New England Patriots (2-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) Line: Patriots by 3.5. Total: 54.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -4.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Patriots -3.5.
Thursday, Oct 5, 8:25 PM
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The Game. Edge: None.
WEEK 4 RECAP: Remember how I talked about bad luck last week? Ha. I hadn't seen anything yet. I was up 4.35 units heading into Monday night - thanks to my September NFL Pick of the Month hitting with the Rams covering +6.5 at Dallas - and my three-unit selection of the Redskins +7.5 -115 looked great. I did everything right. I handicapped the game correctly, and I waited patiently for the best number to appear. And when the Chiefs hit the game-winning field goal to go up, 23-20, I thought I was going to come away from the week up 7.35 units.
And we all know what happened after that. I still had a winning week, but I won just 0.9 units because of classic Andy Reid time mismanagement. Unreal. I feel like I've gotten legitimately unlucky in four multi-unit picks this year (KC-PHI Week 2, ATL-DET Week 3, LAR-SF Week 3, and this game). I also went through every single multi-unit wager I've made, and I haven't gotten lucky in any victory. The one game where I had fortune on my side was Chargers +3 at Denver in Week 1, but I didn't even cover that one. It was a stinking push!
One of two things will happen. Either variance will finally go my way in the coming weeks, or my bad luck will continue, and this loss will put me in a horrible tailspin, causing me to have my worst year ever. We'll see. I was so distraught after the loss that I actually bought a crystal talisman that's supposed to bring good luck. I'm not making this up. I'll show you a picture of it when it gets here.
I'll be posting these NFL Picks all day Tuesday. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Don't blame the Patriots' struggles on Tom Brady. The five-time Super Bowl winner is still playing on an MVP level, and he shouldn't have any problems dissecting a Tampa defense that has some injury concerns. Safety T.J. Ward, as well as linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, all missed Sunday's game. The result was Eli Manning having his best overall performance of the season. If a declining Manning can relive his glory days, what's Brady going to do?
Given all of the problems the Buccaneers have at linebacker and safety, I have no idea how they're going to cover Rob Gronkowski. Brady will exploit other mismatches as well. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots don't even punt in this game - that's how lopsided this matchup is.
The one hope the Buccaneers have of stopping the Patriots is by putting lots of pressure on Brady. Right tackle Marcus Cannon has been horrible this year, while it's clear that blind-side protector Nate Solder isn't completely healthy. I'm just not sure the Buccaneers have the edge rush to exploit these holes, however. Robert Ayers might get by Nate Solder on some occasions, but Noah Spence has just been mediocre this season. Gerald McCoy will win inside, of course, but that's where the Patriots happen to be strong up front.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: If you thought the Buccaneers have problems on defense, well, check out this stat: The opposing quarterback rating the Patriots are surrendering this year is equal to Brady's. This means that, on average, New England's defense is battling Tom Brady every single week.
The Patriots have numerous problems. Stephon Gilmore has been horrible because Bill Belichick isn't using him correctly; Gilmore keeps blowing assignments in zone when he should be playing man instead. Dont'a Hightower's absence has been a huge factor as well. Hightower returned last week, but didn't look like quite himself. A mediocre pass rush and the regression of Alan Branch haven't helped either, as New England struggles to get to the quarterback and stop the run.
On paper, the Buccaneers have a terrific matchup. Jameis Winston can exploit Gilmore's side of the ball, and he can also attack the middle of the field, as the Patriots have struggled versus tight ends. Meanwhile, Doug Martin's return will help spark the running game. However, I expect Belichick to make some sort of adjustments. I find it hard to believe that the best coach in the NFL won't have something up his sleeve.
RECAP: The advance spread on this game was Patriots -4.5. When New England lost and the Buccaneers held on to beat the Giants to improve to 2-1, I was hoping the line would fall to -3, giving us some great value on New England. Every single talking head is panicking, saying that the Patriots are done because of their woeful defense. This is usually when New England proves everyone wrong and goes on a long winning streak.
Instead, the opposite happened. Rather than falling, the line moved up to -5! There's value with the Buccaneers for sure, but I'm still taking the Patriots. I can't go against them off a loss, and I have to believe Belichick will come up with a great game plan to stop the bleeding. Plus, the strategy of taking the better team on Thursday night should apply. Granted, we don't know for sure if the Patriots are the better team, but I think Belichick can come up with a better game plan than Dirk Koetter in four days.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The sharp money is beginning to come in on the Buccaneers, perhaps because of Rob Gronkowski's status. Gronkowski is dealing with a thigh injury. He'll play, but it remains to be seen how effective he'll be. I've learned my lesson with switching Thursday night picks and moving away from the better team, so I'm going to stick with New England.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Rob Gronkowski is out, but I'm not concerned. The Patriots won a Super Bowl without him, after all. They have plenty of offensive weapons, so his absence isn't the issue. It's the defensive personnel, which is having major communication problems. I still think there's a decent chance that Bill Belichick fixes things, even on such short rest. Unfortunately, I still don't want to bet on this game because the line is exactly where I projected it to be, now that it's down to -3.5 because of sharp movement. I was going to consider a unit or two on the Patriots at -3, but -3.5 isn't a good number. If you still like the Buccaneers, you can get them at +5 at Bovada.
By the way, here's the video for our Week 5 NFL Picks podcast:
The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
This seems like an F-U Tom Brady game, and I'm sure Bill Belichick is tired about hearing how much his defense sucks.
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
No surprise that all the action is on the Patriots.
Percentage of money on New England: 72% (45,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
Tom Brady is 209-67 as a starter (153-110 ATS).
Patriots are 22-11 ATS on the road vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
Tom Brady is 36-16 ATS off a loss (5-10 ATS as -7 or more).
Tom Brady is 28-12 ATS off a loss since 2003 (5-9 ATS as -7 or more).
Bill Belichick is 25-10 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Road Team is 77-46 ATS in Buccaneers games since 2009.
Patriots are 8-13 ATS as road favorites since 2013.
Buccaneers are 20-43 ATS at home in the previous 62 instances.
Buccaneers are 8-21 ATS as a home underdog since 2009.
Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New York Giants (0-4) Line: Giants by 3. Total: 45.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Giants -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Giants -2.5.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Chargers.
