NFL Picks (2009): 141-108-8 (+$5,245) NFL Picks (2008): 136-125-6 (+$4,330)
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Vegas betting action updated Jan. 3, 11:25 a.m. ET.
NFL Week 16 Recap: My overall records have been pretty solid recently, but I've lost money because my high-unit selections have bombed. On most of those selections, I can see what I did wrong and how I misread each game afterward, so I really have to do a better job of evaluating each situation. Ugh, I sound like Andy Reid right now. CHEESE STEAK NOM NOM NOM. Time's yours.
I went 8-6-2 in Week 16. Ironically, I was 1-4-1 with picks that were three units or higher, and 7-2-1 with selections that were two units or less. Pretty frustrating.
Oh, and you better believe that I received some hate mail. I'll be posting that later.
CHICAGO OFFENSE: Where in the world did that come from? If I'm a Bears fan, and I haven't drowned myself yet, I'm really pissed right now. Why hasn't Jay Cutler played like this all year? Why has he been lofting up dozens of interceptions each week?
Cutler played really well against the Vikings (20-35, 273 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT), and as long as he's motivated and not sporting any horrible body language, that should continue here.
Detroit's secondary struggles are well documented. The last time the team allowed less than 200 passing yards to an opponent was Oct. 4. The Lions haven't been able to stop the likes of Brady Quinn, Alex Smith and Matt Hasselbeck (never thought I'd include his name with those other two guys), so I don't like their chances against Cutler, Greg Olsen and the emerging Devin Aromashodu.
DETROIT OFFENSE: Jim Schwartz has yet to announce a starting quarterback, and I can't really blame him. With Matthew Stafford out, he doesn't have much to work with. If playing football drunk were illegal, Drew Stanton would have been arrested this past Sunday. And we all know what Daunte Culpepper is (in)capable of.
Culpepper and Stanton have started five games this year. Their combined numbers: one touchdown, 11 interceptions, five fumbles, 17 sacks. Remember when some Lions fans argued that drafting Stafford was a mistake because Culpepper deserved a chance? Whoops!
The Lions have been running the ball better lately, while Chicago's defense has surrendered 100-plus rushing yards to 10 consecutive opponents. Still, the fact remains that Detroit has topped 13 points only once since Nov. 22, and that sole exception was a product of some fluky plays against a flat Arizona team.
RECAP: The big question here is whether or not the Bears will be motivated to play the Lions. Chicago just won its Super Bowl by slaying the Vikings on Monday night as massive underdogs. Can they possibly get up for Detroit?
I did some research. In 2007, the 5-9 Bears hosted a playoff-bound Packers team in Week 16. They were 7.5-point dogs. Sound familiar? Chicago won that game 35-7. The following week, they played the Saints, who were just 7-8 at the time. The Bears showed up and triumphed again, 33-25.
If history repeats itself, the Bears will play hard in Detroit. Having said that, I wouldn't want to trust Cutler for more than one unit.
The Psychology. Edge: Bears.
The Bears look to carry their momentum into Detroit.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
No one wants to bet on Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton? Really?
Percentage of money on Chicago: 92% (100,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bears.
History: Bears have won 8 of the last 10 meetings.
Bears are 7-26 ATS in December road games the previous 32 instances.
Lions are 3-12 ATS against losing teams the previous 16 instances.
Vegas Recap: The books had a pretty solid week, going 5-4 with their lopsided games. Remember, 5-4 is pretty good when you're getting the juice. Vegas won with the Buccaneers, Panthers, Jets, Broncos and Bears covering, but lost with the Chargers, Packers, Cardinals and Cowboys.
This is the eighth time in nine weeks that the sportsbooks have finished in the black, so you have to wonder if they'll give some of that money back for higher returns in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. In this economy, people have to be running out of money, right? It's early, but there is not a lot of NFL betting going on this week.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: Jack Del Rio and Dirk Koetter were at it again. Against the Patriots, Del Rio foolishly decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 on his own 35 in a scoreless first quarter. On the next drive, Maurice Jones-Drew was ripping off 8- and 10-yard gains, so Koetter opted to have Garrard throw deep. Garrard sailed the ball 10 yards over his target's head to have it intercepted. Tom Brady scored easily on two short fields, and the Jaguars just couldn't come back from down 14-0.
