day football brings us some pretty intriguing match-ups, which include the Lions hosting their first relevant game since Barry Sanders roamed the backfield. The Dolphins fly into Dallas on a three-game winning streak and could sneak up on the Cowboys, who are recovering from a near-loss to the Redskins. And the Brothers Harbaugh fill out the nightcap — ESPN simply cannot get enough of this charade. Another can’t-miss game this Sunday finds the Cutler-less Bears traveling to the Black Hole of Oakland. Can Caleb Hanie hold down the fort long enough for the Bears to sneak into the playoffs?
Week 11 Totals: Ross 5-7-2 ATS, Russell 7-5-2
Season Totals: Ross 87-67-6 ATS, Russell 80-74-6
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions (+6.5)
Russell’s Pick: The resurrection of Kevin Smith has given life to the Lions’ running game. His presence supplies the Lions with a balanced attack that can expose the Packers’ defensive weakness on the edges. However, Aaron Rodgers will be too much for the Lions’ defense to handle and he will lead the Pack to a game winning touchdown drive.
Final Score: Packers 31-27
Ross’ Pick: I’m taking Detroit. I saw a crack in the undefeated armor last week when Tampa put a scare into Green Bay. I’ll take a fired up Lions team who WILL get to Rodgers (even if it costs them 15 yards) and pass the ball well enough to actually pull off the upset.
Final Score: Lions 31-28
Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys (-7)
Russell’s Pick: The Dolphins have won three straight against the Chiefs, Redskins, and Bills. All three were overachieving teams for the first half of the season. Well, the Cowboys are a legitimate team and were given a scare in Washington last week. Look for the Cowboys to take advantage of the Giants slipping back in the standings.
Final Score: Cowboys 30-21
Ross’ Pick: This is going to be close and the spread is way inflated; Dallas is overrated and Miami underrated. Miami’s defense has been terrific over the past month, as has Matt Moore. They’ll be enough to keep this one within a touchdown.
Final Score: Cowboys 24-20
San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Russell’s Pick: Jim Harbaugh’s Niners are 4-0 on the road this season while John Harbaugh’s Ravens are 5-0 at home. Something has to give and it will be the Raven’s home winning streak.
Final Score: Niners 17-14
Ross’ Pick: No way Alex Smith comes into Baltimore on a short week and leaves with a win. I just don’t believe. The Ravens will be up for this one and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ed Reed scored a touchdown. The Niners are good, but not that good.
Final Score: Ravens 24-14
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams (PK)
Russell’s Pick: Ok, I threw two pieces of paper up in the air, one with the Cardinals written on it and the other the Rams. I caught the Rams’ piece of paper therefore they have to win this game, by 30.
Final Score: Rams 15-14
Ross’ Pick: When two poor teams are evenly matched, I’ll always take the home team. Steven Jackson will be enough—he doesn’t need a QB to throw to him as Fitzgerald does.
Final Score: Rams 20-14
Buffalo Bills @ NY Jets (-9)
Russell’s Pick: Unfortunately for Bills fans, the Cinderella season has ended abruptly with Fred Jackson landing on IR with a broken leg. Without a running game, the Bills fall right into the hands of the Jets’ strength.
Final Score: Jets 28-10
Ross’ Pick: The Jets just throttled the Bills in Buffalo, and that was when Fred Jackson was playing. Buffalo is falling apart quicker than a Kardashian marriage—lay the 9.
Final Score: Jets 24-13
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals (-7)
Russell’s Pick: Although the Bengals did not win their last two games against the Steelers or Ravens, we have learned that they can play some competitive football against the big boys of the AFC. AJ Green is expected to return to take on Joe Haden, thus freeing up Jerome Simpson to run amok in the Cleveland secondary.
Final Score: Bengals 27-17
Ross’ Pick: Cleveland can’t get out of its own way offensively, which is the opposite of Cincy—the Bengals seem to find ways to succeed on that side of the ball regardless of who’s healthy. There’s just too much Cincinnati offense in this Battle of Ohio.
Final Score: Bengals 28-13
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+4)
Russell’s Pick: The Texans have the defense to make this a competitive game with or without Matt Schaub at the helm, especially since the incompetent Blaine Gabbert is the opposing quarterback. The Texans will give the Jaguars a healthy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate on their way to victory.
Final Score: Texans 23-13
Ross’ Pick: This is a weird game. Matt Leinart gets (another) a chance at redemption, but will he throw more than 10 passes? He shouldn’t. Houston will keep it on the ground and run to victory on the road. Jacksonville will be lucky to score at all.
Final Score: Texans 24-9
Carolina Panthers @ Indianapolis Colts (+3)
Russell’s Pick: No analysis necessary. The Colts are well on their way to a winless season.
