Houston Texans (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) Line: Bengals by 6. Total: 38.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Bengals -3 -120.
Walt's Calculated Line: Bengals -3.
Thursday, Sept 14, 8:25 PM
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The Game. Edge: None.
WEEK 1 RECAP: I was 8-6-1, +$135 in Week 1. Things looked much more promising heading into Monday night, but I had both underdogs for five units each. Obviously, I'm extremely grateful for the Chargers' inexplicable cover!
San Francisco was my only regret from Week 1. I knew the team had a brutal offensive line and couldn't protect against the Panthers. Then, Jimmie Ward was ruled out on Friday. I couldn't get out of the wager because I already locked it in, which was stupid. Reuben Foster getting hurt didn't help matters, but San Francisco has the makings of a broken team (i.e. 2016 Rams, 49ers, Browns) because they can't block whatsoever. They will be on my no-bet list along with the Jets and the Andrew Luck-less Colts.
The Saints were my other big loss. When right tackle Zach Strief left the game in the second quarter, I knew that wager was in trouble. The Saints couldn't pass protect without him. Then again, I completely misread the ability of the Vikings' offensive front. Minnesota can apparently block well now, though it remains to be seen if that's the byproduct of New Orleans' horrendous defense.
I'll be posting these NFL Picks all day Tuesday. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Speaking of offensive lines being unable to block, Cincinnati's front is the exact reason I wagered the under on the team's win total this year. You don't just lose two Pro Bowl offensive linemen (Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler) and get away with it. The Bengals' attempts to pass protect were extremely futile versus Baltimore, and that led to five Andy Dalton turnovers.
As I said last week, we're going to see Dalton with a poor offensive line for the first time in his career. The Week 1 returns weren't pretty, and we will see something similar in this matchup. Cincinnati's horrendous tackles, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, will be tasked with blocking Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, respectively, which is obviously a colossal mismatch. We just saw what Terrell Suggs did in the opener. Clowney and Mercilus are double the trouble in that regard. Meanwhile, J.J. Watt will take care of an atrocious interior. Watt doesn't quite look like himself, but he's definitely much better than he was in limited action last year.
Dalton won't have any sort of time in the pocket, nor will he have a running game to give him some play-action opportunities. The one way the Bengals will move the chains on occasion is via intermediate passes to Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert. Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney struggled in the opener. Brian Cushing, meanwhile, looks doubtful, though that might be a blessing in disguise, as it'll give rookie Zach Cunningham a chance to play. Cunningham was solid last week, albeit on limited snaps.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: The Texans also lost a Pro Bowl offensive tackle this offseason. Well, sort of. Duane Brown, the team's top blocker, has been holding out, and there's no chance he'll play in this game, given that it's on a short week. Kendall Lamm and Breno Giacomini had to start at tackle with Brown out, and the end result was 10 Jacksonville sacks.
Tom Savage had no chance to do anything last week, so Bill O'Brien was right to bench him. The Texans have a much better chance of scoring with rookie Deshaun Watson than with Savage Knuckleblade, thanks to Watson's mobility. We saw it Sunday, as Watson engineered some promising drives. However, Watson also made numerous mistakes, which wasn't surprising, given his inexperience and the level of pressure he saw. Watson will once again be under duress, as Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap will win their matchups quite easily.
As with the Texans, the Bengals have issues at linebacker, only because Vontaze Burfict is still suspended. All of Houston's tight ends are concussed, but Lamar Miller could take advantage of this as a receiver out of the backfield. Meanwhile, DeAndre Hopkins should draw more pass-interference flags, as he did Sunday when the overrated A.J. Bouye molested him repeatedly.
RECAP: Given that both offenses are going to have severe problems moving the ball, I'd lean toward the points and the under. With the former in mind, I don't understand why the Bengals are favored by five. This spread opened -3 -120, yet it quickly shot up to -5. There's been a ton of action on Cincinnati.
The only reason I can come up with for this is that bettors might be thinking that the Texans will continue to be distracted by Hurricane Harvey. I think part of the reason Houston was blown out Week 1 was that it couldn't prepare for the game because of Harvey, and if so, it's going to be doubly difficult to get ready for another contest just four days later. It'd be nice if the NFL moved this game to Sunday for them, but the league needs to make its money with these terrible Thursday night games.
With that in mind, I can't bet the Texans. I also don't want to lay five with the offensively challenged Bengals either. I'll take the points because I have to, but I'll do so begrudgingly. What I will do is place a half unit on the under.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: If I wasn't worried about the Texans preparing for this game through the Hurricane Harvey distraction, I'd be on them. Pinnacle is saying they're the right side, as they have Bengals -5.5 available even though it's -6 elsewhere. I'd take Houston as long as the line were above +3, but I'm not confident in this at all. I still like the under the most.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There has been some late sharp action on the Texans, as the spread has dropped to +5 or +5.5 in most books. I can understand the thought process, and I'd be on the Texans as well if I weren't worried about their ability to prepare for this game with Hurricane Harvey still on their minds. That said, I could see them rebounding for sure, and I wouldn't even think about laying 5-6 points with the Bengals and their putrid offensive line. It's worth noting that the Texans are still +6 at Bovada, so if you're betting them, make sure you get that number.
The Psychology. Edge: Bengals.
It remains to be seen if the Texans continue to be distracted by Hurricane Harvey.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
A decent amount of money on the Bengals.
Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 65% (25,000 bets)
Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) Line: Titans by 1. Total: 41.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Titans -2.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Titans -3.5.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Titans.
My overrated-underrated feature will return in this spot, and I'm going to emphasize injuries (particularly those on the offensive line)...
Underrated NFL Teams:
Cleveland Browns: The Browns are definitely not one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. At least not yet. They have a stellar offensive line that I would rank in the top five of all blocking units. They'll be able to run the ball extremely well - despite what we saw in the opener - and they have some solid pieces on defense. DeShone Kizer's inexperience is a problem, but Corey Coleman looked great in the preseason, so he should be able to help the rookie through his growing pains.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles won their season opener, yet they still aren't recognized as one of the better teams in the NFL despite having no weaknesses outside of the secondary. The defensive backfield is an issue because Ronald Darby suffered an injury. He'll be out 4-6 weeks, which actually has to be a relief because it looked much worse than that. I posted a Disaster Grade for Darby's dislocated ankle. I may also do one for Jason Peters, who was on and off the field with a groin problem in the opener. His status is unknown at the moment.
