NFL Picks (Week 1, 2008): 11-5 (+$1,470) NFL Picks (Week 2, 2008): 7-7-1 (-$100) NFL Picks (Week 3, 2008): 10-6 (+$860)
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Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) Line: Bengals by 3.5. Total: 44.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Bengals -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Bengals -1.
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The Game. Edge: None. Injuries: Browns: OUT: WR Joe Jurevicius, G Lennie Friedman, DE Robaire Smith (IR), OLB Antwan Peek (IR). Bengals: OUT: RB Kenny Irons (IR), WR Marcus Maxwell.
It feels good to bounce back off a mediocre week. Going 10-6 isn't great or anything, but it's still 62.5 percent, which I'll gladly take as a percentage this season. It was definitely nice not to have four double-digit comebacks go against me last week. And congratulations to anyone who sided with me on my September Pick of the Month, as Seattle easily covered 9.5 against the sorry Rams.
Speaking of sorry, let's start off with the Toilet Bowl. As you can tell by the disparity between my projected line and the actual spread, public perception has forced Vegas to skew the number. Trying for the first time all year, the Bengals nearly upset the flat Giants. Meanwhile, the Browns were foiled by two key turnovers in their own territory against the Ravens, which gave Baltimore and its ravenous defense control of the game last week. Those results have made casual bettors believe that Cincinnati is the superior squad, but that's just not the case.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Derek Anderson's not the greatest quarterback in the world, but he's certainly better than his 46.2 completion percentage, 4.4 YPA and 2-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The numbers are deceiving for two reasons. First, the Browns have played three really tough defenses: Dallas (who shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Eagles in the second half), Pittsburgh (in 40-mph winds) and Baltimore. Second, Braylon Edwards has dropped a ton of passes.
Playing the Bengals, in a desperate 0-3 situation, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Cincinnati has just one sack on the year, which is simply laughable. Unlike last week, Anderson will enjoy all the time in the world in the pocket. He'll find Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. downfield. Meanwhile, Jamal Lewis should be able to punch in 100 yards and a score or two against the league's 17th-ranked run defense.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: I've been harping about how Chris Perry is going to turn into a dynamic fantasy option once the Bengals play a soft defense. Thus far, they've battled the Ravens (eighth against the run), Titans (ninth) and Giants (11th). All of those teams allow less than 3.7 yards per carry. The Browns are 21st and give up 4.4.
Marvin Lewis should be able to establish Perry, giving Carson Palmer plenty of play-action opportunities. Not that he'll need them anyway. The Browns are 28th versus the pass because their secondary stinks (nice move trading Leigh Bodden and not getting a replacement) and they can't pressure the quarterback. Though, to be fair, they are better than Cincinnati in this department. They have three sacks, as opposed to the Bengals' one.
RECAP: So, why are the Browns better than the Bengals? Because they actually try hard! Sure, Cincinnati showed up last week, but I feel as though that happened because the players felt disrespected being a 13-point underdog. Plus, it didn't help that the Giants were flat.
I have to believe that Cleveland will be the more desperate team here. The Browns were projected to be a playoff team, while the Bengals, who don't care about winning, are supposed to suck. Siding against the public is also a pretty lucrative move.
A cool trend: Romeo Crennel has never failed to cover in the final contest of a two-game road trip. He's 6-0 against the spread in this situation.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Both teams are desperate for a win at this point.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
After the public pounded Cincinnati early in the week, action has leveled off.
Percentage of money on Cleveland: 55% (215,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Browns.
History: Bengals have won 6 of the last 7 meetings.
Road Warrior: Teams are 109-75 ATS in their second straight road game after a loss since 1996 (Romeo Crennel 5-0).
Bengals are 8-22 ATS in September home games since 1992.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-1) Line: Panthers by 6.5. Total: 39. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Panthers -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Panthers -6.5.
