So what if Zeke is a rookie? And they didn't draft him #4 overall, given that he's a prototype 3-down back, to have him in a timeshare with Morris or McFadden. Behind that line, coupled with his skills as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker, there's no way he should fall past the first round.
NFL Picks (2009): 147-117-9 (+$5,170) 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 Jan. 10, 12:20 p.m. ET.
NFL Week 17 Recap: In Week 16, I whiffed on all of my high-unit selections, but inexplicably won most of my low-unit picks. On Sunday, the complete opposite happened. I cashed in with the Patriots +7.5 (5 Units) and Chiefs +10 (4 Units), but still managed to lose money overall (-$75) because I went 6-9-1. With so many teams simply just not showing up (Giants, Jaguars, Bengals, Cardinals, etc.) it just goes to show that winning in Week 17 can be really difficult.
Vegas Recap: Last week, I commented, "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."
Go me. Vegas went just 4-6 with its lopsided plays, losing on the Bears, Falcons, Panthers, Patriots, Chiefs and Bengals. They cashed in with the Bills, Seahawks, Cowboys and Jets all covering. Maybe I should have taken my own advice.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Jets completely humiliated the Bengals with their ground attack Sunday night. Thomas Jones, Brad Smith and Shonn Greene helped the team compile 257 rushing yards on a 4.5 YPC. As Cris Collinsworth repeatedly pointed out, the Bengals were being pushed around and looked like they were playing on roller skates.
That will not happen again. Cincinnati was really porous against the run Sunday night for two reasons:
1. They didn't play hard, as they seemingly were content to battle these Jets in the first round of the playoffs.
2. Stud defensive tackle Domata Peko and left end Robert Geathers (who specializes against the run) were both out.
The Bengals have a great defense that dominates versus the rush. It's been a bit leaky lately because Peko has been out since Dec. 6, but he and Geathers are both expected back.
Between Weeks 5 and 12 (the final week Peko was in the lineup), the Bengals hadn't allowed a single opponent to gain more than 92 yards on the ground. The opposition's YPC in each of those contests: 4.6, 2.8, 2.9, 3.2, 4.4, 3.8 and 3.2. That's pretty damn good.
The Jets will not run all over Cincinnati this time, meaning Mark Sanchez will be asked to move the chains on his own. The Bengals have an excellent pass defense with two shutdown corners - Leon Hall did a great job on Braylon Edwards on Sunday night - so I can't see Sanchez having much success, especially considering the fact that he'll be playing in a road playoff game in a hostile environment.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Carson Palmer was just 1-of-11 for zero yards and an interception on Sunday night. The Bengals offense couldn't do anything, mustering only 72 total net yards and just five first downs. It was a disgraceful performance.
However, a few things happened here. First of all, Chad Ochocinco suffered a knee bruise in pre-game warmups. He's fine now. Second, Palmer was victimized by numerous drops. Third, Cedric Benson was out. And fourth, Cincinnati had a very vanilla offensive game plan, and consequently were just mauled over by an emotional Jets team.
I don't think Ochocinco will have much success on Darrelle Revis Island in this game either, but the big boost will be the return of Benson.
The Bengals are a great rushing team. They've run for a 4.0 YPC or better in six of their previous seven contests. They've rushed for 288 yards against the Ravens' stout run defense in two games this year. Benson has been one of the better backs in the league, while the Jets have faltered a bit versus solid ground attacks. New York hasn't been terrible against the run or anything, but we've seen the likes of the Bills, Dolphins, Saints and Jaguars expose them.
With Benson presumably running well, Palmer will have much more success converting third downs this week. I'll be shocked if his receivers don't make up for their poor effort.
RECAP: This is my favorite pick of the week. I absolutely love the Bengals.
Starting with the spread, we are getting incredible value. Cincinnati would be -6 here if it wasn't for that Sunday night blowout. People are overreacting to it and are giving the Jets way too much credit when the Bengals didn't even show up.
And that's a big factor. NBC continuously panned to Marvin Lewis on the sidelines, and he just stood there, seemingly soaking everything in and thinking about the perfect game plan he'd compose to beat these Jets next week. New York threw everything at Cincinnati, exposing crazy formations it had been saving for a must-win. Well, the Jets let everything out of the bag, giving Lewis and his coaching staff tons of great game film to study. The Jets, meanwhile, haven't really faced the real Bengals yet.
Lewis and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will throw a bunch of stuff at Mark Sanchez that he's never seen before. I really don't trust Sanchez in this spot. Playing a game in front of your fans is one thing; going on the road in a hostile environment and battling a tough Bengals defense is another.
By my count, Sanchez has played in four difficult road tilts this year. Let's look at all four, beginning with the most recent:
1. At Indianapolis. The Jets prevailed, but only because the Grinch Who Stole 19-0 pulled his starters. Sanchez was 12-of-19, 106 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs.
