As the calendar turns to November and the cold starts to carry some bite, the NFL’s contenders will separate themselves from the pretenders. At the season’s halfway point, this weeks Against The Spread continues to evaluate trends along with other interesting nuggets.
Week 8 record: 6-9
Season record: 63-57-1
New Orleans Saints (3-4) -3 at Carolina Panthers (3-4-1)
The first of two meetings between the top teams in the NFC South takes place Thursday night. New Orleans is firing on all cylinders offensively with Mark Ingram and Jimmy Graham back in the lineup.
ATS pick: Saints
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) +11 at Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)
I’m done going with the Jaguars and the points. Jeremy Hill is a good fantasy play if Giovani Bernard cannot make it to the post for the Bengals.
ATS pick: Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) +6.5 at Cleveland Browns (4-3)
A favorable schedule continues for the Browns, who are one-half game behind the rest of the AFC North. Tampa rookie running back Charles Sims is due to come off injured reserve this week. He is projected to immediately become the team’s third down back and see a bulk of the running work.
ATS pick: Buccaneers
Arizona Cardinals (6-1) +4 at Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
This is one of two marquee games on slated for this weekend. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and the rest of the Cowboys’ brain trust went Ned Yost allowing an injured Tony Romo to return to Monday night’s game after Brandon Weeden led the team to scores on the two previous possessions. Romo remains a game-time decision for this week.
ATS pick: Cardinals
New York Jets (1-7) +9.5 at Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
Kansas City can now turn its attention back to football, and the Chiefs should have an easy time against a desperate Jets team starting Michael Vick at quarterback.
ATS pick: Chiefs
San Diego Chargers (5-3) +2.5 at Miami Dolphins (4-3)
After consecutive losses in the division, look for San Diego to bounce back with a big win in South Florida.
ATS pick: Chargers
Washington (3-5) +1 at Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
Hockey happens to be huge in Minnesota, and the following speaks volumes to the current interest in Vikings football: tickets for Sunday’s game start at $20 on StubHub while the cheapest ticket for Saturday’s Minnesota Wild game is listed at $88.
ATS pick: Vikings
Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) -2 at Houston Texans (4-4)
A murderous two-game road trip continues for the Eagles in Houston. Arian Foster is No. 1 on many fantasy rankings this week and Houston’s defense is also clicking. I look for the Texans to get in the AFC playoff mix.
ATS pick: Texans
St. Louis Rams (2-5) +10 at San Francisco 49ers (4-3)
The Rams got throttled in Kansas City last week but always seem to play the Niners tough.
ATS pick: Rams
Denver Broncos (6-1) -3 at New England Patriots (6-2)
So-called experts wrote off Peyton Manning early in the 2012 season and others declared the Tom Brady era done a month ago. Both look as good as ever lately, and that’s a good thing.
ATS pick: Patriots
Oakland Raiders (0-7) +15 at Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
The Seahawks were ripped apart in Oakland in their preseason finale back in August. I expect things to go differently in the Emerald City on Sunday.
ATS pick: Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens (5-3) -1 at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
Ben Roethlisberger downed the Indianapolis Colts like a grilled cheese sandwich, throwing for 522 yards and the offense scored 51 points on a defense that had shut out the Bengals a week earlier. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco ran up five touchdowns in just over a quarter a few weeks back. This should be a fun one Sunday night. Cincinnati and Cleveland will be another key divisional game next Thursday.
ATS pick: Steelers
Indianapolis Colts (5-3) -3.5 at New York Giants (3-4)
Donte Moncrief is a hot fantasy pickup this week and is a physical specimen, by this time next year he could take over Reggie Wayne’s role.
ATS pick: Colts