NFL Picks (2009): 125-95-5 (+$6,620) NFL Picks (2008): 136-125-6 (+$4,330)
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Vegas betting action updated Dec. 21, 4:45 p.m. ET.
NFL Week 14 Recap: I was really glad I hit my December NFL Pick of the Month (49ers +4.5) because I had my worst Sunday of the entire season. I finished the week 6-10, and even though I won eight units with San Francisco, I lost $1,450 on the week.
I write all of my picks down in a notebook. I list all the reasons why I like/dislike each side, and after each week is over, I look back to see what I did right/wrong.
After evaluating everything from Week 14, I stand by six of my 10 incorrect selections, including all of my multi-unit picks except for the Vikings-Bengals. I was just unfortunate to suffer a barrage of bad luck, unfortunate events and strange occurrences, including:
- The Patriots committed two turnovers inside the red zone. Had they mustered just three points on one of those two drives, the game would have pushed.
- Bruce Gradkowski suffered an injury. The Raiders, down 17-13 at the beginning of the third quarter, showed absolutely no effort when JaMarcus Russell entered the lineup. I'm glad someone else agreed with me (check the link for details) because I watched that game, and there was a serious dropoff in effort when Gradkowski left.
- Peyton Manning had never thrown three interceptions in a game and won before Sunday. That's no longer the case.
- The Bengals nearly picked off Brett Favre on a couple of occasions, but dropped the interceptions.
- Chris Redman, who was completely inept against the Buccaneers and Eagles, looked like the second coming of John Elway against the Saints. I have no idea where that came from.
- The Lions put absolutely no effort against the Ravens. They showed no interest in tackling, allowing Baltimore offensive players to just run right by them without exerting much energy to attempt to stop them.
- I didn't think we were getting much of a downgrade from Kyle Boller to Keith Null. Wow, was I wrong. Null is easily the worst quarterback I've ever seen on any level. He fired it to Titan linebackers despite there not being any Rams around. He finished with a YPA of 3.7 and seemed like he was just tossing the ball around to any moving target.
Null was a disciple of Ryan Leaf, which explains things. Find out what Null learned from Leaf in my NFL Power Rankings page.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: After the Colts clinched homefield throughout the playoffs, Peter King speculated that Peyton Manning and most of Indianapolis' starters would play one or two series in this game. However, Jim Caldwell came out and stated that everyone would play in this contest. Despite that, Vegas has yet to post a line. Jerks.
Jacksonville's secondary is a mess. They've allowed their previous six opponents to pass for more than 200 yards, and it's not like they've been going against Pro Bowlers. Five of those six quarterbacks were Chad Henne, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel. Ouch.
I know Rashean Mathis has been out the past four weeks, but it's not like the Jaguars were great versus the pass with him in the lineup. The pass rush simply isn't helping out the defensive backfield, and Manning seldom takes sacks. And speaking of Manning, he was 28-of-38 for 301 yards, one touchdown and an interception the last time he battled Jacksonville.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: There are a couple of problems here. First and foremost, Jack Del Rio and Dirk Koetter, for whatever reason, refuse to give Maurice Jones-Drew enough carries. This has gone on for four weeks now. Jones-Drew simply doesn't get enough touches or inexplicably receives most of his rushing opportunities when the team is trailing.
Second, because David Garrard is throwing a lot, he's also committing turnovers. As of last week, Garrard led the NFL in fumbles. He also struggled Sunday against two Miami rookie corners (11-of-26, 139 yards) because Mike Sims-Walker was playing on one leg. Sims-Walker should be in the lineup again, but with only three days of rest, I have my doubts that he'll be anywhere close to 100 percent.
The Colts have a decent secondary and should be able to shut down Jacksonville's stale aerial attack. The only way the Jaguars can win this game is if Del Rio and Koetter give Jones-Drew the ball more than 30 times. Unfortunately, I don't have confidence in their mental capacity to get that done.
RECAP: These Colts-Jaguars games are always close. As you can see below, 13 of the past 15 meetings have been decided by eight points or less. However, despite the tightness of those games, Indianapolis has prevailed 11 times.
This contest obviously means much more to Jacksonville than it does to Indianapolis. Plus, it's a short travel week for the Colts. My pick will depend on what this spread turns out to be. I guess we'll find out what it is pretty soon.
LINE POSTED: The Colts opened -4 but fell to -3. As I said, this is a great spot for the Jaguars, but I'm not betting against Manning in what's pretty much a pick-em game.
