Note: Every week, I pick games against the spread on the Michael Irvin Show on ESPN Radio, and I’m putting them on our blog.
This is the hardest week to pick against the spread since Week 5. Why? Public opinion has set in and is now backed up by four weeks of results. And with Las Vegas that tapped into strong public sentiment, they're coming up with great spreads that capitalize on sentiment. This week is "the week of the trap game," as some spreads look really dubious. I'm eskewing some and falling into others. (My picks in bold.)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars -4
Maybe the only team with more injuries to their lines than the Jaguars is the Steelers. Pittsburgh has really struggled to put up points the last two weeks; those struggles continue in Jacksonville. This spread should be higher, so I'm going to fall into this trap.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles -6
Trap alert! Trap alert! After the Redskins' big win in Dallas and the Eagles' loss in Chicago, this spread shouldn't be more than 3. But, Vegas knows the Eagles' secondary and pass rush are much better than the Cowboys, and the 'Skins' D is worse than the Bears. Avoid this trap!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos -3
The 3-1 Bucs just won a big, emotional NFC home game and now have to go on the road for a non-conference game; those circumstances are the best recipe for disaster in the NFL. Earnest Graham has three big runs this season; Other than those, he's averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
New England Patriots -3 at San Francisco 49ers
I haven't be the Patriots since Week 1, so picking them is no 'homer' pick. But, the Pats are 4-0 in road games after the bye since 2001; And after the bye in the Bill Belichick era, they have outscored their opponents by an average of 17.5 points. Their D line was embarrassed against the Dolphins; Look for Wilfork, Warren and Seymour to have big games this week.
Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys -17.5
The Dallas Cowboys are a bunch of hot-headed front-running chokers; But what they do well is beat up on bad teams in September and October. Ocho Cinco's declaration that he will score and kiss the Dallas Star is not a good thing for his team
Last Week: 3-2. Season: 12-10.