Free NFL Picks Against the Spread <br> Week 3, 2008
NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 1, 2008): 11-5 (+$1,470) NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 2, 2008): 7-7-1 (-$100)
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Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0) Line: Bills by 9.5. Total: 36.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Bills -8.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Bills -9.
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The Game. Edge: Bills. Injuries: Raiders: OUT: FB Oren O'Neal (IR), WR Drew Carter (IR), OT Mark Wilson (IR), G Paul McQuistan (IR), CB John Bowie (IR). Bills: OUT: OLB Angelo Crowell (IR).
What a rotten week. Going 7-7-1 shouldn't be the end of the world, but how that record came to light makes it just as bad as a 4-10 mark. At one point in the afternoon games, I was looking at a 7-1 performance. Unfortunately, the Vikings (5 Units), Saints (3 Units) and Bears (4 Units) all blew double-digit leads in the second half. The one comeback that went my way (Lions turning 24-0 into 25-24) didn't last because Green Bay went on to score 24 points in the final 11 minutes of the game. Later in the day, Seattle blew a 14-0 advantage to the beleaguered 49ers, though that was only for one unit. Seriously, whose grave did I piss on to deserve this sort of misfortune?
The Bills are another team that relinquished a moderately sized lead, though they were able to recapture it against the Jaguars. Buffalo is a pretty talented squad; they're getting pressure on the quarterback (7 sacks) stopping the run with ease (no 100-yard rushing performances allowed thus far) and enjoying the fact that Trent Edwards evolve into a solid quarterback.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: Edwards has a sterling completion percentage of 70.9 and has yet to throw a pick. What's more impressive is that Marshawn Lynch hasn't even been able to get on track yet, given that he's gone against the Jaguars (13th versus the run) and Seahawks (11th). The Raiders are slightly better than both of those squads in the run-stopping department (9th), so Edwards will once again be asked to convert third downs on his own. That could be a bit of a problem against a talented Oakland secondary, but I have faith in Edwards, Lee Evans and Fred Jackson out of the backfield.
Though the Raiders have five sacks this season, I don't think they'll be able to rattle Edwards behind a decent offensive line. Of those five sacks, four came against the Chiefs, so Oakland has just one legitimate sack this year.
OAKLAND OFFENSE: I mentioned that the Bills have yet to surrender 100 rushing yards to an opponent this season. You can thank the monstrous Marcus Stroud and a talented cast of linebackers for that.
Buffalo's ability to completely put the clamps on the run is going to give the Raiders major problems. Thanks to Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas, Michael Bush and a solid run-blocking line, Oakland moves the chains well via the ground attack. However, once that is shut down, JaMarcus Russell will be forced to take matters into his own hands.
Given that Russell was just 6-of-17 for 55 yards against the Chiefs' lowly defense, things look a little bleak for Oakland's offense in this contest. The Bills have seven sacks on the year, and they'll be able to add four or five more to that total because the Raiders cannot pass block efficiently.
RECAP: There's no question the Bills are infinitely superior to the Raiders. But that would explain a high spread of nine. Can they cover this line?
I think they can, but I wouldn't bet on it. Here's why: Buffalo is coming off two grueling contests against playoff opponents. According to Vegas, they weren't supposed to win both of them. The Bills came out 2-0, and are now huge favorites for the first time in years. In fact, the last time this team was favored by more than a touchdown was on Jan. 2, 2005, a must-win game against Pittsburgh's reserves. Buffalo lost 29-24, which axed its playoff aspirations.
It seems like the Bills, especially under Dick Jauron, are better in an underdog role. I'm not sure if they're ready for the responsibility of being favored by nine points.
SURVIVOR PICK? It's down to either Buffalo or Seattle as my Survivor Pick. Buffalo is the better team, but I feel as though Seattle has the better matchup. I'll let you know what it is later in the week.
The Psychology. Edge: Raiders.
After victories against a pair of tough opponents, the Bills are actually "supposed" to win for the first time this year. They're a young squad. How will they handle that responsibility? As for the Raiders, they'll be a fade if they fire Lane Kiffin this week. Stay tuned to see what Crazy Al does.