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:
Chicago Bears: The Bears aren't nearly as bad as they looked on national TV against the Packers. They were playing on a short week, and if you take away Mike Glennon's three horrible turnovers, Chicago played almost evenly with Green Bay. The Bears defeated the Steelers and almost took down the Falcons, and now they have a healthy offensive line.
Oakland Raiders: Some are talking as if they're writing off the Raiders already. As long as Derek Carr is healthy - it sounds like he'll play Sunday - I certainly will not. The Raiders hung tight in Denver despite not having Michael Crabtree and losing cornerbacks David Amerson and Gareon Conley to injury.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles won their season opener (against the Redskins, who haven't lost since) battled the Chiefs extremely tough, and ultimately have started 3-1, yet they still aren't recognized as one of the better teams in the NFL despite having no weaknesses outside of the secondary, which will improve once Ronald Darby returns. The Eagles could have beaten the Chiefs had a series of unfortunate events not have happened; Torrey Smith's dropped touchdown, Darren Sproles' fumbled punt return, Jake Elliott's missed 30-yard field goal, Carson Wentz's late interception off a deflection, Vinny Curry's missed sack of Alex Smith to force a punt in a tie game in the middle of the fourth quarter. I think if the Eagles and Chiefs battled each other 10 times, each team would win on five occasions. Philadelphia could be 4-0 right now, and the team would've blown out the Giants had Fletcher Cox and Jordan Hicks not left the game.
Overrated NFL Teams:
Carolina Panthers: I listed the Panthers as overrated two weeks ago, and I'm ready to make that judgment once again. The Panthers caught the Patriots in a look-ahead game, as New England plays on Thursday this week. I'm still not sold that Cam Newton is healthy and if he can maintain consistent success without Greg Olsen and Ryan Kalil. I also don't trust his tackle play at all.
Cincinnati Bengals: I think people were a little too impressed by what the Bengals did at Lambeau. They were battling a skeleton-crew Packer team that basically was willing to accept a loss with a divisional game on Thursday coming up. Cincinnati then clobbered the Browns, but so did the Colts and Ravens. I still highly question the Bengals' ability to block.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys were definitely legitimate in 2016, but I thought they'd take a step backward this season, and that's exactly what's happening. 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, and that has been apparent thus far. The Cowboys easily could've lost the Cardinals if Arizona didn't commit a billion mistakes.
SAN DIEGO OFFENSE: A mistake players often make is returning to the field prematurely when coming off an injury. Sometimes, it pans out, but more often than not, they're ineffective and aggravate their previous injuries. That's what happened with Olivier Vernon, who couldn't play the entire game against the Buccaneers. Not only was Vernon hurt, but Snacks Harrison, the best player the Giants have up front, got banged up as well. Both players are considered questionable for this affair.
If both defensive linemen are at less than full strength, the Giants could be in trouble. The front line is the heart of their defense, and a worsened pass rush will really help Philip Rivers, who isn't protected very well. Jason Pierre-Paul should be able to blow by right tackle Joseph Barksdale, but that could be the only mismatch the Giants have. The Chargers can definitely handle that. I expect Rivers to have more time than usual, and he should exploit the mismatches in the back seven. Eli Apple has struggled this year, so Rivers will have success throwing to his side. Meanwhile, New York is incompetent at covering tight ends, so Hunter Henry figures to have a huge performance.
Melvin Gordon figures to thrive as well. Harrison's injury is huge in that regard. If Jacquizz Rodgers could run for 83 yards on 16 carries, imagine what Gordon will do. Gordon will also be able to expose the poor linebacking corps as a receiver out of the backfield.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Eli Manning had his best performance of the season last week, but this wasn't surprising. The Buccaneers, who had numerous injury problems entering the game, couldn't really expose the poor Giants offensive line with their pedestrian pass rush.
Unlike Tampa Bay, the Chargers generate terrific pressure. I have no idea how Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh, who is playing out of position, will handle Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, respectively. Meanwhile, center Weston Richburg is in concussion protocol. If he can't pass, the Giants will be in big trouble, as replacement Brett Jones is a major step down in talent. Jones won't be able to block Corey Liuget.
The Chargers have poor safeties - Malik Hooker would look great in a powder-blue uniform right now, wouldn't he? - but if Odell Beckham Jr. isn't 100 percent, it may not matter. Beckham, who will have to deal with talented cornerback Casey Hayward, was hampered by multiple injuries against the Buccaneers and probably won't be completely healthy for this contest. Manning should be able to exploit the awful Charger linebackers with Evan Engram, but the offense appears as though it's going to sputter.
RECAP: Believe it or not, but the Chargers are one of my top plays this week. This may surprise you because I've spent the past couple of weeks talking about how they're losers. They are, but I like them when they're underdogs of more than a field goal. Philip Rivers is a ghastly 9-27 in the past two years plus four games, but 12 of those contests have been decided by three points or fewer. The Chargers are somehow 2-10 in those affairs, hence their reputation of being losers.
As underdogs of 3.5 or more, the script changes. The Chargers are 2-11 straight up, but 9-4 against the spread. I don't see why they wouldn't play the Giants to within a field goal and perhaps even come away with a victory, given how banged up New York is.
I'm going to take the Chargers for four units right now, but I may increase this to five units if some of the injured Giants are ruled out.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This spread is down to +3 -105. It sucks that some of our value is gone, but I don't think it matters. Olivier Vernon, Weston Richburg and Jason Pierre-Paul have all missed practice, while Odell Beckham Jr. is banged up.
SATURDAY NOTES: I was thinking about dropping this to three units with the sharps dragging this line down to +3 with plus juice, but the injuries are so stacked against the Giants. Olivier Vernon is doubtful, while center Weston Richburg is out. Jason Pierre-Paul is probably going to play, but he's definitely not healthy. This looks like an easy Charger victory.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps have taken this spread all the way down to +3 -115 in most books. The best number available is Chargers +3 +100 at Bovada. I still love the Chargers, as Weston Richburg and Olivier Vernon have been declared out.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New York: 59% (22,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Chargers.
Philip Rivers is 22-9 ATS as a road underdog of 3.5 or more.
Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-3) Line: Bengals by 3. Total: 39.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Bengals -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Bengals -1.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: .