Last week, I wrote that Jones-Drew had to see 30 touches if the Jaguars were to beat the Patriots. Well, he had 21, so there it is. If either Del Rio or Koetter isn't fired at the end of the year, I'll be "blowed away," to quote the great Emmitt.
Despite how poor the Browns are against the pass, Jones-Drew needs at least 25 touches here. He's Jacksonville's best player, and he must have his hands on the ball as much as possible.
It'll be tempting for Del Rio and Koetter to call 50 pass plays for Garrard against a Cleveland secondary that has allowed 1,010 passing yards in their past three games (ignoring the weather disaster against the Steelers). If they fall into that trap, there's a good chance the Jaguars will lose.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Jerome Harrison has been awesome the past two weeks, but let's quell our excitement a bit. Harrison did his damage against the lowly Chiefs and Raiders. I'm not going to call him a stud until he gashes some solid defenses.
Harrison can start doing so this Sunday. Prior to losing to the Patriots in an emotionally low contest, the Jaguars had held their previous six opponents to 3.8 YPC or less. Rookie nose tackle Terrance Knighton has been a stud for Jacksonville and the primary reason the team is one of the league's best at putting the clamps on the run. I don't think Harrison has a good game here.
For the first time in a few weeks, a Browns quarterback will be forced to continuously convert long-yardage situations. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem against a Jaguars squad that can't get pressure on anyone, but Derek Anderson really sucks. Anderson sometimes doesn't even look downfield when throwing deep. I wish I were joking.
RECAP: This is an overreaction line. The Jaguars have lost three in a row, including a blowout at New England, while the Browns have won three straight. Cleveland should not be favored here.
Aside from the skewed spread, I like Jacksonville for three reasons:
1. The Jaguars usually play well in the role of an underdog. That didn't work out well last week, but nothing hits at 100 percent.
2. The Browns should not be laying points to anyone. Despite their three-game winning streak, they're not any good. They've only covered once when favored in the past two seasons. That was last week against the lowly Raiders. Again, nothing works 100 percent of the time.
3. Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker coached in Cleveland from 2005 to 2008. Coaches going against their old team usually have an advantage because they know the schemes and the personnel really well. Tucker has seen Anderson every day in practice. He knows exactly what his tendencies are.
The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker coached in Cleveland from 2005 to 2008. Jacksonville also has to be pretty pissed that it's giving points to the lowly Browns.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
Cleveland is favored? The public is loving this.
Percentage of money on Jacksonville: 64% (95,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
Jaguars are 17-13 ATS as an underdog since 2006.
Browns are 9-13 ATS in December home games since 2000.
1. I'm sick of turning on ESPN after the evening NFL games and seeing some meaningless college winter scrimmage on TV. For instance, ESPN had Middle Tennessee State versus Southern Miss on right after the Vikings-Panthers blowout last week. I had to wait like 30 minutes to watch SportsCenter to catch the Blitz.
It's a joke. It's one thing to show a stupid winter scrimmage between two relevant teams; it's another to showcase two crappy squads. Seriously, who was watching this aside from their alumni and degenerate gamblers? No one. There was barely anyone in the stands. College football is a disgrace.
3. Speaking of Indianapolis, funniest Boomer-ism ever. During the Jets-Colts highlights on the Blitz, when Curtis Painter committed a fumble returned for a touchdown, Chris Berman said, "Curtis Painter looking like Curtis Finger-Painter on that play!" I miss the old NFL Primetime.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: With the perfect season over, the Colts will play Peyton Manning and the rest of their starters for a quarter at the very most. So, it'll be Finger-Painter again for three quarters. We all saw how abysmal he was against the Jets, and I don't see why he would be any better against Buffalo's talented secondary.
Donald Brown will get a ton of work here. The Bills are terrible against the run, but they'll be able to stack eight or nine men in the box because Painter isn't any sort of threat.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: Most of Indianapolis' defensive starters will sit for the final three quarters as well, so the Bills should be able to come close to duplicating the Jets' 202-yard rushing performance last week. If your fantasy league sucks and you play into Week 17, you'll get a great performance out of Fred Jackson.
