We are back on that "above .500" horse after a 4-2 week last weekend that could have easily been 5-1, if only Jacksonville defensive back Aaron Colvin could have controlled himself after A.J. Bouye's interception in overtime against the Chargers.
To set the scene, a game in which the Jags were a 3.5 point favorite (we were backing the Jags, for the record) went to overtime, so the only way to cover the spread was with a Jacksonville touchdown. Well, Bouye made his pick around midfield and returned it all the way to the Chargers two yard line. So close! "That's OK," I thought. "The Jags can hammer it in offensively for the cover."
Just one problem — a 15-yard penalty on Colvin for unsportsmanlike conduct moved the ball back to the 17 yard line. The Jags eventually kicked a field goal to win by three. No cover for us. Damn, damn, damn. Screw you, Aaron Colvin.... you just made the list!
We did win for the week, though, so let's keep this winning thing going with six games this weekend....
OHIO STATE -40 over Illinois
Somehow, the Buckeyes are back in the playoff mix less than two weeks after losing to Iowa by nearly 30 points at home, and they aren't just sitting on the periphery either. They have a legitimate shot, considering the schedules of the teams in front of them. Urban Meyer has been here before, sitting there with a loss and needing to prove his team's worth to the playoff selection committee. You know what Urban Meyer does to teams like Illinois when he needs to show the committee a little something? He beats them by 50 points, and 50 is more than 40.
Navy +17.5 over NOTRE DAME
This is a horrendous spot for Notre Dame to be playing Navy, a team that's been a pain in their ass since breaking their multi-decade losing streak versus the Irish back in 2007. It's hard enough for any team to get ready for the triple option attack that Navy throws at you, but add in the fact that this game is sandwiched in-between a playoff-hope-crushing loss by the Irish to Miami and the traditional Thanksgiving game (in odd numbered years) against Stanford. Also, Navy does not fear Notre Dame one bit, as their 7-2 ATS record in the last nine games versus the Irish shows. I think Notre Dame wins, but if Navy gets even a small lead by late in the first half, covering a three score spread will be tough for the Irish.
Virginia +17 over MIAMI
And on the other side of that Notre Dame-Miami game last weekend, we have the Hurricanes, who celebrated that victory like a program redefining win, and good for them, because it probably was. To show the lack of respect they were getting, Miami was ranked seventh going into that game, even though they were undefeated. Now, everyone will be extolling the virtues of the Miami program and talking about how "The U is back!" All of that sets up nicely for just enough letdown to allow the Cavaliers, who are not a bad team at all, to cover a 17 point spread. Like Notre Dame, I think Miami wins, but it will be tougher than expected.
STEELERS -7 over Titans
With an inconsistent offense and a really good defense, they haven't done it the way most of us expected them to do it, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting at 7-2 and are considered one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl out of the AFC. This game should be one where Ben Roethlisberger is able to run up some good numbers. The Titans have one of the worst pass rushes in all of football (14 sacks on the season, tied for second worst), and with time to throw in the comfort of Heinz Field, Big Ben should pick apart the Titans defense. Marcus Mariota is banged up with various injuries, and on a short week against this Steeler defense, that does not set up well for the Titans. I'll take the Steelers to cover the number here.
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Cardinals PICK EM over TEXANS
More on this game tomorrow, but let's just say as long as O'Brien is going to trot Tom Savage out there as the starting quarterback for the Texans, I will recommend fading them. Savage is 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS as a starting QB. (Full disclosure — he's only finished three of those five games, but he was more than complicit in the negative outcomes of all five.)
Redskins +9.5 over SAINTS
Watch any of the NFL weekday shows this week, and one of the biggest questions is "Are the Saints a Super Bowl contender?" They're a perfect 7-0 SU and 7-0 ATS in their last seven games, and they are doing it in a very un-Saints-like way —with defense and a punishing running game. Their 47-10 win in Buffalo this last weekend was to the Saints, though, what that win over Notre Dame was to Miami — now, everyone is loving on the Saints and talking about how great they are. This line could move to double digits before Sunday, so keep an eye out, but I like it at +9.5, especially with a possible look-ahead game against the Rams looming the following weekend for the Saints.
LAST WEEK: 4-2
SEASON RECORD: 38-26-2 (59.4 percent)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.