Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) Line: Ravens by 1. Total: 44. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Pick.
Walt's Calculated Line: Ravens -1.
Thursday, Sept 13, 8:20 PM
The Game. Edge: Ravens.
WEEK 1 RECAP: I was 7-6-1, +$550 heading into Monday night, but the Raiders' loss put me closer to even, unfortunately. I finished 8-7-1, +$150. Not terrible, but not what I'm looking for either. That said, I'm very optimistic for this year, and Week 1 affirmed that belief, even with the bad luck we had. We lost a combined nine units on three games by a combined 6.5 points, with the 49ers, Texans and Giants failing to cover by 2.5, one and 2.5 points, respectively. I'd say "so close, yet so far," but I don't think we're very far.
My Week 2 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Follow @walterfootball for updates.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: Joe Flacco's hard work this offseason has really paid off. Flacco admittedly slacked off since winning the Super Bowl, which is really unacceptable, but there's nothing that can be done about it now. The Lamar Jackson selection lit a fire under Flacco, and the fruits of his labor were apparent in the season opener, as Baltimore blew out Buffalo.
Flacco will have a tougher challenge against the Bengals, as Cincinnati has a stellar defensive line to take advantage of some liabilities Baltimore has up front. Geno Atkins, in particular, should be able to dominate left guard Alex Lewis and center Matt Skura. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap also has a positive matchup against right tackle James Hurst.
Fortunately for Flacco, he'll be able to take advantage of the absence of linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Cincinnati's defense, historically and recently, has not been the same without its star linebacker. Andrew Luck just torched the Bengals, going 39-of-53 for 319 yards, two touchdowns and an interception last week. Luck's not even 100 percent, so I think Flacco should be able to replicate his success, especially with his new weapons, as Michael Crabtree, John Brown and even Willie Snead have given Flacco viable targets for the first time in years.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: The Bengals made two key additions to their offensive line in an attempt to improve their scoring unit this offseason. They traded for Bills tackle Cordy Glenn, then spent their first-round pick on center Billy Price. The latter should eventually be good, but he struggled in the opener, as Andy Dalton's first interception occurred because the Indianapolis nose tackle bull rushed Price into the quarterback. Price did not have a good debut, and now he'll have to battle a tougher Baltimore defensive line.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have other liabilities up front that the Ravens can expose. Dalton will be pressured more, so if you take that projection, and combine it with the fact that Baltimore's cornerbacks are vastly superior to Indianapolis', then Dalton won't nearly have the same amount of success he enjoyed in the opener. A.J. Green will get his yards, but I highly doubt someone like John Ross will thrive.
Another thing going against Dalton is that the Ravens won't be gashed by Joe Mixon like the Colts were. Indianapolis has a pedestrian defensive line and shoddy linebacker play, but Baltimore is excellent in both areas. Dalton will be faced with more unfavorable situations this week, which could lead to turnovers.
RECAP: This is a big-time revenge game for the Ravens, as the Bengals knocked them out of the playoffs last year. That's not why I'm picking Baltimore, though it's a reason as to why the team won't be flat after coming off such a huge victory.
The Ravens are the better team, and they're going to be playing a Bengal squad missing its best defensive player not named Geno Atkins. I like picking the superior squad on Thursday night, and going against teams missing its do-it-all linebacker has been fruitful over the years. I wish we were getting a better number, but I'd say the Ravens are worth a couple of units.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I still like the Ravens for a couple of units. The Colts were able to shred the Bengals' defense last week because Vontaze Burfict was out, and I think the Ravens will do the same. The difference will be Baltimore's tremendous stop unit, which will slow Cincinnati down enough. I'm taking -1 -105 available at Bookmaker.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It seemed like there was a bit of sharp money on the Ravens earlier today when the books rushed to make this line -1.5, but the spread stopped rising after that. It seems as though the sharps are mixed, while the public has a two-thirds edge on the Ravens. I'm with the Joes on this one, as Cincinnati is not the same without Vontaze Burfict.
The Psychology. Edge: Ravens.
The Ravens are seeking revenge.
The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
There's a ton of action on the Ravens.
Percentage of money on Baltimore: 65% (62,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
History: Bengals have won 7 of the last 9 meetings.
Ravens are 14-22 ATS as road favorites since 2005.
Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Washington Redskins (1-0) Line: Redskins by 6. Total: 48. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Redskins -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Redskins -3.5.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Redskins.
My overrated-underrated feature was posted in this spot the past couple of years. I thought it would be better if there was less clutter on this page, so I set up a new NFL Overrated and Underrated Teams page that will be updated every Monday. I have three overrated and underrated teams listed there, and some may shock you!
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: It was nice to see Andrew Luck on the field after 600-plus days since his previous start. I was worried that Luck was going to transform into a post-shoulder injury Chad Pennington, but he played well against a solid defense. Luck may have been able to lead his team to victory had tight end Jack Doyle not fumbled in the red zone near the end of regulation.
The Redskins, like the Bengals, are solid on this side of the ball. They're most excellent versus the run, as the front line of Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Da'Ron Payne is prolific. The unit put the clamps on David Johnson last week, so there's no way Indianapolis will be able to generate any sort of rushing attack.
Luck will have to put his team on his shoulders, which doesn't sound great for obvious reasons. However, the Colts should have some success throwing on the Redskins. Josh Norman won't be able to follow T.Y. Hilton everywhere, while the Redskins don't have much of an edge rusher outside of Ryan Kerrigan. The Redskins are stronger inside, but the additions the Colts made up front have helped; Quenton Nelson, in particular, was great in the opener. Luck had more time than expected in Week 1, though it helped that he was releasing the ball very quickly in Frank Reich's up-tempo offense. Luck looked very comfortable in the new system, and he should continue to play well.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: So far, so good with Alex Smith. The new Redskin quarterback dominated the time of possession versus Arizona. Smith ate up a combined 15 minutes on the clock in two separate drives in the opening half, and Sam Bradford was only able to throw seven passes prior to intermission as a result. No one should be surprised by this, as Smith seldom attacks deep, opting for safe, effective throws instead. Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu-, Calais Campbell- and Xavier Williams-less defense allowed plenty of opportunities.
