Washington Redskins (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6) Line: Chargers by 6.5. Total: 47. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Chargers -4.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Chargers -4.5.
Sunday, Dec 10, 4:05 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Chargers.
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...
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: The Redskins needed to win last Thursday against the Cowboys to keep their season alive, but they ended up losing despite being favored. A big turning point in that game was losing Morgan Moses in the opening half. The talented right tackle was really missed against DeMarcus Lawrence, who was able to flood the backfield and disrupt the passing game. Moses absolutely needs to be on the field for this contest because Melvin Ingram is playing in Lawrence's spot, and he's just as good.
The Redskins have other pass-rushers to worry about as well, namely Joey Bosa and Corey Liuget. Their poor interior won't keep Liuget out of the backfield, but Trent Williams can handle Bosa if he's healthy. The problem is that Williams has been knocked out of some games this year, as he's not 100 percent. This is a major concern.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have an excellent secondary that will make things very difficult for Kirk Cousins. It would be nice if Cousins had a viable safety valve as a receiver out of the backfield, but Chris Thompson is out for the season. Washington's offense has not been the same since Thompson got hurt versus the Saints. Samaje Perine has had some nice runs, but he and Byron Marshall have been poor replacements for Thompson. I don't expect Perine to have success on the ground in this matchup, by the way.
SAN ANGELES OFFENSE: The Redskins are beat up on this side of the ball as well. They're missing talented rookie Jonathan Allen, and the other defensive end, Matt Ioannidis, is banged up and not 100 percent. The Redskins have been anemic against the run, failing to stop Alfred Morris last week, so they'll have issues containing Melvin Gordon.
That said, the Redskins have a chance to disrupt the Chargers. Ryan Kerrigan is an excellent edge rusher, and he has a very favorable matchup this week against struggling right tackle Joe Barksdale. If he can put consistent pressure on Philip Rivers, that could be enough to keep this game within striking distance.
Rivers, however, will be able to generate several scoring drives. In addition to leaning on Gordon, he'll also be able to find Hunter Henry early and often against a defense that hasn't been able to stop tight ends. Keenan Allen, conversely, could be held in check by excellent slot corner Kendall Fuller.
RECAP: This spread seems a bit too high for me. I made it San Angeles -4.5, but the books have it at -6. Also, the Chargers could be looking ahead to their impending matchup against the Chiefs. The Redskins, conversely, will want to rebound from their embarrassing loss on national TV.
I'm going to pick the Redskins, but I don't think I can bet on them. The problem is that they have so many banged-up players. One of the most difficult things for NFL coaches to do is to make in-game adjustments to key injured players. We saw it last Thursday when Moses was knocked out. The Redskins are going to be starting so many injured players that several could leave the field early, which would make things a lot easier for the Chargers.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The Redskins have a number of players who are considered questionable, so we'll have to see what the final injury report looks like come Friday. However, the sharps are betting Washington, as the spread has dropped to +5.5 in many books.
SATURDAY NOTES: Trent Williams is a game-time decision, while Morgan Moses is expected to play following two limited practices. I'd like the Redskins if you were to tell me that their line would hold up the entire game, but Williams or Moses could easily get knocked out, which would make it very unlikely that Washington would cover.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: There's still no word on the Redskins' offensive line injuries, so that's something to monitor. I'll provide updates in the Final Thoughts around 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Washington's two tackles are in the game, which is the good news. The bad news is that neither is completely healthy and could leave the game early, which would be a disaster against Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. I'm not going to bet this game.
The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
The Chargers could be looking ahead to next week with the Chiefs coming up. The Redskins, meanwhile, will look to bounce back off an embarrassing loss on national TV.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on San Angeles: 51% (13,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Redskins.
Redskins are 16-6 ATS after losing to the Cowboys since 1997.
New York Jets (5-7) at Denver Broncos (3-9) Line: Jets by 1. Total: 40.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Broncos -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Broncos -2.
Sunday, Dec 10, 4:05 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: None.
If you're unaware of this, you can publish your own articles on this Web site and have them promoted via Twitter, Facebook and this page! Check out our Open Rant feature, where articles get promoted all the time. Some readers' articles have gotten more than 3,000 views, so if you want to get your opinion heard, here's a great way for you to do so!
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Josh McCown continues to amaze. He was excellent against the Chiefs, torching them mercilessly despite trailing 14-0 right away. Kansas City had no answer for him, and he was able to lead his team to its fifth victory of the season.