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The Game. Edge: Panthers. Injuries: Falcons: OUT: OT Pat McCoy (IR), DT Trey Lewis, CB Von Hutchins (IR). Panthers: OUT: LB Dan Connor (IR).
Each week, I like to take a look at how Vegas fared.
Whenever favorites go 10-6 against the spread, the books usually don't make out too well because the public loves laying points, but that wasn't the case last week. Vegas won big with the Raiders, Buccaneers, Vikings, Dolphins, Bengals, Saints, Ravens and Jaguars. They lost some money with the Falcons, Titans, 49ers, Eagles and especially the Cowboys, but if you're 8-5 and getting 10-percent juice, you're doing pretty well. Also keep in mind that many teasers were ruined (including mine) because the Patriots' inability to videotape their opponent prevented them from solving an offense that hasn't been used in 70 years.
What do we make of the Falcons? Sure, their two wins are against crap teams like the Chiefs and Lions, but they won both in blowout fashion. Meanwhile, their sole road contest was a seemingly lop-sided loss to Tampa Bay that was a bit closer than the 24-9 final score indicated.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: Matt Ryan was able to perform well versus Kansas City and Detroit, but he began the Buccaneers contest 0-of-9 with two interceptions. Is he destined for a repeat performance?
I think that depends on two things. First, is Sam Baker's availability. Baker has played extremely well this season, but he's been bothered with headaches, dizziness and nausea the past two weeks (sounds like PMS?) Baker could play on Sunday, and he would be huge for Ryan's safety going against Julius Peppers. Second, is whether or not Michael Turner can effectively run the ball. In the two Atlanta wins, Turner has gained 324 rushing yards and five touchdowns. In the loss to Tampa Bay, he managed just 42 yards.
The Panthers are 15th versus the run, as they've surrendered exactly four yards per carry on the year, telling us that Turner will have some room to navigate. However, I expect Carolina to place eight men in the box, forcing Ryan to beat them downfield. As long as Baker is at left tackle, Ryan should have some success against a defense that had problems containing Gus Frerotte and Kyle Orton.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: While Michael Turner will have some running room, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will enjoy wide, luxurious, Cosmo Kramer-like double-wide lanes. Atlanta is 24th versus opposing ground attacks, which could actually be worse than the ranking indicates because Kevin Smith, Earnest Graham and Larry Johnson aren't exactly the top running backs in the league.
Jake Delhomme will benefit from Williams and Stewart gaining five yards a pop, allowing him to utilize play-action to locate Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad. John Abraham, who leads the league with six sacks, must get to Delhomme, though battling Jordan Gross will be his toughest test this year.
One underrated aspect of Atlanta's defense has been the play of corners Brent Grimes and Chris Houston; the team is actually ranked third in defensive YPA. If the Falcons can somehow generate a decent pass rush against Delhomme, Grimes and Houston should be able to play Smith and Muhammad relatively well.
RECAP: I think the Falcons are a bit underrated. Everyone is scoffing at their 2-1 record because their victories came against the Lions and Chiefs, but as I pointed out earlier, both contests were blowouts. And I thought Atlanta played considerably well at Tampa Bay, considering its slow start and the game-ending injury to Baker right before halftime that allowed Gaines Adams to go off.
I like the Falcons to cover, as Carolina at home doesn't exactly scare me. Keep an eye on Baker's status, by the way. If he's cleared to play, I may increase the amount of units on Atlanta.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
An unlikely battle for what could be sole control of the NFC South if the Buccaneers lose to the Packers.
The Vegas. Edge: Falcons.
This line has fallen to 6.5 in some places, forcing a good amount of money on Carolina.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 78% (177,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
History: Road Team has won the last 5 meetings.
Panthers are 10-20 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5 or more since 2001.
Houston Texans (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) Line: Jaguars by 7. Total: 43. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Jaguars -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Jaguars -7.5.
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The Game. Edge: Texans. 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). Jaguars: OUT: WR Reggie Williams, G Vince Manuwai(IR), G Maurice Williams (IR), DE James Wyche (IR).
