NFL WildCard Picks

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Though I lost plenty of money on ridiculous teaser bets throughout the regular season, these last four months proved I’m doing something right when it comes to researching my weekly picks and predictions.

Not only did I win a very competitive pick ‘em league (by going 13-3 against the spread in week 17), but I also put up my best season yet in terms of ATS record: 143-106-7. Professionals try to be right 55% of the time. I just put up a 57.4% season.

I’m not bragging just for bragging sake (though I am a little). I’m also writing this to remind myself not to change up the process and not to get sucked into the extra loud narratives that will be played up in the media over the next four weeks. As they say in Philly…trust the process.

Without further ado, here are my Wildcard picks with a bonus Prop Bet included.

Oakland at Houston (-4) | over/under 37

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Houston 21, Oakland 20

The Bets: Oakland (+4) / Oakland (+14) in a 3-way tease

I feel like I sniffed out some good value here. There are only two things I had to remind myself before making this pick.

  1. The Raiders went 12-4 with the 5th hardest schedule in the league while the Texans went 9-7 with the NFL’s 12th easiest schedule. Derek Carr alone doesn’t account for the difference between these two teams.
  2. No matter who is playing QB for Oakland, it’s not like we’re talking about a matchup of a Ben Roethlisberger-type against Oakland’s 3rd stringer. The guy only needs to be “almost as good as Osweiler” for Oakland to have a chance. “Almost as good as Osweiler” is the same as saying “every living adult male on planet earth.”

Bonus Note: If you had to bet your life on 1 player taking over this game, wouldn’t it be Khalil Mack? I’m not saying he will, but it’s much more likely than expecting any Texans defender or a guy like DeAndre Hopkins to steal the show (we’ve had a whole season to learn that there is no Osweiler-to-Hopkins connection even though they should be a perfect fit for each other).

I know for sure the Raiders are covering. I just don’t know if they can win outright.

Detroit at Seattle (-8) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 23, Detroit 14

The Bets: Under (53.5) in a 3-way tease

It feels like I’m being generous projecting the Lions to score 14 points, which makes me uber confident in the under since the Seahawks don’t really have the firepower to drop 30 on anyone these days.

As I’m writing this on Thursday, I don’t see how I possibly bet either team with the spread. Sure, it’s the Lions on the road in the playoffs. Considering they couldn’t keep a home game against Green Bay competitive last week when a lot was at stake, you could easily argue the Seahawks should win this by double digits. But at the same time, when was the last game that Seattle really impressed you?

Miami at Pittsburgh (-10) | over/under 46

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Pittsburgh 30, Miami 23

The Bets: Pittsburgh (pick) in a 3-way tease / Over (46) / Over (36) in a 3-way tease

The over in this game feels like one of the easiest bets of the weekend. There’s no way these teams aren’t both scoring into the 20’s. I will remind you that Matt Moore is not much of a downgrade from Ryan Tannehill.

It feels way too easy to throw the Steelers in a tease, but that’s the reality of things. Though the Dolphins beat the Steelers in Miami earlier this year, I’m gonna go out on a limb and call that game a fluke (Roethlisberger got injured in that game). They couldn’t beat another decent team all year.

Meanwhile, the Steelers’ only home loss with a healthy Roethlisberger was a 35-30 close call against the Cowboys. No shame in that at all.

They’ll go ahead and handle such a mediocre team, even if the Dolphins secure the backdoor cover.

NY Giants at Green Bay (-4.5) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Green Bay 23, NY Giants 19

The Bets: NY Giants (+14.5) in a 3-way tease

My least confident pick. My research had both the spread and the total landing right near the numbers that have been set. I would say I’m going to avoid betting this game and just try to enjoy what might be the only good matchup of Wildcard Weekend, but I know my betting-partner-in-crime from the Teasy Money podcast won’t stand for that. He’s an overconfident Giants fan so he’ll gladly tease New York up to +14.5 with me.

As for my prop bets, I actually don’t like too much.

Who will record the most passing yards during Wildcard Weekend?

  • Ben Roethlisberger (+200 odds) – He’s the odds on favorite for a reason. He’s going up against a shitty pass D that Tom Brady just torched on the road. And that game is easily expected to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend. I think this is such an obvious bet.
  • Russell Wilson (+500) – I think I’m putting a bet on Roethlisberger and Wilson, knowing I have to lose 1 of those bets. Since the Lions rank dead last in pass D according to FootballOutsiders’ DVOA metric, and the fact that Seattle just doesn’t have many other offensive weapons right now, I could see Wilson throwing a lot in this game.

And finally, if you don’t mind getting -300 odds on something, I’d say the prop bet of “Under 1.5 Wildcard teams will win this weekend” is pretty much a lock. I could see the Raiders or the Giants winning, but not both.
Enjoy Wildcard Weekend.

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Week 14 NFL Picks: A HUGE Week of Football

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Ladies & Gentlemen, a round of applause for the week 14 NFL schedule. It’s the least you can do.

Every single timeslot throughout the “weekend” has at least one incredibly important game.

  • Thursday Night: Oakland (10-2) at Kansas City (9-3)
  • Sunday 1pm ET: Pittsburgh (7-5) at Buffalo (6-6) / Denver (8-4) at Tennessee (6-6) / Houston (6-6) at Indianapolis (6-6)
  • Sunday 4pm ET: Seattle (8-3-1) at Green Bay (6-6)
  • Sunday Night: Dallas (11-1) at Giants (8-4)
  • Monday Night: Baltimore (7-5) at New England 10-2

Seriously. That’s a pretty jam-packed day of quality football.

Let’s dive into the week 14 picks.

Oakland at Kansas City (-3) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 26, Oakland 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

When is a Thursday Night Game not an ugly, hard-to-watch spectacle? When it’s 10-2 vs 9-3 with a division title and (probably) a playoff bye on the line. I’m captivated by the possibilities in this game. Does Oakland keep rolling along with their 7th straight win and 27+ point output? Or will the KC defense with Justin Houston as a reinforcement and the secondary playing out of its mind beat the Raiders for the 2nd time this year?

This is where we find out if Oakland’s defense can assist the offense at all going into the playoffs. It feels like a raucous home crowd will tilt an even game slightly towards the Chiefs. It’s honestly too close to call and seems silly to make any kind of bet on it.

(Note: I wrote all of that on Wednesday night and still talked myself into making a bet. Luckily I bet on the Chiefs. Pretty alarming for the Raiders that they lost by 8 with Andy Reid making plenty of head scratching decisions and Alex Smith uncharacteristically turning the ball over.)

Pittsburgh (-3) at Buffalo | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 27, Pittsburgh 23

The Bets: Buffalo (+13) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (+3)

I don’t really believe in the Steelers in general. I DEFINITELY don’t believe in them on the road.

My hesitation about betting the Bills straight up is based on the weak resume they have in their wins this year. They beat: Arizona, New England (injured Jacoby Brissett at QB), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincy and Jacksonville. But I like the Bills a lot at home as 13-point underdogs when thrown into a 3-way tease.

Denver (-1) at Tennessee | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 24, Denver 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

My final score prediction is based on the guess that Trevor Siemian starts at QB for the Broncos. I don’t think the Broncos will be competitive in this game if Lynch starts.

Washington (-2) at Philadelphia | over/under 47

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 22, Washington 20

The Bets: Under (57) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Jordan Reed’s status is crucial to making any kind of decision on this game. And it sounds like we may not have a definitive answer until Sunday morning.

I’m teasing the up the under, but not until I get confirmation that Reed is out. If he plays, I’ll probably stay away from this game entirely.

Did you know only 3 of Philly’s 12 opponents this year currently have a record below .500? Starting in week 3, they faced 9 straight teams that currently have a record of .500 or better.

Arizona (-2) at Miami | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 26, Arizona 20

The Bets: Miami (+12) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Miami (+2)

In what world should the Cardinals be favored on the road against anyone? They’re 1-4 on the road with their 1 win coming in San Francisco.

I have no additional thoughts about this game. I’m slightly nervous to bet the Dolphins even though I think they’ll win because we could be seeing the start of a classic Miami nosedive to end the season.

Minnesota (-3.5) at Jacksonville | over/under 39

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Minnesota 13, Jacksonville 10

The Bets: Under (39) / Under (49) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Holy shit is this gonna be a bad game or what??

No exaggeration, I think a 13-10 win for one of these teams is being optimistic about the scoring. Hence, the under & teased under are my favorite bets in week 14.

Houston at Indianapolis (-6.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 29, Houston 21

The Bets: Indianapolis (+3.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Indy needs this slightly more than Houston. They already lost to the Texans, and they also have a much harder final three games than the Texans (Colts are at Minnesota & Oakland before finishing at home against the Jaguars, while Houston plays Jacksonville & Cincy at home before a road finish in Tennessee).

This is probably a discussion for another day, but does Bill O’Brien deserve to be fired regardless of this final month of 2016? He personally picked Brock Osweiler and added Lamar Miller at running back, both to complement their star receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. And yet there they sit, 28th overall in points per game and 31st in FootballOutsiders’ offensive efficiency ranks.

With Jonathan Joseph out for the Texans, it gets even more unlikely that they hold Indy’s offense in check.

San Diego at Carolina (-1.5) | over/under 49

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 24, Carolina 19

The Bets: San Diego (+1.5) / San Diego (+11.5) in a 3-way tease / Under (59) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with San Diego (+1.5)

Even taking into account San Diego flying across the country and playing in relatively cool weather…even including the (unlikely) chance that Luke Kuechly suits up for this game…I just don’t see a path to the Panthers winning this game. Carolina is really, really bad. Simple as that.

And with the Chargers having a sneaky solid defense, and their offense playing lower-scoring football on the road, the under feels like a great pick here.

Cincinnati (-5.5) at Cleveland | over/under 42.5

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 23, Cincinnati 20 (in OT)

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I’m tempted to do zero research on this game and pick the Browns to win outright because:

  1. When A.J. Green went down for the year and the already-struggling Bengals lost their best player, this became the game that the Browns would most likely win.
  2. If Robert Griffin is the starting QB, the universe will make sure that he captures the city of Cleveland’s heart with a stunning upset against their in-state rival, which will cause the Browns to try to make him their starter again next year and pass up on the best QB in the draft.
  3. Hue Jackson is facing his former team and it would just make sense for Marvin Lewis to lose to an 0-12 team with his former offensive coordinator as the opposing head coach.
  4. By no statistical measure should the Browns win this game, and it feels like we’re due for this upset.

So let’s go with that. The Browns finally get a win (and of course put the #1 draft pick in jeopardy).

Chicago at Detroit (-8) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Detroit 23, Chicago 17

The Bets: Detroit (+2) in a 3-way tease / Under (53.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Bears are 0-6 on the road and the only time they exceeded 17 points was at Indy in week 5. Detroit is a much lower scoring team than you think, even at home. The right play is the under.

The Lions had 11 straight games before last week that were decided by 1 score or less. Though I’m confident they’ll win, I think we’ll be back to a close game for them.

NY Jets at San Francisco (-3) | over/under 44

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 27, San Francisco 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

If we assume neither team can effectively throw the ball (a completely fair assumption), then the difference-maker in this game should be the Jets’ #2 ranked defense. Both teams have solid run games, but the 49ers have the worst run defense in the league. That’s a glaring difference between two crappy teams.

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-3) | over/under 51.5

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 27, New Orleans 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

This is what we’ve been waiting for. Earlier in the year, most games involving NFC South teams were obvious over bets. Especially so when two of them were playing each other…Except that the Saints have trouble scoring on the road and the Bucs have played very solid defense lately.

Assuming the Bucs don’t have a defensive meltdown like earlier in the season when they gave up 37 to the Rams and 27 to the Broncos (both at home), they should at least win.

Atlanta (-6.5) at Los Angeles | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 28, Los Angeles 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Atlanta (-6)

This is a matchup between the best offense in the league and the worst offense in the league.

Even though the Rams have a decent defense, the Falcons have played fine on offense in road games against better defenses like the Broncos (23 points), Seahawks (24 points) and Bucs (43 points).

Since I feel like I’m getting burned by good teams on the road laying about a touchdown, I’m not putting actual money on the Falcons.

Seattle (-3) at Green Bay | over/under 46

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 20, Seattle 19

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

This marquee NFC matchup is really slanted in the Packers’ favor considering they’re at home in freezing weather and Seattle has to play its first full game without Earl Thomas.

The Seahawks’ offense has been nonexistent on the road with the exception of 2 games, and the cold weather isn’t going to help. Somehow I think Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will have good enough performances to barely win this.

Dallas (-4) at NY Giants | over/under 47.5

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Dallas 27, NY Giants 26

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Nice game featuring the Cowboys and the only team they’ve lost to this year. I’m rooting hard for the Giants just because I want to hear an announcer during the playoffs provide us with the screwed up logic that Dallas will beat the Giants because it’s “really hard to beat the same team three times in a season.”

I think this game will play out similar to last week’s Cowboys/Vikings game with the Giants covering but barely coming up short for the win.

This time I won’t be dumb enough to take the underdog moneyline like I did last week.

Baltimore at New England (-7) | over/under 45

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 26, Baltimore 17

The Bets: Under (55) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with New England (-7)

Fuck the fucking Ravens.

Also, I’m pretty sure this game goes under.

Here are the season-long stats that I’m tracking:

  • Favorites are 84-99-9 against the spread through 13 weeks (including 11-4 in week 13)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 97 times, Under 92 times, ad Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 101-85-6 against the spread

Enjoy week 14.

Week 9 NFL Picks & Trying to Find the Good Bets

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Welcome to week 9, where the toll of a half season of games isn’t only being felt on the fantasy front. Betting options are looking more & more limited every week, and injuries are playing a major role.

For example, here are the teams who would normally be in reliable betting/teasing situations in week 9 but aren’t:

  • Kansas City: Hosting the horrible Jaguars but playing without Alex Smith and possibly Spencer Ware
  • Pittsburgh: Facing the Ravens in Baltimore but either without Ben Roethlisberger or a “first game back from injury” version of the Steelers quarterback
  • Atlanta: On the road against the Bucs but playing on Thursday and dealing with a banged up Julio Jones
  • Dallas: Big favorite at Cleveland but suffered two major injuries in their secondary last Sunday night
  • Minnesota: Playing the Lions at home but dealing with the Norv Turner resignation (and let’s face it, the Vikings are just sketchy right now)

With the Patriots on a bye, the Broncos going on the road against the formidable Raiders, and the Seahawks & Packers being completely untrustworthy, where the hell are we supposed to put our money in week 9? (Don’t worry. I’ll find plenty of ways to talk myself into lots of bets by the end of this post.)