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 in Week 1, but they rebounded with a 3-2 record. Everything went to s**t in Week 3, as the public was 0-4 heading into Monday night before the Cowboys saved them. The public was 5-10 heading into Week 4, but they rebounded, as three of the four square sides covered. These picks are now just 8-11. Here are the five highest-bet sides, as of Tuesday morning:
I'm only listing four teams because there isn't lopsided action in any other game. It's odd to see the Jets there, but everyone is just betting against the Browns.
Oh, and our weekly fantasy football contest has returned. 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!
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Buffalo's defense has been terrific this year. The team did get lucky when Julio Jones left in the second quarter of Sunday's contest, but the defense hadn't allowed a passing touchdown entering Week 4. Granted, the quarterbacks they battled were lackluster - Josh McCown, an injured Cam Newton, Trevor Siemian - but it's not like Andy Dalton is an elite signal-caller.
Dalton has gotten a ton of flak this year, and while he's been slightly at fault, he hasn't deserved all the blame. His offensive line has just been a train wreck. Save for left guard Clint Boling, the Bengals don't have a viable starter up front. This spells major trouble against Buffalo's defensive line, which has been incredible. Jerry Hughes and Eddie Yarbrough will expose the awful tackles, while Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams will easily win their matchups inside.
Dalton will have to keep releasing the ball quickly, which worked against the Browns and Packers, two teams with major defensive issues. The Bills don't have such problems. Their secondary has been great, as cornerback Tre'Davious White is one of the primary candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Bills will clamp down on all of Dalton's targets, save for A.J. Green, while Joe Mixon will be bottled up in the backfield.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: When left tackle Cordy Glenn was banged up, I thought the Bills would have some major offensive line problems as well. However, rookie Dion Dawkins has done a surprisingly solid job on the blind side. A healthy Glenn would be an upgrade, no doubt, but Dawkins has held his own, which has been a surprise because I thought he would have to play guard in the NFL.
It's important for Dawkins to keep performing well because he'll have to deal with another talented rookie in Carl Lawson. He should be able to do a decent job on Lawson, but I worry about how the Bills are going to block elsewhere. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have easy matchups and could hound Tyrod Taylor as a result. Taylor had a great performance last week, as Buffalo's coaching staff had a terrific game plan to expose the Falcon linebackers with Charles Clay. That won't be so easy against the Bengals, especially with Vontaze Burfict on the field. Burfict didn't look like himself in his debut last week, but he'll keep improving each game.
Taylor won't have much time to throw, so the Bills will need to establish LeSean McCoy. This could be difficult against a Cincinnati defense that has been stingy versus running backs after its embarrassing Week 1 shutout loss. McCoy could also find things difficult as a receiver out of the backfield with Burfict and Vincent Rey patrolling the middle of the field.
RECAP: I'd like the Bills in a vacuum. I made this spread Bengals -1, as I don't think the Bengals are good enough to be field-goal favorites over a competent opponent. The Bills are slightly better on both sides of the ball, so I think they'd prevail in normal circumstances.
However, I think the emotional element could play a factor. The Bills had a huge upset victory over the Falcons, winning on a last-minute defensive stand in the red zone. Afterward, they let the media know how great they were. I have to question how prepared they'll be for this game. I don't know if they're going to take the Bengals seriously. Cincinnati, after all, has just one victory this year, and that happens to be against the Browns.
I still would pick the Bills because of the disparity between my spread and the one the books have set, but I just don't think is a good spot to bet Buffalo.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm still torn on this game. I had to ask myself why I'm not betting the Bills, and I couldn't come up with a good answer outside of the team being flat following the victory over Atlanta. Perhaps I'll change my mind as the week progresses.
SATURDAY NOTES: The Bills are getting lots of public support, yet this spread hasn't drifted off three. In fact, the Bengals are now -3 -120. I think the Bills are the right side, but they happened to be in a very weird situation. Plus, E.J. Gaines being injured seems like it'll hurt the secondary.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I still have no strong opinion on this game. The Bills are +3 +100 everywhere, yet I'm concerned I'm missing something with this game, given all the sharp action on Cincinnati.
The Psychology. Edge: Bengals.
The Bills are coming off an emotional victory at Atlanta, and now they might be reading their press clippings a bit too much.
The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
Percentage of money on Buffalo: 54% (29,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
Bills are 11-18 ATS since November 2011 as a road underdog.
New York Jets (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (0-4) Line: Jets by 2. Total: 41. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Browns -4.
Walt's Calculated Line: Browns -2.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: None.
HATE MAIL: I will be posting lots of hate mail this season. Here's something from the comments section on this page:
Hey guys, don't tell him this, but I am secretly jealous of his gold wheel.
Here's another hate message from someone with an odd name:
You'd think I wouldn't be so "f***ing terrible" coming off a winning week. If I received these messages for being in the black, I wonder what'll happen when I have a horrible week!
Of course, the hate mail section wouldn't be complete without Ross Avila, who laughed at my Pick of the Month:
I think Married with Grandchildren definitely needs to happen, and Ross can star as the loser grandson, Ross Avila Bundy, who can never get laid!
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Jets don't have good offensive talent, but based on how Cleveland has played this year, you have to like their chances. The Browns pathetically blitz more than any team in the NFL, yet generate less pressure than any team in the league. Think about how ridiculous that is for a second. They're hanging their poor secondary out to dry, and those players are getting torched as a result. Cornerback Jamar Taylor might be the worst starter at his position in the entire league, while safety Jabrill Peppers doesn't seem like he has any idea what he's doing.
There is some hope for the Browns, however, and that would be Myles Garrett's possible return. Garrett practiced last week, so this could be the game he finally takes the field. If so, he'll wreck left tackle Kelvin Beachum, while Danny Shelton, presumaby back from his Week 4 absence, will disrupt the interior. Josh McCown won't have much time in the pocket as a result. It'll help that Hue Jackson coached McCown last year, so he should be able to expose his weaknesses.
That said, the Jets have some hope because they should be able to match up Bilal Powell against Cleveland's woeful linebackers. Jamie Collins might be back from his concussion, but he has struggled. Meanwhile, Christian Kirksey has taken a major step backward, as he might be fat and happy from the $38 million contract he signed in May.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: I don't think any player has been more disappointing than Isaiah Crowell this year, and that's saying a lot, given what I just wrote about Kirksey. The Browns have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, and Crowell has the talent to take advantage of it. Yet, he hasn't done so. He's averaged 2.9 yards per carry, so the Browns should consider turning to Matt Dayes as their primary ball-carrier. The Jets have surrendered 123 or more rushing yards to three of their four opponents, but I'm not confident Crowell can take advantage of that.
