Free NFL Picks Against the Spread <br> Week 3, 2008
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Detroit Lions (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1) Line: 49ers by 4.5. Total: 46.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): 49ers -3.
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The Game. Edge: 49ers. Injuries: Lions: OUT: FB Jon Bradley (IR), WR Reggie Ball (IR), TE Dan Campbell (IR), CB Von Hutchins (IR). 49ers: OUT: QB Alex Smith (IR), G Damane Duckett (IR), OLB Jay Moore (IR).
Last year, I theorized that Mike Martz was secretly trying to hurt Jon Kitna enough so that Kitna's organs would pop out of his body, allowing Martz to sell Kitna's organs on the black market. That would explain all of the sacks Kitna took during Martz's two years in Detroit. But what if Martz has a bigger scheme in mind? Think about it: He purposely told Matt Millen not to draft any talented offensive linemen because as an offensive genius, he didn't need them. Now, one year later, he's in San Francisco, where J.T. O'Sullivan took eight sacks last week. What if this is the game where both Kitna and O'Sullivan are sacked so much that Martz is able to collect a couple of livers, kidneys, lungs, hearts and spleens? He seriously could walk away with $500,000 worth of organs. This man needs to be stopped.
If you've been reading this Web site for a while, you know where I'm going with Martz. Yes, he coached the Lions the past two seasons. But does that give the 49ers enough of an edge to cover this spread? And are there any major trends telling us that Detroit is the right side? First, let's get to the matchups.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: Both quarterbacks could seriously throw for 400 yards in this contest. J.T. O'Sullivan managed 321 yards and a touchdown against Seattle's solid defense. Detroit has a non-existent pass rush (two sacks) and a horrific secondary (9.6 YPA). With all the time in the world to find his open receivers downfield, O'Sullivan could eclipse last week's performance.
If you thought Detroit's pass defense numbers were awful, check out how they perform against the run: Through two games, the Lions have given up seven yards per rush. That means Frank Gore could automatically get a first down every two times he carries the football. But let's get real here - Martz doesn't believe in running the ball at all.
DETROIT OFFENSE: Calvin Johnson has arrived. He caught six balls for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He's an unstoppable force, so even though the 49ers surrender only 5.9 YPA, I don't see how they can cover him.
The main difference between these two offenses is that San Francisco can run the ball but won't want to. Detroit, meanwhile, will attempt to establish the run, but won't be successful. Go figure.
At any rate, if Jon Kitna has to throw in long-yardage situations, he should have enough time to locate Johnson or Roy Williams; the 49ers have only four sacks this year.
RECAP: Oh, the irony. The 49ers have the worst coach/coordinator in this game in Martz, yet he's the one who makes San Francisco -4 worthwhile because he used to coach the Lions.
Meanwhile, the Statfox Trend applies against the 49ers; they're a home favorite that is coming off a 1-3 point road victory. That sounds random, but it's tough to muster the same energy as a home favorite after a tough, grueling win as a visitor.
With those two things colliding, picking this game becomes a lot tougher - until I realized that I was actually considering the Lions on the road. Look how they've fared outside of the Motor City below. Awful.
Here's a fun fact: The last time Detroit covered a game on the West Coast was in 2003 - a 24-17 loss to the 7-9 49ers as a 7.5-point dog.
The Psychology. Edge: 49ers.
Mike Martz coached the Lions in 2006-2007.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
Line movement is matching the action.
Percentage of money on San Francisco: 70% (120,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Lions.
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off a 1-3 point road win are 17-38 ATS in Weeks 2-10 since 2000.
New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0) Line: Broncos by 5.5. Total: 51. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Broncos -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Broncos -4.
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The Game. Edge: Broncos. Injuries: Saints: OUT: WR Adrian Arrington (IR), DT Hollis Thomas (IR), DT DeMario Pressley (IR), DT Lance Legree (IR), DT James Reed (IR), ILB Mark Simoneau (IR), S Steve Gleason (IR). Broncos: OUT: RB Ryan Torain, WR Edell Shepherd (IR), C Tom Nalen, DT Carlton Powell (IR).
The second installment of the new Emmitt Smith feature will be up on FRIDAY! 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. Emmitt then wins his first game against the Falcons, 11-4, despite major confusion and thanks in part to a Michael Vick arrest. Each week, I'll follow the 2013 Patriots from a newspaper reporter's perspective. Get ready for 2013: Emmitt on the Brink!
