We're back for another week of picks, and while I am actually improving in my straight-up picks, my picks against the spread are falling off a cliff. I was 10-3 straight up and 4-8-1 against the spread. Good thing I'm only providing one pick in my new weekly gambling column at SB Nation.
This week, the 49ers travel down to Glendale, Arizona to face the Cardinals in a key divisional matchup. All division games are generally important, but in this year of a tight NFC West race, the team that can grab a road win takes a huge leg up on the rest of the division. With the Seahawks traveling to Detroit and the Rams hosting New England, a 49ers road win could give them a two-game edge on the entire division, along with that key road win.
If I was putting actual money down, I would be inclined to consider the Cardinals covering. The 49ers are currently sitting as a touchdown favorite. While I do think the 49ers can cover (and will explain why below), I am inclined to think most divisional matchups are going to be close. Even when the road team is the better team, you'll see the underdog bringing a certain edge.
At the same time, the 49ers can cover. To cover this game, they'll need to get some solid pressure against John Skelton and force him into some mistakes. The Cardinals offensive line has been fairly abysmal all season, and this is a chance for the 49ers to grab some game-changing sacks. If they can put the Cardinals in position for 3rd and 10 or more, the 49ers defense could do some really good things. Yes, the 49ers offense needs to execute to win the game, but to cover, the defense needs to assert their presence with authority.
Here are my picks for the week. As always, I highly encourage you to consider betting the opposite:
Tampa Bay @ Minnesota (-7): Vikings cover
Carolina @ Chicago (-9): Bears cover
San Diego (-2.5) @ Cleveland: Browns wins outright
Seattle @ Detroit (-1): Lions cover
New England (-7) @ St. Louis: Patriots cover
Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-1): Falcons cover
Washington @ PIttsburgh (-4.5): Steelers cover
Jacksonville @ Green Bay (-16): Packers cover
Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-3.5): Colts win outright
Oakland @ Kansas City (-1): Chiefs cover
NY Giants (-2) @ Dallas: Giants cover
New Orleans @ Denver (-6): Broncos cover
San Francisco (-7) @ Arizona: 49ers cover
Versus the spread: 41-59-2