San Francisco 49ers (0-3) at Atlanta Falcons (2-1) Line: Falcons by 7. Total: 42.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Falcons -7.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Falcons -9.5.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Falcons.
Week 3 Recap: A great week overall. I was 10-6, but went 6-2 with my multi-unit picks, including Cowboys +3 (5 Units) and Titans +3 (4 Units). I nearly hit my parlay, but the Packers killed themselves with too many penalties. The lesson as always - hedge whenever possible!
Two points I have to make:
1. I received an e-mail from Rich M:
Many people on this site rely on your picks on a weekly basis (myself included) and use their hard earned money on them. If you don't bet on a certain game yourself, I'm pretty sure you aren't confident about it. I would like you to start putting 0 units on bets you don't make yourself or don't recommend. I noticed at the end of last year you started this on your over/unders. I loved the fact that you did it. This week in NFL there is a game you said you wouldn't bet... but put one unit on it... that is what I mean.
Great idea. There are certain games I wouldn't touch each week in the NFL. I'm going to take Rich's advice and start labeling those games as zero-unit selections.
2. Speaking of e-mails, I apologize if you e-mailed me and I didn't back to you. I usually try to answer all of my e-mails, but I received more than 600 e-mails last week. I got to about 400 of them, but just ran out of time before the Sunday games kicked off.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: The Falcons had a great game plan against the Saints. They pounded the rock 44 times with Michael Turner and Jason Snelling in an attempt to keep Drew Brees off the field. Mission accomplished. Atlanta won the time-of-possession battle by more than 18 minutes.
The 49ers aren't as susceptible to the run as New Orleans is. Sure, they gave up 201 rushing yards at Kansas City, but that was a very predictable flat spot for them. In the two contests prior to that debaclation, San Francisco had allowed just 123 rushing yards on 44 carries to the opposition.
Matt Ryan will have to throw more often than he did against the Saints, but that really shouldn't be a problem. San Francisco's secondary is currently 27th versus the pass, thanks in part to the inability to get to the quarterback (3 sacks).
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: Jimmy Raye has been fired, and justifiably so. Per reports, the Chiefs constantly called out the plays the 49ers were going to run. With Raye gone, San Francisco will be more unpredictable - simply by default.
The 49ers will attempt to establish Frank Gore early and often, but that'll be a difficult task against an Atlanta defense that has been very stout against the rush aside from two long touchdowns by Rashard Mendenhall and Tim Hightower.
Fortunately for Alex Smith, the Falcons are even worse against the pass than the 49ers are. They rank 29th in terms of YPA (8.02) despite the fact that two of the quarterbacks they've battled this season are Dennis Dixon and Derek Anderson.
RECAP: I LOVE San Francisco this week for a multitude of reasons:
1. This is a must-win for the 49ers. Coaches were fired and players have been benched. This team is desperate for a victory.
2. Conversely, the Falcons' energy and desperation level will be low here. They just won the most important game on their regular-season slate. They circled that Saints contest when the schedule was released. In the wake of their emotional overtime win, I don't see how they can get up for this game.
3. The great Statfox Trend applies. Check below for details. The Statfox Trend crushed the Texans and Saints last week.
4. Teams that have beaten the Super Bowl champs as underdogs are 16-24 against the spread the following week since 2000.
5. If you're worried about the 49ers playing in their second consecutive road game, don't be. Mike Singletary has covered two of three games in this situation in his brief tenure with San Francisco.
6. This point spread is conspicuously low. I thought it'd be in the 9-10 range. This line is begging people to lay money with the host.
7. The Falcons humiliated the 49ers last year. San Francisco has extra motivation here, as if it didn't have enough already. (Thanks to e-mailer Andi Z. for reminding me.)
The Psychology. Edge: 49ers.
This is do or die for the 49ers. They can't afford an 0-4 start. The Falcons just won their early-season Super Bowl and won't be entirely focused against some crap 0-3 squad.
The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
No one wants any part of the 49ers after watching them lose to the Chiefs. Atlanta's big victory over New Orleans makes the Falcons a very appealing bet this week.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 66% (147,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: 49ers.