Before we dive into the games, I just assume everyone wants to know my initial reaction and overall thoughts on the Jamie Collins trade. So here you go:

  • I found out about the Collins trade in real time as I had just refreshed twitter and saw Adam Schefter’s original tweet about it. My first serious thought was: I’m so out of the loop. We’re doing April Fool’s jokes on Halloween now. That’s a thing?
  • I’ll continue to subscribe to “In Belichick We Trust” as my overall motto for living, but even the biggest Belichick backer has to admit this was a particularly weird trade, what with the timing of it, the fact that they’re not getting a significantly better asset in return than if they had just let him walk in free agency at the end of the year, the overall mediocrity of the defense through eight games…just weird.
  • Gotta feel a little bad for Elandon Roberts, the previously unknown Patriots linebacker who will now be constantly scrutinized by the same fanbase that just spent 18 months learning the minutiae of the ideal gas law. They’re gonna pick him apart when the defense isn’t perfect.
  • Considering this team went 3-1 without Brady, I can’t imagine we’ll see a noticeable dip in the Patriots’ overall performance and record for the rest of the regular season. But all the articles blaming Belichick will be queued up in January, ready to be published if the Pats lose in the postseason.

And with that, let’s dive into the week 9 picks.

Teams on Bye: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington

Atlanta (-4) at Tampa Bay | over/under 51

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 29, Tampa Bay 23

The Bets: Atlanta (+6) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Atlanta (-4)

My normal number crunching process has this as a relatively close game, with the Falcons just barely covering. If the Thursday night ugliness factor comes into play, it’ll almost certainly be in the form of the Bucs getting destroyed.

Why? Well first of all, they’re not a very good team. But more importantly, the Bucs just played an extra quarter of football on Sunday, losing to the Raiders in OT. We saw the effects of a long OT when Seattle & Arizona both struggled on the road in week 8. Now Tampa has to play on Thursday and should be significantly more tired than the Falcons.

Detroit at Minnesota (-6) | over/under 41

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 27, Detroit 15

The Bets: Minnesota (pick or +4) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

I’m hoping we’re going to see a pissed off Minnesota team with a delirious home crowd that knows an 8-0 home record is possible and could be needed to get this team into the playoffs. Despite the offensive line struggles that the Vikings have dealt with the past two weeks, I think this is simply a case of the Vikings being a great home team and only a mediocre road team.

And if any defense is going to be just what the doctor ordered for Sam Bradford and this Vikings offense, it’s Detroit’s 32nd ranked pass defense.

Philadelphia at NY Giants (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: NY Giants 21, Philadelphia 20

The Bets: Under (53) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

With the Giants, Eagles and Redskins having practically identical records (4-3 for all of them, but with a tie added on for Washington), I think the only thing that’s certain is that the Giants are the worst of those three teams. But they are pretty tightly bunched together.

If the Eagles play like they did in Dallas on Sunday night, they should either win this game or make it extremely close. I’m definitely concerned that they’re on the back end of two straight divisional road games and are facing a rested Giants team.

I love teasing the under in this game because you have the #1 defense in football (Philly) facing the #10 defense (Giants), and only once in all the games these teams have played this year has the total gone over 53. This will be low scoring. Guarantee it.

NY Jets at Miami (-3.5) | over/under 44

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 27, NY Jets 21

The Bets: Over (34) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

I actually think Miami wins this game by a touchdown. The Dolphins are 3-1 at home and put up almost 30 points in back to back weeks on Pittsburgh & Buffalo. The Jets defense is worse than those teams.

Did you know Miami home games are averaging about 50 points per game this year? And the total is only 44 this week? Yes, I’m into the teased over. And remember, this Jets defense is really really bad.

Jacksonville at Kansas City (-7.5) | over/under 44

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 26, Jacksonville 16

The Bets: Kansas City (+2.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Jaguars are a barely breathing corpse at this point. And the Chiefs are looking like one of the best teams in the AFC, if not all of football. So of course this was setting up as an awesome play on the Chiefs…and then Alex Smith got concussed…or not concussed…or kinda concussed. Either way, he’s out for this game. Nick Foles takes over at QB, and he’ll probably be missing Spence Ware, easily the most valuable player on KC’s offense through eight weeks.

I’m still picking the Chiefs because my Teasy Money Podcast co-host reminded me 100 times this week, “Blake Bortles on the road. Blake Bortles on the road. Blake Bortles on the road.”

But I’m not putting a ton of confidence in them to cover.

Dallas (-7.5) at Cleveland | over/under 48.5

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 30, Cleveland 17

The Bets: Dallas (-1.5 or +2.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Dallas (-7.5)

I think the Cowboys win this game by about 20. They’re 3-0 on the road this year, and they’re always good on the road. The numbers say Cleveland should put up 17-20 points, but I think that’s a best case scenario. I could see the Cowboys dominating every aspect of this game and minimizing the possessions the Browns get. I always want to proceed with caution when it comes to heavy road favorites, but this is just a game I couldn’t pass up. I’m all in on Dallas.

Pittsburgh (-1.5) at Baltimore | over/under 43

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 23, Pittsburgh 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I’m staying away from any bets on this game for the obvious reason that Ben Roethlisberger is likely to be back in the starting lineup, but we just don’t know how effective he’ll be. Independent of his status, don’t forget that the Steelers are a much worse team on the road than at home (they got smoked earlier this year at Philly and at Miami with a healthy Roethlisberger).

I think this game will be a throwback to the low scoring ugly affairs we’re used to between these AFC North rivals. And if the Ravens can somehow win, they’ll be in sole possession of 1st place in the division.

New Orleans (-4.5) at San Francisco | over/under 53

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: New Orleans 28, San Francisco 26

The Bets: Over (43) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with San Francisco (+4.5)

This line opened with the Saints a 3-point favorite, and I’m glad to see everyone’s betting on them because I’ve liked the Niners from the moment I first looked at this matchup.

Basically, I expect us to see absolutely no defense in this game and both offenses just marching up & down the field trying to match points. So yes, I love the over in this game more than just about anything in week 9. But I think the Niners are getting 1.5 free points on the spread and I’ll gladly take advantage of that.

Carolina (-3) at Los Angeles | over/under 44.

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 24, Los Angeles 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I stared at this line with confusion for a while because initially I thought LA would be about a 1-point favorite. I assumed these teams were pretty equal. But my research leads me to believe the Panthers should probably win by 3 or 4, which makes it a stayaway.

Even Carolina being 0-3 on the road doesn’t help me pick LA because it’s cancelled out by the fact that Cam Newton is likely to get a couple extra calls in his favor this week (after making a huge deal out of getting hit too often in the head and knees).

Indianapolis at Green Bay (-7.5) | over/under 54

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 31, Indianapolis 23

The Bets: Green Bay (+2.5) in a 3-way tease / Over (44) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Green Bay’s loss at Atlanta last week kept the attention on their mediocre record, but the Packers have quietly put up 59 points in their last two games, both against teams with at least marginally better defenses than Indy’s. I’m trying to look at the process for the Packers rather than just the results. And it seems like they’re just about back on track.

It should be easy to choose the Packers in a tease, but there’s slight hesitation because of the Andrew Luck late game heroics potential. I probably won’t be putting any confidence behind the Packers pick, but the teased over seems like a must-bet.

Tennessee at San Diego (-5) | over/under 47

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: San Diego 27, Tennessee 24

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

How backwards are these teams? Tennessee has the better ranked offense (9th in DVOA compared to San Diego at 16th), and the Chargers have the better defense (7th vs 22nd for the Titans).

In fact, the Titans are averaging 28 points per game in their last 5 games, which include 2 road games. They’re also 2-1 on the road this year. I gotta go Titans to keep it close with the upside being that they could pull off the upset. Remember, the Chargers will either be up big and let the lead slip away, or they’ll fall behind early and have to rally. But this game will be close either way.

Denver at Oakland (pick) | over/under 44

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 24, Oakland 23

The Bets: Over (34) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Denver (pick)

I think I nailed this game.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Broncos are only projected for 22 points. At home, the Raiders have given up 35, 31 and 26 points. And the Broncos aren’t a terrible offensive team. They should get plenty of scoring opportunities.

And since the Raiders are so solid on offense, I think Denver can put up a good defensive showing and still give up three touchdowns. So yes, I love the over, especially teased of course.

I’m expecting we’ll see in this game that Oakland has indeed gotten a little lucky with it’s 6-2 start and constant winning of close games.

Buffalo at Seattle (-7) | over/under 44

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Seattle 23, Buffalo 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (+7)

Seattle is a somewhat obvious tease here, but….they are so sketchy right now. I have no idea why the Seahawks are such heavy favorites in this game. If you give them four points for their home field advantage, we’re saying they’re three points better than the Bills on a neutral field? I think it’s closer to a pick.

Mostly I think you should continue to stay away from any bet involving the Seahawks until we have a better understanding of what kind of team they’ll be the rest of the year.

Here are the season-long stats I’m tracking:

  • Favorites are 49-66-5 against the spread through 8 weeks (including a 7-4-2 record in week 8)
  • The point total has landed on Over 64 times, Under 54 times, and Pushed 2 times
  • I’m 63-53-3 against the spread

Enjoy week 9.

Week 6 NFL Picks & Finding the Great Games

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I famously wrote back in early September how I’ve started to view the NFL as nothing more than my personal piggy bank. How the enjoyment I get out of watching football these days is almost entirely due to winning money on bets, in Pick ‘Em leagues or via fantasy leagues. How the mismanagement of the NFL and the continually questionable behaviors of many of its employees has taken the shine off the pure football watching.

But sometimes the football & scheduling gods shine down upon us and we get a truly intriguing weekend of games.

Welcome to week 6, where I believe we have four great matchups and three above average ones.

The above average ones, in my opinion, are:

  • Baltimore (3-2) at NY Giants (2-3) – Why is this game interesting? Because both teams expect to be competing for their respective division titles, and after solid starts (3-0 for the Ravens and 2-0 for the Giants), both come into this game on losing streaks and in danger of falling too far behind their division leaders. And because let’s just be honest and admit that Odell Beckham Jr. is always intriguing because he’s either going to make some ridiculous catches or have a complete meltdown. Either way it’s Can’t Miss TV.
  • Carolina (1-4) at New Orleans (1-3) – A couple of 1-win teams…why the hell would this be on my list? Because we’re all still wondering if the Panthers can turn things around, and this is truly their last stand. If they fall to 1-5 at the hands of the worst team in their division, it’s over. And because any game in the Superdome is immediately intriguing because 60 points will be scored one way or another.
  • Indianapolis (2-3) at Houston (3-2) – OK, this one probably won’t be very interesting from an aesthetic standpoint. It might actually cause you to go temporarily blind if you stare at this game for too long. But it’s interesting because 1st place in the AFC South is on the line, and when the winner of this division isn’t likely to top 8 wins, every divisional game is crucial.

And the four great matchups are:

  • Kansas City (2-2) at Oakland (4-1) – Obviously this is an AFC West matchup…a division that’s still wide open among the three good teams. Kansas City has gotten off to their usual slow start, and it might be too early to call this a must-win, but they fall behind Oakland by three games if they lose. And the Raiders are simply so much fun to watch right now. Everyone’s hyping this up as Oakland’s first real test, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond.
  • Philadelphia (3-1) at Washington (3-2) – The NFC East looks ultra competitive again this year, and the Redskins were the first team in that division who was written off after an 0-2 start. But they have a chance to make a big statement here by giving the Eagles their second straight loss. And if the Cowboys lose in Green Bay, the Redskins move into a virtual tie for 1st in the East. Or Philly could reestablish that they’re still the best bet in that division.
  • Dallas (4-1) at Green Bay (3-1) – Speaking of the Cowboys, they finally get to see how they stack up against one of the NFC’s contenders. The Packers need this game badly to stay on the heels of Minnesota, and the Cowboys are trying to stay ahead of the entire NFC East. And if these teams are both as good as they’ve looked through five weeks, they could also be determining playoff seeding  in this game. This is about as big as it gets for a week 6 game.
  • Atlanta (4-1) at Seattle (3-1) – And this final awesome NFC matchup looks similar to Dallas/Green Bay, but the difference is neither of these teams is in danger of falling out of 1st place with a loss. The stakes aren’t quite as high, but we could also be talking about this game in January when we see how the NFC playoff seeding shakes out. If Atlanta puts up the same record as the Seahawks, but they end up having to travel to Seattle for a playoff game because they lost in week 6, that’s going to be a rough ending to their season. So this one is still important for the hierarchy of the conference.

So there you have it. Some truly intriguing games from a pure spectator standpoint. But let’s move on to the money making.

Here are the week 6 picks.

Teams on Bye: Minnesota, Tampa Bay

Denver (-3.5) at San Diego | over/under 44.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: Denver 27, San Diego 24

The Bets: Over (34.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

So if you think the score of a game is likely to come in very close to the spread, make sure to check your pick ‘em league or the SuperContest and see if there’s a middle to be had. For example, last week my pick ‘em leagues on CBSsports.com and the SuperContest had the Sunday night game as Green Bay -6.5 vs the Giants, but on my betting website it was Green Bay -7.5. So I picked the Packers to cover in those leagues, but I bet the Giants on my website, and I hit the middle and won everything when the Giants lost by exactly 7.

My point is: I like the Chargers at +3.5, but I like the Broncos at -2.5. So I’ll be making bets and picks on a line-by-line basis for this one, and ultimately will hope the Broncos win by 3.

San Francisco at Buffalo (-8) | over/under 44

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 29, San Francisco 20

The Bets: Buffalo (+2) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Remembering what David Johnson did to the 49ers last Thursday, it seems that a major San Francisco defensive weakness pairs nicely with Buffalo’s favorite thing to do on offense. I could see this getting out of hand somewhat quickly, and to me it doesn’t really matter that Colin Kaepernick is starting at QB for the Niners. In fact, that could very well help the Bills’ cause. Upon my initial review of the week 6 lines, nothing jumped out at me more quickly than getting the Bills into a two or three team teaser.

Philadelphia (-3) at Washington | over/under 45

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 24, Washington 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I hate that this game hinges entirely on the health of Jordan Reed, and we probably won’t have clarity on his playing status until Saturday (long after this column is posted, picks are due, etc).

Before I knew he was in the concussion protocol, my assessment of these NFC East rivals was that the Eagles should win this game by exactly two points. But since teams seem to be erring on the side of caution with injuries now, I bet the Skins hold their star tight end out, and that means the Eagles cover the spread. Too bad for Washington as this could have been a huge statement game for them.

Also, don’t go thinking this is the easy over that it looks like. Both teams have a worse run defense than pass defense, and I don’t think the Eagles are the 30-pt juggernaut that they looked like vs Cleveland and Pittsburgh earlier this year. I think they’re more like the 23-26 points per game team that they were last Sunday in Detroit.

Cleveland at Tennessee (-7) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Tennessee 20, Cleveland 15

The Bets: Under (43.5) / Under (53.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Serious question: Do you think the Browns would be competitive in the AFC South this year? I do. And that tells you everything you need to know about the AFC South.

While you couldn’t force me to put money on either team in this game, I do think the line is too high. It’s an overreaction because everyone saw the Browns lose by 20 to the Patriots while suffering another quarterback injury. But the Titans, by rule, don’t blow out any teams this side of the Dolphins.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Vegas is projecting Tennessee for 25 points and that’s why I like the under, especially teased.

