Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) Line: Buccaneers by 7. Total: 37.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Buccaneers -9.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Buccaneers -7.
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The Game. Edge: Buccaneers. Injuries: Falcons: OUT: OT Pat McCoy (IR), DT Trey Lewis, CB Von Hutchins (IR). Buccaneers: OUT: G Davin Joseph, CB Torrie Cox (IR), CB Sammy Davis (IR). EXPECTED TO START: QB Brian Griese.
The first installment of the new Emmitt Smith feature is up! The year is 2013. Coming off a Week 1 victory, the Patriots get into trouble for Sypgate II. Roger Goodell orders the team to replace Bill Belichick with Emmitt. Each week, I'll follow the 2013 Patriots from a newspaper reporter's perspective. Get ready for 2013: Emmitt on the Brink!
Anyway, I was a bit surprised to see this line so high after the Falcons completely shellacked the Lions last week. Matt Ryan played pretty well for throwing just 13 passes; he completed nine of them for 161 yards and a touchdown, including his first throw, which was a 62-yard bomb to Michael Jenkins. The question is, can Ryan perform just as well against the Buccaneers? It's not like he'll be playing the Lions every week.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: I'm going to say no... for now at least. This is Ryan's first road game, and Monte Kiffin is going to throw all the blitzing schemes he can against Ryan. The Boston College rookie won't be able to beat the Buccaneers' solid secondary so easily. After all, Matt Millen didn't put the Buccaneers' roster together.
I also doubt Ryan will have the benefit of Michael Turner rushing for 220 yards again. Turner, who gained that total at a 10 YPC clip, won't find as many running lanes versus Tampa Bay's stout defensive front. Once Turner is bottled up and Ryan is actually forced to air it out, the Buccaneers will collect a few turnovers.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: Jeff Garcia's dead arm concerns me a lot in terms of Tampa Bay's projected seasonal output, but it might not be that much of a factor this week. While the Falcons did a good job containing Kevin Smith last Sunday, they won't have such an easy time against Earnest Graham. Jon Gruden stated that he needs to make sure Graham touches the ball more. That's not a good sign for Atlanta's mediocre defensive interior.
Graham's running ability should set up play-action opportunities for Garcia. I don't like the matchups the Tampa Bay receivers have against Chris Houston and Brent Grimes, but I'm confident that unlike Detroit, the Buccaneers can keep Atlanta's sole, legitimate pass rusher (John Abraham) out of the backfield.
RECAP: With the Falcons killing the Lions last week, I expected a bit of a lower spread. Vegas didn't budge, setting the line at nine. The public consequently pounded the Falcons, forcing the books to drop the line to eight, and in some places, 7.5.
Honestly, I don't have a strong read on this game. I don't think the Buccaneers will lose, but I could see them winning anywhere from six to 36. I guess for now, the smart move would be fading Ryan on the road against a very strong defense.
UPDATE: Brian Griese will start for Jeff Garcia, who's dinged up. Griese has a much stronger arm than Garcia, but his I.Q. is about 5,000 points lower. Though Griese is good for two bone-headed plays a game, I would still take the Buccaneers if I had to.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Huge divisional contest for both teams. The Buccaneers won't like going to 0-2.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Live movement is matching the action. The public is backing the Falcons after their impressive win.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 72% (127,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Buccaneers.
History: Buccaneers have won 11 of the last 15 meetings.
San Francisco 49ers (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-1) Line: Seahawks by 6.5. Total: 38. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Seahawks -11.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Seahawks -10.
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The Game. Edge: Seahawks. Injuries: 49ers: OUT: QB Alex Smith (IR), G Damane Duckett (IR), OLB Jay Moore (IR). Seahawks: OUT: WR Deion Branch, WR Bobby Engram, WR Nate Burleson (IR), WR Ben Obomanu (IR), G Rob Sims (IR), OLB Wesley Mallard (IR), LS Tyler Schmitt (IR). QUESTIONABLE: OT Sean Locklear.
A behind-the-scenes look from 2013: Emmitt on the Brink. In one of the two articles, I bring up that Arby's roast-beef sandwiches are $1.99. I had no idea how much they were, so I asked three people. Coincidentally, all three said they were $6. This didn't seem right, being a rotund food connoisseur. I had to look up the price on their Web site, as there is no Arby's near my house for whatever reason. I cry myself to sleep every night. Seriously, it's pretty sad.
