Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Miami Dolphins (11-5) Line: Ravens by 3.5. Total: 38. Walt's Projected Line: Dolphins -1.
Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets
The Game. Edge: Ravens. Injuries: Ravens: OUT: QB Kyle Boller (IR), WR Demetrius Williams (IR), TE Quinn "Miracle Man" Sypniewski (IR), OT Marshal Yanda (IR), OT Adam Terry, DT Kelly Gregg (IR), DT Dwan Edwards (IR), ILB Tavares Gooden (IR), ILB Prescott Burgess (IR), CB Chris McAlister (IR), S Dawan Landry (IR). Dolphins: OUT: WR Greg Camarillo (IR), G Donald Thomas (IR), CB Michael Lehan (IR).
Two funny e-mails I thought I'd share with you. The first came from an Edward M., who disagreed with my 5-unit selection on the Lions +11.5 over the Packers:
"I wanted to let you know that I will not listen to you this week and will be picking Green Bay over the Lions. You are working to try to entice bets to go the wrong way and being rewarded for it. I am not stupid. Packers 30, Lions 3."
I'm working hard to entice bets to go the wrong way? Jeez, Happy Holidays to you too. Why not just accuse me of terrorism, the war in the Middle East and even child obesity?
The second e-mail came from my friend Dr. Tim G., who happens to be very good at picking NBA games. He shared his NFL playoff thoughts with me:
"Winning the Superbowl: Titans - No Chance. Cardinals - Same chance as you have jumping from where you are to the moon. Vikings - Jumping from where you are to the moon with an elephant on your back."
As far as this site is concerned, I would have preferred "Cowboys - Jumping from where you are to the moon with Romeo Crennel eating Oreos and wasting timeouts on your back." I still can't believe Wade Phillips hasn't been fired yet. But if you missed it, check out my NFL Power Rankings, where I discuss how Wade's coaching demeanor gets him out of doing work around the house.
MIAMI OFFENSE: The Dolphins are known for their Wildcat formation. They've obviously had more success with it than any other team that has tried to copy them. That's one of the many reasons they're in the Doggone Playoff.
However, the Wildcat didn't work at all against the Ravens. In a Week 7 meeting, Baltimore's stalwart defense held Miami to a mere five yards out of the Wildcat formation. The Dolphins were consequently held to 13 points.
Another problem the Dolphins had is that they couldn't beat Baltimore with huge plays. That's the only way to really beat the Ravens defense. With his limited arm strength handicapping him, Chad Pennington's longest gain was 28 yards. Miami runners were also limited against the Ravens' top-ranked rush defense. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 43 yards on 17 carries.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: I've listed the Ravens in the underrated category in the home page of the NFL Picks section because when people tend to think of them, they can't get Brian Billick's putrid offense out of their head. Baltimore has been remarkably efficient on offense this year, averaging 24.1 points per game, good for 11th in the NFL.
Since a horrific loss to the Colts, Joe Flacco has played extremely well. In that aforementioned contest against Miami, he was 17-of-2 for 232 yards and a score, despite the fact that it was on the road. Flacco has only three picks since Week 10, compared to six touchdowns. He's gone into Pittsburgh, Dallas and New York and played extremely well as a raw rookie.
There's no reason for me to believe that Flacco will suddenly regress here, especially considering that Miami's secondary can be beaten.
As for Baltimore's running game, Miami is 17th against the rush, so that's another weakness Cam Cameron can exploit. He did so back in Week 7 when Willis McGahee totaled 105 yards on 17 attempts.
RECAP: Speaking of Cameron, he's the reason the Ravens have a huge edge in this game. If you've been following my picks all year, you know that I love siding with coaches going against their former team. They just know all the personnel, and that gives them an enormous advantage.
I sided with Baltimore over Miami in that Week 7 meeting, and I plan on doing so again. I'm more confident about this game than any other on this weekend's slate.
The Psychology. Edge: Ravens.
Ravens OC Cam Cameron coached the Dolphins in 2007.
The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
Barely anyone is taking the Dolphins. The juice on this spread has moved from -3 -104 to -3 -126 at Pinnacle.
Percentage of money on Baltimore: 76% (225,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Ravens.
Ravens are 6-2 ATS on the road under John Harbaugh.
Ravens are 8-20 ATS after a home game since 2005.
