San Francisco 49ers (5-8) at San Diego Chargers (7-6) Line: Chargers by 9.5. Total: 44.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Chargers -9.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Chargers -9.
Thursday, Dec. 16, 8:20 ET
The Game. Edge: Chargers.
It's really inexcusable that the NFL still employs Bob Papa, Joe Theismann and Matt Millen. These three have been awful in the Thursday night games, and they keep getting worse. Last week, they referred to Reggie Wayne as "Reggie White." This was after Millen called Kenny Britt a "young stallion." And then, Papa told us the Colts have made the playoffs every year since 1981.
So with that in mind, here's a preview of what this San Francisco-San Diego game will sound like:
Bob Papa: Philip Daniels drops back to pass, looks, and takes a sack from Patrick Stewart. First down!
Joe Theismann: And that's a sack, Bob. What I mean by that is, the quarterback was taken down by a defender behind the line of scrimmage. That's what I meant by "sack."
Matt Millen: You see that play? I want you to watch this. Patrick Willis is a great player. Like Kenny Britt, Patrick Willis is a young stallion. I wouldn't mind having my way with him all night.
Joe Theismann: I talked to Mike Singletary, head coach of the 49ers, and he told me that Patrick Willis is a great linebacker because he just bought a new couch and love seat the other day. That's what makes Patrick Willis a great linebacker.
Bob Papa: And that sack is significant guys. That is the first sack the San Francisco Giants have recorded since 1961.
Joe Theismann: I bet if Matt Millen were playing for the 49ers, they'd get more sacks. Because Matt would bring multiple lunch sacks to practice every day.
Bob Papa: And there's a run by Cory Mathews! Eric Mathews breaks free of a few San Diego defenders, including Shawn Hunter to get the first down!
Matt Millen: You see that play? I want you to watch this. It was a running play. And what I mean by that is, the quarterback handed the ball to the running back, who ran the ball on the play. And that's why they call it a running play.
Joe Theismann: I disagree, Matt. That was a running play because you're a fat piece of s***. That's why it was a running play.
For the love of God, NFL, please don't let us listen to these guys again.
Anyway, it's the usual - my NFL Picks will be posted periodically throughout Tuesday afternoon and evening. You can follow me on Twitter @walterfootball to receive updates for when I post each selection.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: The 49ers laid 40 on the Seahawks last week, but it's hard to imagine them having as much success this time around. Most of San Francisco's offensive production came on short and intermediate completions that turned into big gains because Seattle couldn't tackle.
The Chargers rank fifth against the run, so the 49ers won't be able to establish Anthony Dixon or Brian Westbrook like last week. This will force Alex Smith to move the chains on his own, which is bad news for San Francisco because the Chargers rank first against the pass.
Left tackle Joe Staley's absence will be huge. While the Seahawks couldn't really take advantage of this because they were down early, you can be sure that San Diego will put tons of pressure on Smith. The Chargers are tied for second in the NFL with 38 sacks.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: While the Chargers are first against the pass, the 49ers are 22nd in terms of YPA, thanks to a leaky secondary. With Vincent Jackson healthy and Antonio Gates potentially set to return, Philip Rivers should have a big game.
The 49ers are third versus run, but San Diego could have some success running the football with the defense focused entirely on stopping Rivers.
RECAP: It's always difficult to travel on a short work week. Thursday hosts with winning records this year are 3-1 against the spread for that reason. The only loss came in Week 11, thanks to Tyler Thigpen's ineptness.
I like the Chargers here; not only are the 49ers screwed by the short travel week, they also have the unenviable task of slowing down Rivers in December.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
The public is back on the Chargers bandwagon.
Percentage of money on San Diego: 83% (56,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Chargers.
Philip Rivers is 17-10 ATS as a starter after Nov. 30.
Cleveland Browns (5-8) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-11) Line: Bengals by 1. Total: 40.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Bengals -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Pick.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Browns.
Week 14 Recap: I hit three of my top four picks (Dolphins, Cardinals, Chargers won; Rams lost), yet I only came out +1.7 units on the week thanks to a pair of bookend bad beats on the final play (Titans meaningless TD, Ravens pick-six). Carson Palmer showing up drunk to the Steelers game didn't help either; Pittsburgh did nothing on offense the entire game, yet covered the high spread because of Palmer's two pick-sixes.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Speaking of Palmer, I joked in my NFL Power Rankings page that he probably would play better blindfolded. It's sad to see him struggle so much. All of his arm strength is gone. Watching him play is like having an old, sick dog that can't move around anymore. He either needs to retire or purchase a bionic shoulder this offseason.
