|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|10-05-14||Chicago Bears v. Carolina Panthers -2.5||Top||24-31||Win||100||98 h 25 m||Show|
I’m playing on CAROLINA. Panthers QB Cam Newton faces one of his favorite teams to throw against on Sunday, which is just what Carolina needs to snap out of its two-game losing streak.
Newton has passed for over 300 yards each of the last two times he faced the Bears and don’t be surprised if he does it a third straight time. The Bears secondary ranks a disappointing 20th in the league in passing yards allowed and they have struggled to consistently bring a pass rush. (They rank just 20th in the league in rushing yards allowed.)
On offense, the Bears were thankful to see running back Matt Forte explode for 122 yards rushing last week while QB Jay Cutler struggles to establish some rhythm through the air. The problem with that for the Bears is they have a banged up offensive line that suffered another blow in practice this week when starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod hurt his knee and had to leave the field.
Carolina is an undervalued squad that has been the victim of a nasty schedule to start the season. I see them handling the Bears on Sunday in front of the home crowd.
10* Breakfast Club
|09-28-14||New Orleans Saints -3 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||17-38||Loss||-113||104 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. After losing two straight heartbreakers, the Saints got a long overdue win last week at home. They beat Minnesota 20-9 as 9.5-point favorites within the friendly confines of the Superdome. But having to hit the road for a third time in four weeks has tempered enthusiasm here, meaning we can get away with laying a pretty short number against a still suspect Cowboys team.
Dallas had a huge come from behind victory Sunday, beating the Rams 34-31. They trailed early 21-0 and for the first time we saw the Cowboys defense play poorly. They gave up 448 yards and allowed St. Louis to convert 8 of 13 on third down. Not a good sign when getting set to face Drew Brees.
These teams played last year and the results were ugly if you were a Cowboys fan. The game was in New Orleans and the Saints won 49-17 with Brees connecting on 34 of his 41 pass attempts. It was his third straight game throwing for at least 350 yards against this Dallas defense. The offense set a NFL record, gaining 40 first downs.
The Saints are clearly not the same team on the road. They are 0-2 this year and lost four straight regular season road games. But that lack of success has not applied to Dallas. Brees is 3-0 all-time on the road vs. the Cowboys.
I'd say that Brees should look to pick on Cowboys' cornerback Mo Claiborne in this one, but the defender's role is going to be greatly reduced here after an awful game vs. St. Louis and storming out of practice earlier this week. But if Claiborne is the starter, that gives you an idea on just how bad the reserves are.
Ultimately, the Saints are going to win some road games. This one is not outdoors, which works to the benefit of their offense. The defense obviously made a ton of strides last week vs. Minnesota. Dallas is just 6-11 ATS its last 17 home games including 1-4 ATS last five. 10* main event.
|09-28-14||Philadelphia Eagles v. San Francisco 49ers -5||Top||21-26||Push||0||101 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. The 49ers are a team that really needs to win this week. They're 1-2 and have faded badly in the second half of back to back losses to Chicago and Arizona. Really, had it not been for a turnover-fueled first half lead against Dallas, things could actually be worse.
Despite this, I had expected bettors to leap on San Francisco this week in a must-win spot as they host Philadelphia. The sharp money did initially, but since then the line has held as the majority of tickets have actually come in on the underdog. A contrarian by nature, I often find myself on the opposite side of the public. That is the case here.
Obviously what the public sees here is a 3-0 team getting points. But the Eagles are not your ordinary 3-0 team. In all three games they have had to come from behind. They've trailed in all three games by 10 or more points at one point. Prior to this, no team had ever started a season 3-0 when trailing by double digits in each game.
An early hole here wouldn't be as easy for Philadelphia to climb out of. On paper, the 49ers are a team designed to protect leads. That has been their signature the past three seasons under Jim Harbaugh. But strangely, it's been a different story this year. In the first halves of games, San Francisco has outscored opponents 59-16. In the second half, they are looking at a 52-3 deficit. That's stunning, but not irreversible. I would say the next time we see them get out to a big lead (here?), they will close out in familiar form.
One key trend is that San Francisco has yet to lose three straight games under Harbaugh. Last year in Week 4, they were off two straight losses and routed St. Louis 35-11. That's the only time they'd lost two straight under Harbaugh.
Philadelphia's isn't without its own issues, on both sides of the football. They've allowed 61 points the last two games and if you take out the second half vs. Jacksonville, they have given up an average of 10 points per quarter. They haven't sacked the quarterback in the last two games. The offensive line, which was so good last season, is dealing with multiple injuries. 10* personal favorite.
|09-25-14||NY Giants +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||45-14||Win||100||73 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on the GIANTS. While the Giants won last week to improve their record to 1-2, the Redskins lost (but covered) and now find themselves in the same place in the NFC East standings. I see the value as being on the dog in this one.
Eli Manning is finally starting to look like Eli Manning again. He comes off his best game of the season, completing 21 of 28 passes against Houston for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most importantly, he didn't throw an interception. Manning was also supplemented with a nice running game, courtesy of Rashad Jennings going for 176 yards.
While the Giants ended up winning by a final score of only 30-17, it wasn't even that close. They outgained Houston 262 to 83 in the 1st half. Again, perhaps the most important thing is that they won the turnover battle for the 1st time in a game this season.
Everyone has been quick to jump on the Kirk Cousins bandwagon in Washington. But while the backup quarterback has put up some impressive stats so far, all he has to show for it is a win over the winless Jaguars. He has faced two bad defenses thus far as well.
The home team has dominated Thursday night football so far, but under coach Tom Coughlin, New York is 3-1 ATS on TNF. Coughlin is also 11-8-1 ATS and 14-6 straight up vs. the Redskins in his time on the Giants sidelines.
The Giants swept the Redskins last season. Both games came late in the year. While Washington was a bad team in 2013, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Cousins started the second of the two games. He played very poorly, completing just 19 of 49 passes while also throwing two interceptions.
Also important is pointing out that the underdog is on a 6-1 ATS run in this NFC East rivalry. 10* best bet.
|09-22-14||Chicago Bears v. NY Jets -2.5||Top||27-19||Loss||-110||27 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY JETS. Last week saw the Jets blow a 21-3 lead at Green Bay, losing 31-24, but covering as underdogs. The Bears were outright winners in San Francisco, but their game went the opposite way of the Jets as they fell behind early only to mount a successful comeback. I'm not sold that is all is right with Chicago now. I'll be going with the Jets.
Thanks to a +4 turnover margin, the Bears were able to come from behind and beat San Francisco 28-20. Assuming the Jets can take better care of the football than the 49ers did, Chicago still has a lot to prove in my book.
This is a team that lost outright in Week 1, at home, to Buffalo. They were down 20-7 going into the fourth quarter last Sunday. So they're one big quarter away from being 0-2 and really they hadn't looked very good at all before that big fourth quarter in San Francisco.
Winning back to back primetime games is not easy to do. Especially when you are the road team in both games. That's the situation for Chicago and I'm just not confident in them in this spot given a 2-6 ATS record off a win under Marc Trestman. Overall, the Bears are a bankroll busting 5-12-1 ATS the last two seasons.
The Bears' run defense looks no better this year. They've given up an average of 5.3 yards per carry in two games, allowing 320 yards on the ground. The Jets have run the ball very well in their two games, including 212 yards in the win vs. Oakland. They had 146 more last week against the Packers. They also have a mobile QB in Geno Smith.
Not only do the Jets have the league's best rushing offense, but they also have the league's best rushing defense. They've allowed an average of just 52.5 yards per game so far.
The Jets were 6-2 SU last year off a loss. They had the same record at home. I'll lay a short number in this situation. 10* main event.
|09-21-14||Kansas City Chiefs v. Miami Dolphins -4||Top||34-15||Loss||-110||139 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Neither of these teams played well last week. Actually, I take that back. Kansas City played better than expected in covering the spread in a 24-17 loss to the Broncos. But the bottom line is that the Chiefs have opened 0-2, and this has the look of a difficult season for them. I'll lay the points with the Dolphins here.
Miami at least has a win to its credit, beating New England in Week 1. That was here at home. They didn't fare nearly as well last week up in Buffalo, but that's a place where they traditionally struggle. Back at home, I'd expect them to bounce back.
Both teams may be without their starting running back for this game (check statuses). It is confirmed that Miami will not have Knowshon Moreno available for the next four weeks after he dislocated his elbow against the Bills. Kansas City is still unsure of the status of Jamaal Charles, but remember he wasn't very effective in an opening week loss to Tennessee. Another key injury the Chiefs are dealing with is the ankle of starting safety Eric Berry.
Overall, seven Kansas City starters are either injured or suspended right now.
I have to wonder how KC will respond after suffering such a tough loss in Denver last week. History says not well as the team is 3-7 ATS off its last 10 straight up losses while also going 1-4 ATS off its last five ATS wins.
Miami has done well at home recently, covering five of six. They are also 5-2 ATS in September the last two years.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith has not played well and comes into this game as the league's lowest rated passer. If the Dolphins offensive line can protect Ryan Tannehill the same way they did vs. New England, then they should leave with the cash. 10* personal favorite.
|09-21-14||Oakland Raiders +16 v. New England Patriots||Top||9-16||Win||100||154 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. Those who find value in taking large underdogs will have that theory put to the test this week as the Raiders visit New England. This line was quickly bet up and it has reached a point where I personally feel the value is on Oakland.
Don't get me wrong; the Raiders have struggled. Most would consider them to be the worst team in the league. That's why they're getting so many points. But I am of the opinion that this is simply too many points to lay in an NFL game, especially one taking place so early in the season. There's always the issue of motivation for the favorite.
New England is a team that's earned a reputation for putting up a lot of points. But even though they scored 30 last week on Minnesota, I don't believe this Patriots offense is as good as previous editions. They failed to gain even 300 yards against the Vikings and one of their three touchdowns came after a blocked field goal.
Tom Brady seems to be in a bit of a decline. He threw for just 149 yards last week after completing only 51.8 percent of his passes in the first game.
The Patriots have also hurt themselves. They've had a league-high 263 yards go against them due to penalties.
Bad starts have been another issue. They have fallen behind 7-0 in both games thus far. Against Miami, they went three and out, then had a punt blocked. Versus Minnesota, they gave up a seven-play, 80 yard opening drive. With the spread being this high, falling behind at all would make it very difficult to cover.
New England has not been a good bet as a double digit fave recently. They are just 6-14 ATS laying 10 or more points dating back to the 2008 season including 1-6 ATS the last seven times. 10* best bet.
|09-21-14||Houston Texans v. NY Giants +2.5||Top||17-30||Win||100||154 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing the GIANTS. For a second straight week, Houston is a road favorite. They easily covered last week, but that was against Oakland. The Giants come in desperately needing a win, having opened 0-2, both straight up and against the spread. As a home underdog, I think they are a tremendous value in Week 3.
Let's not forget the Texans also opened 2-0 last year. They would go on to lose their final 14 games in what was a disastrous season. No one, including me, is saying that will happen again in 2014. But, the level of competition hasn't been too significant to this point either. So far, Houston has beaten both the Redskins and the Raiders, two teams that combined for just seven wins a year ago.
The Giants have played a couple of decent teams in Detroit and Arizona. While we all saw them struggle in the first game (Monday night game), they actually played a lot better last week vs. the Cardinals. With the team down 22-14, running back Rashad Jennings had a costly fumble inside the Arizona 20-yard line. That was only after a Ted Ginn punt return for a TD and the Giants fumbling the ensuing kickoff away, setting up a Cardinals' field goal.
One positive development for New York against Arizona was the play of QB Eli Manning. After a rough preseason, Manning appeared to have a grasp of the new offense for the first time. He completed 26 of 39 pass attempts for 277 yards and two touchdowns. One of his two interceptions came on a desperation heave at the end of the game. The other was on a tipped ball.
Last week's win and cover by the Texans broke an 8-game ATS losing streak when looking to follow up a SU win.
Surprisingly, despite two relatively comfortable wins, Houston has been outgained in both games this year. Turnovers, which killed them last year, have swung in their favor and that's a big reason for them being unbeaten right now. But I look for the Giants to get the breaks in this one. 10* best bet.
|09-15-14||Philadelphia Eagles +3 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||30-27||Win||100||26 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. With the Colts losing last week, many are going to be pointing towards Andrew Luck's 9-0-1 ATS record off a SU loss the last two years. But I don't necessarily share that same faith in this year's Colts. Especially now that they're laying points to a Philadelphia team that can score in bunches. I'm taking the Eagles.
Neither of these teams got off to good starts in Week 1. Indianapolis obviously lost, falling to Denver 32-24. But because they were able to come back from a 24-0 deficit to cover, I think the public is putting too much faith in them. Philadelphia was trailing by a similar margin last week vs. Jacksonville, but still covered a double digit spread against Jacksonville. That's more impresssive to me.
I expect Indy to struggle all season defensively. They were already going to be without Robert Mathis for four games (suspended), but now he's lost for the year after injuring himself while working out. Mathis led the NFL in sacks (19.5) last year. That's a big loss. They also allowed 102 yards rushing against the Broncos. Last year, Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing.
The Colts have also become too one-dimensional on offense. They can't run the ball and the Trent Richardson trade looks worse with each passing game. Andrew Luck just doesn't have enough help this year.
The team will be weaker at linebacker in this game with Jerrell Freeman (33 straight starts) not playing because of a hamstring injury. His replacement, Josh McNary, missed a good deal of training camp.
Even with two backups playing last week (will be the same this week), Philadelphia's offensive line didn't allow a sack in the second half against Jacksonville. That's impressive.
Though Indy has proven itself to be a great bounce back team, I just don't trust this defense enough to call for them to even win the game. 10* main event.
|09-14-14||St. Louis Rams +7 v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Top||19-17||Win||100||92 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Both of these teams are off ugly home losses to start the year. Already coming into the game with problems at QB, St. Louis scored only six points in an ugly loss to Minnesota at home that saw them have to call upon third-string QB Austin Davis (remember that Sam Bradford is out for the year). Tampa Bay hardly did any better. They scored only 14 points in a home loss to Carolina. Josh McCown did not look like the same quarterback we saw for a nice stretch last year in Chicago, including tossing a horrible interception right after fumbling the ball on the same play.
Because Tampa Bay was expected to improve this year and St. Louis was expected to basically be the same or worse, the public has gotten down early on the Bucs in this game, pushing the line higher than it should be. Tampa might win this one, but I can't see them covering. Not after last week's performance.
This is the kind of matchup where I'd probably take the dog regardless. Because the game is in Tampa, it's obviously going to be the Rams catching points. But with a very good front four, I believe they're uniquely suited to stopping a Bucs offense that looked pretty lost last week.
When the advanced line for this game was posted at the Westgate (formerly Las Vegas Hilton) prior to the Week 1 kickoffs, it had Tampa Bay laying only 2.5 points. While the Rams certainly didn't perform up to expectations last week, neither did the Buccaneers, so in this instance I feel the line move, especially as significant as it is, is unwarranted.
TB was held scoreless for three quarters last week and quite frankly McCown looked horrible. He threw for only 183 yards on 35 attempts, which works out to 5.2 YPA. That's an ugly number.
McCown's job this week is made more difficult by the fact that Logan Mankins is out. Acquired in a trade with New England right before the regular season, Mankins was supposed to be the difference maker for a Bucs offensive line that otherwise had plenty of question marks. Even with Chris Long being injured, the Rams' front four remains talented enough (they still have Robert Quinn), to make it long day for the Bucs up front. 10* best bet.
|09-14-14||Jacksonville Jaguars v. Washington Redskins -5.5||Top||10-41||Win||100||137 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Is it too early to start talking about a "must win" for 1st year Redskins coach Jay Gruden? Starting 0-2 against the AFC South is I'm sure not the way he envisioned his tenure beginning, so a win over Jacksonville is something I'd certainly call a "must."
Washington opened the season by losing 17-6 at Houston (Remember, I took the Texans). While Robert Griffin III and the offense continue to not impress, the one positive takeaway I had for the team was a defense that held Texans stud running back Arian Foster to an average of just 3.8 yards per carry. The Redskins did finish the game with the edge in total yards, 372-316.
Jacksonville meanwhile was a painful beat for their backers as an early 17-0 lead turned into a 34-17 loss and those who took them plus the double digits went from feeling they had a potential outright winner on their hands to a losing ticket altogether.
I can see how given all the buzz underdogs created in Week 1 (went 11-5 ATS overall) that those same people might want to come back with the Jaguars again this week. But I'd tell those folks to beware. This is still not a very good team and their shortcoming became apparent as they fell apart down the stretch last week.
The offense didn't really do anything after taking that 17-0 lead. Toby Gerhart was given a pretty sweet deal to be the lead running back here, but gaining only 42 yards on 18 carries is not a positive sign. Chad Henne is still the quarterback, by the way. Defensively, this team lacks a serious pass rush. That's got to be music to the ears of RG3 after facing Houston last week.
At the end of the day, Gruden can't lose his 1st home game or he risks losing the fanbase. Look for Washington to win this one by at least a touchdown. 10* personal favorite.
|09-11-14||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens -2.5||Top||6-26||Win||100||72 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. Obviously, this game is going to take a back seat to the Ray Rice storyline. But I feel in a must-win spot, the Ravens are somewhat being undervalued here. They nearly came back to beat Cincinnati last week while Pittsburgh almost blew it against Cleveland. I can't see Baltimore, traditionally a very strong home team, opening its season with two straight division losses at M&T Bank Stadium.
