After half a season, we're treading water against the spread at 12-13-2. After a fast start, the choppy season has kept us guessing.
Interestingly, one of the best teams against the spread so far is the Ravens at 6-2. Tennessee is 7-1 against the spread and would be a perfect 8-0, as the Titans are in the standings, except for a half-point of a 3 1/2-point line they failed to cover last week against Green Bay. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants are 6-2.
Some teams that were highly regarded before the season but have struggled in the first half and, as a result, also have been disappointments for bettors have been Indianapolis (2-5-1 against the spread), Jacksonville (2-6) and Dallas (3-6).
Tennessee at Chicago (+3). Picking the Titans at this point may be the equivalent of buying a stock after the early run-up but Tennessee is playing incredibly sound right now. Chicago has a better offense than Bears fans have been accustomed to and the passing game is improved. However, the Titans are giving up the fewest points-per-game in the league and seem to be able to run the ball at anyone. Pick: Titans, giving 3.
New Orleans at Atlanta (-1). As the lines harden, the picks don't get any easier. Under normal circumstances, the Saints are the automatic choice here even considering the Falcons' early success. Atlanta is 5-3 while New Orleans is 4-4. The Saints' problem during their inconsistent win-one, lose-one season has been injuries. But while some skill players are returning to the lineup, Reggie Bush (knee) is still out. However, while Falcons followers have reason to be optimistic about rookie QB Matt Ryan's play, Atlanta has been taking advantage of a last-place schedule during that previously-mentioned fast start. What catches my attention is that despite the injuries in New Orleans, Saints QB Drew Brees still has his offense averaging more than 400 yards per game. Pick: Saints, getting 1.
Baltimore at Houston (Even). Although Houston is going with its backup quarterback, Sage Rosenfels, the drop-off from starter Matt Schaub is not significant. In fact, some observers feel that Rosenfels might be even better. After the game against the Texans, Baltimore faces what it knows will be a tough stretch against the NFC East. So a win in Houston is essential if the Ravens hope to make the playoffs. Plus, all season, the Ravens have won the games they were supposed to win. Pick: Ravens, even.