The Vegas. Edge: Raiders.
You're going to have a tough time selling Joe Public on the Raiders, which would explain why three-quarters of the action is on Buffalo. The line hasn't moved yet.
Percentage of money on Buffalo: 83% (166,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Raiders.
Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 23-37 ATS since 2002 (Lane Kiffin 2-1).
Road Warrior: Teams are 107-75 ATS in their second straight road game after a loss since 1996 (Lane Kiffin 1-0).
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1) Line: Falcons by 6.5. Total: 36.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Falcons -4.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Falcons -4.5.
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The Game. Edge: Falcons. Injuries: Falcons: OUT: OT Pat McCoy (IR), DT Trey Lewis, CB Von Hutchins (IR). QUESTIONABLE: OT Sam Baker.
Each week, I like to take a look at how Vegas fared.
The books took some hits early on, as the Packers, Bills, Colts and Giants all covered despite being heavily backed by the public. Oakland's victory over the Chiefs was the house's sole win in the 1 p.m. games. After a 50-50 late afternoon (Atlanta covering helped the books, while New England and Arizona doing so did not), Vegas needed some help on Sunday night. That could possibly explain Romeo Crennel's inexplicable field goal late in the game to cover the +6 (I'll have more on this later). In total, the sportsbooks had their second consecutive losing week. If this keeps up, you may see more shady stuff down the road. For now, I'd advise Vegas to refrain from posting soft lines like Packers -3 over Detroit and Colts -2 over Minnesota if they're not going to "Tim Donaghy" anything.
At any rate, this Kansas City-Atlanta line definitely isn't soft. It opened at -4, and with tons of public money on the Falcons, the books have moved this up to -5 (as of Tuesday afternoon). At CRIS, it's already -5.5.
Talk about public overreaction. The Chiefs were favored last week, but after their awful home loss to the Raiders, everyone is betting on a rookie quarterback as a moderately sized favorite.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: Speaking of the rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan had his first taste of the real NFL last week. Sure, it's easy to throw for 15,000 yards against the woeful Lions, but beating a legitimate defense is another story. Ryan began the game 0-of-9 with two interceptions.
Now, you may argue that the Chiefs don't have a legitimate NFL defense, and I couldn't disagree with you even if I wanted to (Emmitt-ism). However, there's a good chance Falcons left tackle Sam Baker could miss this game. After Baker left the Buccaneers contest with a head injury, Gaines Adams wreaked havoc upon Ryan. Tamba Hali is a pretty formidable right end, and should be able to beat backup Todd Weiner with ease.
The Falcons will obviously attempt to establish the run with Michael Turner. That'll work to perfection because the Chiefs are 31st against the rush. Putting eight men in the box won't work; you saw what Darren McFadden and Michael Bush did to them last week despite the fact that JaMarcus Russell completed only six passes.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: I never thought I'd say this, but the Chiefs need Brodie Croyle. Damon Huard could be out with head trauma (a.k.a. quarterback suckiness), while Tyler Thigpen is a joke. John Abraham (4 sacks) is going to crush Thigpen, who was 14-of-33 for 151 yards, one touchdown and a pick against the Raiders. I also like Brent Grimes and Chris Houston going against Kansas City's wide receivers (Dwayne Bowe and one of many bums). The Falcons surrender a 6.6 YPA, which isn't too bad.
Other than Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson is the Chiefs' only hope. He had problems going against the Patriots and Raiders, but Atlanta is much worse against the run. If Johnson doesn't have a good game this week, his career is probably over. If so, try to trade him for 50 cents on the dollar if you own him in fantasy for some reason.
RECAP: The Falcons are obviously the better team, but I can't lay five points or more with a rookie quarterback and a Falcons squad that really isn't that good.
Besides, Herm Edwards is at his best in situations like these. Herm could be the worst Xs-and-Os coach of all time, but he's a great motivator. That's why I liked the Chiefs against the Patriots in Week 1. Conservative Herm gets his teams up in an underdog role. In fact, the Chiefs are 7-2 ATS as a road dog the past year and two weeks.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found. Just two crappy teams going head to head.
