I don't think Simmons or Ingram is some kind of franchise savior. Simmons is a great fit as a 4 in the modern NBA though because he can guard inside and on the perimeter, rebound, handle the ball like a guard, and score inside. Even if he never develops a reliable jumper, he is still going to be a very valuable player. I see him as a better version of Draymond Green who can create offense on his own much better than Green.
NFL Picks (2009): 133-102-6 (+$5,935) NFL Picks (2008): 136-125-6 (+$4,330)
If you don't quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my
Sports Betting FAQ.
Vegas betting action updated Dec. 28, 4:45 p.m. ET.
San Diego Chargers (11-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-7) Line: Titans by 2. Total: 47.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 15): Titans -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 15): Titans -1.
Merry Christmas, 7:30 ET
NFL Week 15 Recap: I'm completely embarrassed by my Monday night pick. I had five units on the Redskins. I thought it was a great spot for them. I figured they'd come out charged up to be a Monday night home dog on national TV against a divisional rival. I assumed they'd continue to play as well as they had the past month.
So much for that. They were completely flat and looked like they didn't care at all. I went 8-7-1 last week, but lost 6.85 units in the process, thanks in part to Washington's effort, as well as Jay Feely and Kellen Clemens screwing up on three field goal attempts.
Here's something very odd. In Week 14, I was 11-4-1 with totals. Last week, I was 12-4 with totals. I don't know what's going on here. Maybe I'm just lucky, or maybe I've figured something out. We'll see what happens.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: Last week I said I was excited to see Philip Rivers matched up against Cincinnati's two shutdown corners. Well, Rivers won that battle, going 24-of-38 for 308 yards, three touchdowns and two picks (one was a bobble by Antonio Gates).
If the Bengals couldn't stop Rivers, I don't see the Titans having much success. They've been better against aerial attacks ever since Cortland Finnegan became healthy, but they've struggled against elite passing attacks lately, surrendering 270 passing yards to the Colts and 283 to the Texans. Even the Dolphins posted 347 on them.
Despite the lack of a strong ground attack, Rivers should be able to stay hot and torch Tennessee's secondary. The big thing for Rivers is the availability of center Nick Hardwick. Hardwick has been out since Week 1, but backup center Scott Mruczkowski, who has filled in well, is now out with an ankle. If Hardwick can't make it back (though he's expected to), San Diego's offense could have some problems.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: It doesn't matter whom they've gone up against, the Titans have been running the ball on everyone. Since Oct. 18, they've compiled at least 128 rushing yards each game on 4.1 or more yards per carry. Chris Johnson is just a force who can't be stopped, especially with another running threat (Vince Young) on the field.
The Titans will have even more success gaining yardage on the ground because San Diego has struggled to stop the rush recently. In four of their past five games, the Chargers have surrendered at least 5.0 yards per attempt to the opposition.
The Chargers have also been poor versus the pass lately; each of the last three quarterbacks to face them has posted 239 yards or more, including Brady Quinn and Carson Palmer. Young is playing really well right now, so there's no reason for him to slow down here.
RECAP: San Diego is the better team in this matchup, but sometimes handicapping football is more about finding emotional edges and good/bad spots.
All the emotion will be with Tennessee here. While this is essentially a meaningless game for the Chargers, the Titans need a victory to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
This is a weeknight game under the lights. It'll be cold. The crowd will be going nuts to cheer on their home underdog (everyone is betting on the Chargers). The Titans will feed off of that emotion. I like them a lot here.
The Psychology. Edge: Titans.
The Chargers have pretty much sealed up the second seed. They have nothing to gain with a win here. Meanwhile, the Titans' season is on the line. On a holiday weeknight, they'll be playing in front of a raucous crowd and they'll be able to feed off that energy.
The Vegas. Edge: Titans.
What a shady spread. Tons of action on the Bolts.
Percentage of money on San Diego: 80% (183,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Philip Rivers is 15-8 ATS as a starter after Nov. 30 (5-1 ATS as an underdog).
Vegas Recap: Another good week for Vegas; though the books lost big on Monday night, they went 4-2 with their lopsided plays, cashing in with four crappy teams (Lions, Browns, Rams, Buccaneers) all covering. Vegas' only losses were with the Colts and Giants.
