NFL Divisional Round Picks

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It was an ugly 1-3 start for me in the playoffs. That happens to me almost every year for Wildcard Weekend. I always come back with a vengeance. Jump on these Divisional Round picks.

Seattle at Atlanta (-5) | over/under 51.5

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Atlanta 29, Seattle 26

The Bets: Atlanta (+5) in a 3-way tease / Over (51.5) / Over (41.5) in a 3-way tease

This Atlanta offense put up 48 & 33 points on the 10th best defense in the league (Carolina), 30 points on the 8th best defense (San Diego) and 38 points on the 3rd best defense (Arizona).

They also put up 23 & 24 points on the road against Denver (#1 defense) and Seattle (#5), respectively. And one could argue they would have ended up with at least 27 in Seattle had it not been for a horrible non-call on an obvious pass interference.

They’ve faced plenty of tough defenses all year and almost always put up 30 or more points.

Even though I expect Seattle to be a particularly tough out, I don’t think their offense can hang with Atlanta for 60 minutes. Seattle would need to force some turnovers, but the Falcons tied the Patriots for fewest turnovers in the league this year. And the Seahawks ranked a meh 22nd in takeaways in 2016.

Seattle’s putrid run game (23rd in the league) won’t be able to fully exploit Atlanta’s horrible run defense (29th). And on the flip side the Seahawks’ pass defense slipped to 13th in the league, which is bad news going against the #1 passing offense in football.

The recipe just isn’t there for a Seattle upset. But a decent team with deep playoff experience should keep it pretty close.

Houston at New England (-16) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 31, Houston 13

The Bets: New England (-6) in a 3-way tease

How did the Patriots defense hold up against the very worst offenses in football this year?

  • Cleveland (29th in offense) – 13 points allowed
  • Jets (31st) – 17 points allowed on the road / 3 points allowed at home
  • Los Angeles (32nd) – 10 points allowed
  • Denver (28th) – 3 points allowed
  • Houston (30th) – 0 points allowed

Let’s just table the argument on if the Patriots defense is legitimately good and would hold up against even a decent offense. We can save that for next week. We know they can 100% shut down awful offenses, especially at home.

Similar to last week when I guessed the Lions would put up 14 in Seattle, I think I’m being generous projecting the Texans for 13.

And since the Patriots always score 30+ against teams like this, I have to reluctantly lay the points and grab New England.

If you’re not into 3-way teasers where you can adjust each line by 10 points, then this isn’t that great of a game from a betting standpoint. The Patriots are too big of a favorite for a regular tease or to bet straight up. And you can’t really have confidence in the game total (Do the Patriots win 40-10 or 30-0? Huge difference for the over/under.)

If you’re trying to make the case for a Houston upset, or even just for them to keep it close, you can’t use this argument: “The 2009 Ravens and the 2010 Jets stunned the Patriots in Foxboro so anything could happen.”

The ‘09 Ravens were actually the best team in the NFL despite their 9-7 record, according to FootballOutsiders.com. And the 2010 Jets, not too shabby themselves. They were 6th in overall DVOA (team efficiency).

Your 2016 Houston Texans….29th in DVOA! In other words, they were the 4th worst team in football. The gap between this year’s Patriots and Wilfork’s Texans is possibly the biggest in playoff history.

Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-1) | over/under 44

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 23, Kansas City 20 (in Overtime)

The Bets: Pittsburgh (+11) in a 3-way tease / Over (34) in a 3-way tease

During Kansas City’s 10-2 finish to the season, they only put up 21 or more points in two of six home games.

The Steelers’ last three road opponents of the season happen to be the three teams right above the Chiefs in offensive DVOA rankings (KC ranks 13th). And here’s how those teams performed against Pittsburgh’s D:

  • Colts (12th) – Steelers gave up 7 points
  • Bengals (11th) – Steelers gave up 20 points
  • Bills (10th) – Steelers gave up 20 points

Let’s say things stay consistent in terms of the Chiefs’ offensive production. What you gotta figure out is whether or not the Steelers can put up 24 or so points. That’s the only way they win this.

I think we’re looking at an overtime game, or at least a last-second win for one of these teams. I liked the Chiefs immediately after seeing last week’s games play out, but the numbers don’t lie. The combination of the way Pittsburgh’s been able to play defense lately and the incredible potency of a healthy Steelers offense makes it impossible for me to go with the Chiefs.

Green Bay at Dallas (-4) | over/under 52

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 28, Green Bay 23

The Bets: Dallas (-4) / Dallas (+6) in a 3-way tease / Over (42) in a 3-way tease

Starting in 2011, which is when Jordy Nelson started putting up 1,000-yard receiving seasons, the Packers have been a top four offense each of the four seasons that Nelson and Aaron Rodgers have been healthy together. In the two seasons where they weren’t, the Packers fell to 9th (2013) and 11th (2015) in offensive DVOA.

Not a catastrophic drop-off, but a noticeable one that will be in effect for this divisional round game.

After all my cutting edge research, I had the Packers coming up just short, maybe losing by 2 points. But I’m deducting an additional 3 points from their total due to the Jordy loss.

Remember that the Giants offense is most similar in production to the offenses of the Ravens, 49ers, Cardinals and Eagles. It makes perfect sense that Green Bay would demolish the Giants if Aaron Rodgers had a big game. But now the Packers face one of the best offenses in the league. Even if Rodgers steals the show again, they should have an answer.

My read on the spread and game total is that Vegas never adjusted either one when it became apparent that Nelson might not play. I think the game would be impossible to predict if he was healthy, but since he’s not, I’ll be betting as if they forgot to ding the Packers even slightly.

Prop Bets

Who will record the most Passing Yards?

  • Matt Ryan (+350) – Because he had 335 passing yards in Seattle while facing a healthy Early Thomas earlier this season. Because at home in 2016, his lowest yardage output was 269. His worst case is even better than that because of the injured Seahawks defense.
  • Tom Brady (+350) – In the past 5 years, Brady has played in 12 playoff games. He’s cracked 300 yards passing 7 times, 4 of which came in this divisional round. I think he’s good for 290+, which could win the week.
  • Dak Prescott (+1000) – You’re giving me 10/1 odds on a Pro Bowl QB who’s rested, at home and facing a pretty bad pass defense? Sign me up.

Who will record the most Receiving Yards?

  • Dez Bryant (+850) – Call it a hunch. The Packers have a crappy pass defense as it is, and they’ll put extra focus on stopping Dallas’ 2nd ranked run game. I think Dak will find Dez early and often.

Enjoy the Divisional Round!

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Week 15 NFL Picks

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Well, it’s Saturday and I’m just finally posting my week 15 picks. Life sucks because it keeps getting in the way of my usual football research & writing routine. Oh well. As of the time I’m posting this, there are still 20 hours to get your bets in for the Sunday games. Get on it.

Here are the week 15 picks (yes I realize some of the games have absolutely no commentary this week).

Los Angeles at Seattle (-16) | over/under 38.5

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 29, Los Angeles 10

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

SuperContest: No

Absolutely crazy to back a 16-point favorite in an NFL game. But the Rams and other exceptionally awful teams like Cleveland and San Francisco have made this a crazy betting season.

Getting the Seahawks into a 3-way, 10-point tease is a must-do.

Miami (-3) at NY Jets | over/under 38

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 21, Miami 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

For whatever reason, I was ultra confident in the Jets to cover in San Francisco last week, and I’m jumping right back in. Ryan Tannehill’s injury affects my thinking on this game almost 0%. It’s the end of the line for the Dolphins.

Tennessee at Kansas City (-5.5) | over/under 41.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Kansas City 24, Tennessee 19

The Bets: Kansas City (+0.5 or +4.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Wow. Really feel like this game is going to play out exactly how the Vegas line suggests. Can’t get a read on a straight up bet here.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cincinnati | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 24, Pittsburgh 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Cincinnati (+3.5)

Just feels like a half point too high for a December divisional game where the home team is playing for pride and to keep their biggest rival from getting closer to a playoff spot.