Overrated NFL Teams:
Carolina Panthers: Everyone is going gaga for Christian McCaffrey, but can the Panthers even block for him? They still have their issues up front, and I'm not convinced Cam Newton is healthy; he was woefully inaccurate in the opener. Meanwhile, the defense still isn't the same without Josh Norman. I'm also not convinced the Panthers can generate a consistent pass rush outside of Kawann Short. They hounded Brian Hoyer, but the 49ers have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals: Save for the Seahawks, and the Texans until Duane Brown returns, the Bengals could have the worst offensive line in the NFL. Their tackles are trash, and they have just one viable starting blocker in Clint Boling, who didn't even play well in the opener. Meanwhile, their defense is missing some key players, including Vontaze Burfict who has been suspended for two more games.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys were definitely legitimate in 2016, but I think they'll take a step backward this season. They lost two members of their fantastic offensive line, while three key players in their secondary have departed as well. Now, Orlando Scandrick is banged up. Things won't go as smoothly for the Cowboys in 2017, especially if Ezekiel Elliott has to serve his six-game suspension.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I never thought I'd say the Jaguars were overrated because I figured no one would ever rate them highly. Lo and behold, following the Week 1 victory, Deion Sanders proclaimed that the Jaguars would win the AFC South, while NFL Network's Ike Taylor rated Jacksonville cornerback duo as the best in the league. Umm... no. A.J. Bouye is not a good player, and he was exposed against the Texans. The Jaguars simply beat up on a Houston team that was distracted and unable to block without Duane Brown. The Jaguars were still starting Blake Bortles, and I still don't trust their offensive line.
New York Giants: The Giants have done nothing to improve their blocking. I have a tough time seeing them earning another playoff spot this year, especially now that Brandon Marshall is on the roster (clearly, subtraction by addition). They were actually extremely lucky last season, as they easily could've finished 7-9 or so. They trailed the Rams in London; they barely beat the pedestrian Bengals; they got to battle the Ravens when they were missing three blockers, and they still barely won that game. I can go on and on, but luck may not be on the Giants' side this year. They had a poor debut, but people will attribute that to Odell Beckham's absence, rather than the Giants' ineptitude.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: The Jaguars were so proud of their Week 1 performance that they changed their handle on Twitter to "#Sacksonville." I'm not sure why they needed a pound sign, but that's what happens when a team registers 10 sacks. Of course, Jacksonville did this against what could be the worst offensive line in pro football while Duane Brown is serving his holdout. Generating 10 sacks, or even just a few, will be much more difficult against Tennessee.
The Titans, unlike the Texans, possess NFL-caliber tackles. They're pretty good, too. Taylor Lewan will win his matchup against Dante Fowler. Jack Conklin struggled with Khalil Mack last week, but he'll do much better than Breno Giacomini against Calais Campbell. I like Abry Jones' chances against the Tennessee interior, but that's about it. Throw in the fact that Marcus Mariota has mobility, and the Jaguars won't record nearly as many sacks as they did last week.
With some time in the pocket, Mariota will take advantage of some liabilities in the secondary that the Texans couldn't. Newly acquired cornerback A.J. Bouye sucks, and he'll continue to struggle unless the NFL completely abolishes the pass interference penalty. Meanwhile, safety Barry Church is concussed, so it's unclear if he'll play. Regardless, Corey Davis, Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews will take advantage of their matchups. Davis showed some promise last week, and I expect him to be even more involved this week. Meanwhile, I like Delanie Walker against the Jaguar linebackers, who weren't overly impressive in the opener. Paul Posluszny looks like he's slowing down.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: When Allen Robinson suffered a torn ACL, I gave it a 0/10 in my Disaster Grades page because I don't expect the Jaguars to do anything this season. Some people were confused by this, but my one-sentence response made everyone understand: Blake Bortles is still the starting quarterback.
Bortles didn't do much in the opener, but he didn't have to. That won't be the case this week. Bortles will struggle in this game. Not only won't he have his top receiver; he won't enjoy much pass protection either. His offensive line sucks. I can't see Cam Robinson and Jermey Parnell blocking Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, respectively. Jurrell Casey will destroy Patrick Omameh. By the end of the afternoon, Bortles will know exactly how Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson felt. I expect Bortles to throw multiple interceptions.
The one hope the Jaguars have of moving the chains is via Leonard Fournette. The impressive rookie hit the century mark last week, but may have trouble doing so again. The Titans have the personnel to stop the run. They struggled against Marshawn Lynch because they had to worry about Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but they'll be able to focus more on Fournette than they did with Marshawn Lynch.
RECAP: The Titans are the much better team, and I think they'll dominate this game. Not only do they project to win the majority of the matchups, they also have a huge psychological edge in this game. There was a record amount of flooding in Jacksonville because of Hurricane Irma, so the Jaguar players could be distracted by that. They also have to fly to London after this contest, and teams are 10-20-2 against the spread prior to London for a reason.
If that's not enough, this is a big revenge game for the Titans. Jacksonville knocked them out of the playoffs last year, all while injuring Mariota in the process. The Jaguars, who could be a bit full of themselves because of last week's misleading victory, could get blown out quite easily against a Tennessee squad that will be desperate to avoid an 0-2 start.
There's a ton of action on the Titans, but that's not going to deter me from placing a big bet on them. After all, the public took a big hit last week, so perhaps the gambling gods will be more merciful this Sunday. I'm going with four units on Tennessee.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This spread is -1 at CRIS, which sounds good to me. I love the Titans here, as the overrated Jaguars have to fly out to London after this. Jacksonville could also be missing Jalen Ramsey, which is significant because its other starting corner sucks. Marcus Mariota should have a big revenge game.
SATURDAY NOTES: This spread just dropped to pick on 5Dimes, and I don't understand why. I know why there was sharp money on the Jaguars last week, but this is a different story. The Titans will be focused, and they're much better than the Texans. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have to go to London, and Jalen Ramsey is apparently banged up.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Jalen Ramsey is in the lineup, but might not be 100 percent. I like the Titans, though pick is no longer available. The best line out there, outside of Pinnacle, is -1 -105 at CRIS.
The Psychology. Edge: Titans.