That said, things will be much more difficult for McCown in this contest, as he'll be battling the Broncos, who will be looking to redeem themselves after they were embarrassed in Miami. Though I picked Denver, the result wasn't surprising at all in hindsight. The Broncos were missing several key defenders - Aqib Talib, Derek Wolfe, Domata Peko - and a number of players on their team were stricken with the flu. They should be better by this upcoming Sunday, and Talib will be back from suspension to help shut down McCown.
The Broncos have been susceptible to the deep ball this season, and they've struggled to contain tight ends. Thus, McCown might be able to hook up with Robby Anderson for downfield passes on some occasions, and I'm sure Austin Seferian-Jenkins will have a big game. However, the Broncos will be able to stop everything else, including the run.
DENVER OFFENSE: Trevor Siemian was one of the players who had the flu, and he had a miserable performance. I defended Siemian going into the week, calling him much better than Brock Osweiler, but he was just as atrocious in the loss to the Dolphins, failing to go through any of his progressions.
I'm going to chalk that up to Siemian being sick and missing stud guard Ronald Leary. Siemian isn't a good quarterback by any means, but I don't think he's awful either. I like him to rebound against a New York defense that had absolutely no answer for Alex Smith, assuming that Leary returns to the field. The Jets have problems in their secondary and linebacking corps for Siemian to expose, but Leary is definitely needed. There's no question about that.
The strength of the Jets' defense is the front line, as Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson are playing at a high level. Leary will be needed to block the latter because Denver doesn't have anyone to keep the former out of the backfield. Leary's replacement, Connor McGovern, was atrocious last week. McGovern doesn't stand a chance against Wilkerson, but Leary does. Leary would allow Siemian to remain upright, and he would also help C.J. Anderson find some holes to run through, though those will be limited.
RECAP: The Jets have played hard for most of the year, but the last time they were coming off a big statement win - a victory over the Bills on a Thursday night - they laid an egg as a road favorite, dropping a game to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers.
I think history may repeat itself. The Broncos aren't nearly as bad as they looked against the Dolphins last week, as they were hurt by injuries and the flu. They'll be better this week, and they certainly should not be home underdogs against the freaking Jets.
I'm definitely on the Broncos. The unit count depends on who plays. I really need Leary to suit up to warrant a substantial bet on Denver. He's just way too important in this matchup. If he plays, I could see myself wagering two or three units on this game. I'll keep it at one for now.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Robby Anderson aggravated his hamstring Thursday, which is horrible news for the Jets. I already liked the Broncos, and if Anderson can't go, I might even consider putting another unit on the home dog.
SATURDAY NOTES: I'm removing my Broncos bet. I love the spot they're in, but Ronald Leary, their best offensive lineman by far, will be out. Denver's interior line won't be able to block Muhammad Wilkerson or Leonard Williams. Conversely, Robby Anderson practiced fully on Friday.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: There's a bit of sharp money coming in on Denver, as this line has hit pick 'em in some books. I'd like the Broncos if Ronald Leary were playing.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Nothing has really changed. There's some sharp action on the Broncos, but not a substantial amount. Again, there's no Ronald Leary, so I don't want to bet the Broncos. He's too important.
The Psychology. Edge: Broncos.
The Jets are coming off a big win versus the Chiefs, so it's possible that they could be flat for a Denver team that wasn't even competitive against Miami.
The Vegas. Edge: Broncos.
Everyone is betting the Jets.
Percentage of money on New York: 65% (16,000 bets)
Tennessee Titans (8-4) at Arizona Cardinals (5-7) Line: Titans by 3. Total: 43. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Titans -2.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Titans -4.5.
Sunday, Dec 10, 4:05 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Titans.
Make sure you get your pick in for the WalterFootball.com 2017 NFL Survivor Pool. Of the 1,630 we had to start the year, we're down to 24. We didn't lose a single person last week, so congrats to the 24 of you still remaining!
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: I can't wait for the Titans to hire a new head coach. Mike Mularkey is horrible. Tennessee has some great talent on both sides of the ball, and while an 8-4 record looks good, the team has been sluggish in its victories. Barely beating the Browns, Texans, Bengals, etc. is just disappointing, and it doesn't bode well for Tennessee's impending difficult games.
