New Orleans Saints (14-3) at San Francisco (13-3) Line: Saints by 3. Total: 47. Walt's Projected Line: Saints -3.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 4:30 ET
The Game. Edge: Saints.
Week 18 Recap: I have so much to complain about this week RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!
OK, no I don't. The only thing that bothered me were those two calls where the play was stopped because of an inadvertent whistle. The Lions should have scored a defensive touchdown, while the Broncos should have been awarded possession in the second half with the opportunity to make it a three-possession game. I don't understand why a play can't be reviewed when there's a whistle as long as one team makes a clear recovery. There's no reason Denver shouldn't have had possession at that point.
Oh, and by the way, can the NFL please say something about letting the clock run out when the Saints kneeled down on fourth down with 35 seconds remaining? Don't they know that degenerates like myself are rooting for backdoor covers?
I'll be posting these NFL Picks throughout the day. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
Vegas Recap: Nothing this week, except for the fact that bookies made a ton of money on the Broncos. Vegas had a pretty even week; they won on all their teasers, but they lost a ton on the Lions-Saints over.
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 was really rooting hard for the Broncos on Sunday afternoon for a variety of reasons. Most obviously, they were my January NFL Pick of the Month. I had seven units on the spread and another half unit on the moneyline. I also wanted the Steelers to lose because they cost me so much money this year with bulls*** non-cover victories. I'm also a Tim Tebow fan. So many people criticize him and want to write him off that I want to root for him to succeed. It simply amazes me how many douche bags on TV are against such a great guy, yet they support quarterbacks who torture dogs and assault women.
When the Broncos won, I tweeted that the only upsetting thing about Denver's victory was that we'd have to wait a week to hear what Cris Carter, Keyshawn Johnson and Merril Hoge had to say about Tebow.
I should have included Around the Horn's Bomani Jones in that pantheon, as he's been super anti-Tebow all season, referring to Denver's late-game heroics as "wrastlin'." Bomani was one of the four panelists on Around the Horn on Monday, so I was eager to hear him admit that he was wrong. Instead, he offered this gem:
"Tim Tebow is the worst quarterback in the NFL."
Really? Even worse than Charlie Whitehurst? Even worse Curtis Painter? Even worse than Caleb Hanie?
I tweeted that Bomani's statement the "dumbest and most stubborn statement ever made on TV." I mean, seriously, Bomani doesn't seem insane enough to be committed to a mental institution, so there has to be a reason for his inexplicable bias against Tebow.
In honor of this, let's bring back something I used to do a long time ago:
Why does Bomani Jones hate Tim Tebow so much? Time for oddities!
18:1 - Bomani wanted to have a sexy time with Tim Tebow (Matt Millen recommended kielbasas), but Tebow rejected Bomani's proposal because he wants to wait until marriage.
11:1 - Bomani's appearances on Around the Horn can be described as an "abortion." Bomani is hating because Tebow is against abortions.
3:1 - Bomani didn't take my advice, and opted instead to bet seven units on the Steelers to cover. Now, he's broke, and only has some of Millen's kielbasas to comfort him during the dark, lonely nights in his cardboard box.
1:8 - Bomani, like Jason Whitlock and Skip Bayless, is an attention-whore troll whose goal is to say the dumbest things possible so he can get more people to talk about him and follow him on Twitter.
2. Bomani Jones might be stupid, but GameCenter's Migelini takes the cake. If you didn't see it in my NFL Power Rankings, here are Migelini's quarterback rankings:
You heard it here first - "Tarvis" Jackson is the third-best quarterback in the NFL. In fact, the Bengals should trade for him:
We can only hope Marvin Lewis is reading this.
Migelini recently offered his Super Bowl predictions prior to this weekend's games. Unfortunately, his Steelers-Broncos Super Bowl pick did not come to fruition:
Oh, and apparently Arian Foster has been dealt to the "Benguls." Marvin Lewis has to be a happy man right now despite losing to Houston.
3. Many people have asked me what I think about Donovan McNabb being on ESPN. I actually think he's pretty good. He's well-spoken, and it seems like he knows what he's talking about most of the time (though I'm disappointed they didn't ask him to explain the overtime rules.)
ESPN should be careful though. If one of the other analysts screws up in any fashion, he won't hesitate to throw them under the bus. And perhaps he'll take some advice from South Park and throw one of his co-workers under an actual bus this time.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: It seems like half the people are talking about the Saints possibly struggling to score points because they won't be in the Superdome. The other half shrugs it off, saying stuff like, "It's going to be 60 degrees on Saturday."
I think it's a bit of both. The weather isn't bad in San Francisco, though it could be pretty windy. What will affect the Saints most, environmentally, is that they won't be on fast turf, and they won't enjoy the luxury of their crazed fans causing false starts for the other team. And then, of course, there's the 49er defense.
The only you can beat Drew Brees and any other great quarterback is by putting tons of heat on them without blitzing. Luckily for San Francisco, it has a ferocious front seven that is capable of generating immense pressure.