The Jaguars have to fly to London after this game, and they have to worry about the record amount of flooding in their city.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
Really? No love for Jacksonville yet?
Percentage of money on Tennessee: 73% (15,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Titans.
History: These teams have split meetings the past eight years.
Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0) Line: Ravens by 7.5. Total: 39. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Ravens -7.
Walt's Calculated Line: Ravens -5.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Browns.
VEGAS UPDATE: I'll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot. Here were last week's most-bet sides:
A 1-4 result was horrible for the public. As for this week, here are the five highest-bet sides, as of Tuesday morning:
Naturally, four of these sides are road favorites. I am betting heavily on one of them though... gulp.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: I find it crazy that the Ravens are favored by more than a touchdown, given how offensively challenged they are. If you didn't catch last week's game, there's something terribly wrong with Joe Flacco. He didn't look comfortable throwing the ball, and he seldom tried anything deep. When he attempted intermediate passes, they were off the mark. Flacco's mechanics were also horrific. He was throwing off his back foot often, which is not something we're used to seeing from him. Flacco completed just nine throws. Sure, he had a long touchdown to Jeremy Maclin, but that was all Maclin. Flacco didn't look like he could do anything.
It doesn't help matters that Flacco won't have his top weapon at his disposal. Danny Woodhead is injured - shocker - though I don't think he'd have a big game anyway because Cleveland's linebackers are pretty good. The Browns cornerbacks also did a decent job last week, and they won't have to worry about Flacco going deep.
Flacco won't have great pass protection either. Several members of the offensive line struggled last week, including new center Ryan Jensen. He'll be matched up against Danny Shelton, which should go Shelton's way. Shelton is a talented defensive tackle, but struggled a bit last week because of an injury. He could be healthier this Sunday, and if so, he'll harass Flacco pretty frequently.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: As with the Jaguars, the Ravens are a team that generated a ton of pressure on the quarterback in their first game, but will have trouble repeating that feat against an opponent with a superior offensive line. Terrell Suggs looked like he was 25 against Cedric Ogbuehi. That won't be the case when he goes up against future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas. Meanwhile, Brandon Williams, who dominated his matchup as well last week, will have to battle Kevin Zeitler, another perennial Pro Bowler.
The Browns are going to be a very competitive team this year as long as they have their offensive line intact. I believe they'll have some success establishing the run with Isaiah Crowell, while DeShone Kizer will enjoy some nice pass protection. Kizer's mobility will only help matters.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, Kizer doesn't have much to work with. And I'm not including Kenny Britt, who has mentally checked out already. Corey Coleman, on the other hand, should have another strong performance. If you recall, Coleman went nuts against the Ravens in Week 2 last year, catching five balls for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Coleman is more seasoned now, and he's coming off a solid debut.
RECAP: This spread is way too high. Flacco is not himself, and the Ravens are barely functional offensively. Their defense is very good, but the Browns, unlike the Bengals, have the offensive line to neutralize Suggs and company. Cleveland, as discussed, is going to be very competitive this year, and I think the team will frequently cover these high lines, just as it did last week versus the Steelers.
Oh, and by the way, the Ravens have to fly out to London after this game, so they could be distracted. They had a very impressive (albeit misleading) shutout in Week 1, and now they might be a bit too full of themselves against a very feisty Cleveland squad. I expect the Browns to keep this contest close and perhaps even come away with an outright victory.
This is one of my top plays of the week. I love the Browns, and I will be betting them frequently as long as they're healthy - especially against overrated commodities like Flacco.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This spread has risen to -8 or -8.5, depending on where you look. It's even +9 at Bovada, albeit at -120 juice. I think this spread is rising because Joe Thomas and Kevin Zeitler are banged up, but both figure to be on the field for this game. If I hear any negative reports about them, I will decrease this wager substantially.
SATURDAY NOTES: This spread has dropped to +7.5, but the good news is that Joe Thomas and Kevin Zeitler will play. Bovada has +8 -115, but I'm not buying the half point. I'm confident in the Browns, especially after seeing Houston defeat Cincinnati. Baltimore's Week 1 victory is a bit less impressive now.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A line of +8 may not be available, but we're getting the Browns +7.5 -105 at Bovada, which is fine. I think there's a chance Cleveland wins outright, as Joe Flacco clearly isn't 100 percent.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
The public is on the Ravens. The sharps like the Browns.
Percentage of money on Cleveland: 55% (12,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Browns.
History: Ravens have won 16 of the last 18 meetings (Road Team has covered 10 of the last 14 non-pushes).
Ravens are 25-17 ATS at home as an underdog or favorite of 1-7 points with Joe Flacco. ???
John Harbaugh is 8-0 SU at home vs. rookie quarterbacks.
Ravens are 5-13 ATS as favorites of 7.5 or more since 2010.
Buffalo Bills (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-0) Line: Panthers by 7. Total: 43.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Panthers -8.
Walt's Calculated Line: Panthers -5.5.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Panthers.
HATE MAIL: I will be posting lots of hate mail this season. Here's something I saw on my Facebook wall:
I actually consider it a compliment that this "Slick Moose" character believes I'm savvy enough to own a lucrative toilet-selling company.
I love it when hate-mailers embarrass themselves by making incorrect predictions:
I wonder what this "Orange Bowtie" idiot was thinking when the Rams crushed the Colts and the Eagles ended up beating the Redskins by 13 instead of 10.
Speaking of idiots, check out this message:
WTF kind of name is Orange Flower? What a pansy!
CAROLINA OFFENSE: I discussed Joe Flacco and his limitations in the previous capsule. Flacco didn't look right last week, and neither did Cam Newton. Of course, this was to be expected, as neither did much of anything in the preseason. Flacco sat out entirely, while Newton threw two short tosses in the third game. Newton was very rusty in the opener, displaying some absolutely horrific accuracy. Luckily for him, the 49ers didn't have the personnel to take advantage of this more than once, especially when Reuben Foster was knocked out with an injury.
The Bills, on the other hand, definitely do. They have a very strong front seven that I believe will dominate the trenches. Carolina still has problems at tackle - Matt Kalil had a poor debut despite an easy matchup - and he's going to have tremendous problems with Jerry Hughes. Shaq Lawson will give Daryl Williams problems. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus will also create havoc. Meanwhile, talented linebackers Preston Brown and Lorenzo Alexander will take away opportunities for Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen.