Palmer has his work cut out for him in this matchup. The Browns are just 21st against the pass in terms of YPA, but if you exclude everything before their Week 8 bye, they would be in the top five in the NFL right now in that department. Credit rookie corner Joe Haden for really coming on.
The Browns' defensive weakness is against the run; they've surrendered at least 97 rushing yards to their previous five opponents. However, Cedric Benson has been so slow and sluggish, I don't know if he can take advantage of Cleveland's liability.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: The NFL single-game record for pick-sixes will not be set this Sunday. That's because Colt McCoy will most likely be back under center. Well, making fun of Jake Delhomme's ineptness was fun while it lasted.
McCoy, who has been very impressive in his rookie campaign, should have no issues throwing against Cincinnati's skeleton-crew secondary. The Bengals have suffered so many injuries in their defensive backfield that even a 300-pound JaMarcus Russell would probably have success against them.
Of course, McCoy may not have to do much. Cincinnati is a pathetic 26th versus the run, so Peyton Hillis will have another monstrous outing.
RECAP: We're getting points with the better team and defense. If that's not enough for you to bet the Browns, consider the following:
1. The Bengals are coming off a very emotional loss to the Steelers. That was their Super Bowl. Their season is officially over, and I can't see them getting up for the Browns.
2. Cincinnati is a false favorite. Marvin Lewis is 1-7 against the spread when laying points after two or more consecutive losses.
3. I just looked this up - since 2002, teams with two or fewer wins are just 1-10 against the spread when favored. The reasoning for this is simple - the truly awful teams have no business laying points.
I should note that if Delhomme is named the starter, I'm dropping this pick down to two units.
The Psychology. Edge: Browns.
The Bengals just lost their Super Bowl to the Steelers. They're done.
The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
Percentage of money on Cleveland: 60% (78,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Browns.
History: Bengals have won 9 of the last 12 meetings.
Bengals are 6-20 ATS as a favorite since 2007.
Marvin Lewis is 1-7 ATS as a favorite after 2+ consecutive losses.
Washington Redskins (5-8) at Dallas Cowboys (5-8) Line: Cowboys by 9. Total: 44.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Cowboys -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Cowboys -7.5.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Cowboys.
Vegas Recap: When the Titans mysteriously covered the spread on a last-second shady touchdown, I received a ton of e-mails from conspiracy theorists who thought that this could be the "week of Vegas." I thought that the e-mailers were on to something because Tennessee's cover was one of the worst backdoor spread-beaters I've ever seen in my 11 years of handicapping the NFL.
However, it wasn't the "week of Vegas." Of the nine highly bet teams, four covered (Falcons, Patriots, Giants, Ravens). Vegas did have a winning week overall with the Titans, Bills, Lions, Cardinals and Cowboys. I do believe the "week of Vegas" is coming; whether that happens this week, next Sunday or during the playoffs remains to be seen.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: One odd report that surfaced before the Sunday games said that Mike Shanahan was considering benching Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman. This didn't happen because McNabb played relatively well, but I'm beginning to wonder if Shanahan has any clue. McNabb hasn't been good this year, but Grossman is a proven turnover machine.
McNabb won't have any excuses if he struggles against the Cowboys. Dallas has just 24 sacks on the year, including just eight in its past six games. The secondary, meanwhile, is 30th in terms of YPA.
One pleasant surprise last week for Washington was its ground attack. Ryan Torain totaled 158 rushing yards in the first half. The Cowboys are better against the run than the Buccaneers, but are just 21st in the league (YPC).
DALLAS OFFENSE: Speaking of defensive ineptness, the Redskins 31st against the rush and 25th versus the pass. They also have just six sacks in their previous six games.
Jon Kitna is doing a solid job managing the Cowboys' offense, and the Redskins just don't have the defensive personnel to stop all of his weapons or disrupt his timing in the pocket.
RECAP: I like the Redskins in this spot for three units. Here are three reasons:
1. I think Dallas will be flat coming off a very emotional loss to the Eagles. I can't see them getting up for lowly Washington as a big favorite.
2. Road dogs coming off three or more consecutive losses coming into the game tend to cover at a decent percentage.
3. Washington-Dallas games are typically close. Six of the previous eight matchups have been decided by six points or fewer.
UNIT CHANGE (THIRD TIME): Ugh. Check out the following report from Rotoworld:
Kelli Johnson of CSN Washington reports Rex Grossman will start over Donovan McNabb at Dallas on Sunday. Multiple outlets have confirmed the report.