I'd love to see an innovative head coach get Marcus Mariota in an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Instead, the Titans move at a glacial pace. That said, they did have success against the Texans in their own territory, but slowed down once they crossed midfield on most drives. I think they'll have similar or better success versus Arizona. The Cardinals have just one viable pass-rusher, Chandler Jones, and he'll be matched up against Taylor Lewan, which is an even battle. Thus, Mariota will have all the time he wants in the pocket to find Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews, who will be back from injury. Hopefully, for Mariota's sake, Matthews doesn't draw Patrick Peterson's coverage.
Regardless, the Titans will be able to use DeMarco Murray as a receiving option out of the backfield. The Cardinals have struggled against pass-catching running backs, so even though Murray and Derrick Henry won't have the best success finding lanes on the ground, Murray should be able to beat Arizona's linebackers in the open field.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: Tom Savage just had a career performance against the Titans, so that bodes well for the Cardinals and Blaine Yo! Gabbert Gabbert, correct? Not necessarily.
Tennessee's major problem last week was defending DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals also have just one stud receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald is a different sort of player. He'll be matched up against Adoree Jackson, and I think Jackson, who is having a solid rookie campaign, can keep him in check - especially with the amount of pressure the Titans are expected to place on Gabbert. Arizona has one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, and the blocking unit won't be able to keep Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey out of the backfield.
The Cardinals won't be able to run the ball effectively either. In addition to the poor blocking, they have some pedestrian backs at their disposal. Adrian Peterson was a flash in the pan against the sleepy Buccaneers that one game, as he has barely done anything since. The Titans haven't surrendered more than 73 rushing yards to a team since Week 5, anyway.
RECAP: I'm surprised that this spread is a half a point higher than the advance line, especially after the Titans were so unimpressive in their victory against the Texans. However, I like buying on bad news, so that's one of the reasons I'm on the Titans.
The primary reason is Gabbert. He sucks, and the numbers back that up, as he's 6-11 against the spread since 2013. He launched a pick-six last week that helped the Rams cover, and I suspect he could do the same thing in this matchup. His blocking is woeful, so I expect him to panic under heavy pressure again.
Also, I think this line is too low. I made Tennessee -4.5. A difference of 1.5 points may not seem like much value, but it is if the key number of three is involved.
Speaking of three, that's exactly how many units I'm betting on the Titans.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The Titans are still one of my favorite picks of the week, and Kenny's confidence on our picks podcast might make me move this to four units.
SATURDAY NOTES: The Titans had some major injury questions heading into this game, ranging from Logan Ryan, to Delanie Walker, to Rishard Matthews, to Derrick Morgan. All but Morgan will play, which is great news. Meanwhile, the Cardinals will have Patrick Peterson available, but he's dealing with a balky hamstring, which is the sort of injury that could knock him out of the game.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: There's a small amount of sharp money on the Cardinals, but not a lot to be worried, or anything. I still like the Titans a lot, and I would wait on this, as we could get -2.5 -110 by kickoff.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I was hoping to get Titans -2.5, but the best number at that line is -2.5 -120 at 5Dimes. I think I'd rather have -3 +105 (BetUS, Bovada).
The Psychology. Edge: Titans.
The Cardinals played extremely tough against the Rams, like it was their Super Bowl. They came up short, so they could be flat against the Titans, whom everyone seems to be trashing.
The Vegas. Edge: Titans.
There's sharp action on the Cardinals.
Percentage of money on Arizona: 69% (17,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
Cardinals are 27-16 ATS in December home games since 2000.
Cardinals are 30-15 ATS at home as underdogs or favorites of less than -3 since 2007.
Seattle Seahawks (8-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) Line: Jaguars by 2.5. Total: 41. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Jaguars -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Seahawks -1.
Sunday, Dec 10, 4:25 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Seahawks.
Emmitt on the Brink is back for Season 10 (I can't believe this is the 10th year I've been doing this!) In Episode 13, Real Emmitt earns a new title after he gets his revenge on Turkey Neck Town.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: Russell Wilson is being discussed as an MVP candidate, and rightfully so. I'd still put him behind Tom Brady and Carson Wentz, in some order, but if the Seahawks run the table and win the NFC West, I would definitely endorse him as the MVP for the 2017 NFL season.
Wilson does it all. Despite being protected poorly, he keeps plays alive and eventually finds his targets downfield. The Jaguars have a terrific defense, but Wilson faced a similar defensive front when he was battling the Eagles, and he had tremendous success. The Seahawks won't be able to block Calais Campbell or Yannick Ngakoue, but Wilson's elite pocket mobility will still allow the Seahawks to maintain successful drives.
