Are we on Candid Camera? The Steelers have owned the Browns. Actually, everybody has. Pittsburgh has won 16 of 17 against this foe and it has not been less than a 6 1/2-point favourite over the Brownies in their past 9 contests. Cleveland has won three of its past 20 football games. The Browns have been an underdog in every game this year. Pittsburgh has been favoured seven times and has been the dog only at Denver, at the Giants and last week to Baltimore. So if this isn't a gag, why the short price? We're well aware of the Steelers' quarterback issues but is veteran Charlie Batch that big of a drop-off from rookie QB Brandon Weeden? Pittsburgh's offence might have some limitations here but its top-ranked defence is facing a Browns team that ranks 28th in total yards. The Steelers are unlikely to lose consecutive divisional games when the back end is this host and knowing Baltimore is on deck.
TAKING: STEELERS pick
Ravens (8-2) at Chargers (4-6)
LINE: BALTIMORE BY 1
It's never comfortable having the Chargers as a 'Best' but sometimes the line dictates our recommendation. Baltimore has been living somewhat of a charmed life. Yes, this is a league where wins and losses are all the ultimately matter but that does not exclude us from taking advantage of misperceptions. We won't go through it but the Ravens' 8-2 mark could easily be around the 5-5 mark right now. This once-daunting defence currently ranks 25th in the league and 23rd vs. the pass. Baltimore just played in Pittsburgh, will fly out west for this one and then will play Pittsburgh again. They'll do that with an injury list that's as long as Santa's delivery list. As for the Chargers, there is no denying their unreliable play but they return home after two away against two smoking hot clubs in the Bucs and Broncos. This is too good of a situation and price to ignore.
TAKING: CHARGERS +1
Raiders (3-7) at Bengals (5-5)
LINE: CINCINNATI BY 8
You may have to go back to Boomer Esiason days to find the Bengals spotting this many points. That's not encouraging when you consider that Cincinnati has just four covers in past 18 when giving away any points at all. Oakland is a train wreck but ex-Bengal Carson Palmer is familiar with this foe and that can't hurt.
TAKING: RAIDERS +8
Bills (4-6) at Colts (6-4)
LINE: COLTS BY 3
Not sure if young Colts are mature enough to bounce back from 59-24 trouncing a week ago. The Bills may not win often but they can march up and down the field on most days and quietly, the defence is improving. If the AFC East Pats can wallop Indy, Bills should at least stay close.
TAKING: BILLS +3
Broncos (7-3) at Chiefs (1-9)
LINE: DENVER BY 10
Must we? Tough to lay this lumber, on the road, in a division game. But when push comes to shove, would rather be on the hot Denver side than this dreadful Chiefs team. Kansas City has lost six straight. They have reached 16 points only once during that stretch. To compound problems, they are missing three starters.
TAKING: BRONCOS -10
Titans (4-6) at Jaguars (1-9)
LINE: TENNESSEE BY 3
The Jaguars may have had their best performance of the season last week but at the end of the day, they still lost and took nearly five quarters to do so. That can be demoralizing. Now the Jags return home where they're 0-5 this year. Titans are rested and off their best game of the season.
TAKING: TITANS -3
Falcons (9-1) at Buccaneers (6-4)
LINE: ATLANTA BY 1
Falcons won last week despite an uncharacteristic five interceptions by QB Matt Ryan. You can bet that Matty Ice will be more careful with the ball this week and that should spell trouble against Tampa's 32nd-ranked pass defence. Bucs winning but were outplayed by Bolts two weeks ago and rallied late to top Carolina.
TAKING: FALCONS -1
Seahawks (6-4) at Dolphins (4-6)
LINE: SEATTLE BY 3
The Seahawks have one road victory this season to go along with four losses. Now, they're not only required to win but to do so by a margin. We're not fond of that at all. Seattle's off the bye but Fish also on extra rest which figures to aid them more than visitor making extremely long trek to get here.
TAKING: DOLPHINS +3
49ers (7-2-1) at Saints (5-5)
LINE: SAN FRANCISCO BY 1
Say what you will about Alex Smith, but when Colin Kaepernick was forced to start last week against the Bears, you could see a spring in the 49ers' step. Coach Jim Harbaugh saw it too and has opted to go with the exciting youngster. That decision should pay dividends against a porous New Orleans defense.
TAKING: 49ERS -1
Rams (3-6-1) at Cardinals (4-6)
LINE: ARIZONA BY 2.5
The Cardinals will have Ryan Lindley,a sixth-round draft pick, make his first NFL start this weekend. Yet, the Cardinals, losers of six straight, are still favoured. What does that tell you? The Rams are winless on the road and they just were punched in the mouth at home by the Jets..
TAKING: CARDINALS -2.5
Panthers (2-8) at Eagles (3-7)
LINE: CAROLINA BY 3
The league scheduler would like to take a mulligan for showcasing this one on a Monday night. Can't really blame the guy as both were expected to contend this year. The Panthers find ways to blow games while Eagles rarely lead. Philly gets weakest opponent in some time and we'll lean that way.
Packers (7-3) at Giants (6-4)
LINE: NY GIANTS BY 2.5
Giants had lost two straight prior to their bye. They had lost their lustre and with week off, they are somewhat forgotten. This is when they're best. The G-Men were a battered bunch, much like these current Packers, and they needed the break. Expect a strong return against a hurting Green Bay team traveling on consecutive weeks.
Vikings (6-4) at Bears (7-3)
No line as status of Chicago QB Jay Cutler remains unknown.