Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-3) Line: Panthers by 2. Total: 42.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Panthers -2.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): Panthers -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): Panthers -3.
Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:05 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Seahawks.
Week 5 NFL Picks will be posted all day Wednesday, per the new schedule. I've received mix reaction to this, so voice your opinion via e-mail or in the comment box below. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BRADY'S HAIRCUTS
Remember when Tom Brady used to be the most clutch quarterback in the NFL? He had that epic drive against the Rams in the Super Bowl. He then engineered numerous other fourth-quarter comebacks, including one to defeat the Panthers two years later to claim his second Lombardi trophy. After he earned his third, there was a wide-spread belief that he would pass both Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw and eventually earn five or more total rings.
Well, Brady's been stuck on three. He's no longer clutch; in fact, he often melts down in the fourth quarters of big matchups. He seems to really care about some games - especially those involving Tim Tebow - but then he's so lackadaisical in others.
So, what happened? The obvious answer is his wife. But more specifically, it's the haircuts that his wife forces him into getting. It's unknown to the media, but Brady's haircuts are much more than just silly fashion statements; each haircut gives Brady a new persona.
For instance, the following conversation took place yesterday, as Brady appeared on ESPN's PTI to discuss his upcoming matchup against Peyton Manning...
Tony Kornheiser: Our guest for Five Good Minutes needs no introduction. He's the one and only Tom Brady! Tom, I have to ask you, what is up with the hair and the glasses? You look like I would if I still had hair!
Tom Brady: Why thank you, Anthony Kornheiser. You see, I'm preparing for my interview with the Hogwarts Academy. Though I may be a muggle, I've been reading about all of these spells, and I believe I have mastered them all. I'll need them against my nemesis Peyton Manning.
Tony Kornheiser: Spells? Who cares about spells? Let's talk about your hair, Tom. Your hair!
Tom Brady: I use a spell to do my hair each week. Let me show you. Hairo Combo!
*** Tom Brady's hair re-parts itself. ***
Tony Kornheiser: Whoa, that's pretty cool! Do you have a spell so I can grow hair? I need hair!
Tom Brady: Sure thing, Anthony Kornheiser. Hairo growo!
*** Tony Kornheiser now has an afro. ***
Tony Kornheiser: Look, Wilbon! I have hair again! Isn't this great? I have hair. I have hair!
Michael Wilbon: That's great, Tony. Except you're siding with the cartel, the NCAA. This was the NCAA's plan all along. Of course, they're going to give your boy Tom Brady a hair spell. He went to Michigan, which is in the Big Ten, along with my alma mater Northwestern, can't say that, can you, Tone? But the NCAA cartel would never give someone from a smaller school a chance to have a hair spell.
Tony Kornheiser: But I have hair, Wilbon! I have hair!
Michael Wilbon: Of course you have hair because you're part of the cartel even if you went to a small school that no one cares about, unlike my alma mater Northwestern.
Tony Kornheiser: Oh stop it, Wilbon. Why don't you go cry in your gated-community mansion? Tom, before we let you go, can you teach me the levitation spell so I can get from one place to another without going on an airplane? I hate flying!
Tom Brady: Sure thing, Anthony Kornheiser. Wingardium Leviosa!
Tony Kornheiser: Wingardium Leviohsa!
Tom Brady: It's Leviohsa, not Leviosaaah!
Tony Kornheiser: Wingardium Leviosa! Look, Wilbon, I can fly! And I have hair!
Michael Wilbon: That's what the NCAA wants you to do because they're a cartel run by a bunch of crooks!
SEATTLE OFFENSE: I don't know what the Panthers were thinking when they decided that they didn't need to upgrade their defensive tackles this past offseason. The interior of Carolina's front is ridiculously weak against the run, ranking 31st in that department (5.2 YPC). They've surrendered at least 117 rushing yards to every opponent they've faced this season.
It's safe to say that Marshawn Lynch will go nuts. Of course, this doesn't mean the Seahawks will win. Lynch gashed the Rams for 118 yards on just 20 carries, yet Seattle still lost. The problem, naturally, was the passing game. Russell Wilson struggled to move the chains, thanks in part to his receivers failing to get any sort of separation. Wilson also threw three interceptions, though two were fluky.