The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
This would be the biggest game of the year for the Jaguars. They hate the Colts with a passion.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
Lots of action on this low Colts line.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 88% (92,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
History: 13 of the last 15 meetings decided by 8 points or less (Colts 11-4).
Winning Coach: Jack Del Rio is 12-7 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Divisional Revenge: Jack Del Rio is 7-3 ATS in same-season divisional revenge games.
Colts are 38-23 ATS on the road since 2002.
Peyton Manning is 29-18 ATS as a road favorite since 2001.
Vegas Recap: The sportsbooks were slaughtered on Sunday. They went just 1-6 with their lopsided games, as the Packers, Jets, Dolphins, Texans, Redskins and Eagles all beat the spread. Their only victory was with Atlanta. Fortunately for some Vegas employees, the books recouped some of their losses with the Browns and 49ers both covering on Thursday and Monday night, respectively. Still, it was a terrible week for Vegas.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: The Cowboys won't be able to stop the Saints' offense. New Orleans has averaged 36.7 points in its six home games this year. Dallas, meanwhile, had major issues stopping the long pass against the Chargers last week. Think they'll struggle against Drew Brees and company?
The only hope Dallas has of forcing New Orleans into more than one punt is if the defense can get to Brees using just a four-man rush (blitzing Brees is not an option and will only result in a big gain for New Orleans). DeMarcus Ware suffered a neck strain against the Chargers, but there's actually a good chance he'll play. The Cowboys will need him because Brees has been sacked only 15 times this year.
DALLAS OFFENSE: The Cowboys' best chance of putting the clamps on Brees is controlling the clock and keeping him on the bench.
Jerry Jones has ordered his coaching staff to give Marion Barber as many carries as possible, which is a mistake. Barber isn't anywhere near 100 percent because he never recovered from his quad injury. I advised Wade Phillips to rest Barber for a game or two earlier in the year, but Mr. Turkey Neck didn't listen and is now paying the price. Besides, the Saints have been better versus the rush since Sedrick Ellis returned to the lineup; New Orleans surrendered less than 90 rushing yards to each of its previous two opponents.
Tony Aurora Snowmo should have some success beating a leaky Saints secondary that is missing top corners Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter. However, most of Romo's yardage in his past two games has been cosmetic; when it's mattered the most, Snowmo has either missed easy throws or made poor reads.
RECAP: The Saints barely escaped against the Redskins and Falcons, but that was on the road. They are so much better at home - as hosts, they've beaten every opponent this year by eight or more points.
The Superdome will be rocking and will be as loud as ever Saturday night. The choking Cowboys, who have shown no sense of urgency after Snowmo returned from his unwarranted post-Thanksgiving trip to Vegas, won't know what hit them.
The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
Tony Aurora Snowmo has emerged! The Saints have nearly dropped two in a row, but will be focused for Dallas.
The Vegas. Edge: Cowboys.
People realize that the Tony Aurora Snowmo December choke job is happening again.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 63% (217,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Losing Coach: Wade "Mr. Turkey Neck" Phillis is 2-7 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off road wins of 1-3 points are 20-44 ATS.
Tony Romo is 2-13 ATS as a starter after Nov. 30 (0-4 ATS as an underdog).
Saints are 27-40 ATS at home since 2001 (10-4 since 2008).
Saints are 20-29 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
Saints are 8-19 ATS in December home games since 2000.
New England Patriots (8-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-8) Line: Patriots by 7. Total: 40.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Patriots -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Patriots -6.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
If I have to see Mario Williams kidnapping that poor little boy one more time, I'm going to throw a shoe at my TV.
2. The Raiders have a problem. Well, a new problem. Bruce Gradkowski is out for the year, so JaMarcus Russell is slated to start because that's what Al Davis desires. The coaching staff, on the other hand, wants to go with Charlie Frye because the team simply quit when Captain Skittles entered the game (credit Andrew L. for coming up with this nickname on my Facebook wall).
Here's what I would do if I were Tom Cable. No, I wouldn't punch a hooker - get your head out of the gutter. What I would do is tell Al Davis that Russell is hurt. I would also use Photoshop to create a fake newspaper where a fabricated reporter notes that Russell is injured.
There's no doubt in my mind that Undead Al would buy this and permit Captain Skittles to sit on the bench.