It's worth noting that the Jaguars have a couple of key injuries on this side of the ball. Telvin Smith missed last week's game with a concussion, and if he's out again, that could allow Jimmy Graham to have a big performance. Also, elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey is dealing with a hamstring. He may not be 100 percent, which would be huge.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: If the Jaguars had a solid quarterback, they might be the best team in the NFL. Alas, Blake Bortles is garbage. He played well last week, but had the luxury of beating up on a pedestrian Indianapolis defense missing its top cornerback. Bortles was unstoppable on third down, as his receivers made acrobatic catches all afternoon.
I can't see Bortles having similar success against the Seahawks. Unlike Indianapolis, Seattle has real players in its linebacking corps and defensive backfield. Granted, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are out, but the Seahawks still have solid defensive backs, including Earl Thomas and nickel corner Justin Coleman. Byron Maxwell hasn't been horrible either.
The Seahawks were able to aid their secondary last week by placing a tremendous amount of pressure on the quarterback. Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson were both terrific, and Frank Clark performed well following a slow start to his 2017 campaign. The Seahawks did this against a strong Philadelphia offensive line, so they shouldn't have any trouble getting through a Jacksonville front that has numerous holes.
RECAP: Man, I really want to bet the Seahawks. This is a horrible point spread. The wrong team is favored, as the Seahawks are much better than the Jaguars. Their defenses are comparable, but the offenses aren't even close. With Leonard Fournette hitting a rookie wall, Seattle's scoring attack is so much better because of the quarterback play. Wilson has shown that he can will his team to victory against elite competition, while Bortles doesn't really care about his professional career.
The problem, however, is that this is an atrocious spot for the Seahawks. They're coming off a big statement win on national TV against the Eagles, and now they're expected to win this game even though they're underdogs. Every single pre-game show anchor is going to ask his former player co-workers, "Do the Jaguars have a chance!?" and I'll be yelling at the TV, "The Jaguars are favored, you idiot!"
While the Seahawks could be looking ahead to the Rams, this is a big statement game for the Jaguars, so I wish this spread were set appropriately. The books would probably get 50-50 action from the public if the Seahawks were favored by 3.5, but that's not the case. They know they're going to receive huge bets on Seattle, yet they don't care.
This seems like the biggest trap ever, so I'm not going to bet this game despite my desire to wager on Wilson as an underdog.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This line has dropped to Jaguars -2.5. The Seahawks are even less appealing now, though I would take them if I had to. I just worry about them not showing up following a big statement victory. This is the Jaguars' biggest game in a very long time, and Seattle won't match that intensity.
SATURDAY NOTES: Two of Jacksonville's best defenders, Telvin Smith and Jalen Ramsey, are questionable. Smith didn't practice all week, but it sounds like he could clear concussion protocol. Ramsey, on the other hand, practiced, but has a bum hamstring that could knock him out early. I still like the Seahawks, but this is a terrible spot for them.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: Telvin Smith is out. Jalen Ramsey will play, but could get knocked out early. I would LOVE the Seahawks if they were in a better spot. Like, if they lost to the Eagles and were desperate for a win, this would be a huge play. However, they're in a tough spot, with the Jaguars playing their biggest game in a long time. That said, I would still take Seattle if I had to. There's a chance, by the way, that Seattle could be +3 -115 or so by kickoff. The best line is +3 -125 at BetUS right now.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you can access CRIS, the Seahawks are +3 -115 there, which is a decent number. I'm not as crazy about +3 -125 at BetUS or Bovada. Again, this is an awful spot for the Seahawks, and I'd need +3 -110 to bet them.
The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
This is a potential statement game for the Jaguars. They can prove to the world they're legitimate by beating the Seahawks, who impressed everyone on national TV. Seattle plays the Rams next week.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
The Seahawks are a massive public dog.
Percentage of money on Seattle: 67% (32,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Seahawks.
Seahawks are 22-9 ATS in Week 11 or later since 2013.
Seahawks are 35-47 ATS on the road since 2006 if they're not coming off an away loss.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) at Los Angeles Rams (9-3) Line: Pick. Total: 47. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Eagles -2.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Eagles -3.
Sunday, Dec 10, 4:25 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Eagles.