OK, how about a behind-the-scenes look from Mike Martz's brain: "Hey! I have this Frank Gore guy! People say he's talented, but he's a running back, so he must not be able to function as a football player, other than being able to catch some passes! I'm so smart. I'm super awesome No. 1!"
Nice hire, 49ers. Way to have the best player on your team carry the ball just 14 times, despite the fact that you never trailed by more than two scores.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: More of the same B.S. from Martz: Pass play - sack. Pass play - QB rush. Pass play - sack. Pass play - turnover.
Speaking of turnovers, expect lots of them. If you thought the five against Arizona was bad, you haven't seen anything yet! The Seahawks had 45 sacks last year because they have tons of defensive linemen and linebackers who can get after the quarterback. That doesn't bode well for J.T. O'Sullivan's organs. Martz will undoubtedly call more pass plays than he needs to, which will expose his horrific quarterback to tons of pressure. Also, don't forget to factor in the crowd noise at Qwest Field. O'Sullivan has never played in an environment like that.
The Seahawks aren't great against the run, though they held Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson to 3.8 yards per carry. Frank Gore will have some success rushing up the middle, but he'll never be a dominant force in this game on the ground, as Martz is known for often neglecting the run for long stretches.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: This is where the Seahawks are a bit weak. Matt Hasselbeck is hurt. Maurice Morris is out. Two offensive linemen could be missing again. And Mike Holmgren doesn't even know who the receivers are. Seriously? Billy McMullen? Seneca Wallace? Why didn't Seattle go after a wideout this offseason if they knew Deion Branch was going to be out for a while? And why did they cut Jordan Kent this week? The only reasonable explanation is that Holmgren wants to win every game 3-0 this year.
For what it's worth, San Francisco's defense played pretty well against the Cardinals, limiting Edgerrin James to 3.8 yards per carry (though he did gain 100 yards). They also got to Kurt Warner three times and restricted him to an ordinary YPA of 6.6.
RECAP: I could see this being a mirror image of the Week 1 Bills-Seahawks contest - both teams struggling offensively early on, with the host eventually taking over with defense and special teams.
Like the Falcons-Buccaneers battle, Vegas didn't seem to compensate for what happened last week, setting the line too high and then dropping it down a few points. The only difference here is that the public never pounded the dog.
And I won't either. The Seahawks are so good at home, and I feel as though the line would be higher if last week's loss never happened. Remember, Seattle is garbage on the East Coast in 1 p.m. games. They always get smoked in those situations. Plus, the Bills scored about a billion points on special teams, so that loss was a lot worse than it seemed.
The Psychology. Edge: Seahawks.
Both squads will be looking to avoid an 0-2 start, especially the Seahawks, who were just blown out.
The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
Close to 50-50 action, but the line has dropped enough in San Francisco's favor.
Percentage of money on Seattle: 55% (100,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Seahawks.
History: Seahawks have won 8 of the last 10 meetings.
Divisional Dog of Seven: Mike Nolan is 5-2 ATS as a divisional dog of 7+.
Seahawks are 11-2 ATS in September home games since 2000.
New England Patriots (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0) Line: Jets by 1. Total: 37. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Patriots -7.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Jets -4 (No Brady).
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The Game. Edge: None. Injuries: Patriots: OUT: QB Tom Brady (IR), OT Ryan O'Callaghan (IR), OT Oliver Ross, OT Anthony Clement (IR), OT Barry Stokes (IR), G Stephen Neal, S Tank Williams (IR). Jets: OUT: ILB Brad Kassell (IR).
A Bo-Bo fantasy update! If you don't know what I'm talking about, a man named Bo-Bo participated in the The Worst Fantasy Draft Ever. Bo-Bo drafted four running backs: Chester Taylor, Fred Taylor, DeShaun Foster and Shaun Alexander. Yeah, I know... terrible. Anyway, Bo-Bo was forced to start the two Taylors. He was somehow up 51-49 going into the second Monday night game (that's not a high-scoring output; as a measuring stick, the guy who had Tom Brady scored 70-something). Unfortunately for Bo-Bo, all of his players were exhausted, while his opponent still had Jay Cutler. Unless the scoring rules are as cryptic as the waivers in that league - Matt Cassel was picked up 20 minutes after Brady suffered an injury! - Bo-Bo lost his first fantasy matchup of the season. I'm sad to report that Team Bo-Bo is 0-1.
