Tennessee (-8) over KANSAS CITY: I'm intrigued by Kansas City, particularly at home, but here's one stat I cannot overlook: The Titans are 5-0 against the spread. Fueled by the NFL's top defense (allowing just 11.2 points per game), Tennessee has a favorable matchup with the Chiefs, who struggle to put points on the board. KC will have Brodie Croyle -- who was injured in the season opener against New England -- back in the lineup at quarterback. Will his return even matter? The Chiefs stunned the Broncos at home in Week 4 by controlling the game on the ground behind Larry Johnson (28 carries, 198 yards), but it's unlikely Johnson can break out like that against the rugged Titans.
Cleveland (+10) over WASHINGTON: The Browns, full of hope at the season's outset because of last year's 10-6 record, began 0-3 but have rebounded to win two straight, including Monday night's impressive blowout of the Giants. An offense that struggled in early-season losses looked potent against New York, and wide receiver Braylon Edwards finally broke out. Washington had no business losing to St. Louis last weekend, and it's possible the 'Skins experienced a letdown after big road wins against Dallas and Philadelphia. Cleveland, after pounding the Giants, needs to avoid a similar letdown because it suddenly has a new lease on its season.
Indianapolis (-1) over GREEN BAY: Shame on me for writing off Peyton Manning last week in the fantasy football section. Manning looked terrific against Baltimore, which has one of the NFL's top defenses. He was hitting receivers in stride and throwing lasers. The Colts are not adept at stopping the run, ranking 29th in the league in that category, but Green Bay and its top back, Ryan Grant, have not established a consistent running game. The Colts kept themselves afloat early in the season while they worked through injuries. Are they ready to take off?
TAMPA BAY (-11) over Seattle: What's to like about Seattle? Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is hurt and won't play this weekend. Charlie Frye has taken over the offense, which seems devoid of playmakers. The defense gives up more than 350 yards per game. Opponents are averaging more than 30 points per game. And now this group must go up against a 4-2 Tampa Bay squad that is quietly putting together another fine season. It should not be a surprise that the Bucs have a strong defense, but its running game -- with Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn carrying the load -- has been outstanding. Quarterback Brian Griese has not been outstanding, with four touchdowns and six interceptions, but coach Jon Gruden isn't asking too much of Griese. Keep an eye on Tampa Bay, which is 5-1 against the spread this season.
San Diego (pick) over BUFFALO: We're assuming that Bills quarterback Trent Edwards, who has a concussion, won't be playing, and if he does play, he won't be at full strength. The Bills have a nice-looking 4-1 record, but a closer inspection finds that they have only one win over a quality opponent, Jacksonville, a team that plays a very similar style to theirs. Buffalo's other wins: Seattle, Oakland, and St. Louis. Big deal. The Chargers, much like the Browns, seem to be getting their act together just in time.
New York Jets (-3) over OAKLAND: The Jets will keep the pressure on Oakland, and if the Raiders are forced to play from behind, this one could be over early. Oakland averages only 150 yards per game through the air. This is an important game for the Jets; at 3-2, they are in the mix in the AFC. Traveling cross-country and picking up a win against an inferior opponent would send a signal that they are possible contenders. A loss in Oakland would make it difficult to take them seriously. One interesting note: the Jets are 3-0 against the spread when favored.
The rest: CINCINNATI doesn't have a win, but it does have a 9-point head start at home against Pittsburgh. The Bengals have been playing with pride, and even without Carson Palmer (sore elbow), they can keep this close ... MIAMI (-3) and Baltimore won't light up the scoreboard, but the Dolphins have more playmakers on offense ... Dallas has been favored in every game but is only 2-4 against the number. ST. LOUIS (+7) will keep it close by keeping Steven Jackson's hands on the ball ... The NFC North has three 3-3 teams, including CHICAGO (-3) and Minnesota. Containing Adrian Peterson is key for the Bears' stout defense, which allows only 74 yards per game on the ground ... New Orleans (+3) is a good bet when you can grab points, even against a team like CAROLINA that defends the pass so well ... It's only natural that the GIANTS are favored heavily over San Francisco (+12), but the 49ers are respectable and can play within that number ... One-win HOUSTON (-8) is better than its record, but winless Detroit is not ... Look for inconsistent NEW ENGLAND (-3) to rebound against Denver on Monday night.
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This week's OT cover
OT beat writersMaureen Mullen brings you Red Sox information and insights.
Tom Wilcox covers the Patriots.
Scott Souza is all over the Celtics.
Danny Picard is on the ice with the Bruins.
Mike McDonald takes a look at the humorous side of Boston sports