Something I noticed last week was that overall betting was down. Most games didn't crack 100,000 bets. I figure it's the economy and Christmas shopping. There might even be fewer wages this week because the public lost a ton of cash on Sunday.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: Poor Bills fans. The season was in ruins, but the one thing they had going for them was Ryan Fitzpatrick's deep balls to Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. Unfortunately, that didn't happen last week against the Patriots, and it doesn't look like Bills fans will see this phenomenon the rest of the year. Fitzpatrick suffered an ankle injury and will be out against Atlanta.
The silver lining is that Trent Edwards is also out with a high ankle sprain. That means that Brian "Set Up Us The" Brohm will start for the Bills. Brohm, who has never thrown a pass in the NFL, was just signed by the Bills on Nov. 18. He can't possibly know the whole offense. Now, he has to go into a hostile Georgia Dome and win a football game? How can this possibly happen?
There's no denying that Atlanta's secondary is terrible. In the past five weeks, the Falcons have allowed a total of 1,401 passing yards to the opposition. However, I just don't have much confidence in Brohm's ability to play well in a hostile environment.
The Bills will understandably attempt to establish the run here to ease some of the pressure off Brohm. However, that won't work; the Falcons have surprisingly played well versus the rush recently. In the past five weeks, the highest rushing total Atlanta allowed was 103 to the Eagles. They completely put the clamps on Thomas Jones on Sunday.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: I really don't understand Mike Smith's infatuation with hurrying injured players back. He did this earlier in the year with Michael Turner, who was ineffective and then had to miss more time. He also pulled this stunt last week with both Turner and Matt Ryan. Turner saw very little action and had to leave the game. Ryan, meanwhile, was a horrible 16-of-34, 152 yards and a touchdown.
I've been a fan of Smith's up until the middle of this season. With these shenanigans, he's proven that he's in over his head and doesn't really know what he's doing. There's absolutely no reason to play Ryan or Turner after you've been eliminated from the playoffs. Seriously, what are you doing?
The good news is that Ryan didn't suffer further injury, but it's hard to expect him to play well here, despite being at home. Buffalo's secondary is very good; the unit owns 26 interceptions and has held six consecutive opponents to 210 passing yards or less.
One thing Atlanta will be able to do is run the football. Jason Snelling will be battling a defense that has surrendered at least 100 rushing yards to each foe since Week 3.
RECAP: This is a very difficult game to handicap. I don't like the Falcons here because Ryan isn't healthy. He was really ineffective against the Jets, and I'm expecting more of the same. Plus, the Statfox Trend is in effect (see below).
However, I dislike the Bills even more. They're coming off a very emotional loss and don't have anything to play for here. It's not like Atlanta is a rival they can get up for. Plus, there's the whole Brohm factor. There's a reason he was so willingly discarded by the Packers.
Because Buffalo just lost its "Super Bowl" and its starting quarterback, you have to wonder if the players will battle hard for Brohm. As mentioned, Brohm was signed a month ago, so it's not like they know him very well. Why would the Bills put in a lot of effort off a very emotional defeat for some guy they don't even know?
The Psychology. Edge: Falcons.
Tough spot for both teams. The Bills lost what Chris Berman called their "Super Bowl." Also, Brian Brohm is now in for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Falcons, meanwhile, just had a close road win and are now laying points. That's never a good situation (see trend below).
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Slight action on the favorite.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 58% (90,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bills.
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off road wins of 1-3 points are 20-46 ATS.
Bills are 13-3 ATS after playing the New England Patriots since 1999.
Bills are 22-15 ATS as a dog under the Dick Jauron/Perry Fewell regime.
1. Rebecca Grant update: No cleavage for the 349t493utf932u20th week in a row. Instead, she had some horrible pink sweater on. I was disgusted.
Unfortunately, I didn't see something I should have. Jared B. sent me the following message via Facebook:
"Did you just see her today? Her nipples were so hard you could see them through her sweater.... that is something you don't see every day."
Son of a b****. How did I not notice this?
2. You better believe that there were tons of pissed off fantasy owners this past weekend. Chris Jennings got all of the carries against the Steelers and played well, so we all assumed that Eric Mangini would go with Jennings in what looked to be a great matchup against the Chiefs.
Nope. Jerome Harrison started. It was obviously the right decision, but Mangina screwed over fantasy owners in the process.
Why did Mangina do this? Two guesses: First, he's pissed off at everyone for not coming to his birthday party at Super Fun Time. Second, he was pissed at Jennings because Jennings bought him the Yellow Mega Man instead of the requested Red Mega Man.
Talk about classless. There was no reason to do this. Those defenseless people were just trying to enjoy a game.
