Walk the Line: Week 9
Get your NFL fix and gambling picks
One win and one loss for my "Locks" - what a shock, right? I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can bet I'll pick one game wrong each week, but you can also bet I'll pick one right. So at least I'm narrowing the field of games down to two for you.
RG3 failed me last week. The experienced defense of Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh shut down the rookie quarterback and even prevented him from gaining his typical "garbage points" in the fourth quarter that have so often helped Washington cover the spread.
Luckily, the Patriots bailed me out and beat the Rams. Thanks, Vegas, for that slender seven-point spread. There should have been a fee to even be able to bet on that game.
On a broader note: what a strange year for football. There have only been eight weeks played so far, but it appears six of the eight divisions have already determined who will represent them in January. The NFC North has a tight race and the AFC North remains up for grabs as well - but after the depraved performance the Ravens put on two weeks ago against Houston and the dominant way the Steelers have been playing the last few weeks, that division seems all too predictable as well.
Out of 32 teams in the NFL, 12 teams are within one game of being .500, and only nine teams are more than one game above .500. The overwhelming amount of mediocrity has made it difficult to predict games this season. Unless the game involves the defensive supremacy in San Francisco or high-powered offenses in Green Bay, New England, Atlanta and Houston, it's virtually a crapshoot to decide which teams will cover the spread week by week.
But is this an excuse to stray away from your preferred gambling websites and local bookies? Absolutely not! I implore you to take the challenge. With that said, on to the picks.
Note: lines as of Oct. 31, via: sportsbook.ag
Matchup of the Week (5-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) at New York Giants
What a matchup. With the Giants' NFC East foes folding early on, the division seems to belong to the boys in blue. It took a few weeks for the Steelers to gain their typical evolution into a top-three team in the AFC, but they're finally there. And did anyone realize the Giants' offense wasn't very good last week? Their only offensive touchdown of the game came on a drive that started at Dallas' 31-yard line. This game should be pretty tight, but the Steelers are the obvious pick with the half-point they're getting.
Steelers 20, Giants 21
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans
The Bears escaped last week, edging out the Panthers at home, and they travel to Nashville this week. The Titans have one of the worst defenses in the NFL and the Bears have one of the best. Tennessee's offense will struggle, and Chicago's will resurge after two consecutive poor performances. It's as simple as that. Note: Move Chris Johnson back to your bench in fantasy leagues!
Chicago 34, Titans 13
Denver Broncos (-4) at Cincinnati Bengals
Peyton Manning and the Broncos' offense are rolling. They've scored over 30 points in four straight weeks and I don't see a below-average Bengal defense preventing them from accomplishing that feat for the fifth time. The Bengals will enter the game on a three-game losing streak, including losses to Cleveland and Miami. They're coming off a bye, but it won't be enough to keep this game within a touchdown.
Broncos 35, Bengals 24
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