Per Johnson, the Redskins' locker room is divided and some players are "extremely upset." Essentially, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan lied through his teeth Thursday when he denied that Grossman's snaps have increased.
Mike Shanahan's idiot son told the media that McNabb would start Thursday, prompting me and several people on the forum - discuss Rex Grossman starting here - to place bets on Washington.
The Redskins are unbettable with Grossman starting.
The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
The Cowboys are coming off a really emotional loss to the Eagles. Getting up for the Redskins will be difficult.
The Vegas. Edge: Redskins.
No one is betting the Redskins.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 86% (137,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Redskins.
History: Road Team has covered 5 of the past 6 meetings.
Donovan McNabb is 27-15 ATS after a loss since 2001.
Donovan McNabb is 42-27 ATS on the road since 2001.
Cowboys are 13-4 ATS after playing the Eagles since 2000.
Houston Texans (5-8) at Tennessee Titans (5-8) Line: Titans by 1.5. Total: 47. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Pick.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Titans -1.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Texans.
By now, you know how horrible the NFL Network announcers are. If you haven't actually heard them, you've read all of my fake conversations over the weeks.
One e-mailer, Cale W., heard them for the first time during the Colts-Titans game. Here's what he wrote:
Following up on a point you have been making all season long - not sure if you caught the great stat from Bob Papa in the game Thursday. He was explaining how the colts could make the playoffs if they win out. I swear that he continued to explain that if they didn't make the playoffs it would be the first time since 1981; I even have DVR and listened to it over and over to make sure I heard him right.
I'm not sure what he is smoking, but I want some. You are totally right, it is painful to listen to those clowns. NFL Network needs desperately to find a solid crew... they just don't seem to compare to the other networks.
Cale is correct. Papa did in fact say Indianapolis had made the playoffs every year since 1981.
So, what do we do about this awful announcing? Two forum members have come up with possible solutions.
First, Phil Elliott suggested that Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann begin speaking in Dr. Seuss terms:
Donald Brown is down
Upside down Donald Brown
Jason Jones Batted the Ball
The ball did fall
Batted the Ball did Jason Jones
Later, Dr Lukic stated that we should replace Papa, Millen and Theismann with John Fox, Josh McDaniels and Derek Anderson. Here was his mock conversation:
Fox: "Jimmy Clausen is a terrible quarterback, Carolina suxxxxx!"
McDaniels: "**** you I'm Josh McDaniels, if I want, Jimmy Clausen can play cornerback. You know why? Cause I'm Josh McDaniels!"
Fox: "No you don't, you were just laughing and talking like an idiot."
Anderson: "I wasn't laughing. I take this **** serious!"
McDaniels: "Both of you shut the **** up before I trade you for Matt Millen and a 7th round pick. Now we're going to a commercial break!"
HOUSTON OFFENSE: If there's a silver lining to Houston's fourth painful loss of the season, it's that Matt Schaub can now have confidence in his ability against a tough 3-4 defense. Schaub has never played particularly well against the Baltimores and the Pittsburghs, but he certainly did so Monday night - until the back-breaking pick-six.
Schaub won't have any trouble against Tennessee's stop unit. He'll constantly be in short-yardage and manageable situations because Arian Foster will run all over the Titans. Excluding last week, because the Colts can't run the football, the Titans have surrendered 420 rushing yards in their previous two games - including 190 to Houston.
Schaub threw for just 178 yards in that Week 12 matchup, but didn't need to air it out because his team led throughout. Of course, the marquee matchup here is Andre Johnson versus Cortland Finnegan. Johnson will abuse Finnegan yet again, so it'll be interesting to see how the pesky corner responds.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: The Texans struggled against the run when DeMeco Ryans suffered a season-ending injury, but have been much better against it lately. Houston ranks sixth in YPC, and just restricted the Titans to 32 rushing yards on 11 carries in Week 12.
Chris Johnson will play better this week because Houston won't be able to focus entirely on the run, as Kerry Collins will start instead of Rusty Smith. However, it's not like Johnson has really dominated anyone outside of Indianapolis recently.
If Johnson struggles yet again, Tennessee won't move the chains consistently. Kerry Collins is a pretty erratic passer who figures to struggle a bit - even against Houston's abysmal secondary.
RECAP: Both teams are coming off very emotional losses. The Titans just played their Super Bowl against the Colts, while the Texans fell short of the Ravens in overtime despite a furious comeback.
This is a tough game to get a read on, but I'm going with Houston; Tennessee is a false favorite, as Jeff Fisher is 3-6 against the spread when laying points coming off two or more consecutive defeats.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Both teams just suffered season-ending emotional losses.
