Oakland (+10) over SAN DIEGO: Somehow, San Diego remains in contention for a playoff spot despite its 4-8 record. Such is life in the AFC West, and this divisional matchup is about as interesting as last week's Oakland-Kansas City tilt -- another AFC West gem. The Chargers are soft; they give up a ton of yards (367 per game, fifth worst in the league) and tend to make mistakes when the heat gets turned up. Oakland is no bargain either. The Raiders have a below-average quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, and a strange defense: They have the league's worst pass defense, but a steady (123 yards per game) run defense. The bottom line here is that San Diego has done nothing to prove it should be a 10-point favorite over anyone, even at home against one of the NFL's laughingstocks.
INDIANAPOLIS (-13) over Cincinnati: Anyone who laid five points on the Colts last weekend against the Browns had to walk away wondering why they gamble. Reggie Wayne drops a sure touchdown in the end zone on one drive. On another, the Colts go for it on fourth and goal from the one and Peyton Manning fumbles. It's not like the Colts to leave points on the board, and they're here because it's not likely to occur two weeks in a row. There's not much to say about the Bengals beyond the fact that they are rarely competitive.
BALTIMORE (-6) over Washington: There's reason for excitement in Baltimore, and the future may be now. Who wants to face this team in the playoffs? The Raven defense allows just 15.8 points per game, and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco (above) is being allowed more responsibility as the season chugs along. In his first six games, with Baltimore going 3-3, Flacco averaged 179 yards passing and had two touchdown passes and eight interceptions. In his last six games, with the Ravens going 5-1, Flacco has averaged 200 yards passing and thrown 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Washington is rugged but banged up; Clinton Portis' workload appears to be catching up with him. The Skins need a win, but aren't likely to get that or a cover. Lay the points.
BUFFALO (-1) over Miami: This is a home game for the Bills, but it will be played north of the border, in Toronto. After last year's near-winless campaign, it's easy to get excited about the Dolphins, but Miami is only 5-7 against the number. and this is a matchup that favors Buffalo. The Dolphins aren't a high-scoring team, and Miami's pass defense is 26th in the league. The Bills do have quarterback issues -- starter Trent Edwards (groin) couldn't make it out for the second half last weekend against the Niners, and backup J.P. Losman underwhelmed in relief -- but Buffalo can run the ball and control the clock. Lay the points while the rest of the world jumps on the Dolphins.
New England (-4) over SEATTLE: Even during their descent into something close to mediocrity, the Patriots have been beating teams they're supposed to defeat. Seattle is one of those teams. The Seahawks are devoid of playmakers and average just 18 points and 149 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, their defense is weak, and opponents have had great success whether running or throwing. New England is average at everything these days. Although the locals tend to overrate the hometown squad after victories against the likes of St. Louis, Buffalo, and Miami, covering 4 points against a team of Seattle's caliber should not be an issue.
CAROLINA (-3) over Tampa Bay: A pair of 9-3 teams will slug it out on Monday night with first place in the NFC South at stake. You know what to do: Lay the points and tune out Tony Kornheiser.
The Rest: Despite its loss to Minnesota last Sunday night, CHICAGO (-3) should bounce back and cover against a Jags squad that isn't playing close to the level it did a year ago ... GREEN BAY(-5) will outscore Houston in a shootout ... Down to Ken Dorsey, its third-string quarterback, Cleveland will have a hard time scoring any points against TENNESSEE (-14), which is 10-2 against the number ... Minnesota will win but not cover against a DETROIT (+10) squad it beat by only two in early October ... Philadelphia (+8) has a date in the Super Bowl, but it's the Eagles' personal Super Bowl -- Sunday afternoon against the GIANTS ... NEW ORLEANS (-3) can keep pace with an Atlanta squad that seems to wait for its opponents to make a mistake so it can capitalize ... The Jets (-4) are better than their showing against up-and-down Denver last weekend and will prove that to SAN FRANCISCO ... Kansas City beat DENVER (-9) by two touchdowns in Kansas City back in September but won't be as fortunate the second time around, especially on the road ... St. Louis and its terrible pass defense have no chance against an ARIZONA (-13) squad that pummeled the Rams in their first meeting ... Dallas (-3) is fighting for its life for an NFC wild-card berth and will not just cover but steal a win in PITTSBURGH.
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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