There were some trends last week that really supported a play on the Ravens. Before losing outright to the Bengals to open the season, the team was 9-0 straight up and 8-1 against the spread as a home favorite of three points or less under John Harbaugh. Week 1 marked their first home loss in the first four weeks of the season since Harbaugh's been the coach here. Just last year, they were 6-2 SU at home. The fact that they lost last week doesn't make those trends any less true; there's just a loss in there now.
Incredibly, the past five meetings between these teams have all been decided by three points or less. That makes a case for the dog in this situation, especially since the Ravens only won 22-20 over the Steelers Thanksgiving night at home last year. (PIttsburgh left with the cash as three-point underdogs after missing a potential game-tying 2-pt conversion.)
But the Steelers were also on the verge of not covering that game obviously, before the late TD. They were on the wrong end of a backdoor cover last week, blowing a 27-3 lead at home to the Browns and needing a last second field goal just to pull out the straight up win.
With the Ray Rice situation hopefully behind them, perhaps Baltimore pulls together in this one? It's a game they have to have and in the past we've seen teams pull together amidst similar distractions.
Perhaps Joe Flacco's numbers would have looked a lot better last week had his receivers not dropped six passes. Also, the Ravens defense did allow just one touchdown, the late bomb to AJ Green. Pittsburgh's defense looked a lot worse against a Cleveland offense that few have an affinity for. 10* main event.
|09-08-14||San Diego Chargers +3.5 v. Arizona Cardinals||Top||17-18||Win||100||182 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. Getting the "hook" (half point) here is obviously pretty nice. But I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't end up needing it at all as I think the Chargers have an excellent shot at taking this game outright.
Arizona is coming off a 10-win season. But few are predicting a repeat finish this season playing in the tough NFC West. The Cardinals defense carried them last year, but three of their starting players from the front seven are gone (Dansby, Dockett, Washington). That's going to spell trouble against a Chargers offense that by most measures only ranked behind Denver in terms of being the best in the league in 2013.
San Diego's defense was its Achilles heel last year, but that group actually improved as the season went along, thanks to a pass rush. They brought in some new cornerbacks in the offseason, one in the draft (Verrett) and one in free agency (Flowers), and I like those moves.
But when discussing the Chargers, you have to talk QB Philip Rivers. He completed almost 70% of his passes last season, a number which the coaching staff predicted before the season and was laughed at for. The new coaching staff did wonders for him and he ended up with almost 4500 yards passing and 32 touchdown passes.
Even if tight end Antonio Gates can't go tonight, Rivers won't be lacking for weapons. Receiver Keenan Allen had great rookie year and the Chargers have another TE in waiting in LaDarius Green.
I am far more worried about Arizona's injury situation. Running back Andre Ellington was supposed to have a breakout year, but has been limited in practice and will be a gametime decision. Also, what if punter Dave Zastudil can't go? The team doesn't have another punter on the roster!
The Cardinals are 0-4 ATS their last four appearances on Monday Night Football. 10* best bet.
|09-07-14||Washington Redskins v. Houston Texans -2.5||Top||6-17||Win||100||148 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. Two teams looking to rebound from very disappointing campaigns meet in the first week of the season. With Houston at home and available below the key number of three, I've decided to lay the points.
In fact, according to record these teams should have drafted 1-2 back in April. But because of the Robert Griffin III trade, the Redskins lost their right to the #2 overall choice. Houston being able to add Jadeveon Clowney while Washington really added no one of consequence is an obvious and automatic advantage in the Texans favor.
We have two rookie head coaches making their debuts in this one as well. Both have been head coaches before; Houston's Bill O'Brien in college and Washington's Jay Gruden in the Arena League. Both were also offensive coordinators previously in the NFL. Opening at home, I give the slight edge to O'Brien.
With Clowney joining JJ Watt, I give the Texans a significant edge defensively in this matchup. Linebacker Brian Cushing also returns from an injury-riddled campaign.
While Houston has questions at quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick?), who knows if RG3 will ever be able to stay healthy for Washington? After the disastrous end to the Mike Shanahan era in D.C, things can probably only get better, but Griffin is back to square one.
Trends aren't necessarily as useful when you have new head coaches. But for what it's worth, the Redskins did fail to cover five of their last six road games last year. There is the fact that Houston lost its last 14 games last season. So O'Brien and the new coaching staff will be desperate for a win. They'll get it and the cover. 10* personal favorite.
|02-02-14||Seattle Seahawks v. Denver Broncos -2.5||Top||43-8||Loss||-110||293 h 24 m||Show|
|01-19-14||San Francisco 49ers v. Seattle Seahawks -3||Top||17-23||Win||100||138 h 28 m||Show|
|01-19-14||New England Patriots v. Denver Broncos -4||Top||16-26||Win||100||135 h 6 m||Show|
|01-12-14||San Diego Chargers v. Denver Broncos -9.5||Top||17-24||Loss||-105||152 h 44 m||Show|
|01-05-14||San Diego Chargers v. Cincinnati Bengals -6.5||Top||27-10||Loss||-115||145 h 53 m||Show|
|01-04-14||New Orleans Saints +3 v. Philadelphia Eagles||Top||26-24||Win||100||10 h 10 m||Show|
|12-29-13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. New Orleans Saints -12.5||Top||17-42||Win||100||126 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. I won with the Bucs when these teams met earlier in the season, at Tampa. I don't doubt that the Bucs will fight hard again here. However, in this case I don't think "fighting hard" will be enough.
While the Bucs were able to go toe-to-toe with the Saints at Tampa, that figures to be a much tougher task. Its no secret that the Saints have struggled on the road while dominating at home.
The Saints' last game here was a 31-13 win over Carolina. Including that victory, the Saints are 7-0 here, outscoring teams by an average of 32.9 to 15.4.
Meanwhile, the Bucs have averaged a mere 15.7 points, while winning just one of their seven road games.
The Saints average 439.7 yards of offense per game here, 6.7 per play. Conversely, the Bucs average just 266.4 yards per game on the road, only 4.8 per play.
Over their last three games, the Bucs are averaging a paltry 199.7 yards, just 3.8 per play. Those kind of stats just won't cut it here, not against a Saints team which will be desperate and which should keep its foot on the gas the entire way.
Last year's game here resulted in a 41-0 win for the Saints. I expect this one to also turn ugly. 10*
|12-29-13||Kansas City Chiefs +9.5 v. San Diego Chargers||Top||24-27||Win||100||9 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on KC. Its true that the Chiefs are locked into the #5 seed. That's going to keep a lot of people off them which in turn has caused the line to be very high. I believe that generous line is providing us with excellent value.
The Chargers should know whether or not the game matters by the time it starts. They need Miami and Baltimore to both lose, or tie.
Either way, I expect both teams to be motivated.
Reid has publicly discussed resting some starters. Regardless of who is in there, I expect the Chiefs to go all out to win the game. In my opinion, they can't afford to "back in" to the playoffs and not be playing well.
I backed the Chargers when these teams met at KC on 11/24. I felt the line was too high. San Diego won outright, 41-38. I believe the fact that the Chargers beat them should provide further motivation for the Chiefs to return the favor here.
The Chiefs have been money (6-1 ATS) on the road, outscoring teams by a 31.6 to 16.6 margin. While anything could happen, I don't see them getting blown out here. 10*
|12-23-13||Atlanta Falcons +13 v. San Francisco 49ers||Top||24-34||Win||100||108 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Needless to say, the 49'ers have had a much better season than the Falcons. That doesn't mean that the Falcons aren't offering value here though.
At this time of the years, when a team (like Atlanta) is out of playoff race, one has to try and determine if the game actually means anything. In this case, I believe that the game does mean a lot to the Falcons.
For starters, the Falcons believe that they are much better than their record indicates. Playing a nationally televised game against a quality opponent, this is a final chance to prove that to the world. Winning what may be the final game at Candlestick would be all the more sweet.
Additionally, you may recall that these teams met in the playoffs. The 49'ers overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to win that game by a score of 28-24. That figures to provide the Falcons with further motivation, as that game was essentially the start of their "demise."
Naturally, the 49'ers will also really want to close out the Candlestick era with a victory. While I certainly respect their team, I feel that winning by two touchdowns or more is asking a lot.
True, yesterday's win by Arizona (at Seattle) changed the dynamics of this game, significantly. The 49'ers now have a little more pressure on them, than most were expecting. (I personally didn't play the Seattle/Arizona game but admit that I thought the Hawks were likely to win "SU.") Note that the 49'ers play at Arizona next week too. So, this game became a lot more important to them, when the Cards scored the upset.
That makes it even bigger for the Falcons too, in my opinion. Now, they get a chance to potentially do some spoliing. (They'd surely feel more love for the Cardinals than the 49'ers, the team which killed last year's dreams.) While the 49'ers could now be feeling some pressure, the Falcons have none. I believe that makes them dangerous.
The Falcons have won two of three, each of those three games decided by a field goal or less. Going back further shows that each of their last five games has been decided by 13 or fewer points. I look for this one to prove much closer than most will be expecting and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|12-22-13||Cleveland Browns v. NY Jets -2||Top||13-24||Win||100||25 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. With last week's loss at Carolina and with Baltimore's subsequent win at Detroit, the Jets are officially eliminated from postseason contention. I don't expect them to pack it in though.
The Jets, who may well be playing for Ryan's job, have indeed struggled on the road. However, they've been very tough here at home. In fact, they've won five of seven home games, most recently a double-digit win over the Raiders.
The combination of this being their home finale and that they're potentially playing for Ryan's job, figures to provide plenty of motivation.
QB Geno Smith had this to say about playing hard for Ryan and about his feelings for the Jets' coach. "We're going out there and playing for Rex because he's our head coach and we want to play hard for him and we want to win games for him. He coaches us hard, he puts the time and effort in and he deserves for our team to go out and that's what we do every single week. I love Rex. And despite what decision is made, my feelings toward him will never change."
While the Jets have won five of seven here, the Browns have just one win in six road tries. Having already played their home finale and with a revenge game against Pittsburgh on deck, I'm not sure that they'll be quite as hungry as the Jets.
Even if they are "motivated," the Browns simply aren't playing very well right now. They've lost five straight, giving up an average of 33 points in those losses. Over the last two weeks, they've given up 658 passing yards and more than 900 overall.
All teams are dealing with injuries at this time of the year and the Jets and Browns are no exception. The Browns' injury list is arguably bigger than the Jets' list though.
While the Browns are 1-4 SU/ATS the last five times that they played a game with a line ranging from -3 to +3, the Jets are 2-0 SU/ATS when listed as home favorites of three or less.
All things considered, I feel this line could easily be higher. 10*
|12-15-13||Cincinnati Bengals v. Pittsburgh Steelers +3||Top||20-30||Win||100||104 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Bengals have enjoyed a much better season and enter as the hotter team. I like how this one sets up for the Steelers though.
Its true that the playoffs are now extremely unlikely for Pittsburgh. This is not a team which will go through the motions or plan for next year though. This is a team with great pride, that plays to win. The recent gaffes - along with a chance to beat a hated rival on National TV - should provide plenty of motivation.
Despite coming up short last week, the Steelers have still won three of their last four home games. They've still got a 4-1 ATS record their last five games.
While the Bengals are still trying to lock up a playoff spot, they'll still be in good position to do so, even with a loss here.
Having lost at Cincinnati and off back-to-back losses, the Steelers should be highly motivated.
As Jerricho Cotchery noted: "We didn't win the first game against these guys. We are going to be up for the challenge. Guys are going to be ready to play."
Le'Veon Bell added: "We know what's at stake. Guys just have to be ready. We have to be ready for it."
While Dalton is getting more headlines, Rothlisberger is also playing well. Much better than he was when the teams met previously. In fact, he's thrown 11 TDs over his last four games, completing 63% of his passes, without throwng a single interception. Even with the earlier loss, Rothlisberger is still 14-6 for his career against Cincinnati.
The Steelers are (relatively) healthy, hungry and getting points at home. They're 3-1 ATS in divisional games and I expect them to be at their best here. 10*
|12-15-13||Arizona Cardinals v. Tennessee Titans +3||Top||37-34||Push||0||25 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. I'm happy to be getting points with the Titans here as I expect them to win outright.
While the Cardinals have admittedly been playing well in recent weeks, they're still only 2-4 away from Arizona this season. The two road wins came at Tampa and at Jacksonville, a pair of teams in the state of Florida.
The Cards won't be seeing any "Florida-like weather" here though. With the wind chill, it figures to be pretty nasty.
While Arizona certainly "needs" this game, off a divisional win and with a huge showdown with Seattle on deck, I feel that this will be a tough spot.
While Tennessee has missed Locker, note that Arizona has a larger number of injuries overall. That includes Tyrann Mathieu, the second leading tackler on the team, who went down last week. Mathieu had done a lot for this defense and I expect him to be missed.
The Cards are 0-2 ATS as road favorites of three or fewer points the past couple of seasons. Both ATS losses were also SU losses.
With Jacksonville and Houston on deck, the Titans figure they can still salvage a .500 season. I look for and expect them to go all out in taking the first step towards that goal this afternoon. 10*
|12-15-13||Buffalo Bills -2 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||27-20||Win||100||21 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. One could easily make a case for the Jaguars here. After all, they've caught fire in recent weeks while the Bills are off a blowout loss. I believe that Buffalo is favored for good reason though.
Both teams are 4-9 on the season. However, a closer look reveals that the Bills score more points AND they allow less.
Buffalo averages 21 points and 327.8 yards on offense. Jacksonville, on the other hand, manages a mere 15.8 points per game, just 285.2 yards per game. (At home, the Jags' numbers dip to 10.4 ppg and 258.2 ypg!)
On the other side of the ball, the Jags are allowing 28.6 ppg and 382.9 ypg. Meanwhile, the Bills are permitting 25.7 ppg and 345.8 ypg.
The Bills are 8-6 ATS the past couple of seasons, when off two or more consecutive losses.
During the same stretch, the Jags are only 1-5 ATS when off a divisional victory. Note that the Jags are currently dealing with a few key injuries. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jonathan Cyrpien and Cecil Shorts are all banged-up. If any/all of them play, they may be at less than 100%.
The Bills were six point favorites when these teams met last December. They won by a score of 34-18, dominating the time of possession and holding a commanding 232-50 advantage on the ground. I expect another win and cover on Sunday afternoon. 10*
|12-08-13||Carolina Panthers v. New Orleans Saints -4||Top||13-31||Win||102||131 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. The Panthers are rolling right now and they certainly looked better than the Saints last week. Admittedly, the Panthers' defense is very good. I believe that the Saints have the better coach, the better QB and the better offense though. Combine all that with the fact they're playing at home and I expect them to overcome the fact that they're playing on a short week and for them to finish on top.
True, the Saints looked pretty bad at Seattle last week. Its important not to over-react to a single game though. Its also important to remember that last week's game was played up in the Pacific Northwest, where the Seahawks have been unbeatable.
This game, however, is being played at New Orleans, where its been the Saints who are unbeatable. Big difference.
In six games here, the Saints are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. They've outscored opposing teams by an average score of 33.2 to 15.8 here, out gaining them by an average margin of 450.8 to 270.2, in terms of total yards.
Brees, who will be highly motivated to bounce back from last week's subpar effort, has topped 300 passing yards in all six home games this season. He's thrown 19 touchdowns against just three interceptions here. He's got a 122.2 home passer rating.
The Panthers have been solid on the road but not dominant like New Orleans has been at home.
The Saints haven't lost consecutive games in a single regular season under Payton since 2009. While they may have more trouble at Carolina in a couple of weeks, I expect the Saints to make a statement Sunday night. 10*
|12-08-13||Seattle Seahawks v. San Francisco 49ers -2.5||Top||17-19||Loss||-118||127 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. Admittedly, the Seahawks looked very impressive last week. Admittedly, its going to be tough to beat them up in the Pacific Northwest. They're not at home here though and they're up against another very talented team - one which is also playing very well - and one which is determined to deliver some payback, for an earlier loss at Seattle.
The 49'ers, who are off back-to-back double-digit wins, are 8-2 ATS as favorites this season and they're 2-0 ATS when playing a game with a line in the +3 to -3 range.
The 49'ers, who were embarrassed (29-3) at Seattle in September, are also 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss.
In addition to the revenge factor, the 49'ers arguably have more to play for. Seattle has already clinched a playoff spot, while they have not.
While the 49'ers are playing on a "normal" week, the Seahawks are playing on a short week, due to having played on Monday.
As they did this year, the Seahawks hammered the 49'ers at Seattle last season. However, the 49'ers won by seven when the teams met here at SF. In fact, they've outscored the Hawks by a 109-54 margin the last four meetings here.
While I won with the "under" when these teams first met, I believe the value now lies with the revenge-minded home team. 10*
|12-08-13||Oakland Raiders v. NY Jets -2.5||Top||27-37||Win||100||124 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. While the Jets made me look pretty bad last week, I really like them in this spot.
Lets not forget that the Raiders, who are playing out the string, are a West Coast based team, playing an early game in the Eastern Time Zone. Lets also keep in mind that its expected to be very cold, something the Jets are more accustomed to than their guests from California.
Even after last week, the Jets aren't out of the playoff picture quite yet. They will be if they lose there though. Note that three of their final four opponents (incl. Oakland) are currently .500 or worse.
Offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson noted: "There's definitely a sense of urgency now. You recognize there are four games left and we recognize the challenge that's before us, but all we can do is just keep our heads down and grind right now and focus on our work."
The Raiders like to rely on the ground game, which helps out McGloin. However, they're banged up at the running back position and they'll be facing a Jets' defense which is the best in the entire league against the run.
The Raiders are a dismal 37-69-5 over the years, when playing with a line in the -3 to +3 range. That includes an 0-2 SU/ATS mark in that situation, since the start of November.
While its true that he hasn't performed at an elite level, I like that Ryan is sticking with Smith at QB. I believe he gives them the best chance to win here.
While I've already acknowledged that they didn't play well last week, the Jets are still a solid 4-2 SU/ATS here at home. Prior to the Miami loss, they'd beaten the Saints in the previous game.
With more to play for and the venue/weather/start time in their favor, I like the Jets to bounce back with their best effort, en route to a much needed win and cover. 10*
|12-05-13||Houston Texans -2.5 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||20-27||Loss||-125||59 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. These teams both have bad records. For the Jaguars, that was expected. It wasn't supposed to be like that for the Texans though, as they were anticipating a big year. One of the low-points of the Houston season was when the Jags beat them. Now, they get a chance to avenge that loss on National TV - a chance to show the country that they're a much better team than their record indicates. I expect them to rise to the occasion, making the most of that opportunity.
Andre Johnson called the loss to the Jags the "lowest point" of his 11-year NFL career.
While the Jags have actually won two in a row, both came on the road. They're 0-4 SU/ATS when listed as the home team, getting outscored by a 29 to 6.2 average. In fact, they've lost seven straight home games, dating back to last season.
While the Jags are being out gained by an average margin of 381 to 285.6 (394.5 to 252.5 at Jax!) the Texans are out gaining teams by an average of 365.2 to 303.9, in terms of total yards per game.
The Texans are 3-0-1 ATS the last four times that they were favored by three or fewer points on the road. They're also 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss.
Off the tough loss vs. the Pats and on an extended losing streak, some of the Texan players may not be thrilled about the short turn-around in between games. I don't think its a bad thing though.
Houston offensive lineman Duane Brown said this of playing on the short week: "That
|12-01-13||Denver Broncos v. Kansas City Chiefs +6.5||Top||35-28||Loss||-110||9 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on KC. I won with the Broncos when these teams met at Denver. However, with the rematch being played at Arrowhead, I'm expecting a much different result.
I successfully played against KC last week. Favored vs. the Chargers and perhaps looking ahead to this game, the Chiefs lost outright. Keep in mind that they only lost by three points though and also that it was their first home loss of the entire season.
True, the KC defense was shredded by the Chargers. However, the offense also put up huge (38) points and even elite defenses are capable of having an off-day.
Safety Eric Berry said this of the KC defense. "It's not the end of the world. But we do have a sense of urgency this week to get the things corrected that we see on tape."
The Chiefs do have a couple of key injuries. The same is true of Denver though.
Even with last week's loss here, the Chiefs are still outscoring teams by an average score of 25 to 17.3 here.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have shown that they can be vulnerable. They blew the big lead at New England last week, Manning compiling a 70.4 passer rating.
With that loss, the Broncos are only 2-2 their last four road games. All four of those games were close, each decided by eight or less. Overall, Denver scored 143 points, allowing 141.
Speaking of close games, the Chiefs last three home games have all been decided by six or fewer points. I won't be surprised to see this one also come down to the wire and with the line having climbed from its opener, I believe we're getting excellent value with what should be a highly motivated home underdog. 10*
|12-01-13||Miami Dolphins v. NY Jets -1||Top||23-3||Loss||-120||31 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY JETS. The road team took both meetings in last year's season series. However, this Sunday afternoon, I look for the home team to finish on top.
The Jets have NOT played well on the road. Last week, they lost 19-3 at Baltimore. The previous week, they were blown out 37-14 by Buffalo. Their previous road game before that? A 49-9 loss at Cincinnati.
Games at NY have been much different though. The Jets beat the Saints in their most recent game here and they beat the Patriots in their previous home game. Needless to say, those are a pair of pretty good teams.
Overall, the Jets are 4-1 SU/ATS at home. That's considerably better than Miami's 2-3 SU/ATS mark on the road. The Dolphins have dropped three straight on the road overall.
One of Miami's big problems recently has been an inability to run the football. After managing a mere two rushing yards vs. TB, a franchise low, the Dolphins only gained 52 rushing yards vs. Carolina last week.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman noted: "You have to be able to run the ball to be effective. We just have to find a way to get the balance that we so desperately need. We don't have that balance right now."
The Jets are already 1-0 SU/ATS as home favorites of three or fewer points, beating Buffalo by seven here, as a 2.5 point favorite. While both teams have some "issues," playing on their homefield, I believe it will be the Jets who bounce back with a very important victory. 10*
|12-01-13||New England Patriots v. Houston Texans +9||Top||34-31||Win||100||6 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I've had some success playing on/against the Patriots. Most recently, I backed them in last week's win over Denver. I feel that they're laying too many points this week though and am now going against them.
The Pats, who may be ripe for a letdown after last week, haven't been the same team away from Foxboro. In fact, they've lost three straight on the road, falling at Carolina, NY and Cincinnati.
The Texans have not been good to me this season. In fact, they've proven downright costly. They're getting more points than they usually do here though. If they'd been getting this many points every week, they'd be 8-3 ATS. Only three of their losses have been by greater than a TD - none of their last five.
The Pats average a respectable 362.4 yards per game on the road. The Texans average 407.2 ypg here at Houston though. While New England gains an average of 5.4 yards per play on the road, the Texans average 5.8 ypp here at home.
On defense, the Texans allow a mere 287 yards per game at Houston, compared to the 353.4 average that the Pats allow per game on the road.
Brady said this of the Texans: "They have a lot of the same guys they had last year. We're not even concerned about the record. You look at what they can do defensively and the kind of playmakers they have. ... They have probably the best front we've faced all season."
The fact that the Pats knocked them out of the playoffs last season should provide the Texans with some added motivation here. They've been at their best off a division loss in recent seasons and I expect them to bounce back with their best effort here. 10*
|11-28-13||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens -2.5||Top||20-22||Loss||-126||58 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. This is a pivotal game for both teams. The winner will be very much alive in the playoff race - although still far from a lock - the loser will be nearly out of the hunt. Playing at home, I like the defending champs to rise to the occasion.
The Steelers did look impressive in beating the Browns last week, at Cleveland. They're only 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were off a divisional win though and they're still a dismal 7-15 ATS the last 22 times that they played on the road overall.
Even with last week's win, the Steelers are still getting outscored by a 24.5 to 22 average margin on the road this season, getting outgained by an average of 387.2 to 349.5, in terms of total yards.
On the other hand, despite not putting up many yards, the Ravens are outscoring teams by a fairly commanding 20 to 10.8 average margin here at Baltimore. Not surprisingly, they're 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS here. The lone loss came against the Packers, with Rodgers. Needless to say, the defense has been excellent in front of the home fans.
While both teams figure to be desperate, having already lost at Pittsburgh, the Ravens may be even more so.
The Ravens are 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were home favorites of three or less. While this series has historically been close, I expect the Ravens to come out on top and believe they'll do enough to cover the small number. 10*
|11-25-13||San Francisco 49ers v. Washington Redskins +6.5||Top||27-6||Loss||-110||81 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. While the 49'ers have had a better overall season, both teams are off back-to-back losses. Both teams badly need a victory. Playing at home and getting more than a field goal, I believe the Redskins are offering excellent value.
After back-to-back road losses, the Redskins figure to be happy to return home. They've averaged better than 30 points per game here this season, putting up better than 450 yards per game.
In their last two games here, the Skins defeated the Chargers and the Bears.
While the 49'ers are probably stronger than either of those teams, they haven't been able to score many points recently.
While SF has totaled just 29 combined points its last two games, Washington has managed a total of 75 in its last two here at home.
After playing in SF two weeks ago and in a dome last week, the west-coast based 49'ers may not enjoy the cold weather here. Note that this is the first time all season that they played back-to-back "true" road games. (They did play a neutral game vs. the Jags, after playing a road game.) The last time that they were in that situation was last December and they lost the second of those games (at Seattle on 12/23/12) by a score of 43-12. The previous time that they were in that situation, they lost outright at St. Louis, when laying -7.5 points. That loss happened to be immediately following a game vs. the Saints, at New Orleans.
Even with a 3-7 record, given the poor records of the other NFC East teams, the Skins aren't completely out of the race. At the very least, tonight's game offers a chance to show the world that they're better than the record indicates.
Looking at the last couple of years and we find that the 49'ers are 3-5 ATS when playing a team with a losing record during the second half of the season. Meanwhile, during the same period, the Skins are 5-2-1 ATS when facing a team with a winning record, during the second half of the season. I expect them to step up with AT LEAST a cover. 10*
|11-24-13||Denver Broncos v. New England Patriots +2.5||Top||31-34||Win||100||57 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ENGLAND. I successfully backed the Broncos vs. the Chiefs last week. However, I believe the value lies the other way here.
Last week's win was at home. Sunday's game is on the road, at hostile New England. Big difference.
The Broncos haven't exactly been dominant on the road in recent weeks. They won by eight at San Diego in their last game. However, their two previous road games resulted in a 6-point loss and a 3-point win. Their only "big" road win was against the Giants, way back in Week 2.
That "big road win" was back in September. Back when Manning was still healthy. That's no longer the case here.
Manning is now playing at less than 100% health. Playing at home, he still had enough to outduel Alex Smith and the conservative Chiefs. Now, he's on the road though - and now he's up against an opponent which is typically capable of putting up more points on the board than the Chiefs.
The Patriots have long been outstanding in the underdog role. They're 79-46-4 the last 129 times that they were getting points. That includes a 9-3-1 ATS mark as home underdogs of three or fewer points.
Lets not forget that the Patriots last three games here have all resulted in victories. They showed an ability to come from behind, in beating a very good New Orleans team. Next, they beat a division rival (Miami) by double-digits. That was followed by a 55-31 destruction of Pittsburgh, in their most recent game here.
Going back further finds the Pats at 5-0 here, outscoring teams by an average of 12 points. That's better than Denver's 3-1 road record. Some might be surprised that the Pats' margin of victory on the road it much better than the Broncos, who are outscoring teams by an average of 5.7 points per road game.
Manning may break Brady's record of TDs in a season but Brady is still 9-4 in head-to-head meetings. Overall, including the playoffs, Manning is just 2-9 on the road against the Pats, 2-7 when facing Brady here. Playing at home, I like Brady and co. to make a statement, that they're still a force in the AFC, one that should not be forgotten about. 10*
|11-24-13||Carolina Panthers v. Miami Dolphins +5||Top||20-16||Win||100||49 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Not many are giving the Dolphins much of a chance here. After all, they're up against Carolina, a red hot team which just beat New England - a team which defeated the Dolphins by double-digits less than a month ago. While I respect the Panthers, I see it differently and believe that anit-Miami sentiment is actually helping to provide us with excellent value.
While many may be down on the Dolphins, keep in mind that they beat San Diego here last week. In their previous home game, they defeated Cincinnati. They've only lost twice here all season and both those setbacks both came by three or fewer points.
Also, lets not forget that the Dolphins are still very much alive in the AFC playoff race. At 5-5, they're still only two games behind the Patriots, who are 7-3. The Dolphins know that if they can win today, there's a chance that the Pats will lose, as they're facing Denver. Either way, the Dolphins know that they get to host the Pats in a few weeks - their next home game after this one - and that there will be a lot more meaning to that game, if they can win here.
Even if catching the Pats is unrealistic, as it likely is, the Dolphins are still alive in the Wildcard race - IF they can win this week. As Miami tackle Tyson Clabo commented: "We're fighting through this. Someone's got to get that last wild-card spot. Why not us?"
While playing without a team's starting center (Pouncey is doubtful as of this writing) is never a good thing, keep in mind that the Dolphins won without Pouncey last week. Remember, Carolina isn't entirely healthy either.
Yes, its a big game for the Panthers. Off an emotional/controversial Monday night win, which was preceded by a win on the West Coast (at SF) I believe that they could easily be caught patting themselves on the back a little here.
The Panthers have seen each of their last two games decided by four points or less, a 4-point win and a 1-point win. They've played four games which were decided by four or fewer points.
Meanwhile, Miami has seen its last three games all decided by four points or less. That makes it six straight Dolphin games which were decided by 10 or fewer points with five of those decided by four or less. I'm grabbing the generous points with what I expect to be a highly motivated home underdog. 10*
|11-17-13||Kansas City Chiefs v. Denver Broncos -7.5||Top||17-27||Win||100||38 h 36 m||Show|
Analysis before 7am PST Sunday.
|11-17-13||Oakland Raiders v. Houston Texans -7||Top||28-23||Loss||-115||102 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I'll admit that the Texans have broken my heart (cost me money) this season. That said, I feel this will be a great spot for them to finally "get healthy" with a big win.
Coach Kubiak will be back. When Kubiak was last seen, the Texans were seemingly in good shape for a win against the Colts. After he collapsed, the team did too. They also went on to lose vs. Arizona last week. While he'll be calling plays from the press box, I expect Kubiak's return to provide an emotional boost.
Keenum is expected to again get the start. I've liked what I've seen from Keenum and I feel this will be a favorable matchup for him. While the Raiders fared better defensively in last week's loss, the previous week saw them give up 49 points and 414 yards through the air, with Nick Foles throwing for seven TDs. That was the third time the Raiders gave up more than 370 yards through the air this season.
The Raiders are winless on the road. They've been outscored by an average of 26.5 to 16.2. Keep in mind that they're a West Coast based team which will be playing an early game in the Eastern Time Zone here. This will be the first time this season that they'll have played back-to-back road games. Last week, they managed a measly 213 total yards.
With a banged-up Pryor, rookie Matt McGloin has been getting the snaps in practice and is expected to get the start. I'm not necessarily opposed to playing on a rookie QB making his first start but I'm not yet convinced about McGloin.
He's not big and he doesn't have a particularly strong arm. He was only "ok" in college, not good/big enough to get drafted. When he came in against the Eagles, he was just 7/15 for 87 yards.
Whether its a banged-up Pryor or McGloin making his first start, the Raiders will be up against a Houston pass defense which allows only 166.6 passing yards per game. That just happens to be the best mark in the entire NFL. (No other AFC team allows less than 200.)
In fact, the 280 total yards that the Texans are allowing also ranks #1 in the NFL. On offense, they average 376.2 yards.
At home, the Texans are out gaining visiting teams by a commanding 457.7 to 262 margin. They average 6.2 yards per play here, allowing an average of 5.0.
Speaking of having a yardage advantage, the Texans dominated the Raiders statistically when these teams met here in 2011. Houston had a 21-11 edge in first downs, a 34:25 to 25:35 edge in time of possession and a 473-278 edge in total yards. Despite also committing nearly twice as many penalties (11/89 vs. 6/50) the Raiders still found a way to win.
I don't expect Oakland to be nearly fortunate this time, as I feel the Texans are ready to explode and take their frustrations out on someone. Having blown too many leads, I look for the Texans to keep the pedal to the metal the entire way here, en route to a double-digit win. 10*
|11-14-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Tennessee Titans +3||Top||30-27||Push||0||37 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Both teams are off embarrassing performances last week. The Colts were destroyed by St. Louis. The Titans lost to the previously winless Jaguars, a team some had been calling the worst ever. Needless to say, both will be looking to bounce back with a much better performance. While I'm aware that Luck has a pretty impressive track record off a loss, I feel it will be the Titans which wind up with the money Thursday.
True, the Titans are without Locker. However, Fitzpatrick has some starts under his belt and the fact that he'll be starting here isn't coming as a surprise. He knows this is his chance and I expect him to be ready to go. I also expect the rest of the team to rally around him.
As tight end Delanie Walker noted of Fitzpatrick. "He's going to be the starting quarterback from now on because Jake is out for the year, so Ryan has no choice but to play (well). I feel like he did a great job against the Jaguars. This is his opportunity to be the man now."
While the Colts swept last season's meetings, the game here went to OT, while the game at Indianapolis was decided by four points, the Colts erasing a double-digit lead. In other words, both games could have easily gone either way.
The Titans know that, after this, they only play one more home game between now and Christmas. And that doesn't come until 12/15. Their next three come on the road, one of them at Indianapolis. Knowing all that - and that a loss here essentially kills any hope of the playoffs - makes taking care of business on Thursday that much more imperative.
Obviously the Colts also want to bounce back with a win. However, they don't "need" to in the same way that the Titans do.
While Locker's absence will grab all the headlines, the Colts' injury list is much longer than the Titans' list, headed by star receiver Reggie Wayne.
Playing arguably their biggest game of the entire season, I look for the Titans to rise to the occasion and score the upset. 10*
|11-11-13||Miami Dolphins v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3||Top||19-22||Win||100||156 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. I won with the Dolphins last week. However, I'm going against them here.
I expect the Bucs to be both desperate and extremely motivated. They desperately want their first victory of the season - and a chance to do so on Monday night should provide them with added incentive to give it everything they've got.
The Bucs ultimately came up short but they played a great game at Seattle last week. They've been very competitive, nearly every week - and this game provides them with an excellent shot to finally break through with a win.
