The New England Patriots are favored by three touchdowns over the Indianapolis Colts, the biggest point spread in an NFL game since the Patriots were giving 23.5 points against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, the year they went 16-0. The Patriots beat the Eagles 31-28.
So much for parity, the supposed overarching goal the NFL strives for annually. The Colts are looking likelier each week to become the second team in the last four years to finish 0-16. The Green Bay Packers are hoping to match the ’07 Patriots’ perfect regular season. Eight teams are currently five games back in their divisional races, including three teams in the NFC West.
I’ve cried “TOO MANY POINTS” at several times this season while making these picks, but as the season goes on I’m beginning to wonder if a point spread can be too big. If the Packers hosted the Colts this week, the point spread might’ve topped out at 28. And it would be hard to convince myself to take the Colts in that scenario.
Onto the Week 13 picks, with odds courtesy of 5dimes.com from around 4 pm PDT Thursday (12/1/11):
Eagles (-3) @ Seahawks
Philly has to travel across the country on a short week to play in a loud stadium. Sound familiar? Except unlike the 49ers, the Eagles don’t have their starting quarterback or a good defense on their side.
Colts @ Patriots (-21.5)
New England will respond better to the challenge this point spread presents than the Colts, I’m afraid.
Broncos @ Vikings (-1)
Already mentioned this on Twitter, but isn’t “Tebowing” really just a form of “Christian Pondering”?
Jets (-3) @ Redskins
The Jets aren’t ready to give up on this season just yet.
Falcons (-1.5) @ Texans
Interesting matchup here. Houston’s defense is far superior, and regardless of who plays QB for the Texans it’s hard to trust Atlanta on the road. But the Falcons seem to have figured things out. (Flips coin…)
Chiefs @ Bears (-8)
Remember when the Chiefs came to Oakland and beat the Raiders 28-0? One of the strangest games of the season, even with the Raiders’ QB troubles at the time.
Panthers @ Buccaneers (-3)
The southern-fried version of Rams/Cardinals.
Bengals @ Steelers (-7.5)
The Bengals may not be quite as good as their record, but their defense will keep them in this one.
Titans @ Bills (-1)
Buffalo finally showed a little life last week against the Jets.
Ravens (-7.5) @ Browns
Baltimore needs to keep pace with Pittsburgh in the NFL’s toughest division.
Packers (-7.5) @ Giants
This will be a test for Green Bay’s secondary, and New York needs to stop the bleeding — now.
Cowboys (-4.5) @ Cardinals
Careful, Tony! Don’t step in that … oh, Tony. Now you’re trapped.
Lions @ Saints (-10.5)
So the Lions are getting thrown to themselves, in a sense. Although it would be funny if Detroit’s defense played much better without Ndamukong Suh.
Chargers (-3) @ Jaguars
Maybe if San Diego fired their head coach this week like Jacksonville, I’d pick them here.
Raiders @ Dolphins (-2.5)
No team has gone through more, as described yesterday by Francis “Raiders Sports Guy” Mayer. Now their highly-paid linebacker Rolando McClain is facing four misdemeanor charges in Decatur, Alabama that would be felonies in a lot of other states. McClain was back at home for his grandfather’s funeral and … let’s just allow the local paper (which has a photo showing McClain looking insanely happy about getting cuffed and put into a squad car) describe what happened:
The victim crawled to his car after the fight. The victim told officers that while he was still on the ground, McClain walked over to him and put a pistol to his head.
Police said the victim begged McClain not to shoot him and that McClain took the gun away from his head, held it next to the victim’s ear and fired it. Investigators said they believe this was the only gunshot fired, even though the initial report they received was of “shots” fired.
McClain isn’t exactly the centerpiece of Oakland’s defense, but the distraction makes a tough matchup just a little dicier. The Dolphins won three straight by 11+ points before losing in Dallas on a last-second field goal. But the Raiders have been tough all year, and only the Packers, Niners and Lions have been as good as the Raiders on the road (4-1). The Raiders’ biggest weakness is defending against the run, but Reggie Bush doesn’t scare many teams these days.
Rams @ 49ers (-14.5)
Speaking of big point spreads, what’s going to happen in this game between divisional rivals on opposite sides of the standings? Stay tuned for a breakdown…
Last week: 9-7