2. At New England. New York was debacled, 31-14. Sanchez was the reason the Jets lost. He went 8-of-21, 136 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs.
3. At Miami. This was a must-win for the Dolphins in that Spanish Heritage Month game. Miami won, though Sanchez was solid here: 12-of-24, 172 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs.
4. At New Orleans. This one was pretty ugly for the San-chise in another loss: 14-of-27, 138 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs.
So, in total, Sanchez is 46-of-91, 552 yards, 2 TDs, 7 INTs in his four taxing away games. Do you really trust someone like that to win a road playoff game?
Oh, and here's one more extra tidbit for you. This isn't the first time the Jets will be battling the same team in Weeks 17 and 18. Back in 2001, they had a must-win game at Oakland. New York beat Jon Gruden's Raiders, 24-22.
The following week, the Jets traveled back to Oakland. Gruden, getting a good look at everything the Jets threw at him, designed the perfect game plan to beat them. The final score: Raiders 38, Jets 24.
PICK OF THE MONTH? I'm strongly considering eight units here. I'll keep you posted throughout the week.
PICK OF THE MONTH! After four days of deliberation, I've decided to make this my January NFL Pick of the Month.
I've received a few e-mails attempting to deter me from making this move. The e-mails had one of two themes:
1. The "how the hell are the Bengals going to score on the Jets" e-mail.
2. The "Bengals have fallen apart down the stretch" e-mail.
How are the Bengals going to score on the Jets? I want to know the opposite. How in the world is Mark Sanchez going to put up points on a tough Bengals defense in a road playoff game?
Cincinnati was missing Domata Peko and Robert Geathers in that Week 17 blowout. The Jets will not be able to run the ball on the Bengals this time around. And if you need anymore convincing, the mighty New York offense scored a whopping SEVEN points against the Falcons at home in Week 15 - which was the last time the Jets played a game against a team not sitting its starters or not trying at all.
And since when are the Bengals falling apart? Because they can't cover double-digit point spreads? They're a great defensive team that just doesn't blow anyone out. And let's not forget that Cincinnati nearly won at San Diego in Week 15, losing on a last-second field goal.
That fake Week 17 blowout has gotten into everyone's heads. The Bengals, who were missing their top defensive lineman, did not show up to that game. The Jets put everything into it and easily won. Now, the oddsmakers were forced into making a completely skewed line that says that the Jets are half a point better than the Bengals. Once again, the Jets scored a whopping SEVEN points against the Falcons at home in Week 15, losing their last real game to a hobbled Matt Ryan. There is no way they are better than the Bengals.
It seems like all the experts are picking the Jets. The Bengals have a huge chip on their shoulder now. With their rabid fans supporting them, I think Cincinnati completely clamps down on New York's running game, forcing Sanchez to convert long-yardage situations in a tough environment. I already discussed how Sanchez has played in taxing road contests, and I don't think this one will be any different.
I honestly can't see the Jets winning this matchup. I would be shocked if they upset the Bengals.
The Psychology. Edge: Bengals.
The Jets exposed every trick they had in the bag against the Bengals. Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer have a big edge here because they were able to soak everything in.
The Vegas. Edge: Jets.
Surprisingly equal action here. I thought the public would pound the Jets.
Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 63% (213,000 bets)
1. I mentioned some of the teams not showing up as a reason why my record was so bad last week. Another was Chad Henne. Henne played well against the Steelers in the first half, but left the game at halftime with what the announcers called an "eye injury."
Eye injury? What the f*** is an eye injury? How do you suffer an eye injury in the game? And even if you do, why should it matter? We have two eyes. Why didn't Tony Sprarano grab an eye patch for Henne? Henne definitely would have been able to play with an eye patch.
2. I don't know why, but I had the following phrase typed into a notepad document I keep open to jot down ideas:
Orton runs like a little girl. Throws like a slightly older girl.
I don't know where this came from. Someone could have mentioned it on the forum. Maybe it was a quote from one of the idiots on the Gamecenter message boards. Or perhaps I typed that while in a coma, which would explain why I don't remember it.
But this allows me to talk about Josh McDaniels. I don't think McDaniels is a bad game day coach. The game plan he came up for the Patriots contest back in October was brilliant.
However, McDaniels has some glaring flaws. He completely screwed up last April's draft, taking 4-3 personnel for his 3-4 defense (Robert Ayers) and trading a future first-round pick for a nickel corner (Alphonso Smith) who has sucked this year. He dealt his franchise quarterback away for the aforementioned girly armed Orton. And he got into several disputes with Brandon Marshall.
Benching Marshall was flat-out dumb. Did Bill Belichick sit Randy Moss after he dogged that Carolina game? Apparently, McDaniels hasn't learned everything from his mentor.
