Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) at Houston Texans (10-6) Line: Texans by 4. Total: 38.5. Walt's Projected Line: Texans -2.5.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 4:30 ET
The Game. Edge: Texans.
Week 17 Recap: I just had my first winning Week 17 in site history. Three cheers for me!
OK, so I'm not totally sure if that's true, but I can't ever remember a Week 17 not being in the red. I dedicated this offseason to learn how Week 17 operates, since it seemed so different than all of the other weekends. My hard work paid off. Now, I just have to make sure Weeks 1-16 produce winners...
Lots to complain about this week:
Patriots -10 vs. Bills: I'm man enough to admit that I was lucky to win this four-unit play. The Bills were up 21-0 as 10-point underdogs. They should have covered, and I'm confident they would have if Scott Chandler hadn't gotten hurt and Steve Johnson hadn't been benched for being an idiot.
This season has really been the Year of the Bizarre Cover. I don't know if it's because of the lockout, but there have been so many backdoor and come-from-behind beats. If I have the time, I want to go over all of this season's ridiculous covers. I may do it the week of the Super Bowl.
49ers -10.5 at Rams: Here's one. The 49ers were up 34-13 in the fourth quarter. The Rams could barely move the football, so there was no way they should have beaten the spread.
Lo and behold, Kellen Clemens led St. Louis on a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives, marking the second time in three weeks that he has beaten me with a stupid backdoor cover.
Texans PK vs. Titans: Congrats if you had Texans +1.5 to +3. Because I stopped locking in my picks, I went with the Sunday morning spread on this site, which was a pick 'em. Of course, it rose back to +1.5 prior to kickoff.
I did manage to win money on Houston, but I lost this selection in my records because of T.J. Yates' injury and a stupid false start on a two-point conversion.
By the way, if I had known that Delhomme would be playing for most of this game, I would have bet my entire life savings on Tennessee. More on Delhomme later.
Steelers -7 at Browns: The Steelers are the most crooked team in the NFL. As I've mentioned multiple times, the Rooneys made their money via sportsbooking when it was legal, so it should be no surprise that they are involved with unbelievably shady non-covers multiple times per year. Seriously, how many times can you fumble the football in Cleveland territory in a single season?
I lost $330 on this game, but I would almost pay another $330 to learn how much money Isaac Redman earned for point-shaving. It has to be in the five-figure range, right? Or did the Rooneys compensate Redman with hot females in his hotel room?
I'll be posting these NFL Picks throughout the day. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
Vegas Recap: A bad year for the sportsbooks ends with a brutal Week 17, where four of the six highly bet teams covered (Eagles, Patriots, Falcons, Giants). Vegas only made money with the Rams and Browns (of course). There weren't any big upsets either, so no teasers were broken up.
The public is predictably all over the Steelers this week, so look for more shady things out of them.
I'll be updating the Vegas betting action all week, as usual. I'll notify you of any updates @walterfootball.
Some random football notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. I agree with all of the firings that took place on Black Monday. The Rams had fallen apart under Steve Spagnuolo's watch. The Buccaneers quit on the lazy Raheem Morris. And Bill Polian was too old to want to start over with a rookie quarterback, so Jim Irsay (or Isray, if you're Taton) is doing the right thing by bringing in a new front office.
The only thing that didn't make sense was Norv Turner not getting axed. The Chargers aren't seriously considering keeping him on, are they? They can't be that stupid, right?
Eagle fans, meanwhile, are pretty pissed that Andy Reid is still on board, but his job was never in jeopardy. Still, they're infuriated, and Sunday's post-game press conference didn't help. When asked why he didn't make the playoffs, Reid offered up this gem:
"Well... uhh... we were 8-8 and... uhh... umm... the other teams... uhh... weren't... hem, hem..."
Thanks, Andy. You could make yourself more likable by not completely blowing off the media every week, but I suppose you are just too busy, what with all the cheesesteaks out there that need to be devoured.
2. I'm sure some of you have fantasy football horror stories from this year. I do as well. Remember that one week where Hakeem Nicks was rewarded 20 extra yards two days after the game was over? Well, I lost that game in Bo-Bo's league. Had I won my matchup, I would have been in the playoffs. Instead, I missed out - even though I was the highest-scoring team in the league:
If it wasn't for that stupid Nicks adjustment, I would have gotten into the playoffs over six-seed Black in Action, who won the whole damn thing.