Lets not forget that the Dolphins are still 1-4 their last five games, the lone win coming by two points, on a safety. They've lost their last two on the road by a combined score of 65-34.
Obviously, Miami badly wants a win too. Monday night games are big for every team, regardless of the situation. Plus, at 4-4, the Dolphins aren't out of the playoff race yet.
That said, the Dolphins have some wins under their belts and are on the road. They may not have the same level of desperation as their hosts.
While the Dolphins are trying to use it as an "us against the world" rallying cry, I do believe that the Incognito issue could easily prove to be a distraction. Either way, I look for homefield to prove the difference, as the Bucs finally find a way. 10*
|11-10-13||Dallas Cowboys v. New Orleans Saints -6.5||Top||17-49||Win||100||155 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. Long-time regulars will recall that I rode the Saints pretty hard during the year that they won the Super Bowl. Not only did I go 2-0 in the big game, hitting side and total, I backed them in every one of their playoff covers. While I obviously didn't play on them every week during the regular season, I was perfect in their 'prime-time" games. (If memory serves me correctly, they hammered the Giants, Patriots and Falcons all on National TV that reg. season.) That year's team had a real tendency to elevate its play on the "big stage." While I won't hand them the SB title quite yet, I believe this year's team has the same "feeling" to it. I believe that they'll be "extra motivated" for this game and that they'll prove too much for the Cowboys to handle.
I noted the same thing (about their tendency to elevate in big games and comparing this year's team to the SB team) when I backed the Saints in their Monday night game against Miami. They won that one with ease.
Before I continue singing the Saints' praises, note that I will play against them (or any team) when the situation warrants doing so. I successfully played against the Saints when the Bucs nearly upset them earlier this season. However, that was on the road and there were a number of reasons why I thought they'd struggle. They're an entirely different team at home.
Indeed, in four home games the Saints are a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS, outscoring opponents by an average of 31.7 to 14.5. They've averaged 423.2 yards per game here, 6.6 yards per play. Visiting teams are only averaging 311 yards. Going back further finds the Saints at a commanding 16-4 SU/ATS their last 20 games here.
I like and respect the Cowboys and believe that they've a very capable team. While I did successfully play against them last week, I've also won with them on more than one occasion this season, successfully backing them vs. both the Manning brothers. Those games were both at Dallas though, while this one's at New Orleans.
Not only are the Saints extremely tough to beat here, but the Cowboys have only one road win in four tries this season. They're getting out gained by an average of 430 yards to 317.7 in those four road games. They give up 6.2 yards per play on the road, averaging only 5.3 themselves. Note that the Cowboys were out gained by a 623-268 margin at Detroit, the last time they played in a dome. They earned a fortunate cover in that one - but are up against a more dangerous opponent here.
Brees remains one of the very best quarterbacks in the game. He's got a tight-end (Jimmy Graham) who's practically unstoppable. After finding the end zone twice last week, Graham now has 10 TDs on the season. Overall, he caught nine passes for better than 100 yards. Note that Brees threw for 446 yards and three TDs the last time he faced the Cowboys.
That game, which was played at Dallas last December and when Sean Payton wasn't the coach, was close. New Orleans, which was the underdog, won by a score of 34-31 in OT. A closer look at the stats shows that the Saints actually had a major edge on the ground (116-40) and that they had a 33-18 advantage in first downs, to go along with a whopping 41:59 to 22.28 edge in time of possession.
Speaking of the Saints' coach, I believe that Payton, who was with Dallas before coming here, is among the very best in the game. I believe he gives the Saints an edge over Jason Garrett.
Payton's defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, isn't doing too shabby a job either. Indeed, Ryan has helped transform the Saints into one of the league's better defenses. As noted, they're allowing a mere 14.5 points per game here. While Romo had a big game vs. the Saints at Dallas last season, Ryan's unit is much better against the pass this year than last. The Saints rank fifth in the league against the pass, giving up 211 yards per game through the air.
Note that Ryan figures to take this game personally. He was fired by the Cowboys last January, Garrett informing him of the decision by phone.
Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis said this of Ryan: ''Any time a guy gets fired from a spot he's at and he has an opportunity to play them, he wants to prove a point.'' I expect the Saints entire team to be extra "fired up" to help Ryan "prove his point."
The Saints, who have scored 20 or more points in seven of eight games, have allowed 18 points or less six times on the season. They've beaten the Cowboys seven of the last eight meetings and they're 9-1 ATS the last 10 times that they were home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to make a statement. 10*
|11-10-13||Philadelphia Eagles v. Green Bay Packers -1||Top||27-13||Loss||-110||99 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. As you're likely aware, Rodgers is out. That's obviously significant; Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the game, arguably the most valuable. Naturally, its been reflected in the line. With Rodgers in the game, the Packers are fairly heavy favorites here. Without him, that's not the case. In fact, without him, many aren't giving the Packers much of a chance at all. While I also think Rodgers is great, I believe that sentiment is providing us with plenty of value on the Pack.
While I'd never want anyone to get hurt, I benefitted from Rodgers' injury last week, as I had the Bears. Like others that watched the game, I saw that Seneca Wallace did not perform well. In fact, he wasn't very good at all.
Since that performance, I've heard a lot of talk about how Wallace doesn't deserve to be an NFL QB and how the Packers have no chance with him in there. I've followed Wallace's career though and I expect him to be much better this week. While his career stats are not good, he's had some tough situations. He's had a week to prepare and is no longer coming in cold. He's also heard all the talk about how terrible he is and figures to be extremely motivated to prove otherwise. I look for him to do so.
The Packers are a very well-coached team. I expect McCarthy and co. to find ways to help make Wallace effective.
Of course, having a potent rushing attack, as the Packers have had, figures to help Wallace. Lacey and co. will be up against a Philadelphia defense which surrendered 210 rushing yards, on 33 carries, vs. Oakland last week.
Foles is coming off a rather incredible performance. However, just as I won't over-react to Wallace's sub-par performance, I'm not about to immediately call Foles "elite."
On the defensive side of the ball, keep in mind that the Packers allow 17.2 points and 341 yards per game at home, the Eagles allow 28 points and 429.6 yards per game on the road.
Lets not forget that the Packers have won 29 of their last 31 regular-season games here at Lambeau. Or, that they're 16-4 all-time vs. the Eagles here. Don't be shocked when McCarthy and co. to find a way to continue that dominance Sunday afternoon. 10*
|11-04-13||Chicago Bears +11 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||27-20||Win||100||36 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. Without Cutler, not many are giving the Bears much of a chance against the mighty Packers. I also respect Green Bay. The Packers are very well-coached and have an outstanding quarterback. That doesn't mean that they can't be beaten though - or at least seriously challenged. Facing a desperate Chicago team, I expect the Packers to have their hands full Monday night.
Obviously, playing without Cutler is not ideal. However, McCown is a veteran and I expect him to give everything he's got.. He's been with the team for some time.. He's been here before, throwing for 242 years at Lambeau on Christmas Day 2011. He's off an impressive "relief" performance, hitting 70% (14 of 20) of his passes at Washington, for better than 200 yards with a TD, while also running for 33 more. McCown will have benefitted from the bye week, getting extra time to work with the first team. He's got plenty of weapons, with the likes of Forte, Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett. He knows this is his chance - and I expect him to do everything he can to make the most of it.
Cutler said this of his backup: "Josh is going to do the job. We've got a good game plan coming in. Josh fared well against Washington. He'll play well again this week."
Its also true that the Bears defense is banged-up, arguably a bigger concern than the QB situation. The defense should have also benefitted from the extra week off though. The defensive players too know this is their opportunity and that the team badly needs them to elevate their play.
Lets not forget that the Packers have significant injury issues of their own.
Lets also not forget that the Bears haven't lost a game by more than eight points this entire season or that the Packers have seen five of seven games decided by 13 or less.
Chicago coach Marc Trestman had this to say: "We really have to play together more than ever now. And I think that's something that we're capable of doing."
While the Packers have generally finished on top, the Bears almost always play them tough. Eight of the past 10 meetings have been decided by 10 point or less and all 10 of those games were decided by 14 or less. I expect that to be the case again and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|11-03-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Houston Texans +1.5||Top||27-24||Loss||-110||152 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I've had success playing both on and against the Colts this season. I feel that this will be a good spot to go against them.
While they couldn't quite manage the outright victory, the Texans broke through with a cover last time out, losing by a single point at KC, vs. the undefeated Chiefs.
The Texans know they basically need to win every game the rest of the way, if they want any shot at making the playoffs. Even if they don't believe that's really possible, I believe that they'll be treating this game very seriously, doing everything possible to earn a win. After all, this is a divisional game on National TV. It offers a chance to show the world that they're a lot better than their record indicates.
With victories over the Broncos and also at San Francisco, the Colts have proven that they can beat any team in the league. However, they did lose their last road game (19-9 at SD) and I believe that this will be a tough venue. Not having Reggie Wayne doesn't figure to help matters.
For all this season's troubles, the Texans are still outgaining opposing teams by an average margin of 449.3 to 244.7 in their three games here at Houston. (Somehow, they only managed to win one of those, covering none.)
Note that the home team won both meetings by double-digits in this series last season. The Colts beat the Texans 28-16 at Indianapolis. However, the Texans beat the Colts 29-17 in the game here at Houston.
Keenum is expected to get the call and his performance seemed to light a spark for the team, particularly in terms of the deep passing game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Keenum completed three of five pass attempts longer than 20 yards. In the previous four weeks, the Texans had attempted only six such passes total. Keenum finished with a passer rating of 110.6, completing 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind that those numbers came against the Chiefs, arguably this season's best defensive team through the first half of the season.
With the calendar having flipped, note that the Texans are a perfect 7-0 SU (5-1-1 ATS) in the month of November, the past coupe of seasons. I expect their best effort, en route to another ATS win. 10*
|10-28-13||Seattle Seahawks v. St Louis Rams +12||Top||14-9||Win||100||56 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Without starting QB Sam Bradford, not many are giving the Rams much of a chance here. I believe that they're offering us excellent value.
Keep in mind that the Seahawks have only won one of their four road games by more than five points. They beat Arizona by 12 last time out. However, before that, they'd lost by six at Indianapolis, won by three at Houston and won by five at Carolina.
Bradford had been playing well of late. So, losing him certainly wasn't a "good" thing. However, I'm not as down on Clemens as many others seem to be. Clemens, who worked with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer during his tenure with the Jets, knows this is his big opportunity. He's been Bradford's backup for a couple of years and has been in the league a lot longer than that.
Clemens noted: "...I'll go out there and do the best job I can and try to help this team win some games."
As impressive as Wilson's career has been, he didn't fare well here last season. In fact, he was picked off three times here, only one of two times that he's been intercepted more than once in the same game. Note that he'll still be without Percy Harvin here, as Carroll has indicated the star receiver won't play. St. Louis won that game by a score of 19-13, while losing the game at Seattle by seven points.
The Rams are 2-0 ATS the past couple of seasons, when listed as home underdogs in the 10.5 to 14 range. They've won two of their last three and I expect their very best effort on Monday night. 10*
|10-27-13||Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings +10||Top||44-31||Loss||-110||123 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. Off a poor performance on National TV last week, not many bettors are going to want to back the Vikings here. Not against the mighty Packers. I feel that sentiment is providing us with excellent value with the home underdog.
The Packers are 0-2-1 ATS away from Lambeau this season. They lost two of those games outright while winning the other by just two points.
While they've admittedly struggled the last two weeks, the Vikings first four games were all decided by 10 or fewer points; three losses by 10 or less and a win by seven.
With the playoffs no longer even worth dreaming about, a home game on National TV, vs. a division rival, is about as big as it gets for the Vikings. I expect them to treat it like a "very important game."
On the other hand, the Packers have many bigger games still to play, including a big one next week vs. arch-rival Chicago, a team they're fighting with the for the division lead.
The Vikings are 25-14-1 ATS (31-9 SU) the last 40 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range, 3-1 ATS the last couple of seasons. During that time, the Packers are 1-5-1 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in that range.
While they lost by 14 at Lambeau in January, the Vikings won last year's game here at Minnesota by three points, losing by nine at Lambeau.
The Vikings are 14-9-2 ATS the last 25 times that they were getting points. During that time, they're 7-4 ATS off two or more consecutive losses. I expect their best effort to lead to at least another cover on Sunday night. 10*
|10-24-13||Carolina Panthers v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7||Top||31-13||Loss||-130||51 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. With an 0-6 record not too many people are going to want to back the Bucs here. I believe that sentiment is providing us with very fair value on what I expect to be a highly determined home underdog.
I believe that the Bucs will really want this game. Coach Schiano had this to say: ''I want to be clear on this because I don't take lightly 0-6. I've never been 0-6. But we do our best. We're trying our hardest. Our guys are working ... and I have found when you have good people and they work hard and they work smart it'll turn. That's what I believe."
Last year's games between these two clubs were both decided by six points. The Bucs won 16-10 at Tampa in September and then they won 27-21 at Carolina in November.
This year's Tampa games have also been close, for the most part. An eight-point loss at Atlanta last time out was their fourth loss of eight or fewer points, three of those coming by three or less.
While they're 0-3 at home, the Bucs have actually been leading their home games by an average score of 11.3 to 8.0 at halftime. Overall, they're being outscored by an average of 5.3 points per game here.
Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis correctly stated: "In this league anything is possible and we know what Tampa Bay is capable of. If you look at their games this year they've pretty much been in all of those games. It just came down to executing in the fourth quarter and they could have a much different record. We know that."
The Panthers are 0-2 ATS the past couple of seasons as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way and am grabbing all the points I can get. 9*
|10-21-13||Minnesota Vikings +3.5 v. NY Giants||Top||7-23||Loss||-105||13 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. Needless to say, this wasn't the season that either of these teams had hoped for. Nor was it the matchup that ESPN envisioned. However, its still an interesting storyline, one which I believe is offering us excellent value.
When teams underachieve the way these ones have, homefield can often be less advantageous than normal. The crowd can be a little less into it from the onset and it can be quick to turn on the home team, if/when things don't go as planned.
Even though the chances of making the playoffs are now extremely remote for both teams, there should be no shortage of motivation. Both teams have pride, both want to get things turned around. Both would love to show the national audience that they're better than their record indicates. The QBs, in particular, both figure to have much to prove. While he obviously didn't fare too well in Tampa, I believe Freeman will provide a boost for the Vikings.
The Giants may have looked a little better than the Vikings in their most recent game but overall, the Vikings have been far more competitive.
The Vikings are being outscored on the road, but only by a 30.7 to 29.3 average margin. On the other hand, the Giants are being outscored by a 38.5 to 22.2 average margin at home.
The Giants 9-13 ATS as favorites the past couple of seasons are 1-2 ATS on Monday nights the past couple of seasons.
The Vikings are 2-1 ATS as underdogs this season, 14-8-2 ATS as underdogs the past couple of seasons. I'm taking the points. 10*
|10-20-13||Denver Broncos v. Indianapolis Colts +7||Top||33-39||Win||100||108 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANAPOLIS. Some will surely believe that I need to have my head checked for going against Manning in his return to Indianapolis. That's OK. They thought that each of the past two weeks when I went against the Broncos too.. Denver failed to cover in either of those games. Once again. I feel that the value lies in going against the Broncos.
I've had pretty good success in picking my spots to play on/against the Colts. Last week, I successfully played against them, when they lost at San Diego. Included in my reasons for playing against them was the fact that they were on the road and that they might be caught looking ahead to this week's big game.
Prior to that, I'd also successfully played against the Colts in their opening week ATS loss vs. Oakland. And, I successfully played ON the Colts when they crushed the 49'ers, a result that shows they can beat elite teams.
Keep in mind that prior to last week's loss, the Colts had won three straight. After their previous loss, they won their next two games by a combined score of 64-10.
While Mannning will obviously want to play his best and to win, the Colts should be every bit as determined to avoid letting that happen.
While he admittedly seems to have ice water in his veins at times, it still figures to be an emotional homecoming for Peyton and its only natural to be at least a little nervous. Note that he was somewhat mortal in the game against Jacksonville, too. (Threw for less than 300 yards, had passer rating of less than 100, got picked off etc.) It should also be noted that Manning is without All Pro left tackle Ryan Clady and that right tackle Orlando Franklin got banged-up in the Jacksonville. Even if he plays, he may be at less than 100%.
The Colts, who allow just 16.3 points per game, are 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as home underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. This is a huge game for them and I expect their best effort, en route to AT LEAST another cover. 10*
|10-20-13||San Francisco 49ers v. Tennessee Titans +4.5||Top||31-17||Loss||-110||104 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. While I certainly respect the 49'ers, I like how this sets up for the Titans.
For starters, the Titans are expected to have Locker back at QB. That figures to help, as the offense had really struggled under Fitzpatrick the past couple of seasons.
Off three straight double-digit wins, I believe that the 49'ers could easily get caught patting themselves on the back a little here. It should be easy to take a struggling non-conf. opponent like Tennessee lightly, particularly with a trip to London on deck.
Keep in mind that the Titans still have a winning record at home, where they're outgaining opposing teams by a 371-320 margin.
While every game is certainly important to the 49ers, who are batting with Seattle for the division lead, the 49'ers do have some very winnable games on deck and even if they didn't ultimately beat Seattle, they'd still be in a solid spot for the Wildcard, even if they lost here. I would argue its a bigger game for the Titans, who would fall below .500 with a loss.
