Here we are, Friday. Time for some picks. Last week was a bit rough, 1-2 with a tough loss on the Chargers on Monday night to end the week. But no worries, we’ll get ’em this week. We’re still 10-6 on the season (see all the picks here), and 9-4 over the past four weeks.
The Eagles are playing on Monday night this week, so I’ll be making that pick in my Monday Night Football column on Monday (have I said Monday enough?). But we still have a full slate of games to choose from on Sunday. We’re looking at seven games with a line of seven points of higher, last week was the week of the underdog (three double-digit dogs covered last week), will this be the week of the blowouts? We’ll see.
There is no line posted on the Rams/Cardinals game yet because of injuries to Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb. That game could be the worst game of the season, and I have no interest in handicapping a game between two terrible teams using backup QB’s. John Skelton vs. AJ Feeley? No thanks.
There were a few game I looked at, but decided not to make a play on…
Raiders -8′ over Broncos – Tebow sucks. There, I said it. I’m sure he’s a good guy but as an NFL QB, he just isn’t ready yet. Last week the Broncos got whooped 45-10 at home by Detroit, now they travel to Oakland. The Raiders are good and they should cover this line. This is a big rivalry, so the Raiders will have no issues with whopping up on the Broncos. But I hesitated for a few reasons. 1) Darren McFadden is hurting and probably won’t play. He’s been a bit of a bust this season, but he’s their #1 back. 2) Carson Palmer hasn’t proven that he is ready to be a QB again. He stunk in his Raiders debut vs. the Chiefs, throwing three INT’s. I don’t want to lay 8′ to find out that Carson Palmer is washed up. I’d lean to the Raiders, mainly because I don’t know how the Broncos will score any points. But I’m passing on making this a Friday pick.
49ers -4’ over Redskins – This line screams ‘Bet the 49ers!’ The Redskins got shutout against Buffalo last week, and the Bills have a mediocre defense. Now the big, bad 49ers defense is coming to town, how will John Beck lead this team to any scores? Santana Moss is out so there is no real pass threat. San Francisco is good, 5-2 with a 3 game lead in the NFC West. The Redskins are 3-4, but they’ve lost three in a row. I would go with the 49ers at any line under 6 points, but traveling East to play the early game is never a good position to bet on. I would think the 49ers can win this one like 27-10, but I’ll pass.
Maybe a Raiders/49ers ‘Bay Area’ teaser would be a decent play. But as individual bets, I’m going to pass on both. But I did find one game that I thought had some value on Sunday. And in Monday’s post I’ll make a pick on the Eagles / Bears MNF matchup. On to the Friday Pick…
Bet #1 (The “You’re telling me I gotta cheer for the Cowboys?” pick) Dallas Cowboys -11.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks
I know, I know, screw the Cowboys. I’m with you, believe me. But let’s step back and look at this game without our Green and White glasses on. Dallas isn’t a bad team. They have a pretty good defense (maybe that defense didn’t show up last week, but it’s still good) and they have good skill position players. They have DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones (questionable) running the ball. And Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten catching the ball. Yeah, Tony Romo isn’t the best, but he’s pretty good and should be fine against the Seattle pass defense. It’s those close games down to the wire where he seems to crap the bed. And I don’t think this one will be close.
But let’s not bury the lede here, Seattle isn’t very good and that’s why I’m picking this game. They are 2-5. One win against Arizona (13-10) and a “how did they pull that off?” 36-25 upset over the Giants in the Meadowlands (Giants were our pick in that game in Week 5, so I remember it well). They have some bad losses @Cleveland (6-3), vs. Cincinnati (34-12), @Pittsburgh (24-0) and @San Francisco (34-17). They also lost a home game to Atlanta 30-28, but they were losing that game by 20 in the 3rd quarter and staged a miracle comeback that came up short at the end. I think the Cowboys will continue the trend and get a big win at home over the Seahawks.
But let’s look at the numbers to see why I think that:
Seattle offense vs. Dallas defense
Seattle cannot score. They’re putting up 15.6 points per game (27th out of 32). Their offense is sluggish, and they have no running game (to put it lightly). 284 total yards per game (31st), 206.3 pass yards per game (25th), 77.7 rushing yards per game (31st). FootballOutsiders.com has Seattle as #29th in offensive efficiency, #23 in passing, #31 in rushing. Not good.
Dallas defense is pretty good. I know they got smoked by the Eagles last week, but let’s be honest, Vick and Shady McCoy are leaps and bounds better than Tavaris Jackson (or Charlie Whitehurst) and Marshawn Lynch. Cowboys are 8th in Overall Defensive Efficiency, #10 in Rush, #10 in Pass. Seattle’s young offensive line has allowed the most sacks in the NFL (28). DeMarcus Ware could be in for a big day.
Missing Sean Lee could be an issue for the Cowboys D, but the lack of a running threat from Seattle and a whole week of preparation will help make up for Lee’s absence. Seattle has a young offensive line that could be exploited by the Cowboys pass rush. It could be a tough day for whoever the Seahawks put behind center. It looks like Tavaris Jackson will be starting. He was hurt last week and was supposed to sit but came in after Charlie Whitehurst started poorly, Jackson put up 323 yard passing against Cincinnati. Not a bad performance, we’ll see if he can do it again against that Cowboys pass rush.
Dallas Offense vs. Seattle Defense
Dallas is putting up almost 400 yards per game, good for 8th in the NFL. They’re near the top in passing with 294 yards per game (7th). Surprisingly, their rushing stats aren’t very good, 15th overall in rush yards per game and 29th on FootballOutsiders.com rushing efficiency. But the addition of DeMarco Murray is really paying off. Even last week vs. the Eagles Murray managed 9 yards a carry. He didn’t get much work because they fell behind so quickly they had to go right to the passing attack to try to make up the deficit but when he got the ball he made the most of it. Murray should get a good number of touches this week.
Seattle does have a good rush defense (#3), but not much of a pass defense (#29). The Cowboys counter with the #5 offensive line/pass protection, but are low ranked (#21) in run blocking. So I’m thinking a big day from Tony Romo (yeah, I think he has it in him), Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.
The intangibles are also pointing to the Cowboys. Dallas is coming home off of a bad loss, now they’re playing a weaker team, and it’s a must win game. Dallas is still very much alive in the NFC East division race. This is a good spot for the Cowboys to get a comfortable win. Seattle is having issues with injuries (QB Tavaris Jackson is hurting) and team chemistry (RB Marshawn Lynch was seen yelling at coaches last week after another bad game). And Seattle has put up 2 sub-par offensive performances in a row (3 points against Cleveland, 12 points against Cincinnati). I see the Cowboys letting out some frustration vs. Seattle.
I could name 10 things I’d rather do than cheer for the Cowboys, but this week you may as well call me Jerry Jones Jr. The Cowboys are coming home off of a bad loss, they are playing a below average opponent and they are in a must-win spot. I think the Cowboys get it done on Sunday and cover the 11.5 point line.
How about a final of Cowboys 31 Seahawks 10.
The Line: Cowboys -11.5, O/U 44.5
The Pick: Cowboys -11.5
So there you go. Dallas over Seattle. Go put on your Troy Aikman jersey and root for America’s Team (sorry, I promise I won’t make you cheer for the Cowboys again).
Coming on Monday, the Eagles / Bears pick. Good luck this weekend!
Season Record: 10-6. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.
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