Baltimore at NY Giants (-3) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: NY Giants 21, Baltimore 20

The Bets: Under (54.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

So now the Giants, who were talked up in a big way after their 2-0 start, are in danger of falling to 2-4 and disappointing even the most tepid expectations from their fanbase. I kinda like them in this desperation mode, and I don’t think Baltimore’s offense can take advantage of the Giants’ suspect pass defense. Should be a close, ugly, low-scoring game…and the teased under is one of my favorite bets of the week.

Carolina (-3) at New Orleans | over/under 53.5

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 29, Carolina 26

The Bets: Over (43.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with New Orleans (+3)

If football made sense, there’s no way you’d ever take the Panthers giving a field goal on the road, on a short week, with the Saints coming off a bye, and with Carolina looking piss poor all season but especially at home vs Tampa on Monday night (yes, I know Cam Newton was out, but still).

You know what? Sometimes football does make sense, and I hope this is one of those times. If Drew Brees can just avoid becoming a turnover machine in the 4th quarter, the Saints should be able to match points with Carolina. Give me the home underdog, and of course, since it’s a game in the Superdome, give me the over.

Jacksonville at Chicago (-3) | over/under 46

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 23, Chicago 20

The Bets: Under (56) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Tough couple of teams to expect the expected to happen.

This is strange: The Bears are projected to put up 25 points according to the spread and total, but they’re averaging just 17 points per game. How are they supposed to put up eight more points than usual when they’re facing the 10th best defense in the league? (according to FootballOutsiders)

With Hoyer the Bears are up to 18 points per game over their last three games…big jump in production there.

I still think the Jaguars have enough talent to get to six wins even if they have a bad coach, a bad QB and some bad luck. The Bears are looking more like a three-win team.

Los Angeles at Detroit (-3) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 23, Los Angeles 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I can’t begin to tell you how little interest I have in watching this game, let alone making predictions for it. I’m going with Detroit, just barely, because Trumaine Johnson is out with an injury for the Rams, and he’s a major piece in their secondary. And also because Jeff Fisher must be dying to get back to a comfortable 3-3 record.

Pittsburgh (-8.5) at Miami | over/under 48

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Pittsburgh 26, Miami 21

The Bets: Pittsburgh (-2.5 or +1.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

It took some time to figure this out last year too…The Steelers offense is a shell of itself on the road. But you gotta keep in mind that this Miami team just lost by 13 to the Titans, in Miami. Their only other home game so far was the ridiculously lucky overtime win against the Browns. So the Steelers teased is still a lock.

Looking back on the games from last year that Ben Roethlisberger was healthy for, the Steelers scored just under 26 points per game on the road, which is a touchdown lower than their 33 points per game average at home.

The Steelers are worse on pass defense than run defense, so this game probably falls on Ryan Tannehill’s sagging shoulders…good luck with that.

My one teeny tiny concern for Pittsburgh: Could this be a trap game where they’re looking ahead to a HUGE showdown against the Patriots next week?

Cincinnati at New England (-9.5) | over/under 47

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 34, Cincinnati 23

The Bets: New England (+0.5) in a 3-way tease / Over 47 / Over 37 in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with New England (-9.5)

I think we have a rare opportunity to capitalize on the Patriots while they’re at nearly full health. This team is pretty much unstoppable as long as they have the full arsenal of offensive skill position players along with a really solid offensive line. But when injuries come, that’s when winning ugly will be back in play. For now, ride them at home against a mediocre team (Tom Brady’s first game back home). And jump on it now before public pushes it up beyond 10.

As for the bets I listed, remember that the Patriots are 28-3 in their last 31 home games when Brady plays. They will at least win this game outright. And New England averages over 30 points per game at home every single year. If you’re worried that the Bengals’ offense may not show up, put the over into a 3-way teaser. But I think you can confidently expect over 50 points in this game.

Kansas City at Oakland (-1) | over/under 47

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 27, Kansas City 20

The Bets: Oakland (-1) / Oakland (+9) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Oakland (-1)

I think this line is too low. The Chiefs’ 2-2 start is particularly unimpressive. An overtime win at home against San Diego and a beat down of the Jets at home when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions (somehow the Chiefs only put up 24 points in a game where the opponent gave them the ball six extra times). An ugly loss at Houston that looks worse now, and not showing up in Pittsburgh when the Steelers pummeled them.

The Chiefs come into this game with a good defense and a rested team after last week’s bye. So I’m not saying this will be the easiest game for the Raiders. And in fact, Oakland has played noticeably worse against the two good defenses they’ve faced this year—Tennessee and Baltimore—compared to their games against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, etc.

But as I crunched the numbers, I was baffled at how the Chiefs are supposed to keep up with the Raiders. Even if KC puts on a solid defensive performance, I still see Oakland getting to 24-27 points, and the problem with the Chiefs is that their offense sucks. I can’t picture their current offense getting past 20.

Atlanta at Seattle (-6.5) | over/under 46

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 28, Atlanta 20

The Bets: Seattle (-0.5 or +3.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Seattle (-6.5)

I really don’t see the Falcons as a 5-1 team and the class of the NFC, and I highly recommend that if you don’t think Atlanta can win outright in this one, you go with Seattle (or stay away entirely).

Atlanta was consistently dropping 35+ points on teams to start the year, right up until they faced a good defense for the first time. That number dropped to 23 points last week in a big win for the Falcons in Denver. Obviously, Seattle’s defense is much more in line with the Broncos than the Bucs/Raiders/Saints/Panthers quartet that Atlanta got to feast on in the first month of the season. And sure, Atlanta’s defense looked real good for a change against Denver, but remember they were facing Paxton Lynch in his first start, and I have to imagine a lot of the offensive problems for Denver stemmed from that.

Seattle, meanwhile, seemed to be finding its offensive groove before last week’s bye, putting up 37 points on San Francisco at home in week 3 before adding 27 against the Jets in New York. I think we essentially see Seattle throw its hat into the ring this weekend as the only other NFC team on Minnesota’s level.

Dallas at Green Bay (-4.5) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score: Green Bay 28, Dallas 20

The Bets: Green Bay ( Pick or +5.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Green Bay (-4.5)

The Cowboys are so incredibly predictable on offense. Using FootballOutsiders’ defensive DVOA rankings, all five defenses the Cowboys have faced fall between the 16th best defense and the 23rd best defense. And they have scored 19, 24, 31, 28 and 27 points in their five games. They haven’t had any huge games, and they haven’t had any no-shows. Since Green Bay is clearly the best defense the Cowboys will have faced after this week, I’m pegging them for right around 20 points.

The Packers get the chance to take down NFC East teams in back to back weeks. Dallas’ problem is going to be Green Bay’s awesome run defense. The Packers haven’t allowed an opponent to rush for more than 50 yards in a game yet. So this one really is all on Dak Prescott (or the Cowboys could run on the Packers all day long and we’ll know that the O-line / Zeke Elliott combination is truly unstoppable). Similar to my rationale with Atlanta, I don’t see the Cowboys as a 5-1 team, and I think Dallas loses similar to how the Giants lost in Lambeau this past Sunday night.

Indianapolis at Houston (-3) | over/under 48.5

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 23, Houston 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Part of the difficulty with this game is that the Colts have only played one true road game so far, a 34-20 loss at Denver. We don’t know how much worse they are on the road versus at home.

Either way, this game is a complete stayaway for me. I’m picking the Colts because there’s a chance Houston’s last-ranked offense is the worst unit in all of football, and because it would make sense that this whole division basically evens out after this week.

NY Jets at Arizona (-7.5) | over/under 47

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 27, NY Jets 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

The once mighty defense of the Jets has fallen all the way to 30th in the league. While their run defense continues to be great (3rd best in the NFL), their pass defense is the worst in the league.

The Cardinals finally looked good last week because David Johnson took over the offense and bludgeoned San Francisco up and down the field. But what if he can’t do that effectively against the Jets? Are we super comfortable with Carson Palmer at this point, even if it’s against the worst pass defense on the planet?

I’m reluctantly taking the Cardinals because Ryan Fitzpatrick just played an interception-free game last week, he won’t do it again, and Arizona’s ball-hawking secondary will make him pay.

Here are the season-long stats I’m tracking:

  • Favorites are 31-45-1 against the spread
  • The point total has landed on Over 40 times, Under 35 times and Pushed 2 times
  • I’m 40-37 against the spread

Enjoy week 6.

Week 4 NFL Picks & My Gambling Rock Bottom

steelers-eagles

Over the course of an entire NFL season, even us professional bettors are due for a horrible week. There’s just no getting around the fact that in a 21 week sample size where just 267 games are played, there are bound to be some random, unexpected results.

But just like a 1-loss college football team can be either helped or hurt by when that loss takes place, so too does the timing of the rock bottom week for the professional gambler have a major effect on the overall success of the season.

Last year my gambling partner & I didn’t have our “week from hell” until late December. That meant not only did we have a bankroll to bounce back from such a shitty week, but we already had a successful formula in place for knowing which teams and matchups would likely produce the most profit for us. It was extremely easy to put that awful week behind us and continue on.

Unfortunately we just endured our 2016 rock bottom last weekend. At least I hope it was our rock bottom. I can’t imagine continuing to live if we have an even worse week on the horizon.

Since this huge letdown happened in week 3–while we were still figuring out how good & bad the various NFL teams are this year, along with their styles of play–it’s a little bit of a problem knowing if our preseason thoughts are still valid, how much stock we should put into these first few weeks, and if we were just plain lucky in 2015.

Thanks to the Steelers & Cardinals, the Teasy Money crew has been shaken to its core.

But then I take a step back and notice I’m still in first place in one of my Pick ‘Em leagues. And my against the spread record for the year is a decent 26-22. And even the bet recommendations I’ve given you in this space for the past three weeks have had more hits than misses. So it’s not all gloom & doom. I don’t think we just got lucky last year. I think week 3 will go down as one of the toughest weeks for gamblers in 2016 and we just gotta roll with the punch.

So as I keep saying in writing and on our Teasy Money podcast, I remain undeterred. Trust the process and the rest will work out.

It’s onto the week 4 picks.

Miami at Cincinnati -8 | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Cincinnati 23, Miami 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I highly recommend you stay away from this game. First of all, it’s a Thursday night game. Usually that’s a good enough reason to hang onto your money until Sunday.

But it’s also very tough to get a read on either of these teams. While both could easily be 0-3 (Cincy’s one win was by 1 point against the Jets in week 1. Miami’s win was in overtime against Cleveland last weekend), they’ve each had to face a brutal opening schedule. The Bengals were at the Jets and at Pittsburgh before the week 3 home game against Denver. Miami started the year at Seattle and at New England.

Until Tyler Eifert returns and we see what this fully healthy Bengals offense looks like, I won’t be picking them to cover a full touchdown or more, regardless of who they’re playing. And be careful betting against Miami this year. They seem like the team that loses 11 games but never by more than a touchdown.

Indianapolis (-3) vs Jacksonville | over/under 49 (IN LONDON)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 29, Indianapolis 23

The Bets: Over (43) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Jacksonville (+3)

If only the Colts had managed to lose in week 3 against San Diego, we’d be able to call this the “loser leaves its newly-fired coach in London” game. Initially I wanted to predict that the Colts would extinguish what little hope Jacksonville has left for the season, and Gus Bradley would indeed get fired during the team’s bye week. But the numbers just aren’t there to back up such a claim. Indy’s defense is so bad that I feel like this is the game that gets the Jags back on track, offensively speaking.

Buffalo at New England (-6) | No current over/under

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 33, Buffalo 17

The Bets: New England (PICK) in a 2-way tease

Supercontest: No

There really is a first time for everything, huh? Never in my five years of doing this have I been unable to find a game total this late into the week. But it’s also understandable because there’s a gigantic gap between what we should expect out of New England’s offense if Jimmy Garoppolo starts at QB compared to another start by Jacoby Brissett.

What I love about the Patriots here is that they don’t play into any of the ways Buffalo has had success this season. All three of Buffalo’s offensive touchdowns last week against Arizona came on drives where they got to start around midfield. The Patriots almost never give a team the ball in such good position. Two weeks ago against the Jets, two of Buffalo’s three offensive touchdowns came on ridiculous 70+ yard touchdown passes. The Patriots almost never get burned by the long plays. And in those two games, the Bills’ defense scored a couple times on fumble recoveries or interceptions. Guess what? The Patriots don’t turn the ball over.

So good luck to sophomoric prankster Rex Ryan and his crew of shitty football players in trying to keep up with the Patriots on Sunday. My score prediction is based on Garoppolo playing. If Brissett plays instead, maybe the Patriots score three less points.

Tennessee at Houston (-5.5) | over/under 41

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 23, Tennessee 14

The Bets: Houston (-5.5) straight up, Houston (+0.5) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Houston (-5.5)

The Titans are averaging 14 points per game. Though they faced the Vikings in week 1 (one of the best defenses in football), their other two games were against Detroit (currently 31st in FootballOutsiders’ defensive DVOA rankings) and Oakland (29th in defensive DVOA).

They’re going into Houston and playing the 8th best defense this weekend. I feel like we’ll see an almost identical game as when Chicago traveled to Houston in week 1 so that’s why I’m predicting that exact same score.

And don’t worry about J.J. Watt being out. He was essentially invisible these first three weeks so if anything, the Texans might get a boost by having a healthy body take over his spot.

Oh, and the Texans are on extra rest. Bet this game confidently.

Cleveland at Washington (-8) | over/under 46

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Washington 31, Cleveland 26

The Bets: Over (46), Over (40) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: No

I suspect lots of money has come in on the Browns earlier this week because this line opened at Washington -10. I would have LOVED to get Cleveland with that spread. I still think the line is too high. I guessed it would be Washington -6. I think I’ll stay away from the spread, but where I’m loving a bet here is on the over!

Certainly the Browns have been nothing to write home about offensively this year (averaging 15.7 points per game on offense), but all three of the Redskins’ games have gone over the point total. And their defense is bad enough to make me think Cleveland won’t pull a “Texans at Patriots” in this one. Washington’s defense has given up 11 touchdowns in three games, and only one of them was of the cheap variety (a short field that the Giants scored on to open the game last week).

Seattle (-2.5) at NY Jets | over/under 40.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 23, Seattle 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Even though the Jets’ schedule is famously impossible this year, I think they actually get a little bit of a break by playing Seattle early in the season. If this was the Seahawks of weeks 10-17 from last year, I’d confidently be betting on them here. But this current installment is a lot more like their team from weeks 1-8 last year, where they either lost on the road (at St. Louis, at Green Bay, at Cincinnati) or won in unimpressive fashion (at Dallas).

So yeah, I feel like I have no choice but to pick the Jets at home, but I’m not confident enough to put money on it.

Carolina (-3) at Atlanta | over/under 50

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 27, Atlanta 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

On this week’s Teasy Money Podcast, I talked about my high level of interest in teasing the over in this game. But I’m backing away from that a little bit. Carolina’s still got a legit defense, even if it’s not as good as last year’s version, and it looks like the Atlanta receivers are pretty banged up. What I thought would be a track meet with lots of passing now looks like it could turn into two teams focused on running as much as possible.

