Last week was the first time that my NFL predictions were based on a point spread rather than a straight pick for the winner. I think that went quite well, because it added an extra dynamic. For this week in the National Football League, I’ll once again be picking against the spread. What you do with these picks, gambling or otherwise, is at your own discretion.

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons
Point Spread: CHI by 2.5
Discussion: The Falcons have been able to maintain a reasonable level of performance in the absence of Michael Vick, but the Bears will be too much.
Prediction: Bears

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
Point Spread: HOU by 2.5
Discussion: How is Houston the favorite in this game? Need I remind you that Miami is stunning the league with its recent victories over New England and San Diego? If they can dispatch the Pats and the Bolts, the Dolphins should have no trouble handling a few Texans.
Prediction: Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
Point Spread: IND by 4.5
Discussion: This is easily one of the biggest highlights of the week, because you are pitting one of the greatest quarterbacks in Peyton Manning against the number one defence in the NFL led by Ray Lewis. Last year, the Colts won handsomely, but they don’t seem nearly as dominant this year. By the same accord, Ray Lewis and the Ravens have really stepped up their game. This is a close one, but I’m going with Baltimore. Either they’ll win or Indy won’t cover the spread.
Prediction: Ravens

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Point Spread: MIN by 12.5
Discussion: I understand that the Detroit Lions are hopeless. I also understand that Minnesota isn’t that great, so while I think the Vikings will come out on top, I find it doubtful that they’ll win by two touchdowns or more.
Prediction: Lions

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints
Point Spread: NO by 7.5
Discussion: Drew Brees and Reggie Bush welcome the struggling Raiders into their football home for this game. If the spread was under a touchdown, this pick would be a lot easier, but I’ll still lean toward the Saints. The Raiders are pretty bad.
Prediction: Saints

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Point Spread: NYJ by 5.5
Discussion: Despite what his loud mouth may indicate, Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson and the Bengals aren’t exactly the premiere squad in the NFL right now and unless something dramatic happens, that won’t change. I like Cincinnati, but I don’t see them winning this. Go Favre.
Prediction: Jets

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Point Spread: TB by 1.5
Discussion: Another close game, especially since Delhomme has been doing so well lately. Because it’s so close, I’ll just default to the home field advantage, but this could really go either way.
Prediction: Bucs

St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins
Point Spread: WAS by 13.5
Discussion: Jason Campbell and the rest of the Redskins have been very successful in the toughest division in the league. They’ve also been really creative in their play-calling. The Rams, by contrast, are as bad as ever. Two touchdowns is a giant spread, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Washington covers.
Prediction: Redskins

Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos
Point Spread: DEN by 3.5
Discussion: Mike Shanahan has a stellar offence in Denver (Jay Cutler has been somewhat surprising), but his defence isn’t quite so impressive. Jacksonville’s got its weapons, but I still give the advantage to the Broncs at Mile High Stadium.
Prediction: Broncos

Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
Point Spread: DAL by 4.5
Discussion: How ’bout dem Cowboys? Arguably the best team in the league (even though they’re not undefeated), the Dallas Cowboys are pumped and they’ll mow right over the Cards. It may not be obvious in the first half, but we all know that Dallas steps it up a notch or nine in the second half of every game.
Prediction: Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
Point Spread: PHI by 4.5
Discussion: After suffering a defeat to the Redskins last week, Donovan McNabb will want to lift his team’s spirit with a rousing victory. The ‘Niners won’t just fall over and take it, but Philly should come out on top.
Prediction: Eagles

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
Point Spread: SEA by 1.5
Discussion: It’s hard playing in Qwest Field as a visitor. I would know. If this game was in Green Bay, I’d give the slight edge to the Packers, but Aaron Rodgers is still pretty “green” and the Seahawks will absolutely devour him. It won’t be a blowout, but it’ll be a win for the ‘hawks.
Prediction: Seahawks

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers
Point Spread: SD by 5.5
Discussion: The Patriots are a shadow of their former selves and this is largely explained by Tom Brady’s injury. It’s amazing how much of a difference one player can make. Even though the Chargers had a surprise loss to the Dolphins last week, I think they’ll be able to overcome the once remarkably proud Patriots.
Prediction: Chargers

New York Giants at Cleveland Browns
Point Spread: NYG by 7.5
Discussion: The story here isn’t whether the defending Super Bowl Champions will be able to continue their undefeated streak. The question is whether they’ll be able to cover the spread and, yes, I think they can.
Prediction: Giants