Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2) Line: Vikings by 5.5. Total: 43.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Vikings -5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Vikings -7.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Vikings -6.5.
Thursday, Oct. 25, 8:20 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Vikings.
Week 8 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.
WEEK 7 RECAP: A pretty solid week overall. I went 7-5-1 at +$420. I lost three multi-unit picks, so I'd like to discuss them to see where I went wrong:
49ers -8 over Seahawks (2 units): Ugh. I went from jumping up and down and yelling excitedly to shouting expletives at the TV. I'll have much more on this later in my random NFL notes section.
Panthers +2.5 over Cowboys (2 units): Believe it or not, this was even more frustrating than the 49ers' loss. I didn't deserve to win the San Francisco game, but I was robbed of two units in this contest. The Cowboys were going to run the clock out or punt the ball to Carolina, up two with about a minute remaining, but a mysterious personal-foul penalty that befuddled the FOX announcers was called on the Panthers. This put the Cowboys in field-goal range. They didn't pick up the first down, so they settled for three points, putting them up five. Blegh.
Ravens +7 over Texans (4 units): It's scares me that I was so off on this game. The Texans are not 30 points better than Baltimore. I thought the Ravens would play for pride with everyone doubting them, but save for Terrell Suggs, they didn't even try. Their effort was pathetic. I've been thinking about it, and while it may sound strange to say this, but I feel like having Suggs on the field hurt them emotionally. With Suggs back, the other players may not have felt as though they needed to give 110 percent to contend with the other 5-1 team in the AFC. That's the only reason I can come up with in terms of why the Ravens were so lethargic.
Now, it's time to review what the media overreacted to last week:
1. ESPN analysts said that the Steelers were done after that loss to the Titans on Thursday night.
2. Tom Jackson suggested that the Ravens wouldn't make the playoffs with Ray Lewis gone.
3. I'd also like to include the Cardinals from last week. Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter ranked them last behind St. Louis in the NFC West even prior to the loss to Buffalo.
Fading the media went 4-0 back in Week 6, but it was only 1-1-1 this past weekend. It'll probably produce a winner in Week 8. Here's what the media is overreacting to this time:
1. People are down on New England. "The Patriots are vanishing before our very eyes." -- Tony Kornheiser. Weren't they "unstoppable" after wins against the Bills and Broncos two weeks ago?
2. Everyone is saying the Ravens are done. Ron Jaworski gave them a 10 on the panic meter. And then there was this by Michael Wilbon: "Not only is Joe Flacco not an elite quarterback; he's not even an average quarterback." Overreaction, much? This is obviously for next week.
3. The Philadelphia media is trashing the Eagles. One late-night radio host even suggested that the front office should name Brian Dawkins the head coach.
4. I must have heard "the Steelers are coming" a billion times on Monday. This, just 10 days after they lost to the Titans. Beating the pedestrian Bengals and their third-string center by seven points isn't that impressive.
Let's see if these teams go at least 2-1 in Week 8.
I'll be posting these NFL Picks throughout the day. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: Josh Freeman just threw for 420 yards against the Saints, but it'll be very difficult for him to come even close to matching that number versus the Vikings, who have made most quarterbacks look really bad this year. They rank seventh against the pass (6.4 YPA), whereas the Saints are dead last.
The reason for this? Top cornerback Antoine Winfield is having a monstrous season, meaning Minnesota can pretty much erase No. 1 receivers, as they did last week with Larry Fitzgerald. Their pass rush is also in full force, as Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Kevin Williams are performing at a very high level right now. The Buccaneers have allowed just nine sacks this year, but there are some holes up front for the Vikings to exploit - particularly on the right side of the line where tackle Demar Dotson and guard Jamon Meredith have been liabilities at times.
Freeman shouldn't expect much support from the rushing attack. The Buccaneers ran the ball well last week - save for those three pathetic goal-line attempts - but the Vikings' No. 3 ground defense (3.3 YPC) will bottle up Doug Martin.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: While the Vikings are third versus the rush, Tampa Bay is actually second, believe it or not. Only two teams have gained more than 80 yards on the ground against them (excludes quarterback scrambles). Adrian Peterson is having a monstrous bounce-back season, but won't have the running lanes he enjoyed versus the Cardinals.
Christian Ponder will have to do more than complete eight passes this time. Ponder had two terrible turnovers versus Arizona, but he was going against a pretty fierce aerial defense ranked eighth in the NFL. The Buccaneers are just 29th (8.5 YPA) and won't be any better in this contest because top cornerback Aqib Talib is still suspended.
Ponder should have all the time in the world to find Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson. The Buccaneers don't have a single sack since Week 4, as they really miss Adrian Clayborn, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at the end of September.
RECAP: I like the Vikings because they're a non-divisional favorite playing at home on a Thursday night, but it bothers me that A) this line has jumped 1.5 points since last week and B) that they have two tough games coming up. I'm not betting on either side, but I like the under.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This spread has fallen to -5.5. I'm going to put a unit on the Vikings because the line has dropped below the key number of six.
The Psychology. Edge: Vikings.
The Buccaneers could be down coming off an emotional loss on a short travel week.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Minnesota: 52% (49,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Opening Line: Vikings -6.
Opening Total: 43.
Week 8 NFL Pick: Vikings 23, Buccaneers 13 Vikings -5.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110 Under 43.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110 Buccaneers 36, Vikings 17 Recap of this game
New England Patriots (4-3) vs. St. Louis Rams (3-4) Line: Patriots by 7. Total: 46.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -8.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Patriots -7.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Patriots -7.5.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
At Wembley Stadium, London
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Patriots.
VEGAS RECAP: The sportsbooks slaughtered the public all but one week this year prior to this past weekend. The average bettor struck back in Week 7, winning all three highly bet games (Packers, Cowboys, Saints). So much for my theory that sportsbooks were thinking that people would continue to wager their hard-earned money because they believe the world is coming to an end in two months. I'll be updating the Vegas betting action all week, as usual. I'll notify you of any updates @walterfootball.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The sky is falling in Foxborough. That's what I've gathered from watching ESPN intermittently over the past 48 hours anyway. It's funny how everyone deemed the Patriots unstoppable when they crushed the Bills and Broncos, but now everyone is down on them.
The Patriots aren't as good as they looked when they were thrashing Buffalo and Denver, but they're not as bad as they seem now. They ran into two extremely stout defenses and going up against two pedestrian stop units, which would explain why they've looked so drastically different recently.