Slowly but surely, I'm collecting enough quotes to start a Keyshawn Johnson Anthology. Here are some Keyshawn-isms:
1. "From listening to Mart, Vince Young definitely has problems." (Commentary: Who the hell is Mart? Do you mean Mort - as in Chris Mortensen? How do you not know the names of your co-hosts?")
2. "Traditionally the Patriots have wrapped up the division early. They not gonna do it this year. They not gonna do it this year." (Commentary: I wasn't sure if they weren't going to do it this year, but because Keyshawn repeated himself in consecutive sentences, I now know that they not gonna do it this year!)
3. "He could put Mathias Kanuka in good position." (Commentary: I don't know what's more bizarre - the fact that an ESPN analyst can't pronounce "Kiwanuka" or that my spell checker thinks "Kanuka" is actually a word.)
I find it a bit coincidental that the Texans are in the same position as the Jaguars were last week. Think about it. Jacksonville was staring at a possible 0-3 hole, playing on the road against a hated divisional foe that dominated them last year. The Jaguars came from behind to prevail, 23-21.
Meanwhile, Houston is also 0-2. In the only matchup where the starters played last year, the Jaguars clobbered them. The Texans, projected by many to have a winning record, are a 7.5-point dog. This is do or die for them if they want any shot at their first postseason berth in franchise history.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: I find it a bit ridiculous that some people are calling for Matt Schaub to get benched. Sure, he's thrown just one touchdown to five interceptions, but he's hardly the only one at fault. Andre Johnson dropped two potential scores last week. His offensive line has given him zero protection (eight sacks), and he's played two of the toughest defenses in the NFL, Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville's stop unit isn't nearly as talented. While the Titans have 11 sacks and the Steelers have 10, the Jaguars have gotten to the quarterback just five times. Versus the run, Tennessee is ninth and Pittsburgh is second. Jacksonville is 19th. Against the pass, the Titans are second and the Steelers are fifth. The Jaguars are 26th. Get the picture?
With more time in the pocket, Schaub will finally break out of his slump. Andre Johnson should have a big game. And I really like Steve Slaton's chances against a run defense that surrenders 4.3 yards per carry.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: Despite battling two run-heavy teams, I'm surprised the Texans are actually 18th versus the rush. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor each went over the century mark last week, and while they should be able to post decent numbers, I don't see them being as dominant. No one is as bad against the run as the Colts are without Bob Sanders in the lineup.
David Garrard will be forced to convert a decent amount of third downs, which doesn't bode well for Jacksonville. I just don't trust Garrard at this point. He hasn't put together a single, decent performance this year, including all four preseason contests. Until he does, I can't really trust the Jaguars to cover 7.5 points.
RECAP: I love the Texans in this spot. As mentioned, this is a must-win for them. After battling two foes whose combined record is 5-1, they should be able to have more success against an overrated Jaguars squad.
This play is even more lucrative when you consider that we're getting the infamous Statfox Trend with the Texans. That's another similarity between this contest and last week's Jaguars-Colts tilt. Like Jacksonville, Indianapolis also had the Statfox Trend going against itself.
The Psychology. Edge: Texans. Sandwich Situation. The Jaguars just threw everything they had at the Colts, and they have a battle against Pittsburgh next week. The Texans are in the same position Jacksonville was in last week.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
Only a third of the public wants anything to do with Houston, which is understandable. The line has dropped in the Texans' favor!
Percentage of money on Jacksonville: 65% (138,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Texans.
History: Texans have won 3 of the last 4 meetings.
Road Warrior: Teams are 109-75 ATS in their second straight road game after a loss since 1996 (Gary Kubiak 4-1).
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off a 1-3 point road win are 18-39 ATS in Weeks 2-10 since 2000.
Texans are 23-11 ATS after two or more consecutive losses.
Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-0) Line: Titans by 3. Total: 35. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Titans -4.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Titans -4.5.
