Resting Colts’ Manning may turn the game
Do they rest ’em or play’em? That’s the dilemma facing the Colts’ head coach this week after securing home field advantage for the AFC playoffs. It’s the same problem Sean Payton will be up against after the Saints clinch the same edge in the NFC playoffs.
And it’s the same question bettors will try to figure out before plunking down their hard earned greenbacks on either side of the number.
The first answer will be revealed on Thursday night so let’s put our thinking caps on and get in to work early.
Colts -2½ at Jags: This line will be turned on its ear by about 5 or 6 points if the odds makers believe Peyton Manning is going to play more than a couple series. Colts may rest a few players this week so I’ll take my chances with the Jags who nearly upset them in week one when they were edged out 14-12. JAGS.
Cowboys +7 at Saints: The Saints have only clinched a first round bye. Now they go after home field advantage throughout the money games. New Orleans will rest nobody in this big game. Cowboys had two great chances against the G-men and Chargers to step up and win a big game but couldn’t find a way to get the job done. I have no confidence in them in this spot. SAINTS.
Bears +8½ at Ravens: Have da Bears tossed in the towel for this season? I think they’re mailing in the effort after losing 5 of their last 6 games. Chicago only rushed for 59 yards versus Green Bay and I don’t think they’ll get many more than 80 or so at Baltimore. And that’s not good news for Jay "two pick" Cutler. Jay should be good for two more here to add to his infamous total of 22 interceptions so far this season. Ray Rice should run for a couple hundred yards. RAVENS.
Patriots -7 at Bills: What is Randy Moss pouting about? The head master reprimanded a few of the best players by sending them home from school early last week. If the Pats don’t beat the Bills by a wide margin, Belichick told reporters Randy Moss will have to sit in the corner of the film room all of next week. If the defense doesn’t hold Buffalo to less than 14 points, it is reported the entire defense will have to sit at the "little kids table" next Thanksgiving. Just teasing Bill, I still respect you. PATRIOTS.
Cards -12 at Lions: As if things weren’t bad enough for the Lions, now they could be without Kevin Smith. But this is too many points for Arizona to worry about covering coming off their Monday nite game at San Francisco. LIONS.
Browns +2½ at Chiefs: Browns on a four game money winning streak. The Chiefs won’t be able to stop them. They can only hope to contain Josh Cribbs and the Brownies. Chiefs have dropped three straight games. BROWNS.
Falcons +4 at Jets: Chris Redman threw for over 300 yards against the Saints last Sunday. He’s showing improvement each week since taking over for Matt Ryan. These two clubs aren’t that far apart in talent. I have to take the dog if I’m a believer in that statement. FALCONS.
49ers +7½ at Eagles: The hook is worth a double look since Philly is coming off big emotional game with the Giants. 49ERS.
Packers +1 at Steelers: Pittsburgh is on the hot seat and in the national spotlight after losing their fifth straight game, to the Browns no less. It’s hard to believe the Steelers opened the season 6-2 and now sit at 6-7. I think the Packers are a very good playoff team. But they might not be as good as many think even though they’ve reeled off 5 consecutive wins. The Steelers should give a full effort here, even if it’s just for pride. STEELERS.
Texans -11 at Rams: Keith Null? The Rams are grasping at straws after going through Bulger and Boller. But come on guys, how about putting forth one decent effort at home before the season closes out. You’ve got double digits to work with here and Vince Young is nursing a hamstring. RAMS.
Dolphins +3 at Titans: Tony Sparano is 6-0 in December with the Fish. Henne putting up decent numbers and the defense has been outstanding. Titans won’t be able to push Miami around like they did the Rams last Sunday. DOLPHINS.
Raiders +11½ at Broncos: JaMarcus Russell said he was embarrassed when benched by coach Tom Cable. Russell vowed to work hard to regain his starting QB role. Apparently he didn’t work hard enough. I know a few Raiders’ fans who were embarrassed when they put JaMarcus back in the game to replace Gradkowski last Sunday! If Russell starts I’m on the Broncos. If Gradkowksi is healthy enough I want the Raiders plus the points. BRONCOS (if Russell QB) RAIDERS (if Gradkowski QB)
Bengals +6 at Chargers: San Diego opened the season 2-3 and are now 10-3 after knocking off their eighth straight opponent at Dallas. Bolts very impressive and now come home after two consecutive road games to face a Bengals team that doesn’t look as hot as they did about a month ago. CHARGERS.
Bucs + 8½ at Seahawks: What happened to the Tampa Bay team that was covering more than a few point spreads earlier in the season? Bucs have lost 16 of last 17 games. They made 6 first downs against the Jets in the entire game. One of those was by penalty and the first one was made in the third quarter! I have to be nuts to be on dog in this game but I can’t resist the TD plus points. BUCS
Vikings -7½ at Panthers: Panthers won the money last week at New England and should be up for a full effort here at home against the Vikes on national TV. Matt Moore not looking too shabby after his second consecutive start. If DeAngelo Williams is completely healthy Carolina should stay close. PANTHERS.
Giants -3 at Skins: I’m not sure the G-men will have anything left in their tank after grueling games with Dallas and Philly. Nice spot for the home dawg, who played very well out on the west coast last Sunday. SKINS.
BEST BETS: DOLPHINS, BROWNS, STEELERS.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Dennis Ball