The Rams are somewhere in between. They're 10th against the run (3.8 YPC), 12th versus the pass (6.9 YPA) and No. 7 in sacks (20), though the latter ranking is skewed because of the nine-sack performance they had versus Arizona's inept line. Still, St. Louis should be able to apply pressure on Brady, and as the media will tell you, "Brady doesn't like getting hit." As opposed to several other NFL quarterbacks, who do like taking sacks.
New England will look like it did versus Seattle and New York. It'll move the chains at times, but drives will stall unexpectedly.
ST. LOUIS OFFENSE: I'd say that Sam Bradford doesn't have the arm or the talent around him to move the chains, but the same thing could've been written about Mark Sanchez last week. The Jets still found a way to move the ball against New England's pedestrian defense, and so will St. Louis. The Patriots' secondary is ranked dead last against aerial attacks over the past four weeks, surrendering an obscene 8.7 YPA. Even the Saints aren't even close to that (7.9 YPA) during that span.
St. Louis won't be able to run the ball as well as it did last week though. Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson gashed the Packers for 108 yards on just 22 attempts, but New England is much better versus ground attacks (3.3 YPC) than Green Bay is (4.1 YPC). I know Shonn Greene had some success last week, but that's because the Jets' offensive line bullied the Patriots' defensive front. The Rams just don't have that sort of personnel in the trenches because of all the injuries. They're down to their third-string left tackle, for crying out loud.
The Rams will find it challenging to move the ball if they can't run it successfully. They'll have some quality drives, but they'll undoubtedly stall in the red zone, as they've done all year. Taking field goals against the Patriots will not get it done.
RECAP: I'm taking the Patriots for a unit. The media's overreaction to the near-loss against the Jets has brought this number down from -8.5 to -7, so we're getting good value. I haven't done well picking these England games though, so I'm limiting my wager.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Nothing has changed. I still like the Patriots for one unit.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No pyschological edge found in this international matchup.
The Vegas. Edge: Rams.
No surprise that people are betting on the Patriots, even in England.
Percentage of money on New England: 81% (63,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
Patriots are 27-18 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Walturd, Stillers at 11 and Cowboys at 19... makes your "Rankings" irrelevant!!
First of all, I must compliment you on "Walturd." I've honestly never heard that one before. Nice job. And second, I have no idea what your problem is with my rankings of the Steelers and Cowboys. Pittsburgh will be good once everyone is healthy, while Dallas just sucks at life. Maybe you like the Cowboys because you suck at life as well.
YOU EFF-AGS AT WALTER SOCCER (YOU DONT DESERVE THE FOOTBALL NAME), YOU F-CKIN EURO TRASH, W-I-L-L BOW DOWN TO THE ALMIGHTY BEARS WHEN ITS ALL SAID AND DONE. YOU DONT HAVE TO LIKE CHICAGO. BUT YOU WILL FEAR AND RESPECT THE BEARS, YOU GREEN BAY BABY DICK GOBBLING [email protected] BEARDOWN ON ALL YOU H0MOS POINT DIFFERENTIAL DONT LIE B1TCH. BEARS ARE #1, PURE DOMINANCE. ONE LUCKY LOSS ON THE ROAD TO A DESPERATE SLACKERS TEAM WHO HAD TO RESORT TO A FAKE FG TD AND REF HELP...means SH1T SUPER BEARS SUPER BOWL B1TCH, DEAL WITH IT
Someone alert the authorities! Someone escaped the Chicago mental institution!
The more I come on here the more I realize why it's not often that I check this site.
And yet you took the time to post on my comment board. Thanks!
It just dawned on me why wally is so silly with his picks....He's a closet gayboy without a big enough sack to admit it.
You make it sound like closet gayboys are a bad thing.
This power ranking proves my point that this guy has no respect and hates the bears. Has nothing positive to say about a 4-1 team with a scary good defense and and offense that hasn't found its grove yet. 4-1 and hasn't found its grove yet.
Sorry, I know nothing about finding groves. I live in a big city, so there aren't many trees here.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: The Titans are so bad defensively. Ryan Fitzpatrick played like a Pro Bowler against them until that horrible interception at the end of the game. Their secondary is an abomination, as Michael Griffin is having the worst season of his career, while Jordan Babineaux gets beat easily in coverage. As a result, Tennessee has surrendered an average of 297 passing yards per game since Week 2.
Andrew Luck should have plenty of success moving the chains. The Titans don't have much of a pass rush - three sacks in the past three weeks - so he'll have plenty of time to find Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery downfield. Of course, he could always scramble for first downs and scores, just as he did versus Cleveland last week.
The Colts will be able to run the ball as well, though it's unclear who the running back will be. Donald Brown practiced Wednesday, but was limited. Either way, Brown or Vick Ballard will find holes in a Tennessee ground defense that has permitted all but one team to rush for at least 97 yards against them this season.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: So, after getting blasted by the Vikings, the Titans have beaten the Steelers in a weird Thursday night game and the Bills' pathetic defense, and now no ESPN analyst is surprised about this because "Matt Hasselbeck wins football games." Hasselbeck is also a turnover machine, but the hobbled Steelers and inept Bills couldn't capitalize. The Colts' defense should be grouped with those two stop units, right?
Well, I wouldn't be too positive about that. Sure, they're 27th against the run (4.8 YPC), but they're going to have all of their defensive starters back. Robert Mathis, Cory Redding and Pat Angerer are all expected to play, which will mark the first time they're all on the field together this season. Mathis and Redding were absent last week, but Angerer suited up for the first time and helped stuff Trent Richardson. If the Colts keep everyone healthy, they'll be much better against the rush going forward, so I wouldn't expect Chris Johnson to repeat what he did last week.
Something that really hurts the Titans is that stud left tackle Michael Roos just had an appendectomy, so he'll be out of action. Someone named Mike Otto will start instead, which means the Colts will be able to apply heavy pressure on Hasselbeck, who will undoubtedly turn the ball over a couple of times.
RECAP: Besides the injury advantage in Indianapolis' favor, there are a few reasons why I really like the visitor:
First, the Titans are coming off a close road victory and are now home favorites. Teams in this situation (in the first half of the season) are 25-46 against the spread since 2000.
Second, Tennessee is in another bad spot. The team won twice as underdogs and is now favored. That's a bad dynamic change, and teams often struggle to cover in this situation.