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The Game. Edge: None. Injuries: 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).
I'm not sure what Brad Childress was thinking when he called six straight passes to open the game last week. I can understand utilizing play-action on the first two or three plays to fool a stop unit with eight men in the box, but seriously... you're going to throw the ball six times in a row with Gus Frerotte when you have Adrian Peterson in the backfield? Really? It's almost as if Brad Childress was auditioning to be Mike Martz's new lovely assistant. Could you imagine Childress in a dress, mindlessly turning glowing letters? Umm... yeah... I actually just imagined that and umm... ugh... yeah, I won't be in the mood for sex for weeks.
VIKINGS OFFENSE: Deciding not to call rushing plays against the Titans and the Panthers are two completely different things. Tennessee is sixth versus ground attacks for a reason; no one runs into Albert Haynesworth and lives to tell their story. This is a very tough matchup for Adrian Peterson.
It'll be an even tougher battle for the offensive line. With this being the final game of Bryant McKinnie's suspension, how is Artis Hicks going to keep Kyle Vanden Bosch out of the backfield? And what about Ryan Cook versus Jevon Kearse?
Gus Frerotte is going to have major difficulty throwing on second- and third-and-long situations, especially when you consider that Tennessee's dynamic secondary will blanket his mediocre receivers. Cortland Finnegan, who leads the league in interceptions, is becoming one of the league's premier shutdown corners.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: The Vikings won't be the only team struggling to move the chains. LenDale White and Chirs Johnson will have tremendous difficulty finding running lanes, as Minnesota's suffocating defense is fourth against the rush.
I'm intrigued to see what Kerry Collins can do against Minnesota. In their first three games, the Titans have battled three squads who can't stop the run: Jacksonville (19th), Cincinnati (17th) and Houston (18th). In the latter two contests and in the second half of the former, Collins has been able to benefit from having White and Johnson running wild. That won't happen here.
Instead, Collins will have to do most of the work. That'll be a problem, given that Jared Allen will be breathing down Collins' neck on every passing play. Minnesota's secondary isn't that great, but it's not like the Titans have elite receivers or anything. Justin Gage and Justin McCareins? Scary.
RECAP: This seems like a pretty balanced game. And who's to say these squads aren't exactly even despite their records? The Titans' three victories have come against opponents whose combined record is 1-7. Meanwhile, the Vikings came within one score of beating the Packers and would have defeated the Colts if Tarvaris Jackson didn't completely suck.
I have to give the Vikings a slight edge because this game means much more to them. They need to catch the Packers, while the Titans are sitting pretty, up two on the Colts and Jaguars.
Plus, I like going against most casual bettors here. Tennessee is a very public team, yet Vegas set a very conspicuous short line of three. If the books wanted equal action, they would have made the spread -4.5 or -5. Why do they want so much money on the Titans?
The Psychology. Edge: Vikings.
Up two on everyone in the division, the Titans don't really need to win this game. They have former arch rival Baltimore next week, so this could be a Look-Ahead Alert.
The Vegas. Edge: Vikings.
The Titans have become a public team. Why would Vegas set such a low spread? Casual bettors are predictably betting the host.
Percentage of money on Tennessee: 72% (174,000 bets)
Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) Line: Buccaneers by 1.5. Total: 43. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Buccaneers -2.
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The Game. Edge: None. Injuries: Packers: OUT: G Junius Coston (IR), DT Justin Harrell, CB Al Harris. Buccaneers: OUT: G Davin Joseph, CB Torrie Cox (IR), CB Sammy Davis (IR).
Some college football notes:
1. I must have heard a dozen different announcers refer to all the BcS busters as "flies in the ointment" this weekend. Seriously, I heard this saying a dozen time in a span of hours. I have two problems with this. First, referring to the BcS as any sort of ointment is, as Dennis Green would say, "bulls**t, bulls**t!" There's nothing good about the BcS, unless you're a devious college president making millions off meaningless games like the new Congressional Bowl, which will pit Navy against the ninth-place ACC team. Can't wait for that one! Second, I don't get the saying. Why a fly? I know a fly would ruin the ointment, but couldn't it be something else like a spider, a moth or Merril Hoge? "A Merril Hoge in the ointment." I like the sound of that.