A reminder that Jerks of the Week for this week is up, so just click the link. This week's jerks entry is My Friend Drew, and the Craziest Facebook Conversation Ever.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: Carson Wentz had a solid game overall in Seattle this past Sunday night, but made three crucial mistakes. He overthrew an open receiver downfield in the opening half. He then lost a fumble into the end zone in the third quarter, and he followed that up by launching an interception into double coverage in the final frame. The fumble was a fluke play, but the fact remains that the Seahawks rattled him a bit with great pressure from their prolific defensive line.
The Eagles are already worried about how they're going to deal with Aaron Donald, who has once again been an absolute monster this season. The Eagles have tremendous blockers on the right side, but they'll still have trouble keeping Donald from disrupting the offense.
Another issue is that the Eagles may not have Zach Ertz, who was concussed last week. Trey Burton will fill in for Ertz, and while he's an athletic player with upside, he's just not the same, dependable target Wentz loves throwing to. That said, the Rams don't have the best cornerbacks, so Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor should be able to get open.
LOS ANGELES OFFENSE: While the Eagles are stressing about Aaron Donald, the Rams might be equally terrified of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Both are enjoying All Pro-caliber years, and Cox should be especially problematic for the Rams because their one hole on their stout offensive line is at right guard.
Still, Jared Goff should have plenty of opportunities to torch the Eagles because he's protected so well. Though Philadelphia's secondary has improved markedly since getting back Ronald Darby from injury, it's still the weak point of the roster, save for left tackle. However, none of the Los Angeles receivers should really threaten the Eagles if Robert Woods sits out again. Woods is considered questionable. If he's out again, it'll just be Sammy Watkins, who has been a disappointment this year, and Cooper Kupp, who is prone to some mistakes.
Of course, the Eagles have to worry about Todd Gurley. Philadelphia is solid against the run, but Gurley is able to overcome tough matchups and dominate.
RECAP: This game is almost similar to the Seahawks-Jaguars matchup. The better team is an underdog for some reason, and tons of public money happens to be coming in on them, though not nearly as much is coming in on Philadelphia compared to Seattle.
The one difference here is that the Eagles aren't in a bad spot. They're not coming off a big statement victory. They lost to the Seahawks and would like to get back on track with a win. There's every reason to think they'll be just as focused as the Rams will be in this matchup.
That said, I'm taking the Eagles for a couple of units. This line is way off from where it should be - I made it Philadelphia -3 - and there's extreme movement from the advance line, which was Eagles -2.5. I wish we were getting +3 with the Eagles, but +2 will have to suffice for now. The Eagles are the better team with the superior quarterback, and they should be able to bounce back with a victory.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Zach Ertz has cleared concussion protocol, which is a big deal. I still like the Eagles for a couple of units, though the public feels the same way.
SATURDAY NOTES: I hate that the public is all over the Eagles, but I want to bet on Carson Wentz, especially off a loss. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, etc. have terrific records following defeats, and I think Wentz will trend in the same direction. I'm going to bump this up to three units.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: The public and sharps have dragged this down to pick 'em. Unfortunately for Eagle bettors, Zach Ertz is unlikely to play. I still really like Philadelphia, however, as Trey Burton could have a big performance.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you like the Rams, +1.5 is available at Bovada. I still like the Eagles despite Zach Ertz being ruled out. Trey Burton is a good backup, and I think the Eagles can move the ball well without Ertz.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Los Angeles.
The Eagles are a public dog.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 69% (23,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Rams.
Favorites after playing the Seahawks are 16-32 ATS.
Eagles are 2-12 ATS before playing the Giants since December 2010.
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2) Line: Steelers by 6. Total: 43. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Steelers -7.
Walt's Calculated Line: Steelers -5.
Sunday, Dec 10, 8:30 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Steelers.
It's time for a Ross Avila update! Ross, some idiot kid on Facebook who challenged me to a picking contest this year, has finally thrown in the towel. He stopped making his own picks after Week 3, and because I called him out on stealing other people's selections, he has apparently quit.
Ross said he would go away for good if I won, but he predictably hasn't kept his word. Instead, he attacked random women who weren't around to defend themselves last week. This week, Ross is now pretending that he's a Vegas tout of some sort:
Ross Avila unfriended me afterward. Yes, he's that much of a pu**y. Like some 12-year-old girl, he unfriended me, which I found hilarious. But not as hilarious as him having FIFTEEN clients. BUHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: The primary reason why the Steelers failed to cover the 4.5-point spread Monday night was the loss of Ryan Shazier. It may seem odd that one player would make that much of an impact, but that was the case with Shazier. He was effectively the quarterback of the defense, communicating with the sideline and putting his teammates in the right place. The Steelers looked absolutely lost without him, and they struggled to stop the Bengals until Cincinnati made numerous mistakes late in the game.