And for as good as the Atlanta offense has been so far, they’ve gotten the luxury of facing the 21st (Tampa Bay), 29th (Oakland) and 30th (New Orleans) ranked defenses. Playing the Panthers will be a different story. No confidence on the pick or the score in this one, but I’m leaning towards Carolina.

Oakland at Baltimore (-3.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Baltimore 23, Oakland 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Go ahead and try to make sense out of this game because I can’t. Baltimore has the 5th ranked defense but the 26th ranked offense. Oakland comes into week 4 with the #1 offense in the entire league but the 29th ranked defense.

No real idea how this plays out so I’m staying away from all bets. Since the Ravens are winning ugly these days, I’m thinking they’ll win by a field goal.

Detroit (-3) at Chicago | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 24, Detroit 19

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Chicago (+3)

Detroit feels like such an obvious pick here. So obvious, in fact, that something doesn’t smell right. The Bears haven’t put up more than 17 points in a game this year, and they happen to have a pretty bad defense. Meanwhile Detroit checks in with the 3rd best offense in the league (according to FootballOutsiders). And the Bears are missing Jay Cutler and plenty of other important players. So why is this line so low? Not sure, but not betting it.

Bonus stayaway reason: EVERYONE IN YOUR PICK ‘EM LEAGUE WILL BE BACKING DETROIT. That’s normally a recipe for disaster…you know what, as I type this and realize I’m low on the five SuperContest picks I need to make, fuck it, I’ll take Chicago.

Denver (-3.5) at Tampa Bay | over/under 43

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 26, Denver 23

The Bets: Over (33) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The way I see it, the Bucs defense probably won’t play Denver much worse than Cincy did last week. And the Tampa Bay offense is dangerous enough to put up some points, especially with the Broncos on the back end of a two-game road trip. Tampa keeps this close-ish and either wins outright or covers when they’re down by 10 late and drives for a semi-meaningless touchdown.

But instead of betting on such uncertainty, I’d much rather roll with a teased over on this game. Two solid offenses, one bad defense, and one tired, road-weary defense. Get this over down to 33 and you won’t be sorry.

Los Angeles at Arizona (-8) | over/under 43

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Arizona 24, Los Angeles 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Despite the pressure I’m definitely going to get from my gambling & podcast partner to tease the Cardinals down to -2, I’m not willing to do it. The Rams get up for their division games like no other team, and Arizona is legitimately sketchy right now. I can’t imagine putting my hard-earned money on the Cardinals and having to live through three hours of their Jekyll & Hyde play. And after watching the Bills rush for 208 yards (6.5 yards per carry) on this “vaunted” Arizona defense last week, I just can’t pull the trigger on anything in this game.

I’ll gladly wait until the Cardinals get right and string together multiple games of looking good.

New Orleans at San Diego (-4) | over/under 53.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 28, New Orleans 18

The Bets: Under (53.5), Under (59.5) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: San Diego (-4)

The pick for San Diego and the under is simple if you know how the Saints perform on the road. It’s basically the exact opposite of how they play at home. Over their past nine road games, the Saints have averaged 18 points per game. If you take out road games within their division (where they generally play teams with terrible defenses), that number drops to 16 points per game. This is a large enough sample size for me. Betting the under straight up and in a teaser are must-do’s this week. And I don’t hate a bet on the Chargers at -4 (or teased to +6) either.

Dallas (-3) at San Francisco | over/under 45.5

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: San Francisco 21, Dallas 15

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with San Francisco (+3)

Similar to the Jaguars, Jets, Bears & Bucs this week, I’m taking the home underdog. Maybe I’m a sucker for thinking all five of these teams will keep it close or even win outright. In the case of the 49ers, we can’t be too down on them just yet. They dominated the Rams at home in week 1, then hit the road for impossible games at Carolina and Seattle. And they really haven’t looked as horrible as I expected.

Throw in the fact that Dez Bryant’s status is completely unknown, and that it wouldn’t be crazy for the Cowboys to overlook the 49ers as games against Cincinnati & Green Bay loom in weeks 5 & 6, and it just feels like we’re heading for an upset.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-5.5) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Pittsburgh 17, Kansas City 13

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

So I ran through this stat on this week’s podcast: Since Kansas City’s 1st half no-show against the Chargers in week 1, their defense has allowed only one touchdown in five halves of football…and that touchdown was in Houston on a 1-play, 27-yard pass by the Texans after Alex Smith fumbled and gave them the ball basically in the red zone.

That’s great for the Chiefs defense, but on the flip side, their offense has only scored one touchdown in the past two games. So what do we make of this game? Are we looking at a ridiculous defensive game where Pittsburgh wins 10-7? Actually yeah, I do expect a low scoring game with a ton of punting, running (Le’Veon Bell returns!) and sloppy play. While throwing the Steelers into a 2-way teaser looks appealing, I’m too nervous that these teams are in the same tier of the NFL contenders and either one could win.

NY Giants at Minnesota (-5.5) | over/under 43

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Minnesota 19, NY Giants 16

The Bets: Under (43), Under (49) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: No

The decent defense in this game (Giants) gets to face the decent offense, and the juggernaut defense (Vikings) gets to face the solid offense. I really can’t imagine a lot of scoring unless Eli Manning tries to one-up Ryan Fitzpatrick’s awesome interception count from week 3.

And in a game featuring two anemic offenses, it’s wise to pick the team getting a handful of points. This would be a minor shock of an upset if the Giants pull off the win, but they should be able to keep it relatively close. And if you’re seriously considering backing the Giants, I’d wait as long as possible to make the bet. It looks like the public money is already all over the Vikings, and when people are chasing their losses from Sunday, they’ll look to Minnesota to help them recoup some of it. My guess is this line goes to Minnesota -6 or 6.5 by Monday afternoon.

The under bet is one of my favorites of the week.

Here are the season-long stats I’ve been tracking:

  • Favorites are 18-29-1 against the spread (including an incredible 5-11 last week!)
  • The point total has landed on Over 25 times, Under 21 times and Pushed 2 times
  • I’m 26-22 against the spread

Enjoy week 4.

Week 3 NFL Picks & The 2 Teams Screwing Everyone

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I don’t mean to come off as a know-it-all, but I definitely know where most of us have gone wrong through the first two weeks of the NFL season, especially when it comes to picking point spread winners.

Here are the four teams from each conference that we all thought would be the best going into the season, along with their against the spread record through two weeks:

AFC

  • Pittsburgh (2-0)
  • New England (2-0)
  • Denver (2-0)
  • Cincinnati (0-2)

NFC

  • Arizona (1-1)
  • Carolina (1-1)
  • Seattle (0-2)
  • Green Bay (0-2)

Using the results of my 15-person CBS Pick ‘Em league, anyone wanna guess which two teams have screwed people over the most so far?

If you said Seattle & Green Bay…Congratulations! You’re either still feeling the sting from these teams’ terrible performances, or you know how to answer a really easy question that’s slanted towards getting a specific response.

In week 1, 13 of 15 people in my league picked Seattle to cover against the Dolphins. In week 2, all 15 of us picked them to cover against the Rams on the road (including 7 people who had Seattle as their #1 or #2 weighted game for the weekend).

For the Packers, it was 11 of 15 people backing them in week 1 when they fell just a point shy of covering in Jacksonville. And in week 2, 14 people took them on the road against the Vikings.

So while the NFL overall doesn’t feel particularly crazy or any less predictable than it’s been in years past, these two perennial Super Bowl contenders have already screwed you three or four different ways on the young season.

As you’ll see in my picks, it’s time to stay away from these teams until they show us they’re not just living on past reputation. Let’s take a look at the week 3 picks.

Houston (-1.5) at New England | over/under 40.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 20, Houston 17

The Bets: Under (50.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

Holy shit, the Patriots are underdogs at home! Can someone find out the last time that happened, not including week 17’s in years where the Patriots were already locked into their playoff seed?

It’s very, very, VERY difficult to pick against Belichick, at home, giving less than a field goal, on a short week (for the other coaching staff)…especially when they are playing just a very good team, not a great team. Don’t get me wrong, the Texans are deserving of their 2-0 record, but it’s not like they’ve looked like world beaters.

While I think I’ll have better options that don’t cause me to secretly root against my team scoring lots of points, you could talk me into the teased under. Last year with a healthy Brady & Gronk, the Patriots went on the road and beat Houston 27-6. I see a similar amount of points being scored on Thursday night.

Arizona (-4.5) at Buffalo | over/under 47

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 24, Buffalo 17

The Bets: Arizona (-4.5)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Arizona (-4.5)

I’m actually a little surprised that this line has hung tight at 4.5 all week. I really thought money would pour in on Arizona. After all, the public loves the Cardinals, especially after their week 2 demolishing of Tampa. And the public knows the Bills have looked terrible, the ownership has been meeting with players behind the coach’s back, and that they just fired their offensive coordinator after week 2.

Considering I’m into an Arizona bet, I’m glad the line hasn’t gone up, but still confused.

Oakland at Tennessee (-1) | over/under 47

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 23, Oakland 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

So the Raiders have given up 306 rushing yards on 55 carries (5.6 yards per carry) through two games. The Titans just ripped off 140 yards on 23 carries (6.1 yards per carry) in Detroit last week.

This Raiders team is plenty flawed, but it’s tough to figure out if Tennessee can really take advantage of that. The Titans went out and won their game last week, but in a more real way, the Titans watched the Lions give the game away with SEVENTEEN penalties, several of them negating scoring plays.

If you’re sane, you stay away from this game.

Washington at NY Giants (-4.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Washington

The Score: NY Giants 26, Washington 22

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

At some point I’m going to have to decide if “backing the Redskins” is a hill I’m willing to die on. But in week 3, I remain undeterred. The NFC East continues to be synonymous with mediocrity. So regardless of the 0-2 / 2-0 records at play here, the right spread is Giants -3. Gimme some more Washington and keep your snarky comments to yourselves.

Cleveland at Miami (-10) | over/under 42

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Miami 26, Cleveland 20

The Bets: Over (31.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

You couldn’t pay me enough to make a bet on this point spread. That’s right. If you gave me a free bet on either side of this–I keep the profits but take on none of the risk–I would politely decline. But c’mon, you know I’m picking against Ryan Tannehill as a gigantic favorite.

More importantly: Tease this over down to 31.5. I promise you that Miami will get to ~26 themselves. Even a Browns team starting Cody Kessler (with Charlie Whitehurst looming over everything) will probably scratch & claw its way to seven points.

Baltimore (-1) at Jacksonville | over/under 47

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 24, Jacksonville 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

So a 2-0 team that’s an annual playoff contender is only favored by 1 against an 0-2 team that’s perennially at the bottom of the league standings? Would that be because the Ravens are winning in really ugly fashion (which is almost always their recipe for success) while the public still has a half-chub for the Jaguars? Cool. I’ll take Baltimore.

Detroit at Green Bay (-8) | over/under 48

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Green Bay 25, Detroit 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Detroit (+8)

I definitely want to pick against Green Bay because I don’t think they can beat many teams by eight points right now, but I have to at least pause and consider the fact that the Packers haven’t played a home game yet. That could cure some of the offensive problems.

In 2015, this would have been a safe spot to tease Green Bay down to -2 and pre-spend the winnings, but they’re sketchy as hell right now. I’ll stay away from a betting standpoint, and I’ll certainly be prepared to hate the Lions after they screw up this pick.

Denver at Cincinnati (-3.5) | over/under 41

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 24, Denver 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Cincinnati (-3.5)

The Broncos have to take their show on the road for the first time this season, meaning at least a slightly worse defense, Trevor Siemian dealing with crowd noise, and maybe the refs don’t make 100% of the favorable calls go in Denver’s favor.

I loved Cincy earlier in the week when it was -3, but the extra half point is terrifying. The Bengals need this game so much more than the Broncos (if Pittsburgh moves to 3-0 and Cincy falls to 1-2, say goodbye to the division). That’s the tiebreaker for me.

Minnesota at Carolina (-7) | over/under 43

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 27, Minnesota 10

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Carolina (-7) / Carolina is my #3 Survivor option

This is crazy. If you told me four weeks ago that the Vikings would be playing in Carolina with Sam Bradford as its starting quarterback, Adrian Peterson not on the field and they lost their starting left tackle after week 2, I would tell you that Carolina should be favored by 13 and that I’d be making a sizeable wager on the Panthers.

Now, is there a chance that the Vikings are only 2-0 because they beat a terrible Titans team and an underachieving Packers team and we’re about to see them get absolutely smoked by the first good opponent they face? Yes. That could definitely happen. And in fact, I’m basing my pick on this exact scenario playing out on Sunday. 

Remember, the Vikings were only able to put up 17 points at home against Green Bay last week. They should be even worse on the road.

Los Angeles at Tampa Bay (-5.5) | over/under 42

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Tampa Bay 23, Los Angeles 19

The Bets: Under (52) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

I don’t think the Rams’ offensive woes get cured in any way this coming Sunday, but I do think their defense will make life somewhat difficult for Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ offensive line. Another game where you just throw your hands up and keep your money in your wallet.

San Francisco at Seattle (-9) | over/under 40

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Seattle 21, San Francisco 18

The Bets: Under (50) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

A sane person could talk themselves into either side of this spread. Seattle certainly hasn’t earned the respect to be backed while laying so many points. But you can also see how this could be the game that gets them on track. If they were going to shut down a team and dominate, this would be one you could picture it happening to.

Ultimately, it’s too big of a spread to take a really bad-looking Seahawks team. Last year (and even in week 1 this year), I would have been all over Seattle in a 3-way tease where they go to a +1, but I feel like I don’t even know this current installment of that obnoxious team from the Northwest.

Love me some under teased in this game though. Get on it.

NY Jets at Kansas City (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: Kansas City 24, NY Jets 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

Sorry, Jets. I’m not getting tricked into thinking what we saw against the sinking Bills is going to be a regular occurrence. I don’t think the offense does nearly as well against decent teams like the Chiefs.

San Diego at Indianapolis (-3) | over/under 52

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 29, San Diego 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

 

I had this whole paragraph ready about how I can see the Chargers winning a close game, and how incredibly embarrassing that would be for the Colts. And also how I was loving the teased over from a betting standpoint. But as I thought more & more about the Chargers and their injuries, and heard that even Antonio Gates might be out this week, I had to change courses quickly.

Even Philip Rivers teams have a point of no return with injuries, and I think this is the game where the spare tires fall off for the San Diego offense.

Already looking forward to Chuck Pagano crying in the locker room after this win and telling his team it was the most important game of their lives. Can’t wait.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Philadelphia | over/under 46

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 34, Philadelphia 17

The Bets: Pittsburgh (-3.5)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: SuperContest with Pittsburgh (-3.5) / Pittsburgh is my #1 Survivor option

The Steelers might be my favorite pick this week. I said it on the Teasy Money Podcast (check it out on iTunes!) and I’ll say it again: I think the Steelers are about to show us exactly what happens when an awesome team faces a team that isn’t nearly as good as their 2-0 start makes it look.