The 49ers also excel against the run. You know the stat by now - they hadn't allowed a rushing touchdown all year until Marshawn Lynch scored against them in Week 16. The Saints were really able to open things up against the Lions because they established Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on the ground. That won't happen this Saturday; San Francisco will not miss nearly as many tackles as Detroit did.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: Everyone talks about this contest being a matchup of offense versus defense, but it's not like the other two sides of the ball are completely inept. Alex Smith has been efficient this year with Michael Crabtree emerging as a legitimate No. 1 wideout. New Orleans' stop unit, meanwhile, has been much better since the bye, as I chronicled last week. The 28 points the Saints surrendered to the Lions on Saturday night was the first time they yielded more than 24 (to the Giants) since Week 11.
The Saints have permitted just 4.2 YPC since their bye, compared to 5.0 for the entire year. The former isn't an imposing figure, by any means, but it suggests that anyone expecting Frank Gore to easily trample New Orleans will be greatly disappointed. Gore isn't even completely healthy, so that was unlikely to happen regardless.
Just because Gore can't rip off big chunks on the ground doesn't mean that the 49ers won't be able to move the chains, however. As an example, the 49ers mustered just 88 rushing yards on 27 carries against the Steelers, yet Smith was able to expose Pittsburgh's secondary because he didn't have any pressure in his face (zero sacks). The Saints aren't very good at getting to the quarterback, so Smith should have a clean pocket to work with.
RECAP: I like the 49ers to cover for a few reasons:
1. I feel like this line is way too high. You might be thinking, "Are you on crack? It's only 3.5!" Well, 3.5 is way too high. If you transpose this to New Orleans, moving the spread six points in the process, and perhaps giving the Saints a half extra point for the Superdome advantage, they would be -10. New Orleans was -10.5 versus the Lions, so that means Vegas considers the 49ers to be just a half point better than Detroit.
I completely disagree with that. San Francisco has been underrated all year, which is why the team finished 11-3 against the spread. The 49ers beat the Eagles, Lions, Giants and Steelers. No one should be taking them lightly.
2. Speaking of which, Jim Harbaugh has to be loving the "us against the world" card he can play this week. No one believes the 49ers have a shot. All the public action is on the Saints because everyone believes the spread is too low. I mean, how can the "invincible" Saints not win by at least four points?
3. I love this trend: Teams that score 40-plus in the playoffs are 3-18 against the spread the following week since 1996.
The reasoning behind this is simple - teams that can get to 40 are generally inflated by the public because people love to bet on offense. And with that, we come back full circle because New Orleans' performance versus Detroit has allowed the oddsmakers to set a high spread. The Saints, who aren't nearly as good outdoors, shouldn't be favored by more than a field goal.
The Psychology. Edge: 49ers.
Think Jim Harbaugh is playing the "us against the world" card? The 49ers are the first Week 19 home dog in a very long time.
The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
The public isn't giving the 49ers much of a chance.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 65% (126,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: 49ers.
Too Greedy: Teams that score 40-plus in the playoffs are 3-18 ATS the following week since 1996.
Worst Bye: Playoff teams coming off byes are 12-20 ATS since 2003 (9-15 since 2005; 0-0 as underdogs).
Denver Broncos (9-8) at New England Patriots (13-3) Line: Patriots by 14. Total: 50. Walt's Projected Line: Patriots -12.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 8:00 ET
The Game. Edge: None.
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 still haven't heard back from them yet. I e-mailed them again this past weekend:
It has been 20 days or so since I sent the $250 to the bank, but I have not heard from them yet. Can you tell me when I shall receive my Facebook prize money and the kielbasas, as promised?
I have a meeting with about a dozen young stallions in 2 weeks. I would love to show off my new-found fortunes while having some fun in my hotel room, if you know what I mean.
I don't have a reply from the Bernie Fine e-mail yet either. I did receive a new spam mail of interest though:
Have a nice day. Sorry if any disturbing you.
In this mail, i'd like to suggest some slimming products for you, with very competitive price and safe delivery.
Fruit&plant weight loss capsule
Meizitang botanical capsule
Hope to find cooperation with you.
See, this is just lazy. If you're going to spam someone, you can at least first learn their name, or at the very least, know whether to refer to them as madam or sir; not sir/madam. Cassie needs to be fired for being a bad spammer.
At the very least, I can mess with her. My reply:
Is Slim Forte related to Matt Forte? If so, I am interested.
You drive a hard bargain. I would be willing to pay $48 million over six years for Slim Forte, but not a penny more!
I will definitely let you know if a possibly confused Cassie replies to me.
DENVER OFFENSE: I love it when ignorant people on TV say stuff like, "Tim Tebow had only 10 completions against the Steelers!" Well, yeah... because all of his passes were long bombs, which meant that the Broncos scored quickly and Tebow didn't have to throw the ball all that much. The point is that Tebow can pass the ball effectively, which everyone should recognize now - unless, of course, you're an arrogant, clueless buffoon like Bomani Jones.