The Colts have a couple of stellar players on this side of the ball, namely Jabaal Sheard and Malik Hooker, but they also have plenty of liabilities. Their cornerbacks are abysmal, and their linebacker play is suspect. Covering Chris Thompson leaking out of the backfield will be problematic, and I also expect Jordan Reed to have a big performance. Smith's prolific offensive line will keep him clean.
Having said that, Smith-led teams tend to be limited offensively as a whole. They just don't score a lot, and that allows opponents to hang around. For example, they scored "just" 24 against the Cardinals, so if Sam Bradford were more effective, the game would've been closer. Instead, Bradford missed some open receivers, including Ricky Seals-Jones for a touchdown, which is why that game was a blowout.
RECAP: Something tells me that Luck will be better than Bradford was last week. I love getting more than a field goal with terrific quarterbacks like Luck, as long as they're not battling another great signal-caller. While Smith is good, he definitely cannot be characterized as "great."
Another factor to consider is the Redskins' traveling schedule. Winning on the West Coast (or near it) and then flying home for an early game could be difficult, especially against a squad that will be desperate to avoid an 0-2 start.
This should be a close game, and I trust Luck to be able to keep the Colts within striking distance. With that in mind, the Colts are the play. We're getting some nice line value with them, as they were +3 on the Westgate advance line. Now, they're +5.5 after just one week's worth of games. Talk about an overreaction!
I wish we were getting +6 because that's such a key number, but +5.5 is good enough for me to wager three units on the visitor. If I can get +6 -110, I'll upgrade this to four units.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This line is +6 -110, so I'm upgrading this to four units, as promised. Andrew Luck should be able to keep this game close against the Redskins, who are playing in an unfavorable travel situation. Maybe I'm greedy, but I'm going to wait to see if a +6 -105 pops up.
PICK LOCKED IN: I've noticed that Pinnacle, BetUS and 5Dimes have all moved this to +5.5. The reason is Cincinnati's dominance. The Ravens haven't put any sort of effort into this game, but people think that the Bengals looking good means that the Colts are better than they are. Thus, the line is faling. I'm going to lock in Colts +6 -110 at Bookmaker for four units before that becomes unavailable.
SATURDAY NOTES: It's a shame Anthony Castonzo is out. He practiced Thursday, but was ruled out Friday. Had I known this, I would've gone three units on the Colts, but I still like them at +6 or more. It's also worth noting that Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses has been limited in practice all week, so he may not be 100 percent versus Jabaal Sheard. Pinnacle has this listed at -5.5, so they want you to bet the Redskins.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This spread is back up to +6, as the sharps can't seem to make up their minds about this game. I still like the Colts, but as I said before, I wish I went three units on them with Castonzo out.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Washington: 51% (16,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Colts.
Andrew Luck is 20-6 ATS off a loss.
Andrew Luck is 11-6 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 or more since 2013.
Redskins are 11-28 ATS after a road win since 2000.
Redskins are 9-19 ATS in September home games since 2001.
Redskins are 9-23 ATS as home favorites of more than 4 since 2000.
Carolina Panthers (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1) Line: Falcons by 6. Total: 44. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Falcons -4.
Walt's Calculated Line: Falcons -6.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: TBA.
VEGAS UPDATE: I'll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot.
The highest-bet sides were 43-40-4 last season, a year that was pretty painful for the books. Perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way...
Here were the teams getting the most bets last week:
Just a middling 2-2. The Rams ravaged the sportsbooks Monday night. Here are the teams getting the most bets this week:
Nothing here surprises me, as the public is just overreacting to what it saw in Week 1.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: The Panthers made a grave mistake in Week 1. Both Greg Olsen and right tackle Daryl Williams were considered questionable with injuries. It would've been smart of them to rest both players in an attempt to get them both to 100 percent. Instead, both Olsen and Williams gave it a go, and it backfired big time. Both players aggravated their injuries, and they could be out a while. Olsen, in particular, will be sidelined for an extended period of time. Williams' status is cloudier, but I wouldn't be optimistic about him suiting up for this contest.
Olsen is the bigger name, but Williams means more to Carolina's offense. He's the Panthers' best blocker. Having a backup right tackle and a rookie blind-side protector is asking for trouble against the Falcons' edge rushers, Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. The Panthers won't have much success blocking them, while stud defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will dominate in the interior of the trenches.
Carolina's inability to block will be problematic, especially when considering that Atlanta's secondary should be able to lock down Cam Newton's pedestrian weapons. The one chance the Panthers have of moving the chains somewhat consistently is getting Christian McCaffrey out in space. This won't be a great tactic if Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones plays, but it sounds like he could miss this game with a foot injury. I can't stress enough how major this injury is, as Jones is one of the top linebackers in the NFL.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: Jones may not be the only All-Pro-caliber linebacker who could miss this game, as Luke Kuechly might be sidelined with a leg injury. If you look at how the Panthers have performed without Kuechly over the years, it's night and day, and understandably so. Kuechly is arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, and his position is so important in today's NFL because a smart player like him can make up for limited practice time for everyone else on defense. Everything simply falls apart without Kuechly in the lineup.
The Falcons' success on this side of the ball depends on Kuechly's availability. If he plays, it'll be difficult for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to find much success in open space. If he's out, however, both Freeman and Coleman will thrive. The latter scenario will be disastrous for Carolina, as the Panthers have liabilities elsewhere, namely in the secondary. Carolina will have even less of an answer for Julio Jones than the Eagles did. Philadelphia at least had Ronald Darby to break up some passes; Carolina, conversely, has no top cornerback, though rookie Donte Jackson has some potential.
If Kuechly's out, the Panthers' lone strength will be in the defensive interior, as Kawann Short destroyed the Cowboys' backup center and overdrafted rookie left guard. However, unlike Dallas, Atlanta has stout blocking on the inside, so Short won't be as dominant. The Falcons, as a result, will be able to move the chains effectively all afternoon.
RECAP: Excluding quarterback, the do-it-all linebacker is the most important member of an NFL team nowadays, and both teams could be without theirs, as Jones and Kuechly are considered questionable. Because it's unknown if they'll play, I can't give you a pick with any sort of conviction at the moment.
