I had a nice week last week, going 2-1 to get back to .500, but I'm still mad at myself. I went against my better judgment last week and took the Vikings (+3.5) on the road at Seattle. Logically, the decision made sense. Every reason I chose to take the Vikings in that spot was valid, and plenty of it turned out right.
The Seahawks struggled mightily to put points on the board. Russell Wilson had his worst game of the season against the Minnesota defense. The problem was I ignored the fact Kirk Cousins is the Vikings QB, and this was a primetime game. Cousins is awful in primetime games, and he continued to be on Monday night.
This game was a perfect example of what betting on NFL games can be like. You look for valid reasons based in logic to pick a team, but at the same time, you have to consider things like Kirk Cousins sucking in primetime games. If you don't, just like having Cousins as your quarterback against a good team, your picks will only be good enough to get you beat.
Onto this week's picks.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2) vs. New England Patriots
In a way, I'm using the crappy, old, useless medical equipment in Oakland to my advantage this week. If not for Ben Roethlisberger's rib injury against the Raiders, and the unreliable equipment that made it difficult for him to get back in the game during the second half, people might not be disrespecting the Steelers so much in this game. There are questions about Roethlisberger's health, but if his entire career is any indication, I think it's safe to say he will be fine.
Which means there's a lot of value on the Steelers as home underdogs to the Patriots here. The fact of the matter is the Steelers should be the favorites in this game, and the line is a reaction to Ben's injury as well as the Steelers losing on the road against the Raiders. Steelers 27, Patriots 24
San Francisco 49ers (+4) vs. Seattle Seahawks
Rolling with the 49ers last week worked well for me, so why not do it again? All right, so that's not the only reason I'm taking the Niners here, but I like them again in this spot for a lot of the same reasons I liked them last week against the Broncos, and they didn't just cover that game but won outright. Whether or not they want to weaken their draft position again this week remains to be seen, but this spread is a little too large.
Nick Mullens has now started five games for the 49ers. In three games at home, the team is averaging 27.0 points per game, and they've gone 2-1 in those games both straight up and against the spread. The only loss for either category came against the Giants when San Francisco was favored. It's not here. It's an underdog at home against a good Seattle team, but one that could be without Doug Baldwin yet again, and the Seahawks offense -- and Russell Wilson in particular -- struggles without Baldwin. Seahawks 23, 49ers 20
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (Under 52)
I said earlier this season that I was done betting against the Saints, but I never said I wouldn't bet the total in a Saints game. I must admit, however, that betting on the under in a Saints game does feel a little like betting against the Saints. You might be surprised to learn that the under has gone 8-5 in Saints games this season, and I think it'll be 9-5 after this one.
A big reason for this is that the Saints offense set expectations too high. Through their first five games, the under was only 2-3, but it's gone 6-2 the last eight weeks, and 4-0 in the last four games. The under is also 5-1 in New Orleans last six road games, and it's 11-4 in the previous 15 games these two teams have played in Carolina. Combine all these trends with the Panthers offense looking a little lost in recent weeks, and this total is just too high. Saints 28, Panthers 21
SportsLine Bonus Pick
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams: This week's Sunday Night game is a must-win for the Eagles, who enter the contest as 11-point underdogs with Nick Foles likely to play QB instead of Carson Wentz. The total for the game is set at 53, and I have a strong play available for this game as well. To find out what it is, head over to my SportsLine page.