It's amazing how different all the opinions are pertaining to the rest of New England's season in the wake of Brady's injury. Some think the Patriots can win 10 or 11 games, and still make the playoffs. Others believe they're doomed.
Personally, I opined many times on this Web site that there was a very good chance New England wouldn't make the Doggone Playoff this year - and that was before Brady tore his ACL. I compared the Patriots to the 2002 St. Louis Rams - a team with a great offense and a horrible defense, that was coming off a Super Bowl loss as a huge favorite. It really looks like the Patriots can really be grouped with that Rams squad.
That said, there's a really good chance the Patriots win this contest by double digits. We've seen it time and again - teams tend to step up in the wake of losing their best player. They bring 110-percent intensity, while the other squad is more relaxed because they don't have to deal with that athlete on the field. Now, these teams can't bring the same focus and determination every week, which is why this strategy is limited to the first contest in which that player is out.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: New England's defense is a proud veteran group. Football players look at the spreads, so all the former Pro Bowlers on the roster have to be enraged that they're an underdog to an opponent they've dominated the past six years.
With all of this intensity, I expect the Patriots to bottle up Thomas Jones for less than 2.5 yards per carry. They'll also put tons of pressure on Brett Favre, who was sacked thrice last week versus the lowly Dolphins. That pressure will make life easier for New England's secondary, which is a huge liability for them. If Favre has time in the pocket, he'll expose their inability to cover.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Matt Cassel wasn't terrible last week. I wouldn't say he was great either, but he converted a number of third downs, including third-and-11 on his own 1-yard line.
The Jets' defense put up some solid numbers last week (four sacks, 2.9 YPC, 5.8 YPA), but that was against the Dolphins. New York's secondary didn't have to deal with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The Patriots' offensive line, though worse than it has been in the past, still trumps Miami's offensive front.
RECAP: Picking NFL games has less to do with matchups, and more to do with spots and other factors. The Patriots are playing for respect here. They know they'd be a huge favorite if Brady were still under center. They'll be out to prove that they're more than just a one-man show. The Jets, meanwhile, have no real film on Cassel, and really can't be as focused on this matchup without Brady in the lineup.
I believe the Patriots will struggle for the remainder of this season, but they should be able to muster enough energy to pull the upset here. Besides, who are the Jets to be favored? They were 20 yards away from losing to the Dolphins!
The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
With Tom Brady gone, the Patriots will need to rally and give it 200 percent.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The action is favoring New England a bit, so the line has matched it, moving down from -2.5 to -2.
Percentage of money on New England: 64% (139,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
History: Patriots have won 10 of the last 11 meetings.
Patriots are 24-11 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
Jets are 6-3 ATS as a favorite under Eric Mangini.
Jets are 3-9 ATS in September home games since 2000.
San Diego Chargers (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0) Line: Pick. Total: 45.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Chargers -3.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Chargers -1.
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The Game. Edge: Broncos. Injuries: Chargers: OUT: WR Eric Parker (IR), DE/OLB Shawne Merriman (IR). QUESTIONABLE: RB LaDainian Tomlinson****. Broncos: OUT: RB Ryan Torain, FB Cecil Sapp (IR), WR Edell Shepherd (IR), C Tom Nalen, DT Carlton Powell (IR).
Troy Aikman is the man. I'm not sure how many people heard this, but when FOX was promoting Hole in the Wall, Aikman followed up with a sarcastic remark, "Yeah, why would anyone want to miss that one?" I was seriously dying of laughter for 10 minutes. I actually considered watching that show so I could make fun of FOX for dumbing their audience down, but Aikman's comment straightened me out. Anyone who watches that crap deserves to be deported. FOX should be ashamed of itself for cancelling quality shows and promoting brainless B.S. all the time.
One man who will have plenty of time to watch crap FOX shows is Shawne Merriman, who is officially out for the year. Great decision by Merriman and the Chargers to end this mess; Merriman rotated in and out of the lineup against the Panthers, and was really ineffective.
DENVER OFFENSE: Unfortunately for the Chargers, they don't really have anyone who can replace Merriman. San Diego sacked Jake Delhomme only once last week, so I can't see them getting to Jay Cutler either.