I'm leaning toward the Falcons for now, but if this line gets high enough, I may switch over to the Panthers. Atlanta will be desperate to avoid an 0-2 start, and Carolina has some important injuries on offense, but any spread above six is just asking for Newton to get the back-door cover. Stay tuned for updates. Check back, or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I still don't know where I'm going with this game. Deion Jones' absence will make betting the Falcons difficult, but the Panthers could be missing Luke Kuechly. Additionally, Hurricane Florence might impact the Panthers' mindset, as they could be more focused on keeping their families and homes safe than preparing for this game. I'm sticking with Atlanta for now.
SATURDAY NOTES: The Panthers' offensive line is in shambles, but there's good news for the Panthers: Luke Kuechly will be in the lineup, while the Falcons won't have Deion Jones. This is huge, and it's enough to make me switch my pick to Carolina. If you don't think Jones being out of the lineup is a big deal, remember what the Steelers were like after Ryan Shazier went down. The same thing will happen to Atlanta. The only reason I'm not going to bet this heavily is that I don't know how Carolina will react to the hurricane, as it may serve as a big distraction.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm not betting this game - Carolina's focus in the wake of Hurricane Florence is too much of an unknown - but if you like the Panthers, you can still get +6 -120 at BetUS, which is about the same as +5.5 -110.
The Psychology. Edge: Falcons.
The Panthers could be distracted by the hurricane.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 52% (17,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
History: Falcons have won 5 of the last 8 meetings.
Falcons are 24-11 ATS following a loss of 6+ in the previous 35 instances.
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0) Line: Vikings by 2.5. Total: 44.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Packers -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Packers -4.5.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: TBA.
HATE MAIL: I will be posting hate mail here. Hate mailers are now beginning to blatantly ignore my wins:
Man, that's discouraging. I put a lot of work into my Eagles and Bears picks, yet they don't count for anything, apparently!
Here's a weird one:
I don't know what to make of this. I assume it's a good thing. Hopefully?
Here's a real e-mail I received:
It almost seems like this guy was jerking off to me doing poorly at one time. I hope he didn't go permanently soft once I finished in the black.
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: Some sportsbooks don't have a line posted on this game, and understandably so. Aaron Rodgers' status is unknown at the moment, as the Packers are still conducting tests on his knee.
Rodgers didn't have his trademark mobility when he returned to the field in the second half versus Chicago, but he didn't need it. He shredded a talented Bears defense in a comeback for the ages. The Vikings also have a stellar stop unit, particularly in the trenches, though Rodgers has the tools to overcome Minnesota. He has a pair of great tackles who can keep Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter at bay. Elsewhere, the Viking linebackers struggle to cover - which would explain George Kittle's big Week 1 performance - so Jimmy Graham and Ty Montgomery figure to thrive in this matchup. Trae Waynes is also a liability, so Rodgers will have success throwing in his direction.
Of course, all of this is irrelevant if Rodgers can't suit up. DeShone Kizer will be a horrible turnover machine versus the Vikings.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: Kirk Cousins had a mixed debut for the Vikings. He threw some terrific passes and had some timely scrambles to move the chains. However, he missed some throws and had a pick-six that was dropped by a safety in the second half. Cousins wasn't very effective following intermission at all, so I wonder if that will carry over into this game. It's never easy to tell with Cousins, as he was maddeningly inconsistent when he was with the Redskins.
Cousins was able to thrive at times against the 49ers because San Francisco's defense was horrible without Reuben Foster. The Packers are better on this side of the ball, thanks to upgrades they made in the offseason, signing cornerback Tramon Williams and using two early picks on other corners. Green Bay's secondary isn't good enough to put the clamps on Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, or anything, but it can at least limit the two talented receivers a bit.
The biggest edge any team has on this side of the ball is in the trenches. The Packers have an outstanding defensive line comprised of Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark and Muhammad Wilkerson. The trio went up against a stout Chicago offensive front last week, but the Vikings can't block nearly as well. I imagine that the running lanes won't quite be there for Dalvin Cook, while Cousins figures to constantly be under siege.
RECAP: I'm definitely going to be on Green Bay if we're getting a healthy Rodgers. The Packers are the better team overall with Rodgers, and yet they're not even -3 at home, which is just absurd.
Conversely, I'm definitely going to be on the Vikings if Rodgers is out. Kizer sucks, and he won't stand a chance against Minnesota's stalwart defense.
I'll have a definitive pick once Rodgers' status is announced. I imagine I may have multiple units on this game as well. Check back, or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: It's still unclear if Aaron Rodgers will play or not. Check back later for updates!
SATURDAY NOTES: Aaron Rodgers finally practiced Saturday and is listed as questionable. No line is available yet. I've taken the Packers in the Supercontest because they're listed at +7.
ALMOST FINAL THOUGHTS: Aaron Rodgers is active, but he's apparently not out of the woods yet. There's a chance he could sit. I think there's a good chance he'll start, but it's enough of an unknown for me to lay off this game. I'd take the Packers if I had to though. I might change my mind within the next half hour, and if so, I'll let you know.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps are on the Packers. The public's taking the Vikings. Everyone's making a big deal about Rodgers going up against Minnesota's great defense, but Chicago's stop unit is just as good, and we saw what Rodgers just did to the Bears. That said, I can't bet this heavily because Rodgers is such a question mark. I'm going to put two units on the Packers. The best number I see is actually the moneyline +105 at Bookmaker.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Packers.
The Vikings are getting an obscene amount of action.
Percentage of money on Minnesota: 76% (4,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Packers.
History: Packers have won 11 of the last 14 meetings Aaron Rodgers has played fully.
Mike Zimmer is 45-20 ATS as head coach of the Vikings.
Packers are 37-26 ATS at home since 2010.
Packers are 45-26 ATS in divisional games since 2006.
Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1) Line: Chargers by 8. Total: 41.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Chargers -6.
Walt's Calculated Line: Chargers -6.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Chargers.
Contest Announcement time!
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!
We're also partnered with theScoreX. It's a free contest with a $5,000 prize!