I think McDaniels was hired five years too early. He's simply way too young to be respected as a head coach in this league. The writing on the wall was that a player on his team was a teammate of his on his high school football squad. I don't know how the Broncos dismissed Mike Shanahan for some arrogant kid.
3. I received some positive feedback for the last Video of the Week - the one where the kid yells at his mom about a broken microwave and then proceeds to break it. Here's another video featuring that kid and his grandmom. I don't have a Heroes of the Week segment, but if I did, that old lady would definitely qualify. I can't believe she hit him in the head with her paddle. MY FREAKIN' EYE!!!!
4. Awesome Kelly in Arizona sent over a picture of these two classy gentlemen:
Yay, let's all support murderers and demented psychopaths!
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: I thought the Eagles were going to struggle offensively against the Cowboys without center Jamaal Jackson, but I did not expect a shutout.
In hindsight, however, maybe it's something we could have predicted. Philadelphia couldn't even contain Jay Ratliff when it had Jackson in the lineup, so watching Ratliff dominate second-string center Nick Cole and a weak Eagles interior front was not surprising. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Ware completely abused left tackle Jason Peters. I always thought Philadelphia gave up way too much for the mediocre Peters, and it showed on Sunday.
I don't know how the Eagles are going to turn things around in six days. All of those poor mismatches will be there for their offense. Keeping Ratliff and Ware out of the backfield will continue to be a major problem.
Something Philadelphia can hang its hat on is that Donovan McNabb nearly hooked up with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for a few big plays. McNabb overthrew Jackson for a sure touchdown on one instance, and passed behind Maclin on another. McNabb then went on to blame Jackson and Maclin for the loss, further cementing his status as a horrendous leader.
Still, the fact remains that the Eagles came close to putting up some points against the Cowboys. Had McNabb connected with Jackson, the score would have been 7-7, and maybe at that point, Dallas doesn't run away with a blowout.
DALLAS OFFENSE: The mismatches for the Eagles continue on defense. Their secondary has feasted on poor opponents this year, but when they've gone up against quality quarterbacks, they've really struggled to defend the pass.
Remember that Sunday night contest where Philadelphia's secondary had major problems tackling the Giants' receivers? That was no fluke. The Eagles have played four playoff teams this year (Cowboys twice, Chargers, Saints). They lost all four of those games, giving up 30.8 points per contest. The quarterbacks of each of those teams averaged 269.3 passing yards per tilt.
Tony Romo is playing better than ever right now. He really has a strong rapport with Jason Witten and Miles Austin-Jones, and I really can't see Philadelphia containing Dallas' red-hot offense, especially if the Cowboys run the ball as well as they did Sunday afternoon.
In their previous four games, the Eagles have surrendered a total of 489 rushing yards, and the YPCs in those contests were 5.6, 3.9, 5.9 and 4.3. After struggling for most of the season, Marion Barber is healthy again. He and Felix Jones should have no problem approaching the 179-yard rushing mark they posted against Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
RECAP: The one thing people seem to be asking about the Cowboys is if Romo will choke. Romo has never won a playoff game, so there are still some believers out there who think that he'll melt down again.
I used to be part of that pantheon, but I've done a complete 180. As I wrote in my NFL Power Rankings page, "It's amazing what Keith Brooking has done for this team. Not only has he contributed a ton on the field; he has been the veteran leader the Cowboys have lacked during the Tony Romo-Wade Phillips era. With Brooking taking charge, Romo no longer has any pressure on his shoulders. He can just go out there and play football. It's no coincidence that he's having the best December of his career."
While I believe Romo will continue to perform on a high level, I also think that this won't be a rout again. The Eagles are just too good of a football team to be blown out/shut out by the same team two weeks in a row. If they hit the big plays that they just missed by inches last week, this contest could come down to a field goal.
With the extra point Vegas has given us in the wake of Dallas' 24-0 victory, I'm taking the underdog. I'm a fan of backing the Eagles and Andy Reid when they have their backs against the wall. No one in Philadelphia is giving them any sort of chance, and the people in the city are talking about McNabb being traded if Dallas wins this contest. This is when the Eagles seem to play their best football.
The Psychology. Edge: Eagles.
The Cowboys have to believe that they won Philadelphia. The Eagles, meanwhile, play their best football when everyone doubts them.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 54% (164,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cowboys.
History: Eagles have won 13 of the last 20 meetings (Cowboys have won the last 2).
Divisional Revenge: Andy Reid is 7-5 ATS in same-season divisional revenge games.
Triple Debaclation: Teams are 12-7 SU vs. opponents in the playoffs after beating them twice in that regular season.
Eagles are 64-39 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Eagles are 29-19 ATS vs. NFC East opponents since 2001.
Donovan McNabb is 24-12 ATS after a loss since 2001.
Donovan McNabb is 39-24 ATS on the road since 2001.
Cowboys are 12-3 ATS after playing the Eagles since 2000.
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.