What's more disappointing for San Diego's defense was its inability to stop the run last week; DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart gained 4.8 and 5.3 yards per carry, respectively. Anyone who watched the Chargers' preseason game against the Seahawks saw this coming, but I didn't even think it would be this bad.
Jay Cutler looks really sharp, and Denver's ground attack is as lethal as it has been since Clinton Portis left for Washington. Without any sort of Chargers pass rush, Cutler will have all the time in the world to find Brandon Marshall, an emerging Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley and Tony Scheffler downfield.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: Meanwhile, some people may have been surprised that the Chargers struggled to put up points against the Panthers. I wasn't so shocked. In fact, I thought they did pretty well, considering Philip Rivers is coming off ACL surgery, LaDainian Tomlinson suffered an MCL injury last January, Antonio Gates hasn't practiced because of toe surgery and the starting center is out.
Tomlinson ran all over the Broncos last year, but I don't expect that to happen again. With Dewayne Robertson, Boss Bailey and Nate Webster in the lineup, and D.J. Williams playing his natural weakside linebacker position, Denver is much more potent versus opposing groun dattacks. They shut down Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden until they were up big and they gave the Raiders the run.
Meanwhile, Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson draw a touch matchup against Denver's corners. If Rivers has time in the pocket, he should be able to lead the Chargers to a scoring drive or two, but it won't be enough.
RECAP: I still feel as though the Chargers are overrated. Ignorant people who thought they were a lock to go to the Super Bowl just don't realize how banged up they are.
This is also a big revenge game for the Broncos. San Diego smoked them in two meetings last year, 41-3 and 23-3. In the second matchup, Rivers was seen taunting a Diabetes-stricken Cutler from the sideline, often calling him a "doodie-head" and a "cootie-lover." Well, Denver will make sure that jerk gets what's coming to him.
The Psychology. Edge: Broncos.
Huge game for both teams. Double revenge for the Broncos. Philip Rivers taunted Jay Cutler in a 23-3 victory last season. It's payback time.
The Vegas. Edge: Chargers.
The public is backing Denver a bit after watching them to destroy the Raiders on Monday night. Yet, the line is moving in San Diego's direction.
Percentage of money on Denver: 66% (136,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Broncos.
History: Home Team has won 10 of the last 14 meetings.
History: Chargers have won the last 4 meetings.
Monday Night Magic: Since 1999, teams are 30-15 ATS after a 17+ point win on MNF.
Broncos are 15-10 ATS at home when the line is -3 to +3 the previous 25 instances.
Miami Dolphins (0-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-0) Line: Cardinals by 6.5. Total: 39.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Cardinals -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Cardinals -7.
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The Game. Edge: Cardinals. Injuries: Cardinals: OUT: G Donald Thomas (IR), C Scott Peters (IR).
You may have seen a widget on the Week 2 NFL Picks page. Signing up for it is free (you must do so even if you're on the forum), and you can compete with me and others picking games. In the future, we'll have picking contests using this widget. If you have a blog or Web site, feel free to put this widget on your Web site. Just e-mail me for the code.
Other than the Giants, this is the other options for Survivor Pool players this week. Each team has a flaw; New York is on the road, and it's never a good idea to take a visiting team as your survivor pick. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are... well... the Cardinals. How can they possibly be an option, you ask?
Well, Arizona is a pretty solid team with Kurt Warner under center. In fact, with the Seahawks going through a multitude of injuries, I'd say the Cardinals are the favorite to win the NFC West, as crazy as that sounds.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: As mentioned, Warner is doing a great job with this offense. He actually brings some stability to it, whereas Matt Leinart is too busy devising new ways to win at beer pong. Warner went 19-of-30 for 197 yards and a touchdown last week, but he should have more success versus a pretty horrible Miami secondary that surrendered 8.8 YPA to Brett Favre.
Edgerrin James somehow eclipsed 100 yards last week, and I figure if Thomas Jones can gain 101 yards against the Dolphins, James can too. James will set up some play-action opportunities for Warner, though the veteran signal caller may not even need that; the Dolphins don't exactly have the most ferocious pass rush in the world.
