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NFL Weekly Predictions
Week 1, 2007



Note: I'm looking forward to the regular season after a mildly successful preseason. If you're new to my picks, you'll notice that I have four sections for each game. They're all equally important, so don't assume I'm picking a team just because I favor them in one of my sections. Also, if you don't quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my Sports Betting FAQ.



New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-0)
Line: Colts by 6. Total: 53.5.

Walt's Projected Line (As of May 3): Colts -6.
Thursday, 8:30 ET - Buy Tickets

The Game. Edge: Colts.
Injuries: SAINTS: OUT: TE Mark Campbell. COLTS: OUT: CB Tim Jennings.

First of all, I'd like to say congratulations to all the addicts who survived the seven long months without any real football to watch. It's OK; you can finally lay off the crack and calm your nerves by enjoying some pigskin. Oh, and I completely understand if you're not going to tune into those ridiculous pre-game festivities. Who cares about Kelly Clarkson and whomever else is performing? If I want to see a concert, I'll watch VH1 or BET. Rumor has it Michael Vick offered to stage a dogfight prior to Clarkson's act, but Roger Goodell graciously declined. Hmm... wonder why?

The NFL has recently done a good job picking out the opening game of the season, although last year's matchup was hindered by Ben Roethlisberger's exploding appendix. I seriously doubt that either defense will have much luck stopping the opposing offense in this contest. Though it usually doesn't matter whom Peyton Manning is playing, I expect the Colts to score on nearly every possession; New Orleans' secondary is an abomination, meaning Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez will be open the entire evening. The Saints will have to counter with dime and quarter packages, which will create running lanes for Joseph Addai. I don't think New Orleans' front four can get to Manning without blitzing. That will be the reason the Colts punt two times at the very most.

The Saints will be able to score in the high 20s or 30s, but I don't know if it will be enough to keep up with Manning and company. Marques Colston and Devery Henderson may not play - they're both listed as questionable at the moment - which is a huge blow for a team playing against a defense with two brand new cornerbacks. If either wide out is missing in action, New Orleans will find it challenging to match Indianapolis score for score. If I'm right about that, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, who will be successful on the ground at first, won't have as many opportunities to carry the ball as the Saints play catch-up. Bush, of course, will be a factor regardless of what the score is.

After the public watched the Jaguars gash Indianapolis for about a billion rushing yards in the second meeting between the two squads last year, the Colts became known as having the worst defense in the league. Thus, people were shocked when they unceremoniously improved in the playoffs. Everyone seemed to forget Bob Sanders returned to the lineup. With Sanders' help, Indianapolis will force the Saints to punt a few times, which will be the difference in this contest.


The Psychology. Edge: None.
No psychological edge found.


The Vegas. Edge: Saints.
The Colts are a public team and may see more money go their way, even though they're 6-point favorites against a talented team.

  • Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 67% (44,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Saints.
  • Saints are 35-22 ATS (Against The Spread) on the road since 2000.
  • Saints are 23-15 ATS as a road underdog since 2000.
  • Drew Brees is 25-15 ATS as a dog.
  • Colts are 11-7 ATS vs. the NFC under Tony Dungy.
  • Opening Line: Colts -6.
  • Opening Total: 52.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister.
  • Sit Em: Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Colts 38, Saints 31
    Colts -6 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 53.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Colts 41, Saints 10.



    Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
    Line: Vikings by 3. Total: 35.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Vikings -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Falcons.
    Injuries: FALCONS: OUT: QB Michael Vick. QUESTIONABLE: DT Rod Coleman, S Chris Crocker. VIKINGS: QUESTIONABLE: WR Bobby Wade, DE Darrion Scott, LB E.J. Henderson, LB Vinny Ciurciu, S Tank Williams, S Mike Doss.

    My Joey Harrington Theorem, one last time for anyone who hasn't heard it yet: Every year, Harrington starts playing well under the radar. He then has an amazing game, usually on national television (the Thanksgiving game last season), and everyone looks at that performance and the rest of his seasonal numbers, and boasts how they knew Harrington was eventually going to come around. From then on, Harrington throws interceptions and incompletions like a madman. Never fails.