The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
There is no way the public's touching the Chiefs. Line movement is matching the action.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 83% (123,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
Loser Coach: Herm Edwards is 1-4 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-0) Line: Titans by 4.5. Total: 39.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Titans -4.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Titans -6.
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The Game. Edge: Titans. Injuries: 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 really pissed off this weekend - and not just at all the comebacks that went against me on Sunday. I was angry the NFL postponed the Ravens-Texans game. Couldn't they have played it in New Orleans or San Antonio or Mexico City? Seriously, I had to sit players like Andre Johnson and Willis McGahee on my fantasy teams. I was also confident in the four units I had on Houston. And last but not least, I spent about 30 minutes on the write-up of the game. I understand Bob McNair stood to lose a bunch of money if the game wasn't played in Reliant Stadium, but that doesn't matter to me. Who cares about a leaky roof anyway, teams play in the rain all the time? Actually I just feel like complaining right now. Rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble!!!
The extra week helped the Texans prepare for this contest. And based on how they played against the Steelers, they really needed it. Houston was beaten in every facet of that game. They couldn't run the ball. They couldn't pass block. They couldn't convert first downs. Their passing attack was shut down until garbage time. They couldn't stop the run. And they couldn't contain Ben Roethlisberger. It was a pathetic performance for the ages.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: But that was against the Steelers, arguably the best team in the NFL. Tennessee's offense isn't as close to as lethal as Pittsburgh's. Kerry Collins, sober or not, is not Ben Roethlisberger. Justin Gage, Alge Crumpler and Tennessee Wide Receiver #XX (e.g. the NCAA Football video game) don't even compare to Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller.
That said, the Titans are still great at running the ball. Chris Johnson is averaging 5.9 yards per carry, thanks to his blazing speed and great blocking up front. Johnson is also an effective weapon out of the backfield, so the Texans could have some problems containing him. Houston surrendered 4.7 yards per rush to Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall.
Mario Williams versus Michael Roos figures to be an intriguing matchup. Tennessee's offensive line has surrendered just two sacks this year, so even if Williams manages to get a sack or two, that's all Houston's defensive front is getting. The Texans really need a secondary pass rusher. What were they thinking with Rosevelt Colvin?
HOUSTON OFFENSE: More bad news: The Texans go from Pittsburgh's stellar defense to Tennessee's. The Titans have already racked up eight sacks this year. The Texans gave up five to Pittsburgh. Tennessee is also second versus the run and sixth against the pass.
With no rushing attack or pass blocking, it's going to be tough for Houston to score points in this contest. Andre Johnson presents a matchup problem for any team in the league, but the Titans' secondary, led by emerging shutdown corner Cortland Finnegan, will put the clamps on all of Matt Schaub's other targets.
RECAP: Houston's offense won't get anything going, while Tennessee's scoring attack isn't very explosive, so this will likely be a defensive struggle.
Houston and the points are worth a shot here. I don't really trust the Titans as a favorite of more than a field goal. Their offense is just too unreliable. Plus, I don't think the Texans are as bad as people are making them out to be. And with the public backing Tennessee at a very high rate, this line hasn't moved.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
Joe Public is falling in love with the Titans. The line hasn't budged.
Percentage of money on Tennessee: 76% (129,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Titans have won 10 of the 12 meetings.
Titans are 3-5 ATS as a home favorite in the post-Steve McNair era.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1) Line: Bears by 3. Total: 35.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Buccaneers -1.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Buccaneers -1.5.
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The Game. Edge: Buccaneers. Injuries: Buccaneers: OUT: WR Joey Galloway*, G Davin Joseph, CB Torrie Cox (IR), CB Sammy Davis (IR). Bears: OUT: OT Chris Williams, S Brandon McGowan (IR).
It's time for my weekly NFL Primetime rant. If you're new to this, I like to make it a habit of complaining about the fact that ESPN has ruined its best show. Instead of 1) Taping Chris Berman and Tom Jackson doing all of the highlights and then airing it at midnight and Monday afternoon (around 5 - moving Around the Horn and PTI to 4 and 4:30), or 2) Having Berman and Jackson do the highlights of ALL of the games on the NFL Blitz, which airs on SportsCenter, ESPN decides to give us a watered-down version of NFL Primetime, featuring the excruciating Merril Hoge.