The Vegas. Edge: Titans.
The public is pounding the Texans.
Percentage of money on Houston: 82% (74,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Texans.
History: Texans have won 3 of the last 4 meetings.
Texans are 30-14 ATS after two or more consecutive losses.
Jeff Fisher is 3-6 ATS when favored after 2+ consecutive losses since 2002.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) at Indianapolis Colts (7-6) Line: Colts by 4.5. Total: 48. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Colts -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Colts -5.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Colts.
For those of you hoping to win Jon Gruden in the head coaching sweepstakes, this should quell your excitement. Here are three quotes Gruden recently said on Monday Night Football:
1. "They feeded off each others energy."
I guess there's something about ESPN that turns normal people into incoherent, grammatically challenged morons. I still say ESPN should ditch Gruden, Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski, and replace them with Kevin Reilly, Emmitt Smith, Herm Edwards and Bob Griese. If you're going to have bumbling idiots on the air, you might as well go for the gusto - just as the NFL Network did.
2. "He's like a lightning rod - he's very quick and hard to find."
Lightning rods are quick and hard to find?
3. "Bear Pascoe plays fullback and tight end for the Giants, three different positions."
Poor Gruden must have been sick when they went over how to count to three in kindergarten.
So, still want Gruden as your head coach?
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: Will this be the week that Austin Collie returns to the lineup? It seems like I've been saying "Collie will probably play this week" for the past month, yet he continues to sit. There is no news to report, so it's hard to count on him starting.
I mention Collie because the Peyton Manning interception parade pretty much began when Collie suffered a concussion. But Manning played brilliantly last week, and should continue to do so this Sunday. Despite the Jaguars' success this season, they can't stop the pass whatsoever. They rank dead last in that department in terms of YPA, and just surrendered 324 passing yards to the Oakland Raiders.
Disrupting Manning is all about applying pressure on him without blitzing. Indianapolis' offensive line sucks this year, but the Jaguars don't exactly have a quality pass rush; they have just four sacks in the past three games.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: The Jaguars usually do a great job of running the ball and controlling the clock against the Colts. They'll apply that formula once again this Sunday.
Indianapolis' struggles against ground attacks are well documented. The team has given up an average of 149 rushing yards per game in the past four weeks. Both Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings will pile up the yardage, setting up short-yardage situations for David Garrard.
RECAP: I wish this spread were a bit higher because 15 of the previous 17 meetings between these teams have been decided by eight points or fewer.
I really don't like either team here, but with a gun to my head, I'll take the Jaguars to keep this game close.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Battle for first place in the AFC South.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
Early lean on the Jaguars, but it's evened out.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 60% (129,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: 15 of the last 17 meetings decided by 8 points or fewer (Colts 12-5).
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) at St. Louis Rams (6-7) Line: Rams by 3. Total: 42.5. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Pick (Cassel) or Rams -3 (Croyle).
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Chiefs -1 (Cassel) or Rams -3.5 (Croyle).
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Rams.
Some random NFL notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. I was confused during ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. They listed the C'Mon Man winner as Drew Stanton's silly touchdown dance last week. Cris Carter said it "set the Dougie back 10 years."
Who the hell is Dougie? Is there one Dougie, or were all the Dougies in the world set back? The only Dougie (or Doug) I know is my former college roommate's friend. I thought about sending him an e-mail giving my condolences about Stanton setting him back 10 years, but then I realized I could just do so on the site.
So Doug, I'm sorry some loser Lions quarterback set you back 10 years, especially since you're a lawyer who has nothing to do with the NFL.
2. If you haven't heard, Patriots rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
So, did Spikes take steroids? Nope. Drugs? Not that either. The answer? As you can see below (thanks to e-mailer Dave M.), the substance changed Spikes' skin color and made him bald:
3. I'm glad I'm not the only person who hates the new, crappy NFL Primetime. Check out this legendary e-mail from Brandt G:
What the f*** happened to Boomer and Tom Jackson, and where do I need to look or pay to watch them do their "blitz" game analysis!? NFL Primetime primarily sucks... I used to pass up sales at work (100s of $$) from 1 p.m. till 2 p.m. every Monday. Now I waste 10 minutes of my loser pothead life watching these three jamokes talk about Favre's hurt shoulder. Get to the f***ing games. Jesus Christ.
I'd say I couldn't write that better myself, but I've repeated this for the past few years. ESPN hates its viewers because it destroyed the best show it had. Please bring back the old NFL Primetime!