While the wideouts were partly guilty of capsizing Seattle's offense, the main culprit was right tackle Breno Giacomini. Chris Long completely humiliated him. I'd like to say it gets easier, but it really doesn't, based on what Charles Johnson just did to Tyson Clabo in Atlanta.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: It's strange that the Panthers' scoring attack is so much more fluid when Jonathan Stewart is in the game. It's not even that he does his damage while running the ball; it's his presence in pass protection that really aids Cam Newton.
Newton looked like he was back to normal last week, but that could be short-lived against Seattle's elite defense. The Seahawks have a tremendous secondary that can take away everything downfield, forcing Newton to scramble almost exclusively to pick up first downs. It's not like Newton would have much time in the pocket anyway. Seattle excels at getting to the quarterback and appears to have a great matchup with Bruce Irvin going up against pedestrian right tackle Byron Bell.
Part of the reason Newton was so successful last week was because Carolina was able to run the ball so well versus Atlanta's 29th-ranked ground defense. Things won't be so easy this time, as the Seahawks are third in that category. Seattle hasn't given up more than 77 rushing yards to any opponent this year.
RECAP: The Seahawks tend to struggle on the road, so that's the only reason this won't be a big play. Seattle is the better team and happens to be getting points. Meanwhile, the Panthers are coming off an emotional divisional loss and may not be ready to play a very physical game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Chris Gamble and Jon Beason aren't going to be in the lineup, but I'll keep this pick at two units.
The Psychology. Edge: Seahawks.
The Panthers put everything into that Atlanta game. Now they're favorites over an unfamiliar foe they don't really care about.
The Vegas. Edge: Seahawks.
Action has pretty much evened out after early money on the host.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 60% (42,000 bets)
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) Line: Bears by 6. Total: 40. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Bears -3.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): Bears -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): Bears -4.5.
Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:05 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Bears.
WalterFootball.com Contest Updates:
Survivor: Get your pick in for the WalterFootball.com 2012 NFL Survivor Pool. There are 224 people remaining. Remarkably, only five dropped out last week. Three lost with the Lions, while the other two got the boot because of the Seahawks.
Fantasy: We'll be running FanDuel contests through the end of October. It's going to be a $5 entry fee this week, but with a $1,000 prize pool. However, unlike last week, there will be a limit of 220 contestants, so your odds of winning will increase. Go to the Fantasy Football Contest page for more details (link will be available later during the week).
Mafia: If you're a fan of playing Mafia, check out our Mafia section, where there's a History Mafia Game currently being set up. I'm hearing it's going to be lots of fun, so try it out. There are only six spots available.
CHICAGO OFFENSE: What do the Bears do worst offensively? They struggle to protect Jay Cutler at times, of course. But what do the Jaguars do worst defensively? Get to the quarterback. They have just two sacks on the year. Jeremy Mincey has struggled, while Tyson Alualu and Andre Branch look like complete busts.
Jacksonville won't be able to rattle Jay Cutler at all, which means he'll have all the time in the world to find his receivers downfield. The offensive front actually kept Cutler clean Monday night, and as a consequence, he had his best performance of the season. I'd expect more of the same even though Jacksonville has its starting secondary intact for only the second game all year. This didn't help last week, as Andy Dalton threw for 244 yards against them.
The Jaguars haven't been able to stop the run either, ranking 21st in that department (4.4 YPC). They really miss stud linebacker Daryl Smith, who is doubtful for this contest. Smith is expected to return after the team's bye, so Matt Forte and Michael Bush should be able to gash Jacksonville whenever Cutler's not connecting on long passes to Brandon Marshall.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: What do the Jaguars do best offensively? Run the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew, of course. Stopping ground attacks isn't the Bears' best trait, but they're pretty damn good at it. They've limited three of their four opponents this season to 54 rushing yards or fewer, with the lone of exception being the Packers; they didn't even focus on Cedric Benson in that contest because they were so concerned about Aaron Rodgers.