If you think that's bad, get a load of e-mailer Larry M's fantasy football horror story:
You probably dont care, but I thought I had to tell someone about the worst fantasy beat of all time, which happened to me in the championship this past week.
All of my players were done by Saturday night, and I had a huge lead. My opponent had Aaron Rodgers, who promptly scored 42 points on Rod Marinelli's defense (I am a huge Lions fan and hate Rod Marinelli.) He also had Darren Sproles, and he had scored almost nothing. Last drive, they get a touchdown pass from the 9-yard line, but I still won the league title by 1 point! I also won the regular season - double champ.
I admired the standings every morning as kind of a psyche up to start the day, but on Thursday morning, there was a change. ESPN modified the score by two points, and I lost the championship that I had mathematically clinched during the final game! ON THURSDAY!
I lost one point because they said a Brandon Marshall catch was a backward pass, and therefore a run, and another point on the Lions' defense, as a sack was taken from Justin Durant, calling it a Phillip Rivers run instead. Rivers never runs! If it was a sack, I would have won because I had the tie-breaker.
Thanks for listening.
I e-mailed Larry back, offering my condolences and opining that fantasy results shouldn't be allowed to change once the games conclude (still bitter about Nicks.) I never heard back from Larry though, so I'm now wondering if I should alert the suicide watch hotline in his home town.
3. Facebook friend Steven L. posted the following on my wall:
I'm flipping through my TV guide and it says the Belk Bowl is on ESPN2. What the hell is a Belk Bowl?
I'm very disappointed in Steven. How has he never heard of the Belk Bowl? All of that tradition. It's the great-grand daddy of them all!
If you didn't catch the sarcasm, I'm continuing my pledge to Boycott the Bowls (#BoycottTheBowls). I haven't watched a single minute of any of those crappy postseason exhibition games yet, and it seems like others are following suit. Check out this picture of the Outback Bowl at kickoff, courtesy of CNBC's Darren Rovell.
Rovell later tweeted, "If schools weren't required to eat tickets they couldn't sell, bowl heads couldn't make $200K working 30 days a year."
I still see people on Twitter (@walterfootball) who tweet about various bowl games they're watching, and I'm just #SMH the whole time. I don't understand how anyone can support a system that's so corrupt and entirely based on money. The only reason there's no playoff system is so certain people of interest can earn six figures from these meaningless games.
If you're reading this, please stop supporting this nonsense. Stop watching these utterly meaningless bowl games. And spread the word. The BCS and the bowl system need to die.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: I just got off the phone with CTU, and I can tell you that terrorist chatter has died down in the past couple of days. This coincides with the report that T.J. Yates is expected to start this game. With Jake Delhomme expected to be sidelined, terrorists are no longer mobilizing to kidnap Delhomme's son. That's great news for anyone who already bet the Texans. And for Delhomme too - because it sucks to have your son kidnapped.
Yates is listed as probable with a shoulder injury on his non-throwing arm. He reportedly looked good passing the ball in practice, and given that it was his left shoulder that he injured, it's not expected to be a problem whatsoever.
Moving the chains enough to win this contest could be another story, though it's promising that Yates went 4-of-4 on the only drive he was on the field for last week. He led the Texans to a touchdown against a pretty decent Tennessee stop unit.
The Bengals haven't been that good since losing top corner Leon Hall, though it has been the run defense that has really suffered. Since Week 10, they've surrendered 4.7 yards per carry to opposing backs, which includes the 220 rushing yards they permitted to Baltimore.
Cincinnati was able to stack the box against Houston in the Week 14 meeting, but that's because Andre Johnson was out. Johnson is expected to play 40-50 snaps in this contest, and his presence will give Yates more time in the pocket; Yates was sacked five times versus the Bengals last time, but I definitely expect that number to drop.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: As for the other rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton started hot, but he has really struggled lately. He's completed more than 58 percent of his passes in only one contest since Week 8. His YPA numbers have also been pretty low, and he could have easily thrown a few interceptions against the Ravens. Bernard Pollard dropped the easiest pick of his life when a Dalton pass hit him right in the numbers.
