With this being Fight Week for my man Rashad it's hard for me to concentrate on football. But I have to give it my best shot.
Last week: 7-9. Season totals: 23-25, Pct. .479. Best Bets: 5-4, Pct. .556.
Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.
PITTSBURGH 16 (+2), Baltimore 13 - At least with Michael Vick in there defenses won't be shoving twelve men in the box to stop Le'Veon Bell. The Ravens have gone from a Super Bowl pick to dead men walking in the space of three weeks. And speaking of twelve men, maybe if the NFL had an 18-game schedule the way the CFL has had since 1986 Baltimore wouldn't be the latter?
N.Y. Jets 20 (+1), Miami 14 - Neither team's name is shown in capital letters because the game is on the "pitch" at Wembley. But otherwise the game would have been at the Pigeon-Toed Orange Bowl, and the home team is 2-9 straight up and 3-7-1 against the spread in the last eleven meetings.
N.Y. Giants 24 (+5 1/2), BUFFALO 20 - With any luck the Giants would be 3-0 instead of 1-2, and I still refuse to believe that Tyrod Taylor is a good quarterback. So I'll gladly take a quarterback with two Super Bowl rings plus five and a half points against Taylor.
Philadelphia 21, WASHINGTON 16 (+3) - For once, Sam Bradford is actually facing a quarterback that has an even worse lifetime winning percentage as a starter than he has (Kirk Cousins is 3-9), and it will take some doing for DeSean Jackson to make it back this week.
ATLANTA 27, Houston 17 (+5) - The state's other team may be America's Team, but the Texans are The Wizard Of Oz's Team: If they only had a quarterback - and if only this game wasn't on artificial turf, upon which Houston is 3-12 straight up and 2-12-1 against the line since 2011, and 6-32 and 11-26-1 respectively since '04. Rounding out the bleak picture (for them), the home team in this series has won and covered in all three of the previous editions.
Carolina 20, TAMPA BAY 7 (+3) - The Panthers have beaten the Bucs four straight and covered in three of them, the lone-non cover without Cam Newton. It looks like an eleventh consecutive home loss for Tampa Bay, three shy of the NFL record jointly held by Dallas in 1988-89 and St. Louis in 2008-10.
CINCINNATI 34, Kansas City 17 (+4) - At least the Chiefs finally got a touchdown from a wide receiver Monday night. But they haven't won in the City of Satan since 1984 and are 6-20 straight up and 12-14 against the line in their last 26 on the carpet. Andy Reid has also taken an 0-for-4 personal collar against the spread versus Cincy.
INDIANAPOLIS 52, Jacksonville 14 (+8 1/2) - The Jaguars defense was "shut out" last week, in that New England scored on it on every possession. That might happen two weeks in a row against a team that has outscored them 161-43 the last five times it has faced them, plus Jacksonville has lost a now league-high ten straight on the road (as Oakland won on the road last week) and eight in a row on artificial turf (2-6 against the spread). Best bet at a bargain price.
Oakland 20, CHICAGO 6 (+2) - The Bears were shut out in the conventional way last week - and since 2007 teams doing that are 13-32 straight up and 16-28-1 against the line in their next game. Not much recent data available on the Raiders as road favorites: This will be their first time in that role since September 16, 2012 (at Miami), and they will be seeking their first cover therein since October 30, 2005 (at Tennessee).
SAN DIEGO 34, Cleveland 10 (+7) - The Browns are in a state of near mutiny over Mike Pettine's starting Josh McCown over Johnny Manziel at quarterback and Cleveland 2.0 is 4-14 straight up and 8-9-1 against the spread on the road in the Mountain and Pacific time zones in franchise history; take away their six games at Oakland and those respective numbers become 1-11 and 4-8.
DENVER 23, Minnesota 13 (+7) - Only the speed-starved Eagles have a lower average yards per completion (9.29) than the Broncos (9.32), but from December of 2000 onward the Vikings are 18-51-1 straight up and 28-40-2 against the spread on natural grass and lost 20-3 on it at San Francisco, oops, I mean Santa Clara, in their opener. Minnesota is also 2-14-1 straight up on the road all told since 2013.
ARIZONA 31, St. Louis 16 (+6) - So far this season the Arizona offense has been unstoppable, and the Cardinals have covered four in a row vs. the Rams, and since moving their home field indoors in mid-1995 St. Louis is an unappealing 33-59-1 straight up and 37-53-3 against the line as a visitor on the grass.
Green Bay 21, SAN FRANCISCO 17 (+7) - Could the 49ers be one of "those teams" that is invincible at home and invertebrate on the road? Plus 17 at home and minus 65 on the road thus far in 2015 cannot be ignored. Nor can San Fran's current four-game win-and-cover streak in the series. Take the points.
NEW ORLEANS 16, Dallas 7 (+4) - Lines on this game are being withheld almost everywhere because Drew Brees is being given some sort of chance at playing. But a total of 46 1/2? You know what John McEnroe would say about that! You're much better off betting the under than the Saints.
SEATTLE 38, Detroit 14 (+9) - The Lions are one of three universally-agreed-upon pre-season playoff contenders whose season is basically over because the NFL won't do what they have been doing north of the border for nearly 30 years; i.e., play only two games that don't count and 18 that do. And that's not the only unpleasant surprise in Detroit: Matthew Stafford is also a member of the single-digit yards-per-completion club (9.93), and it would be a big surprise if the Lions can win or even cover in Seattle (1-6 doing both in their last seven) or get it done outdoors generally (20-67 outright and 37-47-3 pointwise dating back to 2001).
BEST BETS: CAROLINA, CINCINNATI, INDIANAPOLIS