Randall the Handle's Week 7 selections
Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison and Brett Keisel sack Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Cohn)
Steelers (2-3) at Bengals (3-3)
LINE: PITTSBURGH BY 1.5
This number represents the past, not the current product on the field. The Steelers are an aging and battered bunch that is barely getting by. Oddsmakers factor in the public's fondness of Pittsburgh. It's no wonder that the Steelers have covered just one game this season as they continue to be mispriced and the linemakers extort your emotions to drain your bank account. The Steelers have already lost road games in Oakland and Tennessee. Injuries remain a concern, primarily on the offensive line where starters Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert are both sidelined and a 2nd-round rookie will start. The Bengals have dropped a pair but they have enough skill in their passing game and an unsuspecting pass rush that can disrupt Pittsburgh's throwing game. Really, should the Steelers be favoured here?
TAKING: BENGALS +1.5
Jets (3-3) at Patriots (3-3)
LINE: NEW ENGLAND BY 10
New England is smarting after gifting Seattle a game that the Pats dominated. The Jets have been a bit better after a stretch when it looked like the worst was yet to come but they still rank among the bottom-dwellers despite their .500 mark. New England won both meetings last season by a combined 30 points. This Jets unit is weaker than the 2011 edition. Mark Sanchez and his troops have the 30th-ranked passing game. They average less than 300 yards of offence per game, leaving them ahead of only Jacksonville and Arizona. Tom Brady and gang are No. 1 in the league, averaging 445 yards per game. Double-digit faves can be risky but situation and résumés align here.
TAKING: PATRIOTS -10
Cardinals (4-2) at Vikings (4-2)
LINE: MINNESOTA BY 6
Ask yourself what the line would have been had Arizona not lost to the Bills? Three, maybe 3.5? The Cards were a five-point choice over Buffalo and after an OT loss, they are a six-pt dog to the Vikings? Huh? Granted, Minnesota is an improved squad over last year's edition. But not that improved. Arizona is back where it is best, taking points. The Cards have been underdogs three times this season and covered each time. They were favoured in the other three games and failed to cash a ticket. The Vikings will get after John Skelton while the Cardinals will play defence and clock manage. Look for a low-scorer and a closely fought battle where the points offered leave us plenty of room.
TAKING: CARDINALS +6
Titans (2-4) at Bills (3-3)
LINE: BUFFALO BY 3
Never quite anxious to spot points with a team as defensively liable as the Bills but we can make an exception when the opposing defence is worse. Tennessee has given up the most points in the NFL, averaging 34 against per game. Bills home after two away and in good mental state after upset win in Arizona.
TAKING: BILLS -3
Browns (1-5) at Colts (2-3)
LINE: INDIANAPOLIS BY 2.5
Indy clearly got caught up in emotional high of defeating the Packers, only to take last week off when allowing the Jets to appear formidable. Expect the Colts to hunker down here after that effort while the Browns may fall victim to similar circumstances after getting its first win over Ohio rival Bengals.
TAKING: COLTS -2.5
Ravens (5-1) at Texans (5-1)
LINE: HOUSTON BY 6.5
Remarkably, this duo are only two teams in AFC with winning records. The pointspread suggests that Houston's record is more legit. Baltimore is no longer the defensive powerhouse it once was and its run defence is horrendous. Texans can take advantage of that while having the defensive personnel to negate Baltimore's offence.
TAKING: TEXANS -6.5
Packers (3-3) at Rams (3-3)
LINE: GREEN BAY BY 5
Packers lose to the Colts and everyone abandons the bandwagon. A Sunday night upset over the substantially favoured Texans and everybody hops right back on. Well, buckle up. Green Bay ecstatic after said win but now must close out a three-game road trip against a St. Louis squad that has fought in all games but one and easily could be 5-1.
TAKING: RAMS +5
Cowboys (2-3) at Panthers (1-4)
LINE: DALLAS BY 2
Do we trust the underachieving Cowboys, three covers in past 12 as chalk, or the spiraling Panthers off a three-game skid? Other than Carolina's stinker vs. Giants, it has competed in every game including unfathomable loss in Atlanta. Dallas finds ways to lose and they commonly falter in week prior to facing Giants.
TAKING: PANTHERS +2
Saints (1-4) at Buccaneers (2-3)
LINE: NEW ORLEANS BY 2.5
Saints off the schneid but lose some style points for their comeback win after Broncos overcame a bigger deficit to also stun the Chargers. Tampa Bay appeared efficient after returning from bye and with their league-leading 13.4 yards per reception facing a weak New Orleans pass defence, we'll gladly back home side.
TAKING: BUCCANEERS +2.5
Redskins (3-3) at Giants (4-2)
LINE: NY GIANTS BY 6.5
This is a typical situation where the Giants have been known to take the day off. The G-Men return from the west after conquering Niners and they have rival Dallas on deck. This New York club tends to stoop to its opponents' level, substantiated with just seven covers in past 24 as home faves. Redskins swept this series last seasons.
TAKING: REDSKINS +6.5
Jaguars (1-4) at Raiders (1-4)
LINE: OAKLAND BY 4
Isn't Halloween next week? If there is a good thing about the Jaguars, it's that their indifferent fans make home and away games basically the same. Jacksonville lost opener in Minnesota, in OT before taking one from Colts in Indianapolis. Raiders can't be trusted spotting home points with just four covers in past 20 attempts.
TAKING: JAGUARS +4
Lions (2-3) at Bears (4-1)
LINE: CHICAGO BY 6
For some reason, Chicago's lopsided loss to Green Bay remains in the public's mind but those that have seen past it have thicker wallets with Chicago winning and covering its other four. Detroit found a way to overcome a late 10-point deficit before knocking off Eagles but team remains defensively horrid and alarmingly undisciplined.
TAKING: BEARS -6
LAST WEEK: 8-5
BEST BETS LAST WEEK: 1-2
BEST BETS SEASON: 11-7-1