Detroit at NY Giants (-4) | over/under 40.5

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 25, Detroit 19

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Feels like this is a matchup of the NFL’s two luckiest teams. But really the Lions are by far the luckier of the two. Detroit has no business having won 9 games.

Indianapolis at Minnesota (-4.5) | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Minnesota 21, Indianapolis 20

The Bets: Under (55.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Colts on the road against a good defense + Indy’s defense making people like Brock Osweiler look semi-competent…immediately liked Minnesota.

After a long look at these two teams, I feel good about the Vikings winning, but not by more than 4 points.

Jacksonville at Houston (-5) | over/under 39.5

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Houston 20, Jacksonville 17

The Bets: Jacksonville (+15) in a 3-way tease / Under (49.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Overreaction line to the Texans taking it to Indy on the road? As is customary in AFC South matchups, this is going to be ugly, probably particularly low-scoring.

Where are the points coming from in this game?

Green Bay (-6) at Chicago | over/under 38.5

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Green Bay 24, Chicago 18

The Bets: Green Bay (+4) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Cleveland at Buffalo (-10.5) | over/under 41.5

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 28, Cleveland 16

The Bets: Buffalo (-0.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (-10.5)

The Bills in a 3-way tease is probably my favorite teaser component of the week. The Buffalo offense has really only played 3 bad offensive games all year. They’ll get close to 30 in this one, and there’s just no way the Browns can hang.

Philadelphia at Baltimore (-6) | over/under 40.5

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Baltimore 20, Philadelphia 15

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

SuperContest: No

The Eagles are 2-8 in their last 10 games and they’ve given up 24 points or more in all 8 of those losses (and under 24 in the 2 wins).

The numbers say Philly will cover, but the gut instinct is that the Ravens are significantly better and they should probably be the pick as long as they’re giving up less than a touchdown.

I say ignore the line and focus on the UNDER. Lock that into a teaser right now.

San Francisco at Atlanta (-13) | over/under 50.5

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Atlanta 35, San Francisco 23

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

SuperContest: No

New Orleans at Arizona (-3) | over/under 50.5

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 27, New Orleans 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Arizona (-3)

Oakland (-3) at San Diego | over/under 49

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: Oakland 28, San Diego 26

The Bets: Over (39) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Even though the shine’s come off the Chargers after losing 4 of their last 6, most of their games still see a lot of points. I’m confident the over will hit, but I’m extraordinarily confident the teased over of 39 will hit.

New England (-3.5) at Denver | over/under 44

The Pick: Denver

The Score: New England 23, Denver 20

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

SuperContest: No

Tampa Bay at Dallas (-7) | over/under 47

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 25, Dallas 24

The Bets: Tampa Bay (+17) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Tampa Bay (+7)

Carolina at Washington (-6.5) | over/under 51.5

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 31, Carolina 21

The Bets: Washington (-0.5 or +3.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease / Over (41.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Washington (-6.5)

Possibly my favorite straight up bet of the week is Washington. They’re good for 30 at home, and the Panthers are 1-5 on the road and have essentially been stuck on 20ish points per game away from North Carolina.

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

  • Favorites are 92-106-10 against the spread (including 8-7-1 in week 14)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 104 times, Under 101 times, and Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 111-90-7 against the spread

Enjoy week 15.

My Rapid Fire Week 12 NFL Picks

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In the spirit of giving thanks, let’s all be thankful that 25 NFL teams still realistically have a shot at the playoffs. Seriously, check out where things stand in each division going into week 12:

  • AFC East: 3 teams separated by 3 games for the division lead
  • AFC North: 3 teams separated by 1.5 games for the division lead
  • AFC South: 3 teams separated by 1.5 games for the division lead
  • AFC West: 3 teams separated by 1 game for the division lead
  • NFC East: 4 teams separated by 4 games for the division lead
  • NFC North: 3 teams separated by 2 games for the division lead
  • NFC South: 4 teams separated by 2 games for the division lead
  • NFC West: 2 teams separated by 3 games for the division lead

And also be thankful that I’m giving you a lot of my week 12 picks in rapid fire mode. A little less reading for you during this busy week.

Here are the week 12 picks.

Minnesota at Detroit (-3) | over/under 43

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Detroit 21, Minnesota 20

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

SuperContest: No

Welcome to the battle for 1st place in the NFC North.

Sure, you can be gun shy with the Vikings and the under after 54 points were scored in their matchup against Arizona last week. But I’d much rather rely on the nine previous weeks where the Vikings game would not have exceeded the teased over here. Minnesota’s defense is good enough to make this an ugly game, but I don’t think it’s smart to pick a side on the point spread here.

Washington at Dallas (-7) | over/under 51

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Dallas 27, Washington 21

The Bets: Under (61) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

It’s amazing that with how good the Cowboys have been this year, a Redskins win on Thanksgiving would put them just 1.5 games out of first place in the East. But Washington going on the road on a short week against the best team in the NFC doesn’t feel like a win.

Washington goes into week 12 with the 4th worst run defense in the league…is that enough alone to pick Dallas and assume they will do whatever they please on offense?

Probably not because the Cowboys are still only OK on defense (they gave up 23 points to Philly in week 8, for example).

Both teams should be able to control the ball, convert lots of 3rd downs, and methodically move the ball down field. I think Dallas will do its normal thing on offense, and Washington won’t be able to make huge plays like they did against Green Bay on Sunday night. So I actually like the under here.

Pittsburgh (-9) at Indianapolis | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Indianapolis 16

The Bets: Pittsburgh (+1) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

You might think I’m exaggerating, but Indy basically turns into the 0-11 Browns without Andrew Luck. They already have a worse defense than Cleveland, and it’s not an exaggeration to think their 15th ranked offense drops 10-12 spots as Scott Tolzien takes over.

I can’t believe I’m backing the Steelers on the road, but if they were ever going to blow out an opponent they absolutely should be blowing out, this would be the game.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (-4.5) | over/under 40.5

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 21, Cincinnati 15

The Bets: Baltimore (+5.5) in a 3-way tease / Under (40.5) / Under (50.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Baltimore (-4.5)

How in the hell are the Bengals even expected to crack 18 points? I know they’re an NFL team and by default they should be able to put up about 20, but this offense already sucked enough, and now AJ Green & Gio Bernard are out. Oh, and the Ravens are still a top 5 defense even after losing by 10 in Dallas last week.

Cincy put up 12 at home against the Bills last week. They put up only 17 at New England in week 6, 14 at Dallas in week 5, 16 at Pittsburgh in week 2, and 23 at the Jets in week 1. All of those defenses absolutely suck compared to the Ravens.

The teased under and the Ravens (teased and straight up) feel like absolute locks this week.

Los Angeles at New Orleans (-7) | over/under 46

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 27, Los Angeles 19

The Bets: New Orleans (+3) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Usually we grab the over in a Saints home game and don’t think twice, but Drew Brees’ offense put up only 23 points at home against the Broncos in week 10 as well as 25 points against Seattle in week 8. The Rams’ defense is a little worse than those two teams, so maybe New Orleans gets close to 30 points. That doesn’t help me come to terms with the fact that LA will probably need to put up 17+ points for this game to go over. I’m staying away from the point total and instead teasing the Saints to +3. Feels like a great move.

Arizona at Atlanta (-4.5) | over/under 50.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 30, Arizona 24

The Bets: Atlanta (+5.5) in a 3-way tease / Over (40.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Cardinals defense has split personalities this year, and it’s all based on whether they’re at home or on the road.

At home, they’ve looked like the #4 defense that FootballOutsiders.com currently has them ranked at. They’ve given up 12.7 points per game in the Cardinals’ Nest. (Is that what they call their stadium or did I make that up?)

But on the road, they’re allowing 28.5 points per game.

Night and day.

Not to mention they’re facing the #1 offense in all of football…an offense that’s coming off a bye week.

San Francisco at Miami (-7.5) | over/under 45.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 31, San Francisco 17

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

SuperContest: No

All of my confidence on the Dolphins and them blowing out the Niners is based on Branden Albert and/or Laremy Tunsil coming back to make Miami’s offensive line good again. If they still have significant injuries on the line, I’m staying away entirely.