The way the Broncos-Chargers game was officiated could belong in the 2013: Emmitt on the Brink. From the shady malfunctioning replay equipment to the blown call on the fumble, it definitely seemed like someone was trying their hardest to make sure Denver covered this game. But hey, with all the B.S. that went against me last week (check the opening paragraph of the Raiders-Bills game for more) I'll take anything.
DENVER OFFENSE: Despite those blown calls, one thing is certain: Jay Cutler is the man. Cutler now leads the league with 650 yards and six touchdowns. His YPA is 8.8. His completion percentage is 70.3. He has just one interception, and was only sacked once. If I continue, this is going to sound like a love sonnet.
How can you not love Cutler against New Orleans' secondary? Jason Campbell, who struggled mightily against the Giants in Week 1, torched the Saints for 321 yards and a touchdown. That's a bit misleading though, seeing as how New Orleans didn't have its top three defensive backs, Mike McKenzie, Randall Gay and Roman Harper.
I'm not sure about Gay and Harper just yet, but it looks like there's a good chance McKenzie will play in this contest. That'll be huge against Cutler and his heavy artillery. That said, even if all three defensive backs are in the lineup, they're going to have problems slowing down Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler.
Still, it doesn't hurt to have the top guys in the game, especially when they can also help against the run. The Saints and their skeleton crew secondary couldn't contain Clinton Portis last week. They'll need all hands on deck to prevent the Broncos' RBBC from gaining 5.8 yards per carry - which is what New Orleans is currently giving up this season.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: Even without Marques Colston, the Saints were able to score 24 points against a Redskins defense that was missing Shawn Springs and still limited the Giants to 16 points in Week 1. Colston would have put New Orleans over the top, but the 24-point output was still decent.
The Broncos are 27th against the run and the pass. They also have just four sacks this year. Let's ignore the inept Raiders game for a second; Denver had severe problems containing a quarterback off ACL surgery (Philip Rivers), a backup running back (Darren Sproles) and a banged-up tight end (Antonio Gates). I don't think Denver will have much success stopping Drew Brees' offense, despite the fact that Colston won't be available.
RECAP: This game figures to be a high-scoring, thrilling shootout. So, who gets the win and cover?
In my Panthers-Vikings write-up, I mentioned that you have to look for good and bad spots, and determine which team needs a victory more in every contest.
Well, this is a bad spot for Denver. They just had an unbelievable, emotional victory over their new arch-nemesis. Now up two on everyone in the division, except for Oakland, whom they've beaten, they have to come back and match that same intensity against another pretty toe foe. I don't see that happening.
Meanwhile, the Saints can't afford to go 0-for-2 on this road trip. If Carolina beats the Vikings, they'll be two back in a division they were projected to win this offseason.
The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
The Broncos are two up on the Chargers. How can they rebound off an emotional win like that? Letdown Alert!
The Vegas. Edge: Saints.
The public is pounding the Broncos in the wake of their impressive performance against the Saints.
Percentage of money on Denver: 81% (118,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Road Warrior: Teams are 107-75 ATS in their second straight road game after a loss since 1996.
Saints are 39-26 ATS on the road since 2000.
Saints are 24-17 ATS as a road underdog since 2000.
Drew Brees is 26-17 ATS as a dog.
Broncos are 6-16 ATS as a favorite since 2006.
Mike Shanahan is 2-10 ATS at home immediately following a home win.
St. Louis Rams (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2) Line: Seahawks by 9.5. Total: 44. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Seahawks -9.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Seahawks -9.
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The Game. Edge: Seahawks. Injuries: Rams: OUT: WR Keenan Burton, OT Brandon Gorin (IR), Mark Setterstrom (IR), CB Justin King (IR). Seahawks: OUT: WR Deion Branch, WR Bobby Engram, WR Nate Burleson (IR), WR Ben Obomanu (IR), WR Seneca Wallace, WR Logan Payne (IR), G Rob Sims (IR), OLB Wesley Mallard (IR), LS Tyler Schmitt (IR). QUESTIONABLE: OT Sean Locklear.
More quotes of Emmitt Smith! Happy time!
1. "Brett Favre establish himself as one of the best quarterbacks ever." (Commentary: And with that quote, Emmitt establish himself as the most amusing analysts ever.)
