Oakland Raiders (12-4) at Houston Texans (9-7) Line: Texans by 4. Total: 36.5. Walt's Projected Line: Texans -2.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 4:35 ET
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Texans.
WEEK 17 RECAP: I'm glad I was able to rebound off one of my worst weeks ever. I went just 8-7-1 overall, but won $415, thanks to my January NFL Pick of the Month. It definitely wasn't easy, though! I had the Saints +7.5, and I needed the back-door cover of all back-door covers to get there. Drew Brees is the man, and I think I'm going to buy his jersey in honor of that legendary fourth quarter.
Elsewhere, I went 2-3 with my multi-unit selections. I won with the Panthers +3 and Cardinals -6, but lost with the Bears +6.5, Ravens -1 and Raiders +1. The Oakland pick was a failure on my part, as I didn't recognize that the Broncos would have an emotional game for Gary Kubiak. Baltimore was another bad selection; I shouldn't have taken a team that was just eliminated from the playoffs. I don't regret picking the Bears though, as they played about evenly with the Vikings statistically, but had some fluky turnovers that gave Minnesota a big victory. The final score was very misleading.
I posted betting trends and such in this spot over the past couple of years, but I won't be doing that as much because I'll be moving away from trends. Instead, I'll list some underrated observations that the media either isn't discussing or is misinforming the public about. I think I'll do this in conjunction with overrated and underrated teams...
Underrated NFL Teams:
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks haven't played a good game in quite a while. They eked out a win versus the 49ers; they lost to the Cardinals; they let the Rams hang around; and they got blown out in Green Bay. These are their previous four games. However, everyone knows this and they are projecting an early demise for them. Perhaps that'll happen, but the Seahawks have so much talent and one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, to boot, so I think they're definitely a candidate to turn things around and make a deep playoff push.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles finished the year 5-1 with Lane Johnson, and that record would be 6-0 if Ryan Mathews hadn't fumbled at the end of the Detroit game. That's one of many close contests the Eagles have lost this season, as six of their nine defeats have been within a touchdown, and that includes the loss at Dallas in which they were winning in the fourth quarter. With some positive adjustments this upcoming offseason, the Eagles will be in a position to make a run at the NFC East crown in 2017.
New Orleans Saints: I know yards per play is not a concrete determination of how teams are playing, but it's still an important statistic, and the Saints happened to do very well in that regard. Did you know that they outgained their opponents in yards per play in six of their final eight games? The lone exceptions were at Atlanta and Arizona, and New Orleans won the latter contest. The Saints have had some bad luck. They had their game-winning extra point blocked versus Denver, and they also dropped numerous touchdowns in a loss at Tampa. The Saints had seven defeats this year of six or fewer points, so they could have gone much better than 7-9.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens didn't put any effort into their loss to the Bengals, perhaps because they were bummed out after losing out on the playoffs. However, I still believe that they are the best team not to make the playoffs. They incurred some losses earlier in the year when they were banged up, but they played better when everyone returned from injuries. The only team I can definitively say is better than them in the AFC is New England; the Ravens and Chiefs appear to be pretty even, and Baltimore is very close to the Steelers as well, given that the Ravens were nine seconds away from winning in Pittsburgh. I would've listed the Raiders prior to the Derek Carr injury, and Miami can't be considered at all because the Ravens destroyed the Ryan Tannehill-led Dolphins in Week 13.
Overrated NFL Teams:
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are just 3-2 in the previous five games they've played against real NFL teams. Atlanta just defeated New Orleans and Carolina, but the Panthers looked too fatigued to tackle, given that they were playing on just four days of rest. Anyway, I still can't get over how the Falcons were bullied in the trenches by a Philadelphia team that was stomped on by the Seahawks. The Falcons are a soft team that can be pushed around. We've seen physical teams have their way with Atlanta. The Chiefs also had a substantial lead against them in the fourth quarter, and that was at the Georgia Dome.
New York Giants: People were asking me if I changed my mind about the Giants being overrated in the wake of their victory over Detroit. I haven't, and as a result, the Philadelphia loss didn't surprise me at all. The Lions lost the player they planned on covering Odell Beckham Jr. with in the first quarter, and Zach Zenner fumbled inside the 5-yard line. The Lions outgained the Giants in total yards and yards per play. This Giant team reminds me a lot of the 2013 Chiefs, who started 10-0. I called that Kansas City team vastly overrated, even when they were 10-0, and it lost its initial playoff game, which was hardly a surprise. Those Chiefs eked out close wins versus mediocre and bad teams and lucked out versus decent competition, and that's what this New York team has done. That Kansas City squad went 11-5, by the way. Coincidence? Probably, but it fits my narrative, so I thought I'd include it.