I live in Philly, so I can honestly say that there are too many scumbags in this city. I understand that there are douches everywhere, but remember, this is one of the only cities in America that would support QB Dog Killer, which is why the Eagles were able to make the signing.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: As I've said multiple times in the past few days, I really have a lot of respect for the Bengals and their ability to prepare for the Chargers game amid Chris Henry's passing. Though they looked discombobulated at times, they battled San Diego to the very end.
Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the unknown Jerome Harrison came 11 yards short of breaking Adrian Peterson's single-game rushing record. Harrison isn't a terrible player or anything, but it just shows you how horrible the Chiefs are up front. Their defensive line has constantly been pushed around this year as if they were some high school team. What happened to all of those high selections that Scott Pioli spent on upgrading the front?
The Bengals have one of the premier rushing attacks in the NFL. I really don't see how the inept Chiefs will contain Cedric Benson. If Harrison mustered 286 rushing yards, can Benson hit 500 in this contest?
Benson's running will set up play-action opportunities for Carson Palmer. Prior to the Chargers game, Palmer had struggled because of the lack of a second receiver. However, he was 27-of-40 for 314 yards and two touchdowns at San Diego. Palmer should continue to play well, as the Chiefs' secondary has trouble tackling.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: It's really astonishing to me that Todd Haley refused to utilize Jamaal Charles as his feature back until Week 10 this season, instead opting to go with a decrepit Larry Johnson or ineffective Kolby Smith when everyone knew Charles was the top runner on the team. It amazes me how inept some head coaches can be in this league.
But that's all in the past. Charles is being used more and more each week. In his past two games, Charles has 297 rushing yards on 45 carries and nine catches for 54 more yards. He's being referred to by some as a "Chris Johnson clone."
The Bengals are great at stopping the run, but Charles should be able to break a couple of big gainers, whether it's on the ground or via catching the ball out of the backfield. Remember, Dwayne Bowe is back and Chris Chambers just had a big game, so the Bengals will need to worry about them as well.
RECAP: This is going to be another half-unit selection for me because I don't want to mess with the Bengals' emotions. Will they dedicate this game to Chris Henry and come out looking to slaughter the Chiefs, or will they be flat versus a crappy opponent after a heart-breaking loss and Henry's funeral? I just don't know.
What I do know is that under normal circumstances, I wouldn't want to lay 14 with the Bengals' stale offense; except for one game against the craptastic Bears, Cincinnati hasn't scored more than 24 points since Week 2. If that holds true, the Chiefs would need just 11 points at the very most to cover.
The Psychology. Edge: Unknown.
Who knows? The Bengals will dedicate the rest of their season to Chris Henry, but they still have Henry's funeral to attend to this week. Plus, it's not like you have to get up for the lowly Chiefs.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Equal action after early Kansas City money.
Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 53% (123,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Chiefs.
Chiefs are 14-8 ATS as a road underdog since 2007.
Chiefs are 7-3 ATS as a double-digit underdog since 2006.
Bengals are 5-14 ATS as a favorite since 2007.
Bengals are 1-9 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 or more since 2007.
Opening Line: Bengals -13.5.
Opening Total: 39.
Weather: Possible snow showers, 34 degrees. Mild wind, 12 mph.
Last week, I suggested that Tom Cable should tell Al Davis that JaMarcus Russell suffered an injury in order to be able to start Charlie Frye. I even said that Cable should Photoshop a newspaper headline to fool Undead Al.
Well, e-mailers Andy W. and Kevin E. sent in two fabricated newspapers. Perhaps Cable even used this Web site to convince his boss to start Frye:
OAKLAND OFFENSE: Lots of sportsbooks don't have a line up yet. The reason is because Charlie Frye's status is unclear. Frye appeared to suffer a concussion against the Broncos. Tom Cable has stated that Frye will be the starter if he's good enough to go. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for JaMarcus "Captain Skittles" Russell.
If Frye's the guy, Oakland's success will depend on its ability to establish the run. The Raiders compiled 241 rushing yards at Denver last week, a number that could be matched against a Browns defense that just yielded 168 rushing yards on a 5.6 YPC to the Chiefs.
If Russell starts, Oakland's success will depend on Captain Skittles' ability to take care of the football. Sure, he looked great in a game-winning, Survivor-killing drive in Denver, but Russell's vice has always been ball security. He's always tossing interceptions, taking sacks and fumbling the football away. The Browns don't get much pressure on the quarterback (just one sack of Matt Cassel last week) and have a -14 turnover differential, so maybe there's a chance that Captain Skittles doesn't screw things up here.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: The question everyone will be asking here is whether or not Eric Mangini will stick with Jerome Harrison or screw fantasy owners again by utilizing Chris Jennings. I guess it depends how pissed off at the world Mangina is this week.
