Friday, December 16, 2011

TRG: Pick 6 Week 15

There was some great football on last weekend, with several games coming down to the final few plays. It should only get better with just three weeks remaining in the regular season. Here's who I like this week.

Detroit -1 over OAKLAND

INT Machine Carson Palmer should produce a few more Sunday.
Just like quarterbacks, bettors need to have short memories every now and again. Detroit burned me last week, but I'm coming right back to them this week. The Raiders have lost their past two games by margins of 20 and 30 points, and Palmer is now up to 10 interceptions in the 6 games he's started for Oakland. While "how many penalties will each team get?" is a popular story in the news for this game, I fully expect the Lions to show that they're a different class of team from the Raiders. Detroit has proven time and again this season that they have an explosive offense that always gives them a chance to win, and the same can't be said for the mistake-prone Raiders.  Oakland's 26th-ranked defense is going to have its hands full trying to stop Stafford, Johnson, a possibly healthy Kevin Smith, and the rest of the offense. And remember how I said the Packers were leading the league in interceptions last week? Well, guess who's #2 on that list? That's right, the Lions. Look for Palmer to toss a few more INTs and Detroit should cruise to an easy win.

Cincinnati -7 over ST. LOUIS

The Bengals might now be 1-6 against winning teams, but they're 6-0 against losing teams. If it weren't for the Colts, the Rams would be getting a lot more press as the league's worst team. Things won't get any better this week, as it's possible the Bradford may be out yet again, and that would force newly signed QB Kellen Clemens into action for the Rams this week. The Bengals defense will have a field day. With the 7th-ranked rushing defense, they should be able to contain Rams RB Steven Jackson without much issue, and I really don't have much faith in Clemens leading any sort of effective passing game joining a team at this stage of the year. The porous Rams defense should allow for many big Dalton-to-Green passes and the Bengals should roll right on through St. Louis. They'll need some help to get a playoff spot, but the fact that they have something to play for gives them extra incentive to pour it on this week.

The Browns may not win, but they've been good at keeping it close.

Cleveland +7 over ARIZONA

The Cardinals have won precisely one game by 7 or more points this season, and that was week 1 against Carolina, where a late TD got them a 28-21 win. Aside from that game, all other wins have been by a margin of 6 or less. That alone is enough for me to give Cleveland a shot with the points, as they've been scrappy lately and have gone 3-1 ATS in their past four games. The Browns also sport the league's 2nd-ranked passing defense which should really help them avoid big plays similar to the ones SF gave up last week. The Browns are weak against the run, ranked 31st, but Arizona only ranks 23rd running the ball, so Cleveland may be able to hang in there. With Skelton likely to start again, it'll probably be an ugly game, which makes me like this line even more.

New Orleans/Minnesota OVER 51.5

It's a big over, but we've got two of the league's worst passing defenses here, so it's hard not to take it. Minnesota ranks 26th against the pass and the Saints are at 30th. With Adrian Peterson looking good to return this week, he'll be able to do some damage against the Saints 15th-ranked run defense, too. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the Vikings will pull an upset here, and I'd sooner take the Saints giving 7 than the Vikings getting 7, but I do think Minnesota will score. They're averaging 21.25 PPG over their past four games, and the majority of those games were without AP.
I like the Saints ability to score here as well, especially since they're still playing in a dome even though they're on the road. In dome games, the Saints have scored under 30 points only twice all season. There will be plenty of points to be had in this game. Take the over.

DENVER +7.5 over New England

Part of me won't be surprised if New England buries Denver in this one, but I think I'm going to let the Tebow-Magic play out its string. I heard a random stat on ESPN today that Brady is 1-5 against Denver in his career, regardless of whether it's at home or on the road. The last couple of weeks haven't been easy for the Patriots, as their defense has made it a little too interesting, and they're 0-2 ATS. Moreover, the Broncos have only lost two games by more than 7 points the entire season, with those losses coming against Detroit and Green Bay. The Broncos have the blueprint in place- they can run the ball well and they can rush the passer well- that's what you need to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots. Both teams have plenty to fight for, with the Pats competing for a possible top seed in the AFC, and the Broncos could just about lock up the division with a win. I don't know if the Broncos can make the upset happen, but I'd rather bet on Tebow than against him. They certainly seem capable of keeping it within a TD.

NEW YORK GIANTS -6.5 over Washington

Eli Manning and the offense looked great last week.
Washington may have looked respectable last week when they took New England down to the waning moments of the game, but the Giants defense (ranked 6th in total sacks) is going to expose the holes left by suspended TE Fred Davis and OT Trent Williams. The 'Skins will be down their best offensive lineman facing one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league, and they're already 23rd in the league in sacks allowed. The Patriots are one of the worst at generating pressure on the quarterback, so it doesn't surprise me that they couldn't take advantage last week. With Eli at the top of his game and the Giants gaining momentum after last week's comeback win against the Cowboys, this game smells like a possible blowout. Eli Manning has a healthy complement of receivers and both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are back to run the ball. The defense may give up some big plays, but the Redskins are without their best receiver this season, TE Fred Davis. The Patriots make a lot of bad offenses look good, and the Redskins are due for a reality check. Take NYG.

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