Meanwhile, I don't think DeShone Kizer will be able to exploit the holes in the Jets' defensive backfield and linebacking corps either. Kizer seems broken right now, and I would blame Kenny Britt for that. There's no receiver who is playing worse right now in the NFL. Britt has been dropping everything in sight, and his half-hearted routes make it impossible to fire anything in his direction. Hue Jackson even said he would've been benched Britt last week, but couldn't because the Browns didn't have anyone to replace him with. It's a sad state of affairs in Cleveland.
I really think Jackson should bench Kizer for a week or two, just so the rookie can take a step back and relax. Re-inserting him into the lineup when Corey Coleman returns from injury could work. It's a shame, too, because Kizer has great blocking. He just can't process information quickly enough, and he doesn't have anyone at his disposal who can get open, save for Duke Johnson as a receiver out of the backfield. Johnson should have a good game versus the woeful Jet linebackers.
RECAP: The Browns are pick 'em at home versus the Jets? Despite being -4 on the advance line!? And the public is all over New York!?!? Five units on the Browns!!!
Just kidding. I'm done betting Cleveland. The Browns have absolutely broken me over the past year-and-a-half, and I've finally learned my lesson. I'm never betting this team again until they show me that they can be consistently competitive.
That said, I do think the Browns are the right side. The Jets are awful, despite their improbable two-game winning streak, and I think they should be underdogs here. Cleveland will theoretically be better with Garrett, Shelton and Collins back in the lineup, and Hue Jackson's knowledge of McCown should help.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Kony Ealy is missing practice. Myles Garrett is set to make his regular-season debut. Danny Shelton is back. This seems like a great opportunity to bet the Browns, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Three units on the... just kidding!
SATURDAY NOTES: Man, oh, man, am I tempted to bet the Browns. Kony Ealy is out, and that's a big deal because he's been one of the Jets' top defenders. Meanwhile, Myles Garrett and Danny Shelton will be playing. The public is all over the Jets. Argh. I don't want to bet the Browns, but I feel like I almost half to on principle. No. You know what? I can't do it. I just can't do it. I made a promise, and I'm sticking to it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Wow! The Jets are road favorites! They suck! The Browns are home underdogs, and they get their top two pass-rushers back, while the Jets are missing their best edge rusher, Kony Ealy. Oh, man. How can I not bet the Browns? OK, compromise! I'm going to take the Browns for half a unit. If they don't cover, I swear to the Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Smith, the Warrior, the Crone, and even the Stranger that I will never wager on the Browns again.
The Psychology. Edge: Browns.
The Jets could be looking past the Browns because they battle the Patriots, rival Dolphins and Falcons after this game.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New York: 59% (18,000 bets)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) Line: Steelers by 7.5. Total: 42.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Steelers -7.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Steelers -7.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Steelers.
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:
Last week, I ran a poll asking why NFL TV ratings are down 14 percent this year:
Thanks so much for all of the feedback! I'd like to discuss all the choices in relation to how many votes they garnered.
Players kneeling for the national anthem: 34.8%
As you might expect, this option was pretty polarizing. From the feedback I received on Facebook, people either thought that this was the only reason, or it had nothing to do with the declining ratings.
As usual, when there is such a strong disagreement, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think believing that the protests have absolutely nothing to do with worse ratings is like burying your head in the sand. On the flip side, there are definitely other reasons for the declining viewership, though this could possibly be near the top of the list.
I know two people personally who have stopped watching football because of the protests. Both my future father-in-law and brother-in-law vowed not to watch football when the Colin Kaepernick stuff happened last year, and they've kept their word. I also received e-mails from people who have said the same thing, but I have no way of knowing if they've followed through (and no, I haven't heard back from them). Even if they didn't, I know two people who have stopped watching football because of this, and because that's the case, I'm sure many others know two (or more) people who have stopped watching because of the protests as well. It just makes sense. There has never been a business model that has succeeded where employees of a company angered half of the customers.
Football as a whole is a worse product now: 13.6%
I definitely believe this to be true. The current CBA, signed in 2011, called for fewer practices. It seems that every year since, football as an overall product has gotten progressively worse. I think the primary aspect of this has been offensive line play, which has a lot to do with chemistry. Blockers can't develop this chemistry if they don't practice with each other. Horrible offensive line play has plagued many teams, and those that can't block are barely functional.
I am an old, fat man, so I don't really know what streaming is or how to do it. However, I've heard people mention it as part of the problem, so I figured I'd list it as an option. From my understanding, streaming is watching something on a phone or tablet, which seems nonsensical to me. TVs make for better viewing experiences than phones and tablets, so streaming just seems like a hipster fad that will go away soon. If not, we are all in big trouble.
NFL Red Zone Network: 10.7%
I don't think this is right. TV ratings for Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football are all down, and those games have nothing to do with the NFL Red Zone Network.
Millenials don't like football as much: 7.8%
Although I'm technically a millenial, I can accurately cite that millenials are stupid. At least, the mindset is. Those who are self-absorbed enough to take tons of pictures of themselves probably aren't watchiing football very much. We've seen the average age of sports fans rise, and I think this is definitely a legitimate reason as to why the ratings are down.
Donald Trump (politics are a distraction): 6.5%
I think politics are definitely a distraction, as there are more people whining and complaining 140 characters at a time than ever before. Those pompously acting like the morality police on Twitter or Facebook might be too preoccupied with watching football, though this is only a very small percentage of the population. There are also those who are completely obsessed, watching political YouTube videos instead of football in their spare time. I think this might account for 1-2 percent of the ratings being down, but that's obviously just an estimate.
Thursday Night Football (oversaturation): 4.6%
I actually think this is the primary reason why football is down, in conjuction with football as a whole being a worse product. Sunday football used to be sacred. Monday Night Football used to be special. The NFL then tried to make Sunday Night Football into the next big thing, thanks to all the money NBC spent on it. That was fine, but the league followed that up by adding Thursday games every single week. Thursday games are mostly miserable. Take Packers-Bears, for example. Facebook friend Mark P. said it best:
"Exhibit A onto why the NFL ratings are down. Casual fan: 'The Packers will smack the Bears, they suck.' John Fox and Bears: 'Let's not try to win at all, play like s**t and give up' Horrible game. I hate when teams just give up and just play to end the game. When they kicked the field goal and missed, I knew Rodgers was going to score and finish them off. Doesn't it get old watching s****y teams suck like that? When they went down 21-7, you could turn the game off because you knew the game was over. Sucks."