Kansas City Chiefs: Everyone is going to be focusing on the wins against the Broncos and Raiders. However, Denver sucks, and Oakland didn't have its top offensive lineman, who was a surprise scratch, and Derek Carr was so banged up that he couldn't complete routine 3-yard passes. Meanwhile, the Chiefs lost to the Buccaneers and Titans at home recently, and let's not forget that they needed a miraculous comeback to win at Carolina.
OAKLAND OFFENSE: It's a shame for Raider fans who have endured a non-playoff season every year since 2003 to see Derek Carr break his leg. Oakland would be the easy pick in this contest if Carr were playing; the team would be favored by at least four in Houston. Maybe even six!
Carr is out, however, and rookie Connor Cook will start. Cook was better than Matt McGloin last week, but still struggled with turnovers. Of course, he was battling one of the NFL's top pass defenses, and he was calling some plays he hadn't even run in practice, so I think we'll see a better performance out of him this week.
That said, Carr isn't the only Raider of note who happens to be banged up. Donald Penn grabbed his knee at the end of the Week 17 contest. If he can't play, that would be absolutely disastrous for the Raiders, as they have to deal with two stellar edge rushers in Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. They already have one glaring liability on the right side in Menelik Watson, so they can't afford for Penn to be out.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: The Texans obviously have quarterback concerns as well; Brock Osweiler is back as the starter in the wake of Tom Savage's concussion, which can't make Texan fans very happy. Osweiler has mostly been a train wreck this year, throwing more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15), and maintaining an embarrassingly low 5.8 YPA.
I said that Osweiler was "mostly" a train wreck because he had a couple of nice performances, one of which came against the Raiders. Despite having a laser pointer shone in his eye throughout the entire evening, Osweiler went 26-of-39 for 243 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Those aren't mind-blowing numbers, but they were great for Osweiler. The Raiders have some holes in their defense, so Osweiler may not be terrible once again. That said, I can't imagine the Texans being able to deal with Khalil Mack, who will be battling a backup right tackle.
With Mack posing a problem, the Texans will have to lean on Lamar Miller. The former Dolphin has missed the past couple of games, but is set to return to the lineup. That's not good news for the Raiders, who have struggled to defend the run for most of the year. Devontae Booker and Justin Forsett just combined to rush for 147 yards against them!
RECAP: I don't agree with this spread. I don't see why the Texans are favored by more than three. They have such a limited offense that it's very difficult for them to win by more than a field goal. They defeated a skeleton-crew Cincinnati squad by two on Christmas Eve, and their two victories over the Jaguars were by three and one.
Thus, even though the Raiders don't have Carr, I still like them to cover. Cook should be better with a week of practice, and not battling Denver's ridiculous secondary will help.
The one caveat is Penn's injury. Penn is very vital to this matchup, so if he plays, I think I'm going to bet the Raiders for three units. I actually like them a lot more, but I'm not going to wager more than that on Cook, even though he's battling a crappy quarterback.
If Penn sits out, this might just be a one-unit selection. I'll slot this at two for now. Check back later, or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
I'll be posting NFL Picks all day Tuesday. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Donald Penn has yet to practice this week, which is terrible news for the Raiders. Even though this spread has risen to -4 in some books, I may have to decrease my unit count if Penn is ruled out. Penn is one of the top left tackles in the NFL, and the Raiders need him to block Whitney Mercilus. I'm going to stick with two units for now, but we'll see about Penn's status.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Bad news. Donald Penn is out. I like this game a lot less, as Penn is one of the top left tackles in the NFL, so his absence is absolutely huge against the Houston edge rushers. I'm still on the Raiders because I think this line is a bit too high. The Texans have a horrible offense themselves, thanks to Brock Osweiler and the liability at right tackle. They've played close games all year, so why would this suddenly be a big win? Everyone seems to think the Texans are going to blow out Oakland - Michael Wilbon said he was most confident about Houston winning of all the teams this weekend - so the prospect of going against the public mindset seems nice. Unfortunately, I don't have any confidence in the Raiders either. You know what? Since I'm debating between zero units and one unit, I'll just take the Raiders for half a unit. The best line is +4 -105 at Bovada.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
There's some sharp money on the Texans.
Detroit Lions (9-7) at Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1) Line: Seahawks by 9.5. Total: 43. Walt's Projected Line: Seahawks -6.5.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 8:15 ET
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Seahawks.
If you haven't seen this yet, we have a brand new weekly fantasy football contest. It's like DFS, but weekly and free, and there are cash prizes! There's no reason not to enter, and you can submit up to five lineups per week! Click the link here for our new Weekly Fantasy Football Contest - the Week 7 contest has already been posted, so good luck!
HATE MAIL: I won my January NFL Pick of the Month, but the Saints were trailing by a widge margin during the second and third quarters, so as you can imagine, I received a good deal of hate. Here's one from our good friend Ross Avila:
I'm not sure what this any of this means. First of all, "all my money?" Why would I bet "all my money" on football? And the beginning of what? And what did I do to myself? Way to be super cryptic, weirdo.