Final Score: Panthers 30-14
Ross’ Pick: Cam Newton will feast on this defense and it’s up in the air as to who finishes this game at QB for the Colts. Even Carolina will have a solid defensive day against this JV squad.
Final Score: Panthers 34-10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Russell’s Pick: The Bucs showed some life last week on the road in Green Bay. A healthy LeGarrette Blount will allow Josh Freeman to work Mike Williams back into the flow of the offense. And is Matt Hasselbeck going to last the whole game with a bum throwing elbow?
Final Score: Buccaneers 23-21
Ross’ Pick: This will be a close one. Both QBs are going to produce—I’m not scared by the Hasselbeck elbow. The difference here will be the resurgence of the Freeman-to-Williams combo for the Bucs. It’ll be a higher scoring affair than most think.
Final Score: Buccaneers 30-27
Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons (-9.5)
Russell’s Pick: Hard to imagine that the Vikings jeopardize Adrian Peterson’s long term health (high ankle sprain) when they have zero chance of making the playoffs. With that in mind, the Falcons will cover because Toby Gerhart is simply not an NFL running back.
Final Score: Falcons 24-10
Ross’ Pick: If you can’t stop the pass in the Dome, you can’t hang. Matt Ryan will go off in this one as Julio Jones returns. With all the attention Minnesota will be paying to the WRs, expect Tony Gonzalez to have a big game.
Final Score: Falcons 30-19
Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders (-4)
Russell’s Pick: Caleb Hanie played great in last year’s NFC Championship Game, but he caught the Packers by surprise. With a week to prepare for Hanie, the Raiders will further solidify their stranglehold on the AFC West crown.
Final Score: Raiders 20-14
Ross’ Pick: I trust the Bears to play a solid game behind Caleb Hanie. Chicago is the sort of team that rallies around something like the Cutler injury. Sure, they’ll alter the game-plan, but that’s easy to do when you face a scatterbrained team like the Raiders. The Bears’ defense will set the tone, and the offense does just enough.
Final Score: Bears 23-20
Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Russell’s Pick: Roy Helu Jr. deserves to start at running back, but Mike Shanahan is too stubborn to give him the rock after the opening kickoff. Seahawks have the greatest home-field advantage in the NFL and their fans will help them pull out this victory.
Final Score: Seahawks 23-17
Ross’ Pick: I told ya last week—that Seattle front 7 is no joke. They’ll beat up the ‘Skins in this game, while Marshawn Lynch enters full Beast Mode. It’s one more nail in the Shanahan coffin.
Final Score: Seahawks 27-20
New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5)
Russell’s Pick: Hard to imagine Vince Young pulling this game out of his ass. The Patriots defensive line has drastically improved the past two weeks and they will put Young in some precarious situations.
Final Score: Patriots 31-20
Ross’ Pick: Like Tim Tebow, folks seem to be forgetting the first three quarters of Vince Young’s game. He was awful. New England’s offense will put points up, which in turn puts more pressure on Young. That won’t be a good thing. Brady will make Philly pay—400 yards is not unrealistic here.
Final Score: Patriots 30-24
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers (-6)
Russell’s Pick: The Tim Tebow juice is about to wear off. The Chargers have the quick strike offense that can counter the slow grinding offense of the Broncos.
Final Score: Chargers 28-12
Ross’ Pick: I simply cannot bet ON a team like San Diego and can’t bet AGAINST Timmy Touchdown’s guys at this point. Denver’s rapidly improving defense, which isn’t getting any credit with Tebow around, will be the difference here. How many crap games must Philip Rivers have before betting lines are adjusted?
Final Score: Broncos 24-21
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (+10.5)
Russell’s Pick: I love the reverse homecoming story of Palko facing the professional version of the Pitt Panthers. I must have blacked out last night on turkey thinking that this game was in Shitsburgh.
Final Score: Steelers 33-7
Ross’ Pick: We may see Kyle Orton in the second half. You can name the score—I don’t care that it’s in KC. Pittsburgh is well-rested and can score against anyone. Time of possession will be 40-20 in favor of the visitors
Final Score: Steelers 38-13
NY Giants @ New Orleans Saints (-7)
Russell’s Pick: Eli Manning’s awful performance (264 yds, 1TD, 54% completion rate) has left a terrible taste in my mouth. Can you really rely on him to match Brees pass for pass in the Superdome?
Final Score: Saints 31-21
Ross’ Pick: Two words: Darren Sproles. Even if the Giants can get a pass rush on Brees, he’ll have the best safety valve in the game to help him out of any tight spots. The Giants will continue to be exposed in the secondary, and the linebackers will be embarrassed when Jimmy Graham comes a-calling. After this one, everyone will be in agreement—it’s Dallas’ division.
Final Score: Saints 35-21