Oakland's run defense has suffered all year, but in the past two weeks, they've allowed a total of 180 rushing yards and less than 3.8 YPC in each contest. This is not as great of a matchup for Harrison or Jennings as people may think.
Meanwhile, Derek Anderson will get the nod because Brady Quinn is done for the year. Anderson has the bigger arm and superior downfield accuracy, but he also forces in way too many unwarranted balls into double coverage. Without any legitimate downfield weapons to work with, I'm willing to bet that Anderson throws Nnamdi Asomugha's way a lot more than he should.
RECAP: I write why I like/dislike each of my picks in a notebook so I can review what I did right/wrong after each week. One of the few things I jotted down Sunday night was, "Laying points with Browns = fail?"
I looked it up, and that is indeed the case. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, the Browns are 0-4 against the spread when favored. I just can't advise laying points with them despite the fact that they've won two straight. They are just a bad team.
The Psychology. Edge: Browns.
Rob Ryan coached the Raiders from 2004 to 2008. Will the Raiders try hard if Captain Skittles starts?
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Equal action. The public doesn't know which crappy team to bet on.
Percentage of money on Oakland: 54% (99,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Raiders.
Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams are 32-46 ATS on the East Coast playing 1 p.m. games since 2003 (Tom Cable 3-2).
Raiders are 11-28 ATS vs. teams with losing records since 2001.
Browns are 15-5 ATS after allowing 30 or more points since 2005.
Browns are 8-13 ATS in December home games since 2000.
Seattle Seahawks (5-9) at Green Bay Packers (9-5) Line: Packers by 14. Total: 43. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 15): Packers -11.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 15): Packers -13.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Raymond S. sent me the following message via Facebook:
Why is it that Matt Millen and Bo-Bo are never seen in the same place at the same time?
Are Millen and Bo-Bo the same person? A very interesting theory, but there's only one thing wrong with it. Millen's so annoying that no one would want him in any sort of fantasy league - even if it guarantees having an owner who goes 3-10 every year because he keeps starting Patrick Crayton and Jacoby Jones.
I didn't mind Millen at the beginning of the year, but he's really starting to get to me. Last week, I compared him to a rehabbing drug addict:
I've always equated Millen's TV return to a drug addict being re-introduced into society. Millen took a couple of months off after being fired by the Lions (rehab?), but reappeared on NBC in the playoffs back in January.
As with a former drug addict, you knew Millen was going to slip up sooner or later. We were all waiting for him to say something like, "If I were starting a team today, I'd take Dwayne Jarrett over Philip Rivers" or "Mario Manningham is the single greatest player of this generation."
This wasn't as drastic, but not knowing the rules is pretty bad considering if, you know, YOU'RE ON THE DAMN RULES COMMITTEE!
Help! Millen is relapsing! Send him back to rehab!
Well, what happened Saturday night was the equivalent of Millen breaking into my house to steal some money for crack. He was so annoying during the Saints-Cowboys broadcast that it actually ruined the game for me. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints lost because of Millen. Here's an example of what he said:
"This is what you want. This is. This is what you want. This is what makes a champion. If you're Tony Romo or the Saints defense, this is what you want."
No, this is what I want: I want Millen to go away! Please, for the love of God, NFL Network, don't bring him back next year.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: Some speculate that Matt Hasselbeck is throwing games on purpose. I think Jim Mora Jr. ruined him. Others will point to his horrific offensive line.
Whatever it is, Hasselbeck stinks now. It seems like he doesn't even care anymore. Two of his four interceptions against the craptastic Buccaneers were horrible, and I have no idea what he was trying to do on his fumble. He ran around in circles and tried to pitch it back to his running back - this while on just the second drive of a scoreless contest.
Hasselbeck has taken nine sacks in the past three games, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he approached that number in this contest alone. The Packers bring tons of pressure out of their 3-4 with rookies Clay Matthews and Brad Jones. They just had five sacks on Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday.
Hasselbeck will be forced to move the sticks in long-yardage situations because his running game won't work. In the past seven weeks, the Packers have allowed 81 rushing yards or less to each opponent they've faced.