It feels like the perfect situation for San Francisco to not show up whatsoever.

Jacksonville at Buffalo (-7.5) | over/under 45

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 28, Jacksonville 17

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

Supercontest: Yes with Buffalo (-7.5)

Blake Bortles is #28 in passer rating, #26 in FootballOutsiders’ QB efficiency metric, 31st in yards per attempt and 27th in completion percentage. So he’s a rich man’s Brock Osweiler.

It feels really weird that the Dolphins and Bills are both still in playoff contention, are both giving more than a touchdown this week, and I’m strongly considering picking both of them.

Strange times indeed.

Tennessee (-5.5) at Chicago | over/under 42.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 23, Chicago 17

The Bets: None

Supercontest: No

Vegas is saying that downgrading from Jay Cutler to Matt Barkley will cost the Bears 3.5 points.

Here’s what’s weird about the Titans: In road games this year, they’ve put up very few points against the worst defenses in the league—16 at Detroit (last in defensive DVOA), 17 at Indianapolis (2nd to last in defensive DVOA)—but they’ve had monster games against solid defenses like scoring 30 at 7th ranked Miami and 35 at 10th ranked San Diego.

So maybe their offense plays down to its competition? If that’s the case, it’ll be a mediocre offensive showing against the average Bears defense.

Considering the Bears have scored more than 20 points just once this season, you really can’t expect them to surprise us with a win on Sunday.

NY Giants (-7) at Cleveland | over/under 44

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 26, Cleveland 12

The Bets: NY Giants (-7) / NY Giants (-1) in a 2-way tease / Under (54) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: Yes with Giants (-7)

You know what? I was set to write, “If you actually bet this game, you’re a crazy person.” Because the feeling was that the Giant are due to blow a game, the Browns are due to win one surprising game, so why not this one?

Because the Bengals have inadvertently volunteered to be the team that Cleveland beats. Cincy hosts the Browns in week 14. The Bengals will be without Green & Bernard, and the Browns will be coming off a bye. And since this has become the season where everything goes wrong for Marvin Lewis’ team, they are absolutely losing that game.

So breathe easy, Giants fans. Someone else is gonna help Cleveland break their losing streak.

San Diego (-1) at Houston | over/under 46.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 22, Houston 21

The Bets: None

Supercontest: No

On the one hand, Brock Osweiler looked like his typical horrible self on Monday night against Oakland. On the other hand, the awful refereeing cost the Texans 7-10 points in that game.

As reluctant as I am to go against the 5-0 home game magic the Texans have going on, I’m picking the Chargers because they’ve lost so many games they deserved to win this year while Houston has won several games they should have lost.

Seattle (-6) at Tampa Bay | over/under 45

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Seattle 26, Tampa Bay 23

The Bets: None

Supercontest: No

Even though I’m not betting it, I really think I nailed this game. The Bucs are good enough to make this competitive, but the Seahawks are doing their usual “round into form in the second half of the season.” My only concern is that Mike Evans is basically Tampa’s only viable receiver and the Seattle secondary could essentially eliminate him from the game.

New England (-9) at NY Jets | over/under 47.5

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 38, NY Jets 20

The Bets: New England (+1) in a 3-way tease / Over (37.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: Yes with New England (-9)

This matchup can’t get much worse for the Jets. You think New England’s #1 ranked passing offense is gonna enjoy the Jets 30th ranked pass defense? Obviously a healthy Rob Gronkowski is crucial for a long playoff run for the Patriots, but in this type of game his (possible) absence doesn’t change the probable outcome. New England has so many weapons on offense, with Dion Lewis’ return in week 11 alongside Malcolm Mitchell’s mini breakout game as further proof that they have the deepest offense in the league.

Carolina at Oakland (-3.5) | over/under 49.5

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Oakland 30, Carolina 28

The Bets: Over (39.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: No

I was ready to pick this as a sneaky crazy upset until I realized Luke Kuechly is obviously out for the Panthers. With the Raiders escaping Mexico City with a win on Monday night and Carolina being on extra rest and back in the mix for the NFC South title, I think they’ll play Oakland a lot tighter than you’re probably thinking.

Bank on the over and nothing else in this one.

Kansas City at Denver (-3) | over/under 39.5

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 20, Kansas City 15

The Bets: Under (49.5) in a 3-way tease

Supercontest: No

Even though both teams have struggled running the ball this season, they each get to face defenses this week who struggle to stop the run. I think these division rivals will be terrified to throw the ball into the teeth of each other’s very good defenses so this will play out as a boring run-oriented game.

Green Bay at Philadelphia (-3.5) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 25, Green Bay 17

The Bets: Philadelphia (-3.5)

Supercontest: Yes with Philadelphia (-3.5)

So the Eagles are 4-0 at home this year and their smallest victory was by 9 points. That was against the Falcons. Their other home wins were against the Vikings, Steelers and Browns. Three of those four opponents are better than the Packers. It feels really easy to take Philly in this game.

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

  • Favorites are 66-87-8 against the spread through 11 weeks (including 8-5-1 in week 11)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 81 times, Under 77 times, and Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 84-72-5 against the spread

Enjoy Thanksgiving and week 12.

My Heroic Week 11 NFL Picks

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When looking up the definition of the word hero, you see phrases like “someone who is admired for courage” and “a person of superhuman qualities.”

So am I a hero for still pumping out a world class NFL blog and podcast (listen on iTunes!) in the same week that I started a grueling new job while also being more ill than I’ve been in the past five years?

That’s for you to decide. But in a word: Yes. When historians look back on week 11 of the 2016 NFL season, they’ll talk at length about my heroic efforts to perform in the face of incredible adversity.

If I had to give an unexaggerated estimate, I’d say that a normal week this season saw me researching my picks for roughly 10 hours, and this week I’d put it closer to one hour.

Maybe that’s what I needed. A “don’t overthink it” sort of week after suffering through my worst set of picks of the year last week.

Let’s cut to the chase and dive into the week 11 picks.

Teams on Bye: Atlanta, Denver, NY Jets, San Diego

New Orleans at Carolina (-3.5) | over/under 53.5

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: Carolina 25, New Orleans 24

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Considering how the NFC South has been tightening up a bit over the last few weeks, the ending of the Saints/Broncos from week 10 looms LARGE. Make the extra point, and the Saints are looking at only a half game deficit for the division lead going into week 11. Get the extra point blocked, returned for two points by Denver (adding in the fact that the Broncos player who ran the ball back may have stepped out of bounds), and now the Saints are 1.5 games behind the Falcons.

The Thursday night factor is definitely keeping me away from betting this, but I’ll bite on the extra half point and assume this is a very close win for the Panthers (who are unofficially eliminated from playoff contention, but officially fighting to help Ron Rivera keep his job).

(Note: I wrote all of that before Carolina won 23-20 on Thursday night. Just didn’t get a chance to publish this until Friday. Looks like I’m spot on in my 1st prediction of the week.)

Pittsburgh (-9) at Cleveland | over/under 46

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 24

The Bets: Cleveland (+19) in a 3-way tease / Over (36) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Pittsburgh on the road. Pittsburgh on the road. Pittsburgh on the road. Just keep repeating that if you get tempted by any sort of bet or teaser on the Steelers this week.

The perfect Pittsburgh script was supposed to be a big win at home against Dallas followed up by the most incredible letdown game against the 0-10 Browns. But now the Steelers are fighting for their playoff lives so you’d think that would short circuit any chance of them overlooking Cleveland. But don’t put anything past a Mike Tomlin team.

And I think all Browns fans would call Hue Jackson’s first season as head coach a success if they go 1-15 but the one win cripples their division rival’s chances of playing in January.

I think the Browns will come up just short.

Baltimore at Dallas (-7) | over/under 45

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 26, Baltimore 17

The Bets: Dallas (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Dallas (-7)

Remember when the Cowboys went into Green Bay and smart people like me thought the vaunted Packers run defense would slow down Zeke & Pals? The Packers had the best run D in the league at the time, and Elliott went ahead and ran for more than 150 yards.

I bring this up because the Ravens currently have the best run D in football according to FootballOutsiders.com. I’m no longer convinced the Cowboys offense can be slowed down by anyone.

