Another losing week for me last week. Hard to predict Aaron Rodgers getting injured. Not as difficult to predict Carson Palmer throwing pick-sixes to the Steelers, but I thought 9.5 points would be enough. At 20-17-2, I'm one winless week away from .500 on the season. At this point, it may be a better time to fade me than follow me, but let's try to grind out a positive week.
Jets +6 over Steelers
All week, I thought the Jets had little chance to beat the Steelers. Why? While neither team will move the ball that well, Mark Sanchez has a much better chance of losing the game than Ben Roethlisberger. Then Troy Polamalu was ruled out of the game, and everything changed. Polamalu's absence is enough to knock the Steelers from an elite defense to one that can be burned through the air. Without Polamalu to make big plays and bail the team out, Sanchez should be able to have some success passing the ball. It's hard to imagine either team having a whole lot of success running the ball. This should be a tight, low scoring game that can really go either way. 6 points is a lot for this game.
Panthers -2.5 over Cardinals
Taking a team with 1 win all season at home giving points? It sounds ridiculous, but there are so many reasons to pick against Arizona. First, they're an awful team coming off a big win. They could be due for a letdown. Second, they can't stop the run, and Carolina can still move the ball on the ground. Sure, Jimmy Clausen offers no passing threat, but if the Panthers can line up and run the ball with Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, they won't need to pass much. Third, it's a 1:00 game for a western team: always a bad sign. Finally, Arizona's rookie QB John Skelton, who was barely needed last week, has a week of game film on him now. I'll look like an idiot picking a one-win team if they lose, but Arizona stinks.
Carolina 24, Arizona 13
Saints +2.5 over Ravens
New Orleans is peaking right now. They're finally firing on all cylinders offensively, and now Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are both back. The Ravens' defense is not what it once was, and nearly choking to Houston is just another example. The defense was gassed last game. If there are any lingering effects, the Saints' speed will make the Ravens pay, particularly in the air. Meanwhile, the Ravens' offense hasn't been that good all year. The running game hasn't been as good as advertised, and the passing game has been inconsistent. The Saints' speed on defense will give the Ravens' offensive tackles fits. This should be a good game, but New Orleans is quite simply the better team, and they're playing at a much higher level right now.
New Orleans 31, Baltimore 24