Brian Brohm was absolutely horrible at Atlanta - no surprise there because the Packers thoughtlessly waived him in September and he has only been with the Bills for a month - so it's good news that Ryan Fitzpatrick might be able to suit up. The Perry Fewell Oil Company said Monday that he is optimistic that Fitzpatrick will be able to return for this contest. That's huge for Buffalo's offensive success and Terrell Owens' sanity.
RECAP: The Colts have no interest here. They are just 3-10 against the spread in Weeks 16 and 17 (i.e. when resting starters) since 2002. I can't see them game planning for the Bills at all.
No line has been posted yet and I don't know Fitzpatrick's status, so I can't tell you how many units this selection is. I do, however, like Buffalo outright.
LINE POSTED: The Bills are -8, which is really ridiculous. This is just a 1-unit pick.
The Psychology. Edge: Bills.
The Colts didn't look too interested when Curtis Painter was in the game. Still, I don't see the motivation here for the Bills either if Brian Brohm starts again.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
Most people don't want to lay eight with the Bills.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 76% (58,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bills.
Colts are 39-23 ATS on the road since 2002.
Colts are 3-10 ATS in Weeks 16 and 17 since 2003.
Bills are 6-18 ATS in their last 24 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
Atlanta Falcons (8-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12) Line: Falcons by 2. Total: 41.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Falcons -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Falcons -4.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
As promised, here's some hate mail I received for last week's NFL picks. Also, someone disputes the QB Dog Killer nickname.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: I couldn't believe it. I bet on Josh Freeman and he came through for me. Though he threw two interceptions and it looked like he was screwing me early, Freeman was 21-of-31 for 271 yards at New Orleans.
The Saints have been pretty poor against the pass recently, but it's not like Atlanta's secondary is any better. Excluding the victory over Brian Brohm, the Falcons have surrendered 215 passing yards or more in five consecutive games - and that includes a tilt against the Buccaneers, where Freeman was a brilliant 20-of-29 for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
What's impressive about that performance is that unlike the Saints victory, the Buccaneers couldn't muster any sort of rushing attack. That will be a problem for Tampa again; Atlanta's run defense has been very impressive of late. No opponent has gained more than 103 rushing yards against the Falcons since Nov. 15.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: The Buccaneers nearly won that aforementioned battle against the Falcons, losing in the final few seconds. However, Matt Ryan suffered a toe injury in the first quarter, forcing an ineffective Chris Redman to play most of the contest.
Having Ryan over Redman will be a big boost in this meeting for the Falcons, but don't expect Atlanta to score on every possession or anything. Ryan's getting healthy, but he's not 100 percent yet. He completed just 51.4 percent of his passes against the Bills on a 7.1 YPA. The week before, he was just 16-of-34 for 152 yards at the Jets.
Also, keep in mind that Tampa Bay's pass defense has really improved in the second half of the season. Except for Matt Moore (thanks to a late, long pass to Steve Smith), no quarterback has maintained greater than a 7.0 YPA against the Buccaneers since Aaron Rodgers back in Week 9. And this includes two iterations of Drew Brees!
The Buccaneers are still really weak against the run though, so the Falcons should be able to gash them with Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood.
RECAP: Everyone expects the Falcons to win this game because of two assumptions: 1) They're the better team. 2) They're going to play harder than Tampa because a victory would give them their first ever back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history.
I say those assumptions are wrong. I like Tampa here.
First of all, Tampa is a pretty solid squad as long as Freeman doesn't turn the ball over. And it's not like the Buccaneers won't be motivated. They won't idly stand by as the Falcons achieve history. Tampa just had a big victory over the Saints and will want to knock off another divisional rival.
With motivation a non-factor, I believe it's ridiculous to lay points with the Falcons on the road. They are just 2-5 straight up outside of the Georgia Dome, so backing them as a favorite just doesn't seem too smart to me.
Also, the Big Al Trend applies here (see below). This system has hit at a 62-percent clip since 1980. I like those odds.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No emotional edge found. The Falcons are going for their first back-to-back winning season ever, but the Buccaneers aren't just going to lay down.
