Sometimes things just keep going your way. Handicapping the NFL right now is about seeing the prime spots for letdowns or motivated opponents. The 49ers are coming off a road win in Chicago and then they lay an egg in Cleveland against the lowly Browns. I wish last week I saw the unmotivated effort coming from the Lions after their hearts were ripped out. Sometimes when handicapping these games, you have to put aside all preconceived thoughts of how awful a team is and just go with your gut. There are several of these spots once again this week, which I hope to capitalize on and bring you more winners.
Record: 33-20-1 (3-1 last week)
New York Jets (8-5) at Dallas Cowboys (4-9) (Saturday)
The Jets are in the playoff hunt while the Cowboys are just waiting for this season to end. Dallas confirmed this week that Matt Cassel was still the starting quarterback, which also confirmed that the Cowboys’ offense is going to continue to be bad. They have managed just 70 points in their last five games with four of those being on the road. The Jets have one of the better defenses in the league, holding six straight opponents to 24 points or fewer. It's very difficult to run the ball on them and now that Darrelle Revis is back, the secondary has greatly improved. The good thing for Dallas is that its defense has played well for the most part. The Jets have played two straight unders while Dallas has played four of its last five under the posted total. This one should be a defensive struggle. SELECTION: Under 41.5
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-9)
This is the mirror image of the game above, as injuries have ravaged the Ravens while the future looks bright for KC. Both of these defenses are holding down run games while they struggle through the air. The problem is that neither team really has the weapons to make the other side pay. Baltimore is down to Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Clausen at quarterback after turning to Matt Schaub. The Ravens have scored just 19 points the last two weeks and figure to have issues in this one. Kansas City has a little bit more offensively, but the Chiefs managed just 10 points against the Chargers last week. The Ravens have gone under in 14 of their last 22 home games. SELECTION: Under 41.5
Buffalo Bills (6-7) at Washington Redskins (6-7)
Buffalo is playing a fifth road game in the last six, as the Bills continue their trek through the NFC East. The Bills lost a tough one in Philly, which means they've fallen in three straight away from Buffalo. The Redskins are playing good football right now and have just one more home game this season. Kirk Cousins is keeping the turnovers down, which is helping them win games. They've had just 10 turnovers in their last seven games overall. Washington's defense has clamped down on the run the last three games although none of the three teams run it as well as the Bills do. Injuries have ravaged the home team, but things are starting to improve on that front. Washington has covered all four games at home as an underdog of three points or fewer. This probably won't apply by kickoff as I bet the Redskins will be favored. SELECTION: Redskins +1
Green Bay Packers (9-4) at Oakland Raiders (6-7)
The Raiders are coming off a huge win in Denver and are now coming home to play the Packers. Oakland's offense managed just 126 yards in the victory, as this unit continues to struggle on the ground. The Raiders have now gone five straight games without reaching 100 yards rushing. Because of that, there is extra pressure on the passing game to get things done. Oakland's defense pressured Denver QB Brock Osweiler all game, which is one of the reasons it got out of the Mile High City with a win. That strategy probably won't work on Aaron Rodgers, who is flying high off a win where the Packers discovered their ground game. Green Bay ran for 230 yards last week’s 28-7 victory over Dallas. My one concern here is Green Bay’s huge game at Arizona that follows this one. I'm hoping for a focused effort here though from the Pack. SELECTION: Green Bay Moneyline
— The Vikings have lost two straight and three of their last four as they come home to host the Bears. Teddy Bridgewater showed a lot in the loss to Arizona, although the late fumble ended Minnesota's chances of picking up a win. If he can play better the Vikes will be more dangerous. Chicago has lost two straight home games, but have been a better team on the road. Definitely check the injury report for this one as Minnesota's defense could get healthier, which would help the Vikings win this one.
— The Jaguars are favored for the fifth time this season which is a crazy concept because they were favored just once the last three years combined. They welcome Atlanta to town on Sunday and at first I really wanted to take the Falcons. The problem is that this is Atlanta's third straight road game and this is a team that has lost six in a row. And even though Carolina is undefeated and playing well, the Falcons didn’t look that interested as the Panthers rolled over them 38-0 last week. Jacksonville has an outside shot at winning the AFC South and is playing well offensively, putting up 90 points over the last two weeks. This is one of those “hold your nose” types if you believe in the home team.
— The Broncos may be in a prime spot to travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. Denver is at a low point right now after losing at home to Oakland, which makes the Broncos unattractive to the public. The thing is that they have the defense to clamp down a bit on the Steelers’ passing attack. Pittsburgh also is flying high after last week’s huge road win in Cincinnati. The Steelers’ secondary should struggle with the Denver receivers if Brock Osweiler can get his targets the ball. We know how good the Steelers’ run defense is so this one could also be a low-scoring affair. If you can stomach it, based on several reasons, Denver is a live dog on Sunday.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.