    Whenever you hear anyone talking about the Falcons, all that ever comes up in the conversation is how their season is doomed because Michael Vick is heading to prison. That could be true, but I don't expect Atlanta to just lie down and let teams like Minnesota walk all over them. The Falcons have a huge chip on their shoulder, and I expect them to prove that they're more than just a one-man show Sunday afternoon.

    Minnesota's defense was solid against the run last year, but it had two major weaknesses: its secondary and inability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. As I mentioned, Harrington usually starts off well, so look for him to continuously find Alge Crumpler and the rest of his receivers downfield amid a soft pass rush all afternoon. The Falcons won't have much luck running the ball with Jerious Norwood or Warrick Dunn, so they'll need to set up the ground attack with the pass. Bobby Petrino is a competent coach - or at least he was at Louisville - so I expect him to realize that, unlike a few other clipboard-holders in this league (cough, Herm Edwards and Brian Billick, sneeze).

    With all of this Vick talk, people forget how solid Atlanta's defense is. The team was ranked eighth against the run last season and didn't suffer any significant losses to the front this offseason, meaning Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor could find it difficult to get things moving via the ground attack. If that happens, Minnesota will be behind the eight ball, as Tarvaris Jackson isn't exactly the most renowned passer in the league. Jackson looked solid in the preseason, but that was against vanilla blitz schemes and coverages. Things will be a lot more difficult for him and his horrendous receiving corps on Sunday. Atlanta managed only 36 sacks last year, but I expect that total to increase with rookie defensive end Jamaal Anderson already penciled into the starting lineup.

    This is one of those games where the winning team says, "No one gave us any respect! No one thought we were going to win! We had to prove everyone wrong!" With nearly 80 percent of the public betting the Vikings, that's clearly the case with Atlanta. As you may expect, I'm going against the grain. The Falcons will win. I'm a believer.

    Thursday Note: After discussing this game with a few people, I've decided to make the Falcons a Double Money Pick.


    The Psychology. Edge: Falcons.
    The Falcons will be playing with chips on their shoulders. The media is completely nullifying their playoff chances because Michael Vick is gone. I think Atlanta wants to prove that it's more than just a one-man team.


    The Vegas. Edge: Falcons.
    No one is going to bet on the Falcons with Joey Harrington at quarterback.

  • Percentage of money on Minnesota: 72% (40,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
  • ESPN Kiss of Death: Teams that receive eight of nine votes from the ESPN Experts were 17-36 ATS in 2006.
  • Opening Line: Vikings -2.5.
  • Opening Total: 36.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Joey Harrington, Alge Crumpler, Falcons Defense.
  • Sit Em: Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood, Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor.


    Prediction: Falcons 24, Vikings 16
    Falcons +3 (5 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$550
    Over 35.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Vikings 24, Falcons 3



    Carolina Panthers (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0)
    Line: Rams by 1. Total: 43.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Pick.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Panthers.
    Injuries: PANTHERS: QUESTIONABLE: S Nate Salley. RAMS: OUT: CB Fakhir Brown. QUESTIONABLE: WR Drew Bennett, C Richie Incognito.

    I think I've had about 2,309 people ask me about Jake Delhomme's unceremonious regression. "How did this guy start sucking so bad?" people ponder. I think I know the answer. Delhomme is actually 82 years old. Think about it. He gets a lot worse every year, and when he talks, no one can actually comprehend what he's saying. Not one person. He and Lou Holtz should create their own People Don't Understand What I'm Saying Coalition. Shannon Sharpe and Chris Tucker are already cordially invited.

    Delhomme's stronghold as Carolina's starting quarterback is quickly coming to an end. If he doesn't validate his position in the next few weeks, David Carr will step in. Luckily, Delhomme has the luxury of going against St. Louis' porous defense. The Rams, who couldn't put pressure on opposing signal callers or stop the run last year, added defensive end James Hall through free agency and tackle Adam Carriker via the draft. Plus, they have outside linebacker Posa Tinoisamoa coming back from injury. Still. the Rams' stop unit looked as pathetic as ever this preseason, as they couldn't stop the Raiders from scoring consistently. DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster will enjoy success on the ground - they combined for 197 rushing yards in last week's meeting - setting up play-action opportunities for Jake Delhomme. Obviously, no one on the Rams can cover Steve Smith.

