Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5) Line: Chiefs by 1.5. Total: 47.5. Walt's Projected Line: Colts -2.
Saturday, Jan. 4, 4:30 ET
Discuss Playoff Games, Talk Trash
The Game. Edge: None.
WEEK 17 RECAP: I was thrilled to close out the regular season with my second-best week of the year. I went 10-6, +$1,470, which put me above four grand for the season. Hopefully I can keep this momentum going in the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, it's interesting that three of the four games this upcoming weekend are rematches. That begs the question, how well do teams fare after defeating a non-divisional opponent during the regular season? Quite poorly, actually:
Straight up (since 2001): 36-29
Against the spread (since 2001): 24-40
Does the site affect this dynamic? All three of these matchups are taking place at the other stadium:
Same site: 13-26 ATS
Different site: 11-14 ATS
That's interesting that the previously victorious team only has trouble covering if the game is being played at the same location. But surely there are exceptions, so let's delve into the 11-14 trend and see if we can come up with anything, since that's what we'll be working with here. How about we begin if underdogs become favorites and vice versa?
Underdogs beating non-divisional opponent -> Favorites in the playoffs (different site): 5-3 ATS
Favorites beating non-divisional opponent -> Underdogs in the playoffs (different site): 2-3 ATS
How about constant underdog and favorites?
Underdogs beating non-divisional opponent -> Underdogs in the playoffs (different site): 1-0 ATS
Favorites beating non-divisional opponent -> Favorites in the playoffs (different site): 2-8 ATS
There it is. The 2-8 ATS dynamic applies negatively to both the Bengals and 49ers (while the 5-3 ATS record favors the Colts).
There is something that goes against Indianapolis, however. What if the winner of the first matchup triumphed by 10 or more points? Teams in that situation are just 8-17 ATS (poor records regardless of site).
In other words, there's money to be earned betting against playoff teams that beat a non-divisional foe in the regular season, depending on the situation.
SUPER SITUATIONS: My Las Vegas Hilton Supercontest partner Matvei and I also talked about some situations that almost always win:
Seahawks at home
Saints at home
Packers at home (needs Aaron Rodgers)
Jim Harbaugh anywhere (unless he's playing another top team, i.e. Colts or Seahawks)
Tom Brady off a loss as long as he's not favored by a lot
Those situations have gone 15-4 against the spread since Week 8, with Seattle and Harbaugh both pulling through in Week 17. Unfortunately, the Packers and Harbaugh nullify each other this week.
Week 18 NFL Picks will be posted all day Wednesday. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
VEGAS RECAP: Vegas was slaughtered Sunday afternoon. All five of the highly bet teams (Steelers, Packers, Patriots, Saints and Broncos) covered. Making matters worse, almost all popular teaser combinations hit. So, with that in mind, the Clete Blakeman Rule was in effect Sunday night. The Cowboys beat the spread to win some money back for the house. There weren't any shady calls that I noticed, but if Vegas is going to fix a game, it probably won't make it very obvious.
I'll be updating the Vegas betting action all week, as usual. I'll notify you of any updates @walterfootball.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: No one gave the Colts much of a chance when these teams collided back in Week 16. They were seven-point underdogs, and most believed Kansas City would win quite easily. Instead, Indianapolis prevailed by 16 points, thanks to a solid performance by Andrew Luck, who went 26-of-37 for 241 yards and a touchdown. It could've been an even bigger victory had LaVon Brazill not dropped a score and had Adam Vinatieri connected on a routine 34-yard field goal.
Luck had great success against Kansas City's defense, but this shouldn't have been a surprise considering how poorly the unit had been playing in recent weeks. It looked completely inept against both Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in a string of three defeats. Even Matt McGloin had major success moving the chains when he wasn't heaving dumb interceptions. If Oakland was able to post 31 points, it's no wonder Indianapolis scored so easily.
The Chiefs will be better in this rematch because they'll have everyone back. Justin Houston, one of the league's premier pass-rushers missed the Week 16 tilt with an elbow injury, but he'll be on the field for the first time since Week 12 - which is when Kansas City's struggles versus aerial attacks began. Houston won't completely fix the issues in the secondary, but he'll be able to mask them with his great pressure. He, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe figure to wreak havoc on Luck, who is protected by a pedestrian offensive line.
Indianapolis should be able to keep the pass rush honest if it gives Donald Brown more carries than Trent Richardson. Richardson has been awful on his new team, while Brown has been motivated since the trade. He's been the better back, and he'll have opportunities against a Chiefs' stop unit that is actually just 25th against the rush in terms of YPC (4.34).
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: Alex Smith didn't have nearly as much success as Luck did in the previous matchup. He was terrible against a defense that couldn't stop anyone before that contest. His final numbers don't look too bad (16-of-29, 153 yards, two interceptions), but by the time the Colts made this a 23-7 score with 2:47 remaining in the third quarter, he was just 10-of-18 for 79 yards and a pick.