The Titans, who have a long history of ATS success vs. NFC teams, are already 3-1 ATS as underdogs this season. I expect at least another cover. 10*
|10-14-13||Indianapolis Colts v. San Diego Chargers +2||Top||9-19||Win||100||38 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. I successfully played against the Chargers last week. However, that was on the road and they were laying a handful of points. That's not the case here. They're at home and aren't being asked to win by any extra margin. I feel that they're providing us with fair value.
Give the Colts credit for a big win over the Seahawks last week. However, that was at home. Now, they're out West, thousands of miles away. They've also got a Sunday night showdown vs. Peyton Manning, their former leader, on deck. If there's ever a game to get caught looking ahead to, that figures to be it. (*The Chargers have Jacksonville on deck, so no reason for them to look ahead.) The Colts could easily be caught patting themselves on the back a little, too.
Note that this is the Colts third road game in the past four weeks - the second time that they've had to come out West, during that span.
The Chargers did lose at Oakland last week. However, they had a 423-299 edge in total yards. On the other hand, the Colts were out gained by more than 100 yards in their win.
The Chargers, who have had remarkable success vs. AFC South teams over the years, are 8-2 SU/ATS the last 10 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of greater than 49. I look for home field to prove significant, the Chargers emerging victorious. 10*
|10-13-13||Washington Redskins +6 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||16-31||Loss||-105||84 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I've successfully played on the Cowboys a couple of times already, most recently last week at Denver. I've also successfully played against the Skins a couple of times, most recently choosing to go against them in their loss against the Packers. However, every team has good "play on" and "play against" times. In this case, I feel its now the Skins which are in the "play on" spot, while the opposite is true of the Cowboys.
The Skins come in with some positive momentum. They got back on track with a win at Oakland in their last game. They've also had extra rest, having received a bye last week.
Dallas, which doesn't have the luxury of coming off a bye, just went toe to toe with mighty Denver. The Cowboys left it all on the field and came up short. That figures to be a tough pill to swallow.
Obviously, any division game is a huge one for both teams, particularly one on national TV when the division is so up for grabs. This one is arguably more important for the Skins though. They've still only got one win - none in divisional play - while the Cowboys have a divisional win under their belts, one of two victories.
Griffin, who had this best game of the season in the win over the Raiders, had this to say: "The start of the season didn't go the way we wanted to, but we got the win before the bye, and that's what we've got to keep doing. We know we can still go out and win this division. We've got to take it one week at a time, and it starts with the Cowboys."
While I did back the Cowboys over the Giants, they're still only 3-10 ATS in divisional play the past couple of seasons.
While I did play against the Skins in their loss to the Eagles, they're still 10-3 ATS in divisional play the past couple of seasons.
The Cowboys are just 7-15-1 ATS as favorites the past couple of seasons, 2-4 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range.
The Skins are 11-6 ATS on the road the past couple of seasons. The beat the Cowboys in both games last season and the previous year they lost both games by a combined five points. I expect them to be at their best here. 10*
|10-13-13||Jacksonville Jaguars +27 v. Denver Broncos||Top||19-35||Win||100||128 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. OK. I admit that picking Jacksonville against Denver isn't exactly "fun," nor will it make me very popular. That said, I'm not looking for fun or to win any popularity contests. I simply feel that this line is too big - even for a game with the mighty Broncos taking on the hapless Jags.
Obviously, Denver has been MUCH better than Jacksonville. The Broncos are off a hard-fought and emotional win (Dallas) though and they've got a big Sunday night showdown at Indianapolis (Peyton's old team) on deck. I believe it will be very easy for them to go through the motions a little here.
Coach Fox noted: "One thing I've learned is if you fall asleep at the wheel, you wreck. Sometimes dealing with prosperity is more difficult than the adversity
|10-13-13||Philadelphia Eagles v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3||Top||31-20||Loss||-120||19 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. Foles is expected to get the start for the Eagles here. However, whether it was Vick, perhaps at less than 100%, or Foles (1-5 as a starter last season) at QB for the visitors, I like the Bucs in this matchup.
Naturally, with zero wins on the season, the Bucs aren't getting much respect. However, kets keep in mind that three of their losses came by six combined points. (They lost by 1 at NY, by 2 vs. NO and by 3 vs. Arizona.) Indeed, this team could easily have had at least one victory - and with a few breaks could have been sitting at 3-1 right now. The only time that they lost a game by more than a field goal this season was at New England. No other team has played the Saints as tough - on the scoreboard at least - as Tampa.
Speaking of close games, the Eagles beat the Bucs by two points here last season, a 23-21 win. The Bucs were laying a touchdown in that game. Now, we're getting points with them.
The Eagles offense has certainly had some impressive moments and can indeed be explosive. However, the defense has been brutal. The Eagles rank 30th in points allowed (31.8) and 31st in total defense (434.0).
I expect Tampa's run game to get back on track here. Note that Doug Martin ran for 128 and a touchdown on 28 carries when these teams met last year. Overall, the Bucs had a 136-29 edge on the ground in that one.
Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson can be a real load for teams without someone to cover him. However, the Bucs have Darrelle Revis, still considered one of the elite players in the league. Revis figures to be fired up after listening to Jackson state the following: "I don't think he can run with me. I don't think he's as fast as me
|10-06-13||San Diego Chargers v. Oakland Raiders +5||Top||17-27||Win||100||112 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. The Chargers are on a nice roll and deserve credit for beating the Cowboys. Lets not get carried away though. They're still only 2-2. Three of their four games, including both those on the road, were decided by a field goal. Yet, here they are on the road, laying more than that. I believe that's asking too much.
The Chargers are giving up 432.2 yards per game, including a whopping 481.5 on the road.
Despite facing two of the top 10 scoring teams in the league (Denver, Indianapolis) the Raiders are giving up considerably fewer yards (349) and points (22.7) than the Chargers. In their two home games, the Raiders are allowing an average of only 293.5 points and 16.5 yards.
While the Raiders offense struggled last game, they're expecting to get Pryor back here, which I feel will make a big difference. As noted, the defense has been very stingy here.
The last meeting in the series was decided by a field goal. I won't be surprised if this one also comes down to the wire and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|10-06-13||Denver Broncos v. Dallas Cowboys +8||Top||51-48||Win||100||128 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Each week, the Peyton Manning legend seems to get bigger. However, with every new notch in Manning's belt, the pointspreads keep getting bigger. This week, playing on the road against perhaps their most talented opponent yet, the Broncos are laying more than a touchdown. As great as they've looked, I believe that's asking too much.
The Cowboys may have had some trouble on the road but they're also 2-0 at home. Denver has still only played one road game - and that was against the Giants (a team Dallas also defeated) and so there was the whole big brother vs. little brother thing going on, which sort of trumped the venue. (Also, the Giants are a mess.)
Now, the Broncos visit a Cowboy team which is outscoring opponents by a 33.5 to 19.5 margin here at Dallas.
The Broncos are obviously scoring points at a phenomenal rate. However, they're also quietly giving up quite a few. (They rank 30th in the league vs. the pass.) I have a feeling that Monte Kiffin's defense will give them some trouble and that Manning will come back down to earth a little. Meanwhile, the Cowboys offense should be able to sore some points themselves.
The Cowboys have lost twice, both times by single-digits. After their first loss, they responded with a 31-7 victory. Given the awful start by their NFC East brethren, the Cowboys could probably "afford" a loss here. However, they also know that a win really puts them in the driver's seat in the division and shows the world that they're a force to be reckoned with, a team capable of beating anyone. Some will surely call me crazy, but I'm taking the points. 10*
|09-30-13||Miami Dolphins v. New Orleans Saints -6||Top||17-38||Win||100||155 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. I won with the Saints last week and I'm going to ride them one more time here.
In case you haven't noticed, the Saints are off to an excellent start. Last week's 31-7 win brought them to 3-0. The defense has allowed 17, 14 and 7 points, an average of 12.7 per game. Opposing teams are averaging only 295.7 yards. The offense, which has long been a strength, put up 423 yards last week.
The Dolphins are also off to an impressive 3-0 start, making for an exciting matchup. They're clearly improved but I don't think that they're ready for the hostile environment that they're going to encounter here.
I backed the Saints the year that they won the Super Bowl, winning both the side and total of the SB. I also rode them in their playoff victories and had a very good handle on them all year. That year, they were at their best in the "prime-time" games, seemingly out to show the world how good that they were.
I expect them to again come out with a chip on their shoulder, eventually earning another double-digit win. 10* main event
|09-29-13||New England Patriots v. Atlanta Falcons -1||Top||30-23||Loss||-116||31 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. I expect the Falcons to be the more "desperate" team in this matchup. They're 1-2 and chasing the Saints. They can't afford to fall to 1-3 here. On the other hand, the Patriots are 3-0. While the Dolphins have the same record, the Pats likely aren't too concerned about not making the playoffs, something that has to be priority #1 for the Falcons. While needing to win doesn't always translate to actually winning, I expect that sense of urgency to come into play on Sunday.
Before getting too excited about the Pats' 3-0 record and their strong defensive numbers, keep in mind that they've faced the Jets, Bills and Bucs. Two of those three teams have a rookie QB and the third team just benched their QB, as he had the worst numbers in the league. Needless to say, facing Matt Ryan at the Georgia Dome represents an entirely different ballgame.
As for the Falcons, their loses came against teams (NO and Miami) that currently have a perfect 6-0 combined record. They also came on the road. The Falcons won their lone home game (by 7) and are 15-4 SU here the past 2+ seasons.
While the Pats did beat the Bucs, they're still only 5-5 SU and 3-6-1 ATS against NFC teams the past couple of years. During that span, the Falcons are 7-2 SU and 5-3-1 ATS against AFC opponents.
While the Falcons do indeed have some injuries, the same can be said of the Pats. Of course, New England did also suffer those offseason personnel losses at the receiver position. While he's obviously still very dangerous, thus far, Brady's numbers are nothing special.
Brady got the better of Ryan when the two went head-to-head before. However, that was back in 2009 and it was at Atlanta. Ryan's got a few more years to gain experience, while by 2009 Brady was arguably past the point where the extra years could help him. Perhaps more importantly, now the rematch is at Atlanta. I say Ryan and co. get some revenge, getting themselves back into the playoff race in the process. 10* SNF Main Event
|09-29-13||Arizona Cardinals v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3||Top||13-10||Loss||-100||123 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA. The Cardinals check in with the better record. They're 1-2 while Tampa is 0-3. Playing at home, I believe the Bucs will prove to be the better team.
You probably heard that Freeman is out as the starter for this week, replaced by rookie Mike Glennon. It remains to be seen how Glennon will fare. However, the team needed a spark and I believe that they'll rally around their new pivot. Considering that Freeman had the worse QB rating in the league to go along with the worst completion percentage, it won't take much for Glennon to be an upgrade.
I played against the Cardinals last week. They played without nose tackle Dan Williams after his father was tragically killed in a car wreck on his way to the game. Then, three of their linebackers were lost for the season after suffering injuries. Sam Acho broke his leg, Lorenzo Alexander has a foot injury and rookie Alex Okafor suffered a torn biceps.
Additionally, safety Rashad Johnson lost the tip of his left middle finger and missed the second half before. While he may play this week, the team was already weak on defense to begin with.
True, Arizona did beat Detroit. That was at home though. The Cards are 0-2 on the road, including a loss at St. Louis. While the Cards lost 31-7 against the Saints, Tampa nearly beat New Orleans - losing 16-14. The Cards are now 3-15 SU away from home the past 2+ seasons.
The Arizona offense has been nothing special either. Palmer initially looked good in this offense However, he's since struggled and his numbers rank near the bottom of the pack. (72.3 passer rating is 26th in the NFL.)
Despite facing the Saints and Pats in two of their three games, the Bucs are still only allowing an average of 19 points per game, much better than the 26.3 (29 on the road) that the Cards are allowing. I expect them to take advantage of this winnable game Sunday, covering the small number along the way. 10* personal favorite
|09-29-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Houston Texans +3||Top||23-20||Push||0||123 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. Things change in a hurry in the NFL. Public perception changes about as quickly as anything. If we were at this point of last season, the Seahawks sure wouldn't be favored here at Houston. But with the Hawks off back to back blowout wins and the Texans off a blowout loss, that's where we stand. I believe its providing us with excellent value with the home team.
The Seahawks are certainly a good team and the 29-3 dismantling of the 49'ers was indeed impressive. However, lets keep in mind that they've played two of three games at home and that their other two games came vs. Carolina and Jacksonville.
The Texans may be 0-3 ATS but they're still 2-1 SU. Their lone loss came on the road vs. the defending Super Bowl champs. This team is 14-5 SU and 12-6-1 ATS here the past 2+ seasons.
The Texans are also a profitable 8-1-1 ATS (8-2 SU) the last 10 times that they played a game where the line ranged from the -3 to +3.
While the Texans played a bad game last week, I still believe they're a good team. I'll take whatever points are being offered but I expect them to rise the occasion with the outright win. 10* best bet
|09-29-13||Chicago Bears v. Detroit Lions -3||Top||32-40||Win||100||23 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Bears are 3-0. The Lions are 2-1. The Bears were 2-0 in the series last season and have won nine of the last 10 meetings. Yet, its the Lions who are listed as small favorites. That will have many tempted to take the points. I believe the Lions are favored for good reason though.
The nationally televised blowout of Pittsburgh is fresh in people's memories. Keep in mind that the Bears barely eked out wins in each of their first two games, a 3-point win vs. Cincinnati and a 1-point win vs. Minnesota. (The Lions beat the Vikings by 10.)
While the Bears' defense has been scoring points, they've also been giving up some. They're tied for 19th in scoring defense at 24.7 points per game and rank 25th in yards allowed at 383. Note that Chicago starting defensive tackle Henry Melton will undergo season-ending knee surgery. Also, note that Tillman, who normally covers Calvin Johnson, is questionable.
For all their trouble over the years, the Lions are actually a profitable 18-13-1 (21-11 SU) the last 32 times that they were listed as home favorites of three or fewer points, 1-0 SU/ATS the past couple of seasons. They know they desperately need to find a way to beat this team and I look for them to finally step up and get it done. 8*
|09-22-13||Chicago Bears v. Pittsburgh Steelers +3||Top||40-23||Loss||-125||52 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Bears beat the Bengals. And, the Bengals beat the Steelers. So, the Bears must be able to beat the Steelers, right? That's the type of logic a lot of recreational bettors apply. Sounds reasonable enough in theory. However, in reality, it rarely holds much weight. There are always many other factors to consider. For example, the Bears hosted the Bengals while the Steelers had to play at Cincinnati.
In addition to playing at home, the Steelers figure to be the more desperate team. The NFL is so competitive that coming back from 0-2 to make the playoffs is extremely difficult. Coming back from 0-3 is practically impossible.
On the other hand, while a Monday night game is always a big deal, the 2-0 Bears could potentially be a little more complacent.
The Bears are 3-8-3 ATS the last 14 times that they were road favorites of three or fewer points, going 0-2 ATS their last two in that role During that time, the Steelers were 1-0-1 ATS as home underdogs of three or less. With their season on the line, I expect Big Ben and co. to dig deep and to deliver their best effort. 10* main event
|09-22-13||St. Louis Rams +4 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||7-31||Loss||-110||133 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. The Rams have been forced to rally from behind in each of their first two games. They battled back for a win against Arizona in Week 1 but were unable to dig out from a bigger hole at Atlanta last week. They did fight hard though, making a game of it, despite the early deficit. Taking on a team with a few issues of its own. I expect their best effort.
The Cowboys want to be able to run the ball, but have been unable to do so. They're off a tough 1-point loss and have some key players nursing bumps and bruises.
While the Rams have a slight edge in total yards in their two games, note that Dallas has been outgained by an average margin of 395.5 to 324.5.
While I did successfully play on the Cowboys in their win over the Giants, its worth noting that they're still only 4-13 ATS here the past couple of seasons, including 2-4 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. Overall, they're just 6-14-1 ATS as favorites.
The Rams have seen both games decided by seven or less while the Cowboys have seen both theirs decided by five or less. I won't be surprised if this one also comes down to the wire and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10* best bet
|09-22-13||Cleveland Browns +5 v. Minnesota Vikings||Top||31-27||Win||100||132 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. Not many people are giving the Browns much of a chance here. After all, they're 0-2, they're down to their backup or third-string QB and they just traded away their running back. While all that may be true, keep in mind that the Vikings are also 0-2 and that they too have QB issues.
While you'll hear much about the Browns' problems, note that Cleveland gets back top receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon, who led the team with 805 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2012, was suspended for the first two games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
QB Campbell noted: "He's a huge difference. He's a big target. He's a big guy. He's a big part of what we do offensively. Not having him out there, definitely hurts a little bit, because he is a big part of what we do. So it'll be good to get him back, get him going, try to get him back into a rhythm."
Of course, Campbell isn't expected to start, that job goes to Brian Hoyer.
Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said this of that decision: "I feel like based on our current situation - where we're at offensively as well as getting into the game planning for Minnesota - that Brian's strengths are the best fit for this week and that he gives us our best chance to win. The things that he does well fit what we need. For me, it's about who gives us the best chance to win."