And third, I just feel like we're getting more than a field goal with the superior team. The Colts are finally healthy, so I think they're better than the Titans, who won't have their left tackle.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Colts are still one of my favorite picks.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 56% (45,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Colts.
History: Colts have won 14 of the last 18 meetings (Titans 8-4 ATS since 2006).
Matt Hasselbeck is 14-23 ATS off back-to-back wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Green Bay Packers (4-3) Line: Packers by 14.5. Total: 45.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Packers -12.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Packers -13.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Packers -14.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: .
The most illiterate sports bettor in the world is a man named the Real John Moss. He loves to e-mail me and talk to me on G-chat. He didn't update his Web site, https://sites.google.com/site/realjohnmossfootball/ this past week, but I was able to find an e-mail he sent me in September. Apparently, I'm not the only one who receives spam e-mails:
I am Mr Chuanli Yusheng , the Vice President and Branch Manager of The Bank of East Asia (China), Huayuanshiqiao,Shanghai Branch. I know you may be wondering why I am contacting you for this despite all the friends and relations that I have but I decided to do this with an unknown person to avoid any form of blackmail in the future.Mr.Alvin Peter Kappelmann Jr was an account holder with my bank branch. I have been his account officer for 11 years before his death. He died during the World Trade Center bombing in September 11 2001.
Since his death, the management of my bank has made series of efforts to locate his family but all efforts were proved abortive. I also carried out series of research to find his family but it was confirmed that the mother who was the only surviving member of the family died at the hearing of the son�s death. He was already divorced before his death and due to this fact; no one was able to claim the fund he deposited in my bank legally because there was no will to it. He had a secret dollar account with my bank worth the sum of $9,300,000.00 (Nine Million, Three Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).
My purpose of contacting you now is this: My bank during the last executive board meeting resolved that if by the end of this year and there is no beneficiary to the said account, the account will be confiscated and the fund sent to the bank treasury and this is where I am interested in and wants you to come in:
I want you to come in as the Next of Kin/Beneficiary to this account. I have all the titled documents to back your claim and as the Vice President and Manager of this branch, it is in my power to carry out any form of verification on the beneficiary of the said fund and process the fund wire without any problem. I want you to know that this is legal, 100% risk free as all the titled documents would be changed to your name as the new beneficiary of the said funds, and the fund wired to any bank account you wish to have it wired to.
Please note we shall share in the ratio of 50% for me, 50% for you. When the fund finally gets to your nominated bank account.
If you are interested, please send me your: Full names ,Age and address. Telephone and fax numbers. Where I can always reach you and also if the bank wants to reach you on phone)Finally, I shall furnish you with more information�s about this operation.
Your Prompt response to this letter will be appreciated.
The Real John Moss also showed me his reply to Chunali Yusheng:
firsts of alls i am very sory 4 ur loss im 9/11 victum also 1 of my brozers die from crash in Texis 9/11 NEVAR FORGET an good bless troops
to cut to the cheese im VERY intrested in ur proposel. as u kno by now im sure im very sucesful business man an no one wuld suspect anything i am vry well respect in CHINA so konichiwa my brozer
my full names is JOHN MOSS i am live in filadelfia i AM 32 YEAR olds im not own phne but my sister phone numbar (215) 427-XXXX
pleese respond quik as im need money by SUNDAY for the games
Wonder what the Real John Moss' sister looks like? Luckily, I have an exclusive picture:
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: A week ago, I would've scoffed at the sportsbooks not posting a spread because of Blaine Gabbert's questionable availability, but after watching Chad Henne for two-and-a-half quarters, I can commend Vegas for doing the right thing. Henne played like a drunk who had just been roofied. His passes were all over the place, and it's a miracle the Raiders didn't come away with half-a-dozen interceptions.
It sounds like Gabbert will play though. He's not nearly as inaccurate as Henne, but he's still consistently off the mark on the rare occasions in which he takes shots downfield. Of course, he'll dink and dunk for most of the contest, which wouldn't work if the Packers were healthy. However, Charles Woodson is out, while B.J. Raji and cornerback Sam Shields both missed practice and are long shots to play.
Of course, the Jaguars have injuries of their own. Gabbert might be able to suit up, but Maurice Jones-Drew will be missing with a foot injury. Rashad Jennings will do a good job of catching passes out of the backfield, but he's not half the runner that Jones-Drew is. He couldn't muster anything on the ground versus the Raiders, so the Packers should be able to contain him easily.
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: Jacksonville has injury concerns on defense as well. Stud linebacker Daryl Smith, who can't ever seem to get healthy, is doubtful for this contest. Safety Dwight Lowery, who is great in coverage, will be out again with an ankle. Cornerback Rashean Mathis, meanwhile, is bothered by a groin and is iffy to play.
With all of these players out, Aaron Rodgers has to be licking his chops. Rodgers is on fire, having thrown nine touchdowns and no interceptions with a 73.0 completion percentage and a 9.1 YPA the past two contests - and he did so against defenses (Texans, Rams) that are far superior than Jacksonville's when you take all of the aforementioned injuries into account. Houston and St. Louis are third and 12th versus the pass, respectively, while Jacksonville is 17th (7.2 YPA) and will be worse without Lowery and a healthy Mathis.
The one thing going for the Jaguars is that they won't have to worry about Alex Green, who was terrible against the Rams. Jacksonville can focus on stopping Rodgers, though that's way easier said than done. They'll have to apply heavy pressure on him. There's some hope in that regard because they sacked Carson Palmer thrice this past Sunday, but Rodgers is more mobile and has better pocket awareness than Palmer, so it's still a long shot.
RECAP: There's no line on this game right now, but I'm probably going to take the Packers for a couple of units unless the spread is out of control. Rodgers is on fire right now, so like last year, I'm going to ride the wave.
It's also worth noting that there's a nice trend that says to fade Jacksonville. It's from KillerSports.com: All teams (excluding 14-plus underdogs) coming off a game against a non-divisional opponent in which they scored 21-plus points, but had 10 or fewer first downs are 0-17 against the spread since 1996. It sounds vague, but it makes sense if you think about it. Their reasoning: "For a team to score 21-plus points with 10 or fewer first downs, it means that they scored on either big offensive plays, off turnovers or on special teams. A team that scored a lot of points without methodically moving the ball downfield can be overrated and perhaps even overconfident."
I feel like people might think the Jaguars are better than they really are because they took the Raiders to overtime. That was a farce though because Oakland just happened to be in a terrible spot and consequently made dumb mistakes.