Chicago at Dallas (-7) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 24, Chicago 16

The Bets: Dallas (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way teaser / Under 55.5 in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: Dallas is my #2 Survivor option

I’ve got the under hitting by 4.5 points so I’m clearly liking that. Brian Hoyer isn’t a good quarterback, but he is a guy who can probably move the ball reasonably well when equipped with Jeffrey-White-Royal as his receivers. I don’t think Dallas really wants to get into a high-scoring game with anyone right now. Watch them run on the Bears over and over and over.

Atlanta at New Orleans (-3) | over/under 53.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: New Orleans 30, Atlanta 28

The Bets: Over (43.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool: No

Sure, I’ll keep going with the teased over (43.5 in this case) in New Orleans until it proves me wrong.

A couple facts about games in New Orleans:

  • In 2015, the average total points per game was 64.
  • This includes an astonishing five games that had more than 62 points.
  • In 2014, the total points per game was a more modest 52.25.
  • But since we’re talking about the teased over of 43.5, here’s how many of the last 17 games played in New Orleans went under that total: 1.

Don’t be an idiot. And don’t be scared that I lost you a bunch of money last week by assuring you the Giants/Saints over would hit. This is definitely happening. (Unless the Thursday night & Sunday night games are especially thrilling. Then all bets are off because the NFL is contractually obligated to never have all three of its PrimeTime games be awesome in a single week.)

If you’re into tracking season-long stats, here’s what I’ve got for you:

  • Favorites are 13-18-1 against the spread
  • The point total has landed on Over 16 times, Under 14 times, and Pushed 1 time
  • I’m 17-15 against the spread with my picks

Enjoy week 3.

Week 2 NFL Picks: Beware the Abundance of Heavy Favorites

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My intro to the Week 2 picks is purely self-promotion. Shameless, unadulterated self-promotion. I know you greatly enjoy reading my picks every week, but if that’s the only interaction you have with my incredible football insight, you’re missing out big time. You need to be listening to the Teasy Money weekly podcast where me & my cohosts go through all the upcoming games and identify our favorite bets. This is your behind-the-scenes look at how 2.5 gambling pros come to their rock solid conclusions every week before placing their winning bets.

You can actually subscribe to the Teasy Money podcast on iTunes and never miss a new episode. I think you can also subscribe on SoundCloud.

But the most important thing you can do is follow the Teasy Money twitter handle: @TeasyMoneyNFL, or my twitter handle: @rossgariepy, or my podcast partner’s twitter handle: @matysugs. This is where you’ll get updated on Friday & Saturday every week about our final bets, SuperContest picks, and other general bullshit that we find interesting about the NFL.

And yes, we made a solid profit in week 1. So saddle up and get ready for the awesome ride that awaits you as long as you’re willing to put 100% of your faith in us.

Here are the week 2 picks.

NY Jets (-1) at Buffalo | over/under 40.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 33, Buffalo 16

The Bets: NY Jets -1

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Jets (-1)

I’m on the Jets in this one. Just think the Jets offense will easily move the ball on a defense as mediocre (at least with current players missing) as Buffalo. And Sammy Watkins is…what is he? On the verge of being IR’d, but now toughing it out on short rest? Not buying it. How is Buffalo going to score any points?

I’ve actually already placed a bet on this one.

San Francisco at Carolina (-14) | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 26, San Francisco 10

The Bets: Carolina (-4) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Carolina’s a Survivor Pool option

Obvious part of a 3-team teaser. I feel like Carolina revealed their true selves last Thursday in Denver. Their offense will have games of looking like one of the better units in the league against mediocre defenses, and their defense will only get exposed by teams that have multiple really good offensive weapons.

Do not be fooled by San Francisco’s Monday night game. And definitely don’t forget Carolina has extra rest with their game being on Thursday and the 49ers playing on Monday.

Dallas at Washington (-3) | over/under 45

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 26, Dallas 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Based on Washington’s preferred defensive philosophy that was on display this past Monday, they’re going to have their Pro Bowl cornerback make sure Dallas’ #2 wide receiver, Terrance Williams, doesn’t have a huge day–kind of fail at that too actually–and then let Dez Bryant go off for 130 yards and a couple touchdowns, all the while paying no attention to Ezekiel Elliott, who will be ripping off big gains every couple plays.

Throw in an embarrassing number of offensive penalties and a seemingly-impossible amount of bad luck with any kind of 50/50 bounce of the football, and you get that shitshow that the Skins “displayed” on Monday.

No, they’ll be better. Almost have to be. I’m sticking with my preseason feeling that Washington’s a 10-game winner and Dallas is crap.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-3) | over/under 48.5

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 27

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Cincinnati (+3)

Wish I had a cool stat about these two division rivals having played five games in a row decided by a field goal or less, but apparently it’s not like that. In the last six games between the Steelers and Bengals, only one has been decided by four or less. But I’m picking Cincy still because this matchup should be even tighter than a 3-point win.

I like watching Pittsburgh’s offense operating, and it’s obviously fun watching perfect pass & catch between Roethlisberger & Brown, but I’m not buying the Steelers as the infallible team/offense that everyone came into the season expecting, and has only had their opinion reinforced after week 1.

New Orleans at NY Giants (-4.5) | over/under 53

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 28, NY Giants 26

The Bets: Over (43) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

As has been the case for a couple years running now, you already don’t wanna try to nail down either of these teams in terms of consistency and what level they’ll play at. So I’m leaving the spread alone. But doesn’t this feel like a shootout in the making? I’ll definitely be putting the over into a 3-way teaser.

Taking the Saints with the points because three seems like a more appropriate number for this game.

Miami at New England (-6.5) | over/under 42.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 30, Miami 10

The Bets: New England (-0.5) in a 2-way teaser / New England (+3.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with New Engand (-6.5), New England’s a Survivor Pool option

I know I’m setting myself up for a gigantic disappointment, but I have that feeling in my body this week. That sneaky over-excited feeling that precedes a game with all the makings of a blowout.

While both teams are traveling back to the East Coast after games out West, at least the Patriots got to go home and stay home. Miami had to jump right back on a plane a few days later. (I’m assuming they went back to Miami in between, but who knows?)

And yeah, I could see certain teams having a huge letdown if they were the Patriots coming off such a big win in week 1. But Bill Belichick doesn’t really allow letdowns to happen, and I’m sure plenty of people reminded Jimmy Garoppolo this week that it was only one game.

Kansas City at Houston (-2) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 24, Kansas City 20

The Bets: Over (33.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Forget about which of these teams you like more over the course of the year. For this particular week, the Texans seem to be in much better shape than the Chiefs, and they’re at home. Kansas City won in ridiculous comeback fashion in week 1, 100% due to the fact that the Chargers’ best offensive player went from destroying the KC defense in the 1st half to out with a torn ACL in the 2nd half. I was nervous about a defense without Justin Houston and a slowly-coming-along Tamba Hali, and it seems like for at least a little while, good teams can put up points on the Chiefs.

The Texans looked pretty much how I expected in their first test, a home win against Chicago. I like Houston giving less than a field goal, and I really like the over.

Tennessee at Detroit (-6) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 27, Tennessee 14

The Bets: Detroit (PICK) in a two-way teaser / Detroit (+4) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Detroit (-6), Detroit’s a Survivor Pool option

I have absolutely no feel for the total in this one. You could see the Lions scoring almost 47 on their own, but you definitely cannot put any faith in the Titans to pitch in with very much.

I do like the Lions to win by a touchdown, and I think they’ll establish in this game that they can beat up pretty good on the weaker teams of the NFL, especially at home.

Baltimore (-7) at Cleveland | over/under 42.5

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Baltimore 21, Cleveland 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Every week there’s that early Sunday game that just doesn’t get shown on the Red Zone Channel. Buffalo at Baltimore was that game in week 1. So I have no idea what to make of the Ravens. But while I won’t touch this game from a betting standpoint, I can promise you I’m picking against the Ravens laying seven points on the road in a divisional game.

Seattle (-7) at Los Angeles | over/under 39

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Los Angeles 19, Seattle 15

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Fuck this game. I’m a little bitter about my awful Seahawks bet last week combined with me paying a large sum of auction money to own Russell Wilson in fantasy. Not happy with the current state of Seattle.

This line is just absurd. Had Seattle won last week by 35, I wouldn’t have expected them to be a full touchdown favorite in this game just as long as LA played a reasonably decent game in week 1. Obviously, they didn’t. So the public will be lining up to bury the Rams in this one.

Complete stayaway for me, but LA gets the nod in my pick ‘em leagues.

Tampa Bay at Arizona (-7) | over/under 50

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Arizona 29, Tampa Bay 24

The Bets: Over (44) in a 2-way tease, Over (40) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Force me to make a pick, and I’m taking the Bucs. The offensive weapons they have should allow them to either keep it close throughout, or make a just-not-enough comeback in the 4th quarter if the Cardinals are playing a soft “keep everything in front of us” defense.

But it feels completely impossible to form a conclusion about Tampa Bay’s offense after they faced Atlanta’s mockery of a defense on Sunday.

Jacksonville at San Diego (-3) | over/under 47

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: San Diego 27, Jacksonville 24

The Bets: Over (37) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

The over in a 3-way teaser seems like a gimme. The Chargers being at home and facing an easier defense than they got in week 1 will compensate for the loss of Keenan Allen just fine. And the Jags are going to either put up points because they’re a good, competitive team, or because they’ll be down by 14+ points and will revert to last year’s garbage time champions.

As for the spread, I’ll take a push.

Atlanta at Oakland (-5) | over/under 50

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 28, Atlanta 14

The Bets: Under (60) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

I don’t think this is a slam dunk over. Atlanta put up 24 points (only two touchdowns) at home against a below average defense. Put them on the road against what should be at least an average defense, and there’s a real chance they don’t crack 17 points. So you have to rely on Oakland putting up 33+ in a game that could become uncompetitive.

Indianapolis at Denver (-6.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Denver

The Score: 25, Indianapolis 16

The Bets: Denver (-0.5) in a 2-way teaser / Denver (+3.5) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: SuperContest with Denver (-6), Denver’s a Survivor Pool option

Listen, for the time being, Indy has a particularly generous defense and a one-dimensional offense. Denver, especially at home, should feast on those teams this year. Nothing the Colts can do should be able to confuse Trevor Siemian any more than Carolina was able to. And a team with three good cornerbacks and a great pass rush should create a long day for Andrew Luck.

In fact, the only thing the Colts do well on offense is throw deep. And what can you usually not do when you have an all-world pass rush coming at you snap after snap? Take the time to set up your deep routes and have the QB scan the field for the perfect matchup.

Also, Denver is on extra rest.

Green Bay (-3) at Minnesota | over/under 44

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Green Bay 23, Minnesota 20

The Bets: Under (54) in a 3-way teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

If you learn only one thing early on in this season, please let it be that the Vikings played in a lot of games that went under last year, and they’ll play in even more this year. That’s what you get when a team has a really good defense but an inept offense.

This is a game where I wait for the line to bump up to Minnesota +3.5, and I bet them. It feels like someone’s winning this game by three, and I’m positive that later in the week, the public will start sending money in on Green Bay. We will get this spread at Vikings +3.5.

Philadelphia at Chicago (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 28, Philadelphia 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

I’m reasonably confident that the Eagles will be as bad as I thought they’d be prior to week 1, but I’m not putting any weight behind this pick because I need to see Chicago do a little more before I put them in that “mediocre” category.

Those are your week 2 bets. Did I mention that you can check me out on Twitter (@TeasyMoneyNFL or @rossgariepy) later in the week for my finalized bets? And that there’s a podcast called Teasy Money that you can listen to?

Enjoy week 2.

Week 1 NFL Picks: It’s Finally Here!!

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I know you all have gotten really used to my weekly NFL picks column over the last few years, but I’m trying something slightly different in 2016. Of course I’m still going to make my best prediction on the point spread for every game. Don’t worry about that going away. But while I was racking up an incredible profit from football gambling last year, I realized my loyal readers were missing out on plenty of great advice. I wasn’t giving you my favorite teaser bets of the week. I wasn’t consistently telling you which point spread picks ranked higher for me than others each week. So that’s the change you’ll see this year.

On top of the normal picks and the ridiculously witty comments for each game, I’m also delivering my favorite bets (if any) and whether I’d consider a certain team for my Survivor Pool pick or my SuperContest picks (the SuperContest involves picking just five games against the spread each week).

As you can probably guess after seeing six articles posted by me in the last three days, I’m over-the-top excited for the start of football season.

Let’s kick things off with the week 1 picks:

Carolina (-3) at Denver | over/under 40.5

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 24, Denver 17

The Bets: Carolina -3

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with Carolina (-3)

I don’t see this going very well for Denver. At least in the beginning of the season, their offense should struggle to crack 20 points a game. Carolina scored less than 20 points on the road just once in 2015 (it happened to be their one loss, week 16 in Atlanta). And there was a road game in Seattle where the Panthers offense methodically marched down the field on three of their four scoring drives and patiently dismantled the Seahawk defense. So they can do it to an awesome defense.

I know we all want money down on the very first game, but for me this is either a stayaway, or 1 unit on the Panthers by 3.

Green Bay (-6) @ Jacksonville | over/under 48

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Green Bay 24, Jacksonville 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Can’t Jacksonville at least keep this to a 3-point loss at home? They should be better all around, Green Bay may need to work off a little rust, and I’m reluctant to pick against a decent home team before we have any facts about this season.

But there’s really nothing you could do to get me to actually bet this game. Such a wildcard.

San Diego at Kansas City (-7) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: Kansas City 23, San Diego 17

The Bets: Kansas City (-1) in a 2-team teaser / Kansas City (+3) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Kansas City #2 Survivor Pool Pick

I don’t love a divisional matchup in week 1 with a team favored by a touchdown, even if it is this particular matchup of a real contender against a (best case scenario) mediocre team. Did you know that the Chiefs’ defense has ranked in the top 5 in total sacks in each of Andy Reid’s three seasons as head coach? And the year before, when they went 4-12, they were dead last in sacks? I bring this up because Justin Houston is definitely not healthy, and Tamba Hali might not be healthy. I want to see what this defense looks like with a much weaker pass rush.

While the under feels like an OK play here, I’m only comfortable using KC in a teaser to get them to a -1 or better.

Oakland at New Orleans (-1) | over/under 51

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 31, Oakland 26

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

This game was always a stayaway in terms of the point spread, but I was ready to throw the over in a 3-team teaser. I’ve soured on that in the last two days. I have enough good options to avoid feeling terrible the moment I place a certain bet.

Cincinnati (-3) at NY Jets | over/under 41.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 24, Cincinnati 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

You can think the Jets are going to struggle to get to eight wins this year and still pick them to win this game. Those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Yes, the Jets’ ridiculous schedule will take its toll and there’s just no way Ryan Fitzpatrick is allowed to make the playoffs, apparently, but they will have some good games with an offense featuring Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Matt Forte. They also had a top 5 defense last year.