Baltimore will have to play perfect defense and try to make this game go by particularly quick, because as the 32nd ranked offense in football, they are particularly ill-equipped to get into a shootout or come back from a two-score deficit. I don’t think they’ll be able to do it.

Jacksonville at Detroit (-7) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Detroit 31, Jacksonville 25

The Bets: Detroit (+3) in a 3-way tease / Over (47.5) / Over (37.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Detroit has played four home games. They’re 3-1 and have outscored those four opponents by a combined six points. A Lions home game hasn’t been decided by more than three points yet.

Considering the Lions have the worst defense in the league, I think the Jaguars will get their points one way or another. So the teased over feels like the lock of all locks.

I don’t feel good about picking either team against the spread straight up because the Lions don’t win big, but the Jaguars lose big. But the teased Detroit line? I’ll take it.

Tennessee at Indianapolis (-3) | over/under 53

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 33, Indianapolis 27

The Bets: Over (53) / Over (43) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

If standings were determined by point differential, the Titans would be lapping the rest of the AFC South. They have a +13 point differential and the next best team in their division, the Colts, come into the week at -17.

But somehow the Texans are 6-3 and have two less losses than the two teams playing in this game. If Houston is going to crash & burn like they’re supposed to, this game between Indy and Tennessee could play a determining factor for which putrid AFC South team goes to the playoffs.

In Tennessee’s last three road games, they’re averaging more than 28 points per game. Those games were played against the 13th, 7th and 11th ranked defenses. Indy checks in with the 31st ranked D. So via the transitive property, the Titans should put up 35+ in this game.

Needless to say, I think the Titans come out of this with their 5th win in their last seven games. And the over really shouldn’t be a problem.

Tennessee’s game totals have exceeded 43 points (the teased over number) in seven straight games while the Colts’ game totals have gone over that mark in all nine of their games this year.

Buffalo at Cincinnati (-3) | over/under 47

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 29, Cincinnati 26 (in OT)

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

SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (+3)

I hate to correctly predict once again that a Cincy game is going to overtime and that I have no confidence either team will ultimately win, but that’s where this one is heading.

They’re two very evenly matched teams across all key stats. Both teams have soft defenses, and even though both like to run, I still like the teased over.

With both teams coming into this game with five losses, whoever comes up short in this one can probably kiss any playoff dreams goodbye.

Tampa Bay at Kansas City (-7.5) | over/under 45

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Kansas City 21, Tampa Bay 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I know the Chiefs are quietly stringing together a great-looking season and a game at Arrowhead should allow them to beat up on the overmatched Bucs, but the stats simply don’t show Kansas City to be a dominating force.

I’m really not sure if this Tampa team puts up a fight in this game or just rolls over, so I’m staying away completely (ok, I’ll probably put a small bet on the Bucs +7.5 simply because the Chiefs don’t really blow teams away with their scoring that often).

Chicago at NY Giants (-7.5) | over/under 44.5

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: NY Giants 23, Chicago 16

The Bets: Under (44.5) / Under (54.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The Bears are averaging 15.7 points per game (31st in the NFL), and the Giants are averaging 20.2 points per game (24th). How about we don’t try to figure out who will win and by how much (a hopeless effort for any Giants game), but instead we drop a bunch of cash on the under? Who’s with me?

Arizona at Minnesota (-1.5) | over/under 40

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 20, Arizona 17 (in OT)

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

SuperContest: No

This game opened as a pick, and It really seemed odd that Minnesota wouldn’t be favored by a couple points, but sure enough after diving into my research, I get it. Rather than each team putting up about 20 points as the line and total suggests, I think we’ll see yet another overtime game with a 17-17 score at the end of the fourth. Will anyone score in overtime? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m giving the nod to the home team.

And even though you shouldn’t have to ask at this point…yes, I love the under teased between these two inept offenses.

Miami (-2) at Los Angeles | over/under 39.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 25, Los Angeles 13

The Bets: Miami (-2) / Miami (+8) in a 3-way tease / Under (49.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Miami (-2)

Jared Goff’s making his long-awaited debut and gets to face the 7th ranked Dolphins defense.

The Rams are already averaging a paltry 15.4 points per game. I don’t think that’s going to improve in this game.

New England (-14) at San Francisco | over/under 51

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: New England 29, San Francisco 20

The Bets: New England (-4) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

This is a really bad matchup for the 49ers. They’re actually decent running the ball on offense, but the Patriots rush D has been awesome. Meanwhile, the Niners are below average on pass defense and horrible against the run. The Patriots will gladly run the ball over & over & over in this game. (And is Dion Lewis making his season debut? If so, the Pats will have an even easier time on offense.)

Having said that, Gronk is probably missing this game, and New England is unable to play anything resembling decent defense. This tells me the Niners will get enough points to cover.

Philadelphia at Seattle (-7) | over/under 43

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 23, Philadelphia 16

The Bets: Seattle (-1 or +3) in a 2-way or 3-way tease / Under (53) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Seattle (-7)

I will be shocked if the Eagles exceed 16 points in this game. But I’ll also be shocked if Seahawks are able to dictate the game on offense.

I’m liking the under teased and LOVING the Seahawks teased.

Green Bay at Washington (-3) | over/under 50.5

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 29, Green Bay 24

The Bets: Washington (-3)

SuperContest: Yes with Washington (-3)

Washington’s won its last three home games, each by six or more points. They faced the best team according to DVOA (Philly), the worst team (Cleveland) and an almost exactly average team (Minnesota) in those three games.

The Skins’ lone weakness is run defense, and the Packers haven’t had more than 65 rushing yards in five straight games.

I really like Washington to get their mini-revenge for last year’s wildcard game that they could have won against Green Bay.

Houston vs Oakland (-6) | over/under 46 (in Mexico City)

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 23, Oakland 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Call it a hunch, but I think this is the surprise loss that the Raiders are due for. What I’m most excited for regarding this game is all the jokes that’ll be floating around on Twitter about building a wall to keep Brock Osweiler in Mexico.

And even though I’ve put in this heroic effort to make my week 11 picks, I’m running out of steam so you don’t get anymore analysis on this game.

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

  • Favorites are 58-82-7 against the spread through 10 weeks (including 3-11 in week 10)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 78 times, Under 66 times, and Pushed 3 times
  • I’m 74-69-4 against the spread.

Enjoy week 11.

Week 10 NFL Picks

butler-patriots

If this week looks particularly tough when it comes to picks against the spread, regular bets or even teases, it’s because we have a ton of “even” matchups. Out of 14 games in week 10, three of them have a heavy favorite (spread of 7 or greater), and the other 11 don’t have a spread greater than FOUR!

That’s insane, right? While you may think it’s just luck of the draw in terms of getting this many close games, it’s actually because the league standings are bloated in the middle. Check out that link. There are 21 teams that have either five, four or three wins. There are only four teams worse than that and seven teams better.

So yeah, it makes sense that we keep getting these matchups. Maybe we’re not seeing a ton of high quality games, but the league as a whole remains intriguing with so many teams still within range of a playoff spot.

How about this? We have five divisions where at least three teams still have a chance to end the year in first place: AFC North, South & West…and NFC North & East (all four teams still in the playoff race).

So criticize the NFL all you want, but the playoff races are going to keep everyone tuning in.

Let’s dive into the week 10 picks.

Teams on Bye: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland

Cleveland at Baltimore (-9) | over/under 44

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Baltimore 23, Cleveland 15

The Bets: Baltimore (+1) in a 3-way tease / Under (55) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The home team has the worst offense in the league according to FootballOutsiders.com, and the other team is #24 on offense & traveling on a short week. So brace yourselves for a particularly boring and low-scoring Thursday night game. Just what the NFL needs as its post-election showcase to get the ratings back on track.

Side Note: This is the first time in four years that I forgot to make a preseason bet on “Will any team go 0-16?” I think they moved the odds from the standard 33/1 down to 25/1 this year and it scared me away. Really need Cleveland to win one game so I don’t regret it.