While Peterson is obviously a great running back, the Vikings remain fairly one dimensional on offense. Worse, the defense is allowing an average of 32.5 points and 440 yards per game. (Cleveland is allowing 18.5 ppg and 285.5 ypg.)
The Vikings, who are off a 1-point loss last time out, are very capable of covering when getting points. However, their tendency to play close games makes covering difficult when they're the ones laying points. In fact, they're only 3-8-1 ATS as favorites the past couple of seasons. I'm grabbing all the points I can get. 9*
|09-22-13||Arizona Cardinals v. New Orleans Saints -7||Top||7-31||Win||100||77 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. I successfully played against the Saints last week. They were on the road, off an emotional divisional win and facing what I felt was going to be a very determined divisional rival. Things set up much differently here.
This time, the Saints are at home. This time, they're facing a defensively challenged opponent from outside their division.
Give the Cardinals credit. They're 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS. They've scored points in both games and the offense does appear to be considerably improved. Note that Larry Fitzgerald is banged-up. While the Cards are hopeful he can play, if he does, he may be at less than 100%.
Still, the Arizona offense isn't as good as the one they'll be up against here.
Neither is the defense. While its obviously a small sample size, the Cards are allowing an average of 24 points and 344 yards. On the road, those numbers are 27/366.
The Saints, on the other hand, are allowing just 15.5 points per game, on only 320 yards.
While the Saints' offense has yet to really get rolling, Brees has to be licking his chops. Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford combined to complete 68.9 percent of their passes for 577 yards and four touchdowns against the Cards, who have only one interception and one sack.
The Saints are 12-5 ATS their last 17 as favorites in the 3.5 to 9.5 range. I expect a breakout game from the offense, en route to a big win. 10* personal favorite
|09-19-13||Kansas City Chiefs v. Philadelphia Eagles -3||Top||26-16||Loss||-123||74 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. Reid returns to Philadelphia, bringing his new 2-0 team with him. Needless to say, emotions will be high, as are the stakes. Reid will want to win his old team. The Eagles will want to beat their old coach. The Chiefs want to stay perfect. The Eagles want to climb back above .500. Both teams and QBs feel they have something to prove, a nationally televised Thursday game provides the perfect opportunity.
While the Chiefs may have the better record, keep in mind that one of their wins came vs. Jacksonville. The other was at home, by only a single point. Obviously, this will be a much tougher venue.
While the actual distance the Chiefs travel isn't that great, I still feel that the short week favors the home team.
The Eagles' offense has yet to be stopped. Rivers and co. were able to keep up. I don't expect the Chiefs to be so fortunate. 9* thurs main event
Long known for his "Big Game Prowess," Ben Burns is already off to a PERFECT 6-0 start to the season w/ his NFL primetime (Sunday Night, Monday Night, Thursday Night) plays. His latest is another ABSOLUTE BEAST. You know what to do!
|09-16-13||Pittsburgh Steelers +7 v. Cincinnati Bengals||Top||10-20||Loss||-115||147 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. Admittedly, the Steelers didn't look too good in Week 1. They're also off a down year and a winless preseason. Meanwhile, the Bengals looked better in losing their opener. That combination of events has caused many bettors to steer clear of the Steelers this week. In my opinion, that's created excellent value with what I still believe is a dangerous Pittsburgh team.
While Rothlisberger no longer has all previous weapons at his disposal, I still consider him to be a very talented QB - one who works with the talent around him and finds a way. While losing a center is rarely good, note that they've now had a week to adapt. While I won't count on it, its also possible that Miller could be back.
Either way, I expect this proud and well-coached team to be much better than it was in Week 1.
The Bengals saw their opening game decided by a field goal, blowing a double-digit lead in the process. Those type of losses aren't always as easy to bounce back from as people expect them to be.
Both games between these teams last season were also close. The Steelers won by seven here at Cincinnati. The Bengals won by three at Pittsburgh. With last year's victory, the Steelers are 17-5 ATS (18-4 SU) their last 22 visits here. That includes an 11-1 mark their last 12 here.
Including the losses vs the Steelers, the Bengals are just 6-9-1 ATS here the past couple of seasons. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way. 10* AFC North GOM
|09-15-13||New Orleans Saints v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5||Top||16-14||Win||100||118 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA. The Saints are off a win and cover. The Bucs are are off a tough 1-point loss at New York. This week, the Bucs are playing at home though, while also getting points. I believe that's offering excellent value.
While Brees is indeed one of the elite QBs in the league, the Bucs now have one of the league's elite cornerbacks, in Revis.
As Brees noted: "Obviously, Revis and his reputation - he's one of the best corners in the league, and you've got two young corners on the other side too that play very well. So, all in all, it's an extremely solid secondary and one that you've got to be able to prepare for."
Meanwhile, the Saints had trouble running the ball last week and also had trouble stopping the run. Note that the Saints allowed a league-worst 6.3 yards per carry in Week 1 after they ranked last in that category last season at 5.2.
The Bucs have played the Saints trough here the last couple of seasons here. They lost 35-28 in last year's meeting here. However, they had an edge in first downs, time of possession, rushing yards and passing yards. The previous season, the Bucs won 26-20 here. I believe the Bucs will be ready and I won't be surprised by another upset Sunday afternoon. 10* best bet
|09-15-13||Washington Redskins v. Green Bay Packers -7||Top||20-38||Win||100||100 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. Both teams lost last week. I expect the Packers to be the team which bounces back with a victory.
The Washington defense was not good last year. Getting lit up by the Eagles in Week 1 doesn't bode well for them vs. Rodgers and co. Even against the 49'ers defense, considered among the best, the Pack still threw for 322 yards, scoring 28 points.
McCarthy and the Packers coaching staff saw Washington struggle against the quick hurry-up attack that the Eagles employed. They should devise a gameplan to exploit the vulnerability.
Just as the defense struggled, the Redskins defense wasn't too good either. The Washington ground game didn't look good at all. Meanwhile, while Griffin did throw for more than 300 yards, he also got picked off twice while fumbling.
The Packers have won 20 of their last 21 regular-season games at Lambeau Field. I believe that they're the superior team and I expect a win and cover. 10* personal favorite
|09-15-13||San Diego Chargers v. Philadelphia Eagles -7||Top||33-30||Loss||-120||100 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I successfully backed both these teams on Monday night. While both covered the spread, both had different SU outcomes. The Eagles jumped all over the Redskins early and hung on for a 33-27 win. The Chargers also jumped off to a significant lead. However, they couldn't hang on, eventually losing 31-28 vs. Houston. I believe those results favor the Eagles, even more so with both teams playing on a short week.
The Chargers left it all out on the field on Monday. To give that kind of effort - only to lose in heart-breaking fashion - is tough. Off that kind of loss, having to fly across the country to play an early game, on a short week - is even tougher.
The Chargers will have to deal with a new look Eagles attack that appeared unstoppable for much of the opener. As noted prior to the Washington game, I like Kelly and I like Vick in this offense.
While the Eagles are also playing on a short week, they're also riding an emotional high. This is a team and city which feels that its back. That emotion and positive momentum figures to compensate for the short work week. Also, unlike the Chargers, the Eagles didn't have to fly across the country to get here.
While the Chargers can be tough against their own conference, they were 0-8 ATS (1-7 SU) against NFC teams the past couple of seasons. They'll likely get a non-conf. cover at some point this season, I just don' think it'll be this week. 10*
|09-09-13||Houston Texans v. San Diego Chargers +4.5||Top||31-28||Win||100||34 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. The Texans are a talented team and they're off a very strong (regular) season. Expectations are high once again. That's not the case in San Diego. The Chargers are off a bad year and even San Diego fans aren't sure what to make of their team's chances. I believe that sentiment has created excellent value with what I believe will be an extremely motivated and dangerous home underdog.
I like the coaching changes in San Diego and believe that the new emphasis on short and intermediate routes will benefit Rivers.
While the Texans were indeed a tough defense last year, they did show vulnerabilities against the pass at times. While Ed Reed has been signed to help address that flaw, he may not be able to go here - and if he does, he may not be 100%,
The Texans, who also have a banged-up Arian Foster, are 0-2 ATS (1-1 SU) their last two Monday games, 1-5 ATS their last six. I believe all the talk about what a great season they're going to have may have them believing that they're a little better than they really are.
The Chargers have had remarkable success vs. the AFS South, going 20-3 ATS their last 23 vs. that division. That includes a perfect 8-0 ATS mark since 2009, one of them an upset win at Houston in 2010. Rivers had four TDs and 295 yards in that game. While he may not match those stats tonight, I do expect Rivers to have a solid game, en route to leading his team to AT LEAST a cover. 10*
|09-09-13||Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||33-27||Win||100||72 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. The Skins had their way with the Eagles last season. However, that was with Foles at QB and with Reid as the head coach. Things are different in Philly now and I look for a much different team and result on the field this evening.
I like the coaching change that the Eagles made. Reid did a lot of good things, but his time here was clearly done. Kelly is a winner and he's brought a winning mentality with him.
Obviously, Griffin has some special talents and he had a great season last year. Keep in mind that he'll be taking his first snap in an NFL game since reconstructive surgery and since re-hurting his right knee in the playoff loss vs. Seattle.
While he's considerably older, keep in mind that Vick has a lot of the same skills that Griffin does. With a renewed emphasis on the ground game, Vick will finally be encouraged to utilize his running skills.
Vick was quoted saying: "I'm going to have the opportunity to do what I want to do in this offense and run the football. And yes, I will be a threat. I think you've got to take on a certain mindset that you're going to play the game all-out."
Vick's "all out" mentality might make it difficult to last the entire season - but it should make him extremely dangerous, when healthy. Note that he was 20 of 28 for 333 yards and four touchdowns to go with 73 yards rushing.
Kelly said this of his QB: "The biggest thing with Mike that you saw was just his growth and improvement. He just kept learning the system ... His willingness to learn, his passion for the game of football was evidenced since the first day we saw him."
The Skins, who ranked just 28th defensively last season, have long been terrible in the favorite role. They're 51-81-3 ATS the last 135 times that they were laying points, including a 12-24 ATS mark when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. While that's admittedly largely ancient history, they were also 0-2 ATS in that role the past couple of seasons.
Meanwhile, despite a poor record at the betting window overall, the Eagles have quietly gone a profitable 3-1 ATS as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range.
While they were beaten badly here last season, the Eagles remain a healthy 13-7-1 ATS (14-7 SU) their last 21 visits here. Vick has won his last three starts against the Skins, throwing for better than 900 yards while recording eight touchdowns. I expect AT LEAST another cover tonight. 10* NFC Best Bet
|09-08-13||Arizona Cardinals v. St. Louis Rams -4.5||Top||24-27||Loss||-108||170 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. With most expecting the 49'ers and Seahawks to again be very good, not many are expecting much from either the Rams or the Cardinals. The general feeling is that they'll be competing for third in the NFC West. While that may indeed prove to be the case, I believe that the Rams are closer to the level of SF and Seattle than they are to the Cardinals. I expect them to prove it on Sunday afternoon.
Looking back to last season and we find that the Cardinals were favored, albeit slightly, for both meetings with the Rams. However, the Rams won both of those games by double-digits, 17-3 here at St. Louis and 31-17 at Arizona.
Including that 31-17 rout, the Cards finished the season on a 1-11 streak. Meanwhile, the Rams finished the season by winning four of their last six.
As coach Fisher noted: "One would assume that we'll just continue to get better."
True, the Rams no longer have Steven Jackson. While Jackson did plenty of good things here, I'm not overly concerned with his departure. Keep in mind that he's 30 now, fairly old for a running back which has taken the kind of pounding that he has. Additionally, keep in mind that Daryl Richardson averaged 4.8 ypc for them last season.
More significant that the departure of Jackson, at least in my opinion, is adding tight end Jared Cook and offensive tackle Jake Long to the St. Louis offense.
Note that Bradford doesn't have to learn new schemes for once, as offensive coordinator Brian Schttenheimer returns.
That's not the case for the Cards, as they've got a new QB (Palmer) and a new coach.
Keep in mind that the Cards had the worst offense, in terms of yards per game, in the league last season - they were second worst in points allowed. Throw in the fact that the Rams also scored more ppg and St. Louis appears stronger on both sides of the ball. Also, Fisher and the Rams coaching staff should have an edge over the Cards. Add it all up and I expect another win and cover for St. Louis. 10* personal favorite
|02-03-13||Baltimore Ravens +4 v. San Francisco 49ers||Top||34-31||Win||100||301 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing BALTIMORE. I've been riding the Ravens these playoffs, backing them in their victories over the Colts, Broncos and Patriots. Once again, I believe they're offering us excellent value.
The general consensus seems to be that the 49'ers are better in all facets of the game, with the exception of kicker. At least, I sure seem to hear a lot of people making that claim.
I don't see it that way.
Let's start by looking at the quarterbacks, the most important players on the field.
While I know many/most would probably choose Kaepernick but if I had the choice to have either QB for this game, I'd personally take Flacco.
There's no denying that Kaepernick has been really good. He's deadly on the ground, can beat you with his arm and has made good decisions.
That said, since the playoffs began, I believe Flacco has been every bit as good, some could argue better. I like the fact that he's got more playoff and overall experience. I like his demeanor and believe that he's peaking at the right time.
When making my Super Bowl pick, I probably give more weight to the head coach than many other handicappers. While I lost with Belichick last year, I've successfully backed the likes of Green Bay and New Orleans in recent years in no small part because I respected McCarthy and Payton.
Both Harbaugh brothers have obviously done a great job in getting their teams this far. I consider both to be very good coaches.
However, if given the choice, I'd take the older brother, John.
I backed Baltimore when these teams met on Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. I remember Jim saying: "John's the smartest guy I know.
Growing up, as brothers would do, the two brothers competed against each other. Jim was born with the better physical gifts. However, John made up for it with smarts. Obviously any athletic advantage Jim might have, won't play a factor here. The older and typically calmer brother, I feel John has the edge.
True, the 49'ers defense had the better regular season stats. However, this Raven defense is peaking at the right time - having shut down the likes of Luck, Manning and Brady. Meanwhile, the 49er defense has shown some vulnerability in the playoffs.
I believe that the two weeks in between games may also favor a Baltimore team which was forced to play one more playoff game to get here. Aging defenders like Lewis and Reed will benefit from the rest. (I also believe the experience of those type of players will prove invaluable.) Perhaps more importantly, the Ravens will have extra time to compare for the unconventional SF offense.
Note that the Ravens are 14-5 SU and 13-6 ATS the last 19 times that they played with two week's worth of rest, going 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS their last four in that situation.
While I like the Ravens to win, in a game that could come down to the wire, getting more than a field goal, I'll happily grab the points. *10 Best of Best
|01-20-13||Baltimore Ravens +10 v. New England Patriots||Top||28-13||Win||100||34 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. The Patriots remind me a of a school yard bully, a bit like Mike Tyson in about the mid 90s. Not Tyson like he is today and not Tyson like he was before losing to Buster Douglas. Rather, the Tyson that would beat up on guys with names like Peter McNeeley. Buster Mathis Jr. and Frank Bruno.
While he was no longer invincible, the Mike Tyson was still considered to very good. He'd only lost once and many were writing that loss to Douglas in Japan off as a fluke.
Other fighters were typically still very intimidated by Tyson and he'd routinely destroy any opponent that was lacking confidence. However, when matched up against an opponent that wasn't scared of him (Holyfield) Tyson found the going far more difficult.
It seems to me that some, perhaps many, teams are intimidated by New England. Like Tyson, the Pats annihilate a lot of opponents.
While it remains to be seen if they can pull off the upset, I believe the Ravens will have the type of mentality that Holyfield had in the Tyson fights. I don't believe that they're intimidated. They believe that they're on a mission and they're confident that they can beat this team. After the fashion in which they won at Denver - a game nobody was giving them a chance for - they truly believe that anything is possible, many believing fate is on their side.
I feel that type of confidence will serve them well here.
Lets not forget that the weather figures to be fairly nasty and Brady won't have Gronkowski to throw to.
These teams met at Baltimore in September. The Ravens won 31-30. They also faced each other here in last year's playoffs. New England won by a field goal, 23-20. That was also the exact same score in the previous game here, a 23-20 win by the Pats in Oct. 2010.
I'm expecting another close one, with the Ravens refusing to be intimidated and am grabbing all those generous points. *10 annihilator
|01-20-13||San Francisco 49ers v. Atlanta Falcons +5||Top||28-24||Win||100||30 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Last week, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks were the talk of the town. This week, its Colin Kaepernick and the 49'ers who are all the rage. I feel that they're over-valued.
While they've had an extra day in between games, the 49'ers are still a West Coast team playing on the East Coast. While he may indeed be pretty "special," Kaeparnick is still a rookie making his first playoff road start.
While they are obviously a very talented team, I've found that every time that the 49'ers start winning a couple in a row, everyone wants to start handing them the Super Bowl. More often than not, that's when they've stumbled. (They were just 2-5 ATS and 2-4-1 SU after two straight wins.)
Many aren't giving the Falcons any credit for last week's win. They only see a team which nearly blew it and can't get over Atlanta's past postseason failures. I see a team which jumped all over a very opponent and a team which had the poise to come back and win, when it really mattered. I also see a team which exorcised some demons by earning that elusive playoff win.
Last week, I said the Falcons were being "disrespected," as they were barely favored against Seattle. This week, they're getting more than a field goal against the 49'ers, a team which was recently destroyed (42-13) by the Seahawks. Needless to say, I feel that the #1 seed is again being dis-respected.