Statfox Trend: Home favorites coming off road wins of 1-3 points are 21-48 ATS since 2000 (Weeks 2-10 only).
KO'ing the Champ: Teams that have beaten the Super Bowl champs as underdogs are 16-24 ATS the following week since 2000.
New York Jets (2-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-3) Line: Jets by 6. Total: 37. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Jets -6.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Jets -7.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Jets.
Vegas Recap: The sportsbooks just cashed in for the third week in a row. They won with the Chiefs, Bills, Falcons, Browns, Rams and Bears covering. Only four one-sided games went against the house as the Steelers, Bengals, Eagles and Colts beat the number.
Will the public ever win a week this year? Or will degenerate dads resort to turning tricks in a couple of months so they can afford Christmas gifts for their family?
NEW YORK OFFENSE: I guess Mark Sanchez's poor performance against the Ravens was the exception; not the rule. Sanchez has played extremely well since the opener, though he did have two interceptions dropped at Miami.
A game at Bufflao will provide a tougher test for Sanchez than most think. In two matchups against the Bills last year, Sanchez was a combined 17-of-42 for 223 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. That isn't a big sample size, but it appears as though Buffalo's defense simply has the QB Nacho's number.
Fortunately for the Jets, the Bills can be run on. Buffalo ranks 21st against the rush, as the team struggled to defend BenJarvus Green-Ellis last week. LaDainian Tomlinson is playing like the same MVP runner we enjoyed watching in 2006, so he should have a big game.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: It's hard to believe that after months of going with Trent Edwards as their starter, the Bills thoughtlessly dumped the former third-round pick on Monday. Great foresight there by Buffalo's front office. Amazing stuff.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better fit for the Bills given their offensive line woes. Fortunately for Fitzpatrick, it appears as though Darrelle Revis will be out again, meaning Lee Evans will be an option downfield.
Running the football will not be an option, however. The Jets are surrendering just 2.6 yards per carry to the opposition. Well, it's not like the Bills utilize their best running back anyway.
RECAP: The Jets are obviously the much better team, but they're in a potential flat spot, having beaten the Patriots and Dolphins in back-to-back weeks. They also battle their former quarterback Brett Favre next Monday night. Besides, Buffalo is a tough place to play; Miami barely covered as 3-point favorites in Week 1, and that was when Edwards was the starter.
The Psychology. Edge: Bills.
Potential letdown game for the Jets coming off two divisional victories. They have the Vikings next week.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
No one's betting on the Bills right now.
Percentage of money on New York: 86% (125,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Jets have won 3 of the last 4 meetings.
Jets are 7-4 ATS on the road since 2009.
Bills are 13-4 ATS after playing the New England Patriots since 1999.
Bills are 7-18 ATS in their last 25 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-3) Line: Bengals by 2.5. Total: 37. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Bengals -5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Bengals -6.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Bengals.
Some random NFL notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. I hate ESPN. On Wednesday afternoon, I received about a dozen e-mails/texts/IMs from people notifying me that SportsCenter had a huge alert that they were going to televise a Brett Favre press conference at 2:45. What was so important that ESPN was promoting a random Favre press conference? Was he going to announce his retirement?
Eagerly waiting for 2:45, I refreshed Twitter (follow me @walterfootball) and Pro Football Talk to see if any news broke. I saw nothing. Eventually, 2:45 rolled around. And then 2:50. And then 2:55. Nothing. No Favre press conference. At 3 p.m., SportsCenter was over, and they never showed us any sort of Favre press conference.
Talk about douchebaggery. On the bright side though, SportsCenter ran a story on the Oregon mascot having to do millions of push-ups amid all the points the Ducks have scored this season. Why was this good news? Because I fell in love with this unbelievably hot blond Oregon cheerleader they had on during the special. Wowwa weewa.
2. Sticking with the Vikings, Brad Childress held a late-week team meeting prior to the playing the Lions on Sunday. Per reports, at least one player called the meeting "awkward."
Would it be wrong of me to guess that by "awkward," Childress had pictures of naked little boys all over the room?