Houston at Jacksonville (-1.5) | over/under 42

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 22, Houston 19

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

SuperContest: Yes with Jacksonville (-1.5)

This line significantly moved between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It was Houston -2 and then abruptly changed to the current line, where the Jags are a small favorite.

There are very few circumstances where picking Jacksonville makes sense. Brock Osweiler on the road is one of them. You know how everyone’s been killing Blake Bortles for how bad he obviously is at this point? Well Osweiler ranks five spots below Bortles in FootballOutsider’s QB rankings! Osweiler on the road is toxic.

If you’re picking Houston in this game, you are obviously thinking of a different installment of the Texans than what currently exists. And I’m warning you, you’re wrong.

Besides the Jaguars being one of my favorite picks, I’m also liking the under a lot here. Both teams have above average defenses and putrid offenses. Houston has scored 0, 13 and 9 points in their three road games this year.

Denver at New Orleans (-3) | over/under 49

The Pick: New Orleans

The Score: New Orleans 30, Denver 24

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

SuperContest: Yes with New Orleans (-3)

I’ve been saying the Saints’ offense at home is as explosive as the Falcons & Raiders. The Broncos just struggled at Oakland last week, and the Falcons were able to win in Denver earlier this year. So this feels like another Denver loss.

As usual when the Saints play at home, I’m into the over. And if the Broncos were healthy, I’d probably stay away from using the Saints in my SuperContest pick, but Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe are probably out for this game. Can’t see Denver getting to the 28+ points they’ll need to knock off the Saints.

Los Angeles at NY Jets (-2) | over/under 39.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 24, Los Angeles 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Here’s a really shitty game that doesn’t deserve our attention. If you wanted to bet the under here, I wouldn’t be mad at you. These are two of the worst offenses in the league. But to me it cries “stay away.” So I will.

Atlanta (-1.5) at Philadelphia | over/under 50.5

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 28, Philadelphia 24

The Bets: Over (40.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Atlanta (-1.5)

With the way Atlanta has played at Oakland, Denver and Seattle this year, I’m not at all worried about them performing away from home. And they got extra rest after pummeling Tampa Bay last Thursday.

I know the Eagles still have a good defense and they haven’t lost at home this year, but they feel like a very average team. Atlanta looks like one of the three or four best teams in football right now.

I like the over because Atlanta’s a scoring machine and the Eagles have actually looked good on offense at home this year.

Kansas City at Carolina (-3) | over/under 44

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 23, Carolina 21

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I think Carolina is still tough to gauge so I don’t want to put too much confidence in this pick. But it seems to me that the Chiefs are really good and they’re getting some great news on the defensive side with the return of Justin Houston. That’s gotta scare the league a little bit.

Chicago (-1) at Tampa Bay | over/under 46

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 27, Chicago 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I can’t for the life of me figure this game out. I thought the Bucs should have been favored by the standard three points at home so I figured grabbing Tampa +1 was an easy choice. But I keep hearing people talk about how much better the Bears are than the Bucs, and even the stats seem to make the case for Chicago. I dunno. I’ll just take the home team and cross my fingers.

Minnesota at Washington (-3) | over/under 42

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 23, Minnesota 19

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Both teams need this game desperately to keep pace in their respective divisions. I still don’t know if either team is good after nine weeks. So I’m not betting it, but I do think the Skins at home deserve the benefit of the doubt. At this point, the Vikings’ inability to score seems to be the biggest weakness of either team.

Green Bay (-3) at Tennessee | over/under 49.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 26, Green Bay 24

The Bets: Over (39.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

It’s still mind-boggling to me that Tennessee has a top 10 offense, and that they’ve averaged 31 points over their last five games. Meanwhile, the Packers are finally putting up points (28.3 points per game in the last three weeks), and the Titans rank a lot lower on defense than you probably think.

Teasing this over down to 39.5 is a slam dunk.

Not only do I think the Titans could win this game outright, but I’m rooting for it in a big way. For betting purposes, I wanna see the Titans & Lions in the playoffs. And a Tennessee win in week 10 would help both cases.

Miami at San Diego (-4) | over/under 48.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: San Diego 26, Miami 24

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

The biggest problem with San Diego is that while their overall defense is much better than it’s been the last couple years, their run D is still somewhat suspect. And that’s all Miami knows how to do now is run the ball. This could be a sneaky entertaining game, but I’ve got no real read from a betting standpoint.

San Francisco at Arizona (-13.5) | over/under 48.5

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 31, San Francisco 14

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

SuperContest: No

Sure, 13.5 seems insanely high for a point spread in the NFL. And even if you don’t think the Cardinals are the kind of team that should be getting that level of respect (you’d think only the Patriots, Cowboys or Falcons could get this type of spread right now), it’s a pretty good spot for them to blow out the Niners.

They already beat the 49ers by 12 this year up in San Francisco. And the Niners have lost road games this year by 19, 19 and 29 points.

In fact, here’s the point differential of each of the seven straight games that they’ve lost: 19, 19, 7, 12, 29, 17 and 18.

Add to that the fact that San Francisco’s near the bottom of the league in giveaways, and the Cardinals are top 5 in takeaways.

I didn’t even mention that the Cardinals’ win over SF earlier in the year was with Drew Stanton at quarterback. Say what you want about 2016 Carson Palmer, but he’s still better than Stanton.

This should be a blowout, but if you don’t like giving that many points, toss Arizona into a teaser.

Dallas at Pittsburgh (-2) | over/under 50

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 31, Dallas 27

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

SuperContest: Yes with Pittsburgh (-2)

First of all, this game should have a ton of points. Two good offenses, not so great defenses. Ben Roethlisberger should be a lot healthier this week.

I’m also pretty confident it’s the Cowboys’ turn to lose a game. They aren’t going 14-2 or better so they need to lose a couple more games. This is one of the prime opportunities for someone to hand them a loss. We still don’t know how good their secondary is and I think the Steelers will be able to exploit that just enough.

Seattle at New England (-7.5) | over/under 49

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 30, Seattle 20

The Bets: New England (-7.5) / New England (+2.5) in a 3-way tease / Over (39) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with New England (-7.5)

I’ll confidently take the Belichick-coached team that has had two full weeks to prepare over a West Coast team coming off an exhausting Monday night win, on short rest and traveling across the country. Do we really need any more analysis than that?

Add in the fact that New England is extremely healthy right now and the Seahawks will be missing at least Michael Bennett from their defense, and I think this has the makings of a big win for the Patriots.

They rarely lose at home, they’re rested and Seattle isn’t nearly as scary as it has been the last few years on offense or defense.

Cincinnati at NY Giants (-1) | over/under 47

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 26, NY Giants 22

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I was originally confident in the Giants in this Monday night matchup, but then two things happened:

  1. I was reminded that Cincy’s scoring problems on the road (only 17.5 points per game on the road so far) were likely solved by Tyler Eifert’s return to the field.
  2. I realized that the Giants have won three in a row and this is exactly when their fans are starting to feel a little bit good. So of course this team has to lose a winnable home game.

My confidence is low on this pick though.

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

  • Favorites are 55-71-7 against the spread through 9 weeks (including 6-5-2 in week 9)
  • The Point Total has landed on Over 72 times, Under 59 times, and Pushed 2 times
  • I’m 68-60-4 against the spread.

Enjoy week 10.

Week 6 NFL Picks & Finding the Great Games

cowboys-packers

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 5 NFL Picks & a Happy October to All

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It really is the best time of the year for a sports fan. The 2nd month of the NFL & college football seasons have begun. October baseball has already shown up in a HUGE way with dramatic Wildcard games from each league earlier this week. We’re less than a week away from the NHL regular season starting, and under 20 days to go until the NBA tips off.

Apologies to the month of April—who many argue is the best sports month because we get NBA, NHL, the end of March Madness, the start of baseball, and The Masters—but not having the NFL going on during that month is an automatic disqualifier.

So be sure to warn your significant other that it’s not just Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays that you have to be parked in front of TVs. Every day brings a valid excuse not to spend quality time with your loved ones for the rest of this month. Enjoy it because soon enough the holidays will be here and there will be more family time than you know what to do with.

Let’s dive into the week 5 games.