The Thursday games are generally boring, and many of them aren't competitive. This makes everything counter-productive because people who watch the Thursday games may have gotten their "football fix" for the week and may refrain from tuning into the Sunday games, and vice versa. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the overall level of play is down, so it's too much of a declining product.
The NFL needs to change this. To increase ratings, they need to give teams more practices, and they must abolish Thursday games, save for the Thanksgiving slate. There will be fewer days of NFL football, but that's almost certainly a good thing for the health of the sport.
Oh, and enough of the 9:30 a.m. London games. This is the last thing we need. Seriously, just stop it, NFL.
Concussion concerns making people less interested in football: 3.7%
Meh. While I think this will have more long-term ramifications if advances aren't made in medicine and football equipment, I don't think concussions would prevent people from watching football.
Officials are worse than ever: 3.3%
The officials are terrible, but they've always been abysmal. I don't buy this as a reason at all, though it wouldn't hurt if the NFL created robotic referees.
People whose homes were destroyed probably aren't watching football, so I thought this might generate more of the vote. It's not in the top three reasons, but I definitely think it's a factor.
Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott witch hunts: 1.8%
There might be like five people who have stopped watching football because of this.
In summary, I think the NFL ratings are down because of oversaturation of a worse product. However, there are other factors at play, one of which is the national anthem protest. It would be ignorant to believe that it has nothing to do with decreased viewership, but it can't be the only reason either.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: I've been saying it for weeks now. Ben Roethlisberger is not the same quarterback. I've mentioned possible early-season jitters, but he's been off for four games now. Something else is up, and I think it could be the ramifications of his retirement thoughts. There's a saying that if you're already thinking about retirement, you've already retired, so perhaps that's the case with him. His throws are just off, and Pittsburgh's offense has sputtered as a result.
If Roethlisberger doesn't suddenly improve, he could be in trouble in this matchup, as the Jaguars have a ferocious defense. Calais Campbell has a tremendous matchup versus the left interior, as Ramon Foster is banged up and Maurkice Pouncey isn't performing up to his ability. Meanwhile, right tackle Marcus Gilbert's availability will be huge. Gilbert has missed the past couple of games, and his replacement, Chris Hubbard, is going to be completely overwhelmed by Yannick Nagkoue if he has to start.
The Jaguars are also prolific in their back seven. They have the talent at linebacker to keep Le'Veon Bell from being a dynamic threat as a receiver out of the backfield, as Myles Jack is performing on a Pro Bowl level. Meanwhile, cornerback Jalen Ramsey has clamped down on the receivers he has covered this year, so he should do a good job of slowing down Antonio Brown.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: It's such a shame that the Jaguars don't have a better quarterback than Blake Bortles. With a halfway decent signal-caller, they'd be 3-1. With a good player at the position, they'd be 4-0. Bortles, unfortunately, is an abomination who happens to be a turnover machine because he doesn't study film, opting to party all night instead.
Bortles' pedestrian blocking doesn't help either. Second-round rookie Cam Robinson has struggled mightily thus far, and you have to love T.J. Watt's matchup. Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, meanhwhile, will beat up on a mediocre interior. All of this pressure will force Bortles into throws that will either be batted at the line of scrimmage or picked off. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Bortles is intercepted three times in this contest.
That said, the Jaguars will have some success moving the chains via Leonard Fournette. The Steelers have allowed some long runs this year, and aside from Dalvin Cook in Week 2, they haven't battled a back of Fournette's caliber yet. Fournette should have some success as a receiver as well.
RECAP: Bortles sucks so much that it's almost always wise not to bet on him. However, the exception is when he's an underdog of more than a touchdown. Bortles is 5-3 against the spread in those games. While that's not a large enough sample size, or anything, it does make sense because of how good he becomes when the opposing team stops caring. No one is better than Bortles at generating garbage touchdowns. He made a living off it in 2015 when his defense was horrible. Bortles doesn't do it as much anymore because his stop unit keeps him in games, but this could be the perfect opportunity for him to pad his stats and perhaps fool another team into giving him a substantial contract. Again, no one is better at playing terribly early and generating junk yardage and scores late than Bortles. Colin Kaepernick is the only one who's remotely close, but he's not in the NFL right now.
With that in mind, I'm on the Jaguars. I don't trust Bortles enough for this to be a big play, but I think a unit or two - going with the former for now - makes the most sense. Again, Roethlisberger isn't playing very well right now, so I think this spread is a touch too high. I would've made it +7.5. The difference between 8.5 and 7.5 isn't good value, and I wish I had gotten +9, but I still think Jacksonville will cover with a late Bortles score.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The sharps have moved this spread down to +8 in some books. The Jaguars seem like the right side, but betting on Blake Bortles is very risky.
SATURDAY NOTES: You know what sucks? I submitted this as a Supercontest entry pick. Here's why: The sharps have bet the Jaguars down to +7.5, but I don't care. I think this line is too high considering that Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been declared out. The Steelers' sputtering offense has a horrible mismatch where a backup right tackle will have to battle Yannick Ngakoue, who is performing on a Pro Bowl level. Blake Bortles can be wagered on as an underdog of more than a touchdown, so I'm increasing this to two units.
Unfortunately, Jaguars center Brandon Linder is out, too! This is a big deal, as Linder is a solid player. Linder was questionable with an illness Friday, so I assumed he'd play, but apparently not.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Jaguars are +7 -105 in most places, but +7.5 at Bovada, which is better. Again, I would've liked the Jaguars for more than a unit, but Brandon Linder's absence is enormous.
The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
Will the Steelers look past the Jaguars? After this, they have to play the undefeated Chiefs, and they're coming off a win over their arch rival.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
No surprise that the public is betting the Steelers.
Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 68% (21,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Jaguars are 29-62 ATS against non-divisional opponents since 2008.
Mike Tomlin is 9-18 ATS as a favorite after a win of 14+ in the regular season unless a bye is coming up.
Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-2) Line: Dolphins by 1. Total: 41.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Titans -2.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Titans -6 (Mariota) or Dolphins -1 (Cassel).
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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1. Sam Darnold hasn't lived up to expectations this season, and that trend continued against Washington State. Sam Darnold went 15-of-29 for 164 yards and one interception. He had two rushing scores, but his 164 yards were a collegiate-career low. I'm sure some will start talking about Darnold not being the first-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but I'm not buying that. Darnold hasn't had any sort of help this year, as he lost several offensive linemen. The result is Darnold being sacked nine times through five games. He was sacked six times all last year!
That said, I'm not convinced Darnold will declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. We've seen USC quarterbacks return to school in the past. Plus, there's this...
Darnold seeing his name on the back of a Jets jersey during this game may have spooked him enough to return to school - and I wouldn't blame him!
2. While Darnold is a quarterback who is getting hype but struggling to live up to it, Northwestern's Clayton Thorson is a quarterback who is getting no hype but is exceeding all expectations. I completely agree with what Charlie Campbell wrote about Thorson:
"Thorson is an NFL quarterback, and I honestly believe that if he was at Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, or even a team just an above average supporting cast, he could be the top quarterback prospect. Thorson has big size and a powerful arm, and he moves well, throws accurately, sees the field, is tough, and has some athleticism. On top of his skill set, Thorson has excellent intangibles as a worker and teammate with high character, and intelligence. Some scouts have told me they see themselves grading Thorson as a second-rounder, but they think he could end up going in the first round of the 2018 or 2019 NFL Draft."
I actually put Thorson in the first round of my 2018 NFL Mock Draft, and I think he could move up in the first frame if he continues to perform at a high level.
3. This has to do with college basketball instead of college football, but it's related. I wanted to touch on the FBI scandal that got Louisville's Rick Pitino fired.
First of all, what the f*** is the FBI doing by getting involved in this? Don't they have anything better to do? Seriously. Who the hell cares about some college basketball players getting improper benefits? If players are getting free shoes and are being accompanied by ladies of the night, what does that matter? Some might say it's wrong, but that's subjective. There are far more serious crimes occurring than some teenagers getting free shoes and banging STD-laden whores. If Agent Dale Cooper learned that the FBI was wasting its time with this, he would be extremely disappointed. "I am the FBI" would transform into "I... uhh... nah, I'm not FBI because the FBI is dumb for meddling in irrelevant things."
Second, Louisville is extremely hypocritical for firing Pitino. You'd have to be the most naive person of all time to believe that the Louisville administration didn't know what was going on. Yet, Louisville allowed for this to happen, as it enjoyed all the victories Pitino racked up. Pitino is a great coach, but there are tons of other outstanding coaches out there, and he wouldn't be able to compete with the Kentuckys, the Dukes, the Kansases and the North Carolinas if he didn't give his players improper benefits. And you have to believe that Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and North Carolina do the same damn thing. If the NCAA punishes Louisville, it should do the same thing to every other major program.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: There's no line on this game because of Marcus Mariota's injury. Mariota is apparently day to day with a hamstring. He could play, but it's really an unknown at this point. If Mariota can't take the field, the utterly awful Matt Cassel will get the nod, so it's understandable why the oddsmakers would wait on a line.
The Dolphins are a train wreck defensively, and the only good aspect of their stop unit is the front. However, that's where Tennessee is strong on this side of the ball. Blocking Ndamukong Suh would obviously be an issue, but I think the Titans would be fine elsewhere. If he plays, Mariota would be able to connect with his talented play-makers, who would be able to take advantage of a poor back seven. The linebackers are especially brutal, so Delanie Walker and DeMarco Murray would have huge performances.
The Titans with Cassel, however, are another story. We've seen Cassel start for the Cowboys recently, and he was horribly inept. There's no reason to think he'd be any better now, even against Miami's defense.
MIAMI OFFENSE: Jay Cutler has gotten a ton of flak for the Dolphins' woes. While he's definitely been partly responsible for the team's inability to score, it's definitely more than just him. In fact, I don't think he's the primary culprit. I would put the blame on the offensive line.
The Dolphins can't block at all. They have one of the worst fronts in the NFL, as Ja'Wuan James is the only capable blocker. Laremy Tunsil has been awful on the blind side, while center Mike Pouncey has been even worse because he needs hip surgery. The guards are abysmal. Cutler won't stand a chance against Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey, while Jay Ajayi will struggle to find running room.
If Cutler could somehow get some time in the pocket, he could have a nice outing. The Titans have major issues in their defensive backfield he could exploit. However, Cutler had a similar opportunity in London and couldn't get time versus a pass rush that happens to be weaker than Tennessee's.
RECAP: I obviously can't make a concrete pick yet because there's no line. I can't imagine myself taking the Dolphins, however. They're a horrible team that can't block, and they've been subjected to the most travel any NFL team has ever endured in four consecutive weeks, flying from Miami, to Los Angeles, to New York, to London, and now back to Miami for the first home game of the season.
I'm hoping for a good number on the Titans after they were completely humiliated in Houston. I think they'll rebound, and I imagine myself betting several units on them, depending on what the spread is.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Marcus Mariota's status continues to be unknown, so there's still no spread.
SATURDAY NOTES: Marcus Mariota said he's optimistic about playing, but it's far from a guarantee he'll suit up. I'll be on the Titans -2.5, but I can't put any units on this game until we know of Mariota's status for certain.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There was a lot of sharp action on Miami, so someone knew that Marcus Mariota would be out. This spread went from Titans -2.5 to +2. Now, the sharps took the Titans at +2! This spread has shifted to +1, and I agree with the new movement. The Titans are going to be playing harder for their backup quarterback, and Miami sucks. That said, I can't bring myself to bet on Matt Cassel because he absolutely sucks. What I do like is the under.
The Psychology. Edge: Titans.
The Titans have the edge, as they'll be trying harder for Matt Cassel.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Miami: 56% (13,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Titans are 6-0 ATS after losing by 30+ since 2006.
Underdog is 77-45 ATS in the Dolphins' last 122 games.
Jay Cutler is 44-75 ATS if you exclude Monday Night Football.
San Francisco 49ers (0-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-3) Line: Colts by 1. Total: 44.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Colts -2.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Colts -2.5.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Colts.