The one possible question mark Buffalo's defense has right now is cornerback E.J. Gaines, who may not be able to play this game because of a shoulder injury. However, it's just a contusion, so he should be able to suit up. Either way, I don't think his absence would make a huge difference because Newton's accuracy woes are going to make it difficult for him to consistently connect with Kelvin Benjamin and his other wideouts.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: The Bills are currently in sole possession of first place in the AFC East. If they want to maintain that distinction for a while, they'll need Cordy Glenn to heal up. The talented tackle was woeful in his 2017 debut, and he was even replaced by Dion Dawkins on some drives. Glenn is dealing with an ailing foot, and he looks like a shell of his former self as a result. If he doesn't improve his play, he's going to have a tough time with Charles Johnson, even though Johnson is on the decline. The Bills need Glenn to win that matchup because Jordan Mills won't be able to block Mario Addison on the other side. I also don't have much faith in John Miller dealing with Kawann Short.
Despite these offensive line concerns, LeSean McCoy was still able to go off against the Jets. I still think McCoy will make a couple of big plays, but those opportunities will be limited against a real NFL defense. The Panthers have one of the top linebacking corps in the NFL, and they will limit whatever McCoy tries to do as a receiver out of the backfield.
The secondary is the one area in which Carolina's defense can be exposed. Kurt Coleman's struggles from last year have continued, while Captain Munnerlyn was a disappointment in his Carolina re-debut last week. The Bills, however, don't have the talent to take advantage of this. They might have the worst group of receivers in the NFL unless Zay Jones matures in a hurry. Jones showed nothing last week, so I don't have much faith in him at the moment.
RECAP: If I knew Glenn would play up to his capabilities this week, I'd make a sizable bet on the Bills. This spread is too high for such an offensively challenged team like the Panthers. They had trouble scoring against the 49ers, and they were only able to put up points when Reuben Foster was knocked out of the game. Buffalo has a much better defense than San Francisco, so this has the makings of a low-scoring grinder.
However, Glenn's injury complicates things. Unlike last week, the Bills will be facing a potent pass rush, so Glenn's possible struggles will play a much greater factor. Still, I believe this spread is way too high, and I think a two-unit wager on the underdog is warranted.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I have no new notes on this game, as I still like the Bills for a couple of units. There are +7 -105s at Bovada and BetUS.
SATURDAY NOTES: Every time I think about increasing my bet, I remember how limited Cordy Glenn was last week. Glenn will be healthier this Sunday, but I won't go above two units.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps have jumped on the Bills +7. There are mostly +6.5s out there, but you can still get +7 -115 at Bovada and +7 -120 at BetUS.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
The public is on the Panthers. The sharps are on the Bills.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 63% (9,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
Bills are 10-18 ATS since November 2011 as a road underdog.
True home teams are 35-25 ATS in the last 60 Bills games.
New England Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1) Line: Patriots by 6. Total: 55. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -6.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Patriots -6.5.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Patriots.
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NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Tom Brady is coming off a loss and has had extra time to think about it. What could happen, especially against one of the worst defenses in the NFL!?
Brady didn't have quality protection in the season opener because he was battling Justin Houston, Dee Ford and the rest of Kansas City's pass-rushers. The only potent edge player the Saints have is Cameron Jordan, and that should be an even matchup with Nate Solder. Meanwhile, Marcus Cannon will rebound from his dreadful 2017 debut against the pedestrian Alex Okafor. The rest of Brady's solid front will give him enough time to expose New Orleans' putrid secondary.
Another reason the Patriots struggled offensively last week was the loss of Danny Amendola. The hardest thing NFL coaches have to do is make in-game adjustments to key injured players, and Amendola getting knocked out hurt a lot. Bill Belichick will have plenty of time to cook something up against the Saints, exposing all of their liabilities. They may have the worst cornerback in the NFL in De'Vante Harris, so I imagine Belichick's schemes will involve torching him as well as P.J. Williams, who also struggled against Sam Bradford.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: If this were the Saints of a few years ago, they'd definitely be able to keep pace with the Patriots in a shootout. That's not the case anymore, however, as the Saints couldn't muster anything against the Vikings until garbage time. The primary reason for this was their offensive line, which took a huge hit when its best blocker, right tackle Zach Strief, was knocked out in the second quarter. Remember what I said about coaches needing to make in-game adjustments? The Saints had mild success moving the chains prior to that, but they couldn't do anything offensively without Strief until the Vikings took their foot off the gas.
Strief has a sprained MCL, so it's not clear if he'll be able to play. Even if he can suit up, he may not be 100 percent. The Patriots don't have the best pass rush, but I have to think that they'll be able to take advantage of the Saints' third- and fourth-string tackles. Trey Flowers is a pretty good defensive end, and he should be able to win his matchup against rookie Ryan Ramczyk.
That said, Brees will still have his opportunities. It's unlikely that Dont'a Hightower will be able to play, meaning the Patriots will have major issues in their linebacking corps. Brees should be able to take advantage of this with intermediate passes to Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and Coby Fleener, who showed some signs of life for the first time as a Saint on Monday night. Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, will continue to stand on the bench, so we'll have to see what choice words he'll have for Sean Payton this time.
RECAP: I wish this line weren't so high. I want to bet the Patriots in an obvious rebound game. New England looked like it was going to run away with a blowout against Kansas City, but numerous things went wrong, and the Patriots ultimately lost. With more than a week to think about it, Belichick and Brady will be determined to prevent an 0-2 start.
However, such a high line opens up a back-door opportunity for Brees. New England definitely has its defensive liabilities, especially with Hightower likely out, and Brees, despite his poor pass protection, should be able to take advantage of those in garbage time. If I have the Patriots -6.5, up 16 or so at the beginning of the fourth quarter, I wouldn't feel completely safe. I'm taking New England, but for zero units.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This spread has dropped +6, as there is some sharp action on the Saints. I don't understand why. Zach Strief isn't practicing, so the Saints could once again be starting their third- and fourth-string tackles.
SATURDAY NOTES: Late word is that Marcus Cannon could be out, as he's listed as questionable. I don't think this will matter too much against the Saints, however. There's a ton of public money on the Patriots, but even though I think they're the right side, I'm not as confident. This seems like such an obvious back-door opportunity for Brees, but I'm not taking New Orleans with Zach Strief out.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps have taken the Saints at +7 and +6.5, but not at +6. I still don't like either side.