I really don't understand the point of annoying SportsCenter anchors like Neil Everett doing the highlights when Boomer and T.J. can just do them. This Sunday's SportsCenter covered NASCAR and some chili-eating contest when Boomer and T.J. could have given us more highlights. Fantastic. If ESPN had half a brain and actually cared about its viewers, they would follow my advice. Until they do, I'll keep complaining every single week. Rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble rabble!!!
Like my inability to comprehend ESPN's foolish decision-making, I can't understand why the Bears are favored by three. If you shift the spread three points for home field, a Buccaneers-Bears tilt on a neutral field would be a pick 'em. I guess I missed the telegram that said Chicago is just as good as Tampa Bay.
CHICAGO OFFENSE: While both teams run the ball well and play great defense, the difference between these two squads, especially with Devin Hester potentially out, is Tampa Bay's passing attack. Brian Griese has a much stronger arm than Kyle Orton does. Joey Galloway, Antonio Bryant and Ike Hilliard are superior to Chicago's scrub wideouts. And I trust the Buccaneers' pass blocking more than I do Chicago's.
Orton isn't terrible because he's great at managing the game and converting third downs. It's just that Matt Forte is going to have extreme difficulty finding running lanes versus Tampa Bay. Forte was able to run well against the Panthers and Colts, but the Buccaneers are seventh against the rush. They completely shut down Michael Turner last week.
Orton will have to do more than manage the game in this contest. Gaines Adams and the rest of Tampa Bay's front seven could feast on him in long-yardage situations. Orton will have problems finding his targets against an exceptional Buccaneers secondary.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: I don't expect Tampa Bay to light up the scoreboard either. Chicago's defense is laden with Pro Bowlers, and Earnest Graham is going to struggle to find the running lanes he had last week. The Bears also have a solid pass rush, so even though the Buccaneers have the superior offensive line in this matchup, Griese could be sacked a few times.
However, when it comes down to it, I have more confidence in Griese moving the chains than Orton. Without Steve Smith, Jake Delhomme, Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers were able to put up 17 points in a half, eclipsing a relatively solid scoring output from Chicago's offense.
RECAP: I don't get this line, and I don't get how the public is betting this game. As soon as I saw Bears -3, I said to myself, "This must be some sort of trap." Guess not.
Unless I'm reading at least one of these teams incorrectly, the Buccaneers should be able to come away with a win. No multiple units here because I'm a bit concerned that because Griese played with the Bears last year, Lovie Smith could have the formula to neutralizing him.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Joey Galloway is out. I know I said I liked the Buccaneers in this contest because of their superior aerial attack, but I have to believe they'll play harder with Galloway out. Teams usually cover without their best player because they bring more effort to the table, while the opponent is relieved they don't have to deal with that athlete.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
I can't believe the public is all over the Bears. The line hasn't moved.
Percentage of money on Chicago: 88% (132,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Buccaneers are 7-20 ATS on the road after a win under Jon Gruden.
Arizona Cardinals (2-0) at Washington Redskins (1-1) Line: Redskins by 3. Total: 42.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Redskins -2.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Redskins -2.
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The Game. Edge: Cardinals. Injuries: Cardinals: OUT: C Scott Peters (IR). Redskins: OUT: DE Phillip Daniels (IR), DE Alex Buzbee (IR).
I mentioned all the double-digit comebacks that went against me, and the one that actually looked like it was going my way (Lions-Packers) went awry when the Packers scored the final 24 points of the game. What does that have to do with anything? Well, believe it or not, but that game was actually the greatest comeback in Detroit franchise history. They came back from 24-0, yet still managed to lose 48-25! Only the Lions... at this point, no one should be surprised if Matt Millen isn't fired after a potential 0-16 season.
I bring this up here because 1) I have a different lead for the 49ers-Lions contest and 2) Until recently, the Cardinals and Lions were linked as the craptastic duo in the NFL. But pertaining to Arizona's transformation, as the seemingly drunk Axel Foley slurred in Beverly Hills Cop, "You chaangeeed man!!! Yoouu chhannngeed!"