    In the aforementioned battle between these two squads in 2006, the Rams were uncharacteristically shut out, as Steven Jackson was limited to just 27 rushing yards. That's not going to happen this year. Mike Rucker is a year older, the safety corps is horrible and rookie Jon Beason can't even make it into the starting lineup. The Panthers had major problems tackling this preseason, which spells trouble against St. Louis' high-octane scoring unit. That is, of course, if Torry Holt actually plays. I think he's the key to this game; if Holt plays effectively, the Rams will win. If not, Carolina will be victorious.

    In all honesty, I don't know where to go with this game. So, I'm going to rely on the other sections of this pick. The public is betting the Rams, while the Panthers often thrive as a dog. With that in mind, I'll take the visitor.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    No psychological edge found.


    The Vegas. Edge: Panthers.
    After the public watched Jake Delhomme and the Panthers struggle in the preseason, it wouldn't surprise me if the Rams garnered a good amount of action.

  • Percentage of money on St. Louis: 85% (39,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
  • Panthers are 22-11 ATS as an underdog the previous 33 instances.
  • Jake Delhomme is 23-12 ATS on the road.
  • Jake Delhomme is 19-3 ATS as an underdog.
  • Opening Line: Panthers -1.
  • Opening Total: 42.5.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Steve Smith, Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson.
  • Sit Em: Torry Holt (questionable?), Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Panthers 24, Rams 20
    Panthers +1 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 43 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Panthers 27, Rams 13



    Denver Broncos (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
    Line: Broncos by 3. Total: 37.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Broncos -3.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Broncos.
    Injuries: BRONCOS: OUT: WR Rod Smith, DE Kenny Peterson. BILLS: OUT: DE Anthony Hargrove, DE Ryan Denney, LB Keith Ellison, S Ko Simpson.

    J.P. Losman is the most erratic human being of all time. One minute he throws potential pick-sixes into the chest of opposing defensive backs. The next, he heaves 80-yard bombs to Lee Evans. They should make a movie about someone as inconsistent as Losman in real life. Thing is, I don't know if people would dig a protagonist who's a child molester in one scene and a Mother Teresa facsimile the next.

    If you're wondering which Losman will show up to this game, I have a feeling it's going to be the Dr. Jekyll persona. Denver's pass rush is so pathetic that the team had to sign Simeon Rice, who managed just two sacks in eight games last year. At age 33, Rice is clearly over the hill, so I think the Broncos could be lured into a false sense of security as far as their ability to get to the quarterback is concerned. The Bills can consistently score on Denver if they place Lee Evans on the left side - Champ Bailey always handles the right side - allowing the underrated receiver to take advantage of the inept Dre' Bly, who really struggled in the preseason. The Broncos were ranked 14th against the run in 2006, so Marshawn Lynch could have some success on the ground if Losman and Evans get going.

    Think Travis Henry wants to have a big game? The Bills dumped Henry in favor of Willis McGahee a few years ago, so look for the running back to seek redemption against his former team. Denver will zone block Buffalo to death; the Bills are one of the worst run-stopping squads in the NFL. Jay Cutler will capitalize on Henry's production by attacking Buffalo via play-action. Nate Clements will be missed.

    There's no doubt that Denver is the superior team in this matchup. With that in mind, let me ask you something: Why are the Broncos a 3-point favorite? If 91 percent of the public is pounding them, why hasn't the line moved? I have a feeling there are going to be plenty of happy bookies, sportsbooks and casinos once this contest is complete. In the wake of the Tim Donaghy situation, my larceny-conspiracy theories are somewhat believable.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    The Broncos have the Raiders next, so I don't think they'll be looking past Buffalo. Too bad for the Bills, who will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after being called out by ESPN.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
    Thanks to ESPN, the public sees the Bills as a very weak team. I expect at least 80 percent of the money to be on Denver.

  • Percentage of money on Denver: 85% (55,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Bills.
  • ESPN Kiss of Death: Teams that receive eight of nine votes from the ESPN Experts were 17-36 ATS in 2006.
  • Bills are 4-9 ATS in season openers the previous 13 years.
  • Opening Line: Broncos -3.5.
  • Opening Total: 37.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 72 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Lee Evans, Travis Henry, Javon Walker.
  • Sit Em: Bills, Broncos Other Receivers.


