Another week in the NFL, another minefield to tiptoe through. Luca Bercelli hopes to steer us in the right direction...
"The Packers have been playing like potential Superbowl champs in recent weeks and are now favourites to win it all at 6.411/2. Minnesota on the other hand have been stuttering all season and will rely on their solid defense to keep things close. Problem is, their cornerbacks were over-matched by the Bears a week ago; and with the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to contend with, this could get ugly."
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
It was a tale of two Ryans for the Texans last week. Ryan Fitzpatrick was replaced at quarterback by Ryan Mallett, and the hammer knocked in a really solid performance that will have Texans fans pretty annoyed that the switch wasn't made earlier. I would've picked J.J. Watt to take pieces out of Carrot Top in this one anyway, but with the QB change, it's an easy call.
Back the Houston Texans to win @ 1.875/6
Cleveland Browns @ Atlanta Falcons
I'm not put off by Cleveland's blip last week against Houston. They prop up the AFC North but bizarrely have two more wins than Atlanta, who sit atop the poorest division I've seen for a long time, the woeful NFC South. The stats are against the Browns, and they've lost important members of their defense in Karlos Dansby and Jabaal Sheard, but I still like their chances and +3.5pts against a member of the Joke Division is a steal.
Back the Cleveland Browns +3.5pts @ 1.910/11
Detroit Lions @ New England Patriots
If the Lions D can get rolling early they could make this one a lot closer than the odds suggest. Their run defense in particular could stifle the Pats newly discovered power-running game. On the downside for the Lions, New England are so well coached that they'll probably find a way to circumvent the league's stingiest D; and with Megatron marooned on Revis Island for the afternoon, points could be hard to come by.
Back under 47.5pts @ 2.0521/20 Best Bet
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
The Packers have been playing like potential Superbowl champs in recent weeks and are now favourites to win it all at 6.411/2. Minnesota on the other hand have been stuttering all season and will rely on their solid defense to keep things close. Problem is, their cornerbacks were over-matched by the Bears a week ago; and with the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to contend with, this could get ugly.
Back the Green Bay Packers -9.5pts @ 2.01/1 Best Bet
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck didn't have much chance of inspiring his Colts to a win over the Patriots last week, but it wasn't his fault, he just came up against a red-hot side on the day. He'll get back on track against rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jokers with some ease in this one. A handicap of 13.5 points seems a lot to give up, but I think they'll cover with room to spare, they're better all round.
Back the Indianapolis Colts -13.5pts @ 2.01/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Chicago Bears
When I found out that the highest paid player in the whole league is, wait for it, jovial Jay Cutler, I almost fell off my high chair. No wonder he gets relentlessly slated by media and teammates alike as he's a medium-ranking QB at best. The big story here, however, is that Bears' former coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Josh McCown both return with the Buccaneers. Motivation to show the Bears what they're missing will be a definite factor so I'll take Tampa on the spread.
Back the Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5.5pts @ 1.9720/21
Tennessee Titans @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles were firmly put in their place by the Packers last weekend suffering a 53-20 pounding in a match that was all over by half time. As predicted Mark Sanchez stunk up the place and did what he does best - throw interceptions and fumble the ball. Luckily for Eagles' fans they've got the poor Titans up this week and they should get back to winning ways. But minus 10.5pts with the Sanchize at the helm? I couldn't live with myself if I went down that route.
Back the Tennessee Titans +10.5pts @ 2.01/1
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
I said I'm going to ride those Cards all the way to the Superbowl and they haven't let me down yet. Okay so they've lost one game but that was in the distant past and since then the rollercoaster has powered to victory six times against strong opposition. This is their toughest test before the post-season but I'll take the points on offer in a match-up that suits them.
Back the Arizona Cardinals +7.0pts @ 2.111/10
St Louis Rams @ San Diego Chargers
Injured quarterback meets sack-happy defense: you do the math. The Chargers' secretly gimpy Philip Rivers will be looking forward to this one as much as I look forward to Halloween; that is to say with sub-zero enthusiasm. If I want my house egged, I'll do it myself! Anyway, the market has got this one horribly wrong;, I'm not even going with the points as the juicy 3.02/1 on the outright is just too big.
Back the St Louis Rams to win @ 3.02/1
Miami Dolphins @ Denver Broncos
We've made money opposing over-rated Peyton Manning in recent weeks and I think it'll be the same story here. He's not happy under pressure in the pocket, and Miami's rock solid defense will test his patience and elusiveness (of which he possesses very little). Injuries to key offensive targets don't help PM's cause so 7.5pts for the in-form fish is one of the tastiest bets of the week.
Back the Miami Dolphins +7.5pts @ 1.794/5
Washington Redskins @ San Francisco 49ers
The 'Skins are in freefall with questions over RG III's fitness to lead the franchise getting louder each week. His grip on the QB position is shakier than most hands in a Masterchef skills' test, but one day he's going to remind everyone of the outrageous talent that made him the second overall pick in the draft in 2012. It's do or die time for the man from Okinawa and I think he'll survive, at least for this week.
Back the Washington Redskins +8.5pts @ 2.01/1
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Despite taking a couple of backwards steps in recent weeks the Cowboys are a much better team than the Giants, and they should be able to get their much-vaunted rushing attack back on song versus the 32nd-ranked defense against the run. The Giants are pretty unfathomable so go easy on this one, but -3.0pts is a fair spread and I wouldn't put you off it.
Back the Dallas Cowboys -3.0pts @ 1.834/5
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
Switched to Detroit because of ridiculous weather in Buffalo and at no cost to punters the Freeloader Bowl will have a weird atmosphere to say the least. Weird is better than horrible and that's the kind of vibe that has surrounded the Jets all season. However, with the Vickster now firmly at the helm and a morale-boosting victory to spur them on I like their chances against a team that beat them only four weeks ago. I think the real Jets will stand up on Monday night, and if they do, a three points start is a gift.
Back the New York Jets +3.0pts @ 1.9520/21
Baltimore Ravens @ New Orleans Saints
The Saints must be the most erratic team in the league: they dominated the high-flying Packers 44-23 four weeks ago, but then lost to the Bengals last week. Give me Rubik's Revenge any day, it's easier to figure out. Overall their schedule has been a tougher one than the Ravens and although the Superdome has lost some of its fortress reputation I like them in this one.
Back the New Orleans Saints to win @ 1.654/6