MIAMI OFFENSE: Chad Pennington hung in against the Jets and actually came up 20 yards short of beating them. To do so, however, Pennington had to throw the ball 43 times, gaining just 251 yards and a 5.8 YPA. It was more of the same from Pennington; all short junk and barely any throws beyond 20 yards. Pennington's longest completion was a 24-yarder to Anthony Fasano. Still, it's better than anything the Dolphins have had since Jay Fiedler.
The Cardinals have a better pass rush than the Jets do, but I'm not sure if it'll matter because Pennington doesn't even bother looking downfield 90 percent of the time. It's going to be all about the checkdown with some Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams runs mixed in.
Neither Brown nor Williams had much running room against the Jets, but the Cardinals are coming off a contest in which they gave up 5.8 yards per carry to the 49ers. Brown and Williams will have more success this time around.
RECAP: The Cardinals are a decent team, but I'm still not comfortable laying a touchdown with them. The Dolphins also figure to be the kind of team that hangs around. You saw what Pennington did last week. He's an efficient quarterback who doesn't make mistakes, but he's just not good enough to win games on his own. Miami could be a squad that has a couple of backdoor covers this year.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The Cardinals don't have any reason to look past the Dolphins.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The public favors the Dolphins here, and some 6.5s are starting to pop up.
Percentage of money on Arizona: 69% (119,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
Dolphins are 29-18 SU in September since 1994.
Dolphins are 4-0 ATS on the West Coast since 2003.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1) Line: Steelers by 6. Total: 43.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Steelers -5.
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The Game. Edge: Steelers. Injuries: Steelers: OUT: QB Charlie Batch, P Daniel Sepulveda (IR). Browns: OUT: WR Joe Jurevicius, G Lennie Friedman, OLB Antwan Peek (IR), S Sean Jones.
If I haven't mentioned it before - and I have - the fact that Emmitt Smith is no longer on Sunday NFL Countdown really pisses me off. I tried watching it, but it's not the same. Without Emmitt, the flavor isn't there anymore, and the show has become pretty bland. In case you missed it, here's how it went:
Chris Berman: Who would have thought that after one week, the Broncos, Tom, the Bears, Coach, the Eagles, Cris, the Jets, Key, and the Bills, Boom, would all be 1-0? All five panelists on this show are 1-0! As some old guy who has been dead for 5,000 years said, "Veeedy eeeenteresting."
Tom Jackson: Hahahahahahahaha!!!
Keyshawn Johnson: And Boom, you forgot that if Chad Johnson gets traded he'll be Ocho Dos! *Nervously looks at Tom Jackson for a laugh*.
Tom Jackson: What you lookin at, fool? I only laugh at Boom!
Cris Carter: I'm going to say something really boring right now. I'm boring and have nothing interesting to say, so I'm going to move my mouth for a few more seconds. Please don't listen to anything I say, because I bring no value to this show.
Mike Ditka: And you know what I think about Chad Ocho... he's a very good player, a very fine... if he's production slips because of the name on the back of his... Carson Palmer should whip him upside the...
Keyshawn Johnson: Hey Coach, what happened to the last words of each of your sentences? Are they injured like Tom Brady? *Nervously looks at Chris Berman for approval*.
Chris Berman: Now, here's a feature by Kenny Mayne! We're going to laugh at the end of it, whether it's funny or not!
Tom Jackson: Hahahahahahahaha!!!
Being a Bengals fan, I bet Tom Jackson was laughing pretty hard at Cleveland's futility last week. They were horrible this exhibition campaign and it definitely carried over to the regular season. If I'm a Browns backer, I'm really concerned right now.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: What offense? After scoring a touchdown on the opening drive against Dallas, the Browns were shut out the rest of the game. Sure, Derek Anderson was pretty bad - 11-of-24 for 114 yards and one touchdown (4.8 YPA) - but it wasn't all his fault, as Braylon Edwards dropped three passes.
I have to believe Cleveland will continue to struggle, especially in this game. Pittsburgh's defense is just way too dominant. They'll shut down Jamal Lewis with ease, forcing Anderson to throw in long-yardage situations. Anderson played very poorly down the stretch last year, so after horrible preseason and an awful Week 1, look for that to continue.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: One thing was evident from the beginning of the Cowboys-Browns contest; Cleveland's pass rush is abysmal. Tony Romo seriously stood still in the pocket for a good 10 seconds before finding a wide-open target.