BUFFALO OFFENSE: Head coach Sean McDermott has yet to announce his starting quarterback for this game. I don't blame him for taking so long because it's a very difficult decision. On one hand, there's Nathan Peterman, who absolutely sucks. He's not a functional NFL signal-caller, and no team in the league should start him under normal circumstances. On the other hand, Josh Allen needs experience, but getting him murdered behind the worst offensive line could give him David Carr Syndrome where he begins seeing ghosts in the pocket. A nice solution would be A.J. McCarron, but he's no longer on the roster.
If there's a silver lining for the Bills, it's that Joey Bosa will be out with a mysterious foot injury. Thus, Buffalo's anemic front will only have to worry about blocking one Pro Bowl edge rusher instead of two. Defensive tackle Corey Liuget will also be out of the lineup because of a suspension. That said, I still don't trust the Bills to block the Chargers. Meanwhile, even on the rare occasions in which Peterman/Allen gets time, the Bills' pedestrian receivers won't be able to get open against the stellar Charger cornerbacks.
The one area in which Buffalo has an edge on this side of the ball is LeSean McCoy versus the mediocre Charger linebackers. Getting McCoy in space will work much better this week, as the Chargers don't have anyone like C.J. Mosley patrolling the middle of the field.
SAN ANGELES OFFENSE: Everyone is talking about how bad the Bills' offense is, yet no one has pointed out the fact that the Ravens scored 40 points in less than three quarters of action in Week 1. The Bills had an outstanding defense last year, but their stop unit is clearly not the same now. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei looks predictably horrible, while the Bills lack a No. 2 cornerback after losing a starter at the position in the offseason.
If Joe Flacco could rip right through the Bills, imagine what Philip Rivers will do. Rivers is the superior quarterback and has the better No. 1 receiver. Rivers' other wideouts dropped passes in the season opener, but if they hold on to the football, the Chargers could also reach the 40s prior to the end of the third quarter. Of course, if the Chargers stopped committing all of their mistakes, they would win most games, but they don't.
One thing the Bills appear to do well on this side of the ball is stop the run, as they limited Alex Collins in the opener. Melvin Gordon is the superior back, but could also have difficulty finding running room. However, Gordon will still be a major factor, as the Chargers are doing a good job of involving him in the passing game. The Bills didn't battle a receiving back of Gordon's caliber in Week 1, and I don't think their linebacking corps will be able to slow him down very well.
RECAP: This is frustrating, but I once again can't give you a concise pick yet. I think I'll be betting the Chargers despite the public action on this game if Peterman starts again. Peterman is an abomination, and he may have PTSD after what the Chargers did to him last year.
If it's Allen, I'll be on the Bills. Yes, the Bills! Buffalo can't block, but the Chargers typically show up flat in these sorts of games. Remember how they lost to the Browns in 2016? This seems like a similar situation. The Chargers might have one eye on their cross-town battle versus the Rams in Week 3, so I could see them looking past the Bills, who will be playing for pride after getting dumpster fired on Sunday.
I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing once McDermott makes his decision. For now, I'll assume it's Allen. Check back, or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm making a unit change here, and I'm going to make Buffalo a two-unit wager. I don't believe the Chargers will be focused in their early start, as they have to battle the Rams next week. Meanwhile, the Bills will be playing for pride after being embarrassed in Baltimore. Josh Allen has been named the starter, and even though he's a raw rookie, I trust him much more than Nathan J. Peterman. If you're worried about Allen going up against a tough defense, I would argue that the premise isn't correct. Without Joey Bosa and Corey Liuget, the Chargers' stop unit isn't nearly as potent as people think it is.
SATURDAY NOTES: I like my unit change of the Bills, as the Chargers aren't as good as people think they are. Buffalo will perform better with Allen.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Bills are +8 -110 at BetUS. I still like them for two units, as this spread is out of control.
The Psychology. Edge: Bills.
The Chargers are big favorites, and they have to battle the Rams next week.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
This is more of a fade of the Bills than a bet on the Chargers.
Percentage of money on San Angeles: 83% (17,000 bets)
Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-1) Line: Texans by 2.5. Total: 41.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Titans -1.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Texans -2.5 (Mariota) or Texans -9.5 (Gabbert).
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Texans.
I wouldn't say my weekly random NFL notes cluttered these picks pages, so I'll keep them here. What I'm also going to do is store all of them in a Random NFL Notes section so that you can go back and read previous entries in the future.
Some random NFL notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. If the NFL is truly seeking to improve its TV ratings, the season opener was not a good start. It was an extremely sloppy game that featured an hour-long weather delay, countless penalties and ugly offense. There's nothing can be done about the weather - unless you ask my dad, who grumbled, "They can't play in thunderstorms!? Why? I used to play in thunderstorms!" - but the penalties can be dealt with. The NFL officiating just keeps getting worse every year, somehow. It's amazing how it just continues to regress. It's like Roger Goodell is drugging his refs by making them blind. Why would he do this? I don't know, but Goodell has done worse things during his tenure as NFL commissioner.
I don't know how to fix officiating, aside from perhaps using drones and robots to officiate games. The only problem with that is worrying about Russian hackers re-programming these droids. What if Vladimir Putin makes picks like Buccaneers +9.5? Wait a second... is that the reason Tampa won? Did Putin have Tampa moneyline as well!?
As for the sloppiness of the offense, I love how it was incorrectly attributed to teams being rusty. Umm... correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Patriots and Chiefs combine for 69 points in the 2017 opener? Why weren't they sloppy? I love how talking heads on TV forget somewhat recent history while trying to fit their narrative.
2. Speaking of the Eagles-Falcons game, I thought that was a prime example of overreaction from the public. The Browns-Eagles affair was the most-watched preseason game ever, and everyone saw Philadelphia lose to Cleveland, 5-0. This prompted everyone to bet against the Eagles. By kickoff, 70 percent of the action in Vegas was on Atlanta, while most media members were projecting the Falcons to win outright despite the Eagles being favored. In fact, one analyst on a local station projected Atlanta to win by the score of 30-14!
I love going against public/media overreaction like that. There was no reason to doubt the Eagles as a result of their 5-0 defeat because only four offensive starters played in that game. How was that result going to be indicative at all of how Philadelphia would perform in the season opener? I think there's one game each week where the spread is distorted by incorrect public perception. The challenge is not being hypnotized by ESPN enough to recognize what it is.