As the Bengals did last week, the Bears will put an extra man or two in the box to stop Maurice Jones-Drew. No team is going to respect Jacksonville's aerial attack as long as Blaine Gabbert is scared to take shots downfield. Gabbert's too craven to play in this league, and it won't help that his deep threat, Laurent Robinson, is expected to miss this game with a concussion.
The Bears have a fantastic edge in the trenches with Henry Melton going up against guard Eben Britton. Geno Atkins destroyed the hobbled Britton last week, enough so that Britton was benched. Melton will beat Britton (or his replacement) and put tons of pressure on Gabbert. Jacksonville will counter by having Gabbert dink and dunk, but that sort of offensive approach doesn't work against elite defenses. Just ask Sam Bradford how difficult it was in Week 3.
RECAP: I hate that the spread went up three points in Chicago's favor based on what happened Monday night. There's very little value on the Bears now, so I'm not going to bet this game. I'd take the visitor if I had to though.
FINAL THOUGHTS: No changes.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
Why am I surprised that no one wants to bet on Blaine Gabbert?
Percentage of money on Chicago: 88% (50,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
Jay Cutler is 26-45 ATS if you exclude Monday Night Football.
Jaguars are 5-2 ATS going into the bye since 2005 (new coaching staff).
Jaguars are 8-13 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2007.
Jaguars are 13-28 ATS against non-divisional opponents since 2008.
Tennessee Titans (1-3) at Minnesota Vikings (3-1) Line: Vikings by 5.5. Total: 44. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Vikings -4.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): Vikings -5.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): Vikings -7.
Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:25 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Vikings.
If you didn't catch it, Emmitt on the Brink is back! Season 5, Episode 5 has been posted - Emmitt can't get his search warrant because replacement police officers are holding things up.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: Jake Locker will not play in this game after suffering a separated shoulder during the second drive at Houston this past Sunday. Matt Hasselbeck will be under center instead, which could prove to be disastrous. He's a familiar name, but he no longer has the decent arm strength he once possessed. He's also a turnover machine; he has 33 interceptions and seven lost fumbles in his previous 32 appearances.
Hasselbeck can't elude pass-rushers like Locker can, which will be problematic against a Minnesota defensive front that puts tons of pressure on the quarterback. Jared Allen praised Hasselbeck's ability to get rid of the ball quickly, which is exactly what the Titan backup will need to do because Kevin Williams has a tremendous edge over the anemic interior of Tennessee's front. Making matters worse, Kenny Britt may not be able to play this week. He reportedly wasn't close to being ready against the Texans.
Running the ball obviously won't be an option either. Chris Johnson just had a nice performance, but that was merely a fluke because he picked up a chunk of his yardage when the Titans were way behind. The Vikings rank fifth in the NFL against ground attacks, limiting the opposition to 3.2 YPC. Minnesota hasn't surrendered more than 63 rushing yards to any opponent, save for the Jaguars in Week 1.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: The Titans' defense was pathetic against the Texans. The secondary looked completely helpless trying to stop Matt Schaub and his weapons, while Arian Foster had a pretty decent outing.
Tennessee has surrendered at least 130 rushing yards to three of its four opponents, so that means Adrian Peterson will have a monstrous performance, right? Well, maybe not. The Titans will have stud inside linebacker Colin McCarthy in the lineup for the first time all season, so they'll be better in every department, including run support.
McCathy's forte is in pass coverage, however, which will be a big help to Tennessee's aerial defense. The Titans currently rank 26th against the pass (8.0 YPA), but that'll improve. McCarthy will at least shore up Tennessee's issues with the underneath stuff, which is important in this matchup because Christian Ponder relies on Kyle Rudolph heavily, particularly on third down.
RECAP: The Vikings don't have the offense to consistently cover as a favorite of more than a field goal. The Titans' stop unit will be better with McCarthy in the lineup, so this figures to be a defensive battle. Also, road underdogs coming off an away loss are good plays, and I don't like the fact that Minnesota is suddenly favored following two consecutive victories as an underdog.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The more I think about it, the more of a poor spot this is for Minnesota. If the Titans had Kenny Britt, I'd increase the units. Unfortunately, he's doubtful.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Titans.
