Throwing Darts: Buying low on the Falcons

Five picks against the number, that's how we roll here. The lines come from Yahoo! Pro Football Pick-Em. Only games with a posted number are eligible for selection. Time to get in character.

Falcons -1.5 vs. Giants: I recognize the Giants thrashed the Falcons in the playoffs last January, but a year in the NFL is an eternity in real-world time. That result doesn't matter to me now. Eli Manning has partially rallied from his slump but he still throws 3-5 loose passes a week. Ahmad Bradshaw is a key loss, of course, and can we say with confidence that Hakeem Nicks is healthy? The Falcons have become one of those "so overrated, they're actually underrated" teams. Giving less than the standard 3, I'll side with them at home.

Steelers -1.5 at Cowboys: There's been a strong line adjustment here but I'll stick with Pittsburgh anyway. I love Mike Tomlin's record off a loss, I don't trust Dallas as a home team (no opponent is afraid to play in Jerry World), and Jason Garrett can creatively find a way to lose any game if you give him enough chances. It's also nice to have Big Ben back for his second game after an extended layoff; meanwhile, surging Dez Bryant isn't right and DL Jay Ratliff is out. Steelers by 10.

Texans -8.5 vs. Colts: Generally we don't like spotting big numbers with anyone, but the Texans are a much better club than we saw in Foxboro and we have to remember they followed up the Green Bay debacle with a thrashing of Baltimore. The Colts look so pretty in the W/L columns but not so much on the efficiency spreadsheet. Look for some correction Sunday.

Bills +5.5 vs. Seahawks: The Seahawks could be facing a sandwich game here — with bigger matches coming in the final two weeks — and obviously it's a trip across a couple of time zones. The Bills no longer have any excuses to hide C.J. Spiller; he should receive all the work he can handle. The Toronto site is probably a mild gain for the Seahawks — Buffalo is not an easy place to play. Seattle ekes out a win, but doesn't cover.

Cardinals +6 vs. Lions: This is a reflexive, go-ugly pick — when a team comes off its worst possible showing, I'm generally going to get on that side for the following week, probably grabbing some line-adjustment points in the process (the flip of the same theory comes into play with the Seattle fade, above). Arizona's defense isn't the problem here — the offense sold it down the river last week — and I don't trust Detroit as a road favorite. Okay, I don't trust the Lions anywhere.

Last Week: 3-1-1
Season: 40-29-1
2011: 41-39
2010: 49-34

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