Teams on a Bye Week: Seattle, New Orleans, Kansas City, Jacksonville

Arizona (-3.5) at San Francisco | over/under 42

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 23, San Francisco 9

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

SuperContest: No

The way this works is: Everyone found out on Wednesday that Carson Palmer’s out and Drew Stanton will start in his place on Thursday. Then the retweets started circulating with stats to show how awful Stanton has been recently and over the course of his career. By Thursday afternoon, everyone will have jumped on the 49ers noting how +3.5 is such a great number, and they’re in a good spot at home, on a short week, with the opponent’s backup QB starting.

But we’re all gonna walk away from this game reminding ourselves that the 49ers are really crappy and the Cardinals on a bad day are still a lot better.

Let’s say Stanton somehow leads the Arizona offense to a 30-point output on Thursday night, wouldn’t this situation be ripe for a QB controversy? Wouldn’t there be an instant groundswell of people wanting to see more of the Stanton offense and less of the Palmer-over-his-last-10-games offense? I believe this comment is ground zero for stirring up the pot in Arizona. Would like to see it go viral.

New England (-11.5) at Cleveland | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: New England 27, Cleveland 17

The Bets: New England (-1.5) in a 3-way tease / Cleveland (+21.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

This line is absolutely ludicrous. And though I know how big of a collective idiot the betting public is, I’m still shocked that they’re clearly taking the bet and backing New England. This line opened at New England -7.5, has climbed to -10 or -10.5 in the pro books, and the public has taken it all the way to the current, ridiculous line.

Honestly, why wouldn’t you include the Browns in a 3-way tease where you get them at +21.5? If you can get any NFL team at +21.5, you automatically do it.

Philadelphia (-3) at Detroit | over/under 46

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 27, Detroit 17

The Bets: Philadelphia (-3)

SuperContest: Yes with Philadelphia (-3)

I haven’t been this confused by a line in a long time.

In three games, the Eagles put up: 29 points (on the 25th ranked defense, Cleveland), 29 points (on Chicago, 17th) and 34 points (on Pittsburgh, 18th). The Lions happen to be the 32nd best defense…dead last. The Eagles are coming off a bye.

And somehow Philly’s only expected to put up 24 points?

I say they get to at least 27, and since Philly also has a top five defense so far, I think they hold Detroit to 17ish and easily cover the tiny spread.

Chicago at Indianapolis (-4.5) | over/under 48

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 21, Indianapolis 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

So here’s where I’m really confused: Last week Chicago put up all of 17 points at home against Detroit, the worst defense in the NFL according to FootballOutsiders. By doing that, the Bears offensive efficiency–again, according to FootballOutsiders–jumped 10 spots from 29th ranked to 19th. Since I always lob in DVOA stuff when it supports my arguments, I felt obligated to show you an example where it seems to make no sense.

Anyway, if this Bears team was literally any other team, I’d love to bet them straight up with confidence. The Colts are the first team in NFL history to have a game scheduled the week following a game in London. No bye for them. These past 10 days were probably pretty grueling and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a solid amount of laziness from them on Sunday.

But can the Bears really take advantage of all that? That’s the million dollar question. Ultimately I’m picking the Bears purely because I think Vegas is going to need them to cover and I’d rather be on the side of Vegas in this particular situation.

Tennessee at Miami (-3.5) | over/under 43.5

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Miami 16, Tennessee 13

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

SuperContest: No

You wanna take the easy way out on this crappy game and just assume Miami being distracted all week by a gigantic fucking hurricane heading their way is setting them up to be wholly unprepared for this game? Yeah? Me too.

By the way, the under is pretty much a lock.

Washington at Baltimore (-4) | over/under 45

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 26, Baltimore 24

The Bets: Washington (+14) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Pumping the brakes on this Ravens resurgence is just about the easiest thing to do. Their opening schedule looks even more laughable than it did four weeks ago. And their week 3 game against Oakland–a 28-27 Raiders win–seems more representative of how this one should play out against Washington.

Even if you’re confident that the Ravens are better, they’re just not the type of team that’ll be blowing opponents out this year. You can take the Washington +14 to the bank (where they’ll promptly tell you that they don’t cash sports bets and send you away).

Houston at Minnesota (-6.5) | over/under 40.5

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Minnesota 20, Houston 15

The Bets: Minnesota (-0.5) in a 2-way tease / Under (40.5) / Under (50.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

As my podcast partner Maty Sugs continues to rise from his untimely gambling death last week, he pointed out to me that Houston has scored five offensive touchdowns on the year, while the Vikings have gotten into the endzone six times (ranking them 32nd and 31st in the NFL, respectively). If you tease this under to 50.5, you’re forcing these teams to combine for 7+ touchdowns. That feels like a near impossibility. Go ahead and tease the under.

And yeah, the Vikings should move to 5-0 so I’m putting them into a 2-way tease.

NY Jets at Pittsburgh (-7.5) | over/under 48

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 30, NY Jets 17

The Bets: Pittsburgh (-1.5) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Pittsburgh (-7.5)

I don’t care if this is an obvious spot for the Jets to surprise everyone and play a competitive game. I can’t possibly pick them because Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 4/10 touchdown to interception ratio, a quarterback rating of 57.6 and a completion percentage of 55.8 (and drops to 51.6 if you take out the one game where they faced a below average defense).

I joked on this week’s Teasy Money Podcast that we might see a 70-0 beatdown by the Steelers. But realistically I think it’s your run-of-the-mill blowout, something in the range of a 14-point win for Pittsburgh.

I’m unwilling to touch the over/under, and I don’t see why I’d bet Pitt at -7.5 when I can get them in a teaser.

Atlanta at Denver (-6) | over/under 47

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Denver 30, Atlanta 27

The Bets: Over (47) / Over (37) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

Of the five games this weekend where both teams are 2-2 or better, this should be the most fun one to watch. That’s because rather than Denver’s defense completely shutting down Atlanta on their way to a low-scoring win, I’m hopeful this will go the other way and Denver will have to put up 30 to just barely squeeze by the Falcons. Maybe I’ve been roped into another moment where Atlanta will pull the rug out from under me, but I think they can slowly wear down Denver and find some weak spots.

I can see why you’d think this will be on the lower scoring side, but I have a gut feeling on the other side. Bet the over, stay away from choosing either team.

Cincinnati (-1.5) at Dallas | over/under 45

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 24, Cincinnati 19

The Bets: Dallas (+7.5) in a 2-way tease / Dallas (+11.5) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

I initially expected a tight game with Cincy winning, but upon further review I think Dallas is actually the better team. The Bengals have played uninspiring offense outside of a couple big A.J. Green games. And now with Tyler Eifert reportedly having a setback in the form of a back injury, I don’t see the offense turning a major corner anytime soon.

And Dallas really feels like a team built not to suffer any blowout so I love teasing them in case they play a little worse than I’m expecting.

Buffalo at Los Angeles (-3) | over/under 40

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 21, Los Angeles 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Buffalo (+3)

These two teams appear to be doing the exact opposite of what we expected going into the season. Yeah, the Bills at 2-2 aren’t a major surprise, but common sense would have had them beating Baltimore & the Jets and losing to Arizona & New England. But they went opposite on us. And the Rams are 3-1 while I absolutely expected a 1-3 start with them only beating the 49ers (they one team they’ve actually lost to).

Since I don’t find any excitement in either team and I have no interest in betting on this game, that analysis is good enough for me. Since the Rams should win this game, I’m going with Buffalo.

San Diego at Oakland (-4) | over/under 50

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: Oakland 28, San Diego 26

The Bets: San Diego (+10) in a 2-way tease / Over (44 or 40) in a 2-way or 3-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with San Diego (+4)

This game is really simple. Of their combined eight games played so far, only one has been decided by more than a touchdown (a Chargers win over the Jaguars in week 2). So you can count on another close game. If betting San Diego straight up at +4 worries you a little, then I suggest you tease them to +10/+14 or tease Oakland to +6, because you know this game isn’t ending in a blowout.

It also feels like teasing the over down to 40 in this game is a great move because the non-teased over has hit in three out of four games for each team so far.