And I’m on record as being concerned about the Bengals missing Mohamed Sanu & Marvin Jones (on new teams), Tyler Eifert (injured) and Hue Jackson (coaching the Browns)…all of whom were significant contributors to Cincy’s offense the past couple years.

Minor concern that we walk away from this game staring at an A.J. Green stat line of 9 catches, 165 yards, 2 touchdowns…and realizing Darrelle Revis is getting a little old.

Cleveland at Philadelphia (-4) | over/under 41

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 17, Philadelphia 16

The Bets: Under (51) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Hell No

For those keeping score at home, it looks like Vegas is saying the public thinks Sam Bradford was only worth two more points than Carson Wentz.

I really liked Cleveland when it was Philly -6, but I could easily see one of those thrilling 9-6 wins for either team so I’ll stick with the Browns. It feels like futile work to really sit and think about how this game will play out. While both defenses are shitty enough to let up a lot of points, neither offense can come close to taking advantage. That’s why I’m throwing the point total into a teaser that gets the under to 51.

Minnesota (-2) at Tennessee | over/under 41

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 19, Minnesota 17

The Bets: Under (41) or even better, Under (51) as part of a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Does it feel like the Titans are constantly screwing up your Survivor Pool on the first week of the season? That’s because in 2013 they upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh and then in 2014 went into Kansas City and routed the Chiefs. Add in last year’s big win for Marcus Mariota facing off against Jameis Winston in week 1, and the Titans are very randomly 3-0 in their last three week 1 games. Do yourself a favor and leave Minnesota out of any straight up picks this weekend.

Jump in on this under because I promise you we aren’t going to be using the word “explosive” to describe either team’s offense any time soon.

Chicago at Houston (-6) | over/under 44

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Houston 23, Chicago 20

The Bets: Houston (PICK) in a 2-team teaser with KC

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Houston #3 Survivor Pool Pick

I don’t doubt that Houston wins this game, so go ahead and use them in your Survivor Pool if you are trying to overthink things just a tiny bit. With the line increasing 2 points last week, probably because it’s being said that J.J. Watt will play, I’m grabbing the Bears. My assumption is that Watt won’t be nearly 100%, but Vegas knew it could count on an influx of Houston bets once that news broke regardless of the line.

There’s something especially difficult to figuring out the flow of this game. I initially liked the over after hearing how banged up Chicago’s defense is, but something feels off. Staying away on the point total.

Buffalo at Baltimore (-3) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 24, Buffalo 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

I feel like Baltimore will win by either 3 or 4 and the total amount of points will be 44-46. So clearly I can’t touch this game.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-3) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 21, Atlanta 20

The Bets: Tampa Bay +3, Under (48)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with Tampa +3

I like this game a lot. First of all, I think Tampa Bay is simply a better team and they can win outright.

Second, I think Vegas knows the public still considers Atlanta to be a “high-scoring offense,” and the offensive pieces for the Bucs are probably making people think they’ll play in a lot of shootouts. The truth is, neither team is very explosive on offense. I love the under, and I’m happy to slot Tampa +3 into one of my favorite 5 picks this week.

Miami at Seattle (-10.5) | over/under 44

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 28, Miami 16

The Bets: Seattle (-10.5), Seattle (-0.5) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Seattle #1 Survivor Pool Pick & Yes to SuperContest with Seattle (-10.5)

This is the most obvious component of a 3-team teaser ever. Seattle just has to win for that to work out so go ahead and count it. I know every year there’s one major shock on opening weekend that fucks up everyone’s Survivor pick, Pick’Em leagues and teasers, but this isn’t it.

The total of 44 points seems right, so I wouldn’t mess around with that. But there’s no way Maimi, one of the five worst teams in football, comes in and seriously competes.

NY Giants (-1) at Dallas | over/under 46

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 24, Dallas 20

The Bets: NY Giants (-1)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with NY Giants (-1)

The Giants win comfortably by 4 or 6 points. If you want to get the Giants in a 3-team tease that takes them to +9, I’m OK with that because there’s no way they don’t at least keep this a one-score game. And honestly, they should win.

Detroit at Indianapolis (-3.5) | over/under 51

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 30, Indianapolis 27 (OT)

The Bets: Detroit (+3.5), Over (41) in a 3-team teaser

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: Yes to SuperContest with Detroit +3.5

I’m still convinced that Indy is well below average, and they aren’t going to fare so well against real NFL teams. I also hear their defense is decimated from injuries this week. I always liked Detroit getting more than a field goal when looking at this game over the summer.

My bold prediction is that this game goes to overtime either at 24/24 or 27/27.

I don’t love the regular over, but I do like the teased over. And my podcast co-host and gambling partner is so in love with the over in this game that I basically don’t have a choice. I’ll be betting it in a teaser at least.

New England at Arizona (-6) | over/under 47

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 28, New England 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

If I wasn’t a Patriots fan, this game would be a complete stayaway. No idea about Garoppolo, no idea if the Pats defense is going to be the top 5 unit they looked like in August.

Being a fan makes it even more of a stayaway for me.

The reason I’m picking the Cardinals when forced to pick is because I can easily envision a scenario where New England’s down 7 or 8 with two minutes left in the 4th, and Garoppolo stumbles through an attempt to lead a patented Tom Brady comeback against a blitzing-on-every-down defense. And he gives the game away with an interception or fumble. No crazy expectations should be coming out of the Boston media or fanbase this week.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Washington | over/under 50

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 26, Pittsburgh 24

The Bets: Washington (+3)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Listen, I’m particularly high on the Redskins this year. It feels like no one else sees this as an 11-win team like I do. So obviously I like them at home getting three points against a Steelers team starting the season short two huge offensive pieces from last year (Bryant & Bell).

Los Angeles (-3) at San Francisco | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Los Angeles 17, San Francisco 14

The Bets: Under (43.5)

SuperContest or Survivor Pool Pick: No

Ummm….43.5 for the over/under? I think this game barely cracks 30, and I might be assuming too generous of an offensive output from both teams. I think I have to call the under my favorite bet of the entire week.

If all you East Coasters wake up on Tuesday morning, look at your phones and scream, “Dammit! I can’t believe I went to sleep before the end of that epic game!” then I’ve gotten something horribly wrong about these teams and I’ll retire from all things football.

 
Those are the 16 games. Check out the twitter handle @TeasyMoneyNFL for my finalized bets over the weekend. Enjoy week 1.

Too Many X-Factors in week 1 of the NFL Season: Be Careful Out there

hippo-toe-water-lores

If you’re ever going to profit off the NFL, there are two traits you must have: Discipline and Patience.

We’ve been waiting since February 7th for the moment where week 1 is upon us and we can fire off a variety of ridiculous bets. I get it. I’ve been walking around with a week 1 boner for about a month now.

But when we have no recent results or stats to go on for these week 1 picks, we default back to the way teams played last season. That can be useful, of course, because a lot of players, coaches, schemes and talent remain similar to the recent past. But there are also huge changes, or maybe more appropriately said, there are huge unknowns for many of these teams going into the start of the new season.

It feels like this year more than other years we really need to take a wait-and-see approach to some of these unknowns

By my count, there are only four games in week 1 where there isn’t a huge blinking warning sign telling me to slow the fuck down and let the situation play out over a couple weeks before drawing a conclusion on a player or team. Here they are:

  • San Diego at Kansas City – Jamaal Charles’ slow-healing knee is a minor factor when considering this game. The Chiefs did just fine without him last year. Other than that, no crazy QB or coaching changes. No suspensions to deal with. Pretty much business as usual for these two AFC West teams.
  • Oakland at New Orleans – I can’t think of any monumental changes to these two teams compared to how they ended last year. Thinking Oakland is going to be a playoff team isn’t really an X factor.
  • Tampa Bay at Atlanta – Ditto for these NFC South rivals. Sure, Dirk Koetter is technically a brand new coach in Tampa, but he was the team’s offensive coordinator in 2015 so there’s actually good continuity there.
  • Miami at Seattle – The Dolphins also have a new head coach in Adam Gase, but I’m not expecting him to have a dramatic effect on such a lousy team, and certainly he won’t be a difference-maker in how badly the Dolphins will get slaughtered up in Seattle.

So those are the only four games where I feel I can judge who will win, by how many points, what will the over/under outcome be, etc, based on last year’s results and minor offseason roster changes.

The rest of these games? See for yourself:

  • Carolina @ Denver – Starting at quarterback for your defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos…2015 7th round pick Trevor Siemian?? X fucking factor!
  • Green Bay @ Jacksonville – Jordy Nelson returns to the Packers with zero preseason reps under his belt. Does he immediately cure the mediocre Green Bay offense? And what about this Jacksonville defense that has all sorts of shiny new toys? Overhyped or ready to make a huge first impression by shutting down Aaron Rodgers?
  • Cincinnati at NY Jets – Andy Dalton’s playing meaningful football for the first time since December 13th, but he has to do it without key pass catchers in Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Eifert. Oh, and offensive coordinator extraordinaire Hue Jackson is gone.
  • Cleveland at Philadelphia – All the X factors!! The new tandem of Robert Griffin and Hue Jackson try to lead the Browns to relevance while Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz look to do the same for Philly. It’s new head coach & QB vs new head coach & QB! And we don’t even know if either of these teams is trying to win, considering some of their offseason moves.
  • Minnesota @ Tennessee – Teddy Bridgewater is out for the year, you might have heard. And either Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford is going to try to replace him.
  • Chicago @ Houston – Super Bowl Champ Brock Osweiler tries to give the Texans the first bit of stability they’ve had at QB since 2012. Also, J.J. Watt and the Texans’ medical staff are saying he’s healthy after back surgery in the summer, but most medical experts are stunned and expect him to be far less than 100%. On the Chicago side, Kevin White should be lining up opposite Alshon Jeffrey for the first time ever.
  • Buffalo at Baltimore – Joe Flacco returns after tearing his ACL in late November (we’ve seen players struggle in their first year back off a major knee injury in the past). More importantly, the Bills’ defense is a complete unknown. The pedigree of Rex Ryan is still there, but they’re missing a handful of guys due to suspension (Marcell Dareus), injury (Reggie Ragland & Shaq Lawson) or being released (Manny Lawson). They also have the shitty Ryan brother in Rob trying to make a defense good for the first time in his career.
  • NY Giants at Dallas – Rookies Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott take center stage for the Cowboys. And Ben McAdoo gets his first gig as a head coach, taking over for Tom Coughlin in New York.
  • Detroit at Indianapolis – Matt Stafford’s first year in the NFL without Calvin Johnson picking up all the slack in the passing game. A full season of Jim Bob Cooter! And for Indy, Andrew Luck’s return to health combined with being the team under the most pressure to succeed early.
  • New England at Arizona – Future Hall of Famer Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first career start.
  • Pittsburgh at Washington – The Steelers start the year without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant.
  • Los Angeles at San Francisco – For the Rams it’s a new location and the ridiculous promise from Jeff Fisher that “I’m not fucking going 7-9.” For San Francisco, it’s Blaine Gabbert as their best option at QB and Chip Kelly trying to save his joke of an NFL coaching career. And sure, you can throw Colin Kaepernick as a “distraction” into the mix if you want.

So tell me how you’re going to bet on all these games when we don’t have a friggen clue how any of these changes will play out. I’m all ears.

It’s a long season. There’s plenty of time for you to waste money on stupid bets. Don’t let it happen in week 1. (But check out my picks for week 1 coming out later today where I will, in fact, make some bet recommendations.)

NFL Playoff & Super Bowl Predictions

nfl conf champ

Because I know you just couldn’t live without seeing our NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions before the season gets started on Thursday, guest blogger Neil & I bring you our postseason picks, comment free:

Neil’s Picks

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Carolina
  4. NY Giants
  5. Arizona
  6. Dallas

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Kansas City
  4. Indianapolis
  5. Cincinnati
  6. San Diego

Conference Championship Picks

  • NFC = Seattle over Carolina
  • AFC = New England over Kansas City

Super Bowl Pick

  • New England 31, Seattle 17

 

Ross’ Picks

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Carolina
  3. Washington
  4. Green Bay
  5. Arizona
  6. Detroit

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Tennessee
  5. Oakland
  6. Baltimore

Conference Championship Picks

  • NFC = Arizona over Washington
  • AFC = New England over Kansas City

Super Bowl Pick

  • New England 24, Arizona 20

My Gambling Nemesis: Guessing Each NFL Team’s Record (AFC)

nfl

Earlier on Wednesday guest blogger Neil and I ran through our predictions for each team’s record in the NFC. Check it out HERE.

Later on we’ll have our playoff and Super Bowl predictions. But first, here are the win-loss predictions for the AFC.

Baltimore Ravens

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • This front office does not let this team stay down long; however, remember that doubling last year’s wins would still only be eight.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I’ve been saying it since late last year…the 2015 Ravens were one of the unluckiest teams in recent memory. Nine of their 11 losses were by 8 points or less. Not a very difficult schedule and a return to health for Joe Flacco and other key pieces gets them right back into the annual playoff conversation.

Buffalo Bills

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I’ve watched my brothers run a fantasy team together for the last 10 years, and it never dawned on me that you would ever do that sort of thing with an actual team

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • While Rex Ryan always hovers around 8 wins, you gotta deduct points for Rob Ryan being on this coaching staff. He makes every team worse. Also, this defense looks to be in tatters to start the season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Neil Prediction: 9-7

  • Still in a bit of awe on how they blew last season’s playoff game.

Ross Prediction: 10-6

  • They’re probably due for some regular season bad luck, and they also lost their WR2, WR3 and offensive coordinator over the summer. Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict are also out to start the season. Things could get off to a bumpy start in 2016.

Cleveland Browns

Neil Prediction: 4-12

  • See my Philly comment in the NFC version of this column.

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • The Browns could get two picks in the top 5 of the 2017 Draft considering they have their own 1st round pick as well as Philly’s. That’s what their fanbase should be focused on for the next 7 months.

Denver Broncos

Neil Prediction: 9-7

  • I believe the defense is extremely good. I believe they are going to get the same level of QB play they got last year. I believe they cannot have the same horseshoe up their ass as they did last year.

Ross Prediction: 8-8

  • I really don’t think the Denver defense has the energy & stamina to carry the offense for another full season. And I’m not buying that a 2nd year 7th round pick who’s never played a meaningful snap in the NFL is automatically better than Peyton Manning’s 2015 rotting carcass.

Houston Texans

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Why is everyone so sure they solved their QB issues?

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I think we’re going to find out that Brock Osweiler is the definition of “average QB,” and that’s probably good enough for the Texans. Their schedule is somewhat difficult and the NFL did them no favors giving them three games in which their opponent is coming off a bye.

Indianapolis Colts

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Crappy team, crappy coach…but crappy division, a good QB, and they should have better injury luck than last year.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Mark my words: This team is going into their week 10 bye with a 3-6 record at best. I’m excited to place a bet on Chuck Pagano to be the first coach fired regardless of him getting a contract extension in the offseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Not buying the optimism.