If you've followed this site for a while, you might remember that I like to respond to my spam mails. It all started six years ago, when a man named Jon Wire from the "United Bank of Africoan" promised me an ATM card of some sort, so I responded as a man named Mister Compassion Chuck Norris, who was raised by wolves. The following season, I received e-mails from Richard Held and Loon Bruce, who told me I won a Facebook Award, which comes with a "lump sum pay out of (750,000.00 GBP)." Pretending to be Matthew Millen Kim, I sent out my application and fake money.
I've been messing around with spammers ever since, pretending to be Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady and Walter White. I'll have new answers to Spam Mails here, so check them out if you want to see me screw with spammers!
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: There are many who are high on Jacoby Brissett, but he showed Sunday night that he has plenty he still needs to work on. He holds the ball too long in the pocket and sometimes stares down his receivers. This didn't matter against the Browns, who have no pass rush, but the Seahawks made him pay with two defensive touchdowns.
The 49ers obviously aren't nearly as talented defensively. They surrendered 41 points to the Rams two weeks ago, after all. They have an All-Pro talent in DeForest Buckner, who absolutely needs to be voted into the Pro Bowl this year, but their other defensive linemen are rather lackluster. They're even worse at cornerback and linebacker, so Brissett should be able to locate T.Y. Hilton for big gains like he did versus the Browns. Jack Doyle also has a great matchup if he can pass concussion protocol.
There are two injury implications worth noting as well. Reuben Foster apparently will not take the field this week, as Kyle Shanahan said he would be surprised if the rookie stud returned. Meanwhile, it seems as though center Ryan Kelly will return just in time to replace third-stringer Adam Redmond, who struggled mightily in Seattle when replacing the injured Deyshawn Bond.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: The Colts have surrendered more than 100 rushing yards just once this year, which was Sunday night. They've done well versus ground attacks this year, even keeping Todd Gurley in check back in Week 1. The difference has been nose tackle Johnathan Hankins, who has a lopsided matchup against Daniel Kilgore, who just might be the worst center in the NFL. As a result, I don't expect Carlos Hyde to do much on the ground.
Hyde should at least be a factor as a receiver out of the backfield, as Indianapolis might have the worst linebackers in the NFL. Pierre Garcon also has a plus matchup, as Vontae Davis, returning from injury last week, didn't even look close to 100 percent.
Brian Hoyer will have the time to find Hyde and Garcon, as tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown have positive matchups against Jabaal Sheard and John Simon. Sheard and Simon have performed on a high level this year, but the 49ers have a pair of strong tackles. That said, it still wouldn't surprise anyone if Hoyer tossed a couple of interceptions, as safeties Malik Hooker and Matthias Farley are both play-making talents.
RECAP: This seems like a poor spot for both teams. The Colts are coming off a taxing battle against the Seahawks, and they had to fly back from the West Coast afterward to take on the winless 49ers. I don't really see them getting up for this game. The 49ers, meanwhile, are also flying from the West Coast after a tough loss in overtime to play in an early start time. I think they'll be sluggish as well.
I have to wonder why this spread isn't -3 or -2.5. Why are the 49ers one or 1.5 points better than the Colts? I don't get it. I'm on Indianapolis, but this is a non-wager because I just don't trust the Colts, especially under horrible circumstances.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This game has me confused, and I almost want to bet on the 49ers. Maybe I'll change my pick, but I'm not going to bet on this game.
SATURDAY NOTES: This is a worthless game I'm going to keep passing on.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There's some late sharp money on the 49ers. I considered jumping on the bandwagon, but I don't know. I couldn't figure this game out, as two bad teams are battling each other. I feel like I'm missing something here.
The Psychology. Edge: 49ers.
The Colts are coming off a very difficult game against the Seahawks, and they have to play an 0-4 team after flying home from the Pacific coast.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 55% (15,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: 49ers.
Favorites after playing the Seahawks are 14-31 ATS.
Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) Line: Eagles by 6.5. Total: 45. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Eagles -5.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Eagles -8.5.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Eagles.
Video of the Week: Are you annoyed with millennials like I am? I technically happen to be a millennial myself, but I hate the millennial mindset, and if you're like me, you'll enjoy this video:
It should be legal to punch lazy millenials like this in the face. The world would be so much better off if that were allowed.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: The Cardinals are a mess on this side of the ball. Their offensive line is a train wreck, as it might just be the worst blocking unit in the NFL. D.J. Humphries' injury has forced the utterly atrocious John Wetzel into the lineup, and he won't be able to block Vinny Curry or Derek Barnett. Meanwhile, the decision to move Jared Veldheer to the right side has been horrendous. Veldheer was a quality blind-side protector, but he has struggled on the right side. He won't be able to block Brandon Graham. Timmy Jernigan, meanwhile, won't be contained well in the interior. Fletcher Cox is out, but it may not matter.
I can't see the Cardinals maintaining much offensive success with all of their blocking woes. Carson Palmer could be responsible for some turnovers as he attempts to keep pace with Philadelphia's offense. It doesn't help that David Johnson is out. The Eagles won't have to respect Chris Johnson at all.
Arizona's one productive receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, also has a tough matchup. Patrick Robinson has been excellent as the slot corner, and I think he'll defend Fitzgerald quite well.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: The Cardinals have certainly endured their injury woes on the offensive line. This week, they lost edge rusher Markus Golden, meaning they won't have anyone across from Chandler Jones. Not that Jason Peters and Lane Johnson needed help, as they are the top tackle tandem in the NFL.
The Eagles are also tremendous in the interior, and they'll blow open holes for LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement. Arizona's run defense hasn't battled a team with an elite offensive line yet - the Cowboys don't count anymore - so Philadelphia's three-headed running back committee should post quality numbers again.
Of course, Carson Wentz will produce most of the offense. Alshon Jeffery will be locked up by Patrick Peterson, but Wentz should be able to find Zach Ertz early and often. Ertz will battle a shaky linebacking corps, featuring rookie Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon. Those two are good talents, but Reddick is making too many mistakes, while Buccanon certainly didn't look close to 100 percent last week, as he was coming off an ankle injury. Tyrann Mathieu hasn't appeared healthy either, so Nelson Agholor should have a decent afternoon.
