Last week’s choices produced three blowouts, thus, no matter what side you were on, you were either really pleased with your NFL picks or had a “what was I thinking” moment in the fourth quarter of each contest. Which of this week's matchups could produce similar results?
Carolina Doling Out Big Number to the Jets
The Panthers outstanding eight-game winning streak came to a crashing halt at New Orleans, but they are still considered absolutely superior to the New York Jets.
The original NFL odds for this non-conference clash opened with Carolina at -11.5 and while the number is quite justified, other elements are in play.
Ron Rivera’s squad is in the classic ‘sandwich’ situation, coming off facing the Saints and having them at home next week. Carolina being focused is a worthy consideration. Numerous NFL football handicappers are aware home favorites of a touchdown or more are 6-13 ATS the past seven weeks.
But then there is Gang Green, who is 1-5 and 2-4 ATS in away games, losing by 17.5 points a game. Do you want to back such a team with your NFL picks?
Here is the clincher; the Panthers are 9-1 ATS off a road loss the last three seasons. Impressive right, until you knowing average winning margin is 9.6 points a game. Pass!
Chicago vs. Cleveland an Unhealthy Choice
The Cleveland Browns felt they were victim to some home town New England officiating, nevertheless, the Browns did what only Cleveland fans would expect.
Coach Rob Rob Chudzinski team had a 12-point lead with 2:39 remaining in the game, had gained 494 yards on offense, owned 2-0 turnover margin edge and failed to close the deal.
On the positive side, Jason Campbell gave another strong performance and is far and away the best quarterback on the Browns roster. Receiver Josh Gordon is attracting attention across the NFL and given the Bears defense, another monster day could be at hand, weather permitting.
Chicago whipped a defense Dallas club who had very little interest in playing in the frigid Windy City once they fell behind. Yet for all the accolades Jon Gruden was heaping on the Bears offense, this club is still just 7-6 overall and 2-4 SU & ATS in away games.
Yes, Chicago has more to play for, but doesn’t every playoff contender? And every year the scrap heap starts growing this time of year for those teams “that have to win”.
Pittsburgh is a un-Steelers like 5-8 this season and nobody in the Steel City is pleased. An aging defense has allowed 269.5 passing per game the last six weeks and Ben Roethlisberger, despite throwing from 290 yards a contest the past month, only has a .500 record to show for it.
Sportsbooks made the Steelers a three-point home underdog to Cincinnati and the last time the Bengals were favored in western Pennsylvania was 1989!
At 9-4, Cincinnati has the third-best point differential in the AFC and a strong finish could take them to 12-4 and if New England were to slip at all, the Bengals hold the tie-breaker from an earlier victory over the Patriots.
But 24 years between favorite’s roles (think Boomer Esiason vs. Bubby Brister quarterback matchup) is a REALLY long time. And while Cincy is the better team, for one day, especially at home in a division battle, the Steelers could win. Let this slide!