Colts (-6) over PANTHERS
Apparently, Peyton Manning and Indianapolis like staying under the radar. The defending Super Bowl champions have won 11 in a row and have covered eight of the last 10, and yet all the chatter is about New England and Tom Brady, with a little Brett Favre on the side. Not a whole lot of respect for the Horseshoes. They just beat a very tough Jacksonville team Monday night, 29-7, and made it look easy. The Colts have the second-best offense in the AFC and the third-best defense in the entire NFL. Some folks, including the one sitting at this keyboard, think this Indy squad is more complete than last year's champs. Now, they probably get to face AARP member Vinny Testaverde, and while the aging Vinny guided Carolina to a win the last time out, that was against Arizona, a perennial sub-.500 team. A 27-14 final sounds about right.
Saints (-2) over 49ERS
Watching New Orleans for the first 4 weeks (losing 41-10 to the Colts, 31-14 to the Bucs, 31-14 to the Titans and 16-13 to the Panthers), was very, very confusing. The Saints had come off a magical carpet ride in 2006, posting an 11-7 record and coming within one game of the Super Bowl. They were 0-4 straight up and against the spread. Then, second-year head coach Sean Payton found a way to stop the bleeding, and the Saints have picked up two straight wins. Fortunately, they catch a San Francisco team that does not have a clue. After winning their first two, the 49ers have dropped four in a row, and have been outscored in that stretch, 102-41. The Niners rank last in the NFL in total offense, passing yards, first downs and total points scored at 78. Averaging 13 points doesn't cut it on Sunday. Look for another huge effort from Reggie Bush, and an easy "W" for New Orleans.
Lions (+5) over BEARS
What has changed since Sept. 30, when Detroit beat Chicago, 37-27? Not much. It's doubtful that the Lions will win by 10 points at Soldier Field, but we expect a tight game and a cover for the visitors. Take a look at both teams' most recent work against the spread. The Bears have covered only three of their last 13, while Detroit has tickled the cash register five times in the last seven outings, with one push.
Steelers (-3) over BENGALS
Coming off a dominating 21-0 win over the Seahawks and with the bye week under their belt, we expected the men of Steel to post a win up in Denver. Wrong! However, if history is any indication, the Steelers should have no problem in this matchup. Since 2001, Pittsburgh has put together a sweet 6-0 run at Cincinnati, and will have no trouble lighting up the scoreboard against this Bengals squad that is giving up a whopping 31.2 ppg.
CHARGERS (-9) over Texans
Another rough start for a very talented team. After dropping three of the first four, San Diego seems to have found its stride. The bounce-back started in Denver, where the Chargers crushed the Broncos, 41-3. They followed up with a solid 28-14 victory over the Raiders, and had a week off to get ready for Houston. And since the Texans have won only three of the last 19 on the road, it's the Lightning Bolts by a dozen.
VIKINGS (+1) over Eagles
Obviously, the Birds' 56-point outburst against the Lions was a mirage. In their other five games, the Eagles have averaged a pathetic 12 points per game. Can't back that futility. Gotta go the other way. The Purple way.
Redskins (+16) over PATRIOTS
New England has put up video-game numbers so far, but 16 against a solid if not spectacular Washington team is way too pricey, especially with the huge game coming at Indy next week.
I also like:
Browns (-3) over RAMS
Dolphins (+9) over Giants (London)
Raiders (+7) over TITANS
Bills (+3) over JETS
BUCCANEERS (-3) over Jaguars
BRONCOS (-3) over Packers