2. At halftime of a Florida-Tennessee blowout, Phillip Fulmer said, "We believe we can win this game." Right. Down 5,000 points, you have a shot against the Gators. So, let's recap. Fulmer is a terrible coach. He's a liar. And he looks like a pumpkin.
3. Is CBS' Tim Brando related to Marlon Brando? I feel like I have to know the answer to this question. I guess we could find out if we sneak into the CBS studios and hear Brando telling the crew irrelevant stories about fishing and dirt-bike magazines.
OK, enough about boring no-playoff, crappy-overtime college football. The Packers and Buccaneers renew their Bay of Pigs rivalry at the New Sombraro. These games used to be a lot of fun, and I'd like to see Roger Goodell make a new rule that states these teams have to play each other once a year.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: I still find it bizarre that of all the quarterbacks last week, Brian Griese came closest to breaking Drew Bledsoe's single-game completion (45) and pass attempts (70) records. I never would have thought Jon Gruden would call so many passing plays, but he didn't have much of a choice. Chicago completely bottled up Earnest Graham.
That won't happen again. While Chicago is 10th versus the run, Green Bay is a pitiful 30th, giving up 5.5 yards per carry. Looks like the Corey Williams trade isn't working out for either side, though Justin Harrell's injury hurts a lot too.
I don't think Graham will match Marion Barber's total of 142 rushing yards because Gruden likes to give Warrick Dunn his fair share of carries, but Graham could approach the century mark. Regardless, Tampa Bay's ground attack will open up opportunities for Brian Griese against a secondary that will be missing Al Harris. Antonio Bryant, working hard for a new contract, emerged last week with 10 receptions for 138 yards. He and Joey Galloway should be able to take advantage of Green Bay's lacking cornerback depth.
The one thing I'm concerned about with Tampa Bay's offense is the fact that Griese is prone to turnovers. He tossed three picks last week. Something like that could happen again.
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: The Buccaneers should be solid on defense. They have eight sacks on the year and a solid back seven. Yet, they're just 14th versus the run and 24th against the pass. Two of the three offenses they've played are the Falcons and Bears, so those rankings should be a lot better.
I was really concerned when I saw Kyle Orton throw all over Tampa Bay's secondary last week. Seriously, how does that happen? How can anyone allow Brandon Lloyd to catch six balls for 124 yards?
Though he won't get much from Ryan Grant and his bum hamstring, Aaron Rodgers should be in for a big day. If the Buccaneers couldn't cover Lloyd, Rashied Davis and Matt Forte out of the backfield, how are they going to handle Greg Jennings and Donald Driver? I also trust Green Bay's offensive line to protect Rodgers.
RECAP: The Packers are the better team, but does homefield advantage offset that?
This should be a close contest. I'm going with Green Bay for two reasons. First, Brian Griese is not to be trusted against a solid team in the role of a favorite. Second, the Statfox Trend applies.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Both teams will bring it in the 2008 version of the Bay of Pigs.
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
People are all over the Packers, but the spread movement is matching the action.
Percentage of money on Green Bay: 62% (144,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Packers.
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off a 1-3 point road win are 18-39 ATS in Weeks 2-10 since 2000.
Buccaneers are 3-10 ATS off back-to-back wins since 2003.
Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2) Line: Jets by 1. Total: 44.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Jets -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Jets -3.
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The Game. Edge: Cardinals. Injuries: Cardinals: OUT: C Scott Peters (IR). Jets: OUT: ILB Brad Kassell (IR).