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: Speaking of Berman, I loved his "Croyle was broiled" line during SportsCenter. Brodie Croyle was epically bad, but Matt Cassel's absence was no excuse for the Chiefs. If you're a good team, you can win without your starting quarterback. Just look at the Steelers with Dennis Dixon and Bears with Todd Collins; both were victorious despite shoddy quarterbacking.
It's unclear if Cassel will play in this game. He told the media that he'll prepare this week as if he'll be starting, but what else is he going to say?
And even if Cassel does start, how healthy will he be? I can't imagine him being particularly effective. The Rams are fifth in the NFL with 36 sacks and will put tons of pressure on Cassel or Croyle all afternoon.
Unlike last week, however, the Chiefs will be able to establish a sound rushing attack. The Rams have struggled against the run recently.
ST. LOUIS OFFENSE: Speaking of establishing the run, the Rams will do exactly that against the Chiefs, who have surrendered at least 100 rushing yards to five of their previous six opponents. Steven Jackson just better not put the ball on the ground again.
Jackson's running will open up play-action and short-yardage opportunities for Sam Bradford. Bradford struggled in the raucous Superdome last week - as all rookie quarterbacks do - but figures to rebound against the Chiefs, who have issues at safety. Eric Berry has been a disappointment this year, while Kendrick Lewis is just mediocre at this stage of his career.
RECAP: I like St. Louis for two reasons. First, the Chiefs are coming off an emotional loss to the Chargers, so it'll be difficult for them to be focused against a "mediocre" 6-7 Rams team.
And second, Kansas City's quarterbacking situation is a mess. If Cassel plays, he may not be 100 percent and thus could be ineffective. And if Croyle starts again, he will be broiled.
The Psychology. Edge: Rams.
The Chiefs put 110 percent into the San Diego game, yet the Chargers destroyed them.
The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
Slight lean on the Rams.
Percentage of money on St. Louis: 68% (61,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Rams.
Chiefs are 18-11 ATS as a road underdog since 2007.
Buffalo Bills (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-6) Line: Dolphins by 5.5. Total: 40. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Dolphins -6.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Dolphins -6.5.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Dolphins.
Some random college football notes:
1. My thoughts on the Heisman: First of all, congrats to Cam Newton for winning the Heisman. Second, my condolences to Newton for having to give back the Heisman in t-minus 3-5 years.
Third, Newton definitely deserved the Heisman. I know he's the highest-paid college football player this year (1-year deal, $180,000) but Newton is definitely not the only college football player making money. I know for a fact - and I'll never name any names or schools because it's not illegal; it's just against the NCAA's stupid rules - that most players in big programs, even the crappy players, receive some sort of compensation, whether that's money, electronics, etc.
I have no problem with this. The players earn so much money for these greedy college presidents that they deserve to be compensated. Newton is the best player in college football, so he deserves every penny of his 1-year, $180,000 "contract."
2. My thoughts on the Big East getting a BCS bid: Who the f*** cares? Seriously. Why does anyone care if Connecticut goes to a BCS Bowl over a better team?
Here's why you shouldn't care: The Cheetos Fiesta Bowl is not any more important than the crappy bowls like the BBVA Compass Bowl. Neither matters whatsoever. The only "bowls" of any sort of significance are the two national championships: Wisconsin-TCU and Oregon-Auburn.
But what about national exposure and money, you ask? As for the alleged national exposure that comes from the Cheetos Fiesta Bowl, most people are so fed up with the college football system that they don't watch any of the bowls anymore. So, sorry sponsors. No one's going to buy Cheetos or BBVA compasses because your corporate name is on these silly, meaningless bowls. In fact, the next time I buy a compass, I'm going to make sure it's not a BBVA compass.
As for money, schools that have major sports programs basically print money. The University of Connecticut doesn't need the money that unjustly comes with the meaningless Cheetos Fiesta Bowl. The only person who benefits from this is the Connecticut school president, who will be able to build an eighth pool in his 12th mansion thanks to the extra cash.
3. Speaking of the BCS, I posted my BCS Bowl Picks this year for one reason - I knew people were going to e-mail me and asked me whom I liked in those meaningless games.
So, I posted my picks last Wednesday. However, my plan did not work. I seriously received 10 or so e-mails or Facebook posts from people asking, "Yo man, who do ya got in the bowlzzz??!?!"
Click the link if you really want to know. I personally don't care who covers or wins. I refuse to bet on fixed WWE NCAA Football, and I won't be watching any of these silly winter practice games.