3. Is anyone else frustrated with how quarterbacks are being treated? I get needing to protect them, but this "can't put your body weight on them when hitting them" rule is absurd. Some of the hits didn't even involve all of the body weight, yet they were still flagged. The Steelers-Browns game was nearly decided by this because Pittsburgh was gifted a free touchdown when Myles Garrett apparently put all of his body weight on Ben Roethlisberger on a third-down incompletion, except it really looked like it was 75 percent of his body weight.
Make Football Violent again. Please. Roger Goodell and greedy a**hole lawyers, please stop destroying the sport we love. Because if you keep going this route, you might as well have the players wear bras and tin-foil hats and use balloons instead of balls. That sounds like a great idea, and yes, I'm being sarcastic.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: There's no line posted on this game because Marcus Mariota's status is unknown. Mariota has an elbow injury that is still being evaluated. Ian Rapoport, who looked very exhausted for some reason, reported Monday that Mariota just hit his funny bone in Sunday's game, but I've never heard of a funny bone being evaluated for three days. Mariota said he couldn't feel his fingers, which definitely sounds a lot worse than just hitting a funny bone.
If Mariota can't go, it'll be Blaine Gabbert, whom I had lots of fun betting against last year. I hope Gabbert gives us more opportunities for great fades this year, as he absolutely sucks. Gabbert might also be missing his tackles, as Taylor Lewan suffered a concussion Sunday, while Jack Conklin missed the opener. It goes without saying that the Titans won't have any success offensively without their two starting tackles, given that a pair of backups won't be able to block Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. J.J. Watt, meanwhile, won't be stopped in the interior.
Mariota will obviously have more success than Gabbert, but the disparity between the two depends on his health, as well as the availability of his tackles. Also, Delanie Walker is out for the year, so Mariota won't have his favorite safety valve.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: The Titans have injury woes on this side of the ball as well. Their edge rushers are hurt, which is why they couldn't put much pressure on Ryan Tannehill in the opener. That's definitely music to Deshaun Watson's ears, given the blocking issues the Texans have.
Watson struggled last week, but that can be attributed to Bill Belichick simply outsmarting him. Mike Vrabel may have played under Belichick, but given that he wasn't a very good defensive coordinator, I don't trust him to come up with a great game plan like Belichick did. Also, it'll help Watson's cause that he'll likely have Will Fuller back in the lineup. The primary reason the Patriots were able to suffocate DeAndre Hopkins with constant double teams was because they didn't have to worry about Fuller.
The Titans still happen to be strong versus the run, so I don't expect Lamar Miller to do much on the ground. However, that doesn't mean that Watson will be limited as a scrambler. If linebacker Rashaan Evans is out again, Tennessee could have issues containing Watson when he uses his legs.
RECAP: I must sound like a broken record, but I can't post a precise pick yet. There's no spread posted here, so how could I?
I imagine, however, that I'll be heavily invested in the Texans if Mariota's out. Gabbert is an easy fade, as he's 7-12 against the spread since 2013. I'll also be betting the Texans if Mariota plays because he may not be fully healthy, and the line almost certainly won't reflect that. We'll see. Check back, or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Marcus Mariota is practicing, so he'll play. That's the good news, but there happens to be a ton of bad news for the Titans. First, Mariota wasn't seen as having the same zip on his passes in practice. Second, his favorite target, Delanie Walker, is out for the year. And third, he could be missing at least one tackle versus a front comprised of Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt. Ouch. The Texans will be a big play for more - at least three units - but the exact unit count will be determined when the final injury report is released Friday evening.
LOCKED IN: Reports say that Marcus Mariota isn't throwing during the open portion of practice Friday. It's been Blaine Gabbert the entire time. Also, Taylor Lewan is nowhere to be seen either. It could be possible that Mariota is just resting his arm, but he's clearly not 100 percent. If he plays, this line will stay the same, and so be it. But if he's out, this spread will soar. I'm going to lock this in now, just in case. I'm going with five units, as Mariota's health isn't the only problem. Lewan's absence means that the Houston edge rushers will have an easy time getting to an injured Mariota or an incompetent Gabbert.
SATURDAY NOTES: I don't know why the books haven't taken this game off the board. If Gabbert is playing, this line should be Texans -7 at the very least.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The books may have made a big mistake by keeping this game on the board because this line is up to -3.5. Marcus Mariota is active, but may not throw because he's having trouble gripping the ball. Jadeveon Clowney being out is a bummer, but the Titans will be starting their third-string right tackle.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Titans.
The public is on the Texans.
Percentage of money on Houston: 80% (11,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Texans.
History: Texans have won 9 of the last 12 meetings.
1. I was glad that Alabama covered versus Arkansas State, as it was one of the three-unit selections I had on my College Football Picks page. However, while watching the game, I wondered why it was even taking place.
This matchup was embarrassing. Arkansas State had no business being on the same field as Alabama. It was just sad, and it made me question why Arkansas State, and schools of its caliber, are even in Division 1-A, or whatever they call that nowadays. If the best team from that conference - Arkansas State is favored to win the Sun Belt - couldn't even come close to competing with the Tide, then why are the two being matched up together?
If there aren't enough games to determine which teams are the best, so we can seed them into the playoffs, then Division I-A teams shouldn't be able to schedule cream puffs like Arkansas State. The NCAA really should relegate nonsense conferences like the Sun Belt to Division I-AA.
2. Emmitt hasn't been a TV analyst in nearly 10 years - I really miss him - but we may have found his replacement in CBS' Gary Danielson, who said this gem during the Georgia-South Carolina game:
"He collisioned him."
Really? "Collisioned?" Is that worse than "debacled?" I kind of think it is. Emmitt was in his first year as a TV analyst, while Danielson has been working for CBS for decades. Besides, "debacled" is so much cooler than "collisioned."
3. I forgot to mention this last week, but I had quite the laugh when seeing pictures of defeated Miami fans during the team's blowout loss...
That, however, is nothing compared to how Miami players looked, even when wearing their precious Turnover Chain:
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: Ben Roethlisberger was responsible for five turnovers in the season opener, throwing three interceptions and losing two fumbles. Two of the picks weren't on him, but I'm wondering if some of the other turnovers were a byproduct of him being slightly banged up. Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday that Roethlisberger has a minor elbow injury that could limit him this week. There's no way Roethlisberger will miss this game, but he may not be 100 percent.