A slight lean on the host.
Percentage of money on Minnesota: 63% (49,000 bets)
Denver Broncos (2-2) at New England Patriots (2-2) Line: Patriots by 6. Total: 51. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -7.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): Patriots -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): Patriots -6.
Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:15 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: None.
Another friendly reminder that Jerks of the Week for Oct. 1, 2012 is up, so just click the link. This week's jerks are Ten Awesome Laws That Must Be Created.
DENVER OFFENSE: I wrote it last week - it was kind of ridiculous that people were saying Peyton Manning was done because of his diminished arm strength. Manning's best traits are his mind and accuracy. He's still fully functional with those, and it would explain why he threw just eight incompletions against the Raiders.
Of course, Oakland's banged-up secondary, featuring two injured cornerbacks, pitched in to that effort. The thing is Manning won't face much more resistance from the Patriots, who have surrendered 732 passing yards the past two weeks. New England's safety play has been really bad, while cornerback Devin McCourty has been guilty of shoddy tackling at times.
Willis McGahee gashed the Raiders, but doesn't have a good matchup on paper this week, especially with center J.D. Walton out, given that New England is sixth against the run (3.3 YPC). However, the Patriots could be without stud rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who injured his hamstring. Even if Hightower plays - he practiced on a limited basis Wednesday - he may not be 100 percent, which will make McGahee's life much easier.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The Patriots seemingly found their mojo in the second half at Buffalo last week, scoring a whopping 45 points after intermission. What's incredibly amazing is that they ran the ball so well despite missing stud guard Logan Mankins. Both Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden eclipsed the century plateau on the ground, completely wearing out Buffalo's pathetic 27th-ranked ground defense.
Denver is ranked seventh versus the rush (3.5 YPC), so the Patriots won't be as successful in terms of running the ball even though Mankins is projected to be back. They won't be completely shut down in that facet, however, because the Broncos will be worrying about Tom Brady and his plethora of weapons too much for them to focus entirely on Ridley and Bolden.
Containing Brady will be extremely difficult, as the Golden Boy has been incredibly sharp the past two weeks despite the loss of Aaron Hernandez. The Broncos have Champ Bailey to take Brandon Lloyd away, but they still have to worry about Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, who went nuts in last year's playoff victory. The Gronk caught 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns in that blowout win.
RECAP: This is one of the last times we'll see an epic Brady versus Manning battle. They've been fun to watch over the years, as most of the games have been close. In fact, the six previous meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Speaking of seven points, it's a little ridiculous that Manning is getting a touchdown. He's 14-4 against the spread as an underdog since 2003, and he's never been an underdog of more than 4.5 points in that span. He won that game, 38-35. And even if he does fall behind at New England, who besides Seneca "The Backdoor Bandit" Wallace is better at getting a late touchdown to cover the spread? Manning did that in a 2010 visit to Foxborough, after all.
It's also worth noting that because the Broncos were blown out twice by the Patriots last year, the coaching staff may have spent some extra time this offseason devising a game plan to overcome New England. Former Patriot center Dan Koppen, starting in place of Walton, may have some pointers.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Steve Gregory is out, but Tavon Wilson might actually be an upgrade at safety. No changes.
The Psychology. Edge: Broncos.
This might be a Kitchen Sink game. The Patriots demolished the Broncos twice last season, so you better believe that John Fox spent a good chunk of the offseason trying to figure out how to slay them.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New England: 56% (46,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Broncos.
Peyton Manning is 14-4 ATS as an underdog since 2003.
Buffalo Bills (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1) Line: 49ers by 10. Total: 44.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: 49ers -8.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): 49ers -9.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): 49ers -10.
Sunday, Oct. 7, 4:15 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: 49ers.
It's time for some Migelini Madness! NFL.com sucks. They no longer have their regular GameCenter chat format; they installed a Facebook chat app instead, which really blows. This means that we won't be hearing from our favorite idiots anymore. No more pervy Aaron3619. No more stupid Migelini. No more childish Taton. No more insane Farim.