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
Tons of early money on Atlanta.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 88% (89,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Buccaneers.
History: Buccaneers have won 12 of the last 18 meetings.
History: Home Team has won the last 4 meetings.
Big Al Trend I: Since 1980, unrested home dogs are 114-70 ATS off a straight-up road win vs. team coming off home win.
Buccaneers are 14-9 ATS as a home underdog since 1996 (1-4 in 2009).
Buccaneers are 6-13 ATS off back-to-back wins since 2003.
We actually saw some Rebecca Grant cleavage this past weekend for the first time in like 10 weeks! It was a Christmas miracle!
E-mail from Michael D.:
I've gained 5 pounds so far sitting in front of my TV waiting to see some Rebecca G. cleavage! To hell with the frigging football games... damn TV producers should just stick a camera in front of Rebecca, turn up the heat, and stick a bottle of tequila and a lime on a stand next to her. Give her a 6 minute script and then she's on her own. And we all just sit back and wait.
I don't understand how the people at FOX and Verizon haven't thought of this yet.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: This game doesn't mean anything for the Saints because they have the No. 1 seed locked up, but Sean Payton has stated repeatedly that his team will go "all-out" against the Panthers in an attempt to get back on track. I can't really blame him.
Even in a huge effort, the Saints could continue to struggle offensively (they've scored 17 points in each of their past two games). You beat the Panthers with the run, but New Orleans' rushing attack is defunct without Pierre Thomas. Frenchie suffered a rib injury against the Buccaneers and is listed as questionable. Thomas ran well while he was in that game, but after he left, Mike Bell offered nothing.
In the previous six weeks, the Panthers have allowed only two opponents to compile more than 200 passing yards. Those two foes were the Giants and Buccaneers, whose numbers were cosmetic and didn't really impact the game. Carolina's secondary is outstanding, and offers a good matchup for Brees and his receivers.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: While the Saints can't expose the Panthers' run defense, Carolina should have plenty of success pounding the rock. New Orleans' recent ineptness versus opposing ground attacks is pretty well documented; the team has yielded 321 rushing yards to the Cowboys and Buccaneers the past two weeks. That's embarrassing and must be fixed if the Saints want to win a single game in the playoffs.
With Jonathan Stewart and perhaps DeAngelo Williams ripping off huge gains in this contest, Matt Moore will have an easy time converting short-yardage opportunities, even without Steve Smith. Moore might not even need the help anyway; in his past two games, he is a combined 36-of-53, 470 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. That's a completion percentage of 67.9 and a YPA of 8.9. Moore is playing out of his mind right now, and I'd have to think that if he had started this entire season, the Panthers would have a playoff spot right now.
While everyone talks about New Orleans' inability to stop the run, what about the pass? In the previous four weeks, Josh Freeman, Tony Aurora Snowmo, Chris Redman and Jason Campbell have thrown all over the Saints, combining for 1,227 passing yards.
RECAP: Forget the records. As odd as it sounds, Carolina is the better team right now.
Oh, and by the way, this is the Panthers' Super Bowl. They won't be going to the playoffs, but winning this game would give them some validation and would provide momentum for what seems like a great 2010 season for them.
There's no line yet, so I'm not sure how many units this is going to be. Check back later.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The Saints are not playing their starters.
The Vegas. Edge: Saints.
The public is loving the hot Panthers over the Saints backups.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 75% (64,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
History: Road team has won 9 of the last 12 meetings.
Divisional Revenge: John Fox is 7-2 ATS in same-season divisional revenge games.
Big Al Trend II: Underdogs coming off a loss as -7 or more, playing a team coming off a SU win are 69-36 ATS.
Saints are 47-32 ATS on the road since 2000.
Panthers are 33-23 ATS as an underdog the previous 55 instances.
New England Patriots (10-5) at Houston Texans (8-7) Line: Texans by 7.5. Total: 46. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Patriots -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Patriots -3.