2. "As a rookie in this league, first of all, no one knows who you are." (Commentary: Oh, I guess all the networks and Web sites that dedicate their time to NFL Draft coverage and all the fantasy magazines who list rookies are just wasting their time, huh?)
3. "He deserve the Lambeau leap." (Commentary: And we deserve more Emmitt on ESPN! Put him back on Sunday NFL Countdown!)
If you looked at this page on Wednesday morning, you may have noticed that I skipped over this pick. I did so for a reason.
I needed another night to make sure that I was going to use this as my Pick of the Month. Well, I'm making it official. I love Seattle in this spot for a wide variety of reasons. Rather than delving into the matchups, I'll list why I like them so much:
DESPERATION MODE: The Seahawks are a proud, veteran-laden team. Players like Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, Sean Locklear (who missed the first two games), Patrick Kerney, Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson, Leroy Hill and Marcus Trufant are all winners. They've been to the playoffs every year and made an appearance in the Super Bowl in 2005. But if they lose to the Rams and the Cardinals beat the Redskins, which is very possible, they'll be three back in a division they were predicted to claim.
This is a must-win for Seattle. Going 0-3 for a talented, veteran group is unacceptable. You may argue that the Rams don't want to get into an 0-3 hole either, but they're a bunch of losers. They haven't had a winning record since the 2003 season, and they began the 2007 campaign with an 0-8 mark.
HELLO, GOODBYE: If you haven't heard of the Hello, Goodbye Trend before, here it is:
Favorites of 6.5 or more are 29-4 against the spread going into their bye (Mike Holmgren 2-0).
That record of 29-4 is pretty damn good. If you hate trends, you may scoff at this, but it makes sense if you think about it. If a team is favored by 6.5 or more, they're probably pretty good, right? Well, good teams tend to be focused going into their bye, and because the line is 6.5 or more, chances are they're playing a crappy opponent.
Here's a neat tidbit. The Seahawks hosted the Rams in Week 7 of the 2007 season. Same situation - Seattle was going into its bye, so as an 8-point favorite, the Hello Goodbye trend applied. The Rams were winless. The Seahawks crushed their divisional opponent, 33-6.
RAMS SUCK ON THE ROAD: The Rams have covered only 33 percent of their games (16-32) since 2001. That's awful.
Last year, St. Louis had road losses of 24-3 (at Tampa Bay), 22-3 (at Baltimore... BALTIMORE!!!), 33-6 (at Seattle), 35-7 (at Dallas), 48-19 (at Arizona... ARIZONA!!!) and 19-10 (at struggling Cincinnati). I consider this year's version of the Rams to be just as bad as last season's.
RAMS SUCK IN GENERAL: Prior to last week, I had never taken a road team in any Survivor Pools. But I felt safe with the Giants because the Rams are an abomination. Following up on their 38-3 loss at Philadelphia, they were trampled by the Giants, 41-13, at the Edward Jones Dome.
The Rams were somewhat competitive against New York, but that's because they're not completely inept at home. As I mentioned, they're one of the worst teams in NFL history on the road.
St. Louis' offensive line can't pass protect. Seriously, poor Marc Bulger is getting knocked around and beaten to a pulp. I guess it doesn't bode well for him that the Seahawks thrive on getting to the quarterback. They sacked J.T. O'Sullivan eight times last week. One can only wonder if Bulger will make it out alive.
SEAHAWKS KICK A** AT HOME: Yes, I know, the Seahawks are coming off a home loss as a big favorite to the 49ers. Before we move on, let's talk about that game.
Holmgren's gameplan was flushed down the toilet when Seneca Wallace suffered an injury in warmups and Logan Payne had to leave the game after making a spectacular 14-yard reception.
Still, Seattle led 14-0 but relinquished the lead, thanks in part to three things: 1) A Hasselbeck pick-six that bounced around and hit a few players before landing in Patrick Willis' lap. 2) A Billy McMullen fumble in the red zone; Seattle surrendered possession on what would have been first-and-goal at the 9. 3) Hasselbeck tossed an interception deep in his own territory in the middle of the third quarter.
