Last week: 9-6. Season totals: 56-49-1, Pct. .533. Best Bets: 9-12, Pct. .429.
Home team in capital lettrs; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.
DENVER 27, San Diego 24 (+7 1/2) - After five straight blowouts to start the season, the last two Thursday night games have both been close - and the Chargers are 7-2-2 against the spread in their last eleven in Denver, including 5-1 in the last six, the lone non-cover coming in 2011 when they were six-point favorites and won by five. Take the points.
Detroit 31, Atlanta 14 (+3 1/2) - This game, in London, will air before the early-time-slot games, starting at 9:30 in the morning on the East Coast - and 6:30 on the West Coast! But the starting time isn't the key issue - the fact that Wembley Stadium is outdoors is, in that it makes Atlanta's colossal futility outdoors relevant; and it's also on grass, upon which the Falcons have lost seven straight by an average of just under 11 points per game.
N.Y. JETS 24, Buffalo 20 (+2 1/2) - Rex Ryan has been pestering the Jets front office to go out and get him a playmaker, and, for better or worse, now he has one in Percy Harvin; and after losing to the Bills at home in Ryan's first year (2009), the Jets are 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread versus New York State's Only NFL Team in New Jersey.
NEW ENGLAND 27, Chicago 13 (+7) - Remember when the Pats were supposedly "finished" - like three weeks ago? But the Bears just might be finished for real, with dissension in the locker room boiling over after last week's quarter-hearted effort at home against Miami; and Chicago has never won or covered in New England, taking an 0-for-3 collar there both ways and getting outscored 78-23 doing it.
Seattle 21, CAROLINA 20 (+3 1/2) - One team hasn't been playing defense recently, the other team hasn't been showing much on offense recently (and truth be told hasn't shown much when it comes to passing offense for a long time). We'll take the home team and the always tempting three-and-a-half-point number and hope for the best.
Miami 17, JACKSONVILLE 14 (+4) - I have never been able to figure out why none of the NFL's three Florida teams are in the same division. But they do make the most of it when they do get to play each other, and the Jaguars have actually played decent defense and then some the last three weeks in a row. Willing to take a chance on them to at least cover.
TAMPA BAY 23, Minnesota 6 (+2 1/2) - The bye the Bucs had last week will probably enable Lovie Smith to go back to Josh McCown at quarterback if he wants to. It also makes Minnesota's 6-11 record both ways in fatigue games an issue, something that Tampa Bay's six-game win-and-cover streak over the Vikings by an average margin of 13 1/2 points a pop was going to be in any case. Best bet.
Baltimore 24 (+3), CINCINNATI 17 - Often a bye can cool off a hot team; that seems to be the case with the Bengals - and teams that have gotten shut out are now 10-30 straight up and 15-25 against the spread in their next game dating back to 2007; and after seeing their eleven-game regular-season home winning streak end with a tie against Carolina two weeks ago, their home unbeaten streak will now go by the boards as well.
TENNESSEE 16 (+1), Houston 13 - We got lucky last week when Jake Locker ended up not playing, but the Titans covered anyway. Hopefully the same good fortune won't be needed this time around.
KANSAS CITY 35, St. Louis 14 (+6) - If the Rams have to win the way they did last week, it doesn't say much for them - and you can't say much about how they have fared against their intrastate rivals of late: Five straight losses, both ways, by a combined 189-94. The letdown should be epic - even worse than Cleveland's letdown from this past Sunday, predicted in these lines.
Philadelphia 31 (+2 1/2), ARIZONA 28 - Been going back and forth on this one: The Cardinals have covered four in a row over the Eagles, and have beaten them three straight at home; but the Eagles are an NFL-best 20-5 straight up coming off a bye week (and 16-9 against the spread), while Arizona's 3-11 outright record in fatigue games is worsted (the opposite of "bested," get it?) only by Cincinnati's 3-12, and their 4-10 pointwise mark therein is the league's worst. Timid vote in a week that has more than a fair share of them.
CLEVELAND 20, Oakland 16 (+7) - Have the Johnny Manziel chants started yet? They will if Brian Hoyer has another game like he had last week in Jacksonville, and the Browns, who are 5-12-1 against the line as home favorites since 2008, haven't covered a spread of a touchdown or more since December 30, 2007. Another reluctant take.
Indainapolis 28, PITTSBURGH 23 (+2 1/2) - Still another tough call, but we'll lean toward the favorite here: Andrew Luck is 10-5 straight up and 10-4-1 against the spread on natural grass, and facing Luck six days after taking on Ryan Fitzpatrick represents a huge step up in class for the Pittsburgh defense.
Green Bay 31 (+1 1/2), NEW ORLEANS 21 - The Saints let several of their own players leave in free agency (safety Malcolm Jenkins, center Brian de la Puente) or via trade (running back Darren Sproles) so they could afford to sign safety Jairus Byrd, only to see Byrd tear his meniscus three weeks ago and go out for the season as a result. True, New Orleans is 2-0 at home and 0-4 on the road, but Teddy Bridgewater had to come off the bench during the first home game and Tampa Bay dragged them into overtime in the second, while the Packers are a phenomenal 16-1 straight up (and 12-5 against the spread) in their last 17 in October, so how can you not side with them as underdogs in that month?
DALLAS 28, Washington 13 (+7 1/2) - Colt McCoy leads Washington to a walk-off win at home over a 2-5 team missing their starting quarterback, and didn't even cover the spread doing it. Let's see what he does on the carpet, upon which his team makes its 2014 bow after going 0-4 straight up and 1-3 against the line on it in 2013, and (presumably) indoors, where they're 2-12 outright and 5-9 pointwise since 2009. And Dallas has Tony Romo's 24-5 career record in November to look forward to after this game. There may be no stopping The Cinderella Cowboys this year.
BEST BETS: TAMPA BAY, KANSAS CITY, GREEN BAY