Picking like game of chicken

TREVOR BUNKE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

Favourites are not living up to expectations at the quarter-pole this NFL season against the spread.

After four weeks, favoured teams are a meagre 26-32-2 ATS. And teams that have been favoured by seven points or more are only 4-8-1 ATS.

So it should come as no surprise that this NFL Picker is also a meagre 26-32-2 ATS. On the big spreads, I'm a game better -- 5-7-1.

As a general rule, we like taking favourites (I'll admit it, I'm usually too chicken to go against them) and they usually do win ... just not by enough points.

I can't seem to get that through my thick skull, but like I said, I'm chicken.

Speaking of big spreads ...

Miami (+12.5) at New England: It's next to impossible seeing the Dolphins, who are averaging eight points a game, being the team to end the Patriots' winning streak -- which will become a record-breaking 19 on Sunday. Miami simply won't score. PATRIOTS

Cleveland (+6) at Pittsburgh: With rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers are keeping the game plan simple and winning. That should be enough vs. the Browns. STEELERS

Oakland (+9) at Indianapolis: If the Texans scored 30 points on the Raiders last week, the Colts might score 60 on them this week. COLTS

Detroit (+6.5) at Atlanta: This is another one of those character-building games for the young Lions. They'll hang around for a little while, then Falcons QB Michael Vick will take over. Pick Vick. FALCONS

Tampa Bay (+3) at New Orleans: Both teams are in disarray. The Saints aren't quite as disarrayed. This game has all the makings of a push. SAINTS

NY Giants (+3.5) at Dallas: I'm still not sold on the Giants, despite their 3-1 record. That doesn't I'm sold on the Cowboys either, but they do have a good defence. COWBOYS

Minnesota (-4) at Houston: Until last week, the Texans had never won two in a row and QB David Carr hadn't cut his hair in more than a year. That's not likely to become three straight victories and Carr shaving his head bald, but against the Vikings -- who are down two running backs, have an iffy defence and don't like playing on the road -- it should be close. TEXANS

Buffalo (+6.5) at NY Jets: The Bills are probably the NFL's best winless team. The Jets are definitely the NFL's worst unbeaten team. That means the spread is a tad too high. And here's the stat du jour: Over the past five seasons, Buffalo is 8-0 ATS coming off games vs. New England. BILLS

Jacksonville (-2.5) at San Diego: Why the Jaguars are road favourites against the Chargers, who are coming off a 38-17 pasting of the Titans, is a bit puzzling. It is not for us to ask why, but to take the points. CHARGERS

Carolina (+5.5) at Denver: The return of RB Stephen Davis and the fact they play better on the road might not get the Panthers the victory, but it should keep them close against the hard-to-figure-out Broncos. PANTHERS

St. Louis (+7) at Seattle: I've picked against the Seahawks in all three of their games this season. I've learned my lesson. SEAHAWKS

Arizona (+1) at San Francisco: The Cardinals are playing good defence for new coach Dennis Green. The 49ers became completely unhinged last week vs. the Rams. CARDINALS

Baltimore (-1) at Washington: It's hard to like a team's chances when its No. 1 running back pleads guilty to drug charges and will serve jail time after the season's over. That's the scenario the Ravens face with RB Jamal Lewis. And he's also going to be suspended by the NFL in the near future, too. REDSKINS

Tennessee (+3) at Green Bay: The most shocking thing about this matchup is that one of these teams will be 1-4 after it's over. Two things work in Green Bay's favour: Packers QB Brett Favre is an incredible 7-1 on Monday nights and it's doubtful that the Pack will lose three straight at Lambeau Field. PACKERS

Bye Week: Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Philadelphia.

Last Week: 8-5-1.

Season: 26-32-2.

Best Bet: Indianapolis.

Best Bets: 2-2 after 3.5-point favourite Indianapolis beat Jacksonville 24-17.

Suicide Pick: New England.

Suicide Picks: 4-0 after Philadelphia beat Chicago 19-9.


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