Now with another week of experience under their belts, rookie tight end John Carlson, second-year receiver Courtney Taylor and journeyman Billy McMullen should be more comfortable in the offense. Also, Koren Robinson, who had a 1,000-yard season with Hasselbeck and Holmgren a few years ago, is back with the team. And while Hasselbeck and company struggled against the 49ers, moving the chains versus St. Louis will be a lot easier. The Rams can't get to the quarterback (two sacks) or cover anyone (10.0 YPA). Oh, and St. Louis is also 30th versus the run, so Julius Jones should have another big game.
At any rate, the Seahawks have a great homefield advantage. They were 7-1 against the spread as hosts last year, winning by an average score of 28-14. I can't see them dropping a second-consecutive contest at Qwest Field.
THE PUBLIC: When I've told people that I'm considering Seattle as my Pick of the Month, they've all looked at me as if I just escaped a psyche ward. In fact, no one I've talked to this week likes the Seahawks.
That matches public betting. As of Wednesday evening, about 90 percent of the action is on St. Louis. This line hasn't moved, so it looks like Vegas is content to have a lop-sided cash flow. Considering how brutal the past two weeks have been for the books, this Sunday could be a blood bath for the public.
SURVIVOR PICK: As indicated earlier, I was deciding between Buffalo and Seattle. I've chosen the latter. It was pretty even, so it came down to looking ahead. I couldn't find one instance where I could use the Seahawks again. On the other hand, the Bills host the Browns, 49ers and Dolphins down the road.
The Psychology. Edge: Seahawks.
The Seahawks have tons of veteran leaders. They'll do whatever it takes to avoid an 0-3 hole - even if it means ripping Marc Bulger's limbs off.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The public's backing the Rams!? The line isn't moving.
A lot of money poured in on Seattle on Thursday morning.
Percentage of money on St. Louis: 60% (112,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Seahawks.
History: Seahawks have won the last 6 meetings.
Hello, Good Bye: Favorites of 6.5 or more are 29-4 ATS going into their bye (Mike Holmgren 2-0).
Rams are 16-32 ATS in road games since 2001.
Seahawks are 11-3 ATS in September home games since 2000.
Matt Hasselbeck is 7-2 ATS off back-to-back losses.
Mike Holmgren is 4-1 ATS at home immediately following a home win.
Opening Line: Seahawks -9.5.
Opening Total: 44.
Weather: Showers, 60 degrees. Light wind.
Prediction: Seahawks 34, Rams 3 Seahawks -9.5 (8 Units - September Pick of the Month) -- Correct; +$800 Under 44 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110 Survivor Pick (2-0)
Seahawks 37, Rams 13
Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0) Line: Ravens by 2.5. Total: 38. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Ravens -2.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Ravens -2.
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The Game. Edge: Ravens. Injuries: Browns: OUT: WR Joe Jurevicius, G Lennie Friedman, DE Robaire Smith (IR), OLB Antwan Peek (IR). 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.
Given how the Browns have looked the past two weeks, I can't believe they were a Titans loss away from making the playoffs last year. Braylon Edwards has seven drops already. Romeo Crennel can't manage the clock for his life, and kicked a meaningless field goal instead of going for a much-needed touchdown because he had a box of Oreos riding on Cleveland +6. And did you hear the fan yell, "Put in Winslow!" when Crennel took Kellen Winslow Jr. out of the game on the final play of the Steelers contest? Unbelievable. If Phil Savage wasn't in danger of getting eaten, Crennel would have been fired already.
I've talked about teams needing wins in good spots this week. Projected by many to win the AFC North, the Browns are now 0-2. Does this apply to them?
I don't think so. First of all, unlike the Panthers-Vikings and Broncos-Saints matchups, the Browns and Ravens are fierce rivals. Second, Baltimore is craving for double revenge after Cleveland beat them twice last year. Third, the Ravens are coming off an idle weekend, so they'll be completely focused and healed up to wreak havoc upon the Browns.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: The Browns go from the Cowboys and Steelers to playing the Ravens, so this should be an easier matchup for them, right? Well, not really. Baltimore still has dominant play-makers on its defense. Jamal Lewis will be eaten alive by the NFL's top-ranked run defense. Lewis should be used to this, as he mustered just 38 yards on 19 carries against Pittsburgh on Sunday night. His output could be even worse here.