I addressed some college football points in my previous write-up. I forgot about this gem from Dave Wannstedt: "We're right where we need to be. We just need to run the ball better and throw the ball better." Wow, thanks Dave. If only coaching was so easy! Seriously, I'd like to write a petition, forcing the NFL to keep Wannstedt, Art Shell, Dennis Green, Marty Mornhinweg and Herm Edwards employed as head coaches at all times. Think about all the jokes I could make on this site! Plus, it would eliminate parity, as all of the teams they coach would guarantee to suck.
No dumb head coaches here, though Brian Schottenheimer has the potential to be one some day. Let's hope some stupid owner hires him soon (I'm looking at you, Al Davis).
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Speaking of Schottenheimer, why is he calling plays that Brett Favre doesn't know yet? There were one too many occasions on Monday night where Favre and his receivers just weren't on the same page. In fact, this happened so much that Tony Kornheiser nearly had an aneurysm. "What's going on with the Jets!? What's going with Brett Favre!? They stink!"
Though Favre is a major upgrade over Chad Pennington in terms of talent, infusing a quarterback into a new system a few weeks prior to the season has proven to be a pretty disastrous proposition. Looks like Laveranues Coles was right all along.
The Jets couldn't move the chains against San Diego's mediocre defense, so I don't see how they're going to do the same against the Cardinals. Not that Arizona is a defensive powerhouse or anything; Favre and his wideouts are just really out of sync. Thomas Jones won't get much on the ground versus the Cardinals' 13th-ranked rush defense.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: I guess I should have seen New York's inability to stop the pass coming. The Jets let Chad Pennington lead a near-comeback and allowed Matt Cassel to convert third down after third down a week prior to the Monday night contest. Philip Rivers exposed New York's defense, finishing the game 19-of-25 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Jets didn't lay a finger on Rivers; in fact, he boasted about how he wasn't knocked down once the entire contest.
With that in mind, how is New York going to contain the explosive Cardinals? Arizona has a decent offensive line that will keep the Jets linebackers from pressuring Kurt Warner. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are too much of a challenge for a secondary that couldn't contain inferior wideouts.
RECAP: Public perception in the wake of New York's Monday night blowout has dropped the line from what would have been -3 to -1.5. We're not getting as much value with the Cardinals as we would have a week ago because the Chargers did a great job exposing the Jets as a fraud.
That said, I still like Arizona to cover. The Cardinals generally perform well on the East Coast. They probably should have beaten Washington last week. Also, keep in mind that while the Cardinals remained East, and are well-rested and focused to salvage a victory on this two-game road trip, the Jets actually are more jet lagged, given that they just traveled to and from San Diego in the span of a few days.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
I have to believe Ken Whisenhunt wanted to win at least one game on this road trip. Being away from home could have the Cardinals focused. The Jets will also look to overcome a recent loss.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Close to 50-50 action.
Percentage of money on New York: 54% (138,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 24-38 ATS since 2002 (Ken Whisenhunt 3-2).
Monday Misery: Teams losing by 17+ on MNF are 13-26 ATS the week after since 1999.
Road Warrior: Teams are 109-75 ATS in their second straight road game after a loss since 1996 (Ken Whisenhunt 0-1).
Jets are 6-4 ATS as a favorite under Eric Mangini.
Opening Line: Jets -1.
Opening Total: 45.
Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 74 degrees. Light wind.
San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2) Line: Saints by 4. Total: 48. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Saints -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Saints -6.
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The Game. Edge: Saints. Injuries: 49ers: OUT: QB Alex Smith (IR), G Damane Duckett (IR), OLB Jay Moore (IR). Saints: OUT: TE Jeremy Shockey, G Jamar Nesbit (SUSP), DT Hollis Thomas (IR), DT DeMario Pressley (IR), ILB Mark Simoneau (IR).
