LOCK: Atlanta (-7) over CAROLINA — I’ll admit, I’m lucky we’re doing picks early this week because the Falcons will surely be favored by more later in the week. Atlanta is 10-2, holds the best record in the NFC and plays Carolina twice in the last four weeks. Although they haven’t played consistently well on the road, the Falcons should have a field day against the Panthers this Sunday.
DALLAS (+3.5) over Philadelphia — We could be in line for another classic on Sunday Night Football. Jason Garrett has had the Cowboys playing quality football since he took over as head coach. They’ve won three of four games under Garrett, the lone loss coming against the defending Super Bowl champions. Mike Vick has been remarkable this season, but the Eagles have shown some flaws over the past couple of weeks. The half-point is key, as I could easily see the Eagles winning by a field goal. Dallas will be able to put up plenty of points despite the loss of Dez Bryant. This will be a shootout that will go down to the wire.
St. Louis (+8.5) over NEW ORLEANS — The Saints have a taste for the theatrical, often playing close games that go down to the wire. Exhibit A is their game against the lowly Bengals two days ago, a game in which Cincinnati held a lead very late in the fourth quarter. The Rams are a dome team, and although the atmosphere in St. Louis isn’t quite as intense as it is at the Superdome, the conditions won’t be too foreign to them. I like the way the Rams are playing right now, especially on offense, and I think they have a chance to top New Orleans.
Green Bay (-7) over DETROIT — Aaron Rodgers is playing out of his mind right now, and with the Lions on tap, I don’t see how he’ll be slowed down this week. He and Greg Jennings have regained their chemistry and are one of the hottest QB/WR duos in the league right now. The Lions will probably keep it relatively close for a while, but I expect the Pack to pull away in the fourth with a game-cementing touchdown from No. 12 to No. 85.