Seemingly tired of being "disrespected," the Falcons were 3-0 ATS as underdogs (or in pick'em games) this season. All three of those resulted in outright victories. In fact, the Falcons didn't just win, they crushed those opponents.
When getting three points at San Diego, they won 27-3. When getting three points at Philadelphia, they won 30-17. Then, when listed at pick'em here at home against the Giants, the Falcons won by a score of 34-0. That's a combined score of 91-20 in the Falcons' favor, in the three games when they weren't favored.
The Falcons are 21-5 here the past few years, including 8-1 here this season. I'll happily take the points but expect them to win outright. *10 nfc main event
|01-13-13||Houston Texans +10 v. New England Patriots||Top||28-41||Loss||-115||120 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. You probably remember that these teams faced each other here about a month ago. If so, you'll recall that the Pats crushed the Texans in that game. That result is one of the factors causing this line to be much higher than it was for last month's meeting. I believe it will prove to be too high.
The Texans were among the best teams in the league for much of the season. Right up until the time they played here, at least. That loss sent them into a bit of a tailspin. The Texans flipped the switch back on last week though, knocking off a tough Cincy team which was playing very well. With their "mojo" back and having earned some "relief" in bouncing back, I expect the revenge-minded Texans, who are now 5-0 ATS their last five January games, to be at their best here.
Note that Houston is 10-2 ATS the last 12 times it attempted to avenge an earlier loss, going 3-0 SU/ATS its last three in that situation.
The Texans rode Arian Foster hard in the win over the Bengals. He had 140 yards on 32 carries. While Foster deserves a lot of that credit, the Houston offensive line did an excellent job of opening holes for him, against a touch Bengals' defensive line. I believe that strong running game will serve the Texans well here.
The Pats are only 1-3 ATS their last four playoff games and they're also a somewhat surprising 0-4 ATS (1-3 SU) the last four times that they played with two or more week's worth of rest in between games. When in that situation this season, they eked out a 6-point win over the Bills.
This O/U line is a bit lower than it was for last month's meeting. Therefore, its worth noting that the Pats are a poor 2-7 ATS the last nine times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range. Going back further finds them at just 9-23 ATS their last 32 in that situation. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way. *10 AFC Best bet
|01-13-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Atlanta Falcons -1||Top||28-30||Win||100||117 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Talk about a lack of respect. The Falcons are the #1 seed in the NFC. They've got an experienced QB who practically never loses here. They're well-rested and well-coached. Yet, they're barely favored. While I'm well aware of their past postseason shortcomings, I feel that the low number is providing us with excellent value.
The Seahawks rallied for a win at Washington last week. That was against a team which also had a rookie QB though - one which wasn't close to being 100% healthy. That was also against a team which had (arguably) over-achieved just to make the playoffs. Additionally, the Hawks got to play a game in the later part of the day.
Now, however, this West-Coast based team will be contending with an early starting time, while playing its second straight road game. Now, they'll be facing a healthy QB and a team that has been fully focused on the playoffs and on improving its "legacy." I believe that the Hawks, who are much bettere defensively than the Skins (and also arguably better offensively) will prove to be a far tougher opponent.
The Falcons did lose their final game of the regular season, a 22-17 loss vs. the Bucs. They're 6-0 SU the last six times that they were off a divisional loss though and that was a meaningless game. The last time that they were really "motivated" for a game here, the Falcons destroyed the Giants by a score of 34-0. While we may not see another destruction like that one, I expect to see that type of resolve and focus from Atlanta.
While they've got a great homefield advantage, the Seahawks are still 8-17 SU their last 25 road games. During that stretch, the Falcons are 20-5 here at Atlanta. That includes a 6-3 SU/ATS mark as home favorites of three or fewer points. That also includes a 7-1 mark here this season. They outscored teams by a 24.5 to 17 margin here.
The Falcons beat the Seahawks each of the last two seasons. While Russell Wilson wasn't on the team at the time, each of those games came at Seattle, where the Hawks are a much better team. Playing at home and playing with a chip on its collective shoulders, I expect the #1 seed to again take care of business. *10 Playoff GOY
I'm also playing ATLANTA on the MONEYLINE for the first half. While it may seem too obvious to mention, the Falcons have the significant advantage of playing at home. They're dominant here. The Seahawks are also excellent on their homefield. They're thousands of miles from home now though, playing an early game.
We did see the Hawks rally for a win last week. However, we also saw the Skins jump all over them right out of the gate.
The Falcons have outscored teams by a 12.9 to 9.5 margin in the first half here at home this season. They've got something to prove here and I expect them to come out strong.
While I do expect the Falcons to be leading a halftime, I am recommending the money-line rather than the short pointspread. The price is quite reasonable and it gives us a push in the event of a tie at halftime and the win if the Falcons are leading by only a single points. *8 annihilator
|01-12-13||Baltimore Ravens +10 v. Denver Broncos||Top||38-35||Win||100||97 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. Denver had a great season and comes in riding the longest winning streak in the league. Throw in the fact that they're led by Peyton Manning and we find the Broncos laying a very big number. I believe it will prove to be too big.
For starters, entering the playoffs on an extended winning streak doesn't always guarantee success in the playoffs. Just ask the teams that lost in the Wildcard Round, all four of which were on winning streaks.
The Redskins entered the playoffs off seven straight victories. The Vikings entered the playoffs off four straight wins. The Bengals entered the playoffs off three straight victories and having won seven of their previous eight games. Lastly, the Colts had won back to back games and five of their previous six. With the exception of Seattle, none of the teams that won (Houston, GB, Baltimore) entered the playoffs on a winning streak. In fact, all three of those teams had lost their regular season finale.
We can kind of throw out the Seattle/Washington game, as those teams were both "hot." But, in all three of the other games, the "hotter" team was defeated.
Note that I'm not saying that Denver's winning streak should be ignored - only that it may not be quite as important as many likely assume.
You may recall that these teams faced each other on 12/16, at Baltimore. The Broncos dominated that game by a 34-17 count. Everything that could go wrong for Baltimore did go wrong and what appeared like it was going to be a 10-7 (or 10-3) halftime score, turned into a 17-0 Bronco lead due to a "pick-6" right before halftime. I expect a MUCH better effort from the revenge-minded Ravens here.
That 12/16 defeat vs. the Broncos was one of only two games all season long which saw the Ravens lose by more than six points.
The Ravens have won five of their last eight when playing with "revenge." They've also now won five of their last seven in January. I expect them to give the Broncos all they can handle with an excellent shot at the outright win. *9 annihilator
|01-06-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Baltimore Ravens -7||Top||9-24||Win||100||17 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. I believe that the Ravens are better on both sides of the ball. While Luck has certainly done an admirable job, he's still prone to making rookie mistakes and the playoffs are new ground for him. Flacco, on the other hand, has plenty of playoff experience. While he hasn't taken the Ravens to the Super Bowl yet, he has enjoyed some playoff success.
Of course, the fact that Ray Lewis is (likely) playing his final game here is also a significant factor. Lewis is a legend here and one of the best leaders in the game. I expect the entire team to be fired up to "win this one for Ray."
While there will be a lot of emotion with it being Lewis' last game there, Flacco is the type of QB that keeps an even keel no matter what the situation. I expect him to have his team able to use the emotion to the Ravens' advantage.
Obviously the Colts badly want to win this game too. However, I don't think that they'll feel the same sense of urgency. This is a young team and they'll have plenty of opportunities to return to the playoffs. No matter what happens here, they can already hold their heads high.
Keep in mind that while they were 4-4, the Colts were outscored by an average 29.1 to 21.1 margin on the road. They eked out a win in their last road game (at KC) but were outgained by a whopping 507-288 count, in terms of total yards.
The Ravens are 5-1 SU/ATS in the Wildcard Rd of the playoffs. During that time, they're 22-11-2 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range, 4-1-1 ATS the last six.
Throw last week's loss at Cincinnati out. The real Ravens showed up the previous week, beating up on the Giants by a 33-14 margin while getting their "swagger" back in the process. I expect them to step up and get it done. *10
I'm playing BALTIMORE on the moneyline for the first half. There's going to be a ton of emotion in Baltimore, with this likely being Ray Lewis' last game here. Flacco is the type of QB that keeps an even keel no matter what the situation. I expect him to have his team ready to use that emotion to their advantage.
The Ravens have outscored teams by a 15.1 to 10.9 margin in the first half of games here this season. The Colts, on the other hand, have been outscored by a 16 to 11.7 margin in the first half of their road games. While the price may seem a bit steep, getting a push if the game is tied and a win if the Ravens are up by 1-3 points makes this line preferable, in my opinion, to the first half ATS line. *6
|01-05-13||Minnesota Vikings v. Green Bay Packers -7.5||Top||10-24||Win||100||27 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. You guys likely know the story-line here. These teams just faced each other at Minnesota last week. In an exciting game which they needed to have, the Vikings eked out a 37-34 victory.
That Week 17 loss at Minnesota was the reason that the Packers are playing here. If they'd won that game, they would have earned a bye. So, its not like the Packers weren't trying to win. Still, there's a difference between playing for a bye and playing for a playoff spot, or playing to stay alive in the playoffs.
Of course, there's also a big difference between playing in the dome at Minnesota and playing a January game at Lambeau Field.
Adrian Peterson has proven to be a very special runner and Christian Ponder has certainly had a respectable season . However, Aaron Rodgers gives the Packers a significant advantage at the most important position in the game.
If he's not the best QB in the league, Rodgers is right there near the top. He tends to carve up the Vikings too, as he's got a 132.5 passer rating his last five games against them, throwing 16 TDs to just one interception while completing 74.7% of his passes.
While Peterson has had some personal success at Lambeau, the Vikings are still 1-5 in AP's career there. Peterson has averaged better than 100 yards there, scoring five TDs. It hasn't mattered.
Green Bay has beaten the Vikings convincingly here, too. In fact, in addition to having won five of six outright, the Packers are also 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were a host in the series. The Pack beat the Vikes by a combined score of 68-21 the last two meetings here.
Rodgers said this on the difference of playing at home as compared to playing at Minnesota: "The road got a little tougher having to play on opening weekend, but we've got a home game and that's why you win the division. You get to go back home and the game will be a different type of game. They won't have the home-crowd advantage and hopefully that will make a difference.''
Including this season's result here, the Packers are 17-8 ATS (22-3 SU) at home the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Vikes are only 9-14-1 ATS (7-17 SU) away from Minnesota.
The Pack are outscoring teams by an average of 11.6 ppg here this season. They lost their first game of the season here and have since won their last seven here. They won those seven games by an average margin of 13 points.
Th Packers, who have won nine of their last 10 (7-2-1 ATS) when playing on a Saturday, are battle-tested in the playoffs and I believe that they've got a significant coaching edge. I look for them to take care of business on Saturday, earning the cover along the way. *10
|12-30-12||Dallas Cowboys +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||18-28||Loss||-113||12 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Unlike many of the Week 17 matchups, this game means everything for both teams. Throw in the long-standing rivalry between the NFC East foes and the stadium will clearly be buzzing.
Griffin and co. have surely been a great story. However, at this stage of Griffin's career, with Griffin recently banged-up and Romo playing great, I'll still take Romo for a single winner-take all showdown. I may be proven wrong and RG3 has certainly shown to be a very talented individual but I believe that there's something to be said for experience.
Griffin will be playing his first game under the Sunday night lights. He says his knee is healthier. However, his running plays may still be a little limited. Still dangerous, obviously, but perhaps not as much as a few weeks ago.
Outside of the QBs, I believe that Romo has the better overall supporting cast. While all teams have plenty of injuries at this time of the year, the Cowboys are in better shape than they were for the earlier meeting, when the Skins upset them at Dallas.
The Skins are still only 4-6 ATS the last 10 times that they were favored, going an ugly 50-81-2 ATS when laying points over the long-term.
The Cowboys are 5-2 ATS on the road and 4-2 ATS as underdogs. While Griffin and co. will have many years to get more chances, Romo and co. have a limited window. I look for them to step up and get it done. *10 Main Event
|12-30-12||Houston Texans -6.5 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||16-28||Loss||-110||6 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. The Colts are playing their starters and they have their head coach back - for the first time all season. While they appear to be serious about wanting to win, the fact is that a victory can't help their positioning. On the other hand, the Texans still could have a chance at helping themselves. I expect them to be the more motivated team.
Defensive end J.J. Watt noted: "We know what it takes," said defensive end J.J. Watt, two sacks shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2. "We're going to get focused, and then we're going to come out there and earn ourselves home-field advantage."
The Colts, who are great against losing teams but only 1-2 ATS against teams with a winning record, may have eked out a win last week but they didn't exactly look dominant doing it. Indeed, they were outgained by a lopsided 507-288 margin, giving up a whopping 352 yards on the ground. I expect that to spell trouble against the Texans, who are surely licking their collective chops.
The Texans are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were listed as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. They know what's at stake and I expect them to take care of business. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-30-12||Chicago Bears v. Detroit Lions +3||Top||26-24||Win||100||5 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Lions rank near the top of the league, in the category of most disappointing season. A talented team, they lost close games in a variety of different ways. That string of close losses eventually caught up with them - fighting so hard to to come up just short, over and over again, will do that. They've been blown out each of the past two weeks. Neither of those were divisional games though. Neither had playoff implications like this one.
The Lions have had an extra day of rest and preparation time here (last game was a Saturday) and that often can be more helpful than it sounds. More importantly, they get to host the hated Bears, a team which beat them by six at Chicago back in October. Better yet, they can play a role in keeping them out of the playoffs. I don't believe that lack of motivation will be an issue. This is an opportunity to show some pride, get some revenge and to give the home fans something to take into the offseason.
As Cutler said of the Lions: "It's safe to say the Lions are disappointed in their season, so they would love nothing more than to make us disappointed for the rest of the year."
Coach Schwartz would note: "You want to end the season on a high note. Last year we were a playoff team ... It does give you a little bit of feeling going into the offseason. It's one of 16, but it is the last one that we play.
Nobody wants teams to celebrate at your own expense. I think that's important."
The Lions beat the Bears 24-13 here last season. I expect them to be at their best again this afternoon. *10 Best Bet
|12-23-12||Washington Redskins v. Philadelphia Eagles +7||Top||27-20||Push||0||6 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I really like how this one sets up for the home team.
Obviously, the Eagles have had a very disappointing season. Nobody is certain what next season will bring but change is inevitable.
Playing their home finale, this game offers one last chance for this current group of players and coaches to earn the home fans a victory. Reid, who has been through an awful lot this season, has taken this team to the playoffs nine times since becoming coach in 1999. I expect his players to fight their hardest for him.
All the talk will be out Robert Griffin III, who is expected to return. He may not be quite 100% though. Either way, I don't expect him to find the going easy here. (Same goes for Cousins, should he happen to play.)
The Eagles are playing with revenge from an earlier blowout loss at Washington. They've been playing better since that time with two covers in their last three games. Prior to the loss at Washington, they'd beaten the Skins three straight times.
The Redskins did win big at Cleveland last week, even without Griffin. And, as noted, they did beat up on the Eagles last month. However, prior to last week's win, their previous three victories had come by just 11 combined points, none by greater than a touchdown.
The Eagles are playing with some extra preparation time, as their last game came on a Thursday. They're 55-33-3 ATS the last 91 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to step up and close out the current era (at Philadelphia) with at least a cover. *10 Best Bet
|12-23-12||Cincinnati Bengals v. Pittsburgh Steelers -3||Top||13-10||Loss||-115||4 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. This is a huge game for both teams. While they've struggled lately and are off a heart-breaking loss, the Steelers are still a team that knows how to win and which has been involved in many of these must win games in the past. They've also dominated the Bengals for years and that should give them confidence here. I feel that the current line is providing excellent value.
Yes, the Bengals have played well of late. Yes, they desperately want to win this game. At the end of the day, the Steelers are still 18-6 here the past few seasons, including a 35-7 blowout of these same Bengals the last meeting here.
The Bengals are 4-10-2 ATS their last 16 in the division going an awful 56-86-3 ATS their last 145. The Steelers are 10-6-1 ATS their last 17 division games and 82-62-6 their last 150.
I respect Dalton, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. However, I still respect Rothlisberger, Tomlin and the Steelers more. Until proven otherwise on the field, the Steelers still own this team. The only other time that the Steelers had lost two straight this season, they stepped up and won outright at Baltimore. With everything on the line, I expect them to step up and get it done again. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-22-12||Atlanta Falcons v. Detroit Lions +4.5||Top||31-18||Loss||-110||35 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. Most people will assume that Atlanta has more to play for here and therefore they'll assume that the Falcons will also be the more motivated team.
True, the Falcons are trying to wrap up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs while also building momentum for more important games. True, the Lions are playing out the string.
That doesn't tell the entire story though.
The Falcons will still control their own destiny, in terms of home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, even if they lose there.
Meanwhile, Detroit has another chance to show the national audience than its better than indicated by its record.
I believe that the Lions are indeed better than their record indicates. I also believe that they'll be highly motivated by the chance to beat this year's best NFC team, particularly after getting embarrassed last week.
QB Stafford noted: "People are competitive, people have pride. People have confidence in themselves. I think that's what helps people bounce back from stuff like this.''
