Funny story about my cousin asking me to pick parlay cards for her when she was in Vegas: out of 11 picks I made, we got 8 right. The thing was, I thought I was off by one game on each of the three cards and was pretty bummed out. Turns out, my cousin had picked the cards in a different order than I thought and suddenly had came up big on one of the 4 team parlays. Vegas 2012 here I come baby!
In the meantime, I've been picking against the spread on ESPN's Pigskin Pick'em and am 47-30. Here are the lines this week on there and brief explanations for my picks:
Carolina +4.5 @ Atlanta: The Falcons have been disappointing on both sides of the ball, and with Jonathan Abraham questionable this week, it will be tough to stop Cam Newton. The Panthers might have a hard time stopping Michael Turner, especially since it's in Atlanta, but I think you take the points.
NY Giants -3.5 vs. Buffalo: Coming off that bad Seahawks loss last week, the Giants should come out focused against an opportunistic Bills defense and be able to protect Eli Manning. I am worried about New York's secondary against this quick passing Bills attack, but I think the Giants can win the shootout. I mean, Buffalo can't keep getting these tipped INTs all season can they? Oh wait, it is against Eli...let's move on.
Cincinnati -6.5 vs. Indy: I've been a believer of the Bengals defense for a while, and Andy Dalton has surprised me with his play. Despite Painter showing some life for the Colts offense, there's just not enough talent on that team. A full touchdown win is a bit risky, though.
San Francisco +4.5 @ Detroit: The big game in the NFC will really help judge just how far these young teams have come. The matchups are pretty intriguing, with Calvin Johnson against the Niner secondary, Aldon Smith against the Lions offensive line, Ndamukong Suh against the Niners offensive line, etc. The fact that it's in Detroit could rattle Alex Smith against this ferocious pass rush, but I think the San Francisco defense can slow down Megatron enough to let the running game bring it home.
Green Bay -14.5 vs. St. Louis: The best team in the league at home against one of the worst teams. Sam Bradford actually could have some success against the Packers defense...if, you know, his O-line lets him actually get some throws off or his receivers could hold on to the ball. Even with banged up pass protection, Aaron Rodgers should feast on a horrendous Rams secondary.
Philadelphia +0.5 @ Washington: The Redskins are coming off a bye, but eventually the Eagles have to pull it together instead of beating themselves. I'm counting on some old-school Rex Grossman pick-6's to Asante Samuel or Nnamdi Asomugha. Protecting Michael Vick from this 3-4 pressure is crucial, however.
Pittsburgh -12.5 vs. Jacksonville: The Steelers have been dynamite at home, and the Jaguars coming to town with their rookie QB should be a great remedy for their turnover-starved defense. Stopping the running game is their main challenge, but Ben Roethlisberger may throw for another 5 touchdowns against this defense.
Oakland -5.5 vs. Cleveland: This line isn't high enough, with the Browns offense having to come into the Black Hole and face this defensive front. The Raiders offense shouldn't have too much difficulties moving the ball on this defense, and they'll be able to showcase their new, relatively cheap acquisition Aaron Curry on defense.
Baltimore -7.5 vs. Houston: This line is a touch high because the Texans are without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, who just happen to be two of their best players, but the Ravens should take care of business and cover at home. Losing Williams for the year really hurts Houston's defense, so Brian Cushing and rookie Brooks Reed need to step up. I think Baltimore is able to protect Joe Flacco, however, and the defense should be able to stop the Texans offense.
New England -7.5 vs. Dallas: Tom Brady at home is nearly unbeatable, and, combined with the shaky Cowboys defense, you get this line. The Cowboys should be able to score thanks to the lack of a Patriots pass rush, even with their weak offensive line protecting Tony Romo. However, too much Brady allows the Pats to win handily.
New Orleans -4.5 @ Tampa Bay: I think you can partially chalk up the Buccaneers blowout loss last week to coming across the country on the short week. Missing LeGarrette Blount this week hurts, though, and the Saints have just been rolling offensively. Drew Brees should be able to exploit the Tampa 2 defense with Jimmy Graham much like the 49ers did with their tight ends last week (3 TD passes).
Minnesota +3.5 @ Chicago: This one's a bit tricky since the Bears are coming back home, but Julius Peppers likely missing this swung it for me. Adrian Peterson always feasts on the Chicago defense (sorry Brian Urlacher, but it's true), and on the other side, Jay Cutler has just been running for his life behind the Bears offensive line. Hello, Jared Allen.
New York Jets -7.5 vs. Miami: The Dolphins have not looked good this year, and although I like Matt Moore as a backup QB, asking him to go on the road against the Jets defense is a TALL task. For New York, Mark Sanchez may be erratic, but facing the Miami defense should help steady him. The Derrick Mason trade was surprising, however.