Well, I'm taking a stand against this via two methods. First, I have hundreds of unused GameCenter comments saved up, so I have enough to survive for a few more years. Second, I plan on re-creating our favorite GameCenter characters and having them troll the Facebook posters in the app. I made a Migelini account and my girlfriend, who was once harassed by Aaron3619, is the new Aaron. Feel free to re-create other ones!
Here are some of the people I've trolled as Mario Migelini. I began by proclaiming my love for Atlanta's "beest defenceman" Lofa Taptua:
I love how someone defended Migelini by pointing out someone else's spelling mistakes. Meanwhile, on the Titans-Texans page, Migelini disagreed with someone's prediction:
Here's another prediction that Migelini doesn't agree with:
And Migelini's Super Bowl pick? I know you're eagerly anticipating it:
BUFFALO OFFENSE: It's never good to be shorthanded offensively when going up against San Francisco's stalwart defense, but that's exactly what's happening for the Bills in this matchup. Buffalo will be without two starting linemen, left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik. Both blockers had been playing well, so it's difficult to imagine the Bills protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick adequately enough against the 49ers' ferocious defensive front.
San Francisco has some issues in the back end of its defense - Donte Whitner is having a down year, while Carlos Rogers has regressed just a bit - but Fitzpatrick won't be able to take advantage of that because he'll either release the ball as quickly as possible or take sacks as defenders swarm his backfield. The former option can work against pedestrian defenses, but dinking and dunking has no effect on elite stop units.
Buffalo's ground attack won't work either. Neither Fred Jackson nor C.J. Spiller was 100 percent last week. They couldn't get anything going against the Patriots, and now they have to deal with a 49er defense that's ranked second in the NFL at stopping the run (2.99 YPC).
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: You'd have to think that the 49ers sense blood in the water. The Bills just permitted two New England running backs to rush for more than 100 yards. This was not a one-week fluke; the Jets and Chiefs compiled 118 and 125 rushing yards against them, respectively. There aren't many teams that pound the rock better than the 49ers, so it's entirely possible that both Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter will duplicate what Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden just accomplished.
As usual, the 49ers will use their elite ground attack to open things up for Alex Smith. Of course, the Bills are so bad against the pass that it wouldn't even matter. Buffalo has surrendered an eye-popping 1,144 passing yards through four weeks this season. That's pretty pathetic.
The problem the Bills have is their non-existent pass rush. Both Mario Williams and Mark Anderson have been tremendous bust signings, as the only Bill who's consistently getting to the quarterback is Kyle Williams. Williams and Anderson have been non-factors, but will that change against Joe Staley and an improved Anthony Davis? I have my doubts.
RECAP: The 49ers, who are 6-0 against the spread as home favorites of 3.5 or more points under Jim Harbaugh, should be able to take care of business. This Buffalo team was demolished in its only trip to the West Coast under Chan Gailey, losing 37-10 at San Diego last year, so traveling across the country could be an issue for them. I'm not going to bet on San Francisco because it could be looking ahead to battling the Giants, Seahawks and Cardinals, but it should still cover.
SURVIVOR PICK: I'm taking the 49ers this week. My top survivor options are: 49ers, Giants, Texans (even though they're on the road) and Patriots.
FINAL THOUGHTS: No changes.
The Psychology. Edge: Bills.
I'd be concerned about the Bills performing well after putting everything they had into the New England game, but they're massive underdogs. And then you have the 49ers, who could be looking ahead to playing the Giants, Seahawks and Cardinals.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
A big lean on the host.
Percentage of money on San Francisco: 78% (52,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Bills are 13-7 ATS after playing the New England Patriots since 1999.
49ers are 6-0 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5+ under Jim Harbaugh.
San Diego Chargers (3-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-4) Line: Saints by 3.5. Total: 52. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Saints -3.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): Saints -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): Saints -1.
Sunday, Oct. 7, 8:20 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Chargers.