Roethlisberger, at full strength, would be able to abuse the Chiefs if Eric Berry is out again. Berry's heel could keep him out again, and if so, Kansas City's sorry secondary won't be able to limit Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith-Schuster. Roethlisberger will see some pressure from Justin Houston, just as he did with Myles Garrett in the opener, but he should be able to shred the Chiefs on paper regardless. Of course, that all changes if he's banged up.
Meanwhile, the Steelers didn't seem to miss Le'Veon Bell at all. James Conner did a terrific job as a replacement against the Browns, and he should once again perform well, as the Chiefs seem like they're going to be mediocre versus the run.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: The Chiefs aren't the only team in this matchup that will be missing a talented member of the secondary. Pittsburgh's top cornerback Joe Haden could be out with a hamstring. If you don't think that's a big deal, consider that Tyrod Taylor finally had success throwing downfield at the end of the game last week because Haden was out, as Taylor attacked his replacement.
If Taylor was able to thrive on downfield shots with Haden missing, what's Patrick Mahomes going to accomplish? Mahomes had a stellar 2018 debut, torching a strong Charger secondary mercilessly despite the fact that he was just starting his second NFL game. The Steelers don't stand a chance of stopping the explosive Tyreek Hill without Haden, so they'll need to pressure Mahomes as much as possible. T.J. Watt is coming off a huge outing with four sacks, but was battling the worst left tackle in the NFL. Eric Fisher isn't very good, but he's much better than Desmond Harrison.
Meanwhile, the Steeler linebacking corps is still very suspect without Ryan Shazier. Jon Bostic played well in Week 1, but I don't know if that'll continue in non-sloppy conditions. If Bostic regresses to the mean, Mahomes will connect with Travis Kelce early and often. Kareem Hunt, meanwhile, also figures to have a big game as both a rusher and a receiver out of the backfield.
RECAP: The Steelers will be desperate to avoid an 0-1-1 start. Given that fact, I was hoping to see Pittsburgh open as a one-point favorite, or something of that nature. That would provide us good value, as the Westgate advance spread was Steelers -6. I figured there'd be an overreaction to Pittsburgh tying and the Chiefs looking impressive in a win versus the Chargers.
Unfortunately, that's far from the case. The line has barely moved. This seems like the oddsmakers are baiting the public to pound the Chiefs, and that's exactly what they're doing, as more than 80 percent of the action is on the underdog.
The sportsbooks tend to be correct more often than not, but I think they're wrong in this instance. Going into the season, I considered the Steelers overrated and the Chiefs underrated. Kansas City is better than Pittsburgh, and I could see the Chiefs winning this outright, especially if Roethlisberger's elbow injury is worse than Tomlin indicated. That said, I also recognize that the Steelers will be hungrier for a victory after being embarrassed in Cleveland, while the Chiefs have a tough traveling schedule, going all the way to the East Coast for an early game after winning on the West Coast.
I'm taking the Chiefs for a non-wager, but I'll leave you with this fact: If you want to bet the Steelers because they're coming off a tie, you may want to re-think that strategy. Teams coming off ties in the past 30 years are just 6-14 against the spread.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: The public was pounding the Chiefs with no push-back from the sharps on the Steelers - until this line hit -4. The pros backed Pittsburgh at -4. I still like the Chiefs a bit, but it doesn't sound like Eric Berry will play, so I'm not going to bet this game.
SATURDAY NOTES: Ben Roethlisberger got in a full practice Friday, so he'll play. Will he be 100 percent, however? That's a serious concern for the Steelers. Another worry is that David DeCastro could be out. DeCastro is one of the top guards in the NFL, and the Steelers won't block nearly as well without him. Oh, and that's not it. Joe Haden is doubtful, while the other starting corner, Artie Burns, is questionable. What a nightmare for the Steelers, who aren't as good as people think they are to begin with. The Chiefs could easily win this outright, so I'm going to place a couple of units on them.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Steelers won't have DeCastro or Haden, which might be the reason why the sharps have been betting the Chiefs. I like them as well for a couple of units. I'd rather have +4 -105 (5Dimes, Bookmaker) than +4.5.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Steelers.
The Chiefs are a public dog.
Percentage of money on Kansas City: 65% (25,000 bets)
Miami Dolphins (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0) Line: Jets by 3. Total: 42.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Jets -1.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Jets -3.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Jets.
If you've followed this site for a while, you might remember that I like to respond to my spam mails. It all started seven 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, Ramsay Bolton and Walter White. I have brand new Spam Mails this year, so check them out if you want to see me screw with spammers. I'll have new ones every week!
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Sam Darnold's first career pass was a disaster, as the Lions scored on a pick-six. Things looked grim, but Darnold thrived after that. He fired just four incompletions the rest of the night. Granted, he was nearly picked in the end zone later, but Darnold, for the most part, tore up Detroit's defense.
I like Darnold, and I think he'll be a good quarterback at the very least, but it's worth noting that he was battling what could be the worst defense in the NFL. The Dolphins aren't great on this side of the ball, or anything, but they have some quality talents. Their edge rushers are prolific and will give the Jets tackles some trouble, so Darnold will feel the heat. Miami's safeties are also terrific, so it might be difficult to hit Robby Anderson for another deep touchdown.
That said, the Dolphins certainly have their problems on defense. Their linebacking corps, while improved, is still pretty suspect, so Darnold should have success utilizing Bilal Powell as a weapon out of the backfield.
MIAMI OFFENSE: Speaking of linebackers, former first-round pick Darron Lee has been considered a bust heading into this season, but if he keeps performing like he did in the opener against the Lions, he'll deserve to be voted into the Pro Bowl. Lee had an amazing game against Matthew Stafford, highlighted by a brilliant interception he made when he read Stafford's eyes perfectly in the second half.
Lee could take the Jets' defense to another level, but let's see how they perform against a quarterback who actually cares. Stafford looked lethargic and uninterested in the season opener, doing his best impression of Jay Cutler. It didn't seem like he understood what the Jets were doing. Ryan Tannehill isn't a very cerebral quarterback either, but he looks like he actually enjoys playing after his year-long absence, and he's coached up very well by Adam Gase.