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: Unlike the Packers, the Seahawks struggle to get pressure on the quarterback (no sacks on Josh Freeman last week) and consequently can't stop the pass. Uh oh.
Aaron Rodgers will have absolutely no problem torching Seattle's beleaguered secondary. Rodgers is the master of converting third downs, and without any sort of pass rush, I just don't see how the Seahawks will prevent Rodgers from continuously moving the chains.
RECAP: This has "blowout" written all over it. The Seahawks absolutely stink, especially on the road, while the Packers are one of the top teams in the league.
The only thing that bothers me here is the fact that Green Bay is coming off an emotional loss at Pittsburgh. Still, even if the Packers are playing at 75-80 percent, there's a good chance they'll still cover this high number.
SURVIVOR PICK: I lost with Denver last week, thanks to Captain Skittles' improbable touchdown drive. Pretty insane.
If you're still alive and need advice, this would be my top choice. Here are my survivor options in order: Green Bay, Arizona, New Orleans, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants.
The Psychology. Edge: Seahawks.
The Packers are coming off an emotional loss and may have trouble getting up for crappy Seattle in a meaningless game. The Seahawks have been embarrassed two weeks in a row, so they'll look to rebound.
The Vegas. Edge: Seahawks.
Percentage of money on Green Bay: 89% (154,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Packers.
Seahawks are 9-3 ATS in their road finale since 1996.
Matt Hasselbeck is 10-3 ATS off back-to-back losses.
Seahawks are 11-22 ATS on the road since 2006.
Packers are 13-10 ATS in December home games since 2000.
I've only recommended two books on this Web site before ( I Beat Andy Roddick With a Frying Pan and Sold Out... So What?). Here's a third, though many of you may know about it because its movie has been out.
The book, which I received as a birthday gift from my friend Injured Reserve, is called I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. It's basically a collection of stories about how this guy gets laid and pisses people off. He also shows no respect for women, which is a big plus if you're holiday shopping for Tom Cable or Keith Hernandez. He also has a great rating for women, which I now use every day.
If you want to be entertained, read this book. It also makes for a great holiday gift for any misogynistic man out there.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: If you didn't see the Miami-Tennessee game last week, Vince Young threw all over the Dolphins' secondary, passing for 236 yards and three scores, thanks to multiple long completions.
If Young torched Miami's secondary, can you imagine what Matt Schaub will do? Schaub, one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league right now, is 57-of-79 for 732 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in his past two games.
The one thing the Dolphins' defense can hang its hat on is getting pressure on the quarterback. They have 40 sacks on the year. However, Schaub hasn't taken a single sack the past two weeks and has hit the turf only 23 times all season. Getting to Schaub consistently will be paramount for Miami if it wants to win this game.
MIAMI OFFENSE: Ricky Williams' ball-security issues are really beginning to worry me. Williams fumbled three times against the Jaguars and was lucky that the ball rolled out of bounds twice. Last week, Williams fumbled again, taking away a scoring opportunity for the Dolphins, who were at Tennessee's 25-yard line.
On top of protecting the ball, Williams will have to worry about finding running lanes against Houston's improved run defense. Since Oct. 4, the Texans have permitted 100-plus rushing yards to just three opponents.
If Williams can't run the ball effectively, Chad Henne will have to convert third downs on his own. And who knows what you'll get there? Henne's problem at Michigan was his inconsistency, and that has trickled over to the NFL. One week, Henne flawlessly moves the chains and converts long-yardage situations. The next week, Henne tosses multiple picks and makes dumb decisions. You just don't know what you're going to get with him. Perhaps this will change as he matures, but for now, it's a big problem.
RECAP: The Texans are a simple team to figure out. They win or play really well when there's no pressure on them. If, however, they're expected to win, they choke and find some way to lose.
Houston is not expected to win this contest. The Dolphins are favored by just three, but the majority of the public likes them to cover. I also suspect that the ESPN experts will pick Miami.
With no pressure on them, I believe the Texans will come out on top.
It's also worth noting that Houston owns Miami; in the four meetings between these two teams, the Texans have won each one, oddly enough by three points or less each time.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Big game for both teams.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
Slight action on Miami.
Percentage of money on Miami: 60% (132,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Texans.
Road Rules: Gary Kubiak is 8-1 ATS on the road after a road game.
Texans are 15-25 ATS after a win (9-9 since 2007).
Opening Line: Dolphins -3.
Opening Total: 45.5.