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. "brwns brwns hahaha wats that on you guys shirt its brown its all over your back dang whooped hahaha"
2. "bye raiders you guys are truly haters hahahaha the only thing you can talk about is the chargers ha but chargers didnt play you guys browns did embarrassing lol ha maybe nxt year you can win them hja"
I think this guy set the world record for most poorly placed "ha's" in a sentence. Maybe he uses those ha's like punctuation marks... or should I say "maybe he uses those ha ha like punctuation marks ha"
3. "THAT IT couldn't think of his name earlier some gut said buster was good ha ha"
Why in the world are you talking to guts?
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: This line would seem to indicate that the Patriots won't be playing their starters, but that's hardly the case; I'll discuss this further in the recap, but Bill Belichick said that no healthy starters will be rested this week.
I expect to see Tom Brady playing for at least three quarters. Brady finally looked healthy for the first time in about a month last week, going 23-of-26 for 267 yards and four touchdowns. You may argue that those numbers were a byproduct of Jacksonville's horrific defense, and I couldn't dispute that. However, Houston's secondary isn't very good either.
The Texans really excel at stopping the run, so don't expect as many long Sammy Morris runs this week. Still, I can't see Houston's defense having much success as long as Brady is in the game.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: Speaking of poor secondaries, New England's has had its share of embarrassment in that area this year. However, it's worth noting that the Patriots just completely shut down David Garrard, so perhaps their defensive backfield has improved.
Having said that, it's pretty difficult to contain Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. The Patriots don't have the pass rush to get to Schaub, who has taken just one sack in the past three weeks. Schaub will have all the time in the world to torch New England's secondary.
Like the Patriots, Houston's ground attack won't be much of a factor. I have no faith in Arian Foster, and New England stops the run pretty well.
RECAP: In 2005, the Patriots were locked into the No. 4 seed. Brady and the starters played only one quarter against the Dolphins in Week 17, ultimately losing, 28-26 to a hot Miami squad that had ripped off six straight victories (but finished at 9-7). That was the Doug Flutie drop kick game.
However, just one year later, New England was the No. 4 seed again, but had a chance to move up to No. 3 with an Indianapolis loss. The Patriots played the Titans, who needed a victory to get into the playoffs. In that contest, Brady played three quarters, beating Tennessee, 40-23.
This game seems a lot like the 2006 iteration. The Patriots are currently No. 3 but could move down to No. 4 with a loss and a Cincinnati win. You may wonder what the difference between those seeds are. Think about it this way: If New England is the top-seeded team remaining come the AFC Championship - a very likely scenario if they beat San Diego; the Colts have given up - they would host the Bengals. If the Patriots lose this contest, they'd have to travel to Cincinnati instead for the AFC title game.
This is the worst spread in NFL history. The assumption is that this game means nothing to the Patriots, which is dead wrong. That's exactly why Belichick said his healthy starters would play.
But what about the Texans? Don't they need a victory more than New England? Of course they do. And that's exactly why I love the Pats here. The Texans are the biggest choke artists in the NFL. How are they going to win this game, let alone cover a touchdown? I don't get it.
I'm strongly considering this as my January NFL Pick of the Month. I'll make my decision later in the week.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: I've decided to keep this at five units. Though I'm very confident that Bill Belichick will play his starters for most of this game, I don't want to be caught with eight units on a game where there's a very small chance that Belichick sits his guys and loses the cover in the process.
The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
The Texans need a win to get into the playoffs. Favored by seven, all the pressure is on Houston.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
One of the worst spreads Vegas has ever released. The public isn't buying this ruse.
Percentage of money on New England: 71% (112,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
Patriots are 6-2 ATS in Week 17 since 2001.
Tom Brady is 108-34 as a starter (83-56 ATS).
Tom Brady is 12-7 ATS as an underdog since 2003.
Texans are 16-25 ATS after a win (10-9 since 2007).
1. "dmc ur dad is so d.u.m.b he he had 2 look at ur virgin.a cus he wasnt sur wat u was"
2. "I JUST WANT TO SEE A GOOD GAME THIS PLAYERS GET PAID TOO MUCH TO GET BLOWN OUT!!!!!!"