Given how dominant Pittsburgh's offensive line was against the Texans, the Browns once again won't be able to rattle the opposing signal caller. Ben Roethlisberger will have all day in the pocket, allowing him to connect with Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward and Heath Miller downfield. Cleveland's already-weak secondary is banged up (Sean Jones is out) so all of Roethlisberger's targets will be open.
Meanwhile, Willie Parker, who looked great coming off an injury last week, will trample a Cleveland defense that yielded more than five yards per carry to Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
RECAP: I can't see this contest being close. I'm a bit concerned because there's so much action on the Steelers and the line hasn't moved, though the spread is right on the money, unlike the Colts-Vikings contest.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Big divisional contest for both teams.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
Though the public is pounding Pittsburgh, this line hasn't moved.
Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 90% (162,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Steelers.
History: Steelers have won 15 of the last 16 meetings.
Ben Roethlisberger is 45-17 as a starter (38-24 ATS).
Opening Line: Steelers -6.
Opening Total: 45.
Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 70 degrees. Light wind.
In the Week 2 NFL Picks page, I talked about the Eagles being slightly overrated. While I still think Philadelphia is a good team, I wouldn't put them on par with the Cowboys or Giants just yet. St. Louis is not a legitimate NFL team. More than half of the other squads could beat them by 20 or more at home. I need to see the Eagles beat a real team.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: They'll have that chance here. That said, a few things worry me about the Eagles. First, I'm not confident in William Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan against Dallas' speed rushers at outside linebacker. Thomas and Runyan are old, so DeMarcus Ware, Greg Ellis and Anthony Spencer could get to Donovan McNabb often.
Second, I don't think Andy Reid will run the ball enough out of habit. Reid often gets caught up in throwing the ball too much, and neglects Westbrook as a ground option. Look at last week's results, for example. In a blowout victory, there is no reason that McNabb should have passed for way more times (33) than Westbrook carried the ball (19). The Eagles can get away with that against fake teams like the Rams, but Dallas' defense is too good for that, especially with Terence Newman back from a minor injury and Roy Williams off the field on passing downs.
Speaking of the Cowboys' secondary, they should have a pretty easy time containing Philadelphia's wideouts. DeSean Jackson looked great last week, but he's still merely a rookie. Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis also played well, which goes to show how meaningless that victory over the Rams was. Going up against legitimate defensive backs will be a lot different than beating bums like Tye Hill over and over again.
DALLAS OFFENSE: Speaking of receivers, another area of weakness the Eagles have is their secondary, particularly the safeties. With Terrell Owens, Jason Witten and Patrick Crayton all lining up at wideout, it seems like Philadelphia has too much to worry about, even with the addition of Asante Samuel. And it's not like the Eagles can put a ton of defensive backs on the field; Marion Barber will simply trample the opposing defense.
It won't help that Tony Romo will have tons of time to find his receivers. The Eagles have a decent pass rush, but Dallas' offensive line is one of the league's best blocking units. Philadelphia managed three sacks against the Cowboys in two meetings last season, all of which came in the second battle, when the Cowboys were in self-destruct mode.
RECAP: While Dallas perennially struggles late in the year, they're almost impossible to beat early on in the season. Just check out Romo's record prior to Dec. 1. A mark of 14-4 is pretty damn impressive, and pretty difficult to go against.
This line did something funny. It was -9 for about 20 minutes, then it dropped to -6.5. With lots of action pouring in on the public dog, Vegas proceeded to move the spread up to -7. As Chris Berman would quote, "Veeedy eeeenteresting."
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The winner will share control of the NFC East with the Giants. A lot is on the line (or as Emmitt would say, a lot is online).
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The line movement has matched the action, so I don't see a Vegas edge in this game.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 62% (240,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Eagles have won 12 of the last 16 meetings.
Eagles are 47-30 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Eagles are 21-13 ATS vs. NFC East opponents since 2001.
Donovan McNabb is 29-17 ATS on the road since 2001.
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Houston Texans (0-1) Line: Texans by 4.5. Total: 37.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 1): Texans -4.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 1): Texans -3.
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The Game. Edge: Texans. Injuries: Ravens: OUT: QB Kyle Boller (IR), RB P.J. Daniels (IR), TE Quinn "Miracle Man" Sypniewski (IR), DT Dwan Edwards (IR), ILB Prescott Burgess (IR), CB David Pittman (IR). QUESTIONABLE: RB Willis McGahee*, DT Kelly Gregg, CB Chris McAlister, S Ed Reed. Texans: OUT: RB Chris Brown (IR), G Fred Weary (IR), C Scott Jackson (IR), CB Dunta Robinson, CB Jimmy Williams (IR), CB Roc Alexander (IR).