3. And speaking of Childress, he said the following after the victory over Detroit: "A win is a great elixir. It won't be my elixir of choice later today..."
In other words: "Hello, my name is Brad Childress, and I am an alcoholic."
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Carson Palmer stinks. He really, really, really, really stinks. His completion percentage is pedestrian (56.6) and his YPA is horrendous (5.8). He somehow has only three interceptions. That number should be 11 because defenders have dropped eight potential picks this season.
Palmer's struggling, and the opposition knows it. Defenses are keying in on Cedric Benson, who has just 3.1 yards per carry this year. The Browns are decent against the run (3.9 YPC), so like the Patriots, Ravens and Panthers before them, Cleveland should be able to clamp down on Cincinnati's offense.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Aside from an insane amount of luck on Palmer's part, the reason why the Bengals are 2-1 is their suffocating defense. In Week 2, they pressured the hell out of Joe Flacco and forced him into four interceptions. Jimmy Clausen didn't fare any better last Sunday.
Cincinnati currently ranks second versus the pass, limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 5.6 YPA. Seneca Wallace obviously won't be able to convert many first downs if he's stuck in third-and-long situations the entire afternoon.
There is some hope here though, as Peyton Hillis just trampled the Ravens last week. Having no respect for the passing game though, the Bengals will stack the line of scrimmage as they did at Carolina and force Wallace to beat them. That's not happening.
RECAP: I like the Bengals in this spot. They have nothing to look ahead to, and Marvin Lewis always has his team prepared for the second game of a back-to-back road swing, so they'll be focused against the Browns. Palmer has sucked, but Cincinnati's defense is simply playing out of its mind right now. I think the stop unit will once again carry the Bengals to victory.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
No one's betting on the Browns right now.
Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 73% (128,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
History: Bengals have won 9 of the last 11 meetings.
Marvin Lewis is 9-3 ATS in his second consecutive road game.
Detroit Lions (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (2-1) Line: Packers by 14.5. Total: 45. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Packers -13.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Packers -14.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Packers.
More random NFL notes:
4. Unintentionally hilarious e-mail from an anonymous person:
I'd like to point out a mistake you made. You projected the Bills/Patriots game to be Patriots 38 - Bills 17, then proceeded to pick the Patriots -14 and laid 2 units on it. If your score prediction were right, the Patriots will not have beaten the spread, since the difference between 38 and 17 is only 11.
Not that it matters all that much, but I decided to point it out for whatever reason. I'm a Bills fan, so maybe I needed to comfort myself with my superior math skills.
Poor Bills fans. Watching terrible football for years has rotted their brain.
5. Speaking of rotting brains, Keyshawn Johnson said this gem on Sunday NFL Countdown:
"If the Cowboys go 0-3, man they go home."
Well, Keyshawn was technically correct because Dallas' next game is at home. But I don't think that's what he meant. I don't even think he knows what he meant.
6. Funniest Rotoworld headline of the week:
Chiefs DE Shaun Smith has been accused of grabbing an opponents' genitals for the second week in a row.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. No, really - there's not. On both occasions, Smith has drawn a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the opposing player who was pissed about having his junk yanked. Great tactics, Shaun!
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: How about you don't commit 18 penalties this time, Packers? Green Bay was extremely sloppy on Monday night, as the offensive line felt like it needed to hold on every other play. Then again, Julius Peppers is just that good when he's giving it his all.
The Lions have a monstrous defensive front led by Ndamukong Suh, so it's possible that Green Bay's flag-happy offensive line could pick up where it left off.
Having said that though, Aaron Rodgers will effortlessly torch a Detroit secondary ranked 30th versus the pass. Rodgers will have to do everything himself once again because running the ball won't be an option. Not that Detroit's good against the rush; Brandon Jackson just sucks. Seriously, why don't the Packers just trade for Marshawn Lynch already?
DETROIT OFFENSE: Adam Schefter is reporting that the odds of Jahvid Best playing in this game are good. This is terrific news for the Lions, who need all the help they can get if they want to pull this huge upset.