3. The following stats are crazy, so even though I listed them in the NFL Power Rankings, I feel as though I must post them again:
Since Week 9, when I've picked the Buccaneers to cover (4 games), Freeman is 70-of-138 for 736 yards, two touchdowns, 12 interceptions and six fumbles. That's a completion percentage of 50.7 and a YPA of 5.3. He's also 1-3 ATS (against the spread).
Since Week 9, when I've picked against the Buccaneers (2 games), Freeman is 34-of-60 for 526 yards, five touchdowns, one interception and two fumbles. That's a completion percentage of 56.7 and a YPA of 8.8. He's also 2-0 ATS (against the spread).
If I were a comic-book character, Freeman would be my arch nemesis. His goal: to deplete my bank account every week until I'm living in a cardboard box somewhere in downtown Philly.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Tom Brady might have a broken finger. His ribs could be cracked. And if that wasn't enough, he now has a malcontent receiver he has to deal with. Despite what Brady and Bill Belichick have to say, Randy Moss' lack of effort against the Panthers was disgusting. If he were just a mediocre player, he would have been cut the day after the game. Moss is a punk who plays only when he wants to play, and apparently he has no desire to do so right now.
Along with coaxing Moss into putting forth some effort, Brady has a tough challenge coming up against Buffalo's talented secondary. The last time the Bills surrendered more than 210 passing yards to a quarterback was Nov. 1 when they took on Matt Schaub. They have an insane 25 interceptions on the year. Terrence McGee's return can only help Buffalo contain Brady.
The Patriots will need to run the ball early and often if they want to win this game. Buffalo's ground defense is pathetic, as the team has permitted every single opponent to rush for 100 or more yards since Week 3. New England ran the ball well against the Panthers, so look for a similar game plan here.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: The Patriots have their issues on offense with Brady's injuries and Moss' malaise, but the real problem is their defense. Their secondary is an abomination and can't stop anyone, including Matt Moore, who easily hooked up with Steve Smith on a 41-yard bomb on Sunday.
The Bills have played well recently because Ryan Fitzpatrick has been able to hit Terrell Owens with long passes. This presents a major problem for the Patriots, who won't be able to rattle Fitzpatrick; their pass rush laughably has just 22 sacks this year. Even if they can get to Fitzpatrick a couple of times, the Harvard man has shown the ability to scramble for first downs.
Buffalo could have some success running the ball with Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots have allowed five of their previous six opponents to gain 4-plus yards per carry. This includes the Panthers, who mustered 126 rushing yards without the slightest hint of a dangerous aerial attack.
RECAP: The Patriots are not a good team. This line is not indicative at all of how poorly they've been playing recently. I don't see why they're seven points better than Buffalo on the road.
This contest means the world to the Bills. This is their final meaningful game; they close out the season against Atlanta and a Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis squad. If they can knock the Patriots out of first place in the AFC East, it would make their year.
The Psychology. Edge: Bills.
This is the biggest game left on Buffalo's schedule. They'll bring it here.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
Someone placed a large amount of money on the Bills because this percentage tanked Friday morning.
Percentage of money on New England: 78% (172,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bills.
History: Patriots have won 17 of the last 18 meetings.
Big Al Trend: Since 1980, unrested home dogs are 114-70 ATS off a straight-up road win vs. team coming off home win.
Patriots are 29-17 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
Tom Brady is 106-34 as a starter (82-56 ATS).
Bills are 22-15 ATS as a dog under the Dick Jauron/Perry Fewell regime.
Bills are 6-18 ATS in their last 24 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: The Cardinals are not going to turn the ball over seven times every game. I understand that their matchup against the 49ers meant very little to them and they were unfocused as a whole, but seven turnovers was very fluky.
Then again, Detroit's performance at the Ravens was a bit fluky as well. The Lions for some reason put forth zero effort in that game. I suspect it was because the horrible conditions in Baltimore (a torrential downpour). Remember, the Titans (this year) and Cardinals (2008) didn't show up for really inclimate weather games at New England either. Maybe there's something to that.
At any rate, NFL teams will seldom loaf two games in a row because everyone is playing for a contract. I'm expecting a much more spirited effort here from Detroit's defense.
Unfortunately, that may not mean much. I don't see how the Lions will be able to contain Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The last time they limited an opposing quarterback to less than 200 passing yards was Oct. 4, so that should tell you all you need to know here.
DETROIT OFFENSE: Matthew Stafford should be back in the lineup after resting his shoulder for a week. Unfortunately for his health, he could be back on the sidelines in Week 16.