SURVIVOR PICK: I haven't used the Packers yet. My top survivor options: Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Denver, New England.
SPREAD POSTED: A spread has been posted. It opened at -16 and is now down to -15. That's ridiculous. I was hoping to get the Packers for under two touchdowns, but I can't bet on Green Bay at such a high number. I'm not taking the Jaguars either, though it's worth noting that road underdogs of 15-plus are 46-34 against the spread since 1989.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I can't recommend betting against Rodgers right now, especially against a banged-up secondary, but laying more than two touchdowns is always a bad idea. No action for me.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
Tons of people are content to lay more than two touchdowns.
Percentage of money on Green Bay: 81% (45,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Packers.
Jaguars are 14-29 ATS against non-divisional opponents since 2008.
Jaguars are 8-14 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2007.
Aaron Rodgers is 36-20 ATS since 2009 (8-3 ATS as a favorite of 12+).
San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (1-6) Line: Chargers by 3. Total: 41. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Chargers -3.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Chargers -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Chargers -3.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Chargers.
Some random NFL notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. As mentioned, I'm going to discuss the completely bogus declined safety stunt that Jim Harbaugh pulled Thursday night. As I tweeted (@walterfootball), "this is the shadiest turn of events in sports betting history."
It really was. I've seen people take the stance of a kneel-down being the safer bet, but let me ask you this - what's more likely to happen:
A) Fumbled snap on a kneel down (has happened before)
B) Onside kick recovery
Onside kick recovery
30-yard play to put the team in field-goal position
...All in half a minute and no timeouts?
It's a no-brainer to go up two scores just in case Alex Smith pulls a Philip Rivers. Smith did have an injured finger he was dealing with the entire game. What if that prompted an unexpected fumble, especially if Pete Carroll pulled a Greg Schiano and asked his team to mug the 49ers during the play?
The entire game was shady. The weird interception in the end zone. The tripping penalty that negated the ball at the 1-yard line. Marshawn Lynch's fumble strangely going from down by contact to stopped forward progress. As my friend Aju wrote on my Facebook wall, "The whole game seemed like I was in the Twilight Zone."
Some other comments posted:
Matheus C: F*** him, I was screaming F*** YEEAHH after the safety call.
Martin S: So sorry for you Walt. Strangest no cover I've ever seen.
Ash K: I had a seizure when he didn't call that.
Corey P: Harbaugh wanted to get the game over with quickly because he's working on a Hollywood screenplay called 'Space Dogs' and he wanted extra time to write. If you saw their offensive game plan .. it's obvious 'Space Dogs' is his primary focus right now.
Jason B: Odds of a fumble on a kneel down. Bad but it happened last season with Phillip rivers. Odds of recovering two inside kicks and scoring twice in 40 seconds? Non existent. Mike DeVito is wrong!! This was classic rigged nfl. #WhoDey
Nick P: I'm a big Niners' fan and he has to be in Vegas' back pocket.
That's interesting Nick said that. I received an e-mail from Zack D. with the subject, "Are the Harbaughs Dirty?" Here's what it said:
Last night's incident (personally, I actually agree with Harbaugh's decision, but I love me a good conspiracy theory) reminded me of something that happened a few years ago during opening week with John Harbaugh - here's how I wrote it up at the time. Similarly fishy to what happened last night - Baltimore was -10 in this case.
John Harbaugh, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens. With thirty-one seconds left on the clock, the ball on the Kansas City goal line, and a seven point lead, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh decides to try to run it into the end zone to build a fourteen point lead, cover the spread, and earn the eternal enmity of all the bookies in Las Vegas. What are the odds of getting a touchdown on fourth and goal from the 2 yard line? About 43%. From this distance, a field goal is essentially an extra point, and what are your chances of connecting on that? 98%. I know Harbaugh�s kicker is effectively a rookie and this ended up being irrelevant when they scored the touchdown, but this is an incredibly bad decision by an otherwise intelligent coach.
I remember that game, and I benefitted from that, so I guess everything has evened out. But to answer Zack's question, it would not surprise me in the slightest. Hey, remember in the pre-Donaghy era when some people said that NBA games were fixed and others shrugged it off and called them conspiracy theorists? Well, that's no longer the case.
I'm not saying that Jim Harbaugh shaved points or John Harbaugh intentionally had his team cover the spread in that one game, but in five, 10, 15 years, if a gray-haired Adam Schefter reports that the Harbaughs did, in fact, pull stunts like this, will anyone be the least bit surprised? I know I won't be.
2. Speaking of Schefter, forum member McNulty posted something amusing recently during Sunday NFL Countdown that all Game of Thrones fans will appreciate:
Schefter is the Varys, and Mort the Pycelle, of the ESPN Small Council
We then had this exchange:
Me: So Schefter got his balls cut off? By Al Davis' minions I guess?
McNulty: More just that Schefter is the Lord of Whispers while Mort is a doddering old fool that is a relic of the old regime.
Darn, it would have been cool if Schefter was really a eunuch. Not that I'd wish for him to have his balls cut off, but it would be great if ESPN really did have a sly eunuch who knew everything about everyone.
I can't wait for Season 3 and Book 6. If you haven't gotten into Game of Thrones, please do so. You're missing out.
3. Getting to something even more ridiculous than betting scandals and ESPN eunuchs, I had an NFL-related dream recently. It's too bizarre not to share:
So, Texans' owner Bob McNair reached out to me. He hired me, but not as a talent evaluator or anything like that; he simply had one mission for me - to infiltrate Colts' headquarters. Why? To steal the blueprints for their next 32 commercials.
As odd as this task was, there was a time limit. Unfortunately, the Colts had everything on lockdown, so I couldn't find a way in - until I just decided to follow Irsay into the building, acting as though I belonged. When we were inside his office, Irsay asked me who I was, and I told him that I was the new intern. He then showed me the blueprints to all of the commercials. As he was doing this, I was e-mailing myself the names and colors of all of the commercials, which proved to be difficult because my phone ringtone was the background music from Star Fox (an awesome Super Nintendo game) and it kept going off. I had to tell Irsay it was just my alarm.
Anyway, I managed to e-mail myself 30 of the 32 commercials, including the super-secret one called "Bee Bee Bull," which had the colors of light green, yellow and teal. Yeah, I have no idea.
I eventually left Colts' headquarters and walked over to the Texans' building. I guess they were right next to each other for some reason. I showed the e-mail to McNair and his daughter (I don't even know if he has one), who said, "Isn't that great dad? We now know what 30 of their commercials are!"
