Updated on 09/15/2011 1:37PM

Broncos have motive, can cover slim spread


In shooting craps, the magic numbers are 7 and 11. Well, of the 11 games on Sunday during the day, I like seven, so let's get right to the action.

Broncos (-1) at Chiefs

The Broncos, riddled with injuries, aren't playing at the same high level as they were when they beat the Chiefs 20-6 earlier this season. And the Chiefs are coming off one of their best games of the year in a 28-26 loss to the Raiders. The Chiefs, however, aren't that good and the Broncos are a Super Bowl-caliber team when healthy. The Broncos got a lift with the return of Terrell Davis (100 yards vs. the Seahawks) last week and WR Rod Smith is also back near 100 percent. The Broncos' backs are to the wall if they want to make the playoffs, and they'll come out fighting.

Play: Broncos for 11 units.

Bengals (+9) at Jets

Anyone who has followed my picks this year knows I think the Jets were overrated from the beginning of the season. They burned me a few times, but I've finally been vindicated the last two weeks, as they've lost to the Patriots and Steelers. Again, I think this line is way too high, even with Akili Smith starting at QB for the Bengals. Corey Dillon should have a big day on the ground, and that should take some pressure off Smith and at least keep the Bengals within a touchdown.

Play: Bengals for 11 units.

Jaguars (+2 1/2) at Browns

The Browns are another team that has been doing it with mirrors this year. (That is a credit to first-year coach Butch Davis, who also deserves most of the credit for putting together Miami's No. 1-ranked college team.) The Jaguars have lost several games they should have won this year, and are better than their 4-8 record. In fact, they're the more talented team, and this shouldn't even be called an upset if the Jaguars win outright.

Play: Jaguars for 11 units.

Patriots (-4) at Bills

Once considered a fluke with Tom Brady at QB, the Patriots are playing some of the best ball in the NFL. The Bills, on the other hand, are pretty lame and didn't even deserve to beat the equally weak Panthers 25-24 last week. The Bills' once-vaunted home-field advantage is nil these days, so look for the Patriots to roll while prepping for their big game next week against the Dolphins.

Play: Patriots for 11 units.

Eagles (-2 1/2) at Redskins

The Redskins beat the Eagles 13-3 three weeks ago in Philadelphia, but the Eagles will get their revenge Sunday in Washington. The Eagles have rebounded with solid performances against the Chiefs and Chargers. Donovan McNabb should learn from the earlier loss to the Skins, and the defense should be stellar as usual. As an added prediction, look for an early trick play from the Eagles as they try to keep the Redskins' defense off balance.

Play: Eagles for 11 units.

Cowboys (+5 1/2) at Seahawks

The Cowboys are still a mediocre crew at best, but they've been a decent bet this season, going 7-5 against the spread. They've also covered their last three games, including straight-up wins over the Redskins and Giants. Quincy Carter has jump-started the offense, which has been able to run the ball all season. The key is that the Cowboys also stop the run well, and they will get a break this week as Ricky Watters replaces Shaun Alexander in the Seahawks' backfield.

Play: Cowboys for 11 units.

Packers at Titans (+2 1/2)

This could be the most fun game of the day to watch if the forecast for a driving rain and thunderstorms comes true. The Packers beat the Bears last Sunday to move into a first-place tie in the NFC Central, but remember that the previous time the Packers beat the Bears they lost the following week to the Falcons. This is a letdown spot for them, and the Titans are good enough to take advantage even though they were lit up by the Vikings last week. That was in the Metrodome, and the return home should prove all the difference.

Play: Titans for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units.

Bankroll entering this weekend: 932 units, with 11 units each on the Cardinals +5 1/2 over the Giants and the Raiders -4 over the Chargers in Saturday's games.


The college bowl season kicks off on Tuesday night with a game between two teams that combine for a .500 record. It isn't the best matchup, but it's still a betting opportunity and the money spends the same whether it's won on a minor bowl or a BCS contest.

New Orleans Bowl

Colorado St. (-12 1/2) vs. N. Texas

North Texas (5-6) is the first beneficiary of a new NCAA rule that allows a conference champion to become bowl-eligible with fewer than six wins. North Texas started the season 0-5 and then ran off five straight wins vs. Sun Belt Conference opponents. The most important victory for the Mean Green (yes, that's their nickname) was a 24-21 win over Middle Tennessee St on Oct. 13. Both teams finished 5-1 in the conference, but North Texas won the tiebreaker.

North Texas was 8-3 against the spread, but some of those early covers were because of inflated lines because the Mean Green was so bad last year. For instance, they covered a 17-point spread against TCU in a 19-5 loss on Sept. 1 and also covered a 42-point spread in a 37-10 loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 8. And neither game was as close as the score indicates.

QB Brad Hall and the Mean Green offense has struggled against quality defenses, and Colorado State's defense is better than anyone they've faced except for Oklahoma.

On the other hand, Colorado State (6-5) has faced better competition overall and the drop in class will also benefit QB Bradlee Van Pelt and the Rams' offense. Van Pelt has been playing better down the stretch, leading the Rams to four wins in their last five games, and his scrambling will cause problems for the North Texas defense.

While it's tough to lay double digits in a bowl game, this is a spot for Colorado St. to make up for a disappointing season and serve as a launching pad for next season. North Texas fits the "happy just to be here" mold.

Play: Colorado St. for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units.

Current bankroll: 963 units.