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • It just feels like all of these AFC South teams belong together in that 6-8 win range. And the Jacksonville hype train from the summer was far too wild for me. In trying to figure out the slotting of the Jaguars, Raiders and Bucs (see my comments in the NFC column), I think Jacksonville is most likely to be the one that is a complete wreck.

Kansas City Chiefs

Neil Prediction: 11-5

  • If they get their defensive players back and stay healthy, they’re one of the few teams that could give the Patriots a game in January.

Ross Prediction: 10-6

  • I think this is a 12-win team if fully healthy, but the uncertainty behind Justin Houston, Tamba Hali & Jamaal Charles (knee, knee & knee) makes me hesitate. Ten wins looks right.

Miami Dolphins

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • I guess the plan here is to decide if you need a new QB after this season in order to be a serious contender sometime in the next decade?

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They play nine games against teams with a top 12 defense from last year. Opening at Seattle & at New England, closing with: at Baltimore, Arizona, at Jets, at Buffalo, New England. That’s called getting fucked in both ends. They only get to six wins if the Patriots are resting starters in week 17.

New England Patriots

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • Ultimately, I think we are going to be happy with “four games fresher” Brady come January. Also, fuck you, Roger Goodell.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • This team has the talent of a 14-2 team, but they have to deal with the Brady sabbatical, a bunch of players coming back from injuries in 2015 and a brutal chunk of their schedule where they have five games against teams that ranked in the top 5 defensively last year. This will only be a “down year” in the wins column because of some weird circumstances.

NY Jets

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I do not think we can expect Fitzy to play well two seasons in a row.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • It feels like they’ve got seven guaranteed losses on their impossible schedule, and you know they’ll drop a couple winnable games. They have talent on both sides of the ball, but only enough to get to nine wins in a perfect world (which they don’t get to live in this year).

Oakland Raiders

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I would be more in on the hype if Khalil Mack could play QB too.

Ross Prediction: 10-6

  • I’ve got them losing a tiebreaker to the Chiefs for the division title but still sneaking into the playoffs as a Wildcard team. Of the Jacksonville/Tampa Bay/Oakland trifecta from last year, I think the Raiders are the most likely to actually take the step forward that everyone’s expecting. I’m sure they love the NFL scheduling them to have back-to-back East coast road games twice during the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • This is going to be a scary offense once they get rolling. I still don’t like the defense in January.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • They’ll be worse than last year because how can you be better when your 2nd best receiver is out for the season and your running back will miss three games? But a creampuff schedule will get them to 9 or 10 wins (assuming Roethlisberger starts at least 13 games).

San Diego Chargers

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Sleeper alert! Philip Rivers is going to single handedly keep San Diego an NFL town.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Just enough improvement from last year’s 4-12 record for the Chargers front office to once again have no clue whether or not Mike McCoy is worth keeping around as its head coach.

Tennessee Titans

Neil Prediction: 6-10

  • If they win the division, it wasn’t because they were a sleeper, it is because the division is a four-way coin flip, and the coin is made of feces.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • This will be a much better season from the Titans than everyone’s expecting…so much so that I felt compelled to bet on them at 8/1 odds to win the AFC South. But that was more because their division sucks and why not get such awesome odds when any of these teams could rise up and stumble their way to a 9-win division title?

Now you’ve got our rock solid predictions for all 32 teams. Coming up later, who makes the playoffs and which lucky teams get the honor of us jinxing them by putting them into our Super Bowl predictions.

My Gambling Nemesis: Guessing Each NFL Team’s Record (NFC)

nfl

You know the drill by now. Guest blogger Neil and I have been competing in our own version of “Closest to the Pin” for four years now, and it pains me to have to say that the guy who spends every waking moment thinking about football (me) has a 1-3 record in this contest. Apparently I suck at predicting each team’s win total prior to the start of the season, or there’s some advanced math involved that Neil has used to crack the code on this game.

The rules are simple. We each guess the record of every NFL team, and whoever is closest to the correct record on the majority of teams wins the bet. The wager for 2016 remains the same as the past three years: Whoever wins gets to pick eight alcoholic beverages for the loser to consume during a 12-hour period during our annual Vegas trip in March.

I know our buddies who join us every year for this trip like it better when I lose because it’s much more entertaining (like when I did my best Tom Cruise impression three years ago and jumped from couch to couch at the sportsbook proclaiming to anyone who would listen that I loved my girlfriend and was getting ready to propose to her). But I’m seriously sick of losing this bet.

Let’s begin with the NFC teams.

Arizona Cardinals

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • I’m starting to get a tiny bit nervous about how much of their season hinges on an older QB with an injury history.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • You have to try really hard to find more than 5 games this team loses in 2016. Short of a devastating injury, which is foolish to base season-long predictions on, this team is a lock for the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • This feels like 11-5 or 5-11. Leaning towards the latter based on how last season ended.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Even if you think they improved from last year (they didn’t), they play seven games against 2015 playoff teams. Check out their first eight games and you’ll quickly talk yourself out of any success for this team.

Carolina Panthers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • Probably not going 15-1 again, but we might not know how good or bad they are until the playoffs based on their division.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • I’m pretty sure I know Neil is thinking Carolina might miss the playoffs, so I can be pretty conservative with their win total and still get what I want. A five-game regression from last season seems like the worst case scenario.

Chicago Bears

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Who will be in the title hunt longer this fall: Bears or Cubs?

Ross Prediction: 8-8

  • These NFC North teams get a little bump this year because they face the NFC East and AFC South, possibly the league’s two worst divisions. There are reasons for optimism in Chicago, but it’s probably too much to ask them to be better than this.

Dallas Cowboys

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • The division is soft enough that 8-8 might get a playoff spot, and they might be able to get half those wins without Romo.

Ross Prediction: 6-10

  • There’s no doubt in my mind that Dak Prescott isn’t walking into this league and firing off 8-10 wins. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Tony Romo will be rushed back too early, get injured almost immediately and end up playing in less than three full games in 2016.

Detroit Lions

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I actually think this team will surprise some people, but that probably means 8 wins.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • You’ll notice in my upcoming playoff predictions, I’m taking the Lions as the #6 seed in the NFC playoffs, but forced to make a specific prediction, I see them just above .500. They are better than most people are assuming, but I can’t picture them climbing up to 10 wins or more.

Green Bay Packers

Neil Prediction: 10-6

  • This team is probably slightly overrated, but no way to tell until the playoffs in their crappy division.

Ross Prediction: 11-5

  • I can actually see the path to 12 or 13 wins, but you gotta reserve a couple losses every year for the extremely subtle moments where Mike McCarthy proves he shouldn’t be an NFL head coach.

Los Angeles Rams

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • This defense and run game deserve a better pass game. Also, can TMZ leak Jared Goff’s Wonderlic answers?

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They are a 6 or 7 win team, but are stuck in the NFC West and have to travel over 32,000 miles over the course of the season. By comparison, there are several teams that only have to travel 6,000 – 9,000 miles.

Minnesota Vikings

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I wish there was a way to know what Minnesota’s record would have been this season with Bridgewater because I think it is going to end up the same without him.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • With a healthy Teddy Bridgewater, I would have only given the Vikings 8 wins. I was pretty down on them compared to the rest of the world prior to the injury. I think the season comes completely off the rails in November when they get 4 games in 18 days: Detroit, at Washington, Arizona, at Detroit.

New Orleans Saints

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • I wish this defense hadn’t been so bad last year. I would like them as a sleeper.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Just like the last two years, Drew Brees and an above average passing offense drag this otherwise-awful team to enough wins to barely miss out on a top 10 draft pick.

NY Giants

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • My “nothing really horrible has happened with them this summer so they win the NFC East” team.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • What looked like a tough opening schedule got incredibly manageable over the last two weeks. The Giants start in Dallas (no Romo) and then play in Minnesota in week 4 (the Hill/Bradford experiment). If they sneak into the playoffs, I think the softening of that schedule is going to be the main reason why.

Philadelphia Eagles

Neil Prediction: 6-10

  • Their week 1 game with Cleveland may determine the top pick in the next draft.

Ross Prediction: 5-11

  • They’ll be the worst team in the NFC East, possibly by a longshot. Easy overall schedule is somewhat negated by the NFL dicking them good: weeks 5 & 6 are road games, and then they play 3 consecutive teams in weeks 7-9 who are all coming off their bye.

San Francisco 49ers

Neil Prediction: 5-11

  • How bad must Kaepernick be as a passer if he can’t start in Chip Kelly’s offense?

Ross Prediction: 4-12

  • “With the 1st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select…” The schedule includes eight matchups against top 7 defenses from 2015, and weeks 10-17 feature five road games and three home games against New England, the Jets and Seattle. That would be impossible even for an NFL-caliber team.

Seattle Seahawks

Neil Prediction: 11-5

  • I know every year they lose a couple important pieces, but enough of the defensive studs are still around that I think they have one more run in them.

Ross Prediction: 12-4

  • I think they’ve learned to prioritize getting the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and I feel like I went through their worst case scenario on the schedule and see 11 wins as their absolute floor.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Neil Prediction: 8-8

  • Is this the NFC sleeper or is Jameis Winston one year away? Yeah, one year away but frisky.

Ross Prediction: 7-9

  • Possibly the hardest task we have going into this season is figuring out what to make of last year’s up-and-comers: Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay. In all likelihood, one of them will go on to make the playoffs, one will stagnate and have a similar season to last year, and one will be a wreck. Clearly I’m expecting some stagnation from Tampa.

Washington Redskins

Neil Prediction: 7-9

  • Their 1st place schedule means their extra games are against Arizona and Carolina, which keeps them out of the playoffs.

Ross Prediction: 9-7

  • I’m actually expecting 10 or more wins, but why go any higher if I know Neil’s going to take them for 8 wins or less? I really thought they were competent last year in a non-fluky way, and they’ve gone ahead and added Josh Norman and a few other complementary pieces. Cousins won’t be a perennial Pro Bowler, but I don’t think he’s a one-season wonder either.

Check back later on Wednesday for the AFC side of things.

An Evolving Relationship with Football

 

I love the way the world brings me little reminders throughout the month of August that the NFL season is just around the corner.

First it was the always-surprising-but-shouldn’t-be increase in my DirecTV bill to account for the cool $270 the NFL will charge me over 6 monthly installments for access to 17 weeks of football.

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Next came the annual botching of something really basic by that same multi-billion dollar league that charges me out the ass for their games.

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And finally, there was no shortage of careers being altered and (fantasy) seasons being screwed up in the month of August by non-contact injuries to body parts that are less than 1.5 inches in diameter.

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Like it or not, the NFL has been beating down our door for the past six weeks, so it’s probably time to open the door and let it in (otherwise it might literally beat down the door, physically attack us, and then escape any jail time after it pays us off in exchange for our silence).

As much as I’ve grown more & more disenchanted with certain aspects of the NFL (more on that in a minute), the truth is, we need it in our lives. If I have to accidentally overhear the dialogue in my wife’s favorite movie, the Hallmark Channel presents The Convenient Groom, one more time, I might go off the deep end.

Oh, you wanted to hear the synopsis of The Convenient Groom, a real movie that you thought I made up? Here it is: “When a celebrity marriage counselor is left high and dry at the altar, her contractor steps in as the groom to help her save face.”

Boom. That was summertime at the Gariepy household.

If you think you’ve reached your breaking point with the NFL after years of blind loyalty to the league because now-a-days being a football fan feels dirtier than ever, just do what I do: Treat the league as your personal piggybank (kind of like how they treat us like their personal piggybanks).

In the past 20 years, I’ve evolved from being the naive teenager who pretended to be Isaac Bruce or Marvin Harrison whenever he caught a pass during our neighborhood football games (for whatever reason, those were the 2 guys I always pretended to be when laying out to catch one of my brother’s wobbly passes), to the college student who spent every Sunday at a bar rooting for his favorite team and players, to the dignified adult standing before you today saying that my relationship with the NFL has become purely transactional.

I’m treating the past 20 years like an investment or a college education on all things football. And now it’s time to get the return I’m owed from the slimy NFL.

While I’ve been making picks against the spread in this internet space for the past few years, I’m turning up the dial on the gambling-themed blog posts this year. I’m sure there will still be times when I talk generally about the latest news and results in the NFL, but for the most part, every bit of research I do, every moment I devote to watching the games, is with an eye towards how I can fund my extravagant lifestyle from gambling profit.

In fact, I recently launched a podcast with a couple friends where we plan to give you all the winning bets during every week of the NFL season, and you can find that podcast and subscribe to it either on iTunes or SoundCloud.

So before the NFL season officially kicks off on Thursday night, expect a flurry of activity from me that will be mostly geared towards some preseason bets you should make, a prediction around the exact record of each team (so you can hit your over/under win totals), and of course, the return of the weekly picks column including more bets than ever before!

Hope you’re ready for a fun 21 weeks. I am. It’s just that these days, fun = profitable when it comes to my enjoyment of the NFL.

 

 

 

Super Bowl Props: Mike Carey, an Unlikely Earthquake and More

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All right, NFL, now I fully get it.

I understand just how made up the entire deflated footballs saga was last year. And no, it’s not because Roger Goodell just went public with the fact that the league–the same people who deemed slightly deflated balls tantamount to the “integrity of the game” and equated it to a player taking steroids–isn’t going to release any of the pressure readings from this season’s games (which 100% means the results showed that the Patriots did nothing wrong, by the way).

I understand the reasons behind a fully fabricated scandal not because of what Goodell said to the media this week, but because I am one of football’s biggest fans and I haven’t bothered to turn my TV to ESPN or the NFL Network in 10 days. I haven’t clicked on a single article about the Super Bowl or the two teams playing in it.

Now, you can definitely make the case that I’m scarred from the Broncos knocking off my Patriots in the AFC Championship game, and that could be a big reason I’m not spending my entire week going balls deep into all the Super Bowl coverage. But I’ll go out on a limb here: I don’t think fans of the Cowboys, Raiders, Lions, Jets, Eagles or about 24 other franchises are spending their downtime before the big game by reading about the big game.

But imagine if there was a full-blown scandal leading the hourly news cycle? Sign me up for that!

Never has it been more evident than these past 10 VERY BORING days that the NFL knew exactly what it was doing last year at this time. It’s just too bad that Cam Newton won’t do or say something stupid so the media can get some actual traction out of their attempts to portray him as a controversial figure. “But look at him! He’s….black!…and he…he dances, like A LOT!…and he…he looks like he belongs in the NBA!…he…c’mon!…somebody get offended by him! Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaasssssssssseeeeeee!”

So yeah, if I’m running the NFL, I invent a big controversy every year immediately following the Conference Championship games. Anyway, it’s now Thursday. We’re less than 80 hours away from the game. Let’s dive into what really matters, the gambling.

Today I’ll cover the extensive prop bets for the game, and on Friday I’ll be back with my pick against the spread as well as the game total.

