Welcome back for another week of Fooch's Super Contest picks. I've settled into a bit of a rhythm, although that is right about when Vegas gets you. I've put up consecutive 3-2 weeks, and combined with 5-0 four weeks ago, I'm suddenly 22-18 on the season. I'm slowly climbing in the rankings, and while I need some bigger weeks to make bigger jumps, I'm happy with just being moderately respectable!
This past week, I took the Patriots (-5.5) over the Bears, the Chiefs (-6.5) over the Rams, the Colts (-3) over the Steelers, the Eagles (+2.5) over the Cardinals and the Browns (-6.5) over the Raiders. I got the morning wins with the Patriots and Chiefs, and then went 1-2 in the afternoon games to finish 3-2 on the week. I am moving up the upper half of the standings, and am in the middle of the pack of that group. I think it's safe to say I can live with that!
Just a reminder, the folks at our partner site, OddsShark have staked me in a pick 'em contest in Las Vegas. I pick five games each week against the spread, taking on over 1,400 people. The top 30 win money. Going into this I simply wanted to finish closer to the top than the bottom. I'm hanging around in the upper half of the middle of the pack, so we'll see if I can continue to build some positive momentum. Don't hold your breath!
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS over St. Louis Rams (+10): Yep, that is a whole lot of points. The 49ers are a significant favorite over the Rams, for good reason. The Rams were good enough to spring an upset of the Seattle Seahawks, but they then followed that up with a stinker against the Kansas City Chiefs. and now they are dealing with numerous injuries. Aaron Donald and Janoris Jenkins are both questionable, with Jenkins not expected to play, and Donald looking like a game time decision (although PFT off-handedly said Donald was not traveling with the team, so who really knows).
The 49ers are 15-0-1 straight up in home divisional games since 2008, and 10-2-1 SU in their last 13 games against the Rams. However, they are 7-6 ATS in those 13 games. This is the third time in five years the 49ers face the Rams coming out of their bye week. They failed to cover in 2012 and 2010. In three seasons under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers are 1-1-1 coming out of the bye. They beat Cleveland 20-10 in 2011, tied the Rams in 2012, and lost to the Panthers in 2013, with a riveting final score of 10-9.
I am often skeptical of the double digit spread, but with all the Rams injuries, I'm willing to roll with it. Patrick Willis seemed hopeful he would play on Sunday, but he also is a game-time decision. Replacing him with Chris Borland is a step back for the defense, but I think they are facing a Rams offense they can contain, even without Willis.
San Diego Chargers over MIAMI DOLPHINS (-1.5): Miami has actually played really well against the Chargers in this series, sitting 8-2 SU in the last 10, and 4-1 ATS in the last five games. November is not a good month for San Diego, as they are 2-10 SU and 3-9 ATS since 2011. And yet, I take the Chargers coming off two straight losses. I won't go with "they're due" because I don't necessarily buy into that. I just think they are a good enough team that they will head into Miami and handle their business. I'm sure this will backfire on me.
CLEVELAND BROWNS over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5): The Cowboys are probably the biggest surprise this season, but the Browns are up the list, currently sitting at 4-3 in a very competitive AFC North. This pick is mostly based on the fact that the Bucs are just not any good. I am still amazed they went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers back in Week 4. Heading into this season, if someone had asked, I probably would have said I would not be picking the Browns all season. This is the fifth time I have picked them this season, and if you remove the bye, I have now picked them each of their last five games. They are 3-2, with an ugly loss to the Jaguars and a narrow miss making up the two losses against the spread. I think am becoming attached to them to an unhealthy degree!
Arizona Cardinals over DALLAS COWBOYS (-3.5): This is hedging a bit on Tony Romo either not playing, or at least being a bit hindered. He is looking like a game-time decision, but I think he ends up playing. This is also a mix of hoping to throw some karma Dallas's way for this game against the Cardinals. While I do think Arizona can win this game, I think we all would prefer to see the Cardinals suffer a much needed loss. I'm looking to just benefit from a potentially close game! The gambling insight on this pick is clearly extensive.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS over Denver Broncos (-3): It's time for Brady-Manning 16! Tom Brady is 10-5 SU and 8-6-1 ATS in this series. The Patriots are 4-1 ATS in their last five overall and home meetings with Denver. Neither team has been particularly great against the spread this season, with the Patriots 4-4, and the Broncos 4-3. What I find most interesting about this matchup is that this is just the fifth time since 2002 that the Patriots have been a home underdog. They were underdogs earlier this year against the Bengals, once last season against Denver. Prior to that, they were last a home underdog in 2005.
PANTHERS vs. Saints (-2.5) - Panthers (WHOOPS)
DOLPHINS vs. Chargers (+1.5) - Chargers
BENGALS vs. Jaguars (+11) - Bengals
BROWNS vs. Buccaneers (+6.5) - Browns
VIKINGS vs. Washington (+2.5) - Vikings
TEXANS vs. Eagles (-2) - Eagles
CHIEFS vs. Jets (+9.5) - Chiefs
COWBOYS vs. Cardinals (+3.5) - Cardinals
49ERS vs. Rams (+10) - 49ers
PATRIOTS vs. Broncos (-3) - Patriots
SEAHAWKS vs. Raiders (+15) - Seahawks
STEELERS vs. Ravens (-1) - Steelers
GIANTS vs. Colts (-3.5) - Giants