Smith will have a chance to redeem himself against a defense that still shouldn't be considered dominant. He and Andy Reid are undoubtedly poring over film of that defeat, desperately searching for ways to expose Indianapolis' stop unit. At the end of the day, however, Smith is just a mediocre talent. He mostly attempts short throws that his play-makers turn into big gains.
Jamaal Charles is one of those play-makers, of course, and he'll have major success as both a runner and a pass-catcher out of the backfield. The Chiefs couldn't run much with Charles in Week 16 because they were down early, but the Pro Bowl back was able to rush for 106 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries. If Kansas City can stay in the game early this time, Charles will obviously have a much bigger afternoon.
Kansas City will need Charles to rip off big gains and keep the Indianapolis defense honest so that Alex Smith can stay off the turf. The Colts struggled to get to the quarterback earlier in the year (outside of Robert Mathis, of course), but their pass rush has caught fire lately, racking up 11 sacks in the final three weeks of the regular season. Smith isn't protected very well, so he'll feel some pressure. It'll help to have Branden Albert back, but there are still too many liabilities up front, including Eric Fisher, who has been a huge disappointment as a rookie.
RECAP: I was very excited when I heard Bob Scucci tell Chad Millman that the Chiefs would be favored in this matchup. I was planning to make a huge bet on the home-underdog Colts. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition because Indianapolis opened up as a favorite.
I'm definitely less enthusiastic about this selection now. The spread is probably right where it should be. With that in mind, I'm going to make a zero-unit pick on the Colts. Luck is great at home, while Smith figures to be overwhelmed in the playoffs because of his limitations. I'm not betting on the host because I'm concerned that the Chiefs will be able to make some good counter moves from watching film of Week 16's loss.
Again, Week 18 NFL Picks will be posted all day. I'll announce via Twitter @walterfootball when each selection is posted.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps are all over the Chiefs. They've pushed this spread from Indianapolis -2.5 to +1.5. If you like to follow the sharps, bet Kansas City. As for me, I know I said I'd like the Colts as home underdogs, but they're not really underdogs in a sense that the public expects them to win. This is a non-bet for me, and I'm still leaning toward the host.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 59% (75,000 bets)
I need to vent a little bit. That Saints' loss to Carolina had major ramifications. And no, I'm not talking about the fact that they lost a first-round bye; Cam Newton's touchdown covered the spread, which ultimately cost me a cash prize in the Las Vegas Hilton Supercontest. I finished one game out of the money. I had the Saints that week, and many ahead of me picked the Panthers. FML.
I wasn't kidding when I said that Ted Ginn has cost me a fortune. If I bet against him, he has the best performances of all time. If I bet on his team, he drops touchdowns that can cover the spread. If anyone has time and wants to figure out how much money Ginn has cost me over the years, I'll be grateful and give you credit. I'll also allow you to write anything in either the NFL Picks or power rankings page.
HATE MAIL: Another week, another stack of hate mails. These are from the comment boards:
Dude, the QB Dog Killer thing got old two years ago. It was never that funny, and now it's just annoying as hell. If you keep using it, you're just gonna start driving people away from this website. It's just that annoying. And just because that's my opinion, that does not mean I support what he did.
So, you're saying that you support the drowning and electrocution of dogs? You evil, evil man.
Underrated teams Minnesota Vikings - The Vikings have crushed the Eagles without Adrian Peterson. They nearly won in Baltimore. They beat the Bears. They tied the Packers in Lambeau. This team has been dangerous lately. They lost at Cincinnati, but I'll give them a mulligan. How can you have the Bengals as overrated and the team they crushed underrated? Walter, you are an idiot seriously. You are a second rate Jimmy the Greek.
I might be a "second rate Jimmy the Greek," but at least I understand what the words "overrated" and "underrated" mean.
It's very hard to value your opinion anymore Walt. What happened to you?
I'm getting old. I've made so many Millen kielbasa jokes that my brain has turned to mush. Alcohol. Large amounts of lesbian porn. Cat urine. All of these items are factors.
SHUT A YOUR FACEA WALTER BEFORE I A TAKA MY SALAMI OUTTA MY PANTS AND SLAP A YA IN THE FACEA
You're lucky I'm not a sick perv like Matt Millen, or I might actually like that.