Weather: Possible showers, 73 degrees. Light wind.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7) at New England Patriots (9-5) Line: Patriots by 10. Total: 44. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 15): Patriots -9.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 15): Patriots -9.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Hilarious 2010 NFL Mock Draft on DraftDebacled.com, where you can create your own 2010 NFL Mock Draft and have your own URL. People can rate and comment on your mock draft as well.
Three of the many funny things in this mock:
1. Detroit Lions: Eric Berry - "Ford the Elder: 'We drafted Barry again?' Ford the Younger: 'No, Dad. This is . . . never mind. Go back to sleep.'"
2. Seattle Seahawks: Bryan Bulaga - "Mora has a secret plan. So secret that even he doesn't know the details."
3. New York Jets: Rolando McClain - "Not many LBs left on their roster. I think Rex Ryan's been snacking on them."
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: I couldn't believe what I saw last Thursday - Jack Del Rio and Dirk Koetter actually made an effort to get the ball into Maurice Jones-Drew's hands! The concept of giving touches to your best player is a difficult one to comprehend, so let's give those two men a lot of credit. In fact, Wayne Weaver should throw hefty Christmas bonuses their way for putting together that strategy. It really took some cunning thinking on their part, and they deserve to be rewarded.
To win this crucial game, Del Rio and Koetter need to give Jones-Drew as many touches as possible. The number must be higher than 30. The Patriots are pretty average against the run. I know they were without Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren, but it's not like they were any better versus the rush the week before when playing Carolina.
More importantly, establishing Jones-Drew will suck the secondary in, allowing David Garrard to hit Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt down the field. Garrard did a good job of converting third downs and moving the chains against the Colts.
If the Jaguars revert to utilizing a pass-happy attack, they don't stand a chance. Garrard takes a lot of sacks (15 in the past four games) and leads the NFL in fumbles. The Patriots typically don't put much pressure on the quarterback, but they may not have much of a problem getting past Jacksonville's pedestrian offensive front.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The Patriots have their problems on the offensive side of the ball as well. Tom Brady, playing with an injured fingers and battered ribs, has really been struggling. Since suffering that mysterious injury the week of the Dolphins game that dropped the spread three points, Brady is 49-of-84, 659 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. That's a completion percentage of 58.3 (seasonal number is 64.5).
Issue No. 2 is Randy Moss. Prior to last week's game, Moss wasn't trying hard at all; he was jogging down the field, short-arming catches and fumbling the few receptions he was making. Sure, Moss put forth a strong effort at Buffalo, but who didn't see that one coming? This is the real test. Will he try hard for the second week in a row, or will he mail in yet another game?
The Patriots also have problems whenever they reach the red zone. For whatever reason - Brady's health and Moss' lack of effort could have something to do with it - New England just can't punch the ball in for six whenever they get deep inside enemy territory.
Having said all of that, New England might be able to put up a lot of points here. Jacksonville's pass rush is a joke (14 sacks on the year), so Brady should have all the time he needs to find his receivers downfield. Running the ball will be an issue, however, as Jacksonville is pretty stout against that.
RECAP: This is a case where the game means a ton to one team and very little to the other. The Patriots don't really have anything to play for here, as they pretty much have the AFC East locked up. Meanwhile, the Jaguars must win to stay alive in the playoff hunt.
I'm 9-5 with Jacksonville picks this year, and I'm pretty confident that I have them figured out. Like the Texans, whenever the Jaguars are favored or expected to win, they really struggle. Conversely, when no one believes in them, they thrive.
This obviously falls under the latter category. The Jaguars are 8-point underdogs, and no one believes they have a shot at winning this game. Well, I do.
Oh, and if you need one more reason to take Jacksonville: The Patriots aren't good enough to be laying eight points. Since their London game, they've beaten only one team by more than 10 points - and that was the Jets and Mark Sanchez, who tossed a billion interceptions at Gillette Stadium.
The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
Now up two in the division, the Patriots can sit back and relax in this meaningless game. The Jaguars need a victory to keep up with every other 7-7 AFC team. Jacksonville tends to thrive when no one believes in them.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
I'm shocked that the public isn't backing the Pats here.
Percentage of money on New England: 57% (152,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
Jaguars are 17-12 ATS as an underdog since 2006.
Patriots are 45-35 ATS at home under Bill Belichick.
Patriots are 17-9 ATS in December home games since 2000.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) at New Orleans Saints (13-1) Line: Saints by 14. Total: 48.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 15): Saints -17.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 15): Saints -16.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
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. "THE SAINTS FINALY GOT THE MONKEY OF THERE BACKS"
That damn monkey has been haunting the Saints ever since they were 1-0. Thank God it's finally off "there" backs.
