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 may be moot by the time you read it, but has anyone else noticed that the NFL Network's Thursday night games so far this season have been great, and both of them have resulted in upsets? With three Thursday night games next week on Thanksgiving, we can only hope that trend continues.
Cincinnati Bengals +11 at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bengals have played the Jags and Eagles very well over the last two weeks. The Steelers present similar game plans for the Bengals. The Steelers will blitz a ton, but the Eagles got 8 sacks against the Bengals and couldn't win by 11. What gives the Bengals a shot to win: no QB has been sacked more than Ben Roethlisberger. (My picks in bold.)
New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals +3
It's the latest "biggest game of the year," featuring two teams who relish in their "don't get no respect" mantra. Kurt Warner is getting all the pub, but Anquan Boldin is my Cardinals MVP so far. The Cards are 4-0 at home thanks to big plays at the right time on defense and special teams. Look for more of that against the Gi'nts.
Chicago Bears -8.5 at St. Louis Rams
Four weeks ago, some experts were predicting the Rams would win the NFC West. They've lost four games by a combined 91 points since, thanks in large part to bad quarterback play and injuries. I don't see either of those things changing this week.
New England Patriots +2 at Miami Dolphins
The Pats lost to the Jets, but Matt Cassel gave defensive coordinators a lot more to think about going forward; No more "let's make Cassel beat us." The last time the Pats lost twice in one season to a divisional foe was 2000, Belichick's first season as head coach of the team. The last time Miami beat any team twice in one season: 2003.
Oakland Raiders +9.5 at Denver Broncos
The Broncos are favored by so much for two main reasons. First, the Raiders' offense isn't good, but the Broncos have trouble stopping the run and Darren McFadden is expected to be full strength this week. Second, the Broncos' offense has been great, but the Raiders have allowed 3.5 points fewer than Denver this season.
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys -10
There are so many reasons to pick the Cowboys, it's hard to count them. T.O. will be motivated to put up crazy points, so he'll probably actually get open this game. The Niners couldn't score on the Rams in the last 30 minutes of their last game. The Cowboys have found renewed focus thanks to recent losses. This one should get ugly.
Last week: 2-3. Season: 32-25-2