Shazier is almost certainly going to miss this game, so the Ravens should be able to move the ball consistently. Alex Collins ran well against the Lions, and he figures to have similar success against the Steelers, who had no answer for Giovani Bernard.
Joe Flacco will have an easier time finding open players as well. The Steelers figure to be weaker against tight ends and pass-catching running backs without Shazier's great coverage skills, so Ben Watson and Danny Woodhead could have strong showings.
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: The Steelers aren't the only ones missing a key member of the defense. The Ravens lost Jimmy Smith to a torn Achilles last week. Smith was their top cornerback by a wide margin, and it wasn't a surprise that the Lions were finally able to generate some offense once he left the field.
If the Ravens couldn't stop Marvin Jones without Smith, how are they going to deal with Antonio Brown? Despite looking shaky in pre-game warmups, Brown had a terrific performance against the Bengals. The Steelers won't have JuJu Smith-Schuster - or, as Jon Gruden calls him, "Joe Joe Schuster" - but Ben Roethlisberger still should have success against a defense missing its top defensive back.
Le'Veon Bell, meanwhile, won't be dominant on the ground, as Baltimore's run defense has improved tremendously since stout defensive lineman Brandon Williams returned from injury. However, Bell should be a strong force as a receiver out of the backfield once again.
RECAP: This spread opened +6, but was quickly bet down by both the public and sharps. The public likes the Ravens because they think Baltimore is a good team as a result of its blowout victory over the Lions. The sharps like the Ravens because of Shazier's absence.
The books are going to need the Steelers to cover. Because I'm torn on this game - I made the spread Pittsburgh -5 - I think I'll just side with the house and take the favorite. I wish we could still get the Ravens at +7, which was the advance line, but Pittsburgh at -5 seems reasonable, as the team tends to perform better at home. Plus, whenever the money is heavily tilted one way in Steeler games, you almost have to go the other direction because of ownership's previous ties to sportsbooking.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Public betting on this game has evened out, so this contest is more puzzling. This line is dropping, so if you like the Steelers, I would wait to see if you can get -4.
SATURDAY NOTES: This spread has hit -4 in some books. The sharps are betting the Ravens, and I'm actually going to change my pick. I thought about it, and I think the Ryan Shazier injury is really going to change things for Pittsburgh.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: The sharps bet the Ravens early and the Steelers late, so there's a split. I'm comfortable with my switch to the Ravens. Pittsburgh's defense is really going to struggle without Ryan Shazier.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There was early sharp money on the Ravens and late sharp money on the Steelers. The public is split as well, so the sportsbooks don't need anything to happen. I'm actually going to put a unit on Baltimore +6, which is available at Bovada. I would not bet the Ravens at +5.5, but +6 is a solid number in a matchup between two teams that always play closely. Plus, six is such an important number, as I learned today when I lost a combined five units on the Colts and Browns as underdogs of +3.5 and +3, respectively, in overtime. FML.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
Percentage of money on Baltimore: 55% (42,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Steelers.
History: Home Team has won 23 of the last 33 meetings.
Ben Roethlisberger is 47-27 ATS vs. the AFC North.
Ben Roethlisberger is 45-29 ATS in December and January.
New England Patriots (11-2) at Miami Dolphins (6-7) Line: Patriots by 10.5. Total: 48. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -10.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Patriots -11.
Monday, Dec 11, 8:30 PM
Comment on this game
The Game. Edge: Patriots.
This week on ESPN, we're going to have some bald dude and Jon Gruden calling the shots instead the great preseason homers like Kevin Reilly, Ron Wolfley and Don Tollefson, inept ESPN guys Emmitt, Herman Edwards and Matt Millen, and aloof people like Dan Fouts. Here's what it would sound like if these seven dudes (and some special guests) were calling this game:
Reilly: Welcome to the city of Miami where the Miami Heat will take on the New England Patriots. Guys, my Philadelphia Eagles are the best team of all time, and people are saying Tom Brady should win MVP. This is stupid. Carson Wentz is the greatest human being of all time, while Tom Brady is dating a terrorist. A terrorist, I say!