You may think this is Emmitt, but it's not; Emmitt would have said "I JUST WANT TO SEE A GOOD GAME THIS PLAYERS GET PAID TOO MUCH TO GET DEBACLED!!!!!!"
3. "Is this the Larry Johnson from Charlotte Hornet ?"
Wowwwwww. Football IQ Fail.
ST. LOUIS OFFENSE: Steven Jackson was a surprise late scratch last week and ruined some fantasy championships. Even with a herniated disc in his back, he says he plans on playing in Week 17.
Despite the lack of talent around him, Jackson has been great this year, so even though the 49ers have allowed more than 116 rushing yards to only three foes this season, I expect Jackson to still have a solid outing. This should make things easier for Keith Null, who had absolutely no help against the Cardinals last week.
Still, I don't have much faith in Ryan Leaf's protege. In Null's three starts, he has three touchdowns, nine interceptions, eight sacks, three fumbles and a 5.0 YPA. The 49ers have been getting more pressure on the quarterback lately with Ahmad Brooks coming on, so don't be shocked if Null is coaxed into more turnovers and sacks.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: I've been discussing this ad nauseum lately - the Rams weren't terrible against the pass this year in the first 13 weeks of the season, but O.J. Atogwe's season-ending injury really hurt them. In their previous three games, St. Louis has allowed a total of 950 passing yards.
Alex Smith doesn't have the talent to fully take advantage of this and post 30-plus points like Kurt Warner did last week, but he should still have a solid outing.
It'll help Smith that Frank Gore is poised for a monstrous game. Since Oct. 18, the Rams have yielded at least 110 rushing yards to all but one opponent.
RECAP: The 49ers are clearly the better team in this matchup. But that doesn't mean that they'll cover the spread.
I think laying a touchdown in a road divisional game is a bit too much for San Francisco. Think about it this way - the 49ers are just 1-6 straight up away from Candlestick, and that sole victory was by just four points.
Could the 49ers cover seven on the road? Absolutely - but I think there's more of a chance the Rams stay within the number; they're 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 games.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Rams.
No surprise here.
Percentage of money on San Francisco: 83% (82,000 bets)
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. Herm Edwards: "The 49ers and Vikings both have physicalness."
When Herm learned that he was going to be replacing Emmitt on ESPN, I guess he took that quite literally.
2. Cris Carter: "I'm disappointed in Andy Reid because there's no more creative mind in football."
There's no disputing that. Sure, Jack Del Rio and Andy Reid share the same tendency of going for it on fourth down in their own territory in the first quarter, but Reid also does onside kicks against weaker opponents, burns timeouts like there's no tomorrow, and kicks field goals down seven with only a couple of minutes remaining. As Steve Urkel Cris Carter said, "There's no more creative mind in football."
3. Keyshawn Johnson: "Look for Smash and Dash to attack the edges because the William Brothers will clog the interior."
They're not even brothers, and now you're getting their name wrong? If Emmitt were still in the studio, he'd tell Keyshawn that he was "factually uncorrect."
MIAMI OFFENSE: The big wild card here is Troy Polamalu. Polamalu hasn't been ruled out this week, and he ran on Monday and Tuesday to see how his knee would respond. He'll push to play, but ultimately could be a game-time decision, making this selection a pretty difficult one.
Without Polamalu, Chad Henne will be able to move the chains consistently; Pittsburgh really hasn't been able to stop the pass with Polamalu out, surrendering big gains to every quarterback they've played, including Bruce Gradkowski and Matt Cassel. Henne would have the luxury of having a strong rushing attack by his side; Ricky Williams would have a field day against a defense that has allowed four of its previous five opponents to compile at least 109 rushing yards.
If Polamalu is back, however, it'll be a completely different story. The Steelers would once again have success versus the run, forcing Henne into long-yardage situations. Amid facing a fierce pass rush and a potent secondary led by Polamalu, Henne would be forced into several turnovers.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: Hines Ward could miss this game after aggravating his hamstring against the Ravens. Ward should have sat out a week or two to let the hamstring heal, but he was too proud after all that Ben Roethlisberger concussion drama. Karma is a b***h, eh Hines?