ARIZONA OFFENSE: Well, the Cardinals' fanbase, which has grown from 10 to 20 people this past week, can thank Kurt Warner's resurrection and Ken Whisenhunt's decision to play him over Captain Beer Bong. Warner was prolific against the Dolphins last week, going 19-of-24 for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Warner had more than 200 yards in the first half, and could have shattered some single-game records if woeful Miami could have kept up.
I know, the Dolphins' secondary is an abomination, but Washington's didn't look much better in the season opener. The Redskins "held" Drew Brees to 22-of-33, 216 yards, one touchdown and two picks, but Brees didn't have the services of his top wideout, Marques Colston. Shawn Springs' return to the lineup definitely helped, but containing Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald is a much more daunting task than covering David Patten, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem. Warner should have plenty of time to find his Pro Bowl wideouts, given the Redskins' pass rush (4 sacks) isn't that devastating.
Meanwhile, I wouldn't expect much from Edgerrin James, even though the Redskins are giving up five yards per carry this season. James' rush average is just 3.5, and he couldn't even get going against the Dolphins.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: So, Jason Campbell goes 24-of-36 for 321 yards and a touchdown, and suddenly he's comfortable in the West Coast offense just one week after looking completely lost? I'm not buying it. No one is talking about this, but the reason Campbell put up solid numbers last week is because the Saints were missing their top three defensive backs, Mike McKenzie, Randall Gay and Roman Harper. That means Jason David was given more playing time than he should have had.
Arizona couldn't stop the pass late last year, but the team is much better in that department with Adrian Wilson back in the lineup. Washington's receiving corps doesn't scare me all too much, especially with the Cardinals' ability to get to the quarterback.
Clinton Portis had a solid performance last week as well, rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. However, Arizona is much better at containing the run (19th) than New Orleans is (30th). And that 19th ranking is a bit inflated because of a long Frank Gore run the first week of the season. The Cardinals did a great job of bottling up Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown last Sunday.
RECAP: Let's think about the line this way. The Redskins are larger favorites over the Cardinals than they were over the Saints, who were missing Colston and their top three defensive backs. Yet, Arizona is better offensively (without Colston) and defensively than New Orleans is. Doesn't make much sense to me.
Two things pushed this opening spread up to -3. First is the public overreaction to Washington's win against the Saints and their skeleton crew secondary. Second is the fact that Arizona has to travel across the country to play this game. But as you can see below, the Cardinals actually thrive in early East Coast battles.
The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
The Cardinals are two up on everyone but the 49ers, whom the beat in Week 1. I'm not sure how much this game means to them. A possible Letdown Alert, though Washington's win over New Orleans could have Arizona fooled into thinking that this is a tough game.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The public's 50-50. No edge.
Percentage of money on Washington: 50% (147,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 23-37 ATS since 2002 (Ken Whisenhunt 3-1).
Redskins are 3-9 ATS in September home games since 2001.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at New York Giants (2-0) Line: Giants by 13. Total: 41.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Giants -8.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Giants -9.5.
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The Game. Edge: Giants. Injuries: Bengals: OUT: RB Kenny Irons (IR), WR Marcus Maxwell. Giants: OUT: QB Anthony Wright (IR), WR David Tyree, DE Osi Umenyiora (IR), ILB Jonathan Goff (IR), S Craig Dahl (IR), K Lawrence Tynes.
After 40 percent of the field was eliminated after Week 1, only one contestant was axed in Week 2 of the WalterFootball.com $350 Survivor Pool. That person picked the Chiefs. Who would in the world would pick the Chiefs!? (Cough, my next-door neighbor, sneeze). Remember to get your picks in if you're still alive!
The Giants would be an obvious survivor choice for me if I hadn't used them already. The Bengals are pathetic and are putting forth absolutely no effort right now. As I wrote in my NFL Power Rankings page, it's almost as if the entire team is being forced to play football against their will.