Stafford has horrific pass protection because Detroit's delusional coaching staff believes that Jeff Backus is doing a great job. We'll just see about that when Arizona and its 36 sacks come into town.
It also hurts Stafford that Kevin Smith is out for the year with a torn ACL. Smith wasn't the greatest running back in the world, but he played an important role in this offense as the featured back. Maurice Morris, who will start in place of Smith, isn't nearly talented. The Cardinals' ground defense has been leaky lately, but Morris won't be able to take advantage of that, especially behind his putrid offensive line.
RECAP: The Cardinals are much better than the Lions and definitely deserve to be 11.5-point favorites here.
That said, I like Detroit. First of all, Detroit is somehow 9-3 against the spread in the past three seasons after losing by 20 or more. Pretty crazy.
More importantly, Arizona has shown that it will slack off in December if it doesn't need to win. Even after a loss to the 49ers, this game is pretty meaningless for the Cardinals.
Going one step further, let's equate these Cardinals to the Giants and Jaguars of 2008. Those two squads had similar Monday night road games where they were expected to win against an inferior opponent. Like Arizona, they both lost. The following week, both teams struggled. Jacksonville lost at Chicago by 13, while New York needed a late Just Turnovers O'Sullivan fumble-six to cover against San Francisco.
If this holds up, the Cardinals will be flat. It's sad that they could still cover at 50-percent intensity (a late Stafford pick-six?), but I'm taking the points.
The Psychology. Edge: Lions.
This game means nothing to the Cardinals, but will they look to rebound off that Monday night loss? It's hard to tell.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
No one wants any part of the Lions.
Percentage of money on Arizona: 87% (123,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Lions.
Cardinals are 2-10 ATS as favorites of 7.5 or more the previous 12 instances.
Lions are 12-8 ATS as a double-digit underdog since 2006 (2-7 in 2009).
Lions are 9-3 ATS after losing by 20+ points since 2007.
Some weird things were said by NFL players and TV analysts recently. I don't make fun of these people enough, I know. Here are some quotes and my thoughts on each:
1. Steve Young: "The 49ers are a baby version of the Cowboys. Jay Novacek, Vernon Davis; Michael Irvin, Michael Crabtree; Emmitt Smith, Frank Gore; Troy Aikman, Alex... uhh..."
Looks like Mr. Young forgot to take his concussion medicine before beginning that sentence. Yeah, the Niners don't have a Troy Aikman on their team.
2. Joe Buck: "Matt Ryan is out, and more importantly, the Falcons won't have their leading rusher, Michael Turner."
Because a running back is more important than the quarterback position, right? This is like saying, "I borrowed your car and crashed it into a telephone pole, but more importantly, I took an ice cube from your freezer for my knee bruise."
3. Deion Branch after a rare touchdown: "Y'all come find me. Anybody want me, come find me."
Ah, so that's why Branch has sucked all these years in Seattle - he's been playing hide-and-go-seek. Now I understand.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: There's no line on this game (as of Tuesday evening) because Vince Young's status is in doubt. Young suffered a hamstring pull in the second quarter of the Rams blowout and didn't return.
Young probably won't practice this week and will likely be a game-time decision. However, he told the media that if last week's contest were a playoff game, he would have reentered the lineup.
I'm going to assume that Young will make the start but play at less than 100 percent. The Dolphins had been pretty susceptible to the pass before playing the Jaguars on Sunday, but I don't think a hobbled Young will be able to take advantage of Miami's young secondary. Also, Young's hamstring will limit his rushing ability. He won't take many sacks behind his stout offensive line, but he won't be nearly as effective as he's been during Tennessee's rejuvenation.
Of course, it won't matter if Chris Johnson breaks several 60-yard touchdown runs. The Dolphins have been solid against the rush recently, but there's no stopping the best running back in football.
MIAMI OFFENSE: Aside from one bad late interception, Chad Henne played really well last week. This is significant, as it marked the first time that Henne has been solid on the road in his young career.
However, there's a huge difference between the Jacksonville and Tennessee defenses. Now that Cortland Finnegan is healthy again, the Titans play the pass extremely well. Henne should still be effective in moving the chains, but I wouldn't expect a dominant performance or anything.
Henne will have to convert long-yardage situations because Ricky Williams won't have much room to work with. No team has rushed for more than 90 yards against the Titans in the past five weeks. Steven Jackson, who had been hot going into Sunday's contest, managed only 47 yards on 19 carries.