The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
The Patriots were just embarrassed on national TV, and they've had extra time to think about it.
The Vegas. Edge: Saints.
All the money is on the Patriots.
Percentage of money on New England: 81% (17,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
Patriots are 21-11 ATS on the road vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Tom Brady is 207-66 as a starter (152-108 ATS).
Tom Brady is 35-16 ATS off a loss (5-10 ATS as -7 or more).
Tom Brady is 27-12 ATS off a loss since 2003 (5-9 ATS as -7 or more).
Bill Belichick is 16-9 ATS with extra rest.
Bill Belichick is 24-10 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Drew Brees is 49-30 ATS as an underdog.
Drew Brees is 40-25 ATS after a loss with the Saints (13-6 ATS as an underdog).
Drew Brees is 9-1 ATS as a home underdog with the Saints.
Sean Payton is 11-5 ATS after Monday Night Football.
Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1) Line: Cardinals by 6.5. Total: 44. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Cardinals -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Cardinals -6.5.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Cardinals.
I wouldn't say my weekly random NFL notes cluttered these picks pages, so I'll keep them here. What I'm also going to do is store all of them in a Random NFL Notes section so that you can go back and read previous entries in the future.
Some random NFL notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. What a weird Week 1! Alex Smith lit up the Patriots. Jared Goff threw for 300 yards. Tyrod Taylor was unstoppable. Sam Bradford looked like Joe Montana. And the Jaguars won! What the hell happened? I was puzzled like everyone else until I saw a picture someone captured...
So that explains it. Whose talent did they steal? My guess is Tom Brady, Julio Jones, Le'Veon Bell, Dez Bryant and Andy Dalton. Lol jk about Andy Dalton.
2. I vowed last year that with the retirements of Chris Berman and Tom Jackson, I would no longer be watching ESPN's pre-game show. I turned on ESPN out of habit when I woke up Sunday morning around 11 a.m. to realize that I had already missed an hour of the show. Yes, Sunday NFL Countdown is back to three hours. Hooray. You'd think ESPN would concentrate on providing better analysis rather than extending its program for an hour.
Sunday NFL Countdown had already been deterorating - remember Emoji Madness? - and it has continued to get worse. The ESPN "analysts" spent some time practicing their own touchdown celebrations in the wake of the new NFL rule. This was some riveting television, let me tell you.
The only bright spot of Sunday NFL Countdown, from what I saw, was Randy Moss calling out the SJWs on Twitter for the losers that they are, all while praising people who actually make a difference rather than those who whine and complain 140 characters at a time. Moss was trending as a result of this, as the SJW losers' feelings were hurt. Oh no, not their feelings!
3. NFL Network's pre-game show - I'm not even sure what it's called - was much better. Not only did they provide picks for every game, they also gave more than one-word analysis for each selection, which is what ESPN often does. NFL Network offered more analysis and less nonsense, which was great. Also, Cynthia Frelund's fantasy and pick breakdowns are awesome. I don't understand why ESPN doesn't have someone like her on Sunday NFL Countdown. I'd suggest Matthew Berry, but Frelund is so much better than him, it's not even close.
The only problem I had with NFL Network's pre-game show was Michael Irvin calling Dez Bryant his "son." Irvin has often done this in the past, and I've never understood it. Sure, they're both Cowboy receivers, but it's just stupid. Plus, if I'm Bryant, I would've emancipated myself from Irvin a long time ago. Irvin is the worst part of the pre-game show, and I think they should replace him with Steve Smith.
3. I haven't discussed the Ezekiel Elliott stuff yet. I was away Friday when a Texas judge granted Elliott's temporary restraining order. It means that Elliott will likely be able to play all year, rewarding fantasy owners who were brave enough to draft him.
I think the whole thing is nonsensical. First of all, why was a Texas judge allowed to make this decision? What if this judge were a Cowboys fan? Couldn't they have gotten someone more impartial to make that ruling? Like, for example, a judge in Wyoming, Alaska, or Guam? Speaking of Guam, it would've made more sense to have Kim Jong-un make this decision. It would be a nice olive branch to have the real-life version of Porky Minch make the call.
Second, why can't the NFL just suspend Elliott for him declothing a woman in public? There's actual video of him taking a woman's shirt off in public. The NFL should've gone, "We're suspending Ezekiel Elliott for stripping a woman in public. There's video of this, so if you want to appeal, Zeke, go F yourself. Everyone has f***ing seen it."
ARIZONA OFFENSE: What a major bummer for the Cardinals that David Johnson is out for the year. I posted a Disaster Grade for this already, as it was announced Tuesday morning that Johnson would, in fact, be out 2-3 months for his dislocated wrist. The Cardinals are expected to sign Chris Johnson in response, though he'll play behind the pedestrian Kerwynn Williams, while Andre Ellington will serve as the pass-catching back.
David Johnson wasn't the only key Cardinal who suffered an injury last week. Left tackle D.J. Humphries was also sidelined, and he'll miss a week or two with a knee issue. Jared Veldheer can slide back to the blind side, but that just means Arizona will have a major hole at right tackle, as John Wetzel was horrific versus Detroit. Meanwhile, guard Mike Iupati is dealing with an injury as well. He played Sunday, but wasn't nearly himself.
That said, none of this will matter very much against the Colts, who probably have the worst defense in the NFL, especially with Vontae Davis injured. Indianapolis has no pass rush to speak of, so Wetzel might have a chance to not be terrible. The Colts also have the worst linebacking corps in the league, so this could provide an opportunity for Jermaine Gresham and Andre Ellington to relive past successes.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: It doesn't get any better for the Colts on this side of the ball. Scott Tolzien was atrocious against the Rams, ultimately getting benched in favor of Jacoby Brissett, who was on Indianapolis' roster for only eight days. The Colts haven't decided whom they're starting yet, but I'll be shocked if it's not Brissett. He may not know the offense yet, but he has mobility and a bigger arm. He's just a better quarterback than Tolzien, though that's not saying much. This bowl of Cocoa Puffs I currently have on my desk would be a better quarterback than Tolzien.