As you can tell, I think New York is going to win. But can the team cover 13.5 points? Let's delve into the matchups.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: I was a bit surprised to see that the Bengals are currently ranked 17th against the run and an amazing fourth versus the pass. Surprised for about five seconds, that is. Then, I remembered whom they've played: The Ravens and the Titans. Not exactly the most prolific offenses in the world. In the Baltimore contest, Cincinnati couldn't get off the field on third downs. In the Tennessee matchup, meanwhile, there were winds gusting around 40 mph, so there was no threat of a passing attack.
The fact remains that the Bengals don't have the personnel to shut down Brandon Jacobs, Plaxico Burress and all of Eli Manning's weapons. And speaking of Manning, he may not even hit the turf, as Cincinnati's pedestrian defense has just one sack on the year.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Carson Palmer has been brutal thus far. He has a completion percentage of 49 and a YPA of 4.5. He has no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Granted, he's gone against two suffocating defenses in Tennessee and Baltimore, but it doesn't get much easier with the Giants. New York thrives on putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as they already have seven sacks on the year. They're consequently fifth versus the pass, so it'll be tough for Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Ocho Cinco (who definitely isn't 100 percent with an injured shoulder) to get back on track.
Don't count on Chris Perry either. Perry will have his good days against porous defenses, but the Giants relinquish only 3.8 yards per carry.
RECAP: This is a blowout all the way. I'm usually hesitant to take the Giants as a big home favorite, but given that they have their bye next week, they should be completely focused for the Bungles.
Check out the Hello, Good Bye Trend below. It's worked extremely well in the past.
The Psychology. Edge: Giants.
A quick three-and-out for the Giants, who had the Redskins, Rams and now Bengals on the slate prior to their bye. With nothing on the horizon, New York should be focused for Cincinnati.
The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
The money's all over the Giants, and the line is starting to move up toward 14.
Percentage of money on New York: 67% (156,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Giants.
Hello, Good Bye: Favorites of 6.5 or more are 29-4 ATS going into their bye (Tom Coughlin 0-1).
Giants are 8-14 ATS as favorites of 6.5 or more the previous 22 instances.
Miami Dolphins (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0) Line: Patriots by 12.5. Total: 36.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Patriots -9.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Patriots -11.
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The Game. Edge: Patriots. Injuries: Dolphins: OUT: G Donald Thomas (IR). 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).
Some college football notes: I hope East Carolina, Utah, BYU, Boise State, Ball State and Troy State all go undefeated. I would love nothing more for all but one of those schools to be excluded from the BCS, which would undoubtedly cause riots outside of the BCS headquarters, which may or may not be located in Hell. And speaking of mid-majors, the Buffalo Hail Mary over Temple was fun, though I have to express my surprise when I looked at the box score and saw that the Bulls' quarterback was "D.Willy." Stupid Temple. I can't believe they didn't realize that Bubble Lead works best against D.Willy. No wonder they've sucked for so many years.
I have to say it was refreshing to see the Patriots win in a defensive struggle as underdogs. The 2007 New England squad was fun to watch at first, but that team became way too sloppy. The Patriots that won on Sunday was more like the 2001 longshot that the nation fell in love with.
Unfortunately, New England's return to its former glory will be a bit short-lived. The Patriots, willing to do anything to prove that they could win without Tom Brady, threw the kitchen sink at Brett Favre and New York, and still managed to win by just nine points. If Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenehimer had half a brain and decided to actually throw the ball inside the 5-yard line, last week's battle could have gone a lot differently.
MIAMI OFFENSE: The national consensus is that Matt Cassel can manage enough games to get the Patriots 10 victories and a playoff berth. I can't agree with that. It's not that Cassel is terrible or anything; he's average and capable of leading a strong-defensive team into the postseason. Unfortunately, New England doesn't have that sort of stout stop unit.
The linebacking corps as a whole is old, thin and slow; the cornerbacks can't cover; and the safety position is a huge question mark.
Of course, that may not matter against the hapless Dolphins. Though they surrendered more than four yards per carry to Thomas Jones, the Patriots have the personnel to stop the run. Plus, it's not like Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown have been that great this year anyway. Williams and Brown are averaging 2.5 and 2.8 yards per carry, respectively.
