Last week almost killed me. I enjoyed my vacation, but I thought I would be able to sneak some football highlights and maybe even catch the Sunday night or Monday night game. Well, events conspired against me. First, my electricity converter failed, limiting my phone and computer access. Then, I got stuck in Iceland. Yes, Iceland, the country. The NFL does not get the love it deserves in Iceland.
So this week, I plan on making up for lost time. Games Thursday night, Saturday night, all day Sunday and even a good Monday night-er should satiate my football thirst. I'm going to watch them all, and more than likely, bet on them all. You should too.
Onto the games. All lines from SB Nation Odds.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7): Looks like 2011 proved the 2010 Tampa campaign a fluke, which is too bad because I found the young Bucs entertaining to watch and easy to love. The Cowboys, on the flip side, closely resemble the Antichrist. I'm not sure that Tampa can win this game, but the Bucs can keep it close. Put simply, this is Tampa's Super Bowl. The team will be motivated and looking to perform well on a Saturday night nationally-televised game. The Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo continue to invent new ways to choke away late-game leads. This game might be sloppy, but Tampa stays in it. Pick: Tampa.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-7): The worst part of missing all of last weekend's football is I didn't get to see the Redskins play well in a loss to the Patriots. By most accounts, the Redskins played well, and if not for a Sexy Rexy fumble for a touchdown, the Redskins might have won. Does that carry over? Yes, in many ways. There are no moral victories, but the offensive production can build. Roy Helu will shred the Giants' defensive line. Rex Grossman will find receivers Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney for big gains. The Redskins will look good again. I expect a close loss. Pick: Redskins.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (No Line): Vegas does not want to set a line for this game, probably because there remains a chance J.P. Losman will be involved. The Bills have lost six straight, lost best player Fred Jackson for the year and, since the team can't sell out the stadium, it looks like the game will be blacked out locally. Based on all that really uplifting news, I'm taking the Dolphins. Pick: Miami.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-3.5): Man, the Bears are a mess. The football-related news is bad enough-- Jay Cutler's thumb, Matt Forte's knee -- but the off the field news is way worse. Sam Hurd moves more weight than Jenny Craig. The world is yours, I guess Sammy boy, or was anyway. I don't know how somebody could take the Bears right now. I'm going with Beast Mode and a pack of Skittles. Pick: Seattle.
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (-7): I don't like picking against Cam Newton. The guy has too much talent, on the run or with his arm, that he usually keeps games close with some garbage-time scoring. The difference here is the Texans' defense. They tackle, they cover, and they will confound young Newton. Add in Arian Foster and Ben Tate running wild over the Panthers defensive line, and Houston covers a low scoring game. Pick: Texans.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (+7): The Colts suck. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. The Titans are not too good either, but I'm excited to see more of Jake Locker and I hope he gets the start. I still think Indy could win one game, and maybe this will be it, but with a rotating pack of a mess starting at quarterback and a walking-dead coaching staff, I'm rolling with Chris Johnson and friends. Pick: Titans.
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Cheifs (+14): Slowly, my voyage drifts toward Square City, and this pick gets me even closer. How can you not take the Pack to crush the Chiefs? Seriously, how? I like points and I generally take them, but KC is rudderless on offense and the Packers are a freakin' juggernaut. No Greg Jennings? No problem. Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver and James Jones and Jermichael Finley and blahblahblah. The Packers win this one easy. Pick: Green Bay.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (+7): Drew Brees and the Saints smell like a Super Bowl champ. The offense can score from anywhere on the field, and I think a date with the Packers awaits in the NFC Championship game. That said, if Adrian Peterson plays and controls the line of scrimmage, I think the Vikings can keep it close. The Saints have trouble on the road, and Jared Allen will pressure Brees. Saints win, but it's closer than you think. Pick: Vikings.
Cincinnati Bengals at St. Louis Rams (+7): This game is tough. What is happening in St. Louis might be dressed like pro football, but I'm not quite sure it is. After losing Albert Pujols, I'm sure the sports fans of St. Louis find no hope in the Rams' play. The Bengals should roll 'em. I like a lot of Cedric Benson in this game and a touchdown from A.J. Green while we're at it. Pick: Bengals.
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (+1): The Carson Palmer we all expected to see has arrived. Palmer's stats are way down from an impressive first few games, and the whole Raiders offense is sputtering because of it. If Darren McFadden recovered from injury, it would be a big help to the Silver and Black, but it doesn't look likely for this week. The Lions should be ready to play, fighting for the Wild Card spot. Pick: Lions.
Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals (-7): If not for gambling and fantasy, would anyone really watch this game? Honestly? If John Skelton starts, I say take the Cards. If Kevin Kolb starts, take the Browns. I'm assuming Skelton goes. And it must really sting for Cardinals fans that the guy they traded high picks for and signed to a big contract is worse than some dude nobody has ever heard of. Pick: Cardinals.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (+7.5): This line opened with the Pats favored by four before moving up to more than a touchdown. You know what that means: the public hammered the Pats. Let's be slicks, not squares, and remember that the Pats could barely contain Rex Grossman. And never forget: TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!! Pick: Broncos.
New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles (-3): This is what the Jets do. They get too much hype in the preseason, stumble through the first 10 or 12 weeks of the regular season and then start to put things together for the playoff run. I like the Jets to win outright in Philly. A lot of Shonn Greene, a little Mark Sanchez and an Eagles' defense that hasn't performed all year. Pick: Jets.
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers (+1.5): The Chargers play a similar game as the Jets, but they may have waited too long to sneak into the playoffs. Either way, this line makes me think Vegas wants money on the Ravens. And that makes me like San Diego even more. Pick: Chargers.
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5): Expect this line to move. Questions about Ben Roethlisberger's ankle dominate the build-up to this game, and with good reason. The Steelers will go as far as Big Ben takes them, and that could include the Super Bowl. I say he plays and the Steelers win. This game will play out similarly to the Niners' game against the Ravens. Pick: Steelers.