I’ll reiterate what I wrote last year. Even if you’re not into gambling in the true sense of the word (meaning you won’t be going to Vegas, contacting your favorite bookie or logging into your Bovada account to place bets), you can still have some fun with the Super Bowl Prop Bets. All you have to do is encourage the host of your Super Bowl party to create a Community Prop Bet game similar to this:

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Everyone writes down their guesses to each prop and whoever gets the most correct wins something. If nothing more, it’s a nice complement to the traditional Super Bowl squares since it causes people to pay attention to other aspects of the game besides the score. And of course you can create whatever props you want.

If you want to graduate from the kiddie pool of gambling and cannonball your way into the deep end with me, here are my extensive thoughts on Super Bowl Prop Bets. It would be poetic if I had 50 props for Super Bowl 50, but I don’t. That’s way too many. I have 22, aka “one for each point the Broncos will score if they play the game of their lives.” Let’s break these into categories: StayAways, Foolish Bets That I’ll Inevitably Make, Longshots that Don’t Feel So Long, Favorites, and Miscellaneous Panthers Stuff.

StayAways

Who will be MVP of Super Bowl 50

The Pick: No pick

  • It may seem a little counterproductive to list prop bets I’m not making, but there are a couple I particularly hate so let’s get through them first. Yes, I know QBs almost always win the MVP so this is actually a pretty predictable prop. But Vegas knows that too. So Cam Newton has -130 odds while Peyton Manning’s odds are +275. There’s not a lot of value there, and of course every couple years we get a random Malcolm Smith or Dexter Jackson winning the MVP. And good luck figuring out ahead of time exactly which random dude will win this if it’s not one of the QBs.

Will there be an earthquake during the game

The Pick: No pick

  • The only available bet you can make on this prop is “Yes” at 10/1 odds. I needed to highlight this prop because it’s ridiculous. What kind of maniac would bet yes here? First of all, 10/1 odds are HORRIBLE for the likelihood that this actually happens. If you & I were sitting in a bar and I said, “I’ll bet you that an earthquake doesn’t happen in the next three hours, but I’ll give you odds. What odds do you need for us to make that bet?” You would answer “10,000/1.”
  • Also, imagine an earthquake happens, and it’s apparent immediately that it’s a devastating one. How psychotic would you look if the rest of your Super Bowl party is in a sullen, quiet, sad mood and you’re walking around the place with your arms raised in celebratory fashion and letting out random “Woos”?

Foolish Bets That I’ll Inevitably Make

How long will it take Lady Gaga to sing the US National Anthem

The Pick: Under 2 minutes 20 seconds (-120)

  • I went and watched Lady Gaga’s only live performance of the Anthem that exists on YouTube and it was a loooong two minutes and 15 seconds. I will say, however, that she was singing it at a New York City Pride Rally and clearly played to the crowd, even changing words and pausing for applause a couple times. The Super Bowl is a big moment, but I can’t see her possibly dragging it out as long as she did in the video. This might be my favorite bet of all of them. She’s not touching 140 seconds on Sunday.

Will Mike Carey be wrong about a challenge

The Pick: Yes (+145)

  • I can’t contain my excitement that this bet actually exists! I’ve never been so pleased as I was the moment that I saw this prop on the Bovada site. Now, I know this is setting up to be one of those disappointing moments, you know, where I talk up just how historically awful Carey has been in lining up his opinion with the ultimate result of a challenge/review…and then he goes and nails his only chance in the Super Bowl. And I feel foolish for betting on such a silly thing. But I don’t care because making money off something as funny and predictable as this is too good to pass up.

Will Peyton Manning announce his retirement in the post game interview?

The Pick: No (-1000)

  • OK, OK, I’m not actually going to lay $1,000 just to win $100 on such a weird, subjective bet. But you know there’s a 0% chance he announces his retirement. First of all, he may not be retiring. Second, even if he is, he’s a company man through and through. Peyton will be a good boy for Roger Goodell and hold off an announcement for a couple weeks. That way the NFL can jump back up to the top of the headlines in late February when it’s usually quiet on the football front. Also, and maybe more importantly, I think Manning knows he might not look like a great teammate if he announces this right after the Broncos win because it’ll take the spotlight away from everyone else.

Longshots That Don’t Feel So Long

Which will be the Highest Scoring quarter

The Pick: 3rd Quarter (+400)

  • It has been in four of the past six Super Bowls, and if the 2nd half kickoff is returned for a touchdown this is pretty much a lock.

The First Turnover of the Game will be

The Pick: No Turnover in Game (+750)

  • Why not for those odds?

Who will record the most Receiving Yards in the game

The Pick: Emmanuel Sanders (+325)

  • I have no faith in any of the Panthers to win this prop. Between Demaryius Thomas and Sanders, Thomas is more likely to see a lot of Josh Norman in coverage, and Thomas is the one who seems to disappear a bit more often on the big stage.

Margin of Victory

The Pick: Denver to win by 1-6 points (+400)

  • Listen, you obviously have to think there’s a decent chance the Broncos can win this game outright if you’re making this bet. I happen to see a line of thinking where they win, and if they do, there’s a 0% chance it’s by way of a blowout. It feels like a reasonably logical leap from betting the pure Denver moneyline and only getting +180 odds.

Favorites

Highest Scoring Half

The Pick: 2nd Half & OT (-115)

  • When I looked back at the last 10 Super Bowls, I was a bit surprised to learn that the 1st half of these games isn’t always as low scoring as I had thought. But taking “2nd half” in this bet appears to pay off 67% of the time, and I think the particulars of these two teams will only help to give the beginning of this game a “poking & prodding & feeling out” vibe.

First Scoring Play of the Game

The Pick: Field Goal or Safety (+115)

  • If you’re expecting a low scoring game, like I am, this is a no-brainer. And rather than be a chump and bet on “will there be a safety in the game,” you’re getting some coverage on that prop along with the very likely scenario that a field goal is the first scoring play.

Total Successful Field Goals

The Pick: Over 3.5 (+110)

  • Boring, but easy!

Total Successful Field Goals – Denver Broncos

The Pick: Over 1.5 (-140)

  • The best offensive player on the Broncos is Brandon McManus. Denver also happens to have one of the worst red zone offenses in the league.

Longest Reception – Emmanuel Sanders

The Pick: Over 25.5 yards (-115)

  • In 11 games this year he has had a reception go for more than 25 yards. And Manning was his QB for seven of those games, in case you’re thinking it was only during the Osweiler Glory Days that this happened.

Longest Reception – Greg Olsen

The Pick: Over 22.5 yards (-115)

  • It happened 13 times in 18 games this year. Just playing the odds.

Total Sacks – DeMarcus Ware

The Pick: Under 0.5 (+150)

Total Sacks – Von Miller

The Pick: Under 0.5 (+150)

  • I’m taking both of these sack unders because I think Cam won’t get sacked more than once or twice and there’s a very good chance one of these Broncos pass rushers gets a big fat ZERO in the sack category. As long as one of them hits, I’ll turn a profit.

Miscellaneous Panthers Stuff

Total Touchdown Passes – Cam Newton

The Pick: Over 1.5 (-155)

  • I went deep in my research on the props for both QBs to hit their over or under totals on passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdown passes, and this was the only one that I feel really good about. Newton threw for two or more touchdowns in 11 of 18 games this year. It’s a pretty regular occurrence.

Longest Rush – Cam Newton

The Pick: Over 14.5 yards (-125)

  • Based on a smattering of quantitative data that probably doesn’t actually mean anything, I think Newton runs only a handful of times in this game but breaks off two or three big ones.

Exact Number of Touchdown Passes – Cam Newton

The Pick: 2 (+190)

  • Nothing more than a hunch, really.

Total Receptions – Corey Brown

The Pick: Over 2.5 (-150)

  • He’s gone over 2.5 receptions in eight of the 16 games he’s played in this year. But more importantly, he’s surpassed that total in five of his last six games. Hopefully it works out that Greg Olsen and Tedd Ginn Jr. get the bulk of Denver’s defensive attention.

Who will catch a Pass 1st – Greg Olsen (-175) or Ted Ginn Jr. (+145)

The Pick: Greg Olsen (-175)

  • C’mon. I’m betting on the guy who had 123 regular season targets with 12 catches on 14 targets in the playoffs so far over the guy who had 96 regular targets but only three so far in the entire playoffs.

If I were you, I’d put significant money on my “favorite” prop bets and a much smaller amount on all the others. A Super Bowl that could end with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms circle-jerking all over “the Sheriff” needs a little extra spice to be enjoyable. And these prop bets will do the trick.

Make sure to check back on Friday for my pick on the spread and the game total.

NFL Conference Championship Picks

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Last year I put this little man in my Conference Championship column to represent my sadness over the fact that we only had three football games left on the schedule. After that, it’s seven months of pretending to like college & professional basketball, baseball and the Olympics. Yuck.

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But this year the sad man represents a couple more things I’m feeling. One is the helplessness I feel as I realize we’re only two weeks away from Deflategate and the NFL’s ongoing appeal to force its way back into our lives. I hate to say it, but either the NFL will come out with some new headlines around Deflategate, or they’ll invent an entirely new off-the-field scandal to make sure they’re staying at the top of the sports headlines.

And finally, the hanging-his-head man is appropriate because that’s how I feel at the end of this week after refreshing the Bovada football page 20 times a day and never once seeing either of the lines for these upcoming games move off of a 3.5-point spread. I told myself early in the week that if either New England or Carolina goes down to a 3-point favorite, I’m betting the farm on them. But the lines stand firm.

And while you might be expecting one blowout and one close game this weekend because that’s what happened last year, it turns out the Conference Championship games are usually pretty tight. In the past 20 Conference Championship games, the margin of victory has been 10 points or less 16 times. There have only been two true blowouts since 2005: last year’s Patriots 45-7 win over the Colts and the Bears over the Saints 39-14 in the 2006 playoffs.

Even though it might be difficult to imagine a team led by a certain big-foreheaded quarterback to keep it close against the defending Champs this weekend, you can probably count on it. Let’s dive into the picks.

New England (-3.5) at Denver

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 27, Denver 22

  • First of all, I hope CBS budgeted for industrial strength cleaning supplies and an army of cleaning people to slop up the record-breaking amount of semen that Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are going to spray all over the broadcast booth in Denver. Screw getting the Guinness World Record people to a stadium to measure noise, we need them at Mile High on Sunday to measure semen output. How many orgasms can two men have in three hours just from watching another man do his job? Tune into CBS on Sunday at 3 Eastern to find out!
  • In the eight games that Peyton Manning started and completed this year, the Denver offense averaged 19.4 points per game and less than two touchdowns in each contest.
  • Brandon McManus kicked a shitload of field goals for this team, it turns out.
  • The New England defense has given up an average of 18 points per game this season.
  • I’ve felt strongly all along that the Patriots are scoring 27 or 28 points, and I can’t ignore the fact that Manning’s offense only reached that total once this year.
  • The Patriots finally looked healthy last week and put up 27 points against a good defense while having to knock some of the rust off (Brady and Edelman took some time to get on the same page).
  • The New England offense is now healthy and has a game under its belt.
  • The Broncos may be able to run a little bit on the Patriots, but I can’t imagine Bill Belichick lets them run wild. Everyone knows if you stop their running backs, Denver isn’t cracking 20 points.
  • Basically, if you’re picking Denver, you’re saying, “I think the Broncos are going to play their absolute best game of the year.” It’s not impossible for that to happen, but it’s a much safer play to take the Patriots and know exactly the type of performance you’re getting.
  • I will say, however, that the Denver defense is legit. This team went 12-4 and earned the #1 seed with an offense that ranked in the bottom third of the league. Something dragged them to that top spot, and it wasn’t Gary Kubiak’s coaching or Brock Osweiler’s half-season cameo.
  • The reason I can’t pick the Patriots to win by more than a handful of points is because of the Broncos’ awesome defense and the fact that this is a road game. If this game was in New England, we would have to plan for a blowout.

Arizona at Carolina (-3.5)

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 31, Arizona 24

  • Each team playing this weekend has won a single playoff game so far, but Carolina has to get the nod as the most impressive. They’re the only one who soundly dismantled a powerhouse team to get to this point. We weren’t wrong to think Seattle was one of the best teams in the league. I’d still put them right up at the top even after last week. And the Panthers went out and crushed them (until they took a nap in the 2nd half).
  • As I was typing this section, I had to take a break to check on a thought I had. I was pretty sure no underdog has won their game outright during the playoffs so far, and it turns out I was right. I suppose if you got Green Bay over Washington when the Packers were +1 that counts, but in my picks I had the Packers as a 1-point favorite. So yeah, the underdogs are 0-8 straight up in this postseason. WHICH SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME SINCE I’M TAKING BOTH FAVORITES THIS WEEKEND!
  • This is going to sound similar to my Patriots/Broncos logic, but I can’t take Arizona because I feel like they’d have to play their best game of the year while the Panthers simply have to play their typical, solid game. It’s less likely that the Cardinals have the game they need in order to win than the Panthers playing the game they need to play.
  • The Honey Badger being out scares me (huge in run-stopping support and possibly would have been able to slow down Greg Olsen). The Cardinals’ atrocious special teams scares me. Arizona’s struggles on offense against a mediocre Packers defense last week scares me. And Carson Palmer having no track record of performing well in huge games scares me.
  • If all of Bruce Arians’ super aggressive playcalling pays off + the Cardinals don’t royally screw up anything special teams related + Cam Newton plays his worst game of the year, then I think Arizona has a chance. But I can’t bet on all of that happening.

And if you just can’t pull the trigger on betting these games because the line on each is so perfectly set, here are some props for you to consider.

Patriots vs Broncos – Longest Made Field Goal of the Game

The Pick: over 46.5 yards (-115)

  • Because it’s in Denver in a game featuring two of the best kickers in football where the two offenses are going up against good defenses. This seems really easy.

Patriots vs Broncos – Will both teams make a 33-yard or longer field goal

The Pick: Yes (+120)

  • And they’re paying me an extra 20 cents on the dollar for this steal? Sign me up.

Tom Brady’s Longest Completion

The Pick: Under 41.5 yards (-115)

  • You don’t beat this Denver defense by throwing it long, and the Patriots don’t do that anyway.

Julian Edelman Total Receptions

The Pick: over 7 (-110)

  • I didn’t initially like this because they increased his total by one from last week’s game. But here are my Edelman stats: He has had seven or more receptions in 25 of his last 44 games dating back to the 2013 season. He has had more than seven receptions in five straight playoff games now. And he has exceeded that mark the last three times he’s faced Denver.

Will Peyton Manning throw an interception

The Pick: Yes (-250)

  • I don’t mind paying the juice on this certainty.

Will Peyton Manning throw more than 1.5 interceptions

The Pick: Yes (+225)

Ooh, I like this one so much better. Let’s go with this instead.

Carson Palmer’s Total Pass Attempts

The Pick: over 37.5 (-115)

How many times did the opposing quarterback attempt at least 38 passes against the Carolina defense this year? In 13 out of 17 games, that’s how many.

Enjoy the Conference Championship games!