Again, I have no idea why McNair needed Irsay's commercials, but McNair asked me to meet him on his plane so I could claim my reward. As soon as I stepped onto his plane, it took off. I saw McNair - and he was standing right next to Irsay! Both of them told me that they had fooled me, and were only pulling this stunt to prove how much power they had. They then locked me in the back compartment. I tried tapping morse code for "SOS" into the floor, but that did nothing since we were in the air.
Suddenly, McNair and Irsay entered the room. They looked very angry. They approached me and... my alarm went off. The real one; not the Star Fox song.
I think I've watched too much football these past two months. That, or I'm going insane.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Trent Richardson is unlikely to play in this game. In fact, the Browns are discussing shutting him down until after their Week 10 bye. That's probably a good idea because he was completely ineffective against Indianapolis' soft run defense this past Sunday, gaining just eight yards on eight carries. Montario Hardesty was much better in relief these past two weeks, gaining 84 yards on 22 carries in the previous couple of games.
It's going to be tough for Hardesty to run well in this contest. The Chargers are hardly the Colts; they rank fifth versus the rush, giving up 3.6 YPC. Hardesty just doesn't have the talent to overcome that.
Brandon Weeden won't have much help from his ground attack, but he may not need it because San Diego is so pourous against the pass. The Chargers have permitted an average of 301.3 passing yards per game in the four weeks prior to the bye. Maybe the coaching staff shored things up during the week off, but it's going to be difficult to overcome the poor coverage of Atari Bigby and Antoine Cason.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: The Browns, meanwhile, have the opposite problem. They're good against the pass and struggle versus the run. The Colts, who were missing Donald Brown, gashed Cleveland for 136 rushing yards on just 24 carries. They're just three weeks removed from allowing Ahmad Bradshaw to rush for 200 yards.
Ryan Mathews should have a monstrous afternoon. He has apparently won back the confidence of Norv Turner. He'll pick up big chunks of yardage and will give Philip Rivers easy throwing situations, though the Cleveland pass rush wasn't going to be much of an issue, given that the team has just five sacks in the past three weeks. Left tackle Jared Gaither is expected to return to action, so Rivers should have a clean pocket all afternoon.
Rivers will, however, have to avoid Joe Haden, who will smother one of his receivers. Haden should go after Malcom Floyd because Robert Meachem hasn't done anything all year besides catch two long touchdowns against the Saints' sorry secondary. Antonio Gates, who has struggled thus far, will have to step up.
RECAP: I'm torn here. On one hand, the publicly bet Chargers are overrated and are playing an early contest on the East Coast. On the other hand, road favorites coming off a bye are usually a great betting proposition. I'm going to leave this game alone, as there are far superior betting opportunities out there this week. Gun to my head? I'll fade the public and take the home dog.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There isn't as much action on the Chargers as there was earlier in the week. I'd no longer be scared to take them, though I still think Cleveland is the right side. It's a tough call though.
The Psychology. Edge: Browns.
The Chargers have a divisional matchup in four days, so they could be looking ahead to that.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
People continue to bet on the Chargers.
Percentage of money on San Diego: 77% (58,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Browns.
Early Game Alert: Norv Turner is 1-4 ATS in 1 p.m. East Coast games with the Chargers.
New Thursday Schedule: Favorites are 1-6 ATS prior to Thursday night games this year.
Chargers are 17-26 ATS in Weeks 1-8 since 2007.
Norv Turner is 1-4 ATS off a bye with the Chargers.
Atlanta Falcons (6-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) Line: Eagles by 2.5. Total: 42.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Eagles -2.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Eagles -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Eagles -1.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Eagles.
Random College Football Notes:
1. This occurred a couple of weeks ago, but Ohio State third-string quarterback Cardale Jones talked about attending classes on Twitter:
"Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS."
Even though Mr. Jones seems destined to work at a McDonald's for the rest of his life, I do think he has a point. I never understood why athletics and academics intertwined. Most football and basketball players wouldn't have even been admitted to the school if they couldn't contribute to the team and bring in revenue that way, so why do we insist on making them go through this unnecessary charade? If they want to go to classes, fine. Good for them. But if not, why should they? It's a sham because many of them take joke courses like the history of disco, which is available at Ohio State (or at least it used to be). If many "student-athletes" don't take classes seriously, why do we make this whole ordeal about them going to class a serious matter? It's a joke.
I guess history of disco was too difficult for Mr. Jones. It's a good thing he won't have to know anything about that when he's asking people if they want fries with their order.
2. E-mailer Brandon K. sent over this amusing picture:
A 130-yard penalty? Jesus, what did that Razorback player do, sleep with a 25-year-old assistant on the staff? Oh wait, that was someone else in the Arkansas football program.
3. An e-mail from Joe B:
Your disdain for Charles Davis is well documented. I hope you were watching the USC-Stanford game. If not, here's what you missed:
Stanford took the opening kickoff back to the USC 37-yard line. They eventually had 4th-and-3 at the 30...
Gus Johnson - "Stanford will now bring out the field goal unit."
Charles Davis - "Are you sure? I think they might punt."
Several weeks ago, I noted that Davis proclaimed that Barkley came back to win championships (plural). Perhaps this is what he envisioned all along - that teams would just eschew scoring opportunities so that USC would somehow claim two championships in one season.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: I haven't looked at many weather reports this early in the season because the weather won't be much of a factor in most games until November. It could have a big impact on Atlanta's game plan this Sunday, however. Weather.com is saying that there's going to be heavy rain and somewhat strong winds in Philadelphia, which will obviously make it more challenging for the Falcons to move the chains because they have such an aerially based offense.
Atlanta will try to run the ball more often with Michael Turner to avoid the conditions. This would've been a good strategy two years ago, but Turner is pretty much done. The Eagles struggled at stopping the rush the two weeks prior to their bye, but a week off may have allowed them to fix things, given that they were stout versus the run prior to playing the Steelers in Week 5. Besides, it's not like stopping Turner is much of a challenge anymore.
Ryan will have to move the chains on his own to sustain consistent scoring drives. Nnamdi Asomugha has been beaten frequently this year, while safety Kurt Coleman is a big liability in coverage. As mentioned, however, the weather will make things more difficult for Ryan, who was a bit shaky prior to the bye. Ryan committed a total of five turnovers against the Redskins and Raiders, two defenses that have big problems in their secondaries.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: Of course, you can't mention the word "turnover" without thinking of QB Dog Killer, who has eight interceptions and five lost fumbles in six games. He should have spent the week off trying to shore up his give-away problem, but he probably used most of his time "playing" with his new dog. Sorry, I'm trolling extra hard right now.