Derek Anderson will be forced to move the chains on his own, which could be a problem versus a secondary that limits opponents to a league-best 4.0 YPA. Baltimore has an opportunistic secondary, so an incompletion- and interception-prone Derek Anderson may commit a few turnovers. Anderson has two picks and a completion rate of 51.8 this season, though all of Edwards' dropped balls aren't helping.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: I can't trust Joe Flacco on the road, especially against a tough opponent just yet, but he should be fine at home versus a soft defense. Flacco did a solid job of managing the game the first week of the season, and should be up to a similar task here.
Despite acquiring Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers, the Browns are 23rd against the run. Whether it's Willis McGahee, Ray Rice or LeRon McClain lining up in the backfield, you can be assured that Cleveland's defensive front will surrender about 4.7 yards per carry.
Cleveland is even worse against the pass (30th), thanks to an injury-ridden secondary and a non-existent pass rush (3 sacks). Off of McGahee-, Rice- or McClain-induced play-action, Flacco will be able to locate Derrick Mason and Todd Heap downfield without much pressure in his face. It's good the Texans game was cancelled because opening up with two home contests against the inept Ohio teams is the best possible scenario for Flacco's confidence.
RECAP: As noted earlier, the 0-2 desperation mode doesn't apply to Cleveland because the Ravens, coming off a bye week, hate their guts and are seeking double revenge. The Browns are a mess right now, and I really wouldn't advise laying any of your hard-earned money on them, especially with the public backing them at a 70-percent rate (as of Wednesday morning).
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The Browns, a supposed playoff team, need to avoid an 0-3 hole. The Ravens are seeking double revenge. No edge.
The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
The public is leaning Browns again after a ton of cash was dumped on Baltimore.
Percentage of money on Cleveland: 66% (105,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Ravens.
History: Home Team has won 6 of the last 8 meetings.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1) Line: Colts by 4.5. Total: 41.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Colts -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Colts -9.
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The Game. Edge: Colts. Injuries: Jaguars: OUT: WR Reggie Williams, G Vince Manuwai(IR), G Maurice Williams (IR), DE James Wyche (IR). Colts: OUT: TE Mike Seidman (IR), TE Zac Herold (IR), G Ryan Lilja, C Jeff Saturday, DT Anthony McFarland (IR), OLB Tyjuan Hagler, KR T.J. Rushing (IR).
Like Bo-Bo, the Colts just can't catch a break. There's a good chance center Jeff Saturday could be back, but it has just be announced that Bob Sanders will miss 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Also, left tackle Tony Ugoh is doubtful with a groin injury. This just in: Tony Dungy is questionable with a possible nervous breakdown.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: Bob Sanders is Indianapolis' entire defense. Seriously. The 11 guys lining up to stop the Jaguars might as well not show up.
In the past, the Colts have had extreme difficulty containing the run without Sanders in the lineup. Well, through two weeks, they're ranked 24th with Sanders starting at safety. Imagine how inept they're going to be without him.
I know the Jaguars haven't been able to run the ball with all of their offensive line woes. Both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are averaging less than three yards per rush. Of course, it doesn't help that Jacksonville has played Tennessee and Buffalo, who rank second and ninth against ground attacks, respectively. Jones-Drew always thrives against Indianapolis' defense, so look for him to have a huge game.
David Garrard hasn't put together a solid performance this year, which includes the preseason, but he'll have more success with the ability to play-action off of Jones-Drew's eight- and 10-yard bursts. Matt Jones has played well thus far, so Garrard could look his way often. It's amazing how much better you can play once you stop snorting coke and begin learning the playbook.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: Peyton Manning should be better with Saturday back in the lineup, but Ugoh's loss hurts. Still, the Colts should be able to run the ball against a mediocre Jacksonville ground defense that desperately misses Marcus Stroud. Joseph Addai's YPC is only 2.4, but you can attribute that to his battling the Vikings and Bears the first two weeks. The Jaguars aren't as strong anymore up front.
Peyton Manning should also have a decent game. The Jaguars have solid personnel on defense, but their pass rush isn't as good as it'll be later in the year. Rookies Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey are still learning the ropes. Groves had his first sack last week, while Harvey hasn't done much of anything yet, save for a fake interception that fell into his lap because Vince Young threw an ugly duck right at him. Jacksonville made a huge mistake by not offering a contract of market value to Harvey prior to training camp, and now the team is paying the price.
RECAP: The Statfox Trend applies here. Fading home favorites coming off 1-3 point road victories has been very lucrative in the past. The reasoning is that it's tough to match the emotion and intensity that went into a close road win.
