Throwing Darts: Melting Matty Ice on the road

Five picks against the number, the usual assignment. Let's get to work.

Texans +3 vs. Falcons: Atlanta seems a little fraudulent to me, a bully, the type of team that picks on weak sisters but can't always hang with the legit clubs. What wins can the Falcons hang their hat on? At Detroit, okay, that's one. The Falcons were lucky to beat the Eagles and last I checked, Philly was 4-8. There were thoroughly uninspiring wins over the Vikings, Titans, Seahawks. Hold me.

We know Matt Ryan's game tends to struggle on the road (the career QB rating dips 15.8 points when out of a suitcase). Michael Turner is nicked up, Julio Jones is dinged up. Roddy White has rallied nicely but Johnathan Joseph has the chops to hang with him. And I'm not going to sweat Houston's quarterback problem; a dominant offensive line and two star backs will go a long way, and Gary Kubiak will figure out how to design a few big hits in the passing game. Texans win outright.{ysp:more}

Panthers +3.5 at Buccaneers: With two bad teams like this, I generally want the points (and especially here, with the hook). And while Josh Freeman hasn't been sharp in 2011, I have to like the Bucs offense less if Josh Johnson is forced to play. I can't shake the idea that the Panthers have played a little better than a 3-8 team; an outright win is likely.

Bengals +6.5 at Steelers: Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer generally does a good job against Ben Roethlisberger, and no one is afraid of Rashard Mendenhall any longer. Andy Dalton's stats are actually better on the road this year, and he's cut his teeth in some tricky environments. The Bengals will keep this competitive until the end.

Giants +7 vs. Packers: Maybe I'm chasing a parked car here, but we've seen Tom Coughlin's teams come back from the dead before. New York has a passing game that can threaten the Green Bay secondary, and the Giants pass rush — even without Osi Umenyiora — has a chance to impact the game. The return of Ahmad Bradshaw would go a long way for Big Blue; even if he isn't sharp running the ball, at least the playbook is expanded when he's on the field.

Broncos +1 at Vikings: Adrian Peterson is out, Percy Harvin is iffy, and heck, even Michael Jenkins is done for the year. Who are the Vikings going to get big plays from? The Denver M.O. is well-documented: the Broncos run the ball and don't make mistakes, then take advantage when the opponent screws up. Let's keep rolling with it.

Last Week: 1-4 (29-27-4 season)

Last Year: 49-34


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