QBDK figures to be extra turnover-prone in the rain, as a slippery ball obviously has a greater chance of falling out of his hands. He'll also make some dumb errors when throwing into Mike Nolan's confusing schemes, and I'm sure former Eagle Asante Samuel will be trying extra hard to pick off a pass so he can prove that he was misused by the coaching staff last season.
Speaking of the coaching staff, Andy Reid absolutely has to run the ball. Forget the weather conditions; Atlanta's defense is porous against the run, ranking 31st against it (5.1 YPC). Reid foolishly tends to forget to give carries to LeSean McCoy, but maybe he'll remember to do so this week because he's had extra time to prepare for this contest.
RECAP: I've faded the Eagles regularly this year, but I love them in this spot. Here's why:
1. For whatever reason, Reid is awesome coming off a bye. He's never lost, covering 10 of 13 chances. Betting on favorites with an extra week to prepare is usually a good betting proposition anyway.
2. Reid is also at his best when the media trashes him. He and his players have had to hear how bad they are for two weeks. One local sports-talk radio host even suggested that the Eagles should fire Reid right now and replace him with Brian Dawkins. I wish I were making this up.
3. Reid owns the Falcons. Excluding a Week 17 contest in which he sat his starters, he's 7-2 against the spread against Atlanta throughout his tenure. He's 3-1 ATS versus Matt Ryan, with the only loss coming last year when his team blew a big lead after QBDK suffered an injury.
4. Here's a cool trend in Philadelphia's favor: Teams that lose at home in overtime tend to cover (38-15 ATS since 1994) the following game as long as they are not road dogs.
5. I have one more tend. This one goes against Atlanta: Road underdogs with a week off following a win are 32-50 against the spread since 1990.
6. And as mentioned, the weather is going to impact the Falcons. Ryan has shown that he can win outdoors, but rainy and windy conditions will limit his offense because his team can no longer run the ball very well.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Eagles are still one of my favorite plays. Weather.com is calling for rain and 20-mph winds, which will disrupt Atlanta's passing attack.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Eagles.
No surprise that people are taking the points with the Falcons.
Seattle Seahawks (4-3) at Detroit Lions (2-4) Line: Lions by 2.5. Total: 42. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Lions -3.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Lions -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Lions -2.5.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Seahawks.
If you've followed this site for a while, you may know that I like to respond to my spam mails. I'm continuing last week's, which was from a woman named Mulyana:
Yes, I'm Steve Urkel. The biggest nerd in television history. If you're not familiar with him, just watch this.
Sure enough, the person pretending to be this Mulyana chick e-mailed me back, as he's a dumb spammer from somewhere in Asia and has no clue who Urkel is. Her message to me said that she loves me but she needs someone to transfer her funds to an American bank. She also sent a picture:
Here was my reply:
By the way, that address that I listed is the actual Winslow residence from Family Matters. It's currently preserved as a historical property. I really hope they get some sort of mail from "Mulyana."
Her next e-mail gave me her bank e-mail and that the depositor was a Dr Dreamad tuazama. I replied:
After this, Mulyana gave me a sample e-mail to send to the bank. I did so here:
The phone number's legit, by the way. I looked it up on WhitePages.com, and there's a Steve Urkel who lives in Houston. I wish I could hear that phone call. Sorry, I'm evil.
The bank told me they needed some stuff, including Dr. Dreamad Tuazama's death certificate, so I e-mailed the lovely Mulyana...
*** OK, so that's what happened up until last week. ***
I finally got a response:
Honey, i have made a contact to a lawyer in
Senegal who will help us and go to the ministry of justice here in Senegal and get these two remaining document needed by the bank, The lawyer is personal lawyer of united nation Rev Father have Discused with him over phone now now hours ago.
Honey, i will like you to contact this lawyer today with his information in this massege and as soon as you contact him, i will like you to inform me so that i will give him this two documents , i have with me here in other for him to send it to the bank of Africa for the transaction to be complete,
i will like you to contact this lawyer immediately, tell him that you are contacting him on behalf of me miss mulyana, that will want him to help us and get this remaining documents needed from the Bank of Africa before the will start this transaction, which is the Power of Attorney document, and the Affidavit of oath certificate from the ministry of justice here in Senegal. below is the address of the lawyer, send email to the lawyer now .
You can reach him true this phone number : + 221765480947
His name is, Barrister Colo Dabadu. Tell him that you are contacting him on my Behehalf, that we need his urgent help, because i want this money to be transferred into your bank account as soon as possible in other for me to join you over there in your country for an investment of this money and also for me to countinue my education, in your country
I can reach this Barrister Colo Dabadu true that telephone number, eh? Meh, why not just e-mail him first? And why not e-mail him from both Urkel and Waldo's accounts? Here's what I had Urkel send over to Barrister:
And here's Waldo's e-mail. I'm sure you'll all appreciate the Matt Millen touch:
I hope this Barrister fellow accepts Waldo's offer. I want to start selling 100-percent USDA Man sex slaves!
DETROIT OFFENSE: It's always something with the Lions. If they're not committing dumb personal-foul penalties, they're screwing up on special teams. If they're not screwing up on special teams, they're dropping passes. If they're not dropping passes, they're coughing the ball up. Three of those elements affected them in their Monday night battle against the Bears, with the drops and fumbles being the most prevalent.
You can't make stupid mistakes against good defenses and expect to win. Like the Bears, the Seahawks have a great stop unit. They have the secondary to take Calvin Johnson away and force Matthew Stafford to look elsewhere. Stafford lost Nate Burleson to a season-ending injury, but that could be a blessing in disguise because it'll allow the more-talented Ryan Broyles to play a big role. Broyles was a factor in the second half of Monday night's game, so the Seahawks will have to make sure they monitor him.
The Lions gashed the Bears a bit on the ground (76 rushing yards on 15 carries), but don't expect the same to occur in this contest, as Seattle has the No. 6 ground defense in the NFL (3.7 YPC). The Bears are just 14th.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: The Seahawks are all about Marshawn Lynch on offense, but Russell Wilson could have a solid performance. The Lions have so many injuries in their secondary. Cornerbacks Bill Bentley (shoulder) and Jacob Lacey (concussion) and safety Amari Spievey (concussion) may all miss this contest. If so, Seattle's receivers will get open with ease.