I don't see the Colts having much success moving the chains against a solid Arizona defense, especially with center Ryan Kelly being unavailable. Indianapolis tried Bond, Deyshawn Bond last week at the pivot, and he failed miserably. Now, Bond could be facing the spectre of Robert Nkemdiche if the 2016 first-rounder returns from his calf injury. Nkemdiche was dominant this preseason, so he might as well have a license to kill against Indianapolis if he manages to suit up. Meanwhile, right tackle Denzelle Good's prospects of blocking Markus Golden don't sound, well, good.
The Colts have some dynamic weapons who will have a better chance with Brissett at the helm, but the Cardinals should have them locked down. They have an outstanding secondary, outside of one of the cornerback spots, while rookie linebacker Haason Reddick had a very impressive debut last week.
RECAP: My friend Tom, who lives in Las Vegas, texted me last night, "Who are the Cardinals to be favored by 7.5 without David Johnson?" He makes a good point, as this spread hadn't even moved when it was announced Johnson would miss this game.
That said, I think the Colts are unbettable right now. They're the worst team in the NFL without Andrew Luck, save for the Jets, so I don't want any part of them. I'm taking Arizona, but this line is too high for me to place a wager.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: There's another reason not to bet the Colts this week. Right tackle Denzelle Good isn't going to be playing. While Good isn't, well, good, he's not horrible either. Indianapolis' backup behind Good may not be, well, good. I think it's the Cardinals or nothing, and I think this line is a bit too high for a team with its own blocking issues.
SATURDAY NOTES: Both of these teams are in rough shape, as each happens to be missing two starting offensive linemen. I'm going to put half of a unit on the under. I don't like either side, as this line is right where it should be.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Colts are missing two linemen, and now Robert Nkemdiche will play for the Cardinals. Nkemdiche may not be completely healthy, but this still seems like trouble for Indianapolis. The sharps have jumped on the Colts, dropping this line to -6.5, but I still would take Arizona.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Colts.
Apparently, no cares about the David Johnson injury.
Percentage of money on Arizona: 70% (11,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
Bruce Arians is 37-30 ATS as head coach of the Cardinals.
Chuck Pagano is 2-9 ATS in the first two weeks of the season.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) Line: Chiefs by 6. Total: 47. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Chiefs -4.
Walt's Calculated Line: Chiefs -2.5.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
Comment on this game
1. I was watching the Louisville-North Carolina game, and I thought the play-by-play guy made a mistake when he was talking about Lamar Jackson when he referred to him as "the Heisman trophy winner."
The three guys in the booth had been slurping Jackson all afternoon - it sounded like, "OMG OMG OMG LAMAR JACKSON IS SOO GOOD GUYS LIKE OMG WHY ARE PEOPLES SAYING HES BAD LOL HES GR8!" so I thought they were continuing to do that by presuming he would win the Heisman. Then, someone posted on my Facebook wall about Jackson possibly winning the Heisman a second time, and that's when I realized, "Holy s**t, I forgot Jackson won the Heisman last year!"
I recalled thinking that the voters were stupid for not giving the trophy to Jonathan Allen, who was the best player in college football last year, but I didn't remember who actually won it. I guess that's how worthless that award is now. Too many winners have failed in the NFL, so it doesn't matter if Jackson wins it twice. I'll probably forget again if he repeats.
2. Speaking of Jackson, I have him in the top 10 of my 2018 NFL Mock Draft. He had a great game for the most part, but I'm not going to gush about him like the three ESPN dudes did. His ball placement wasn't very good. He was just way too inconsistent in that regard. Still, North Carolina had no answer for him, despite what junior linebacker Andre Smith had to say, which you can see in this interesting ESPN graphic:
3. ESPN/ABC does some very stupid things with their programming schedule. For example, ESPN recently switched PTI to ESPN2 in lieu of tennis coverage on ESPN. That's not a diss on tennis; it's more of the decision of which channel to air each program. My problem with them moving PTI to ESPN2 is that people, including myself, have the DVR scheduled to record PTI on ESPN each day - the only non-game telecast I watch on that wretched network - and my DVR isn't smart enough to recognize that it needs to record PTI on ESPN2.
What does this have to do with college football? On Saturday, ABC - same family of networks as ESPN - was continuing to air Michigan-Cincinnati instead of the beginning of the Penn State-Pittsburgh matchup. If Michigan-Cincinnati were close, I could understand it, but Michigan was leading, 36-14, with a couple of minutes remaining. Yet, they didn't switch to the other game, which, by the way, was a local game for me! I don't understand the decision-making of ESPN, though I can't say I'm surprised. This is the same company that let some great talents go while keeping the horrendous Stephen A. Smith and hiring this guy:
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: There are three major injuries worth discussing on this side of the ball. The obvious one is to Eric Berry, who was lost for the season to a torn Achilles. Berry did a terrific job covering Rob Gronkowski in the opener, so his absence will be enormous. Zach Ertz, who looks like he's going to have a big year, should have a monstrous performance in this contest. Berry isn't the only Chief defensive back dealing with a malady, as cornerback Marcus Peters has a calf ailment. Peters doesn't shadow opposing No. 1 receivers, but if he's out or limited, it'll still be huge for Alshon Jeffery when the Eagle receiver happens to be matched up against him.
The third injury is one Philadelphia suffered against the Redskins, and that was Jason Peters' groin problem. Peters was on and off the field with the issue, and he didn't perform up to his standards as a consequence. I don't need to tell you how perilous it is to have mediocre or worse tackle play against the Chiefs. I like Lane Johnson's matchup against Justin Houston, but a banged-up Peters (or his backup) will have issues against Dee Ford. I like the rest of the Eagles' offensive line, but if Peters is out or limited, that'll have a huge impact on this game.
Peters isn't only needed to keep Carson Wentz upright; his presence at full strength would allow the Eagles to actually run the ball effectively. The Chiefs struggled versus the rush last week, particularly on Ford's side, which so happens to be where Peters plays. As it stands now, I don't think the Eagles will be able to take advantage of that.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: The one injury on this side of the ball is to Stephon Gilmore Ronald Darby. Though Darby won't be out for the season, as initially expected, his absence in the meantime will be very impactful. Tyreek Hill will have a much easier matchup as a consequence.