MIAMI OFFENSE: It's pretty unusual to see a team win on the road with its quarterback completing just five passes. But Chad Henne's 5-of-18 was just enough against the Jets, thanks to an equally brutal performance by Mark Sanchez.
Henne will complete more passes against the Bills, but will he be better overall? That's difficult to say because Henne is so inconsistent and erratic. He could look great, but it's more likely that he'll play poorly and toss a couple of interceptions. Henne just seems like he's playing with no confidence right now.
The Dolphins don't have a very good running game, but they should be able to establish their ground attack against the Bills, who have surrendered an average of 153.3 rushing yards per game in the past four weeks. Unfortunately, there's no telling what inept offensive coordinator Dan Henning will do.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: While SportsCenter highlighted two of Sanchez's key drops, they didn't focus on three potential interceptions that bounced out of Miami's hands. It could have been a lot worse for QB Nacho.
The Dolphins defense is not getting enough credit. They've been incredible of late, now ranking eighth against the pass in terms of YPA, thanks in part to Cameron Wake, who leads the NFL in sacks. Miami has mustered 17 sacks in its previous six games, which is something the Bills don't want to hear, given their offensive line woes.
Buffalo won't be able to establish the run either; the Dolphins have limited their previous three opponents to less than 3.1 yards per carry.
RECAP: Like the Dolphins-Jets battle last week, this figures to be another low-scoring defensive struggle. So with that in mind, I'm taking the points.
By the way, two things to consider if you're even thinking about betting Miami:
1. Tony Sparano has NEVER covered the spread (0-7) when favored by 3.5 points or more.
2. Sparano has also never covered (0-6) when laying points coming off a win as an underdog.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Early money on Buffalo, but it's evened out.
Percentage of money on Buffalo: 54% (95,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bills.
History: Dolphins have won 4 of the last 5 meetings.
Dolphins are 11-5 ATS vs. AFC East since 2008.
Tony Sparano is 0-6 ATS as a favorite coming off a SU win as an underdog.
Dolphins are 0-7 ATS as favorites of 3.5 or more under Tony Sparano.
Detroit Lions (3-10) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) Line: Buccaneers by 4.5. Total: 43. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Buccaneers -9.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Buccaneers -9.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Buccaneers.
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.
Last week, I showed you an e-mail I received from a "United Bank of Afriocan." I replied to it, telling them my name was "Mister Compassion Chuck Norris" and that I was raised by wolves until I was 18. I even said, "'Ruuufff ruf ruuuffff rooooff ruuuff awwooooo' means 'I can't wait to receive my inheritance from the United Bank of Afriocan!'"
And if that wasn't enough, when they asked me for my address, I gave them: "123 Wolf Cave Road; Wolf Village, Alaska."
Now, who would be stupid enough to fall for that? Apparently, the United Bank of Afriocan because they actually sent me back an e-mail:
Dear M.C Chuck Norris
Thanks for your kind reply.
I am sorry for the late response is due we have a minor electrical problem but has been resolve.
In respond to your e-mail, you are hereby advised to make swift contact to the diplomat Mr John Wire and ask him when you should be expecting your ATM Card package. You are also advise to contact him with a copy of your identification such as a copy of your working id or your drive's license for proper identification when he meet with you to avoid wrong delivery to another person.
You are to reach the diplomat and reconfirm your Postal address and telephone number for immediate clearance.
Contact John Wire,Diplomatic Parcel Services.
Name of Diplomat. Mr John Wire
I wait to read from you for more confirmation.
Best of Luck.
Seriously, how stupid and/or desperate do you have to be to fall for that? Do they honestly believe I was raised by wolves and live in a place called Wolf Village?
I had to reply to this:
Mr John Wire,
Tis I, Mister Compassion Chuck Norris. I recently received an e-mail informing me I was awarded an inheritance from the United Bank of Afriocan. I was referred to you to claim my money.
Per instructions, I am attaching a picture of my driver's license.
I must warn you, if I do not receive my inheritance, I will hunt you down and feed you to my wolf cubs. You see, I was raised by wolves since childbirth. I've since learned to speak in wolf tongue, and I even married a female wolf a few years ago. Just a few months ago, I sired several wolf cubs, who are very hungry. The poor economy has hurt the wolf community as well, so I cannot afford to feed my cubs.
One way or another, they will eat - whether that food is purchased through my inheritance or comes from you "directly."
As they say in my native wolf tongue, "Ruff awwoooo ruff ruff awooooo!" This means, "You better come through with my inheritance, or you will be dinner for some hungry wolves."