Best won't be able to run the ball against Green Bay's stout defensive front, but he'll provide Shaun Hill with a threat in the passing game. The Packers are 11th against aerial attacks, but that figure is helped by Trent Edwards' awful performance in Week 2. Amid tossing some near-picks, Jay Cutler exposed some weaknesses in Green Bay's secondary, particularly Morgan Burnett, who was whistled for a miserable pass-interference penalty on Chicago's final drive.
Hill isn't nearly as talented as Cutler, but he's certainly safer and won't make a big mistake while the game is close. I think Detroit will be able to put some points on the board, especially if Green Bay is flat off its Monday night loss.
RECAP: I went 10-6 against the spread last week, but it would have been 12-4 if I made changes to the Baltimore-Cleveland and Buffalo-New England games based on a trend I discovered Saturday night (I just felt like it was too late to change my picks, though I did decrease my unit counts.)
If you didn't see it, double-digit favorites coming off a defeat are just 33-59 against the spread since 2002. The thinking here is that a team that just lost isn't playing well, so it doesn't deserve to be laying a ton of points.
If you like that system, here's an even better one: Favorites of 12.5 or more are just 7-26 ATS since 1989 when coming off a loss as a road favorite.
As I hinted earlier, I think the Packers will be flat coming off a tough Monday night defeat to the Bears. Getting up for the lowly but feisty Lions will be difficult.
The Psychology. Edge: Lions.
The Packers just lost a tough game on Monday night. It'll be tough for them to get up against the lowly Lions.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Green Bay: 59% (113,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Lions.
History: Packers have won 17 of the last 19 meetings.
Double-digit favorites coming off a loss are 33-59 ATS since 2002.
Favorites of 12.5 or more are 7-26 ATS since 1989 when coming off a loss as a road favorite.
Lions are 13-9 ATS as a double-digit underdog since 2006 (3-8 in 2009).
Jim Schwartz is 0-5 ATS as a divisional underdog of 7+.
Packers are 22-10 ATS after Monday Night Football in the previous 32 instances.
Mike McCarthy is 0-3 ATS after losing on Monday Night Football.
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.
Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-2) Line: Seahawks by 2. Total: 40. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Pick.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: None.
My e-mail address is published on this site, so I tend to get more spam and junk mail than the average person. Each week, I'm going to find a hilarious e-mail and post it for your entertainment. Here is this week's edition:
(remember my Mom?)
fu hey, I've been steadily earning between $677-1267 a week from home, spending a few hours a day on the internet with Google's new home employment program. it took me about 42 minutes to learn the software and I ended up making $170 the first day. ever since that day it's been slowly going up as I become more and more efficient...you should try it, here's a news article about it: clic k to view the news wyqgpgmtlttvhllvy
For all you recent college graduates sending out queries to prospective employers, don't open your e-mails asking if they remember your mom and/or saying "FU." You probably won't be hired. However, it might help if you conclude your e-mail with gibberish like "wyqgpgmtlttvhllvy." Your prospective employer might be impressed with your ability to speak two languages.
ST. LOUIS OFFENSE: In the past three or four years, the Rams have struggled immensely without Steven Jackson - and understandably so. Jackson was their only offensive threat outside of Torry Holt, who couldn't do much with a broken-down Marc Bulger at quarterback.
Things are much different now. Sam Bradford is playing extremely well for a rookie and has inexplicably developed a great rapport with Mark Clayton, who couldn't cut it in Baltimore.
I like Bradford against the Seahawks, and if you're looking for a bye-week filler at quarterback, you may want to consider the impressive rookie. Seattle's secondary is an abomination, having surrendered 762 passing yards the past two weeks.
Jackson's availabilty is in question, however. Steve Spagnuolo said Jackson is "day to day" with a groin strain. I say there's a good chance Jackson plays - he started despite painful back spasms last year - but there's always a chance he could sit. If that happens, Kenneth Darby showed me enough last week to make me believe that St. Louis' offense will still be functional without Jackson.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: Speaking of running backs, fantasy owners everywhere were thrilled to see that Pete Carroll finally stuck with the right running back. Carroll gave 17 carries to Justin Forsett and none to Julius Jones. This is how it should be every week.
