N.Y. Jets (+6) over TENNESSEE: Despite going into overtime with the Patriots last week, the Jets looked like the better team and controlled most of the game, and I think they can go into Tennessee and win outright. Jacksonville had Tennessee on its heels last weekend, going into the half with a 14-3 lead behind a strong running game and a defense that didn't allow any big strikes. In the second half, Titans quarterback Kerry Collins made big plays when challenged, but I don't see this happening against the Jets. New York can stuff Tennessee's running game and make Collins try to stretch the defense. He may have success because the Jets pass defense is soft, but New York can score enough on Tennessee to make it play catch-up. Take the points.
CLEVELAND (-3) over Houston: Clinging to the slightest of hopes that its season is not lost, Cleveland has a tough matchup with Houston. The Texans give up more points (28.7 points per game) than they score (23.6 ppg) and have lost three straight after going 3-1 in October. The Browns, expected to be able to score at will this season, floundered offensively for two months but may finally be realizing their offensive potential under Brady Quinn. Quinn led Cleveland to a big win over Buffalo on Monday night and seems to be jelling with standout wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Cleveland needs to keep winning and is talented enough to make it happen, particularly against the weak Texans defense.
New England (+2) over MIAMI: In August, who would have imagined the Patriots getting points against Miami under any circumstances? Well, when your supermodel quarterback is lost for the season on one side and Bill Parcells starts calling the shots on the other, those are your circumstances. But are the Dolphins going to sweep the season series with the Patriots? Is Ronnie Brown going to look like a Hall of Famer against New England again? It says here, no. Both teams sit at 6-4 and have a lot to prove, but the Patriots will follow their 2001 script: make just enough plays and control the clock.
DETROIT (+8) over Tampa Bay: The Bucs are undefeated (5-0) at home but aren't such a force on the road. Detroit, at 0-10 overall, hasn't been a force anywhere. The Lions have been underdogs all season but are 4-6 against the number; this is a good week to grab the points. Lion running back Kevin Smith (above) is developing into one of the NFL's most underrated backs, and his emergence has allowed Detroit to compete in several of its recent games. Tampa Bay's running game is a mess - Warrick Dunn is getting carries again - and I'll take the points with the home 'dog here, no matter how woeful the Lions have looked.
Carolina (+1) over ATLANTA: Carolina is a tough matchup for any team: steady offense, tough defense. The Panthers have won six of seven and will go into Atlanta for a divisional game that the Falcons need to keep pace in the NFC playoff picture. Atlanta has made a nice run this season, with the newly installed brass seeming to make the right decisions with coaches, free agents, and draft picks. But these teams met back in September, and the result wasn't pretty for the Falcons: a 24-9 loss. Atlanta has certainly improved, but Carolina is the top team in the NFC South, and for the Panthers to get points - even just one - in a late-season divisional battle is a gift.
Indianapolis (+3) over SAN DIEGO: Here come the Colts and there go the Chargers. San Diego will be an afterthought in the AFC playoff race after this game; the Colts are beginning to fire on all cylinders. Peyton Manning is clicking with his receivers, and Joseph Addai tore through the Texans last weekend. There's no shame for San Diego in not being able to muster anything offensively in bad weather against an outstanding defensive team like Pittsburgh, but the Chargers seem overrated and headed in the wrong direction. LaDainian Tomlinson has eclipsed 100 yards rushing just once in his last six games and, for all of his impressive passing stats, no one implodes quite like Philip Rivers. It's late November and Indy is getting points. Take them.
THE REST: PITTSBURGH (-10) is at least a touchdown and a field goal better than Cincinnati ... Buffalo should not be a road favorite, even at KANSAS CITY (+4) ... Even though Tony Romo has returned, DALLAS has done little to lay so many points, despite the fact that San Francisco (+11) is coming to town ... BALTIMORE (-1) was just beaten up by the Giants and will look to return the favor against struggling Philadelphia ... ST. LOUIS (+7) can hang at home within a touchdown of Chicago ... Minnesota (+2) will remain in contention for a division title by winning outright against JACKSONVILLE ... Oakland's terrible offense is tailor-made for a poor defensive team like DENVER (-9) ... SEATTLE (+3) is getting healthy, and getting points at home, against a Washington team that was beaten up last week by Dallas' offensive line ... If there is a good time to bet against the Giants (-3), it's not this weekend against ARIZONA ... Green Bay (+2) seemed to find itself last weekend against Chicago, and NEW ORLEANS is next in line to pay the price.
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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