RECAP: Both of these teams are vastly underrated. Henne has really improved and the Dolphins have the toughest NFL strength of schedule this year. The Titans, meanwhile, control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball; they're more than just the Chris Johnson Show, though Johnson is the most dynamic player in the league.
All Vince Young does is win football games, but soft-tissue injuries like hamstring pulls don't heal in a week. If Young tries to come back early, it could hurt the Titans more than help them.
Assuming this line is Titans -3 - and I don't see why it wouldn't be - I like the underrated Dolphins to cover.
The Psychology. Edge: TBA.
Both teams need this one.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Miami: 53% (91,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
Road Rules: Tony Sparano is 4-1 ATS on the road after a road game.
Some college football notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. It was a sad day in college football when Mark Mangino was fired. Now, there's one less fat coach I can make fun of.
Well, one more for the road...
Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins launched an investigation into Mangino's treatment of his former players three weeks ago. Perkins apparently became suspicious when some of the players went missing, and Mangino rubbed his belly saying, "PLAYER TASTE GOOD."
A tear just fell out of my eye.
Oh, by the way, the University of Kansas will be one of my Jerks of the Week this week. Look for it on Wednesday.
2. Speaking of Jerks of the Week, another will be the people who don't think congress should worry about forcing the NCAA to institute a playoff system. Congress passing that bill Wednesday was a joyous moment for me, and these people are trying to take it away. I'll strike back in Jerks of the Week.
3. Brian Kelly was just hired as the new head coach of Notre Dame. Good job, Brian. Way to ditch your undefeated team for a has-been football program. Hope the money was worth selling your soul.
I guess we should start figuring out who will be the head coach of the Fighting Irish in 2013. Jon Gruden will be discussed, but my favorite for the job is Jim Zorn. By 2013, no one will want to coach at Notre Dame, so it'll take someone who will do absolutely anything for a gig.
Daniel Snyder basically spit in Zorn's face earlier when he hired that Bingo guy to run his offense, yet Zorn didn't resign. So, I think Zorn would just take about any football job he could get. By 2013, Notre Dame might be his only option.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: The Browns may have beaten the Steelers last week, but it's not like Brady Quinn had to do anything with it. Quinn was just 6-of-19 for 90 yards, as all of his passes over 10 yards fluttered helplessly out of bounds. The 40-mph winds had something to do with it, but Quinn's downfield accuracy is abysmal.
Cleveland won with its running game. Chris Jennings and Joshua Cribbs combined for 160 rushing yards on 28 carries. Eric Mangina said afterward that he plans on converting Cribbs to a full-time running back.
That doesn't bode well for the Chiefs, whose defensive line is complete garbage. In their past two games, they've allowed a whopping 445 rushing yards to the Bills and Broncos. Their front gets pushed around very easily - a trend that will continue Sunday.
Of course, it doesn't help Kansas City that its pass rush and tackling are pretty shoddy as well. I could see Quinn having a semi-decent performance here, throwing his awesome 5-yard passes to Mohamed Massaquoi and emerging tight end Evan Moore.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: Jamaal Charles is the man. I've been calling for him to start all year, and it's amazing that it took Larry Johnson's slurs against motorcycle riders for Todd Haley to make the switch from his old, decrepit runner to the amazing Charles.
Charles rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and chipped in with seven receptions for 36 more yards against the Bills. He should have another decent game here, but it's worth noting that the Browns have been somewhat decent versus the run lately. Take away a game against the Bengals, and Cleveland has limited its previous three opponents to 75, 91 and 57 rushing yards.
The Browns sacked Ben Roethlisberger eight times Thursday night. I wouldn't expect a repeat performance, but it certainly wouldn't shock me either; Kansas City's offensive line is garbage and Matt Cassel has a tendency to take tons of sacks. On the bright side, Cassel will have Dwayne Bowe back in the lineup.
RECAP: I don't like the Browns in this spot because they're traveling after beating the defending Super Bowl champs. As you can tell in the trends section, teams in that type of scenario usually don't perform well.
However, I'd bet on those squads any day rather than lay points with a terrible team. The Chiefs absolutely stink and should not be favored. The Browns, meanwhile, have played a lot better since their bye and have covered four consecutive games.
The Psychology. Edge: Chiefs.
I don't know how focused the Browns will be after defeating arch rival Pittsburgh.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
Never thought I'd see this much action on the Chiefs.
Percentage of money on Kansas City: 75% (102,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Chiefs.