I can't wait until we have a whole army of former GameCenter personalities harassing people on Facebook. That's what NFL.com gets for getting rid of the GameCenter chat. My girlfriend is the new Aaron, while someone else has become another illiterate troller named Neil Barone:
Burn! But does Neil Barone know more about his own team?
I love how so many people are taking him seriously. Meanwhile, two real people got into an amusing spat on the Titans-Texans page:
Nothing is more insulting than saying "your a virigin!" to someone on NFL.com GameCenter. Good job guys.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: Ryan Mathews' fantasy owners had to be disgruntled on Sunday. They sat back and watched as Jackie Battle stole a big chunk of the workload, including all of it inside the Kansas City 10-yard line. Norv Turner said afterward that Battle gave his team the best chance to win. I can buy that, given Mathews' frustrating fumbling habits.
Mathews may get more of an opportunity in this contest, but either way the Chargers figure to gash the Saints on the ground. New Orleans is 28th against ground attacks, surrendering just about five yards per carry. That figure could improve a little bit, however, if the Saints get linebacker David Hawthorne back from injury. Hawthorne did not practice Wednesday.
Mathews and Battle should be able to place Philip Rivers into short-yardage situations. Not like Rivers would need them; the Saints place absolutely no pressure on the quarterback, so Rivers will have all day to dissect a banged-up New Orleans secondary that desperately needs Johnny Patrick to recover from his knee injury. Patrick's return would sideline nickel corner Corey White, who has just been awful.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: While the Saints' defense struggled, their offense seemed a bit revitalized at Lambeau. Granted, they were playing a shaky Packer defense, but it's not like the Chargers are the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, or anything.
The weakness of New Orleans' scoring attack, aside from Sean Payton's absence, is at the two tackle positions. Drew Brees hardly had any sort of protection in first three weeks. The tackles will once again be tested against Shaun Phillips and rookie Melvin Ingram; Phillips has been dominant this year, while Ingram has shown flashes.
Still though, I expect Brees to have his way with a San Diego secondary that has a couple of weaknesses. Cornerback Antoine Cason is not playing well at all, while safety Atari Bigby continues to be a liability in coverage. Brees will look toward Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston as often as possible. Colston, who struggled in the first three games, came alive this past Sunday because he finally overcame his nagging foot injury.
RECAP: The Saints are the third of my three favorite plays of the week. How can I love an 0-4 team that's favored, you ask? Well, as it so happens, 0-4 teams (or worse) that are favorites since 2002 are 11-6 against the spread.
But this is more than just a play on a trend. This is the Saints' Super Bowl. If they lose this game, their season is officially over. They're not in good shape at 0-4, but they're still alive. They get Joe Vitt back in their seventh game, so they know that if they can win two in a row, they'll have a shot at 2-4 with a guy who has actually been a head coach in the NFL before.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have absolutely nothing to play for. Seriously - they're sitting pretty atop their division and they have a battle with their only worthy challenger, Denver, next week. This game means nothing to them. We've already seen them sleepwalk through a non-conference game in Week 3 versus Atlanta, and I think they're going to do the same thing Sunday night.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Saints have some injuries, so I'm dropping this to three units.
The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
The Saints are desperate for a win. Meanwhile, this game is largely irrelevant for the Chargers, who have to deal with Denver next week.
The Vegas. Edge: Chargers.
Everyone expects the Saints to get their first victory.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 69% (53,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Zero Heroes: 0-4 teams or worse are 11-6 ATS as favorites since 2002.
Chargers are 17-24 ATS in Weeks 1-8 since 2007.
Philip Rivers is 16-9 ATS as an underdog.
Saints are 22-12 ATS as a home favorite since 2007.
Drew Brees is 20-12 ATS after a loss with the Saints.
Houston Texans (4-0) at New York Jets (1-3) Line: Texans by 10. Total: 40.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Texans -4.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 4): Texans -4.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 4): Texans -6.
Monday, Oct. 8, 8:30 ET
Discuss Week 5 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Texans.