And finally, congrats to Oakland for getting through an opening month that saw them play three road games in the Eastern time zone and win all three. That’s quite the feat.

 

NY Giants at Green Bay (-7.5) | over/under 48

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Green Bay 26, NY Giants 21

The Bets: Green Bay (-1.5) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with NY Giants (+7.5)

Well would ya look at that? It seems the public has gone ahead and driven the Packers up to a stupid number once again. What an easy game to dissect as a professional bettor. The Giants just looked like dogshit on national TV on Monday night (recency bias!) and the Packers are irresistible to the masses especially when coming off a bye.

But what I see is a team not quite as good as Minnesota facing a now-desperate Giants team. And at the very least, if I bet the Giants now, the backdoor cover is totally in play. Seems like an easy choice.

My only hesitation is that the Giants have the most thin-skinned player in the NFL on their team and he might just do something dumb enough to swing this entire game. Wildcard behavior is never good when gambling.

Tampa Bay at Carolina (-6.5) | No current over/under

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 27, Tampa Bay 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

This is the second week in a row where a game still doesn’t have a point total as of Thursday afternoon. That’s wild.

Obviously we’re waiting on news regarding Cam Newton’s health. It looks like he missed practice on Wednesday while dealing with concussion symptoms. Lucky for Carolina, this is a Monday night game so they have an extra day to figure things out.

But I don’t get extra time to figure it out. And that’s fine because I couldn’t make sense out of these two teams if you gave me a month to do research. I’m just going to assume that Sunday night’s game between the Giants and Packers will be exciting & competitive, and you know how the NFL works…we can’t possibly have back-to-back good games in Primetime. So that’s the only reason I’m picking the Panthers by double digits. Please don’t follow my advice on this one.

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

  • Favorites are 26-36-1 against the spread
  • The point total has landed on Over 33 times, Under 28 times and Pushed 2 times
  • I’m 31-32 against the spread

Enjoy week 5.

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.

Week 5 NFL Picks: Can Vegas Slow Down the Juggernauts?

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The Year of the Injury.

The Year of Bad Coaching.

The Year of Terrible Kicking.

The Year of Too Many Penalties.

The Year Draftkings Almost Ruined Football.

The Year of the Backup Quarterback.

We’re only a month into the regular season and I’ve already heard so many variations of “This is The Year of [fill in the blank with something negative].”

You can all waste your time obsessing over those problems if you want. I’d rather focus on my favorite version of “The Year of BLANK”: The Year of Dominant Teams.

Using the past five years as my guide, it looks like on average there are two teams that are still undefeated after five weeks. Well, this year we have six teams yet to lose a game as we head into week 5…and all five that are playing this weekend (Carolina at 4-0 is on a bye) are favored to win yet again.

Last week we had seven undefeated teams and six of them were playing (New England was on their bye). One team lost outright (Arizona), one team won but didn’t cover (Denver) and the other four easily covered as favorites.

It would be a gigantic understatement to say you’d be doing quite well if you’d been betting these undefeated teams with their point spreads all along. Check out these numbers:

  • Cincinnati, Atlanta and Green Bay are each 4-0 against the spread this year.
  • Add in the other three undefeated teams’ numbers, and you get a combined 20-2-1 against the spread record from Cincy, Atlanta, Green Bay, New England, Carolina and Denver.
  • And you could make the case that Arizona and the Jets belong in this conversation. Both teams have 3-1 win-loss records, and they also both have 3-1 against the spread records.
  • If you want to consider these teams as the eight best in the NFL, their combined gambling record is 26-4-1 through four weeks.

WOW.

Is it guaranteed that these teams will keep winning? Of course not. Is it a sure thing that they’ll keep covering the spread at this rate? Nope. In fact, Vegas will be doing everything in its power to make sure these teams regress back to an average rate of covering. But that might take some time. So my suggestion is to keep hammering these teams in your bets, your pick ‘em leagues and even your survivor pool until further notice. With so many bad head coach and quarterback situations in the NFL this year, maybe we’re looking at a season with a huge gap between the good teams and everyone else. We may be in a rare situation where parlaying and/or teasing all these excellent teams actually makes sense. Usually those kind of bets are for suckers. (Talk to your local degenerate for explanations on parlaying and teasing.)

Here’s the part where I admit that my week 4 results weren’t fantastic, and if yours weren’t either, I’m warning you not to get too down on yourself. Last week was an extremely difficult set of games. I went 7-7-1 against the spread, dropping my record for the season to 34-27-2. But I anticipated the struggle, limiting my bets and lowering my expectations. In my Survivor Pool, 10 different teams were selected out of 18 participants. No consensus on who would roll to an easy win whatsoever. These weeks happen. Don’t let it shake your confidence. Remember, you spent way too much time in July and August studying every written word about football. You DVR’d all the preseason games for every team and ignored your family to watch football on a Tuesday night in mid-August. You know this. Now go do it. (That was a pep talk for myself more so than for my readers.)

Here are the week 5 lines.

Indianapolis @ Houston (-4.5)

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 20, Indianapolis 9

I bet Andre Johnson was looking forward to playing in Houston and showing his old team just how good he can still be when he has a good starting QB and the right team behind him. Maybe next year, Andre. First of all, Andrew Luck is out again for this game. Second, Johnson has all of seven catches for 51 yards this year. And third, his current team is almost as big of an embarrassment as his former team. So much for the revenge game.

The obvious choice here is to take Houston, but let’s not pretend anyone’s actually confident in them. Why would it be unfathomable for Matt Hasselbeck to have an OK game against the Texans? Because Houston’s defense has been good this year? Hardly. According to footballoutsiders.com, Houston ranks 26th in the league in defensive efficiency (22nd against the rush, 23rd against the pass). But combine Hasselbeck spending time in the hospital earlier this week with the chance that the Texans finally get their running game going, and I feel slightly better leaning towards Houston than Indy.

OK, I’m ready to call it a loss on yet another preseason prediction of mine: J.J. Watt for MVP. I feel like for the rest of eternity, whenever someone tries to suggest a defensive player for league MVP, we’re going to point to how awful the 2015 Texans have been. The guy playing at a higher level than any other player in history at his position can’t even make his team average, slightly competitive, better than dog poo. Houston is atrocious and there’s nothing Watt can do about it. He can’t be that cure-all that even a decent quarterback can be. So let’s all agree the MVP is for a quarterback or record-setting offensive player.

Chicago at Kansas City (-9)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Kansas City 30, Chicago 23

The Chiefs lost by 15 points last week to a team they expected to be very competitive with (Cincy). The week before, they lost by 10 to the Packers, in a game where the Packers were leading by as much as 24 in the 4th quarter. The week before that is when they blew a home game to the Broncos in epic fashion. They’re 1-3 and only a win over the harmless Texans kept the first month from being an unmitigated disaster for Kansas City.

And yet, you can’t really blame Chiefs fans for holding out some hope. After that week 1 win, they faced three straight opponents who are pretty much all locks for the playoffs. If you believe ESPN.com’s Power Rankings, the Chiefs just faced the 2nd, 3rd and 5th best teams in succession. And two of those were road games.

Their next four games look a lot better: Chicago, at Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Detroit. That’s three home games and four potential wins. There are no more excuses for the Chiefs. If they can’t win with an especially dominant display of offense at home against the Bears, then even Kansas City fans should ditch this team until 2016.

Full disclosure: I was initially picking the Chiefs to cover, but when I got to the end of my picks and realized I had chosen only five underdogs, I forced myself to find one game to swap. This feels like a decent game to choose because the Chiefs could still fall into that mediocre range, and the Bears probably aren’t as terrible as their first three games of the year.

Seattle at Cincinnati (-3)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 27, Seattle 23

I feel like my hands are tied with this game. Anything over three and I could have talked myself into Seattle making it a close game. Anything less than three and I would have gone big on Cincy because I’m just so damn sure they’re going to win by exactly three. Since I can’t predict a push, I’ll go with the Bengals because once again this game is not on Primetime TV, meaning Andy Dalton should be just fine.