Cack in my mouth is what it's all about A man better bust in my face or I'll pout Vag never appealed to me and it never will Anal penetration is fun, take this while pill Looking at fetish videos is how I spend my days I love Malaysian brother scat but hate having to pay Even though the site only charges a nominal fee Really, I'm flat broke and it's easy to see So pay me so I can see more than boring European siblings pee
Holy crap, this man is actually certifiably insane. I imagine that he logged off his computer and proceeded to eat his own feces.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: The narrative entering this game is that Drew Brees sucks when playing on the road and that the Saints can't win in the cold. Let's take a look at Brees' home-road and indoor-outdoor splits:
There is most definitely a drop-off, but I think there's a misconception here. It's not that Brees plays poorly on the road; it's just that he's not as dominant as he is in the Superdome. A 27-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio is absolutely sick. It's not even human. But Brees' road and outdoor numbers aren't that bad. He still has a positive scoring-to-pick ratio, and a completion percentage hovering between 62 and 64 isn't something to be upset about.
It's going to be freezing in Philadelphia on Saturday night, but Brees handled himself well in the pouring, cold rain in Carolina two weeks ago. He went 30-of-44 for 281 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions (one pick wasn't his fault) against arguably the top defense in the NFL. The Panthers had defenders in Brees' face all afternoon, yet he still put together a decent outing. If he was able to do that against Carolina's ferocious defense in terrible conditions, I think he'll be fine in Philadelphia.
Besides, how in the world are the Eagles going to cover Jimmy Graham? The Panthers were able to take him away with Luke Kuechly, but Philadelphia doesn't have anyone like that. Brandon Boykin was the hero of the Sunday night victory over Dallas, but he matches up extremely poorly against Graham.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: I live right outside the City of Brotherly Love (Feasterville), so I'm always asked if I believe Nick Foles can be the Eagles' quarterback of the future. I think there's a chance he could be, but he still has to prove himself. Foles has gotten extremely lucky in many games, and he has feasted on a cupcake schedule since taking over the job for good in Week 9. Take a look at the defenses he has played and how each of them rank versus the pass in terms of YPA: Raiders (28th), Packers (27th), Redskins (31st), Cardinals (6th*), Lions (18th), Vikings (23rd), Bears (25th) and Cowboys (26th). I put an asterisk on the Arizona game because Foles had a crucial, late interception wiped out by a shady penalty. This may have allowed Arizona to come away with a victory.
Outside of Arizona, Foles played one team ranked above 23rd against aerial attacks, and that happened to be Detroit in that crazy snow game that can't be taken seriously because the quitting Lions didn't seem to have any interest in playing in those conditions.
Now, this isn't to say that Foles won't be Philadelphia's next franchise quarterback, but there's plenty of room for skepticism. The Saints happen to be a solid ninth against the pass (6.76 YPA), but once again, Foles will luck out because New Orleans is missing star rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro. Cam Newton put together that aforementioned game-winning drive against them after Vaccaro left the lineup, and Mike Glennon had some success while playing them in Week 17, so there's definitely a good chance that Foles will have a solid performance.
The thing the Saints do best defensively is apply pressure on the quarterback. Only three teams logged more sacks than them this year (Panthers, Bills, Rams), which is problematic for Foles, given that he brings his eyes down amid pressure. The Eagles will have to establish LeSean McCoy early and often to keep the heat off of Foles, and that shouldn't be an issue because New Orleans is just 26th against the rush in terms of YPC (4.44).
RECAP: The Saints are my second-favorite pick of the week for three reasons:
1. Whether it's the stock market or sports handicapping, if everyone supports their prediction with one thing, chances are the opposite will happen. All I seem to hear is that the Saints can't win in the cold. This reminds me a lot of when the Buccaneers were expected to lose to the Eagles in the NFC Championship following the 2002 campaign because they had never won in sub-32 temperatures. The Saints were half a minute away from beating the superior Panthers in a monsoon, so I think they can handle the lesser Eagles.
2. I'll almost always take an elite quarterback as an underdog unless they happen to be battling another quarterback equal or better. Brees is 34-26 against the spread as an underdog, and that number is even better if the Sean Payton-less 2012 campaign is excluded.
3. There's a major trend going against Foles. Quarterbacks making their first-ever playoff start are just 4-13 against the spread in home games; 3-10 ATS as favorites. This makes sense, as raw signal-callers are too nervous for their initial big game. Perhaps this is the narrative everyone should be discussing.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Every single analyst on ESPN took the Eagles. This was music to my ears. All anyone's talking about is the weather, but it's really not that bad. It'll be around 25 degrees at kickoff, but there won't be any wind or snow. Brees will still be able to fire the ball effectively, and he should have an easy time dissecting Philadelphia's poor secondary. I'm still going with the Saints for three units.
The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
Nick Foles will be making his first playoff start as a favorite, which is usually not a good thing.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 56% (84,000 bets)
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2015): -$580
2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,291-2,116-129, 52.0% (+$8,150) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 741-668-34 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 305-267-13 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 1,823-1,765-51 (50.8%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 33-22 (60.0%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.