USA Today Sports
Spread to wait on
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
What an odd home/road split for the Cowboys, who were just so-so (4-4) in Dallas but killed it (8-0) on the road this season. Maybe the ‘Boys should have offered to travel to Detroit for this one. Anyway, early numbers give bettors just about whatever they want for this one. Lions backers can shop around and get an extra half-point – and at this writing 8 is available at 5Dimes. If you like Dallas, you can find -7 just about anywhere. Westgate opened at -6.5, but the suspension of Ndamukong Suh caused that number to vanish. Suh will appeal, so it might be a good idea to see what happens with him before betting this one one way or the other.
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Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
Seems like Baltimore-Pittsburgh battles have been field goal games for the last decade, so Steelers -3 is hardly a shock. Pittsburgh has played only a few close games this year, and both were early in the season (Week’s 1 and 3), when the Steelers had both LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell lugging the football. Blount is long gone, and Bell’s status is uncertain because of injury. In an effort to keep things as stable as possible on the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers have brought in veteran back Ben Tate as an insurance policy. Even if Bell is able to play, it’s hard to see this line swelling to 3.5. What you see is what you get.
Total to watch
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (49.5)
Under players come out of the woodwork in the playoffs, where coaches constantly preach about the dangers of turning over the ball and offensive coordinators fear that they are one unsuccessful crazy play away the unemployment line. So caution is urged for folks tempted to grab the over on this one, even though it will be played in a dome. Four Colts games in a row have failed to go over, and 6 of the last eight Bengals games have failed to cover the number. Casual bettors do come out in the playoffs, inflating posted totals a bit, and seven touchdowns is a load. If you insist on batting the over, look around and see if 49 is available.