The Falcons showed that they can dominate when fully focused last week. However, keep in mind that they were dominated by Carolina the previous week. Off the big "revenge" win vs. the defending SB champions and with their regular season home finale on deck - and against a division rival - I could easily see the Falcons experiencing a bit of a letdown here.
The Lions are 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were home underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to bounce back with AT LEAST a cover on Saturday. *10
|12-16-12||San Francisco 49ers +6 v. New England Patriots||Top||41-34||Win||100||56 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. I lost playing against the Patriots last week. While they admittedly looked very good, while also making me look pretty bad, I'm still willing to go against them here.
After last week's blowout victory over Houston, the line is higher than it otherwise would have been. I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Brady seems to be able to throw to just about anyone. However, injuries to targets Gronkowski, Edelman and Stallworth figure to catch up with the Pats against this defense.
While the Texans defense was exposed by the Pats' high-powered offense, this SF defense allows the fewest points in the entire league, at just 14.2 per game.
Kaepernick is obviously not in Brady's class yet (and may never be) as Brady has been getting it done for a decade while Kaepernick has only made four starts. Still, the fact that Kaepernick has completed better than 67% of his passes can't be ignored. He's gaining more than eight yards per attempt, too. Nor can his ability to beat teams with his feet.
Despite the limited number of games, he's already third among NFL quarterbacks with 351 rushing yards. He's averaging a whopping 7.6 per carry and already has five rushing touchdowns.
While the Pats are 5-6-1 ATS their last 12 non-conference games, the 49'ers are 8-3 SU/ATS their last 11 against AFC teams.
The 49'ers are also 7-4-1 ATS as underdogs the past 2+ seasons, including a perfect 3-0 ATS as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. I believe that their physical rushing attack and powerful defense matches up well against the Pats and I won't be surprised to see them score the outright win. *10 Main Event
|12-16-12||Seattle Seahawks v. Buffalo Bills +6||Top||50-17||Loss||-110||52 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. The Seahawks figure to be a popular pick here. After all, they're off a 58-0 victory last week. Plus, they're battling for the playoffs while the Bills are most likely "playing out the string."
I don't expect the Bills to just roll over though. In fact, while the playoffs aren't really going to happen, this team is still mathematically alive and I believe that they're offering plenty of value.
Its true that the Bills would have preferred to play this game at Buffalo, instead of Toronto. However, I still feel the venue will provide them with an advantage.
Keep in mind that the Seahawks are thousands of miles away from home. Playing away from home doesn't bother some teams. However, its something that the Seahawks haven't really figured out yet. They've won only two of seven games away from Seattle. Note that both of those victories came by less than a touchdown, too.
The Seahawks, who are dealing with several banged-up players, are an awful 21-42 the last 63 times that they were off a divisional victory, going 3-4 ATS (2-5 SU) their last seven in that situation.
Perhaps worse than the potential letdown from the Arizona win is the potential for a "look-ahead" to next week's critical home game vs. San Francisco.
While they're only 3-5 their last eight games, four of the Bills' last five losses have come by less than a touchdown. I look for them to step up and earn at least a cover. *10 Best Bet
|12-16-12||Minnesota Vikings v. St. Louis Rams -1||Top||36-22||Loss||-132||49 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Don't tell these teams that they've got nothing to play for. Both the Vikings and Rams kept their hopes alive by winning last week. Both are still on the outside looking in. Both need another win. With the game being played at St. Louis, I feel that the Rams will have the advantage.
The Vikings are 6-1 at home but only 1-5 (SU and ATS) on the road. They've won just five of 22 road games the past few seasons. The Rams are 2-3-1 on the road, 2-4-1 if you count the game at London. They're 4-2 in games here at St. Louis though.
With a healthy Adrian Peterson in the backfield, the Vikings are obviously a very good running team. However, the Rams have been extremely stout against the run of late.
Last week, they limited Buffalo's C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to a combined 51 yards on 16 carries. The Bills were fourth in the league in rushing coming into that game.
The previous week, the Rams limited Frank Gore to only 58 yards. A closer look reveals that Gore had 23 yards on one play and only 35 yards on his other 22 carries combined.
Jeff Fisher said this of his team's run defense: "Everybody's been contributing from the back end to defensive tackle Michael Brockers is improving, Kendall's Langford playing good, the ends are playing solid, the linebackers are flowing."
Fisher went on to say that he's not talking to his team about the playoffs: "We have the Vikings coming into this week. That's our focus ... Right now, none of that matters unless we win this game. We have to find a way ..."
The Rams are 7-2 ATS when playing a game with an O/U line in the 35.5 to 42 range, going 15-9 ATS their last 24 in that situation. On the other hand, during that time, the Vikings were just 2-10 ATS when playing a game where the line ranged from 35.5 to 42.
The Rams are also 4-0 SU/ATS the last four times that they played a game with a line ranging from -3 to +3. I look for Fisher's team to "find a way," covering the small number along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-16-12||NY Giants v. Atlanta Falcons||Top||0-34||Win||100||8 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. For a team with an 11-2 overall record, including a perfect 6-0 mark at home, the Falcons sure aren't getting much respect here. I feel that lack of respect is providing us with excellent value.
One could easily make a case for the Giants needing this game more. From a playoff perspective, I'll admit that is in fact true. The Falcons, already division champs, have the best record in the entire NFC and that will remain the case, even if they lose this game. Meanwhile, the Giants have both the Cowboys and Redskins breathing down their necks in the race for the NFC East title.
That said, I expect the Falcons to be every bit as motivated as the defending champions. Indeed, this is a game that Atlanta has had circled since the schedule came out. You may recall that the Giants beat up on the Falcons (24-2) in last year's playoffs, en route to winning the Super Bowl.
I believe that this is a much improved Atlanta team from the one which the Giants defeated last season. I'm not sure that the same can be said of New York though.
While they do have a promising rookie in David Wilson, who is coming off a big game, its still worth noting that the Giants will be without Ahmad Bradshaw, their leading rusher and also his backup, (Andre Brown ) who is out for the season.
Tom Coughlin noted this about the Falcons being a different team from last season: "They have two new coordinators in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. They do bring their own personality and style to the way that they're playing, so there is a difference."
As if last year's playoff loss wasn't motivation enough, the Falcons were embarrassed by Carolina last week and have had to listen to all the talk about them being a fraud all week.
Note that Falcons, who are 19-4 SU their last 23 at home, are a perfect 5-0 SU the last five times that they were off a loss vs. a divisional opponent. I expect the revenge-minded Falcons to step up and improve on those stats, making a statement and covering the very small number along the way. *10 "Revenge" GOW
|12-13-12||Cincinnati Bengals v. Philadelphia Eagles +5||Top||34-13||Loss||-110||30 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I knew I liked the Eagles in this spot. However, I also expected the line to climb above its opening number of three and therefore waited a bit before releasing it. It has now done so. As far as I'm concerned, given the situation, anything better than a field goal is very generous.
I respect the Bengals and I won with them when they beat the Giants. However, I don't feel that they are a team which should be laying more than a field goal on the road here. Not when they're off a heart-breaker and playing a road game, on a short week. Not when they're facing a Philadelphia team which finally enters a game with some much-needed momentum.
After covering the previous week, the Eagles got the monkey off their back with an outright win last week. That was on the road against a Tampa team that was fighting for the playoffs. That victory should appease the home faithful a little while also giving them some much needed confidence.
Now, the Eagles get a chance to do some more "spoiling" while getting to show the nationally televised audience that they aren't a bad as the recent skid made them seem. I expect a highly motivated effort.
Nick Foles, who threw for nearly 400 yards in leading the Eagles to last week's win noted: "It's a great feeling for the team. I think the big thing is, it's a great thing for the team sticking together. We can build off of this.''
As for the Bengals, let's keep in mind, that besides that win over the Giants that they've mostly struggled against top tier competition. They beat Washington. That was early in the season before the Skins had really started to come into their own though. Their other victories came against Cleveland, a team which also defeated them in the rematch, Jacksonville, Miami, KC, Oakland and San Diego. None of those are playoff teams. In fact, those five teams are a combined 15-48.
Obviously, the Eagles haven't been a top tier team this season. However, my point is that the Bengals, 0-6 the last six times that they played a road game when the O/U line ranged from 42.5 to 45, aren't exactly an "elite" team themselves.
Already 2-0 ATS this month, the Eagles are now 14-6 ATS (16-4 SU) their last 20 games played in the month of December, 7-3 SU/ATS the past few seasons.
While this month's ATS victories have come on the road, the Eagles have also won seven of their last eight December home games. I expect them to give their guests all they can handle with an excellent shot at another outright win. *10 Roast
Bonus First Half Play: Eagles.
Keep in mind that this line opened with the Bengals laying a field goal for the entire game. Now, we're able to get that many (or more) points for the first half. I believe that's providing us with excellent value. Note that the Bengals were up by three at halftime last week, after being down by three at the break the previous week.
The Eagles were winning 10-0 at halftime last week and they were up 17-10 the previous week. The week before that, they were winning 15-14 at half. Grab the points. *10
|12-10-12||Houston Texans +4 v. New England Patriots||Top||14-42||Loss||-110||34 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. Obviously these are both very good teams, each of them very capable of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. With all due respect to Belichick and Brady, I feel that the Texans are the more complete team.
Both teams can score but the Pats enter with a statistical edge on that side of the ball. They're averaging 35.8 points per game, 34.8 at home. The Texans are averaging 29.2 overall, 25.3 on the road. Still very respectable numbers.
The Texans make up for it on the other side of the ball. They're allowing 16 points per game on the road while the Pats are allowing 24.4 at home.
I won with the Pats when they beat the Broncos back on 10/7. I also won with them when they hammered the Colts on 11/18. So, I'm not opposed to backing them against "good" teams.
I feel that the Texans are stronger than either the Colts or the Broncos though. Certainly, I feel that they're stronger than Indianapolis. Also, a closer look shows that the Pats have stumbled when up against other quality non-divisional opponents.
Sure, they've beaten up on their own division. However, they know those teams and have their number - plus, the Bills, Jets and Dolphins are all sub-500 teams. Entering Sunday's action, they're each 5-7. That's a far cry from Houston's 11-1 record.
The Pats' other non-divisional wins came against Tennessee and St. Louis, teams which are a combined 9-14-1 entering Sunday.
Losses against Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle were some time ago now but shouldn't be entirely forgotten.
I did successfully play against the Texans in their only loss this season, a 42-24 pasting at the hands of the Packers. However, that's the only time that the Texans have lost all season.
They've beaten quality and/or talented teams like the Broncos (they beat them at Denver too, while the Pats beat them at Foxboro) Bears and Lions.
When matched up against the Ravens, a team which defeated New England, the Texans won by a score of 43-13.
When matched up against other AFC East teams, the Texans have gone 3-0. They won those games by scores of 30-10, 23-17 and 21-9. So, they too can dominate the the AFC East teams.
Note that the Texans are 6-0 (4-1-1 ATS) on the road and that they're also 11-5 ATS their last 16 against teams with a winning record.
Back to the Packers game for a minute; I feel that's worked in our favor. That game offered the Texans a rare chance in front of the nationally televised (Sunday night) audience and they got embarrassed. While they did manage a win against the Bears on Monday night, they didn't cover - and that game had an asterisk beside it, due to Cutler not playing. Even the win at Detroit on Thanksgiving was a little "questionable."
Those two primetime games have remained fresh in the memories of bettors as many lost with Houston in one or even both of those games. They're going to be a little hesitant to back the Texans here. That sentiment has worked in four favor, one of the factors keeping the line above a field goal.
I believe the Texans are a team seeking respect, something the Pats already have. I feel that the Texans will view this as a "statement" game and look for them to be at their very best. *10
|12-09-12||Detroit Lions +7 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||20-27||Push||0||25 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROT. The Lions have certainly found ways to lose - and they cost me last week. However, the fact is that they almost never get blown out. Their last three losses have all come by four points or less, starting with a 24-20 loss vs. these same Packers. Once again, I expect them to be in this one the entire way.
From a playoff perspective, its true that the Packers need this game more. The Lions have no hope. The Packers need every win that they can get. I don't expect the Lions to go through the motions though. This is a hated divisional rival, one which broke their hearts earlier. Also, this is a nationally televised game, an opportunity to show the nation that they're better than their record suggests. Of course, snapping a 20-game skid at Lambeau would be nice too ...
The Packers aren't that far removed from winning a Super Bowl and are certainly worthy of respect. They're missing several key components at the moment though and I don't feel that the current lineup should be laying this many points against what I still believe is a talented Lions team. The Packers did eke out a 9-point vs. Minnesota last week - but that was far from easy. The previous week, they were exposed by the Giants, a 38-10 destruction.
Note that the Packers are 0-2 SU/ATS this season, when off a divisional victory. After beating Chicago, they lost at Seattle. The blowout loss against the Giants came after GB beat the Lions in the earlier meeting.
Given their tendency to avoid being blown out, its not surprising that the Lions are a profitable 10-5 ATS the last 15 times that they were listed as underdogs in the 3.5 to 9.5 range, including a 5-2 ATS mark as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to improve on those stats with AT LEAST a cover on Sunday night. *10 Main Event
|12-09-12||NY Jets -2.5 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||17-10||Win||100||18 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on the JETS. Its surely now or never for Sanchez. Rex Ryan has given him the nod once again, after he got benched in last week's game. I may be in the minority but I like that decision. I agree that Sanchez gives the Jets the best chance to win. I feel that playing on the road will help ease the pressure, at least a little, and I expect Sanchez to rise to the occasion and remind everyone that he can actually still play.
Jacksonville figures to be an ideal opponent. Not only are the Jags terrible this season, they're banged-up at the QB and running back positions. Perhaps most importantly, the Jets hammered the Jags by a score of 32-3 last season. Sanchez was 17 of 24 with two TDs in that game. So, he should help in the confidence department.
Of course, Sanchez's job would be much easier if his team has the advantage on the ground. I expect that to be the case.
The Jags give up 144 rushing yards per game, 31st in the league. Meanwhile, the Jags run the ball for only 78.8 yards per game, worst in the league. The Jets check in off a game in which they gained 177 yards on the ground.
The Jets are 3-1-1 ATS (4-1 SU) the last five times that they were listed as road favorites of three or fewer points. They're also 12-7-2 ATS (13-8 SU) the last 21 times that they played a game where the line ranged from -3 to +3.
The Jets are also 13-3 SU and 10-5-1 ATS their last 16 against teams with a losing record. With the Titans, Chargers and Bills on deck, all beatable teams, the Jets aren't completely out of this thing yet. I say they step up and get it done. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-09-12||Tennessee Titans +6 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||23-27||Win||100||18 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. The Colts have sure had a great year. However, that doesn't mean that they're be ready to be laying this many points.
A look at the Colts' schedule shows that they've only won one game all season by more than a touchdown. Five victories have come by a field goal or less.
While the Titans were beaten by 14 by a strong Houston team last week, that was just the second time in seven games that they've lost by more than six points.
The Titans have been at their best off back to back losses, going 3-0 ATS. Looking to avenge the earlier loss and potentially catching the Colts looking ahead, if only slightly, to Houston, I expect the Titans to take this one down to the wire with an excellent shot at an outright win. *10 AFC South GOY
|12-09-12||Dallas Cowboys +3.5 v. Cincinnati Bengals||Top||20-19||Win||100||15 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. The Cowboys may not have blown out the Eagles. However, they did enough to win. I expect them to build some momentum from that comeback victory and feel that this is an excellent spot for them.
Romo, who broke Aikman's record for TDs in that game, noted: ''It's about winning games. We desperately had to have this win tonight, and our team fought like heck to get a win.''
With that win and their hopes rekindled - but knowing they still absolutely need another one - I expect the Cowboys to again "fight like heck."
The Bengals may have home field advantage. However, they're also off a hard fought game on the West Coast, so there was some traveling across time zones involved.
Speaking of home field "advantage," the Bengals are only 2-3-1 ATS (3-3 SU) here this season while the Cowboys are 4-2 ATS (3-3 SU) on the road.
While the Cowboys may have only won four of their last eight games, all four losses came by a TD or less. I'm grabbing the points. *10 Non-Conf. BEST BET
|12-06-12||Denver Broncos v. Oakland Raiders +11.5||Top||26-13||Loss||-120||29 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. While I won with the Broncos last week, I feel that they're laying too many points here. While the Broncos have many bigger games left in their future, this arguably qualifies as the the Raiders biggest remaining game.
After all, its a nationally televised home game against a divisional opponent, one which crushed them in this season's previous meeting. With no playoffs to look forward to and only one other games coming against "playoff teams," this is about as good as it gets. The Raiders do have one more home game remaining, next week vs. KC. However, while that's perhaps a more "winnable" game, Oakland already defeated the Chiefs once this season. Beating the Broncos would be that much sweeter for them, a chance to show that they can still compete with the best in the division.
In other words, I expect the Raiders to be extremely motivated.
On the other hand, as noted, Denver has many bigger games on deck. Also, having just officially clinched the division, a bit of a letdown may be in order - even though they still want the best record possible and even though clinching the division was already a foregone conclusion.
While the Broncos did manage to hang on for the cover last week, they still only ended up winning by eight points. That's three straight games that they've played which have been decided by eight or less.
The Raiders fought hard right until the end last week, losing by three. I expect them to again take this game right down to the closing seconds, elevating their game and earning AT LEAST the cover. *10 Main Event