While St. Louis' defense has improved - Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and Ronald Bartell are playing tremendously - the team's inability to stop the run is still an issue. The Rams are ranked 28th versus opposing ground attacks, as Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain helped Washington gain six yards per carry at St. Louis last week.
Forsett will once again be effective, setting up play-action and short-yardage opportunities for Matt Hasselbeck, who has been solid this year. St. Louis' secondary is 15th versus the pass, but that ranking is inflated because of two matchups against Derek Anderson, Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski. The Seahawks should be able to move the ball in this contest - at least on paper.
RECAP: I wrote "on paper" because the Seahawks habitually suck on the road. They're 11-24 against the spread as visitors since 2006. They've had success at St. Louis, but that's only because the Rams were awful prior to this season.
I have St. Louis and Seattle seeded right next to each other in my 2010 NFL Power Rankings. If I'm right, and these two teams are about even, then this point spread is way off. Per my power rankings, this line should be anywhere from Rams -2.5 to -3.5.
I'm taking St. Louis, as it appears as though the wrong team is favored.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found in this fierce battle for first place.
The Vegas. Edge: Rams.
I'm really surprised that the Rams aren't garnering more public interest.
Percentage of money on Seattle: 64% (104,000 bets)
Carolina Panthers (0-3) at New Orleans Saints (2-1) Line: Saints by 13.5. Total: 44. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Saints -13.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Saints -14.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Saints.
In addition to an E-mail of the Week, I'm also going to post a Video of the Week. Last week I went retro by posting a pair of Mega Man 2 videos. Sticking with the old-school theme, here are two videos of old Nickelodeon game shows: The Worst Nick Arcade Player Ever (this girl might be brain-dead and unable to walk backward), and a kid copping a feel on Legends of the Hidden Temple. Real smooth, brother, real smooth.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: The Saints just aren't looking very sharp. They're not running the ball well, and they're having problems finishing drives. A post-Super Bowl hangover? Possibly. It could also be the fact that the New Orleans hasn't battled a soft defense yet, as the Falcons, 49ers and Vikings all have good stop units.
The Panthers are OK defensively. They're fifth versus the run and 14th against the pass. However, they have just two sacks on the year. No one has stepped up in Julius Peppers' absence.
With no pressure in his face, Drew Brees should be able to piece together a great game. Not that Brees even needs a ton of time to throw, but the pass protection won't hurt.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: The Panthers' scoring attack has been successful over the past couple of years despite poor quarterbacking because of the running game. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart dominated in 2008 and 2009, as they did a great job carrying an inept Jake Delhomme to a playoff appearance.
However, Carolina's just not running the ball well this season. The team really misses right tackle Jeff Otah, who has been out all year with a knee injury. It's unlikely that Otah will suit up at New Orleans.
On the bright side for the Panthers, the Saints showed a glaring inability to stop the run against the Falcons last week. This gives Carolina some hope. Then again, New Orleans will stack the line of scrimmage and force Jimmy Clausen to beat them. Clausen had a rough debut against an elite Cincinnati defense that made Joe Flacco look like a scrub.
Things won't get any easier for Clausen. Check out this dubious stat: The Saints battled three rookie quarterbacks last year, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman (twice). Those signal-callers went a combined 68-of-128 for 740 yards, one touchdown and 11 interceptions against Gregg Williams' defense in four games. Good luck, Jimmy.
RECAP: The stat I mentioned in the Packers-Lions game applies here as well. Double-digit favorites coming off a defeat are just 33-59 against the spread since 2002.
As bad as Carolina looks right now, the Saints don't deserve to be favored by about two touchdowns because they just aren't playing good football. And it's not like New Orleans has had much success laying 10 or more with Sean Payton anyway (see trends below).
SURVIVOR PICK: I've used the Packers (they'd be my top choice otherwise), so I'm taking the Saints in Survivor.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Everyone saw the Panthers struggle against the Bengals. Bettors were pounding the Saints early in the week, but it's even now.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 59% (140,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
History: Road team has won 9 of the last 13 meetings.