If you watched the post-game press conferences of Manning and Dungy, both looked like they were lucky to be alive. Manning, sweating profusely, stated that this win over Minnesota was a sweet victory and that his team was lucky to get out of there with a win.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars are in an 0-2 hole. They need a victory, and they usually play the Colts tight to the vest. This is their Super Bowl. Indianapolis won't be as desperate.
The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
This game means more to the Jaguars than it does the Colts, but I can't call this a huge psychological edge. The Colts know they are playing piss-poor football and they must improve.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
The public still favors the Colts a bit. Curiously, this line is dropping toward Jacksonville. Why does Vegas want more money on Indianapolis?
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 62% (117,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
History: Ten of the last 12 meetings decided by 8 points or less (Colts 9-3).
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off a 1-3 point road win are 17-38 ATS in Weeks 2-10 since 2000 (Tony Dungy 2-4).
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) Line: Eagles by 3.5. Total: 44.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Eagles -3.
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The Game. Edge: Steelers. Injuries: Steelers: OUT: QB Charlie Batch, P Daniel Sepulveda (IR). Eagles: OUT: CB Jack Ikegwuonu (IR).
Love 'em or hate 'em, Philly fans have style. After a Shane Victorino home run in a Phillies-Brewers game the day before the Eagles-Cowboys thriller, the camera panned to the joyous crowd. One fat man in the stands had a white t-shirt with bright green letters that said, "Romo is a Homo."
Though the Eagles lost, they played extremely well, which is why I raised them to No. 4 in my NFL Power Rankings. Donovan McNabb looks as great as he was in 2004, which actually says a lot because he doesn't have Terrell Owens by his side. I still question if McNabb, a very injury-prone quarterback, can stay healthy the entire year.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: Owens is long gone, but it looks like DeSean Jackson, despite having just two games under his belt, is already the most dynamic play-maker McNabb has had to work with since Owens' departure. He stretches the field for Philadelphia's once-stagnant offense, allowing a completely healthy McNabb to find him deep downfield. And with Brian Westbrook coming out of the backfield, defenses can't exactly focus on the electrifying rookie wideout.
Philadelphia's scoring attack looked unstoppable on Monday night, but if any defense can slow the unit down, it's Pittsburgh's. The Steelers are third against the run and seventh versus the pass. They also have seven sacks, thanks to very quick 3-4 speed rushers who will give old tackles Jon Runyan and William Tra Thomas some problems.
Don't believe me? Just look at the four sacks Pittsbrugh registered on the younger versions of Runyan and Thomas back in 2004. In that contest, Westbrook was completely shut down (6 carries, 17 yards; 3 receptions), while McNabb, who was having an MVP-caliber year, was just 15-of-24 for 109 yards and an interception - with the great Owens by his side.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: The Eagles made a nice upgrade with Asante Samuel this offseason, but the 41 points they allowed to Dallas wasn't a fluke. They're not a terrible defense by any means, but they have problems getting to the quarterback and their safeties are a huge liability. Brian Dawkins made a nice hit on Martellus Bennett in the Cowboys contest, but he has lost a few steps.
One thing Philadelphia does really well is stop the run. The nation saw this when the team limited Marion Barber to 63 yards on 18 carries, exactly 3.5 yards per rush. The Eagles will contain Willie Parker, but I don't think that will affect Pittsburgh's aerial attack. Like Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger will beat Philadelphia's safeties, connecting with Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller downfield. Roethlisberger's improved offensive line will offer him solid protection against the Eagles' mediocre pass rush (4 sacks).
RECAP: I think it's going to be tough for the Eagles to go from an emotional contest in Dallas to being a field-goal favorite against the best team from the AFC.
Speaking of the AFC, Andy Reid tends to struggle versus the opposing conference during his tenure in Philadelphia. I can't give you a reason why; just note that his Eagles are 9-15 against the spread versus the AFC since 2001.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Big game for both teams.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The public is all over the Eagles in the wake of their impressive Monday night performance. The line moved off a key number, which is huge.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 67% (115,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger is 46-17 as a starter (38-25 ATS).
Ben Roethlisberger is 7-3 ATS as a road dog.
Ben Roethlisberger is 10-5 ATS as an underdog.
Eagles are 9-15 ATS vs. AFC opponents since 2001.