By the way, how about me “crushing” my picks in the Survivor Pool so far this year. After an easy week win 1 where I took the Jets over the Browns, I went with the Ravens in week 2 (LOSS, but the other 17 people in my pool also lost so I stayed alive), the Panthers in week 3 (a win over New Orleans only when Josh Norman made a semi-miraculous interception in the end zone when the Saints were driving for the winning touchdown), and the Seahawks in week 4 (a win only because the refs totally bungled the Calvin Johnson goal line fumble).

So yeah, I’m not so sure I “know how to pick ‘em.”

Washington at Atlanta (-7.5)

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 41, Washington 24

We just saw what a firing-on-all-cylinders Falcons team can do, especially at home against a weak opponent. That seems to be exactly what we’ve got in this game. Washington enjoyed three of its first four games at home, and playing well against Miami and Philadelphia doesn’t seem like as big of an accomplishment as it once did.

Plan accordingly for an Atlanta playoff berth. It’s happening. On top of being 4-0, Footballoutsiders.com has the Falcons’ schedule as the easiest in the league the rest of the way. After playing Washington it goes like this: at New Orleans, at Tennessee, vs Tampa Bay, at San Francisco, vs Indianapolis, vs Minnesota, at Tampa Bay. That feels like 9-3 at worst going into the final month where they face Carolina twice. With reasonable health, the Falcons are a 12-4 team. Dan Quinn, congrats on your Coach of the Year win.

Jacksonville at Tampa Bay (-3)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 20, Tampa 16

Something tells me this isn’t going to play out like much of a home game for the Bucs. They’ve lost 11 straight at home (dating back to December 2013). And already this season their play seems to be trending in the wrong direction. Not sure the fans are coming out full force for this in-state rivalry. And of course it’s not much of a road trip for the Jaguars. I think this plays like a neutral field game, and in that case, the Jaguars are the better team. I’ll take the three points gladly.

New Orleans at Philadelphia (-4.5)

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 28, New Orleans 20

While these two 1-3 teams might look similar on the surface, the Eagles are much better according to most relevant stats. They’ve had a little bad luck, but at least their defense has played OK and they actually have the healthier quarterback situation. In fact, New Orleans’ defense is probably just what the doctor ordered for Sam Bradford.

That reminds me, we are now in something like year 8 of “Rob Ryan fails miserably at building a good defense.” It’s one of the surest things in all of sports.

Cleveland at Baltimore (-7)

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 31, Baltimore 10

This one is easy for me. Under no circumstances would I pick the Ravens to beat any team by more than a touchdown right now. I know it’s not unthinkable, and I might be walking into a classic Cleveland Browns trap where they play like a halfway decent team just before having a no-show in a huge divisional game. But from a pure talent standpoint, along with execution through the first month of the year, the Browns should keep this close.

St. Louis at Green Bay (-9)

The Pick: St. Louis

The Score: Green Bay 24, St. Louis 22

If everything breaks perfectly for the Rams, I think they just might be able to keep this within a touchdown. But I need their defensive line to play so well that they’re getting to Aaron Rodgers all day without having to send extra blitzers. I need Todd Gurley to be the focal point of an offense that slowly marches down the field and keeps Rodgers on the sideline. I need Jeff Fisher to pull out one, maybe two, trick plays that he’s always good for in a game like this.

If all of that happens to absolute perfection, I think St. Louis can proudly lose a close game to a nearly untouchable team.

Buffalo (-3) at Tennessee

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 23, Buffalo 14

There’s a chance I’m misreading this and the Bills are just going to come out and crush Tennessee. But to me, the combination of the Titans’ two weeks of rest and Buffalo spending the early part of this week trying to figure out how not to get penalized 150 times per game should be a huge advantage for the Titans. I feel like Tennessee should have a major preparedness edge in this matchup.

And it’s still very unclear what exactly Buffalo is this year. We gave them the benefit of the doubt in a home loss to the Patriots, but they just suffered a worse loss at home to the Giants. Did Rex’s cockiness combined with one good game in the opener against Indy really trick us into thinking this team was competent? The answer is starting to look like a resounding “yes.”

Arizona (-2.5) at Detroit

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 34, Detroit 14

Yeah, I’m not letting myself overthink this one. Arizona isn’t one of those teams that automatically looks a lot worse on the road. In fact, they’ve won the majority of their road games in Carson Palmer’s starts over the past few years. I’m not worried about the road or anything else going against the Cardinals this weekend. They should roll. And Detroit should only have to wait one more week for their first win. They’ll host Chicago in week 6.

New England (-10) at Dallas

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 54, Dallas 27

Hey, Roger Goodell, don’t think I don’t see exactly what you’re doing in this game. Deploying Clete Blakeman to Dallas as the head referee for this game. The same guy who royally screwed the Patriots during the 2013 season. The same guy who was one of the referees “measuring” the air pressure of the balls at halftime of last year’s AFC Championship Game. And the league’s biggest nemesis, the Patriots, are rolling into Texas with an undefeated record. Meanwhile Jerry Jones, one of your most obnoxious and influential owners, cried all Summer about how Brady should be suspended for four games. I wonder if the Pats are going to get a fair shot in this game. Hmm…

Meanwhile, I’m undeterred. I’m not remotely scared of Greg Hardy and Rolondo McLain playing for the first time on the Dallas defense and being fresh because all 53 players on the Patriots will be rested. And they actually got an injured starter on the offensive line back this week. So even more depth for the deepest team in the league. Oh, and apparently at least one Cowboys player gave Tom Brady some bulletin board material this week. It’s all there, folks. The makings of an absolute blowout. Don’t get left behind.

Denver (-5) at Oakland

The Pick: Denver

The Score: Denver 20, Oakland 10

When will the Broncos finally lose a game? As soon as their defense plays only OK for once, that’s when. The moment another team’s able to put up four touchdowns on Denver, it’s over. Their offense is one of the worst in football and Peyton Manning is rating out as one of the worst quarterbacks. There’s no secret here. But will the Raiders be able to hang that first L on Denver? In a word, no. Maybe when the Browns host the Broncos next week? Maybe. But we’re here to talk about this week. And this week I think Denver shuts down Amari Cooper (easily) and wins yet another low-scoring game.

San Francisco at NY Giants (-7)

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 29, San Francisco 11

If I hadn’t abandoned my preseason thoughts so quickly, I would have seen that Giants win in Buffalo happening last week. At the very least I should have known the Bills were giving way too many points to a Giants team that could have easily been 3-0 if they had caught a few breaks. I had New York going to the playoffs, and it still looks reasonably promising. They’re 2-2 and after this game against the 49ers, they play at Philly, then host Dallas (no Romo), then back-to-back road games in New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Even if they go 3-2 in these next five games, they’ll be in great shape in the NFC East.

As for the 49ers, I wish I could find a website that would let me bet how many more starts Colin Kaepernick gets before they pull him for Blaine Gabbert or Terrelle Pryor. I would choose “two” as my answer. He starts this week, and then he starts against 1-4 Baltimore at home. When those games both go horrifically, he gets pulled. If you’ve watched any extended San Francisco action this year, you know Kaepernick is playing historically bad. He actually looks like someone who has never taken a snap in the NFL, which is weird considering he was a play away from winning a Super Bowl a few years ago.

Anyway, thanks for yet another appointment-TV kind of game on Sunday night, NBC!

Pittsburgh at San Diego (-3)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 26, San Diego 21

The Steelers will be coming off 11 days of rest, nearly a full bye week’s worth of time off. As for the state of the Chargers, I’m pretty unimpressed with their two home wins–by five over Detroit and three over Cleveland. I’m beyond nervous to back Michael Vick ON THE ROAD, but I could see this being remembered as “the Le’Veon Bell Game.” With the way the Chargers are giving up rushing yards, if Bell doesn’t touch the ball at least 25 times in this game, the Rooney’s should “Philbin” Mike Tomlin before the team plane lands in Pittsburgh Tuesday morning.

Here’s the weekly tally:

  • 8 Favorites, 6 Underdogs
  • 5 Road Dogs, 1 Home Dog
  • 6 Home Teams, 8 Road Teams

Enjoy week 5!