I was happy to see Emmitt Smith on Monday Night Countdown. I'm also glad to report I was able to add a few quotes for the upcoming Emmitt Smith Anthology Volume 2. Here are two of those quotes:
1. Asked to describe in two words, what would happen if the Cowboys committed six turnovers in a game, Emmitt said, "Cowboys lose big time."
2. "Now he's move on." (Commentary: The contraction either means "Now he is move on" or "Now he has move on." Unless the person Emmitt is describing is something called a "move on" or has something called a "move on," Emmitt made a grammatical gaff. But that's not possible, is it?)
I've talked about public overreaction in some of my other selections. This is another good example. Seven days ago, the Texans would have been a no-brainer. Joe Flacco? Who's that? And the Ravens' defense is old! The Texans are going to make the playoffs this year! Now, it's more like, the Ravens are back! And the Texans suck - did you see them get blowed out by the Ravens!?
Well, appearances can be deceiving. The Texans lost to the top team in the AFC on the road. The Ravens, meanwhile, took advantage of a Bengals team that didn't even try last week. Vegas appears to be thinking the same thing. With tons of action on the Ravens, this line has risen from -3.5 to -4.5.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: Houston's defense was abysmal last week, but they'll look better against the Ravens. Every aspect of Baltimore's offense is much weaker than Pittsburgh's, including the quarterback. I'm just not confident in Joe Flacco's ability to win on the road just yet.
Flacco could be a good quarterback in the future, but I can't say he was overly impressive versus Cincinnati. Flacco was 15-of-29 for 129 yards, giving him a pedestrian 4.4 YPA. He also ran in a 38-yard touchdown, but don't expect that every week. If he put up those mediocre numbers at home, it should be interesting to see what he does in a hostile environment. I'm also intrigued by the Mario Williams-Jared Gaither matchup. Whoever wins that battle will greatly affect the outcome of this game.
The Texans surrendered 4.7 yards per carry to the Steelers, but they had to worry so much about Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller that they weren't as focused on Willie Parker. Against the Ravens, they'll put eight men in the box and force the rookie quarterback to beat them.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: Baltimore's defense impressed me last week. They completely shut down Chris Perry and threw the kitchen sink at Carson Palmer, who went 10-of-25 for 99 yards and a pick. So, it's not getting any easier for Matt Schaub, who had to battle Pittsburgh's stout stop unit last Sunday.
Baltimore's top run defense will put the clamps on Steve Slaton, Ahman Green and whomever else the Texans have in the backfield. Their pass rush will also make life difficult for Schaub again.
There is, however, good news for Houston's offense. Chris McAlister is banged up, and there's a chance he may not play. Meanwhile, the rest of the defense is old, so while they have the ability to look really good at times, I can't expect them to play like they did against the Bengals every week.
RECAP: Don't fall into the public-perception category. Houston's not as bad as it seemed, while the Ravens' victory over Cincinnati has an asterisk next to it because it didn't look like the Bengals were interested in winning. The books are telling us what the right side is here.
UPDATE: This game has been pushed back to Monday because of Hurricane Ike. All bets are off here; I'm not sure how Houston will respond.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Both teams should be equally focused.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
Though the public is pounding the Ravens, this line has risen from -3.5 to -4.5. Why does Vegas want more action on the Ravens?
Percentage of money on Baltimore: 68% (19,000 bets)
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 12, 2015): 5-10 (-$1,050)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 12, 2015): 2-5 (-$930)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 12, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 12, 2015): 9-5-1 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 12, 2015): +$100
2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 0-3, 0% (-$2,200)
2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 78-90-9, 46.4% (-$5,920) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 27-26-1, 51.0% (-$685) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 10-14, 41.7% (-$3,040) 2015 Season Over-Under: 80-76-4, 51.3% ($0) 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$595
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,235-2,068-126, 51.9% (+$4,600) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 721-650-34 (52.5%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 298-265-11 (52.9%) Career Over-Under: 1,760-1,722-50 (50.6%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 30-22 (57.7%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.