Donovan McNabb is 18-9 ATS after a loss since 2001.
Dallas Cowboys (2-0) at Green Bay Packers (2-0) Line: Cowboys by 3. Total: 51. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Cowboys -1.
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The Game. Edge: Cowboys. Injuries: Cowboys: OUT: S Roy Williams. Packers: OUT: G Junius Coston (IR), DT Justin Harrell.
Forum member bbix1134 mentioned that Terry Bradshaw was drunk during FOX's pregame show. Unfortunately, I didn't see it, so I can't give you next week's preview. So for now, let's go with the recap of the CBS pregame show:
James Brown: Let's talk about the Vikings-Colts game. Dan, who's a key player to watch for in this game?
Dan Marino: I like every player in this game, James. Every player on both teams is good. I like the Vikings, and I like the Colts. Tony Dungy is a good guy, and so is Brad Childress. Peyton Manning is a good player, and so is Adrian Peterson.
Boomer Esiason: See, this is why Dan Marino has never won a Super Bowl! He has no opinion on anything! Dan Marino sucks!
James Brown: Shannon, who do you like in this game?
Shannon Sharpe: Foijrewgjo rgorei eor grehgo er rehogrehog reogherov 8r r oherhihe wfo rewhogih.
Dan Marino: I agree with Shannon, and I agree with Boomer. This should be a great, competitive game, and both sides will be winners, regardless of the outcome on the scoreboard.
Boomer Esiason: Just pick a friggin side, Dan! This is why you always choke in the clutch! I hate you, you son of a...
Gotta love the hostile Dan Marino-Boomer Esiason exchanges. At any rate, I find it strangely convenient that things have gotten progressively more difficult for this Packers team with their new quarterback. The first week of the season, they made numerous mistakes on offense in the first half - tons of penalties and a botched field goal - and were able to come away with a victory because Tarvaris Jackson blew opportunity after opportunity.
Last week, Aaron Rodgers was challenged with winning his first road game. Sure, it was against the Lions, but no visiting contest is ever easy in the NFL. Rodgers helped the Packers establish a 24-0 lead, and when the Lions inexplicably came back and took a 25-24 advantage, Rodgers was able to assemble two more scoring drives. Helped by a pair of pick-sixes, the Packers vanquished the pathetic Matt Millens, 48-25.
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: You could say this is the first real test for the new Green Bay regime. The Cowboys, regarded as the consensus top team in the NFC, defeated the Packers at home last year, 37-27. Brett Favre was the quarterback in that contest, so if Rodgers defeats the foe Favre failed to vanquish, there's a good chance the media will begin talking about Rodgers being even better than Favre was in 2007.
Philadelphia torched Dallas' secondary, which will now be missing Roy Williams for a few weeks (not that Williams was that effective anyway). If the Eagles were able to do this without a huge assortment of play-makers, I'm confident Aaron Rodgers should be able to do the same thing with a superior receiving corps. Rodgers should be given enough time; his line has given up only one sack this year. Sure, they battled the pitiful Lions last week, but they were also able to keep Minnesota out of the backfield.
One advantage Green Bay's offense doesn't have is a lacking running game. Ryan Grant, hampered by a hamstring injury, hasn't been effective this season. The Cowboys are pretty mediocre against opposing ground attacks (16th), so the Packers will either hope that Grant can recover in the next few days or that Brandon Jackson can help move the chains on a consistent basis. Jackson is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but he really struggles in blitz pickup, which is why Mike McCarthy is hesitant to go with Jackson on a full-time basis until Grant recovers.
DALLAS OFFENSE: As solid as Green Bay's defense has been against the passing game (5.9 YPA, 6 sacks), I can't see them containing Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten. That's just an impossible task. Romo hasn't even been sacked this year, so I can't say I'm confident the Packers will rattle him. Remember, Plaxico Burress torched Al Harris in the AFC Championship. Well, Owens and Witten are an even better duo than Burress and Toomer.
Because Corey Williams defected to Cleveland and Justin Harrell hasn't been able to stay healthy, the Packers have had problems against the run thus far. They're currently 22nd in the league, giving up 4.7 yards per carry. Green Bay will be so concerned with getting to Romo and covering Owens and Witten, I don't know how they're going to focus on Marion Barber (on the ground and out of the backfield).