I think the Steelers would actually be hurt more if Ward tries to play through the injury than if he just sits out. If Ward's not anywhere close to 100 percent, he won't be able to run any effective routes, which will really slow down the passing attack. If Ward sits, Roethlisberger still has Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller to work with. And it's not like the Dolphins have a great secondary or anything. You saw what the Texans did last week.
Rashard Mendenhall will be able to help the Steelers pick up the slack if Ward is out. The Dolphins have surrendered at least 95 rushing yards to every opponent they've battled since Oct. 12.
RECAP: As of Tuesday evening, there is no line on this game. I honestly had a tough time figuring this one out, but here's what I've come up with:
If Polamalu plays and Ward sits, I like the Steelers. If I get any other combination, I'm taking the Dolphins. For now, I'm tentatively placing half a unit on Miami.
The Psychology. Edge: Dolphins.
Given all the madness that happened last year, if the Steelers win this game, they'll probably make the Doggone Playoff.
The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
No one has any faith in the Dolphins.
Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 73% (97,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
Steelers are 22-9 ATS on the road off a home division win the previous 31 instances.
Ben Roethlisberger is 68-28 as a starter (51-42 ATS).
Dolphins are 11-3 ATS as a home underdog after two straight losses the previous 14 instances.
Emmitt on the Brink is back! Season 2, Week 16 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 Colts. At 14-0, will the Patriots rest their starters? What about the Colts?
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: The Giants were just completely humiliated. After a Monday night blowout, they apparently thought they'd have an easy game against the 6-8 Panthers. They didn't show up, and were consequently gashed by Jonathan Stewart and a hot Carolina team for 247 yards on the ground.
If the Giants put forth some effort into this contest, they'll put the clamps on Adrian Peterson. Despite last week's performance, New York has played well versus the run this year. And it's not like Peterson is that much of a threat; he hasn't even gained more than 3.9 yards per carry since Week 10 against the Lions.
Brett Favre will have to do all the work for the Vikings. Favre ironically is one of the few Minnesota players not struggling at the moment, and based on how porous New York's secondary has been, you'd have to think that Favre will continue to thrive.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Vikings have been struggling against both the run and the pass ever since E.J. Henderson suffered a season-ending injury four weeks ago. In the four games without Henderson, Minnesota has surrendered at least 100 rushing yards to each opponent, and 258-plus passing yards to all but one foe. It's been really bad, and even Jay Cutler was able to look like a Pro Bowler on Monday night.
As with the defense, I expect a much better effort out of New York's offense. As long as Ahmad Bradshaw gets most of the carries, the Giants will be able to move the chains on the ground, setting up manageable third downs for Eli Manning. The Vikings haven't pressured the quarterback well lately, so Manning should be able to move the sticks all afternoon.
RECAP: This line tends to make you believe that the Vikings are the only team with motivation here. I would disagree. In fact, I liken this matchup to a Pittsburgh-Cincinnati contest in Week 17 of 2006.
In that game, the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers were coming off an embarrassing loss to the Ravens, which knocked them out of a possible playoff berth. The following week, Pittsburgh traveled to Cincinnati to take on a desperate Bengals squad that needed a victory to get into the postseason. Despite being the "worse" team and losing all hope of qualifying for the playoffs, the Steelers played hard and prevailed in overtime as 6-point underdogs.
The Giants were just humiliated last week in what was the final home game in their stadium. They are pissed, and they'll fight for a victory against a Vikings team that is playing like crap right now.
Minnesota is favored by way too much. I love all of the points we're getting.
The Psychology. Edge: Giants.
The Vikings need a win to give themselves a shot at the bye. The Giants, meanwhile, were embarrassed and will be looking to rebound.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New York: 53% (111,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Giants.
Losing Coach: Brad Childress is 2-5 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Giants are 25-9 ATS on the road since 2006.
Giants are 16-9 ATS after a loss since 2005.
Giants are 7-3 ATS after a double-digit loss since 2007.
Week 17 NFL Picks - Late Games Packers at Cardinals, Redskins at Chargers, Titans at Seahawks, Ravens at Raiders, Chiefs at Broncos, Eagles at Cowboys, Bengals at Jets
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.