With the Eagles possessing only one capable cornerback (Jalen Mills), they'll need the front seven to put immense pressure on Alex Smith. The defensive line should be able to accomplish this. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are two of the top players at their positions in the entire NFL, and they both have easy matchups against the right side of Kansas City's offensive line, which struggled Thursday night. I also like Vinny Curry's chances against beleaguered left tackle Eric Fisher. Curry didn't do much versus Trent Williams in the season opener, but Fisher is a major step down in talent.
Alex Smith was able to torch New England's defense in the season opener because he had all the time in the world. That won't be the case in this contest, so he'll have to rely more on tossing short passes to Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt. The problem with this happens to be Philadelphia's linebacking corps, which is packed with talent. Thus, I don't see the Chiefs maintaining much offensive success.
RECAP: It's a shame that these teams aren't close to full strength right now because this would be an intriguing game to watch. However, I still believe there's a good betting opportunity here, and if you've been following my analysis all summer, you know I'm picking the Eagles.
These teams are very close in talent, and with two major injuries on each side, this spread should be closer to -3. I'd only give the Chiefs 2.5 points for being at home - which might actually be very generous, given that their margin of victory at home and away is practically the same - so I'd make this spread -2.5.
If Jason Peters were fully healthy, I think I'd consider this as my September NFL Pick of the Month. As it stands now, I think I'll cut this eight-unit wager in half. I still love the Eagles, as they should be able to pressure Smith. Also, it helps that Doug Pederson coached for Kansas City recently, so he knows their personnel. The Chiefs, meanwhile, had a huge victory on opening night, and they've had an entire week to hear about how great they are. This sets up for a huge letdown.
It's the Eagles for four units right now, as I believe they can win this one outright. If I hear that Peters is doing better with his groin, I'll bump this up to five units.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm close to locking this in. The Eagles are +6 at Bovada, which is all I need. However, Jason Peters' status is up in the air. There's good news, as he's practicing, but I want to wait a bit to see if there happens to be any news regarding that, as Peters could always suffer a setback. I am, however, bumping this up to five units in the meantime, as +6 is an outrageous number for this game, as these teams are pretty evenly matched.
SATURDAY NOTES: Jason Peters will play, so I remain confident in the Eagles. This spread is starting to drop - +5 at Pinnacle and 5Dimes - but it's +6 at Bovada right now, so I'll lock that in.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is one of the top sharp plays of the week, as they've brought this line down to +4.5. They're all over the Eagles. Fortunately, if you didn't get the Chiefs yet, you can still get +6 -115 at Bovada.
The Psychology. Edge: Eagles.
It's fair to expect a letdown from the Chiefs after such an enormous victory.
The Vegas. Edge: Eagles.
The public likes the Chiefs. The sharps like the Eagles.
Percentage of money on Kansas City: 63% (15,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Eagles are 27-16 ATS as road underdogs since 2005.
Eagles are 2-11 ATS before playing the Giants since December 2010.
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) Line: Steelers by 7. Total: 43. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Steelers -7.
Walt's Calculated Line: Steelers -6.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Steelers.
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MINNESOTA VIKINGS: I don't know what to make of the Vikings just yet. I expected them to struggle to block Monday night, but the opposite occurred. Sam Bradford had all the time in the world to find Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen downfield. Bradford began going nuts in the second quarter, torching the Saints relentlessly. He looked like Tom Brady; not some first-overall checkdown machine bust.
The offensive line was a major problem for the Vikings last year, as it was the catalyst for their 3-8 finish. The entire equation changes for them if their blocking unit has improved markedly, but it's difficult to tell if what we saw Monday night was a mirage or not. After all, the Vikings were playing the pathetic Saints. The Steelers obviously have more talent up front, though they're going to be missing Stephon Tuitt, in all likelihood, because of a bicep injury. Tyson Alualu will start instead, which is great news for the Vikings because he sucks. With Tuitt missing, the only potent threats the Steelers have as pass-rushers are T.J. Watt, who had a magnificent debut, James Harrison, if he actually plays more than a few snaps, and Cameron Heyward. However, Riley Reiff did a decent job on Cameron Jordan, so he should be able to handle Watt. Heyward is a totally different story, so I'm interested to see how the Vikings handle him.
The Steelers did a good job of shutting down the run against the Browns, which is more difficult to do than it sounds because of how good Cleveland's offensive line is. Pittsburgh should have similar success against Dalvin Cook. Thus, it'll be up to Bradford, so we'll see if he's granted adequate protection. If he is, he'll be able to exploit at least one matchup. Joe Haden was predictably terrible in his debut, so I like whomever Haden is charged with covering.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: While we don't know if the Vikings' offensive line problems have been fixed quite yet, something we do know is that the Steelers have one of the top blocking units in the NFL. The Vikings were able to generate tons of pressure on the edge against the Saints, especially when Zach Strief was lost with an injury, but they'll have a much more difficult time against Alejandro Villaneuva and Marcus Gilbert. Pittsburgh's interior is also terrific, so Linval Joseph won't be as dominant either.
Drew Brees didn't have enough time in the pocket to expose Minnesota's liabilities, but Ben Roethlisberger will definitely be able to. Xavier Rhodes is clearly banged up, as he's not even close to 100 percent. Meanwhile, Trae Waynes is just a mediocre corner at best on the other side of the field. Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant have to be licking their chops in anticipation of this matchup.
Meanwhile, I expect Le'Veon Bell to be a much bigger factor this week. Bell didn't do much in the season opener, as he was getting worked back into action following his extensive holdout. I like Bell's chances behind his offensive line, and he should be able to do some damage as a receiver out of the backfield as well, given that the Vikings have only one viable linebacker in Eric Hendricks. I don't know what's wrong with Anthony Barr, but he continues to struggle.
RECAP: As I discussed earlier, I don't know what to make of the Vikings. Perhaps they just beat up one of the weaker teams in the NFL, or maybe they've legitimately improved by leaps and bounds. I don't know. This game will be a great litmus test.
What we do know, however, is that the Steelers are one of the top teams in the NFL. Their personnel compared to New Orleans' is so much better in every single area. The Vikings won't be able to dominate the trenches this time, and Roethlisberger will have much more success than Brees did.
I'm not confident in this pick, but I'm taking Pittsburgh to cover. This spread is a point lower than what it was on the look-ahead line, so at the very least, we're getting some value with the Steelers.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm thinking about putting a unit on the Steelers at -5.5. I'm still unsure of how good the Vikings are, but this is a major overreaction to one victory that the Vikings had over a terrible team. The advance spread was Steelers -7, so we're crossing two key numbers. I'll think about it, and perhaps make the unit change on Saturday.