Having said that, the offense will run through Lynch. The Lions are actually seventh against the rush (3.7 YPC), but the Seahawks just gained 126 yards on the ground against the 49ers, who were also in the top 10 prior to the Thursday night contest.
Lynch's tough running will make things so much easier for Wilson, who will have to escape a fierce Detroit pass rush that has 10 sacks in its past three games. Wilson's pocket mobility will be key here; he's done a good job of evading potential sacks thus far, and he'll need to continue to do so.
RECAP: This is going to be a very small play on the Seahawks. They're the better team getting points, while the Lions could be flat following their divisional loss on Monday night. Seattle sucks on the road though, so I'm taking them for only one unit.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Lions have a number of injuries on defense. The Seahawks are the better team and are getting points, so I'm bumping this up to two units.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The Seahawks are coming off an emotional loss to the 49ers. The Lions, likewise, might be flat after losing to the Bears.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Seattle: 54% (46,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Lions.
Early Game Alert: Seahawks are 4-14 ATS in 1 p.m. East Coast games since 2003.
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New York Jets (3-4) Line: Jets by 1. Total: 38. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Jets -2.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Jets -1.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Jets -3.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: Dolphins.
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 exchange took place yesterday as the Patriot players were adjusting to England Standard Time.
Danny Woodhead: Ugh, why do we have to be in England? Couldn't we play a normal game in America? Why'd we have to fly out here?
Brandon Lloyd: I don't know, man. I also have to say that I'm quite surprised I've survived this long considering Tom Brady's shenanigans.
Danny Woodhead: Oh yeah, his wife has made him so annoying. Oh, speak of the devil, here he comes now. Hey To- no... NO... NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
Brandon Lloyd: What? What is it?
Danny Woodhead: IT'S THE HAIRCUT! OH GOD, NO! NOOOOOOO!!! WHY, GOD WHY!?
Brandon Lloyd: Why? What does this haircut do?
Danny Woodhead: IT'S THE F***ING ROOSTER HAIRCUT! HIS WIFE MAKES HIM GET ONE WHENEVER HE TRAVELS TO EUROPE SO HE DOESN'T OVERSLEEP AFTER A LONG FLIGHT. NOW HE'S GOING TO WAKE THE WHOLE TOWN UP AT 5:30 AM!
Brandon Lloyd: What? Come on, even that's ridiculous. Tom, can you please assure Danny that you're not going to make rooster sounds in the morning?
Danny Woodhead: F************************CK YOUUUUUUUUU!!!!
NEW YORK OFFENSE: It's amazing how one game can distort reality. Mark Sanchez torched New England's pathetic secondary, prompting Bill Simmons to comment on the B.S. Report, "The Jets? Not bad!" This, just one week after he said, "The Jets are teeeeerrible." He's not the only one; just look at how many people are betting on New York.
Sanchez is still as woefully inaccurate as ever; he's just one week removed from going 11-of-18 for 82 yards against the Colts, who are just below average against the pass. Sure, having Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller back helps, but it's not like their presence is going to transform Sanchez from a pedestrian passer into a capable quarterback. The Dolphins have surrendered a solid 6.7 YPA in their previous four contests, which includes a battle against Sanchez in which he completed 46.7 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions. He managed to compile 306 yards in the overtime affair, but only because Jeremy Kerley turned a short catch into a long gain. Also remember that this was with Santonio Holmes in the lineup.
The key for the Jets will be running the football. Shonn Greene has shockingly looked functional the past two weeks, but now has to deal with a Miami stop unit that limited him to just 40 rushing yards on 19 carries in Week 3. If Greene can't run again, Sanchez will have to move the chains on his own, which could prove to be disastrous.
MIAMI OFFENSE: The Dolphins, conversely, were gashing the Jets on the ground in that contest - until Reggie Bush suffered an injury and had to leave the game in the beginning of the second quarter. Bush was off to a good start, gaining 61 yards on just 10 attempts. He'll pick up where he left off, as the Jets are just 25th against the run (4.7 YPC).
Miami will need Bush to pick up chunks of yardage because the Jets play the pass pretty well. Antonio Cromartie is capable of shutting down an opposing receiver, so he'll undoubtedly work against Brian Hartline, forcing Ryan Tannehill to look elsewhere. Tannehill was just 16-of-36 for 196 yards and a pick versus the Jets in the aforementioned meeting. He spent the entire afternoon overthrowing receivers, but he's matured substantially since then, completing more than 63 percent of his passes in every game.
Something the Jets did not have going for them when the two teams clashed in Week 3 was Quinton Coples. The first-round rookie has finally made an impact, playing well the previous two weeks. He has an enormous advantage over right tackle Jonathan Martin, so he could accumulate a couple of sacks if the Dolphins don't run the ball well to put Tannehill in favorable situations.
RECAP: The Dolphins are one of my favorite plays of the week. I love them for the following reasons:
1. The Jets could be flat after that brutal, overtime loss against the Patriots. Getting up as a favorite over the Dolphins could be difficult.
2. Speaking of overtime, a great trend says to fade New York: Teams coming off road losses in overtime are 28-64 against the spread as long as they're not road underdogs.
3. The Jets are going into a bye, a situation that has been a losing proposition this year. Another trend is that small home favorites in conference play have sucked in this situation, going 15-43 against the spread since 2000.
4. The road team generally wins and covers in this series. The Dolphins have taken three of their previous four at New York, with the lone exception coming last year in a weird Monday night game in which Darrelle Revis had a fluky, tipped pick-six off Brandon Marshall's hands.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm still all over the Dolphins.
The Psychology. Edge: Dolphins.
The Jets gave everything they had against the Patriots. They could be flat, though this is a divisional matchup.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New York: 55% (52,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
History: Road Team has won 7 of the last 10 meetings.
Fantasy: We'll be running FanDuel contests through the end of October. It's going to be a $1 entry fee this week, but with a $1,000 prize pool. Go to the Fantasy Football Contest page for more details (link will be available later during the week).
Picking Contest: We're also running an NFL Picking Contest. It's free entry, and the winner gets $75 each month.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: Cam Newton wanted change and he got change. General manager Marty Hurney was fired. The Panthers will no longer be spending billions of dollars on mediocre running backs or picking kick-returners in the second round of the NFL Draft, but nothing will change in this game. The Panthers will continue to make questionable calls on both sides of the ball.