Chad Pennington will have to convert first downs on his own, and I think he'll be able to do that on occasion. Pennington usually plays the Patriots closely, and the secondary he's going against lacks talent. Miami should be able to put together a few long drives, but if it ever gets into third-and-long situations, New England will apply pressure on Pennington. The Dolphins have surrendered six sacks this season.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Randy Moss fantasy owners are panicking. I can't blame them; Moss, a first-round pick in most leagues, tallied just 22 yards on two catches last week. Cassel doesn't have the deep accuracy to get the double-covered Moss the ball. Besides, it's not like the suddenly conservative Bill Belichick is going to let Cassel air it out as often as Brady did.
Cassel will instead focus on short routes to Wes Welker, putting together long, Pennington-like drives. The difference is that Miami doesn't have the pass rush New England does, and the Patriots' offensive line can actually pass protect.
Running the ball could be problematic for New England for two reasons: 1) Laurence Maroney is an injury-prone no-talent. 2) Miami is somehow sixth versus the run. It's true - they shut down Thomas Jones and Edgerrin James. Not exactly the most talented running backs in the NFL, but I'd put Maroney, LaMont Jordan, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris in the same category.
RECAP: Taking the Dolphins could be a tough pill to swallow, but I'd rather side with them than lay 12.5 with a potentially flat Patriots squad whose goal is to put together clock-consuming drives. This will be a slow, conservative, low-scoring, grind-it-out game for both sides.
In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if Miami won. First of all, they always give New England problems. Secondly, I can't see the Patriots coming close to maintaining the same energy level they had against the Jets.
No Hello Goodbye? The Hello Goodbye Trend is a great one; if you took every favorite of -6.5 or more going into its bye this decade, you're sitting pretty at 29-4. So, why doesn't it apply here?
Well, there is also another Hello Goodbye Trend. It's less effective, but still pretty lucrative. If you go with every underdog of +6.5 or more going into its bye, you're 19-10 against the spread in the same time span. You can find information on it in the NFL Betting Trends section.
These two trends offset each other. They collided once last year, as the Giants and Dolphins battled in London. Miami covered, backdoor style, as 9.5-point dogs.
The Psychology. Edge: Dolphins.
This has to be a Letdown Alert for the Patriots. They just threw the kitchen sink at the Jets in order to prove that they're not a one-man show. Do they have any gas left? Do they even need any gas to beat the Dolphins by two touchdowns?
The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
With two-thirds of the action on New England, the spread has yet to shift.
Percentage of money on New England: 73% (136,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Home Team has won 9 of the last 13 meetings.
Road Warrior: Teams are 107-75 ATS in their second straight road game after a loss since 1996.
Dolphins are 29-19 SU in September since 1994.
Chad Pennington is 16-9 ATS off a loss.
Dolphins are 3-15 ATS vs. AFC East since 2005.
Patriots are 25-11 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
Patriots are 38-28 ATS at home under Bill Belichick.
Carolina Panthers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2) Line: Vikings by 3. Total: 37. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Vikings -4.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Vikings -3.
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The Game. Edge: Vikings. Injuries: Panthers: OUT: WR Jason Carter (IR). Vikings: OUT: G Mike Jones (IR), DE Kenechi Udeze (IR), DE Jayme Mitchell (IR), DT Kendrick Allen (IR), OLB Heath Farwell (IR), S Madieu Williams, S Michael Boulware (IR). EXPECTED TO START: QB Gus Frerotte.
You'll like this edition of the YouTube Video of the Week if you're a fan of old-school video games like Final Fantasy or Zelda, and you hate vegetarians: Click here to see it.
Handicapping NFL games can be tough for some people who do so solely based on matchups. Picking winners in the NFL is all about finding good spots for teams and fading the bad ones. And sometimes, you have to determine which team will be putting forth more effort in a particular game.