I didn't check my messages right away, so Ross made sure to post on my wall:
Again, such weird posts. Why would he call me a "punk a** white boy" when he's white himself?
"Ahh I love it 28-10. Keem em coming." Sounds like he's jerking off while writing that. Probably was.
Anyway, this continued, as he replied to my response...
So confused. First of all, how is he a good guy? He's a giant douche! And second, how is he "winning" if he's only 17? How much money could he possibly be betting if he's working at Foot Locker? What exactly is he winning, a six-piece Chicken McNugget? A pack of Skittles? Isn't that what 17-year-olds wager?
Chris B. said he was praying that I saved Ross' posts because he was lame enough to delete them once the Saints came back and covered. What a giant wuss!
Anyway, Ross wasn't the only one to post hate on my wall:
Why would this guy think I should retire if sportsbooks pay me well to "f**k people s minds and confuse them?" That's one hell of a job!
DETROIT OFFENSE: Two road playoff teams Saturday, two glaring injuries to offensive linemen. While Donald Penn's status will be a big factor in Oakland's success, the same can be said of Travis Swanson, who missed the final three regular-season games. The Lions scored six, 21 and 17 points in those three contests, if a late Hail Mary conversion against the Packers is excluded.
Swanson is definitely not a household name, but he's been one of the top centers in the NFL this year. Center is perhaps the second-most important positon on offense, so it's no wonder that Detroit's offense has regressed in the wake of his absence. As with Penn, Swanson's status is currently unknown, but it's clear that the Lions will need him to help block Michael Bennett when he moves inside to rush the quarterback.
That said, Matthew Stafford should still have some success, even if Swanson is out. Seattle's defense has not been the same without Earl Thomas, so Stafford should be able to hook up with Golden Tate for some significant gains, especially late in the game if the Seahawks are up multiple scores.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: The Lions definitely missed Darius Slay, so having him back in Week 17 helped, at least in the first half. Aaron Rodgers ultimately caught fire and torched the Lions with ease following intermission.
It wouldn't surprise me if Russell Wilson did the same thing, though the primary difference between the Seattle and Green Bay offenses happens to be the offensive line. The Packers block extremely well, so neither Ziggy Ansah nor Kerry Hyder could put much pressure on the quarterback. The Seahawks, on the other hand, only have one capable offensive lineman in center Justin Britt. Ansah has a huge mismatch edge versus former basketball player-turned-left tackle George Fant.
The Seahawks figure to be inconsistent in this contest because of their line play. It would help if they had a running game, but neither Thomas Rawls nor Alex Collins could even get going against the 49ers, who have the worst rush defense in the NFL. This has to be music to Detroit's ears, as the Lions haven't been able to defend ground attacks very well either.
RECAP: This game has me pretty conflicted. On one hand, the Seahawks shouldn't be favored by more than a touchdown, based on how they've performed in recent weeks. They barely snuck by the 49ers; they lost to the Cardinals; they had trouble putting the Rams away; and they were blown out in Green Bay. On the other hand, despite not playing well lately, the Seahawks have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, so it wouldn't surprise me if they went on a roll in the playoffs.
There's actually some sharp movement on the Seahawks, and I thought about going that direction. However, the more I thought about it, the more likely I figured it would be possible for Stafford to throw some sort of back-door touchdown at the end of this game to cover the spread. Stafford is a very good quarterback, and as we learned in Week 17, talented quarterbacks on mediocre teams tend to throw back-door touchdowns. The Lions are usually pretty competitive - they've either led or trailed by one score in every fourth quarter except one since last year's London game - so I don't know why that would suddenly change.
If this spread keeps moving up and Swanson plays, I'll eventually wager on the Lions. It's a non-bet at +8 without Swanson, however.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: As with Donald Penn, Travis Swanson hasn't practiced yet. The Lions have struggled offensively without Swanson the past three games, so his presence will be very important. I'll continue with updates.
FINAL THOUGHTS: We just saw what happens to a team when missing a key offensive lineman. Connor Cook sucked for the Raiders, but part of that was the backup left tackle struggling because of Donald Penn's absence. Travis Swanson is out for the Lions as well, so even though this spread is +9.5 at BetUS and CRIS, and +9 at some other books, I don't want to bet this game. I could see Matthew Stafford throwing a back-door touchdown at the end of the evening, but it seems like that's the only way the Lions are going to cover this spread,and that's not something I want to bet on. It's also worth noting that the sharps are betting Seattle.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Slight public lean on the Lions.
Percentage of money on Detroit: 56% (79,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Seahawks.
Lions are 7-16 ATS on the road vs. teams with winning records since 2011.
Seahawks are 40-20 ATS as home favorites since 2007.
Seahawks are 19-7 ATS in Week 11 or later since 2013.
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.