Dalton was OK versus Houston in the aforementioned Week 14 tilt, going 16-of-28 for 189 yards and a touchdown. A.J. Green was pretty much held in check by Johnathan Joseph (5-59). He'll need to have a bigger game if Cincinnati wants to advance.
The Bengals didn't really have any big plays in that game, but Cedric Benson managed a 42-yard scamper. He was neutralized otherwise though, as the Texans are in the middle of the pack in terms of stopping the rush (10th, 4.03 YPC). It's not like Benson has the talent to take advantage of this though.
I don't really see Cincinnati moving the ball at that much, but it's not like they've done that in recent games.
RECAP: This spread indicates that these teams are even, but I don't agree with that. The Bengals are in the playoffs because of an easy schedule, as evidenced by their 0-7 record versus opponents that qualified for the postseason. Also, they've covered the spread only once since Week 9 - and that wouldn't have been the case if Early Doucet didn't trip over his own two feet in the end zone.
The Texans have also struggled recently, but Johnson's return, as well as a raucous Reliant Stadium crowd, should spark them to victory.
UNIT CHANGE: I'm dropping this down to one unit because the line has moved to -4. I'd still go for two units if you can somehow still get -3.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 56% (111,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
First Start: Quarterbacks making their first start in the playoffs are 2-10 ATS as home favorites since 2002.
Bengals are 17-9 ATS as underdogs since 2009.
Texans are 32-16 ATS after two or more consecutive losses (6-4 ATS as favorites).
Detroit Lions (10-6) at New Orleans Saints (13-3) Line: Saints by 10.5. Total: 59.5. Walt's Projected Line: Saints -9.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 8:00 ET
The Game. Edge: Saints.
If you've been following this site, you know that I make a habit of responding to my spam mails. I've been posting e-mails from Richard Held and Loon Bruce, who told me I won a Facebook Award, which comes with a "lump sum pay out of (750,000.00 GBP)." Pretending to be Matthew Millen Kim, I sent out my application and fake money, but I haven't heard back from them yet. I'll keep you posted.
As for the recent new spam mail, here's what it was as a reminder:
My name is Peter Lee, We are looking for a qualified Basketball Coach/instructor that will handle our basketball Club,this is a 24months Head Coach contract with the club.
This Head coaching contract with the Club is scheduled to start in January 2012.
We are very interested in the experience of a basketball coach who can satisfactorily create/implement an effective offensive and defensive system and instill essential teamwork qualities among our players to guarantee success.
Contract Duration: 24months liable for upward extension depending on commitments and performance to the Club.
Salary & Benefits: US$29,000 Monthly can be paid to any bank of your choice on every 25th of the Month. Free Accommodation and Car, Flight Coverage, Medical & Dental Insurance, Leave rotational 3 Months On and 4 Weeks off..
If you are interested and capable of taking this position. Kindly forward your photograph and your C.V/RESUME for review and urgent consideration.
Mr Peter Lee
This is almost too easy.
Here's my response:
I am very interested in handling your basketball club. I am a well-qualified coach and have lots of experience.
One question: How old are the players on your team, and do you have ball boys? I work very well with ball boys.
I have attached my picture and resume.
Coach Bernie Fine
Peter Lee got back to me with three long e-mails containing a seven-page PDF for me to sign. I didn't feel like filling out a seven-page file, so I asked him to shorten it:
Can you shorten the length of the PDF? I have Timmy and Jimmy here with me, and their mom will be coming in a few hours. I don't want to waste precious time.
You also have not answered my question about the ball boys. How old are the ball boys on your club? This is very important information!
Peter Lee replied, "You will be responsible for the training and player development the Club. The players are between the ages of 14-16 years."
But what about the ball boys? The ball boys!?
Peter Lee you are not listening to me! I would like to know about the ball boys. Can you send me pics of them?
No response from Peter Lee, so I followed up:
You still have not answered my question about the ball boys. How old are they? What are their interests? In which way do they like to be penetrated?