Double-digit favorites coming off a loss are 33-59 ATS since 2002.
Panthers are 34-25 ATS as an underdog the previous 59 instances.
John Fox is 4-1 ATS as a divisional underdog of 7+.
Saints are 28-44 ATS at home since 2001 (11-9 since 2008).
Saints are 21-34 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
Saints are 2-7 ATS as double-digit favorites under Sean Payton.
Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) Line: Steelers by 2.5. Total: 34. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Ravens -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Steelers -1.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Steelers.
Once again, I'm now in the same fantasy football league as Bo-Bo. If you don't know who Bo-Bo is, he's quite possibly the worst fantasy player in the history of the universe. Here was the team he drafted last year:
QB: Trent Edwards (6th-round pick); RB1: Michael Turner; RB2: Frank Gore; WR1: Terrell Owens; WR2: Kevin Curtis; WR3: Joey Galloway; TE: Chris Cooley; DEF: Minnesota; K: David Akers (12th-round pick).
I have some sad news to report. No, Bo-Bo didn't win. He's now 0-3. It's that I was outscored by Bo-Bo in a separate game (in which I ironically won to improve to 3-0). Bo-Bo lost 119-100, while I won 88-67. The reason for my 88-point output is because Ray Rice and Jahvid Best both left their game early. I have confidence that I will crush Bo-Bo when I battle him in Week 5. But for now, our 0-13 dream season is still alive!
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: I have to wonder why Charlie Batch wasn't the Steelers' starter since Week 1. I've been calling for Batch to be the guy, and I was pleased that he performed admirably at Tampa Bay. Batch delivered a pair of long bombs to Mike Wallace and surprisingly showed decent mobility whenever he was pressured in the pocket.
Duplicating what he did at Tampa Bay against Baltimore will be a different story. Unlike the Tanard Jackson-less Buccaneers, the Ravens won't give Batch much time to throw and won't allow him to complete any deep touchdowns to Wallace again. Baltimore is first against the pass, giving up a 4.8 YPA.
The Ravens showed some susceptibility to the run last week when Peyton Hillis magically transformed into a fantasy stud. The Cleveland game could have simply been a flat spot though, so while I think Rashard Mendenhall will have a solid outing, I can't see him dominating this contest.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: It's amazing what the Steelers are doing. They're second against the run (2.6 YPC), third versus the pass (5.9 YPA) and tied for third in pass rush (10 sacks). Remember in Week 1 when they completely shut down Matt Ryan? Well, Ryan has been great ever since, so that shows how dominant Pittsburgh's defense is.
If the task of battling the Steelers' vaunted defense wasn't enough, the Ravens may not have the services of Ray Rice. Rice suffered a knee contusion at the end of last week's victory over Cleveland. It sounds like Rice may play, but he might not be 100 percent. And even if he is, Baltimore won't be able to run the ball against Pittsburgh's front seven.
Joe Flacco will have to move the chains on his own. I like Flacco, and I think he did a great job rebounding off a disastrous outing at Cincinnati, but the fact of the matter is that he's never played well against the Steelers. He's had only one decent outing; he went 23-of-35 for 289 yards and a touchdown in a Week 12 matchup at Baltimore. However, he took five sacks and fumbled twice in that contest, and the Steelers didn't even have Troy Polamalu or Aaron Smith in the lineup.
RECAP: I think this is a really tough game to call. The Steelers are playing better football right now, and they have proven that they can win without Ben Roethlisberger. Plus, I feel like this is more of a statement game for them; everyone counted them out when Big Ben's suspension was announced. They can shut everyone up by going 4-0 in his absence.
Having said that, this is just a lean. I'm going to take Rich M's advice for the first time and make this a zero-unit selection.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Both teams will be bringing it.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
After early action on the Steelers, the money has evened out.
Percentage of money on Baltimore: 58% (129,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Steelers.
History: Home Team has won 14 of the last 16 meetings.
Ravens are 13-9 ATS on the road under John Harbaugh.
