Better late than never, here are this week's NFL picks.
COLTS -8.5 over Washington
Indy tends to murk bad teams at home. Also, Dan Snyder can sit on a rusty fork.
Titans +7 over TEXANS
As Washington has taught us this season, it's never a good thing going back to your original starter after benching them. Houston is set to do that with Ryan Fitzpatrick after Ryan Mallett lasted all of a week as their starter before going down. While Tennessee isn't great, they have some semblance of continuity, which is a good thing and enough to keep close in a game between two challenged offenses.
Browns +3.5 over BILLS
Buffalo is overvalued here after beating the holy crap out of an abominable Jets squad. Cleveland has a strong pass defense (9th in DVOA, 8th in yards against per attempt) that will overwhelm Kyle Orton. While the Browns struggle against the run, Buffalo is one of nine teams in the league currently below 4.0 yards per carry on offense.
RAVENS -6.5 over Chargers
Remember when Philip Rivers was supposed to be a candidate for the NFL's MVP this year? He's dropped from second to ninth in yards per pass attempt, while the Chargers sit at 27th in DVOA running the ball. Their offense has been the problem this season, which isn't characteristic of recent Chargers teams.
Baltimore, meanwhile, is top ten in DVOA on offense and defense, while Joe Flacco's numbers are eerily similar to Rivers' this season. They'll put a hurtin' on San Diego here, as the Chargers are playing one of those weird West Coast to East Coast games that west teams struggle in.
Giants -3 over JAGUARS
Full disclosure: I'm a Giants fan. I rarely pick them against the spread, because they are a pretty bad team. But I will NOT take the Jaguars and a field goal against my New York Giants. That's where I draw the line. I know full well that Eli Manning is going to throw seven picks in a loss today, but I don't care. I'm laying the field goal.
Bengals -5 over BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay is in the bottom third of the league in DVOA against the pass and yards against per pass attempt, and they take on a Cincinnati team finally rounding back into form with the return of AJ Green. The Bengals' recent run aligning just so with Green's return isn't a coincidence, by the way.
Now, when looking at line movements in the NFL, it's usually safe to assume that when a spread moves against the favorite despite a large percentage of bets on the favorite that sharp money is on the underdog. Well, with 80% of bets on Cincy today, the line has moved two full points in some places from Cincy -3 to our current line. Sharps ain't on the Bucs in this game. Fire away on Cincy.
RAMS -6 over Raiders
This is admittedly a square play on my part, what with Oakland being 14th in DVOA on defense, and this line moving back from Rams -7.5 earlier in the week despite three quarters of the bets being on the Rams. But I really like this Rams team lately, as they have been making things difficult for anyone they face at home, including the Broncos, Seahawks, and 49ers. They'll roll here.
STEELERS -3.5 over Saints
One of the surest things in gambling in recent years is dead. New Orleans at home was 18-1-1 over a 20 game run dating back to a few weeks ago, but they've managed to lose multiple games in a row at home straight up, let alone against the spread. On the road, I have no faith in them whatsoever.
Panthers +2.5 over VIKINGS
I'm just grabbing the points here, as both of these teams are horrific.
Cardinals -1.5 over FALCONS
Arizona is fifth in the NFL in DVOA on defense, while Atlanta is dead last in that category. Drew Stanton, Drew Brees, or Drew Henson at quarterback, I'm all about laying less than two points with that big a disparity in defenses in play.
PACKERS -2.5 over Patriots
A lot of the talk before this game has been about how Green Bay's defense will choose to attack New England's potent offense, and a lot of commentators seem to think that the Pats will be able to run the ball at will should Green Bay employ a lot of nickel and dime defensive looks. I don't agree with that.
Despite Jonas Gray's breakout performance in Indy, the Patriots are 20th in DVOA running the ball this year, which is to say that they have been kind of bad at rushing in most other games. Green Bay will find a way to defend New England's passing attack and get a win here.
CHIEFS -1 over Broncos
#SMITTYTIME against a banged up Denver offense is a huge advantage to the home team, which has already had success in a night game against an elite team this season.
Dolphins -6.5 over JETS
Geno Smith is back for the Jets. This will end poorly.
This Week: 1-2
2014 NFL ATS: 96-81-1 (54.2%)
By the way, I'm on a patented Jay Sanin Twitter Hiatus right now. If you need me, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org