SATURDAY NOTES: I'm betting on this game, as I'm wagering two units on the Steelers. The Vikings have two very significant injuries of note. The team has expressed concern over Sam Bradford and his knee, while Xavier Rhodes is questionable with a hip. Odds are that both will play, but Bradford may not be completely effective, while Rhodes being banged up is just asking for trouble against Pittsburgh's terrific offense. The Steelers are arguably the best team in the NFL, and I think they should be favored by a few more points.
LATE SATURDAY UPDATE: Adam Schefter has reported that Bradford is a true game-time decision. If Bradford is ruled out, this spread will skyrocket. I think I'm going to lock in -7 -105 (Bovada) for two units. If Bradford plays, this line will be something similar (perhaps -6.5). If he's out, this could hit double digits, so I think it's worth it to pull the trigger.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I've made some bad calls for locking picks in over the years. I was glad to finally make a great call Saturday night. With Sam Bradford out, this spread has jumped to -9.5. I wouldn't bet that, but I like Pittsburgh at -9.5.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 55% (7,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Vikings.
Mike Zimmer is 33-15 ATS as head coach of the Vikings.
Chicago Bears (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) Line: Buccaneers by 7. Total: 44. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Buccaneers -6.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Buccaneers -6.
Sunday, Sept 17, 1:00 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Buccaneers.
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CHICAGO OFFENSE: How about that Tarik Cohen!? The rookie runner caught my eye in the preseason, and I even drafted him in one extremely deep fantasy league I'm in, but I didn't recommend him as a sleeper for normal fantasy leagues because he was firmly behind Jordan Howard on the depth chart. The Bears, however, have been smart enough to utilize him as a special weapon, much like various teams have done with Darren Sproles over the years. Cohen can never be an every-down back because he's too small, but he's a dynamic threat capable of going the distance on any play.
The Bears will need to get Cohen more involved, given that Kevin White is out for the year. Not that White was doing much, but his absence just illustrates the dire situation of Chicago's receiving corps. Kendall Wright is now the Bears' top downfield option, which is just sad.
The question is whether or not the Bears will be able to open up running lanes for Howard and Cohen, and I'm not sure if that'll be possible. Robert Ayers will be too much for pedestrian left tackle Charles Leno to handle, while Kyle Long's injury will be felt in the interior, as the Buccaneers finally have a talented defensive tackle to start next to Gerald McCoy in former Redskin Chris Baker.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: The Buccaneers have also added loads of talent this offseason, signing DeSean Jackson and drafting O.J. Howard. Jameis Winston, meanwhile, has worked hard again this offseason, and aside from a couple of blunders in August, it has showed on the field.
Winston is ready to enter the next echelon of quarterback play, and he begins his 2017 campaign with a favorable matchup. Prince Amukamara is banged up, so given that he's out or limited, the Bears have just one skilled cornerback in Bryce Callahan. They also have pretty poor safety play, as both Eddie Jackson and Quintin Demps struggled last week. Making matters worse for the Bears, talented linebacker Jerrell Freeman has been placed on injured reserve. How can Mike Evans and the rest of Tampa's dynamic weapons not take advantage of this?
The only hope the Bears have is generating tons of pressure on Winston. Akiem Hicks is Chicago's best chance of doing so. He was dominant in the season opener, and he should have success against the overpaid J.R. Sweezy, who didn't play last year. Left tackle Donovan Smith could also be a liability, though he's entering his third year, so he could be better in 2017.
RECAP: This spread seems like it's a tad too high. The Bears were competitive with the Falcons last week, and they would've won had Howard not dropped a touchdown at the very end. I think they could stay within the number against the Buccaneers, who, like the Jaguars, could be distracted by what happened with Hurricane Irma. There was a lot of damage in Tampa, so the players have to worry about that while preparing for a football game. We saw what Hurricane Harvey may have done to the Texans, so something similar could happen to the Buccaneers, though these things are difficult to predict.
I'm on the Bears for a non-wager. A touchdown line seems to provide a bit of value, but I wish Chicago didn't have so many key injuries right now. Long, Amukamara and Freeman are all talented players who will continue to be missed.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Kyle Long is practicing, but it's unclear if he'll play or not. I'm still not at that point I need to be in order to wager on the Bears, but perhaps that'll change when the weekend arrives.
SATURDAY NOTES: Kyle Long is out. Prince Amukamara probably won't play. Leonard Floyd is banged up. The Bears are in rough shape. If I weren't concerned about Hurricane Irma impacting this game, I'd be on the Buccaneers. This will remain a non-bet for me.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps are on the Bears, dropping this line to +6.5 in some books. There are some +7s still available with (-110) at Bovada and (-120) at BetUS.
The Psychology. Edge: Bears.
Will the Buccaneers be distracted by Hurricane Irma?
The Vegas. Edge: Bears.
The public is pounding the Buccaneers. The sharps favor the Bears.
Percentage of money on Tampa Bay: 62% (12,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bears.
Road Team is 76-44 ATS in Buccaneers games since 2009.
Buccaneers are 19-42 ATS at home in the previous 61 instances.
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenever 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, 2017): 0-1 (-$330)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2017): 0-1 (-$330)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2017): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2017): 1-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21 and seasonal, 2017): -$720
2017 NFL Picks of the Month: 4-2, 66.7% (+$1,040)
2017 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-140-8, 49.5% (-$3,790) 2017 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 32-40-3, 43.8% (-$2,395) 2017 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 20-22-1, 47.6% (-$1,595) 2017 Season Over-Under: 136-139-2, 49.5% (+$640) 2017 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$510
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) 2016 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-127-10, 53.8% (+$1,055)
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) 2016 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 42-35-3, 54.5% (+$475)
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) 2016 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-22-5, 48.8% (-$1,465)
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) 2016 Season Over-Under: 123-141-1, 46.6% (+$95)
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 2016 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$275
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) 2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-1, 83.3% (+$2,780)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,574-2,383-151, 51.9% (+$5,125) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 817-743-41 (52.3%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 349-314-19 (52.6%) Career Over-Under: 2,080-2,031-56 (50.5%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 39-24 (61.9%)
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.