Colts, Ravens moving
to front in AFC

Nov 14, 2006 7:30 AM

In the AFC things are looking very good for Indianapolis and Baltimore.

The Colts remain unbeaten at 9-0 with a four game lead over Jacksonville in the South. Indy does have a rough stretch of games, beginning with a trip to Dallas this week before hosting Philadelphia a week later.

Interestingly, Kansas City is responsible for the AFC holding a 22-18 lead in interconference games this season. The Chiefs have won all four games played against the NFC West. The rest of the NFL is just 18-18.

Through the first five weeks of the season no team favored by 7 points or more had lost a game straight up. Over the past five weeks, however, eight such teams have been upset including three this past Sunday.

It might also signal a return to parity in the NFL.

On to this week:

Raiders +10 at Chiefs (36½) Oakland continues to play well defensively but the offense remains a mess. The Raiders have lost four in a row at Arrowhead. In 2006, Oakland has lost all four road games, each by double digits. CHIEFS.

Chiefs -1 at Cowboys (48): The Colts have shown vulnerabilities although their defense has stepped up in a couple of games when the offense was held in check. Dallas has a solid defense and that might be enough to pull the upset. This game could feature less scoring than expected by both teams. UNDER.

Bengals +3½ at Saints (50): Both teams lost in very high scoring games last week. Only four games this season featured more than the 69 combined points scored by New Orleans and Pittsburgh. The Bengals and San Diego combined for 90, the second highest total in 20 seasons. This game might also produce a track meet. Each game at the Superdome this season has seen an increase in scoring over the prior game. OVER.

Steelers -3½ at Browns (38): Except for the shootout in Atlanta last month, Pittsburgh has been in much lower scoring games on the road. Cleveland has shown improvement on both sides of the ball since the start of the season. Only two foes have scored more than 21 on the Browns this season. Pittsburgh has scored 0, 13 and 13 points on the road. UNDER.

Titans +12½ at Eagles (42½): The Titans defense has allowed over 390 yards five times in the past nine games. The Eagles have gained over 360 in 7-of-9. Tennessee remains committed to rookie QB Vince Young and at 2-7 is looking towards next season. Philly is very much looking to make a run at the Super Bowl and is just three plays away from being 8-1 instead of 5-4. EAGLES.

Falcons +4 at Ravens (40): The Baltimore offense is making more of a contribution in recent weeks since head coach Brian Billick took over the play calling. Ray Lewis missed last week’s game at Tennessee. Atlanta continues to lead the NFL in rushing offense and should be able to score points on the banged up Ravens defense. This is clearly a more important game to Atlanta. FALCONS.

Rams +6½ at Panthers (43): Historically Carolina has been a solid play as an underdog, but not profitable when favored. Prior to Monday’s game the Panthers were 0-5 as a favorite this season, losing twice outright. The Rams have a well balanced offense behind QB Marc Bulger, which should have some success against Carolina. The Panthers are coming off a short work week. RAMS.

Bills +2 at Texans (37): The Bills defense has not put up great stats, but seems to find a knack for making enough stops to stay competitive. Houston completed a season sweep of division rival Jacksonville last week. The Texans have yielded 322 yards or less in five of the last six outings. Buffalo has struggled on offense and now Willis McGahee is out. Houston has tallied 17 or less six times. UNDER.

Patriots -6 at Packers (44): Pats QB Tom Brady had a barely average game against the Jets, following the debacle against the Colts a week earlier. Brett Favre is still capable of brilliant performances for Green Bay, but also prone to try and do too much. New England is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since early 2002. It’s still too early to write off the Pats, but pencils and paper are out of the drawer. PATS.

Redskins +1 at Bucs (35½): Projected to win 9 this season, the Skins are one loss away from pushing the ”˜under.’ Now they must deal with the loss of elite RB Clinton Portis (broken hand), possibly for the year. Neither team has shown any ability on offense. UNDER.

Bears -6½ at Jets (38½): This will be the Bears’ second straight game on this field in two weeks. The Jets are 2-2 at home this season with their only non-cover coming in their Week 2 loss by 7 to New England. Chicago has slowed down from its torrid play of the season’s first month, but at 8-1 are in pretty good shape in the NFC. The Jets are healthier than the Giants were last week and are playing with confidence. JETS.

Vikings +3½ at Dolphins (34): Miami remains a disappointment, but following a bye has won two in a row. After starting 4-2, the Vikings have lost three straight. Miami is not playing like a 3-6 team. The running game has flourished over the last month and the defense has been solid all season. The Vikes have allowed only New England to top 23 points. Six teams have scored 17 or less. UNDER.

Lions +2½ at Cardinals (46): Arguably, the two worst teams in the league. At least Oakland has a defense. Neither of these teams has shown an ability to make the key defensive play. Both potentially have potent offenses but neither has moved the ball and converted yards to points with great consistency. Arizona has not gained over 300 yards since Game 3. Detroit had gained at least 386 in each of its last three games, OVER.

Seahawks at 49ers: (NL): Questions abound concerning the availability of Seattle stars Shaun Alexander andMatt Hasselbeck. Seneca Wallace has been decent as a QB fill in, while the defense has been average at best. The 49ers are 4-5 and within one of pushing the projected win total. NINERS.

Chargers +3 at Broncos (41): For the outright lead in the AFC West. The Chargers continue to be powerful on offense. The defense was successfully attacked by the Bengals in last week’s 49-41 loss at Cincy. Last week Denver reverted to prior form in a 17-13 win at Oakland. San Diego is inherently conservative, especially in games of importance. UNDER.

Giants +3 at Jaguars (38½): Monday night. Tom Coughlin back in Jacksonville, where he began his head coaching career. Giants injuries clearly impacted last week’s loss to Chicago. Jacksonville lost to Houston for a second time. Prior to that, the Jags were 4-0 ATS at home. JAGUARS.