KOing the Champ: Teams coming off wins vs. Super Bowl champions as underdogs are 6-13 ATS on the road since 2000.
Chiefs are 13-9 ATS in December home games since 2000.
It's time for Notes from NFL.com GameCenter - a list of a few stupid comments I found on NFL.com's new crappy GameCenter and my thoughts on them:
1. "SEEM LIKE YOU ARE NOT A BELIVER FOR THE SAINTS!"
Who dat said gonna beat them Saints? Apparently, this "non-beliver." Jerk.
2. "let me rimind that texans almost beat thme 2 times in a row soo definantly beatable"
Hopefully someone will "rimind" you to learn how to read and spell.
3. "WES IS A LIVING LEGEND AND HAS CARIED US THIS YEAR"
Too bad he can't "cari" you on any of your spelling tests.
ST. LOUIS OFFENSE: Vegas hasn't posted a line yet (Tuesday evening) because of Kyle Boller's status. I never would have imagined that they'd be waiting on Boller, but it's certainly warranted based on Keith Null's utterly horrible performance last week. Null, a protege of Ryan Leaf's at West Texas A&M, was just firing it toward random moving targets against the Titans. His five interceptions and 3.7 YPA don't even describe how poorly he played.
Boller's status is up in the air right now, but Steve Spagnuolo said that Boller would play if he were ready to go. Now that I think about it, Spags would probably be better off letting Null finish the season to ensure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Steven Jackson is also hurt. In addition to back spasms, he now has a herniated disc in his back. I've been saying it for weeks now - Jackson should be shut down to be preserved for 2010. Spags didn't listen, and look what happened.
With Bernard Pollard and Brian Cushing playing well, the Texans are pretty solid against the run. Jackson isn't anywhere near 100 percent, so I wouldn't expect him to do much in this contest. That would mean that Boller or Null would have to convert long-yardage situations to consistently move the chains. I don't see that happening.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: The Rams secondary had been playing somewhat well before last week's game, but both Vince Young and Kerry Collins torched them. Coincidentally, O.J. Atogwe was placed on IR before that contest. A sign of things to come?
I definitely think so. I really don't see St. Louis containing Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. They really just don't have the horses at this point, especially with Atogwe gone.
I could see a solid game out of Arian Foster as well. Gary Kubiak has spent a lot of time praising Foster, who received a bunch of touches when the Seattle game was out of hand. The Rams have allowed 120-plus rushing yards in eight straight games.
RECAP: The Texans are a pretty easy team to figure out. When the pressure's on, they choke, and when they play crappy teams, they win and cover.
There definitely won't be any sort of pressure here in an empty Edward Jones Dome. With the Rams hobbled with injuries on offense and defense, I'll be shocked if this isn't a Houston blowout.
The Psychology. Edge: Texans.
There's no pressure on the Texans here, so we'll get their best.
The Vegas. Edge: Rams.
No one wants any part of the Swine Flu Rams.
Percentage of money on Houston: 88% (60,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Texans are 15-24 ATS after a win (9-8 since 2007).
Very unlikely. I think there's more of a chance that this person masters the spelling of the word "maybe."
2. "U Think captin Check Down is a better QB than Fitz? I used to like Trent till I realized his shoes are made of cement and he has the vision of my 2 year old daughter"
There's nothing like insulting your own 2-year-old daughter. Best. Insult. Ever.
3. "MY TEAM HAVE NOT DONE ANYTHING LATELY SO LET ME DWELL IN PAST."
ME DWELL IN PAST BECAUSE ME TALK LIKE CAVEMAN
ATLANTA OFFENSE: Now that the Falcons are out of the playoff race, there's a good chance that Matt Ryan will be shut down for the season. It looks like Chris Redman will get another start. After two horrific performances against the Buccaneers and Eagles, Redman looked like the second coming of John Elway against the Saints. It was frustrating to watch because I had New Orleans for two units.
I doubt Redman shines again. He's just a very limited player, and the Jets don't have the same secondary issues the Saints have. While New Orleans is missing its two starting corners, New York's defensive backfield is statistically the league's best. Amazingly, they've held their past three opponents to a combined total of just 256 passing yards. That's less than 100 passing yards per game!
The Jets have also restricted three of their past four foes to less than 3.3 yards per carry. If Michael Turner plays - and chances are he won't be 100 percent if he does - he probably won't get much against New York's defense. A healthy Jason Snelling could be more effective, but that's not saying much.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Matt Ryan is one reason there is no line posted. The other is Mark Sanchez. Sanchez, who missed last week's game with a sprained PCL, will split reps evenly with Kellen Clemens in practice this week. Rex Ryan will then see how Sanchez responds and make a determination based on that.