This week on Monday Night Football, we're going to have Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden calling the shots instead of the great preseason homers like Kevin Reilly and Don Tollefson, inept ESPN guys Emmitt and Matt Millen, annoying guys like Charles Davis and senile guys like Bob Greise. Here's what it would sound like if those five clowns were calling this game:
Kevin Reilly: Welcome to New York, or rather North Jersey. Tonight, the Texans take on the Jets. Emmitt, the Texans just look like the better overall team, but I'm sure that you agree that this is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Let's remember that these Jets - and the Giants - play in North Jersey; not New York. I don't know why everyone calls them the New York Jets or New York Giants. New York is such trash that even the Jets and Giants don't want to play there. They should just come to Philly, the greatest city in the world. What say you, Emmitt?
Emmitt: Kelly, first of all, the Houston Texas playin' doggone playoff-caliber footballs. They play the Dolphin on Week 1 and beat him. Then they play the Jaguar and also beat him too. Then they play... uhh... some other guy and beat him. And now they goin' for 4-0 against the Jet. And number three, uhh... New York a great country to live in, I don't know why you hatin' for no doggone good reason, Karl.
Reilly: I hate New York because they think they're as good as Philadelphia, but they're not. Philadelphia is the best place in the entire universe. Now that we got that cleared up, let's talk about the North Jersey Jets. Don, Tim Tebow is seemingly being missued by North Jersey. What can they do to get the ball into his hands more so they can get on the winning track?
Tollefson: Kevin, I have to tell you that I would just cut Tim Tebow right now. Did you know that he's a virgin? He hasn't slept with a single female. If you're not going to sleep with females, you're only going to utilize two of three of their useful traits. There's sex, cooking and cleaning. Why not use all three traits? Tebow is a traitor to the male gender, and he is not someone I'd like to have on my team.
Reilly: Well, that's one opinion. What say you Mill... I mean Bob?
Millen: Oh, let me tell you about Tebow!
Reilly: I meant Griese! I meant Griese!
Griese: Both the Houston Oilers and the New York Jets look good tonight!
Reilly: Ugh, thanks for saving me Griese.
Millen: Tebow is an interesting player. Some would say he's 100-percent USDA Man. I'm not so sure. After all, I did not to get to ride him like a stallion all night long. I asked him, and he said he's waiting for that special someone. This made me very upset because I wanted take a ride on Tebow. But then I remembered that he circumcised penises, so I asked him to circumcise some of the kielbasas I bought at the market that day. He did just that, and let me tell you, Kevin, he did a masterful job. I mean, wow! I have never seen kielbasas so circumcised.
Reilly: Ugh, when are you going to stop talking?
Millen: The circumcised kielbasas were a big hit at my kielbasa party, Kevin. Never have we had so much fun with kielbasas. We were able to ram the kielbasas into the backsides so easily, Kevin, you wouldn't believe it.
Reilly: Someone please shut him up. Anyone, please!
Davis: I've got your back, Kevin.
Reilly: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! F*** you, Davis, you're not reading off the roster list this week. We'll be back after a word from our local sponsors!
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Mark Sanchez blows. Houston's defense will tear through him like tissue paper. The end.
Oh, you want more analysis? Well, I don't know what else to say. The Jets won't be able to run the ball. There is a glimmer of hope because the Texans' 23rd-ranked ground defense (4.6 YPC) just made Chris Johnson look competent, but then again, Shonn Greene sucks and the running lanes just won't be there because the Jets can't block.
And then there's the Jets' non-existent aerial attack. Sanchez is just about as accurate as, well, Tim Tebow right now. His pass protection sucks - right tackle Austin Howard is terrible - and he has no one to throw to. Santonio Holmes is out. Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill are both hurt. The starting wideouts are Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens. Blegh.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: North Jersey's defense blows. Houston's offense will tear through it like tissue paper. The end.
Wait, you want even more analysis? Come on, man! The Jets are ranked 30th against the run (5.0 YPC). The 49ers just rushed for 233 yards against them. The Texans, who run the ball just as well, will ram Arian Foster and Ben Tate (if he plays; he's questionable) right down North Jersey's throat.