RECAP: I don't understand why this spread is so low. The public isn't pounding the Eagles; most of the money looks like sharp action. It's at least one of two things: Either people don't understand how great the Eagles are yet, or they don't get that the Cardinals are a train wreck. Perhaps it's both.
Arizona sucks. The team hasn't maintained a lead at the end of regulation yet this year. Their two wins were against the Colts and 49ers (at home, no less), both of which occurred in overtime. They lost by double digits to the Lions and Cowboys, and the Eagles are better than both of those teams. The Cardinals are especially bad in early East Coast games, and that's exactly what this is.
The Eagles aren't in the best spot. They've flown home from the West Coast, and they have a Thursday game coming up. However, I just think they're so much better than the Cardinals that they should be favored by something closer to 10. My line, even when factoring in the impending Thursday night affair, is -8.5.
I'm making this a three-unit pick. This would be a much-higher wager if the Eagles didn't have a tough scheduling dynamic, but I think it could be offset with a horrific Arizona team playing in one of its dreaded early East Coast games.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The sharps are usually on underdogs of +6.5, bringing the line down in the process. This hasn't happened yet, probably because they realize how terrible the Cardinals are. I still like Philadelphia a lot in this contest.
SATURDAY NOTES: Despite the poor scheduling situation, the Eagles continue to be the play here, as they're just way better than the horrible Cardinals, who have lost by double digits against the two quality teams they've played thus far this season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This spread hasn't moved at all, and nothing has changed for me concerning my opinion with this pick. The Eagles are on a different level than the Cardinals, and they should be able to dominate this matchup.
The Psychology. Edge: Cardinals.
The Eagles are coming off a victory on the West Coast, and now they have to play a bad team with a short work week coming up. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have to play yet another early game.
The Vegas. Edge: Cardinals.
A decent lean on the Eagles, most of which is sharp action.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 63% (20,000 bets)
Carolina Panthers (3-1) at Detroit Lions (3-1) Line: Lions by 1.5. Total: 42.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Lions -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Lions -5.5.
Sunday, Oct 8, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Lions.
Last year, on the Adventures of Tom Brady's Haircuts, Tom Brady was elected as the President of the United States, as it was revealed that he was the only candidate running because both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were figments of his imagination. In doing so, Tom Brady saved his organization, the Two-Handed Gang, from the Latin Kings. Everything was going swimmingly for Brady while in the White House, until he received a telegram from Bill Belichick, requiring his presence in Foxboro...
CAROLINA OFFENSE: Cam Newton had major question marks heading into the New England game. He looked injured, and his offensive line protection was pedestrian, at best, with Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil out of the lineup. Three hours later, everything was OK! Newton torched the Patriots, scoring 33 points. The line played well. The Panthers, now 3-1, are back on track to reach the playoffs.
In case you couldn't tell, I'm not exactly buying it. Forgive me for being skeptical of an offensive outburst against the worst defense in the NFL. The Panthers still can't block on the edge, and that's going to be a tremendous problem against Ezekiel Ansah and Anthony Zettel. Most casual bettors don't know who Zettel is, but he's been performing on a Pro Bowl level across from Ansah this year. He's a major reason why the Lions are 3-1 right now.
Detroit has several other upstart defenders, and it'll be getting one back in rookie Jarrad Davis, who has missed the past two games with a concussion. Davis was very close to suiting up for Sunday's game, so he should be on the field. He'll help defend Christian McCaffrey, while talented cornerback Darius Slay figures to lock down Kelvin Benjamin.
DETROIT OFFENSE: The Lions have some blocking concerns as well. Left tackle Greg Robinson has struggled, and I can't see him dealing with Julius Peppers very well. Meanwhile, center Travis Swanson clearly isn't 100 percent. He returned from an injury last week, but wasn't quite himself. It'll be difficult for the Lions to block Kawann Short.
Like Newton, Matthew Stafford is exceptional at buying himself time in the pocket. The difference is that Stafford should be able to exploit some matchups. The Panthers have endured poor cornerback play, and they also happen to be down a safety, so Stafford should be able to connect with his weapons for numerous substantial gains.
One aspect that won't work is Ameer Abdullah. The injury-prone back had a terrific performance versus the Vikings, but Luke Kuechly and the other linebackers will make sure that doesn't happen again.
RECAP: The spread I came up with was off with the actual line. My number was -5.5, but I've been bearish on the Panthers for quite a while. It seems as though the sharps disagree because they're betting Carolina.
I just don't agree. I find it difficult to believe that all of Carolina's woes have been cured because of one game against the Patriots. This is the same team that barely scraped by the Bills and then was blown out at home versus the Saints. The Lions are better, in my opinion, especially with Davis back in the lineup.
That said, I can't shake the feeling that I'm wrong about Detroit. I also recognize the fact that the Lions play nothing but close games, so I'd prefer to get them as an underdog again. I'm going to wager only two units on the host with the hopes of getting -3 plus money or -2.5 at some point.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The sharps have bet the Panthers off +3, which seems bizarre to me. I still like the Lions for a couple of units. I thought about adding a third unit, but I want -1, and it might get there. This seems like the type of low-scoring grinder that could easily end with a one- or two-point victory.
SATURDAY NOTES: I'm going to keep this at two units for now, though seeing Ryan Kalil declared out is promising for the Lions' chances. I'm still hoping the line drops even further.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This spread has dropped to -1.5, as the sharps continue to bet the Panthers. I'm hoping for -1 - the margin could easily land on one, considering that Detroit usually plays close games - and if I can get that line, I'm going to move this to three units.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.
Public money on the Lions. Sharp action on the Panthers.
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 6, 2017): 6-8 (-$640)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 6, 2017): 1-2 (-$350)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 6, 2017): 1-1 (-$75)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 6, 2017): 8-6 (-$60)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 6, 2017): -$220
2017 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-0, 100% (+$1,200)
2017 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 50-59-2, 45.8% (+$175) 2017 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 13-15-1, 46.4% (-$795) 2017 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 8-6-1, 57.1% (+$745) 2017 Season Over-Under: 47-43-1, 52.2% (+$95) 2017 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$190
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: 2,489-2,302-143, 52.0% (+$9,090) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 798-718-38 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 337-298-19 (53.1%) Career Over-Under: 1,992-1,946-55 (50.4%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 37-22 (62.7%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.