Emmitt: Terrorism, terrorist not a nice thing to say. A person who a terrorist are a guy who provide a lot of terror, and terror something that real scary.
Reilly: Hey guys, looks like Herm has gotten some brain damage from when Tolly bopped him over the head last week. How great is that!? Wait, what's this? Jon Gruden is here. Hey Gruden, what are you doing here on my turf, punk?
Jon Gruden: This game sucks, so I'm just wanderin' around, looking for things to do. I didn't even know there was another broadcast here, so maybe I'll join you guys. Hey, Herm, guess what I call Tom Brady? I call him the chef, because he's always cookin' up a great play!
Reilly: Can you go away, please? If the producers find out you're here, they might hire you and fire me, and if they fire me, how will I afford my Carson Wentz posters and action figures?
Millen: Kevin, you are a pathetic little man. I for one welcome Coach Gruden, for I hope that I can take a look at his cell phone and steal the phone numbers of some of the 100-percent USDA Men he used to coach. With some luck, I could have a 100-percent USDA Men orgy in my hotel room with some creamsicle-colored kielbasas!
Tollefson: Jon, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the booth. I have female slaves for you to purchase if you're interested. They'll cook and clean for you in the nude. I'm having a buy one, get one sale this week for Black Friday!
Jon Gruden: Hey Herm, I'm callin' this guy the shopping mall because it seems like all he talks about is Black Friday sales!
Fouts: And here's what he means by Black Friday. Friday is a day of the week. There are seven days of the week in most weeks. Friday is one of them. And so is Sunday. Black is a color. There are lots of colors, including black, green and purple. If you put Friday and black together, you get Friday Black, but then if you reverse them, you get Black Friday. This is different than Green Friday and Purple Friday. It's Black Friday because the color is black, and the day is Friday.
Wolfley: I THINK YOU MISSED THE POINT OF BLACK FRIDAY. BLACK FRIDAY IS A DAY WHERE YOU CAN GO TO STORES AND SAVE A LOT OF MONEY. I WOULD HAVE SAVED A LOT OF MONEY BUT I WAS STUCK IN A JAPANESE BATH HOUSE WITH MILLEN GETTING SOME SAUCE PUT ON THE BOYS.
Jon Gruden: Hey Herm, I'm callin' this guy Old Yeller because he's old, and he yells! And Herm, I'm callin' that other guy the dictionary because it always seems like he has definitions for every word he talks about!
Fouts: Why thank you, I take that as a compliment.
Reilly: What the hell are you idiots even talking about? And Gruden, why do you keep addressing Herm? He's clearly in a coma right now. Only an idiotic organization would give him a job right now, so he should be thanking his lucky stars that he's employed by a dumb network like ours.
Charles Davis: Kevin, you brought up comas, so let's talk about different types of comas, Kevin. Kevin, did you know there were different types of comas, Kevin? Kevin, let's begin, Kevin, with toxic-metabolic encephalopathy, Kevin. Bet you can't spell that one, Kevin. How about anoxic brain injury, Kevin? Let's chat about persistent vegetative state, Kevin. Why don't we talk about locker-in syndrome, Kevin? We could always talk about brain death, Kevin. Why don't you reference a coma, Kevin. Bring one up, Kevin. Just do it, Kevin. And I won't say you said pepperoni pizza, Kevin. Scout's honor, Kevin.
Jon Gruden: Hey Herm, I'm callin' this guy the Sand Man, because he can put you to sleep with his non-stop talking.
Charles Davis: Jon, that's absolutely right, Jon. Medically induced coma puts you to sleep, Jon. See, Kevin? I didn't even bring up pepperoni pizza, Kevin, even though I knew you were thinking about it, Kevin.
Reilly: I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT IT, A**HOLE! I AM NEVER THINKING ABOUT PEPPERONI PIZZA UNLESS IT'S WHAT I WANT AT MY BIRTHDAY PARTY WHICH NONE OF MY FRIENDS EVER COME TO!
Jon Gruden: Hey Herm, I'm callin' this guy the crying douche because he's a douche who cries all the time!
Reilly: I'M NOT CRYING ALL THE TIME, MOTHER SAYS I'M SPECIAL AND I NEED TO HAVE THINGS GO MY WAY AND YOU'RE BEING MEAN AND NO ONE EVER COMES TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY AND EVERYONE HATES ME WAHHHHH! We'll be back after this!