You have to like the Jets' chances with either guy. The Falcons are pretty mediocre versus the run, but New York has one of the league's best ground attacks with Thomas Jones. Meanwhile, Atlanta's secondary completely fell apart when Brian Williams got hurt back in October. The Falcons have allowed at least 245 passing yards in each of their past four games.
Sanchez obviously gives New York a better shot to post tons of points on the scoreboard, but Atlanta's secondary is so bad that even Clemens might be able to succeed. Perhaps it'll be Clemens' turn to look like the next Elway.
RECAP: There's no line on this game, but I really like the Jets. They're incredibly underrated right now because of their defense and rushing attack. As long as Sanchez doesn't commit turnovers, they can beat almost anyone in this league.
More prevalently, the Falcons will be completely flat after losing their "Super Bowl" to the Saints and consequently falling out of the playoff picture. I just don't know how they can get up for this game.
I'm taking the Jets, but I need to see what the spread is and find out if Ryan and Sanchez are playing before I can tell you how many units I'm laying.
The Psychology. Edge: Jets.
The Falcons played in well over their heads against the Saints, but came up just a bit short. They know their season is over, so getting up for this contest will be difficult for them.
The Vegas. Edge: Falcons.
Slight edge on the Jets after tons of action on them early on.
Percentage of money on New York: 63% (66,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Opening Line: Jets -5.5.
Opening Total: 36.
Weather: Possible snow, 34 degrees. Mild wind, 12 mph.
San Francisco 49ers (6-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) Line: Eagles by 7.5. Total: 41. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Eagles -10.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Eagles -11.
Sunday, 4:15 ET (Time Change)
I watched a bit of CBS' pre-game show for the first time in weeks. In just 30 seconds, I remembered why I avoided it for so long. With the NFL Red Zone, I haven't been able to catch their post-game show all year. Here's how I imagine it has been:
James Brown: What an exciting finish in the Chargers-Cowboys game. The Cowboys just can't win one! And speaking of winning one, what did you learn today, Boomer?
Boomer Esiason: Nothing. I already knew everything.
James Brown: Speaking of everything, what about you, Shannoh!?
Shannon Sharpe: G9uj eg owie ghg4h oi wjgiweg iwpgwe'r'gwg we 38t eg eg.
James Brown: And speaking of eg eg, what about you, Dan?
Dan Marino: All the teams played hard today. All of the teams are good. I like every team. All the quarterbacks are good.
James Brown: And speaking of good, you look like you want to say something, Boomer!
Boomer Esiason: I'd say I learned that Dan Marino sucks, but I already knew that. I hate you, Dan Marino. God help me, I hate you.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: This Eagles scoring attack is pretty unbelievable. They have so many weapons; as long as Andy Reid keeps the run-pass ratio close to 50-50, it'll be pretty difficult to stop them.
The one piece of good news that the 49ers have is that Jeremy Maclin is out, but that just means that Donovan McNabb will utilize Brent Celek and Jason Avant more in addition to firing it deep to DeSean Jackson. San Francisco has been solid against the pass in its previous two games, but there aren't many teams that have an answer for Jackson.
The 49ers will have to put pressure on McNabb if they want to keep this game close. Ahmad Brooks looked great on Monday night, collecting three sacks (giving him four in the past two games). However, McNabb has taken just five sacks in the last three weeks, so getting to him will be a challenge for San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: I was glad to see the 49ers get Frank Gore more involved on Monday night. Gore rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. However, coming anywhere close to repeating that performance will be difficult. Only one team since Nov. 1 has gained more than 4.3 yards per carry against Philadelphia, and that was the Bears, who benefited from a long, fluky run by backup Kahlil Bell.
Alex Smith will have to beat Philly's secondary if the 49ers are to move the chains consistently. The Eagles have problems tackling, so San Francisco could turn some short catches into longer gains. I'm also looking for Vernon Davis to have a breakout game. Philadelphia has major issues stopping tight ends.
RECAP: The Eagles just beat the Giants. Everyone on 610 WIP is talking about how great they are. All of the fans are on the bandwagon for the first time all year.
Wait a second... There's something wafting in the air. Do you smell that? I think it's an Andy Reid stink bomb!
