I'm the teacher's pet, I make football (picks). All selections in this piece use the numbers drawn from Yahoo! Pro Football Pick'Em.
Panthers +7 at Falcons: This one probably looks easy for Atlanta – they've been razor sharp, while Carolina looked so awful last week against the Giants. But football handicapping isn't that simple; the carpets are plush in Vegas for a reason. I like Carolina coming into this game with extra rest and prep time, and I still don't trust Atlanta's depth in the secondary. Between Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen, the Panthers have enough to get their points – and perhaps spring an upset.
Patriots -4 at Bills: Although New England clearly outplayed Baltimore last week (and got the cover), the Boys of Belichick didn't get a win. That enables us to play another bounce-back spot here. The Patriots recent history against Buffalo is very favorable (though Buffalo had a fluky split last year, taking a 38-31 victory at home). Do the Bills have the corners to press New England? Can Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills outscheme Belichick? How will Buffalo handle Rob Gronkowski, who's driven them bananas over the last two years?
Vikings +4.5 at Lions: Minnesota doesn't have a great secondary, but I like everything else about this team. Strong front seven, decent pass rush, balanced offense, improving quarterback, even Jerome Simpson returning. The Lions have their plus points, too, but it's not a balanced team. Getting a spot over the standard three in this matchup seems generous.
49ers -4 at Jets: Road favorites generally aren't my thing and this week we ride with two. Okay, you go where the stories take you. Anyone have faith in the New York coaching staff over San Francisco's? Is there any Jets offensive player you like against a plus defense? Can New York handle the depth of the San Francisco receivers and mark Vernon Davis down the seam? Can Mark Sanchez play a full game without mistakes against a contending club? I see the Niners winning easily.
Broncos -6.5 vs. Raiders: Before we bury the Broncos too much, let's consider they've lost to darlings Atlanta and Houston. The Raiders still have that glaring weakness at cornerback, and Denver has the personnel to exploit that. Broncos by at least 10.
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Last Week: 3-2