Ravens are 12-23 ATS after a home game since 2005.
Steelers are 26-11 ATS in October since 2000.
Steelers are 12-6 ATS in October home games since 2000.
Week 4 NFL Picks - Late Games Colts at Jaguars, Texans at Raiders, Cardinals at Chargers, Redskins at Eagles, Bears at Giants, Patriots at Dolphins
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.
Denver Broncos (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (2-1) Line: Titans by 6.5. Total: 44. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 3): Titans -6.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 3): Titans -7.
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Titans.
Some college football notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. If I ever decide to bet on a Dave Wannstedt-coached team again, please shoot me. Pitt has the worst offense I've ever seen. Their quarterback is some 5-6 dude who can't complete a pass. And if that wasn't bad enough, Wanny's play calls sucks. Consider the following he said at halftime:
"We tried a double end-around to the receiver and it didn't work rahhhh."
Great job, Wanny. Your team sucks. Your quarterback sucks. Your play-calling sucks. And your mustache sucks.
2. Speaking of crappy offenses, Georgia Tech blows. Their nifty offense not only can run left and run right, but run middle too! Amazing. You need to be able to throw to beat good teams in college football. Sure, running left, right and middle works against awful defenses like South Carolina State and other 1-AA schools, but the Jackets will never be able to beat any good teams with just running the ball. Georgia Tech's entire coaching staff should be fired right now because they don't seem to understand this.
3. Georgia Tech and N.C. State ran back-to-back commercials at the end of the first quarter of their game in an effort to promote their universities. I'll describe the two commercials, and you tell me where you'd rather go to school:
Georgia Tech showed this hot, busty brunette playing the drums for some unknown reason. At the end, their slogan said something stupid like, "Make great music at Georgia Tech!"
N.C. State showcased various classrooms where students worked diligently on various projects.
So, which school would I rather go to? Duh, Georgia Tech! I don't want to do any classwork. I want to see hot, big-breasted chicks playing the drums!
DENVER OFFENSE: I don't know what sort of dark magic or PEDs Kyle Orton experimented with this offseason, but he seems to have more arm strength than ever before. His wideouts are all benefiting from this, as Brandon Lloyd is currently second in receiving yardage. I liked Lloyd coming into this season, but I didn't think he'd be this good.
Facing a competent quarterback for the first time all year, the Titans really struggled to stop the pass last week. Eli Manning threw for 386 yards, but Tennessee was able to capitalize on two fluky interceptions. The Titans can't count on that happening every week.
The difference between this contest and the New York game is that the Broncos don't have the same potent ground attack the Giants do to keep Tennessee's defense honest. Ahmad Bradshaw ran well last week (despite his red-zone fumble), and it'll be up to Laurence Maroney to duplicate that feat with Knowshon Moreno likely out. Considering that Maroney couldn't even do anything against Indianapolis' sorry run defense, I can't see him keeping Orton out of third-and-long situations.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: The Broncos surrendered only 41 yards on 20 carries to the Colts last week. But it's not like Denver's run defense is that good. Indianapolis usually struggles to move the chains on the ground, and the Broncos were allowing 4.8 yards per rush going into that Week 3 battle.
Stopping Chris Johnson is obviously a much more difficult task, especially with Vince Young acting as a dual rushing threat. No matter how well teams bottle Johnson up, he always breaks at least one long run.
Aside from limiting Johnson's long gains, the Broncos' goal should be to keep Young from doing anything aerially. The problem with that is Denver's secondary simply isn't very good and Champ Bailey isn't completely healthy.
RECAP: This is a very poor spot for the Broncos. They put a lot of stock into last week's Colts game. They did a great job hanging around, but fell short at the end. It'll be really difficult for Denver to get up for this solid, yet underrated Tennessee squad.
The Psychology. Edge: Titans.
The Broncos just lost an emotional game (for various reasons) against the Colts. I'm not sure how they can get up for the Titans.
The Vegas. Edge: Broncos.
A solid amount of money on the host.
Percentage of money on Tennessee: 61% (131,000 bets)