Unfortunately for Tannehill, the Jets' defense has improved with Trumaine Johnson joining the secondary and also first-round safety Jamal Adams having more experience. It'll be difficult to hit Kenny Stills over the top again, while New York's defensive line, led by Leonard Williams, will continue to limit opposing ground attacks.
RECAP: It was funny to see the line movement on this game Tuesday morning. The Dolphins opened +3.5 at 10 a.m. Eastern, and within seconds, the line moved to +3 +100, then to +3 -105, then to +3 -110. By the top of the following hour, the line became +3 -120, which is where we stand now as of this writing.
The sharps jumped all over the Dolphins, and I agree with their assessment. The Jets are coming off a blowout victory Monday night, but they were battling a lethargic Lions squad that didn't seem to try very hard. Now, the Jets have to overcome hype and a short week to battle a divisional opponent, all while having to prepare for another game just four days after this one.
I like the Dolphins for three units. Everyone wrote Miami off, yet the team can continue trying hard to prove everyone wrong. I believe the Dolphins will be the hungrier, more-focused team, and it's worth noting that we're getting some value per the Westgate advance spread, which was just Jets -1.5.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm still holding out hope for +3 -110, but considering how heavily the sharps bet the Dolphins at that number, I'm afraid that we won't see it again. There's no harm in waiting though.
SATURDAY NOTES: I must sound like a broken record, but I'm going to continue waiting for the best number possible. It sucks that the sharps jumped on the Dolphins so quickly back on Tuesday.
FINAL THOUGHTS: My patience paid off! The Dolphins are +3 -105 across the board, so that's what I'll be betting for three units.
The Psychology. Edge: Dolphins.
The Jets play on Thursday night.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New York: 54% (13,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
History: Road Team has won 13 of the last non-London 20 meetings.
Underdog is 80-53 ATS in the Dolphins' last 133 games.
Dolphins are 22-11 ATS as a road underdog of less than 5 since 2008.
Jets are 11-18 ATS in September home games since 2000 (7-7 since in 2009).
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) Line: Eagles by 3. Total: 46.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Eagles -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Eagles -3.5.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Eagles.
Video of the Week: With FOX owning the rights to Thursday Night Football, we're going to get a ton of Joe Buck. This is unfortunate, as he's now the worst football broadcaster with Phil Simms gone. If you don't know why Buck sucks, here's a collection of his calls in wonderful monotone:
Doesn't "Mitchell ... Mitchell ... Mitchell" sound like "Bueller ... Bueller ... Bueller?" Is Buck auditioning to be the new teacher in the remake of the movie?
Edit: The NFL has blocked this video for some reason, so here's link.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: I didn't cover the Saints-Buccaneers game - Charlie wrote the recap - so it was the contest I was most eager to watch on NFL.com's Game Pass to see what happened. How in the world did Ryan Fitzpatrick transform into Joe Montana and mercilessly torched the Saints? Well, I watched the entire thing, and I still don't understand it. Fitzpatrick has been a sub-par starting quarterback throughout his entire career, yet was completely unstoppable versus the Saints, relentlessly torching their talented cornerbacks with ease.
Then, it hit me Monday night when I was thinking about this game: The question, "What happened to Fitzpatrick?" is basically the same one we were asking in the winter: "What happened to Nick Foles?" Foles transformed from a pedestrian quarterback to a precise machine who torched both the Vikings and Patriots in the playoffs. Fitzpatrick did just that versus New Orleans, so perhaps he'll continue to stay hot. We just saw Julio Jones blow by the Eagles' secondary, and Mike Evans is pretty close in talent level. The Buccaneers have better overall weapons than the Falcons, as DeSean Jackson, the emerging Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard are all capable of hitting big plays. I don't think Howard will do much because linebacker Nigel Bradham will be back from suspension, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Evans, Jackson and Godwin all caught deep passes.
It'll be up to Philadelphia's defensive front to put as much pressure on Fitzpatrick as possible. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and company can certainly make that happen, as the Buccaneers have some serious liabilities on the offensive line, particularly left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Caleb Benenoch. At the very least, the Eagles will clamp down on Peyton Barber.
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: Fitzpatrick has the magic Foles possessed in the playoffs, and Foles appears desperate to re-claim it. Whatever Foles had in the postseason is long gone, as he struggled mightily in the season opener. Zach Ertz didn't help him with three drops, but Foles' inaccuracy and checkdown happiness was troublesome.
Foles, however, still has a chance to do well in this game for two reasons. The first is that the Eagles have the best offensive line in the NFL. The Buccaneers have revamped their defensive front, but Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry won't be enough to get by Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. Gerald McCoy is a beast inside, but Philadelphia's interior blocking is prolific. Foles should have a mostly clean pocket, and the line will open holes for Jay Ajayi and the other running backs.
The second reason I expect Foles to improve this week is the Tampa secondary. Both of the Buccaneers' top cornerbacks, Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves, are nursing injuries. It's unclear if they'll play yet, but Nelson Agholor and the other receivers should be able to get open.
RECAP: The Eagles were very complacent this preseason, but I figured they'd try hard last Thursday night because everyone was suddenly doubting them as a result of their all-important 5-0 loss to the Browns in an exhibition match. Philadelphia won, and now the Eagles are big-time favorites in this game. Sure, the spread is only three points, but nearly 80 percent of the action is on them. No one is giving the Buccaneers a chance.
I think the Eagles are going to be very inconsistent this season from an effort perspective, at least until Carson Wentz returns from injury. This is a very dangerous game for them. The Buccaneers just went into New Orleans and won. They're not a pushover. Fitzpatrick is on fire, and he has some dangerous weapons. It's also going to be hot (90 degrees, apparently) and humid in Tampa, and the Eagles will be wearing their dark jerseys. They could easily wear down in the Florida sun as the afternoon progresses.
To me, this is Buccaneers or nothing. I still don't fully trust Fitzpatrick though, and the Eagles are the better team overall, but I think Tampa has a legitimate shot to pull the upset.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: It's going to be hot and humid in Tampa, which is bad news for the Eagles in this 1 p.m. start. If the Eagles are the least-bit complacent, they will lose.
