Opening Lines: Week 14

The Patriots opened as 7.5-point favorites as they travel to Washington to take on the Redskins in Week 14.

Despite my inhibitions about trusting Rex Grossman against a good team, I was leaning toward taking the Redskins in this game when I first glanced at the line. For all of their warts, this Washington team has a better-than-average defense with a very good pass rush and can move the ball on offense with at least a moderate level of effectiveness. They aren’t likely to score an upset over a team like the Patriots, but if they could give Grossman time to find his weapons like Fred Davis and Santana Moss downfield, I could easily see them keeping the game within reach.

Then stupid happened.

Multiple league sources are reporting that Washington TE Fred Davis and LT Trent Williams will be suspended for failing drug tests. After being forced to watch several Redskins game this year, I can kinda understand the need for these guys to escape from reality for a little while. I mean, if you worked your entire life to make it to the NFL, only to end up on a team with no quarterback, an overrated coach and a team owner who thinks it’s a good idea to throw nine-figure contracts at every troubled free agent coming off a career year, you’d probably spend most of your nights cuddling with a crack pipe and a handgun, wondering which one you should put in your mouth next.

Davis led the team in catches and yards, and Williams has been among the team’s best linemen this year. Those two losses should create plenty of problems for the Redskins not only this week, but also for the rest of the season. Some teams might rally around the suspensions and put forth a strong team effort the next time they hit the field. I just don’t get that vibe from these Redskins now that they’re out of the playoff hunt. I’m picking the Patriots to cover the spread.

Other Lines I Like

Vikings (+7.5) @ Lions

The Vikes have been competitive in almost every game they’ve played with Ponder under center, and they nearly beat the Lions earlier this year with an inaccurate three-toed sloth under center. Obviously the porous Minnesota pass defense (24 TDs, 6 picks) is a concern, but with teams effectively taking away Calvin Johnson with constant double teams (remind me again how nobody figured out that Megatron was good until Week 10?), none of the other weapons in the Detroit passing game are very scary. Until Detroit proves they can play a complete, disciplined game, they won’t warrant serious betting consideration from me.

Chargers (-6) vs. Bills

The Norv Turner Effect probably brings this line down from -7.5, so it creates an even greater value for bettors if he happens to get fired mid-week (or mid-game). The Chargers may still be delusional enough to think they’re in the AFC West race, but Buffalo certainly knows they’re out of the running by now. The Bills were media darlings after a 3-0 start, but all they’ve done since then is lose seven of nine, including their last five road games.

Titans (+3.5) vs. Saints

I’d hold off on betting this line until Sunday morning because the public should back the Saints heavily. It’s very possible that this

line will be +4.5 by kickoff since the Titans are about as exciting to the betting public as re-runs of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. The Titans are a distinctly average team. They’re like that girl at the bar that you identify around midnight as a “well, if all else fails” option. You normally don’t pick those sorts of teams when they play a division leader. However, over the past two seasons New Orleans is just 6-5 with a +4 PPG point differential outdoors compared to 14-8 with a +7 PPG differential indoors. The Saints give up nearly 5 yards per carry on the ground, so Chris Johnson should find holes to exploit. I won’t be shocked if the Titans win outright.

Cowboys (-3.5) vs. Giants

Few things are certain in life. Death. Taxes. Frustrations with the Red Sox. Actually, that just about covers it. Eli Manning INTs don’t quite make the list, but after a fifth straight game with a pick, they’re creeping closer to becoming a certainty. The Giants defense has almost identical stats against the run as their neighbors to the east in Buffalo. I don’t know quite what to make of the Cowboys yet, but I know I don’t trust New York’s run defense enough to give the G-men a good shot to win this one.

2011 Record ATS 33-32-3
2010 Record ATS 25-17-1