It's a good thing the Jets have Darrelle Revis to take away Andre Johnson though. Oh wait, no they don't. Well, at the Jets have a great pass rush that can rattle Matt Schaub. Oh wait, no they don't. They don't have anything. They have just five sacks on the year. Quinton Coples is nowhere to be found. Calvin Pace is ineffective. Aaron Maybin has disappeared. David Harris playing like crap. Kyle Wilson can't cover. And the safeties stink (sorry Swag).
RECAP: The Jets as a whole blow. Houston will tear through them like tissue paper. The end. Oh, and P.S., I like the Jets to cover.
Wait, what? But doesn't Houston completely dominate the matchups on paper? Absolutely - which is a small reason why the Jets are the right side. If you look below the comment board, you'll see that teams getting double-star game edges don't fare too well.
As for the major reasons? Here we go:
1. This is the overreaction game of the century. The 49ers were -3.5 last week. That's why Las Vegas Hilton released an early spread of Texans -4 prior to this past weekend. Now, because of one blowout loss and the injury to Holmes, who's not even that good in the first place, this spread has moved up to -8. Are you kidding me? That's a joke. This spread should be -6 at the very most.
2. The Jets have to feel disrespected. The media is berating them, while everyone assumes that their season is over. Well, they're still tied for first place in the division. They're a veteran team that will be playing for pride on a national stage.
3. Speaking of the national stage, the Texans are 1-3 against the spread on Monday Night Football. Schaub just doesn't like the spotlight, I guess. That number could also mean that Houston won't be up for playing this game just because it's national TV. And no, I don't think they'll be anywhere near 100 percent. This game means absolutely nothing for the Texans. They're so far ahead of everyone in their division that they can afford a loss or two. After battling an AFC South foe (Jaguars), a former arch nemesis in Peyton Manning and another divisional opponent (Titans), Houston can finally take a break, especially with the Packers and Ravens (playoff revenge) coming up.
4. Here's a nice trend: Home underdogs on standard rest coming off a loss as a home underdog are 39-20 against the spread. This also applies to the Chiefs against the Ravens.
5. Another trend: Underdogs that just suffered a defeat of more than 28 points are 59-31 against the spread since 2002, excluding Week 17 games (for obvious reasons).
6. And one final trend: Teams that were shut out at home the previous week are 21-10 against the spread since 2001.
Those are all of the reasons why I think the Jets will cover. If I trusted Mark Sanchez at all, I'd make this my October NFL Pick of the Month. I'm still thinking about it, but I'll keep three units on North Jersey. For now...
MONDAY UPDATE: This spread is up to -10, so I'm increasing my units to four. I'm pretty confident based on what happened yesterday - more on that tomorrow morning - so I think the Jets are the right side. They play their best when they're backed into the corner, and no one is giving them a chance.
The Psychology. Edge: Jets.
The Texans have the Packers and Ravens (playoff revenge) after this easy win. The Jets, meanwhile, were just embarrassed at home.
The Vegas. Edge: Jets.
Why would anyone bet on New York?
Percentage of money on Houston: 79% (126,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Jets.
Home Shutout: Teams that were shut out at home are 21-10 ATS the following week since 2001.
Week 5 NFL Picks - Early Games
Cardinals at Rams,
Packers at Colts,
Ravens at Chiefs,
Browns at Giants,
Dolphins at Bengals,
Eagles at Steelers,
Falcons at Redskins
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 20, 2016): 0-2 (-$750)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 20, 2016): 0-1 (-$200)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 20, 2016): 0-1 (-$550)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 20, 2016): 1-1 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 20, 2016): -$200
2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-1, 83.3% (+$2,780)
2016 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 147-127-10, 53.6% (+$955) 2016 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 42-35-3, 54.5% (+$475) 2016 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-22-5, 48.8% (-$1,465) 2016 Season Over-Under: 123-140-1, 46.8% (+$95) 2016 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$995
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: 2,439-2,243-141, 52.1% (+$9,115) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 785-703-37 (52.8%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 329-292-18 (53.0%) Career Over-Under: 1,945-1,903-54 (50.4%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 36-22 (62.1%)
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.