RECAP: I guess it's natural that the most intriguing matchup of the week is also the most difficult to predict. I could really see this game going either way.
But because I have to pick a side, I guess I'll choose Dallas. Two reasons: First, Grant's hamstring makes Green Bay more of a one-dimensional offense. Second, I currently trust Romo more than I do Rodgers. That could change over the course of this season, but given the way Peyton Manning is struggling right now, you'd have to say that Romo is currently the top quarterback in the NFL.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The battle of what could be the top two teams in the NFC, though the Giants may have something to say about that.
The Vegas. Edge: Packers.
Three-quarters of the public likes Dallas on a National TV game. The line has yet to move.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 74% (212,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Cowboys are 12-3 ATS after playing the Eagles since 2000.
Tony Romo is 14-5 ATS as a starter before Dec. 1.
Tony Romo is 5-1 ATS as a starter in September.
Tony Romo is 8-3 ATS on the road.
Wade Phillips is 0-3 ATS after Monday Night Football.
New York Jets (1-1) at San Diego Chargers (0-2) Line: Chargers by 8.5. Total: 45. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2): Chargers -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2): Chargers -8.
Monday, 8:30 ET - Buy Tickets
The Game. Edge: Chargers. Injuries: Jets: OUT: ILB Brad Kassell (IR). Chargers: OUT: WR Eric Parker (IR).
Why is this spread so high? Nine points? Really, the Chargers are six points better than the Jets?
This is public perception skewing the spread at its finest. Last week, casual bettors saw New York struggle against the Patriots and the Chargers get screwed at Denver. What they may not have taken out of those games is that New England threw the kitchen sink at New York in an attempt to prove that they could win without Tom Brady. Meanwhile, San Diego hasn't been able to stop anyone this year.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: So, what happened to the Chargers defense that everyone drafted first or second in their fantasy leagues? Well, in case you haven't been paying attention, Shawne Merriman's absence has had a profound effect on the entire unit. Without Merriman, San Diego cannot put pressure on the quarterback (2 sacks) and consequently has major issues in pass protection. Through two contests, the Chargers have allowed 587 passing yards - ranking them second-to-last in the NFL. Unlike last week, Brett Favre won't have any defenders in his face, which will allow him to find Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller downfield.
San Diego has also struggled against the run, surrendering a disturbing 5.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Thomas Jones managed 70 yards on 17 carries against a superior front seven last weekend, which bodes well for his statistics in this contest. There's a good chance Jones eclipses the century plateau and gets into the end zone at least once.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: The Chargers' scoring attack is keeping them alive in these cardiac contests. Despite LaDainian Tomlinson's turf toe, Antonio Gates' beat-up body, Philip Rivers' surgically repaired ACL and the absence of center Nick Hardwick, San Diego ranks fifth in the league in scoring - an impressive feat when you consider all they've had to overcome.
That said, it should be noted that San Diego hasn't played a dominant defense yet. Carolina had problems against Kyle Orton early on last week, while the Broncos don't exactly have top defensive personnel on their roster.
The Jets' defense is better statistically - the team is fourth versus the run and 13th against the pass, and has eight sacks on the year - but you also have to consider whom they've played. Chad Pennington and Matt Cassel? Not exactly leading the league in passing right now.
We'll find out a lot about New York's stop unit on Monday night. For now, I'm going to guess that the Chargers will match the Jets point for point.
RECAP: Anyone who's laying nine points with San Diego is looking at this game from this angle: "The Chargers need to win because they're 0-2, and the Jets just lost to the Patriots at home!"
That's not a good way to handicap a game. It's not like the Jets are coming off a victory and find this contest meaningless because they've just knocked off New England. New York will be out to overcome its latest loss. They're not going to lay down for San Diego.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are 0-2 for a reason. Without Merriman, their defense is abysmal. I don't think they'll be able to stop Favre and the Jets.
Nine points is way too much in a game that could go either way.
The Psychology. Edge: Chargers.
The Chargers cannot afford to start 0-3 and potentially fall three games behind Denver.
Jets OC Brian "Run Three Times Inside the Five" Schottenheimer coached the Chargers in 2002-2005.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Close to 50-50 action.
Percentage of money on San Diego: 51% (314,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Chargers.
Jets are 17-27-3 ATS as an underdog the previous 47 instances (10-10 under Eric Mangini).
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.