Mister Compassion Chuck Norris
DETROIT OFFENSE: I don't know how the Lions won last week. Drew Stanton continuously dropped back 5,000 yards in the pocket and fired numerous inaccurate passes. It's a miracle the Packers didn't intercept him five times or more.
Fortunately for Stanton and the Lions, they have a much easier task this week. The Buccaneers are reeling with injuries. Stud corner Aqib Talib and Cody Grimm were lost two weeks ago. On Sunday, No. 3 overall rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was knocked out with a bicep injury.
The Buccaneers played so poorly defensively last week that Ryan Torain rushed for 158 yards in the first half, while Donovan McNabb actually mustered up enough cardiovascular endurance to lead a late comeback, only to be betrayed by his special teams. If Graham Gano made his field goals, Tampa would be 7-6 right now, and this spread would be a little bit lower.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: If the Packers weren't stupid and just gave the ball to James Starks once Aaron Rodgers was knocked out with a concussion, they would have scored more than three points.
The Lions can be run on; prior to the Green Bay game, four of their previous five opponents have gained at least four yards per carry against them.
Tampa should be able to establish the rush with LeGarrette Blount, opening up short-yardage opportunities for Josh Freeman. We all know how horrible Detroit's secondary is, so Freeman will be able to connect with Mike Williams, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Arrelious Benn on numerous downfield strikes.
RECAP: The Buccaneers were undervalued early in the year. Now I feel like they're overvalued because the public just doesn't realize how many injuries they've incurred.
I'm taking the Lions, but I can't say I'm confident with this pick. There are just no situational betting angles for either side.
SURVIVOR PICK: I lost with the Giants in Survivor five weeks ago, but I'll continue to give advice for those who are still alive.
Here are my top six in order: San Diego (used), New England (used), Tampa Bay, St. Louis (if Brodie Croyle starts), Dallas (move them up if Rex Grossman starts) and Oakland. As always, never pick a road team. Never pick a bad team. Never pick an underdog. Never save any teams. Always choose the best option.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No emotional edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
Equal action after early Tampa money.
Percentage of money on Tampa Bay: 61% (80,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Lions.
Buccaneers are 2-11 ATS at home under Raheem Morris.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: There's an awesome rookie quarterback in this matchup, and it's not Jimmy Clausen. John Skelton played very well last week. He didn't turn the ball over and managed the game confidently. The stats don't show it - he went just 15-of-37 for 146 yards and no touchdowns - but he endured numerous easy drops, particularly from Steve Breaston.
Skelton should have another decent outing, as Carolina's defense is miserable. The Panthers are showing no interest in tackling. They can't get to the quarterback consistently, and teams are running all over them.
Tim Hightower, who rushed for 148 yards on 18 carries last week, will have another big outing against Carolina's lethargic defense, setting up favorable situations for the strong-armed Skelton.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: The Panthers' offense is a bit less pathetic than their defense, only because they're running the ball well again. Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson will have success on the ground against an Arizona defense that has surrendered at least 112 rushing yards to its previous four opponents.
But that's about it. Everything else about Carolina's "scoring" unit stinks. The offensive line can't pass block whatsoever. Steve Smith has lost a step and is dropping way too many passes. And Jimmy Clausen is terrible. He's playing with no confidence, and his body language is awful. I severely underestimated how important it is not to be a loser in college. Lesson learned.
Even though the Cardinals' defense isn't very good (though their secondary has been better recently), it's hard to imagine the Panthers generating consistent drives in this contest.
RECAP: Arizona is my favorite play this week. Here's why:
1. The Panthers tried hard against the rival Falcons until that game got out of hand in the second half. They won't be able to put forth nearly as much of an effort against the "crappy" Cardinals.
2. I mentioned this earlier - teams with two or fewer wins are just 1-10 against the spread when favored. That one win, by the way, was just a 3-point victory, which wouldn't cover the number in this instance. The 2010 Panthers are one of the worst NFL teams ever assembled, and they have no business laying points.
3. Speaking of which, Carolina is a false favorite; John Fox is 3-7 against the spread when favored after two or more consecutive losses.
4. The Cardinals look revitalized with Skelton under center. I loved the way they played last week, and it seems to me that they realize that they may have something special with this young quarterback.
Oh, and if you're worried about Arizona playing an early game on the East Coast, don't be. The last time the Cardinals were in this situation, they won at Jacksonville, 31-17, as three-point underdogs.
The Psychology. Edge: Cardinals.
It'll be difficult for the Panthers to rebound off that loss to Atlanta - especially in the odd role as a favorite.
