One of the things everyone learns when if they dabble in picking football winners against the point spread is that there is no place for loyalty to favorite teams. Going with my heart is the only excuse I will use for picking my Bears (-3) over the Dolphins in my Week 7 Best Bets last week. Chicago never really threatened to win the game, and their failure to win a game this year at home is baffling. I will refrain from making any selections either for or against the Bears this year. Loyalties aside, it is simply impossible to know which Chicago Bears will show up on any given weekend. The team has become the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead. When they are good, they are very, very good. But when they are bad, they are horrid.
Week 7 was respectable as Best Bets went 3-2, winning with the Jaguars, Chiefs and Cardinals, and losing on the Little Girl With the Curl and the Giants. For the season we are 17-13. Even though I found slim pickings this weekend, I have managed to scrape together five pretty good choices. (Home teams in CAPS)
Lions (-3.5) over Falcons—Technically this is a home game for the Falcons, but it is being played in London at 6:30 a.m. PT. Do not forget to make your wager Saturday night, because I know you would rather sleep in—and so would your bookie. The basis for this pick is simply the lack of an offensive line for the Falcons and a fierce Detroit defense which is No. 1 in the NFL. The strength of the Lions’ defense is their front seven. I hope fans in the UK like watching sacks.
CHIEFS (-7) over Rams—Except for some trick plays, the Rams were really beaten last week by the Seahawks, getting out-gained 463 yards to 272. Now they play at Arrowhead against a stingy KC defense. With the Broncos already getting a win on Thursday, the Chiefs need to keep winning to keep pace in the AFC West. It was a tough, emotional win for the Rams last week, and now they must hit the road and play in one of the toughest venues in the NFL.
Texans (-3) over TITANS—Except for 73 seconds at the end of the second quarter, the Texans beat the Steelers on Monday night, out-gaining them 393 yards to 328. The Titans will be starting rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger from LSU, and sometimes that can work for a team. I do not see that happening this week. The Texans are desperate for a win, as they do not want to lose touch with the Colts in the NFC South. Tennessee has not covered a point spread at home in more than a year, and I do not look for them to break that string here.
Colts (-3) over STEELERS—The Steelers are 13th in passing yards allowed this season, which is not bad until you look at the quarterbacks they have faced this season: Brian Hoyer (twice), Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Blake Bortles and Ryan Fitzpatrick. It is not exactly a “who’s who” of elite QBs. Now they get a visit from Andrew Luck and an Indy offense that is 1st in offensive production and 2nd in scoring. Oh, by the way, the Colts defense is No. 3 in the league.
SAINTS (-1.5) over Packers—It is very scary to go against the mighty Packers, but this is a pick with the trends. In the last 20 home games under coach Sean Payton, the Saints are 18-1-1. The biggest thing going, however, is that the same people who picked New Orleans to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl are now beginning to have some serious doubts. The best way for the Saints to make themselves right is a big dose of home-cooking (a nice gumbo, in this case). There is some funky mojo happening “way down yonder” and the Saints will find a way to come out on top Sunday night.