2. "IF RAVENS LOSES TODAY IM GOING TO LAUGH!!!!!!!!!!"
If you keep making these grammatical errors, your friends and family will laugh as well.
3. "NICE RUNN>>>>LOOK LIKE JERSEY JOE>>MARTINIC>>RUTGERS RB..WOW"
Wow is right. It's like this guy found random words on Google and copy-pasted them together.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: The Saints were down early against the Cowboys and had to completely abandon the run. I expect them to get back to it against the Buccaneers.
The first time these teams clashed, New Orleans rushed for 183 yards on a 5.1 average. In the four games since, the Buccaneers have allowed an average of 138 rushing yards to the opposition, so I don't see things playing out differently this time.
In that aforementioned meeting, Brees was just 19-of-29 for 187 yards on a 6.4 YPA - his third-lowest YPA output of the season. Tampa Bay's secondary has quietly improved recently, so unless the Saints can get tons of points off turnovers, I don't expect them to light up the scoreboard.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: So, will New Orleans capitalize on turnovers like they did the first time they battled the Buccaneers? For an answer, let's look at something I posted in my 2009 NFL Power Rankings:
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 (3 games), Freeman is 50-of-86 for 731 yards, seven touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles. That's a completion percentage of 58.1 and a YPA of 8.5. He's also 3-0 ATS (against the spread).
Freeman's completely inconsistent, and I've obviously done a poor job of projecting how well/poorly he'll play each week. But I doubt I'm the only one. Freeman is a raw rookie, so it's understandable that he's so erratic.
If Freeman takes care of the football, the Buccaneers will move the chains; the Saints have surrendered at least 294 passing yards to each quarterback they've played in the past three weeks - and this includes Chris Redman and Jason Campbell. Top corner Jabari Greer is really missed.
Having said that, it wouldn't shock me at all if Freeman tosses five picks here.
RECAP: I like the Buccaneers in this spot. The last two 13-0 teams that lost their 14th game of the year went on to lose the following contest as well. I don't think the Saints will suffer a defeat to Tampa Bay, but I don't like their chances of covering the spread in this meaningless game.
That said, I've been burnt too many times by Freeman to lay multiple units on the Buccaneers. If I trusted Freeman, this would be a 2- or 3-unit selection, but I just feel like an assault victim here; I've been emotionally scarred by Freeman's inconsistency.
The Psychology. Edge: Buccaneers.
With Minnesota's loss, this game means very little to the Saints. The Buccaneers will be out to beat their hated rival.
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
Not an overwhelming amount on the Saints.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 84% (145,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
History: Saints have won 2 of the last 3 meetings.
Buccaneers are 11-22 ATS on the road after a win since 2002.
Saints are 27-41 ATS at home since 2001 (10-5 since 2008).
Saints are 20-30 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
Saints are 8-20 ATS in December home games since 2000.
Carolina Panthers (6-8) at New York Giants (8-6) Line: Giants by 7.5. Total: 42.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 15): Giants -10.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 15): Giants -13.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
2. "hhaha everyone on the Bengle team shoulda died hahahahha"
Satan will see you in approximately 60 years, my friend.
3. "Now that the 'Aints showed their true colors the rest of clayeaters can go back to rebuilding their city and waiting for the dams to break again so the city can flood and we can all pay for their stupidity."
I can't believe I was surprised that a lot of people support QB Dog Killer. Really, what was I thinking?
CAROLINA OFFENSE: I really like the way Matt Moore played against the Vikings. He had some questionable throws, but he didn't turn the ball over and made enough downfield passes to help the Panthers win the game. He's exactly what Jake Delhomme should have been.
Having said that, it wouldn't surprise me to see Moore struggle here. A difference between the Giants and Vikings is that Minnesota can't stop the run without middle linebacker E.J. Henderson. New York, meanwhile, has allowed just 211 rushing yards in their previous three games.
Without the support of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Moore will have to make all the throws himself. That wouldn't have been a big problem against the Giants two weeks ago, but it really looks like New York has focused in and eliminated most of its problems. I know it was only one game against a Redskins team that didn't show up, but the Giants were damn impressive Monday night. And besides, it's not like their defensive line will have trouble getting to Moore; starting tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah are both out.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Giants also did a great job establishing their rushing attack against the Redskins, which set up easy third downs for Eli Manning. The same formula should work here.