I'd like to know why Newton isn't running inside the red zone. He did this so frequently last year, but he's barely scoring any rushing touchdowns this season (3). That's the one thing the Bears can't really account for. He scrambled into the end zone twice against them as a rookie, going 27-of-46 for 374 yards in the process - and this was with a healthy Brian Urlacher in the middle of that defense.
Chicago's stop unit has improved this year, however, so it would be crazy to expect those numbers out of Newton. If the Panthers stick with regular offensive plays, they'll get crushed. Outside of Newton, they have no running game, so the Bears will be able to easily shut down a one-dimensional offense - especially against an offensive line missing its starting Pro Bowl center.
CHICAGO OFFENSE: The Panthers are short-handed defensively as well. Top cornerback Chris Gamble is gone for the year, while linebacker Jon Beason has missed action lately and may not be able to play again. On paper, Chicago should be able to move the chains with ease.
What the paper doesn't say, however, is that Jay Cutler hurt his ribs Monday night. Cutler barely missed any action, but he did not look anything like himself in the second half. That was pretty evident. Now, he has five days to heal, so maybe he'll be close to 100 percent this upcoming Sunday. If he is, he'll easily beat defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's horrible schemes. If not, the Bears won't have much luck moving the chains.
Cutler's health is the key to this contest because I don't see Matt Forte having much success on the ground. The Panthers have been much better versus the run lately, surrendering 4.03 YPC to their previous four opponents. They limited the Cowboys to just 74 rushing yards.
RECAP: It's impossible to make a call on the game without fully knowing Cutler's status. My guess is that his bruised ribs will still be an issue, but that's just a shot in the dark.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Cutler is expected to play, but he could be hurt. I still can't pick either side with confidence.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.
Slight lean on the host.
Percentage of money on Chicago: 64% (51,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
Jay Cutler is 27-45 ATS if you exclude Monday Night Football.
Washington Redskins (3-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) Line: Steelers by 4. Total: 44. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Steelers -5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 7): Steelers -4.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 7): Steelers -4.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 ET
Discuss Week 8 Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: None.
If you didn't catch it, Emmitt on the Brink is back! Season 5, Episode 8 has been posted - Emmitt's credit card is stolen - and then he gets arrested!
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: I like to go against media overreaction. All day Monday, every analyst on ESPN was slobbering over Robert Griffin. And they had every right to. Griffin has been amazing. He's the first quarterback in a long time to perfectly combine elite scrambling ability with precise passing. He also comes through in the clutch; if it weren't for Santana Moss' fumble, Washington could be 4-3 right now.
The Steelers don't stand a chance against Griffin. Not without Troy Polamalu. They're just two weeks removed from surrendering 290 passing yards to Matt Hasselbeck. Andy Dalton struggled against them Sunday night, but not before losing center Jeff Faine. The offense just collapsed when Faine, who was already the backup, went out and the third-stringer had to step in.
Washington will do most of its damage on the ground. Pittsburgh has been getting gashed in the running game without Polamalu, surrendering 4.5 YPC in its previous four games, as Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward have been huge disappointments. If the team couldn't stop BenJarvus Green-Ellis, pre-Faine injury, how will it contain Alfred Morris, who has just been a beast this year? And what about Griffin? The Steelers will have to worry about him picking up first downs as well.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: The Steelers will have success scoring as well - assuming they don't kill themselves with drops again. Mike Wallace was guilty of four of those against the Bengals after having several fall through his hands against both the Eagles and Titans. He and Antonio Brown will get open, so it'll just be a matter of catching Ben Roethlisberger's throws or not; after all, Washington's secondary has given up at least 299 passing yards to every quarterback it has battled this year, including Dalton, Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman.
The Redskins will have to pressure Roethlisberger to avoid getting torched. That'll be difficult for two reasons. First, with Brian Orakpo out, they have just nine sacks on the season if you exclude their victory over the Vikings in which they were so far ahead that they could afford to tee off on Christian Ponder. And second, the Steelers will have Maurkice Pouncey back in the lineup, so their entire front line will intact, save for David DeCastro.
Washington will be able to at least stop the bleeding by stopping the run, which was something the Bengals couldn't do. The team hasn't yielded more than 81 rushing yards to any opponent since Week 2. Rashard Mendenhall could be back in the lineup, but he won't be able to give Roethlisberger as many favorable passing downs. That could lead to some punts, but Big Ben is the master of converting third downs.
RECAP: The Redskins are one of my favorite plays this week. Here's why:
1. This is a media fade. All day Monday, I heard, "The Steelers are coming." Really? They barely beat the Bengals, who were down to their third-string center, and they lost to the Titans before that. They'll be coming when everyone gets healthy, but they're not coming yet.
2. The Steelers don't sustain success very well; like the Giants, they're better when everyone doubts them. They're terrible as visiting favorites after a big victory, and they're also bad as a non-divisional home favorite after a road win (3-7 against the spread with Roethlisberger).
3. I love betting on road underdogs following a loss on the road. It's been a 67-percent proposition for many years.
4. The Steelers are coming off a divisional win and are now home favorites. They have to battle the Giants next week. This could be a flat spot.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I still love the Redskins, though I moved this to an under because of Hurricane Sandy.
The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
The Steelers are coming off a divisional win and have the Giants coming up, so this might be a flat spot for them.
The Vegas. Edge: Steelers.
The Redskins are a healthy public dog.
Percentage of money on Washington: 67% (54,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Redskins.
Ben Roethlisberger is 3-7 ATS as a non-divisional home favorite following a road win.
Week 8 NFL Picks - Late Games
Raiders at Chiefs,
Giants at Cowboys,
Saints at Broncos,
49ers at Cardinals
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 3, 2016): 7-7-2 (+$880)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 3, 2016): 1-2-1 (-$320)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 3, 2016): 3-0-1 (+$1,300)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 3, 2016): 7-9 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 3, 2016): +$320
2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-0, 100% (+$1,200)
2016 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 41-24-1, 65.1% (+$3,475) 2016 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 13-7-1, 65.0% (+$1,065) 2016 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 6-2-1, 75.0% (+$1,360) 2016 Season Over-Under: 25-23, 52.1% ($0) 2016 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$80
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: 2,332-2,140-132, 52.2% (+$11,625) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 754-675-35 (52.8%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 312-270-14 (53.6%) Career Over-Under: 1,848-1,788-51 (50.8%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 34-22 (60.7%)
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.