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Rob Gronkowski's suspension has been upheld, so he'll miss this one game and return for the Week 15 matchup against the Steelers. Oh, how will the Patriots ever survive against the Dolphins without him?
It would be nice to have Gronkowski abuse the Miami linebackers, but the Patriots won't need him. Tom Brady went 18-of-28 for 227 yards, four touchdowns and an interception against the Dolphins two weeks ago, and Gronkowski barely did anything in that game. Nothing has changed since. The Dolphins play mostly zone defense, which is a horrible thing to utilize against an elite quarterback like Brady.
One thing to note is that we could see another Monday night game that features lots of cheap hits. Ndamukong Suh and Kiko Alonso are two of the dirtiest players in the NFL, and they tried to injure Brady back in Week 12. I don't know why the NFL didn't suspend either player. The league will look quite foolish if anything happens to Brady in this contest.
MIAMI OFFENSE: The Patriots still don't have much of a pass rush, and their linebackers can be exposed, but their defense has come together because their secondary has been shored up. The communication issues have been fixed, and Stephon Gilmore is now playing at a Pro Bowl level.
With that in mind, I don't really see Jay Cutler having much success against New England. Cutler is more likely to throw multiple interceptions than a single touchdown, as Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will bait him into some mistakes. Unless, of course, Cutler spends the entire night checking down, which is a possibility considering how bad his offensive line is.
RECAP: This spread is very high, but the question is whether it's high enough. The Dolphins are atrocious, and Brady covers the spread 59 percent of the time for a reason.
I actually made this line New England -11, which is exactly what the number is. Thus, I don't have a strong opinion on either side, but I would still side with the Patriots if I had to because, well, they're the Patriots.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I don't see the sharps coming in on the Dolphins, so this line could continue to increase. If you want to bet the Patriots, get in now while -11 is still available.
SATURDAY NOTES: This spread hasn't really moved yet. The public is all over the Patriots, while the sharps haven't weighed in yet.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTES: Wow, this line just dropped to Patriots -10.5. Rob Gronkowski is out, but Chris Hogan is likely to be available. If I have a good Sunday, I may put a small wager on New England.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I can't believe this spread didn't rise. There's been a bit of sharp money on the Dolphins, which I think is crazy. Miami could cover, but betting against Tom Brady is insane, as he has a 59-percent cover rate throughout his career. I think I'm going to put a unit on the Patriots at -10.5 (if you can access CRIS, it's -10 -115 there). They beat the Bills on the road by 20 points, and Buffalo is better than Miami. They posted 41 points at Denver, which is a more difficult place to play than Miami. Motivation could be an issue, with Pittsburgh on the horizon, but the Dolphins suck and Jay Cutler could implode like he did in a Monday night affair against the Panthers about a month ago. I wouldn't go crazy with this, but a unit to make things interesting is OK, I think.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The Patriots play the Steelers next week, but they're not a team that looks ahead.
The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
No surprise where the money is going.
Percentage of money on New England: 75% (58,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
History: Patriots have won 15 of the last 21 meetings (Home Team has won 10 of the last 12 meetings).
Tom Brady is 217-67 as a starter (160-111 ATS).
Patriots are 50-38 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
Patriots are 10-14 ATS as road favorites since 2013.
Underdog is 78-50 ATS in the Dolphins' last 128 games.
Week 14 NFL Picks - Early Games
New Orleans at Atlanta,
Chicago at Cincinnati,
Indianapolis at Buffalo,
Green Bay at Cleveland,
Detroit at Tampa Bay,
Oakland at Kansas City,
Dallas at NY Giants,
Minnesota at Carolina,
San Francisco at Houston
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 14, 2017): 8-8 (+$350)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 14, 2017): 2-3 (-$240)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 14, 2017): 1-0 (+$500)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 14, 2017): 9-7 (+$100)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 14, 2017): +$200
2017 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-1, 75.0% (+$1,120)
2017 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 100-120-6, 45.5% (-$4,860) 2017 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 25-36-2, 41.0% (-$3,035) 2017 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-16-1, 46.7% (-$1,615) 2017 Season Over-Under: 101-116-1, 46.5% (+$310) 2017 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$10
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: 2,539-2,363-149, 51.8% (+$4,055) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 810-739-40 (52.3%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 343-308-19 (52.7%) Career Over-Under: 2,046-2,009-55 (50.4%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 38-23 (62.3%)
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.