The big question last week was whether the top dog players like Peyton Manning would sit or play. Historically, it’s been a better decision to play the healthy players and not risk the rust. That’s the way coaches seem to be playing it so far this season. But even though the top dog players saw action, it didn’t stop the top dawg teams from winning the money for their fans. The big dog run started Thursday night with the Jags staying close to Indy. The Cowboys kept the dawg run moving with a huge upset of New Orleans on Saturday.
The Panthers finished off the dog frenzy Sunday night. And after the final count, a dozen underdogs had covered the point spread as the dogs rolled over the favorites and delivered an early Christmas gift. Hope you all enjoyed the dog bones thrown around last weekend. Maybe there will be a couple more dog tricks left in Santa’s bag before the season ends.
Chargers +3 at Titans: Make sure you open all of your gifts and get everything you need to do Christmas day out of the way before this one starts. This will be the last gift of the day that Santa has on his list to deliver. Titans have won 7 of their last 8 games and are now resting at 7-7 after an 0-6 start. Chargers have won 9 consecutive games. The only two teams playing better than these guys are the Saints and Colts. It looks like Vince Young’s hamstring was OK Sunday as Young threw for 3 TDs. It also was the ninth straight game Chris Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards. I will take the home team in a game that means much more to them than the visitors. TITANS.
Bills +7½ at Falcons: Matt Ryan’s back and that’s bad news for any Bills’ fans who were looking to steal a road victory. Michael Turner’s comeback lasted for one carry as he re-aggravated his ankle and did not return to action against the Jets. But Snelling will make the most of another opportunity if given the chance and Ryan will have a chance to shake off a little more rust. FALCONS.
Chiefs +13½ at Bengals: The Vikings declawed the Bengals two weeks ago. Cincy probably would have bounced back against the Chargers but the death of Chris Henry most definitely had a negative effect on the team in San Diego. Now the Bengals have the funeral to deal with and at the same time try to get ready for Kansas City. I like the way Jamaal Charles in racking up the yards. If Cassel has a day like he had last Sunday that should be all we need. CHIEFS.
Raiders +3 at Browns: I’m not sure what kind of a confidence booster it was for JaMarcus Russell when the Raiders selected Charlie Frye over the number one pick to start against Denver. But it worked out fine for the Raiders as JaMarcus came in at the end to save the day and pull off the upset. The Browns are not only finding ways to win the money but they’ve won two consecutive games for the first time in what seems like 10 years. Brownies have turned into a money machine. I can’t pick against them right now. Hopefully Cable will start JaMarcus and boost our chances here. BROWNS.
Seahawks +11 at Packers: Last home game of the season for the Packers. They let one get away in Pittsburgh after fighting back all day long to take the lead with 2 minutes left in the game. I think the sting of that defeat will be enough to motivate the Pack for a big cover at home. Seattle has struggled all season long rushing the ball and now Hasselbeck and the offense are starting to cough up the pigskin (5 turnovers last week). PACKERS.
Texans +3 at Dolphins: Chad Henne threw the game away at Tennessee last Sunday with 3 completions to the Titans. I think he can cut those turnovers to none or one and Houston will be a done deal. DOLPHINS.
Jaguars +7½ at Patriots: Randy Moss is back to work and running his routes full out. That doesn’t bode well for the Jags in this game. Plus, Tom Brady can get some sleep now that he’s named his new baby boy. Hell hath no fury like a rested Brady. PATS.
Bucs +14 at Saints: I think the Saints were more than a little embarrassed with their performance on Saturday night. The Cowboys came in with a better game plan and executed it to perfection. The Saints were caught off guard and I don’t see that happening again this Sunday. SAINTS.
Panthers +7½ at Giants: Carolina was impressive at home against Minnesota. Matt Moore isn’t Brett Favre but he played better than the big guy Sunday nite. Stewart (and Williams if he’s healthy) will be packing enough punch to take some of the pass rush pressure off of Moore. Giants are coming off shorter week and have been inconsistent lately. PANTHERS.
Broncos +7 at Eagles: It looks like Denver may have been a pretender after all. Broncos are dinged up a little in both backfields. Eagles may be the team to beat in the NFC playoffs. EAGLES.
Ravens +2 at Steelers: The Steelers pulled off a Big Ben special on Green Bay to kill their 5 game losing streak. It was a miracle finish. There will be no such miracle at Heinz Field this Sunday. Ravens have Ray Rice and he will be the difference. RAVENS.
Rams +13 at Cards: Arizona clinched their second straight NFC west title. But they didn’t look super doing it. Cards barely edged out the Lions with Drew Stanton under center. RAMS
Lions +11 at 49ers: Alex Smith showing signs of why San Francisco benched the former number one pick in the first place. Smith threw 3 picks in first half against Philly. LIONS.
Jets +7 at Colts: As bad as the Jets looked last week in botching 3 field goals, I think they can keep this game close. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pull off the upset. The Colts’ defense looked like they were taking the night off when they played the Jags. All it would take for the upset is for Peyton Manning to have an off day. Or, better yet, take the day off, or at least rest the second half! JETS.
Cowboys -4 at Skins: Dallas has new life after the big upset of the Saints. Romo has been flawless over the last 5 weeks. His last pick was 156 passes ago. COWBOYS.
Vikings -8 at Bears: Suddenly the Vikes don’t look so Super Bowl-like. Having lost 2 out of their last 3 games now, they’re not striking fear into the hearts of their opponents anymore. Last week I called Jay "2 pick" Cutler, and he followed that line up by issuing 3 picks to the Ravens. It’s not all Jay’s fault but da Bears are the type of team you want to play when you’re struggling like the Vikes are now. VIKES.
BEST BETS: BROWNS, RAVENS, COWBOYS.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Dennis Ball