Take this contest, for example. The Panthers just won two games without their best player, who returns this week. Meanwhile, the Vikings, credited as playoff contenders before the season began, are in an 0-2 hole. The Panthers don't need to win this game as much as the Vikings do.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: But Tarvaris Jackson sucks (Gus Frerotte is the starter, check below for an update)! How can he possibly defeat the 2-0 Panthers!? Well, if Kyle Orton could begin the game 6-of-6 for 62 yards and maintain a lead until the final minutes of the fourth quarter against Carolina, then it's possible that Jackson could possibly match that production. I don't know. I'm grasping at straws here. Let's just move on before I recall how horrific Jackson was against the Colts. I'm still having nightmares about watching Jackson hang on to a 15-0 lead. Ahhhhhhh!!!!
At any rate, the Vikings are obviously going to attempt to ride Adrian Peterson to victory. The Panthers are pretty mediocre against the run (15th), as they allowed Matt Forte to rush for 92 yards on 23 carries. The Vikings are obviously a better running team than the Bears are, so I could see Peterson registering about 135 on the ground.
That said, there will be times where the Vikings will have to throw the ball. When that happens, Jackson should have enough time to locate his receivers, and subsequently over- or under-throw them. Carolina has two sacks on the year. Julius Peppers has none, despite going against San Diego's backup left tackle and the mediocre John St. Clair the following week.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: I guess it's a good thing Smith is back because the Panthers are going to have major problems establishing the run against Minnesota's prolific front seven. Jonathan Stewart finally broke out last week, gaining 77 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries, but he won't find any running lanes against the Vikings' eighth-ranked ground defense.
With Jake Delhomme forced to air it out on first downs or long-yardage situations, Minnesota's defensive line will put major pressure on him. Jared Allen and company knocked Peyton Manning around last week, and it seems like Delhomme is in for a similar treatment.
RECAP: Under different circumstances, I might take the Panthers, but the Vikings absolutely need to win this game to avoid a potential 0-3 hole. If they fall to 0-3 and the Packers win on Sunday night, they'll be three back of the division lead.
Here's something odd. Vegas set an opening spread of -3. With nearly three-quarters of the action coming in on the Panthers, this line has moved up to -3.5. First of all, the spread is moving against the money. Secondly, Vegas seldom moves the line off key numbers like three and seven. Something's up.
I'm not wagering multiple units on the Vikings for two reasons. 1) I'm not messing with Delhomme as an underdog (check the stats below). 2) I don't trust Tarvaris. The nightmares won't go away!
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Gus Frerotte was named the starter for the Vikings. It took Brad Childress long enough. All Minnesota needs from the quarterback position is someone who can consistently convert third-and-mediums, connect with wide-open receivers and refrain from turning the ball over. Frerotte can do that. I don't think he can win the playoffs, but Frerotte can get the Vikings there.
With Frerotte under center, I'm more confident the Vikings can cover this game. Still, I wouldn't go crazy and lay multiple units because of Delhomme's unbelivable record as an underdog.
The Psychology. Edge: Vikings.
The Vikings need to dig themselves out of this 0-2 hole. Meanwhile, I'd say the Panthers would be in a letdown situation with Steve Smith back if they weren't an underdog here.
The Vegas. Edge: Vikings.
Odd that nearly 70 percent of the action is on Carolina, yet the line moved up from -3 to -3.5, back down to -3 -120 in some places.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 79% (156,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
Panthers are 26-15 ATS as an underdog the previous 41 instances.
Jake Delhomme is 26-12 ATS on the road.
Jake Delhomme is 22-4 ATS as an underdog in his career (WOW!).
Week 3 NFL Picks - Late Games Lions at 49ers, Saints at Broncos, Rams at Seahawks, Browns at Ravens, Jaguars at Colts, Steelers at Eagles, Cowboys at Packers, Jets at Chargers
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 21, 2014): 0-1 (-$770)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2014): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2014): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2014): 0-1 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2014): -$65
2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350)
2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2014 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 50-41, 55.0% (+$1,500) 2014 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 12-17-1, 41.4% (-$1,990) 2014 Season Over-Under: 144-119-2, 54.8% ($0) 2014 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$630
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)
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)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,157-1,978-117, 52.2% (+$10,530) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 694-624-31 (52.7%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 288-251-11 (53.4%) Career Over-Under: 1,685-1,655-48 (50.5%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 30-19 (61.2%)
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.