It's time for the Bo-Bo Fantasy Update! If you don't know what this is, check out the Worst Fantasy Football Draft Ever. Poor Bo-Bo came up just a bit short in his attempt to win his first fantasy game. Bo-Bo went down 60-50, but he actually received support from his running backs this week. He was forced to go with Chester Taylor and Pierre Thomas. The latter scored two touchdowns. Unfortunately, Bo-Bo was hindered by New England's fantasy defense, which tallied a grand total of -4 fantasy points for him. But I doubt Bo-Bo cares that he's 0-3, seeing as how he's busy having three-somes every night and managing all of his casinos.
The funny thing is, there could be more points scored in this contest than in Bo-Bo's recent fantasy matchup. To go along with one of the best passing attacks in the league, the Saints have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, which doesn't bode well against Mike Martz, who loves to throw the ball like his life depends on it.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: Theoretically, J.T. O'Sullivan and his receivers should be able to take advantage of a defensive unit that didn't have a prayer of forcing Jay Cutler's offense into a punting situation last week. Denver actually punted twice, but one of the two occasions was at the end of the game when the Broncos were running out the clock.
But is San Francisco's offense as good as Denver's? Not even close. I'll take Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler in a heartbeat over O'Sullivan, Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson. Of course, you have to throw Frank Gore into the mix, but I don't trust Martz to run the ball as often as he should. Sure, Gore ran 27 times last week, but that was in a blowout, and Martz wanted to prove to Detroit's organization that he actually can keep things on the ground. In a potential shootout, however, there's no way Martz will feed Gore the ball enough, despite the fact that the Saints' defense is 28th versus the run.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: Once again, Drew Brees versus the league's fourth-ranked pass defense looks intriguing on paper, but I believe it'll be pretty one-sided. Don't get me wrong; the 49ers have a solid defense, but I don't think they'll be able to contain New Orleans' scoring attack.
Getting pressure on Drew Brees will be key, and I just can't see the 49ers doing that consistently. I know they have eight sacks on the year, but four of those came against the pitiful Lions. Brees obviously has much better protection than Kitna does.
Meanwhile, Reggie Bush, who had 73 rushing yards on only 18 carries against Denver, should be able to get going against San Francisco's 20th-ranked run defense. As a measuring stick, the Broncos are 22nd in that department.
RECAP: This is a very difficult game to handicap because there are so many conflicting things. In San Francisco's favor, the public is all over the Saints, yet the line has dropped from -6.5 to -5.5 in some places. Also, New Orleans seldom covers as a home favorite (check the trends below).
In the Saints' favor, I just think that they're the much better team. Plus, New Orleans' 1-2 record (would be 2-1 if Martin Gramatica hits a routine field goal) is worse than San Francisco's, which creates some line value for anyone who backs the favorite. If Gramatica nails that kick, are the Saints -7 or -7.5? I think so. The 49ers' two victories have come against the pitiful Lions and the Seahawks, who lost both of their starting receivers early in the game.
You could also say that New Orleans needs this more. The 49ers are playing with house money right now. Picked by many to finish last in their division, they're somehow 2-1, atop the NFC West. Meanwhile, the Saints, projected to claim the NFC South, are in sole possession of last place. Another loss, and they could trail Tampa Bay and the winner of the Carolina/Atlanta contest by two games.
The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
The Saints, projected to win the NFC South, suddenly find themselves in last place. They need a win, though I don't see the 49ers laying down for them.
The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
A lower line has dumped more action on the Saints.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 67% (186,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: 49ers.
Drew Brees is 9-5 ATS off back-to-back losses.
Saints are 19-36 ATS at home since 2001.
Saints are 12-26 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
Denver Broncos (3-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3) Line: Broncos by 9.5. Total: 47. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Broncos -7.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Broncos -9.5.
Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets
The Game. Edge: Broncos. Injuries: Broncos: OUT: RB Ryan Torain, WR Edell Shepherd (IR), C Tom Nalen, DT Carlton Powell (IR). Chiefs: OUT: QB Brodie Croyle.