Coming off a big win, the Eagles play these lowly 49ers before battling the Broncos and Cowboys to close out the season. This is a terrible spot for them, and it actually reminds me of a game last year. Coming off a Monday night blowout over the Browns, Philadelphia traveled to Washington as 6-point road favorites. All the excited Eagles fans expected the team to win that one, yet they lost by the score of 10-3.
If the Eagles are expecting an easy game here, they're mistaken. The 49ers are playing really well and have tons of momentum off their victory over Arizona. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Reid maintains an 80-20 pass-run ratio and McNabb chokes this contest away at the very end.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: Dropping this to two units in the wake of Dallas' victory over New Orleans. This game now means a lot more to the Eagles than I originally anticipated.
The Psychology. Edge: 49ers.
This seems like a Sandwich Situation to me; the Eagles are coming off a big win against the Giants and have a meeting against the Broncos next week. Support has never been higher for the Eagles this season, so this is a great time for Andy Reid's trademark stink bomb. Meanwhile, the 49ers will carry their momentum into this game.
The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 60% (124,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Eagles.
Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams are 32-46 ATS on the East Coast playing 1 p.m. games since 2003 (Mike Singletary 2-0).
Eagles are 63-37 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Eagles are 28-18 ATS vs. teams with losing records since 2001.
Opening Line: Eagles -9.
Opening Total: 43.5.
Weather: Possible snow, 37 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.
Emmitt on the Brink is back! Season 2, Week 14 will be posted Friday. Last year, Bill Belichick was caught cheating again, and Roger Goodell made Emmitt take over as the Patriots coach as punishment. Now, Emmitt is back as the official head coach. This week, the Patriots and Bills play their annual international game. Last year, three people showed up at Osama B. Laden Field in Afghanistan. This year, the teams battle each other in North Korea.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: This Bears team hasn't covered a game since Nov. 1 because they are terrible on all levels. They've allowed at least 110 rushing yards to each of their previous eight opponents, and we saw their struggles emergence instantly Sunday when Ryan Grant broke off 62-yard touchdown on Green Bay's opening drive.
Ray Rice will wreak havoc upon Chicago's defense, setting up easy throws for Joe Flacco, who looked pretty healthy against the Lions last week. Flacco went 13-of-20 for 230 yards and a touchdown, and should be able to beat the Bears' pedestrian secondary.
CHICAGO OFFENSE: The Bears also have major protection issues that have been prevalent all year. Luckily for Jay Cutler's sake, Baltimore's pass rush is abysmal, mustering just 23 sacks on the year and only one against the Lions last week.
However, the Ravens will shut down Chicago's non-existent rushing attack, forcing Cutler to win this game on his own. The struggles of Baltimore's secondary are well-documented, but then again, so is Cutler's tendency to throw interceptions.
Chicago's wide receivers simply can't get open and Cutler has to force some horrible passes, but that doesn't mean that Cutler doesn't make poor decisions at times. Just last week, he heaved a poorly thrown ball to no one in particular, allowing the Packers to come away with a pick.
RECAP: As mentioned, Chicago hasn't covered since Nov. 1. I think that trend continues. In fact, I love the Ravens here.
The Bears just played their "Super Bowl" against the Packers. They actually had a 14-13 lead in the second half, but ultimately relinquished it and failed to cover.
I don't see how Chicago bounces back from that defeat. Their season is over and they have nothing to play for here. After an emotional loss like that, it'll be difficult for the Bears to get up for this contest.
The Psychology. Edge: Ravens.
The Bears brought 110 percent against the Packers and even led in the second half. However, they fell short and don't have anything to play for here.
The Vegas. Edge: Bears.
Slight action on Baltimore.
Percentage of money on Baltimore: 63% (129,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Ravens.
Bears are 7-25 ATS in December road games the previous 32 instances.
Ravens are 11-23 ATS after a home game since 2005.
Week 15 NFL Picks - Late Games Bengals at Chargers, Raiders at Broncos, Buccaneers at Seahawks, Packers at Steelers, Vikings at Panthers, Giants at Redskins
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 (Preseason 2016): 7-3 (+$1,160)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 4-1 (+$780)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2015): $0
2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 1-0, 100% (+$400)
2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360)
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) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820)
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) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120)
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) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0)
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 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,291-2,116-129, 52.0% (+$8,150) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 741-668-34 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 305-267-13 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 1,823-1,765-51 (50.8%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 33-22 (60.0%)
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.