Still no answer from Peter Lee, so I just sent over one more e-mail:
I AM VERY ANGRY THAT YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN BACK TO ME ABOUT THE BALL BOYS! DO THEY LIKE TO TAKE LONG WALKS ON THE BEACH? HOW OLD ARE THEY? CAN THEY SWIM SO I CAN ROUGH HOUSE WITH THEM IN THE POOL? ARE THEY ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS? TELL ME IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'll keep you updated if Peter Lee gets back to me.
DETROIT OFFENSE: No one on ESPN is talking about this, but the Saints have actually been pretty good defensively since their bye. Since the week off, they've surrendered 24 (Giants scored some garbage points late), 17, 17, 20, 16 and 17. And it's not like they've played junk offenses during that stretch either; they've battled New York, Atlanta, Carolina and this very Detroit squad.
The biggest difference has been in run defense. They've allowed 5.03 YPC throughout the year (31st), but only 4.2 YPC since the bye. This has made pass defense easier, since they force their opponents in more long-yardage situations and consequently generate more turnovers.
Matthew Stafford threw an interception in the prior meeting, but was solid otherwise. He went 31-of-44 for 408 yards, a touchdown and the pick. If you recall, Nate Burleson had about a billion offensive pass interference penalties in that contest. That's part of Detroit's M.O. though - constantly screwing themselves with dumb mistakes.
Something else that screwed the Lions was Kevin Smith's injury. He went out near halftime of this contest, and it completely disrupted their game plan. Smith is healthy now, but there's definitely no guarantee he'll last the whole contest. If he does, the Lions should have success moving the chains and keeping up with the Saints on the scoreboard.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: Matt Flynn just set the all-time single-game passing record in Packer history, scoring 45 points on Detroit's defense, so how do you think Drew Brees will do?
You don't have to think about it because you can just go back and look at the box score of the Week 13 Sunday night tilt. Brees went 26-of-36 for 342 yards and three touchdowns. As he's been since that bizarre loss to the Rams - which might go down as the most fixed game of all time - Brees was unstoppable, and it's hard to imagine him slowing down.
The one caveat is that Ndamukong Suh didn't play for the Lions in that 31-17 defeat. Suh is a Pro Bowl talent and an obvious difference-maker, but I seriously doubt that his presence can help slow Brees down even a little bit on the Superdome turf.
New Orleans will also be able to run the ball, if needed. The Lions are ranked 26th versus the rush, and unlike the Saints, they haven't improved in this department recently.
RECAP: You don't know how many times I've flip-flopped concerning this pick. My thought process:
"I like the Saints because of their underrated defense."
"But the Lions have played in the Superdome recently, and they'll be better prepared to handle the crowd noise."
"But New Orleans is so good at home."
"But Detroit will have Ndamukong Suh and Kevin Smith back in the lineup."
"And this spread is so large, so the Lions should be the right side."
"But the Saints have beaten big spreads in the Superdome recently."
"But if there's one quarterback not named Kellen Clemens who can get a cheap, backdoor cover, it's Ser Stafford, right?"
See what I mean? I'm just going to take the points, but there's no way in hell I'm betting on either side.
THURSDAY NOTE: Several people have reminded me that Lions free safety Louis Delmas didn't play in the prior meeting either. He's another difference-maker who will be back for Detroit, so I'm a bit more confident in this pick. Still though, I'm not crazy at the prospect of betting against Brees in the Superdome.
UNDER PLAY: I'm going to throw a half unit on the Under 59.5. I feel that both defenses are underrated. New Orleans' stop unit, as mentioned, has been solid since the bye. The Lions, meanwhile, will have two members of their secondary back for this game. Only a half unit though because I don't like betting totals.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 62% (56,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Lions are 15-9 ATS as a double-digit underdog since 2006 (5-8 since 2009).
Saints are 21-10 ATS as a home favorite since 2007.
Drew Brees is 31-18 ATS off back-to-back wins.
Saints are 13-23 ATS in December home games since 2000.
Saints are 4-11 ATS as double-digit favorites under Sean Payton.
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2015): -$580
2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,291-2,116-129, 52.0% (+$8,150) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 741-668-34 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 305-267-13 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 1,823-1,765-51 (50.8%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 33-22 (60.0%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.