SATURDAY NOTES: Darren Sproles won't play, but the more relevant news is that both of Tampa's starting cornerbacks will be out. That's an edge to the Eagles in this hard-to-handicap game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There's sharp action coming in on the Buccaneers, which is why the Eagles are now widely available at -3 -110. I think the sharps are right, but I'm not going to bet this game. I changed my over to under, but that's a non-wager as well.
The Psychology. Edge: Buccaneers.
Will the Eagles be complacent again?
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
No believers in Tampa yet?
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 75% (19,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Eagles.
Road Team is 83-51 ATS in Buccaneers games since 2009.
Buccaneers are 21-47 ATS at home in the previous 68 instances.
Buccaneers are 8-24 ATS as a home underdog since 2009.
Opening Line: Eagles -3.
Opening Total: 44.
Weather: Humid and partly cloudy, 89 degrees. Light wind.
Cleveland Browns (0-0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1) Line: Saints by 10. Total: 50.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Saints -8.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Saints -10.
Sunday, Sept 16, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Saints.
Two years ago, 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. He followed that up by stopping Vladimir Putin from hacking the NFL. In doing so, however, Tom Brady was stuck in an evil dimension, and his evil counterpart has come into our world. No one is aware that Tom Brady is now Evil Tom Brady, which is great for Evil Tom Brady because he can begin devastating the world...
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Let's begin with this side of the ball so we can discuss the Saints' defense, and how pitiful it was in the season opener. New Orleans left its talented cornerbacks, Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley, in single coverage all afternoon, and they were thoroughly abused by the Buccaneer wideouts all afternoon. It was a bloodbath. Both cornerbacks played well last year, particularly Lattimore, but they were horrible in Week 1.
I figure one of two things happened: Either the Saints didn't expect much out of the Buccaneers, and both Lattimore and Crawley were caught with their pants down, or both cornerbacks will regress after potentially slacking off this offseason. Because both cornerbacks struggled mightily, I'm inclined to believe it's the former, and if so, they'll perform much better in this contest. Besides, they only have to worry about a rusty Josh Gordon and a mediocre Rashard Higgins. Jarvis Landry is the Browns' top receiver, but he'll operate in the slot against Patrick Robinson, who actually played well against the Buccaneers.
The Saints' pass rush should be able to help as well. Marcus Davenport and Cameron Jordan should perform well versus Cleveland's struggling tackles. Tyrod Taylor will have to counter by either scrambling out of the pocket or finding Duke Johnson as a receiver out of the backfield to match up against the pedestrian New Orleans linebackers. Carlos Hyde should have some mild success running the ball as well.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: The Browns were able to prevail against the Steelers - tying a game counts as "prevailing" in Cleveland - because Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward forced numerous turnovers. Both were prolific, especially Garrett, who turned Ben Roethlisberger's afternoon into a nightmare. Garrett has an intriguing matchup against athletic left tackle Terron Armstead, but I think he'll win more often than not.
The problem, however, is that Drew Brees releases the ball quickly and is very adept at spreading the ball around. Ward should be able to handle Michael Thomas pretty well, but what about Alvin Kamara, Ted Ginn, Ben Watson and high-upside rookie Tre'Quan Smith? Brees will be able to connect with them as well. Kamara, in particular, should have a big game. The Browns had issues containing James Conner, and while Conner is a good running back, you can't compare him to the electrifying Kamara.
RECAP: The Saints screwed up everyone's Survivor Pool, and everyone is angry at them. Thus, less than 65 percent of the action is on them at home, and most of it is sharp money, so casual bettors have apparently given up on them.
I think that's a mistake. I could be wrong about this, but I think the Saints simply took the Buccaneers for granted because they didn't anticipate Fitzpatrick being able to beat them. I think there's a good chance they'll rally with a victory in this contest, especially given that they know they'll need to win this game to avoid an 0-2 start in a tough division.
Also, remember what I posted in the Steelers-Chiefs game: Teams coming off ties in the past 30 years are just 6-14 against the spread. That's no reason to bet the Saints, but it's at least something to have against the argument that the Browns are sure to perform well this week because they finally avoided losing.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Pick change! I discussed this on the podcast: Charlie Campbell, are senior NFL Draft analyst, pointed out that the Saints typically start poorly. How poorly, you ask? I wondered that as well, so I looked it up: Over the past five years, the Saints are 1-10 against the spread in Weeks 1-2, and their lone spread win was a three-point loss at +4. I don't know why, but Sean Payton's teams just aren't prepared to start the year, which would explain why they lost outright to the Buccaneers. I'm going to switch to the Browns +9, but I don't plan on betting this game.
SATURDAY NOTES: I still can't believe the Saints have such an abysmal track record early in the year. I'm fine with my switch to the Browns, who will have No. 2 cornerback E.J. Gaines available for the first time this year. Josh Gordon's absence could serve as a distraction, however.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Some +10s have popped up, as the sharps haven't touched the Browns. The public, predictably, is all over New Orleans.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
A good lean on the Saints.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 70% (19,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Teams coming off ties are 6-14 ATS since 1989.
Saints are 41-31 ATS as a home favorite since 2007.
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 2, 2018): 8-7-1 (-$80)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 2, 2018): 3-2-1 (+$130)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 2, 2018): 2-2 (-$250)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 2, 2018): 10-6 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 2, 2018): $0
2018 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-0, 100% (+$1,200)
2018 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-24-2, 52.9% (+$515) 2018 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 9-12-1, 42.9% (-$550) 2018 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 4-4, 50% (-$475) 2018 Season Over-Under: 17-15, 53.1% (-$225) 2018 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: $0
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) 2017 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-140-8, 49.5% (-$3,790)
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) 2017 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 32-40-3, 43.8% (-$2,395)
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) 2017 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 20-22-1, 47.6% (-$1,595)
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) 2017 Season Over-Under: 136-139-2, 49.5% (+$640)
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 2017 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$510
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) 2017 NFL Picks of the Month: 4-2, 66.7% (+$1,040)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,601-2,407-153, 51.9% (+$5,650) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 826-755-42 (52.2%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 353-318-19 (52.6%) Career Over-Under: 2,097-2,046-56 (50.4%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 41-24 (63.1%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.