Chad Pennington is 5-9 ATS as a home dog.
Tony Sparano is 0-2 ATS at home immediately following a home win.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) at Minnesota Vikings (10-6) Line: Eagles by 3. Total: 41. Walt's Projected Line: Eagles -3.
Sunday, 4:30 ET - Buy Tickets
The Game. Edge: Eagles. Injuries: Eagles: OUT: G Shawn Andrews, G Max Jean-Gilles (IR), CB Jack Ikegwuonu (IR). Vikings: OUT: DE Kenechi Udeze (IR), DT Kendrick Allen (IR), ILB E.J. Henderson, CB Charles Gordon (IR), S Madieu Williams, S Michael Boulware (IR).
The Emmitt quotes will be back next week. But before I get to the final game on the slate, here's the Week 18 NFL Look-A-Like Thread, featuring Elton John, a sumo wrestler and a Cabbage Patch Kid.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: Bill Simmons said it best in his B.S. Report: "When Andy Reid has the coaching advantage in a game, you know you're in trouble."
This, of course, is referring to Brad Clueless' inept game and clock management. It's a borderline miracle that the Vikings were able to get a kick off and beat the Giants' backups last week.
Now, we're going to see something that big-time gamblers have been waiting for - Tarvaris Jackson in the playoffs. Jackson has developed a habit of throwing the ball wildly as he's falling down. I'll be completely shocked if one of these lobs isn't picked off and returned for a touchdown. Jackson will also give at least two more turnovers away. Whether that comes in fumble or interception form remains to be seen.
There's always a chance that Adrian Peterson breaks one, but Philadelphia's run defense is a stout fifth. They should be able to hold Peterson in check, forcing Jackson into unfavorable long-yardage situations.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: It seems like the Eagles match up extremely well against the Vikings. Minnesota's defensive strength is stopping the run with the Williams Wall, while the team struggles against the pass (20th). Philadelphia, meanwhile, never seems interested in running the ball, unless they're up 40. That's the only time they keep it on the ground - with Kyle Eckel, of course.
Andy Reid will call pass plays early and often. I guess it's a good thing that Donovan McNabb has been really sharp since his benching. McNabb has nine touchdowns, one interception and one fumble in the past five weeks.
This is definitely bad news for a pedestrian Minnesota secondary that will have to focus on the deep stuff (DeSean Jackson), as well Brian Westbrook coming out of the backfield. Westbrook, like LaDainian Tomlinson for the Chargers, looks as healthy as ever right now. He'll have a huge game.
RECAP: If you couldn't tell, I like the Eagles. Betting against the combination of Jackson and Clueless in the playoffs seems just way too good to be true.
My only concern here is the inconsistency of the Eagles. They can be good enough to win the Super Bowl, and they can also be bad enough to lose to these Vikings. For that reason, I'm keeping this at three units instead of five.
The Psychology. Edge: Eagles.
This Vikings squad has no playoff experience.
The Vegas. Edge: Vikings.
The public predictably loves the Eagles.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 86% (240,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Eagles.
Eagles are 54-34 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Donovan McNabb is 32-20 ATS on the road since 2001.
Andy Reid is 13-7 ATS as a road favorite of 3.5 or more. ???
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.
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLIII: Dallas +475 (1 Unit)
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLIII: Indianapolis +1050 (1 Unit)
NY Giants 9 Wins: Over +115 (3 Units)
Pittsburgh 9 Wins: Over +115 (3 Units)
Chicago 8 Wins: Under -170 (3 Units)
Kansas City 6 Wins: Under -110 (4 Units)
San Diego 10.5 Wins: Under +150 (3 Units)
San Francisco 6.5 Wins: Under -130 (3 Units)
St. Louis 6.5 Wins: Under -115 (3 Units)
Odds to win the 2008-2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award: DeSean Jackson 15/1 (1 Unit)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Keith Rivers 8/1 (1 Unit)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Curtis Lofton 14/1 (1 Unit)
How many Rushing Yards will Larry Johnson have in the 2008 Season? Under 1,275 -145 (3 Units)
How many Receiving Yards will Calvin Johnson have in the 2008 Season? Over 1,040 -105 (5 Units)
How many Receiving Touchdowns will Calvin Johnson have in the 2008 Season? Over 7 -115 (5 Units)
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.