What's really remarkable about what Tebow did is that he was able to torch the Steelers, of all defenses. I know they were missing some players, but Troy Polamalu and Pro Bowl corner Ike Taylor were still in the secondary. Pittsburgh still had most of its pass-rushers as well. So, with that in mind, if Tebow could do this against the Steelers, logic would dictate that he'll be even better versus the Patriots.
I know I'm not breaking any news here, but New England's defense is complete garbage. The secondary set a record for most passing yards allowed in a season. There is no pass rush, especially now that Andre Carter is out for the year. The Patriots can't stop the run either; they looked pathetic against it in their prior meeting versus Denver.
The Broncos should be able to move up and down the field on New England. They were able to do so in the prior meeting until they killed themselves with three lost fumbles in the second quarter. If they take can take of the football, they'll match the Patriots score for score. Speaking of which...
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Tom Brady was in F-U mode the last time these teams met. All the talk was about Tebow because he couldn't lose. Brady wanted to prove to everyone that he should have been the focus of that contest. I guess he doesn't get into picking against the spread, since he would have realized that he was favored by nearly a touchdown.
Brady won't be in F-U mode this time. He'll still be great and everything, but I don't expect him to be perfect like he was at Denver. Two things to consider: First, Brady has developed a habit of starting slowly. He heats up in the middle of the second quarter once he goes into a no-huddle attack. I see no reason why that pattern should deviate.
Second, Von Miller is healthier now. He really struggled toward the end of the season because he wasn't comfortable playing with a cast. Miller was great versus the Steelers. Having him close to 100 percent will be a huge boost for a defense that looked pathetic the first time it battled Brady.
I'm not saying New England won't score or anything. The Patriots simply have too much talent not to. But I don't think they'll be an unstoppable force or anything like the Saints in the Superdome. There will be enough punts to keep the Broncos in the game.
RECAP: I'm sure you'll all be shocked by this, but the Broncos are my favorite play of the week. In fact, I like them to win straight up. Again. Here's why:
1. Heading into the playoffs, I was set on betting against the Patriots in their first game. They're just not that good. I want to show you a quote from forum member Blue5213 made during Week 17:
Every week this happens. New England comes out flat and s***ty against a s***ty team, everyone sees how bad they are, then Bill Belichick pulls a win out of his a** in the second half and everyone forgets how terrible they looked to begin with.
The Patriots were down 21-0 against the Bills. They trailed by 17 against the Dolphins. They were down at Denver before all of those fumbles. They barely escaped the Redskins. These are their last four games. Their defense is trash, and teams can score so easily against them. The Broncos will be able to do as well.
2. I mentioned this number when I went with the Dolphins +8 over the Patriots for my December NFL Pick of the Month. Brady is 15-22 against the spread as a home favorite of -9 or more. Here's the kicker: He's 6-16 ATS in such contests since November 2007.
3. Another dubious trend going against New England: Teams on a winning streak of five or more entering the playoffs are 1-7 ATS as home favorites off a bye since 2002. The logic behind this is that teams that haven't lost in a while are overvalued and favored by way too many points. The bye also cools them off.
4. Speaking of the spread, it's just way too high. The Patriots were -6 at the Broncos, so this game should be -12. We're getting 1.5 points in terms of value.
5. Like the 49ers, Denver can play the "no one believes in us card." Besides me and a couple of other people out there, who the hell believes the Broncos have a chance? Everyone seems to think the Patriots will prevail easily. During halftime of Denver-Pittsburgh, Boomer Esiason brushed off both squads and arrogantly stated, "New England will beat either of these teams and advance to the AFC Championship." If you say so, oh great sage of football.
I should address the Josh McDaniels situation. Some people are making a big deal about this, but I don't think the McDaniels hire matters. The Broncos aren't running the same system they did under McDaniels. Some of the personnel is different too. Tebow never started a game under McDaniels. Demaryius Thomas barely played when McDaniels was there because of an Achilles injury. Willis McGahee wasn't there. Neither was Von Miller. I think this McDaniels thing is a non-factor.
The Psychology. Edge: Broncos.
No one believes the Broncos can beat the Patriots. OK then...
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Denver: 52% (77,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Broncos.
Rabid Dog: Playoff teams winning as a dog of 7+ are 7-4 ATS in their next game since 2002.
Streak Dynamics: Teams on a five-game winning streak entering the playoffs are 1-7 ATS as home favorites off a bye since 2002.
Worst Bye: Playoff teams coming off byes are 12-20 ATS since 2003 (9-15 since 2005).
John Fox is 7-2 ATS in the playoffs.
Tom Brady is 133-43 as a starter (103-69 ATS).
Tom Brady is 14-5 in the playoffs (8-11 ATS).
Tom Brady is 16-23 ATS as a home favorite of -9 or more (6-16 ATS since November 2007).
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Preseason 2016): 7-3 (+$1,160)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 4-1 (+$780)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2015): $0
2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 1-0, 100% (+$400)
2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,291-2,116-129, 52.0% (+$8,150) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 741-668-34 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 305-267-13 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 1,823-1,765-51 (50.8%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 33-22 (60.0%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.