The Panthers just put the clamps on Adrian Peterson, but before that Sunday night contest, they had surrendered at least 139 rushing yards to five consecutive opponents. I'm going to say that the Vikings game was an aberration.
With Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw piling up the yardage again, Manning will move the chains. Carolina has a very good secondary that has limited four of its previous five opponents to less than 200 passing yards, but Manning is on fire and excels at converting third downs.
RECAP: New York is the one NFC team I wouldn't want to face right now. They know how to win in the postseason and they completely dominated a Redskins squad that had been playing really well of late.
I think the Giants parlay that Monday night victory into several more and get on a roll. I'm confident they'll get into the playoffs and upset at least one team in January.
The Psychology. Edge: Giants.
The Giants look like they're going on one of their rolls right now.
The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.
Tons of action on this curiously low spread.
Percentage of money on New York: 85% (145,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Giants.
Monday Magic: Teams coming off victories of 17+ on Monday night are 34-20 ATS the following week since 1999.
Panthers are 32-23 ATS as an underdog the previous 55 instances.
Giants are 15-20 ATS as favorites of 6.5 or more the previous 35 instances.
Emmitt on the Brink is back! Season 2, Week 15 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 battle the winless Broncos. Unfortunately, one practice is canceled because someone released laughing gas in the practice facility.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: The Ravens are really stuck behind the eight ball here; not only did they lose rookie corner Lardarius Webb, who was doing a great job filling in for Fabian Washington, they also had to watch a now-healthy Hines Ward torch Green Bay's defense just 10 days after he couldn't finish any of his routes in Cleveland.
The Ravens' secondary had been playing really well recently, but Webb's loss is huge. Their only hope of stopping Ben Roethlisberger is putting a lot of pressure on him. Big Ben has taken 43 sacks this year, but Baltimore doesn't exactly thrive at getting to the quarterback.
So with that in mind, the Ravens' only chance is to completely shut down the run, put Roethlisberger in third-and-long, and pray that he doesn't have the type of performance he put together against the Packers. No team has gained more than 4.1 YPC against the Ravens since Adrian Peterson and the Vikings managed to do so back on Oct. 18.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: Joe Flacco struggled throughout November because he was going through multiple injuries. However, it looks like he's finally healthy again. In his past two games, Flacco is 34-of-49 for 464 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Now, you may say that Flacco was able to accomplish that because he was going against the Lions and Bears. I'd argue back that the Steelers' defense isn't much better, at least against the pass. Three of the previous four quarterbacks Pittsburgh has battled have thrown for at least 261 yards (the exception being Brady Quinn). Troy Polamalu has really been missed.
The good news for the Steelers is that Polamalu could be back in the lineup. If so, that would obviously be huge; Polamalu's presence will also help against the run. The Steelers are just a week removed from surrendering 171 rushing yards to the Browns.
RECAP: I had a really tough time with this one. On one hand, the Ravens are the better team (if Polamalu doesn't play). On the other hand, Webb's absence will hurt a lot, and Flacco has never beaten Big Ben, so I'm not sure that's a hurdle he gets over this Sunday.
I guess you could say that this is the weakest of my half-unit plays. This will be a close game that could go either way. I'm looking forward to watching it, but there's no way I'm betting on it.
PICK CHANGE: As of Thursday afternoon, I'm going with the Ravens. Polamalu is out and the line has moved up to three. I'm taking the points.
The Psychology. Edge: Steelers.
I know the Ravens beat the Steelers last time, but Joe Flacco still hasn't defeated Ben Roethlisberger. Though he's a very cool quarterback under pressure, that has to weigh on his mind.
The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
Two-thirds of the action is on the Steelers.
Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 61% (158,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Home Team has won 13 of the last 15 meetings.
Ravens are 11-6 ATS on the road under John Harbaugh.
Ravens are 12-23 ATS after a home game since 2005.
Steelers are 20-8 ATS in December home games since 2000.
Ben Roethlisberger is 67-28 as a starter (51-42 ATS).
Ben Roethlisberger is 20-13 ATS vs. the AFC North.
Opening Line: Steelers -1.
Opening Total: 39.
Weather: Possible snow showers, 37 degrees. Light wind.
Week 16 NFL Picks - Late Games Lions at 49ers, Rams at Cardinals, Jets at Colts, Broncos at Eagles, Cowboys at Redskins, Vikings at Bears
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, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2015): -$580
2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
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.