I was looking around for some tickets online, when I stumbled upon a Web site (I won't mention the name) that had seats available for last week's Chiefs-Falcons snooze-fest. Guess how much the cheapest tickets were? $50! Who the hell would spend 50 bucks to see Tyler Thigpen take on a mediocre Falcons squad? No wonder the Georgia Dome has been half empty since Michael Vick was thrown in jail. Maybe Arthur Blank should stop trying so hard to look like Alex Trebek so he can focus on lowering ticket prices and filling up his stadium.
Speaking of Tyler Thigpen, why in the world is Herm Edwards thinking about starting him again? According to reports, Conservative Herm is "leaning toward" Damon Huard. Leaning toward? If I had to choose between the two, I'd pick Huard, and I'd tell some members of my team to "make sure" Thigpen doesn't step foot on the field. Whether they drug him, stuff him in his locker or send him off to coach the Raiders, I don't care. The man can't throw longer than 10 yards. He didn't complete his first pass against the Falcons until one minute in the second quarter, and the completion was for minus-one yards. Seriously, why is he even in the NFL? The Chiefs could be the first team in NFL history to lose to their bye week if Thigpen is still under center.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: Conservative Herm could be the worst Xs-and-Os coach in the NFL, but he's not foolish enough to go with Thigpen again. If it's Huard, I have faith that the Chiefs can actually move the chains occasionally. Denver's defense doesn't believe in tackling, as they're ranked 22nd against the run and dead last versus the pass. They also have just five sacks.
I expect lots of long, conservative drives from Kansas City. Larry Johnson will have a bunch of four- and five-yard runs mixed in with short Huard throws to Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez.
As long as the Chiefs don't turn the ball over a lot, they should be able to put up 17-24 points. Turnovers won't be a problem if Huard is under center. Kansas City fans have to hope Conservative Herm realizes that.
DENVER OFFENSE: If the Chiefs score 17-24 points, all the Broncos need is 27-34 to cover. Sounds easy, right?
I should think so. Jay Cutler has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Brandon Marshall is unstoppable, while Tony Scheffler and Eddie Royal have proven to be great complementary options. The running game also works, as Selvin Young and Andre Hall are averaging 6.9 and 5.1 yards per carry, respectively.
The Chiefs basically need to get lucky with a few careless Bronco turnovers if they want a shot at covering this game. They're ranked 31st against the run and 21st versus the pass. If Denver is focused, it could actually score well into the 50s.
RECAP: But will the Broncos be focused? I don't think so. They're a young team coming off two very tough victories. They have the Buccaneers, Jaguars and Patriots after this "easy" contest. There's a good chance they'll be careless with the football.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are actually 4-0 against the spread as a double-digit underdog under Conservative Herm. I know 9.5 isn't technically double digits, but it's close enough. Conservative Herm's forte as a coach is getting his team up to play great football in impossible situations. He's an incredible motivator, and I have to believe he'll have the Chiefs playing their hearts out on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking of the spread, I find it interesting that despite so few beats on Kansas City, the line has dropped from -10 to -9.5. What's up with that?
I'm going with the Chiefs unless Conservative Herm announces that Thigpen is his starter again.
The Psychology. Edge: Chiefs.
With the Buccaneers, Jaguars and Patriots after this contest, this is a Breather Alert for the Broncos, who don't need to win this game. The Chiefs are the laughing stock of the NFL and will be out to prove themselves.
The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
Everyone is betting the Broncos like they know the final score of the game. Oddly enough, the spread has dropped from -10 to -9, and back up to -9.5.
Percentage of money on Denver: 83% (205,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Chiefs.
History: Home Team has won 12 of the last 14 meetings.
Broncos are 6-16 ATS as a favorite since 2006.
Chiefs are 4-0 ATS as a double-digit underdog under Herm Edwards. ???
Week 4 NFL Picks - Late Games Chargers at Raiders, Bills at Rams, Redskins at Cowboys, Eagles at Bears, Ravens at Steelers
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.