The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.
Two-thirds lean on the Cardinals.
Percentage of money on Arizona: 65% (55,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
Panthers are 24-37 ATS at home since 2003.
John Fox is 3-7 ATS as a favorite after 2+ consecutive losses.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: What happened to the Ravens defense? When did they ever surrender 99- and 95-yard drives in the same quarter? They couldn't generate any sort of pass rush on Matt Schaub, allowing Houston to mount a monstrous comeback.
Things aren't any easier for Baltimore; the team has to travel back home and take on Drew Brees on just five days of rest. Brees is on fire right now, and it's hard to imagine anyone slowing him down.
Something the Saints have to do is make sure they don't shoot themselves in the foot. They dropped too many passes last week, and they can't afford to do that against a good team like Baltimore.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: The Ravens have an issue they must address beyond Cam Cameron's moronic play-calling late in games. It's their pass protection.
In its previous six games, Baltimore has surrendered 21 sacks. The front just gave up five sacks to the Texans, who had only 19 sacks on the year going into Monday night. Joe Flacco is just not being protected well.
Considering that the Saints generate a decent amount of pressure on the quarterback (6 sacks in the last 2 games), Baltimore will have trouble moving the chains. Flacco probably won't have the luxury of a strong running game by his side, as New Orleans ranks eighth in the NFL against the rush in terms of YPC.
RECAP: A Super Six quarterback (Manning, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Rodgers) is getting points in this contest. If you've taken those six signal-callers as underdogs, you would be 89-42 against the spread. Brees alone is 29-18 ATS as a dog.
New Orleans is a three-unit play.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No emotional edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
People were unimpressed with the Ravens' performance on Monday night.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 65% (93,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Saints are 49-37 ATS on the road since 2000.
Saints are 26-18 ATS as a road underdog since 2000.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) at New York Giants (9-4) Line: Giants by 3. Total: 47. Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Giants -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Giants -1.
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Eagles.
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PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: It'll be interesting to see what sort of defensive strategy the Giants employ in this game. The last time these teams met, New York sent numerous zero blitzes against QB Dog Killer. If they do that again, they're going to get torched because the Eagles will be prepared for it this time around.
Like the Bears, the Giants did a phenomenal job against QB Dog Killer by getting tons of pressure on him and keeping him in the pocket. Despite this, the Eagles still put up 27 points, and could have scored even more if they didn't continuously shoot themselves in the foot.
It's just impossible to stop this Philadelphia offense. QB Dog Killer has too many weapons, while teams can't focus on containing LeSean McCoy. McCoy and Jerome Harrison, by the way, totaled 111 rushing yards on just 14 carries against the Giants. Now imagine if Andy Reid actually stops thinking about food for a second and realizes how effective his scoring attack could be if he ran the ball more.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The only way to beat the Eagles is to outscore them, and that's something New York is fully capable of. Philadelphia just has way too many injuries; Asante Samuel should be back, but Stewart Bradley, Brandon Graham and Ellis Hobbs are all out.
The last time these teams met, the Giants had a chance to win, but put the ball on the ground one too many times. Eli Manning, who has Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks back, could have some success against a secondary that has surrendered at least 242 passing yards to five of their six previous opponents.
However, it's worth noting that Manning has struggled against the Eagles in recent matchups; in his past three games against Philly, Manning is 67-of-110, 760 yards, three touchdowns and eight interceptions.
RECAP: There are offsetting situational angles here, so this is not going to be a big play. However, I like Philadelphia for one unit. We're getting points with the better team, and the Eagles quite simply own Eli.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Big game for first place in the NFC East.
The Vegas. Edge: Giants.
Slight lean on the Eagles.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 65% (125,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Eagles.
History: Road Team has won 5 of the last 7 meetings.
History: Eagles have won the last 5 meetings.
Eagles are 68-45 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Week 15 NFL Picks - Late Games Falcons at Seahawks, Jets at Steelers, Broncos at Raiders, Packers at Patriots, Bears at Vikings
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 21, 2014): 0-1 (-$770)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2014): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2014): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2014): 0-1 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2014): -$65
2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350)
2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2014 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 50-41, 55.0% (+$1,500) 2014 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 12-17-1, 41.4% (-$1,990) 2014 Season Over-Under: 144-119-2, 54.8% ($0) 2014 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$630
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,157-1,978-117, 52.2% (+$10,530) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 694-624-31 (52.7%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 288-251-11 (53.4%) Career Over-Under: 1,685-1,655-48 (50.5%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 30-19 (61.2%)
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.