    Prediction: Bills 17, Broncos 16
    Bills +3 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Correct; +$300
    Under 37 (.5 Units) -- Correct; +$50
    Broncos 15, Bills 14



    Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
    Line: Texans by 3. Total: 37.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Texans -1.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: CHIEFS: OUT: DE Jared Allen. TEXANS: OUT: FB Jameel Cook, OT Charles Spencer.

    Herm Edwards is known for four things: His outstanding motivational tactics, the Miracle at the Meadowlands, his "Play to Win the Game" tirade and perhaps the worst gameplan of all time against the Colts last postseason. It was absolutely horrible - on every single possession of the first half, Kansas City ran middle, ran outside and threw short on third down. Watch the tape if you don't believe me. Indianapolis stacked the line of scrimmage, so all the Chiefs needed to do was play-action on first down. It never happened. The fact that Edwards didn't replace the ineffective Trent Green with Damon Huard was also pretty foolish. That got me thinking about something, but the lead for this insignificant game is getting too long, so I'll save it for another week.

    I think the Chiefs are going to be one of the worst teams in the league this season. After losing two Pro Bowl offensive linemen, I have to believe that they will have trouble pass protecting and run blocking. Larry Johnson's back on the roster, but is he in shape? After carrying the ball 416 times and missing out on dozens of practices, I have to believe that he's a ticking time bomb in terms of going down with an injury. Huard, meanwhile, caught lightning in a bottle last year, and I don't think he will be able to repeat his success, especially considering the garbage-caliber receivers he'll be forced to throw to. That said, Kansas City will be able to put up about 20 points in this contest because Houston's defense is trash.

    I know David Carr spent most of his time in Houston getting drilled into the ground and nursing injuries and bruises. I don't think he was at fault for Houston's inability to achieve a non-losing season in the franchise's 5-year existence. Still, there seems to be a huge difference between Carr and Matt Schaub. Schaub has more pocket awareness; he always looks calm and cool, and seems to do a better job against the opposing pass rush. Schaub should be able to lead the Texans to a 1-0 start. Andre Johnson and rookie Jacoby Jones will expose Kansas City's old corners, spreading the field and opening running lanes for Ahman Green. The Chiefs can't tackle, so look for Green to eclipse the century mark.

    Look at the difference between the Broncos-Bills and Chiefs-Texans matchups. In the former, the line is static despite the fact that the public is pounding the favorite. In the latter, the spread has moved three points even though the action is about 55-45. That should tell you whom the books want you to bet on.


    The Psychology. Edge: Texans.
    This has the potential to be a Look-Ahead Alert for the Chiefs, who travel to Chicago next week. If they don't take the Texans seriously, they'll be 0-1 heading into the Windy City.


    The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
    I thought the public would bet the heck out of the Chiefs until they showed how much they suck this preseason.

  • Percentage of money on Houston: 65% (47,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Texans.
  • Crappy Quarterback: Damon Huard is 1-2 ATS on the road since 2003.
  • Chiefs are 9-14 ATS on the road since 2004.
  • Opening Line: Pick.
  • Opening Total: 38.5.
  • Weather: Retractable Roof.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Matt Schaub, Ahman Green, Andre Johnson, Larry Johnson, Eddie Kennison.
  • Sit Em: Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Texans 27, Chiefs 23
    Texans -3 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 37.5 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Texans 20, Chiefs 3



    Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
    Line: Redskins by 3. Total: 34.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Redskins -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Redskins.
    Injuries: DOLPHINS: QUESTIONABLE: CB Andre' Goodman.

    I want a refund for that 2-unit Dolphins pick in Week 4 of the preseason. Had I known Cam Cameron was going to watch porn instead of coach on the sidelines, I wouldn't have bet on Miami. In event of an emergency... some excuse that is. Dan Lebatard said it best, "Don Schula coached all those years. I don't think he needed any sort of emergency." Seriously, who is Cameron to pull this stunt?

    Along with the Chiefs, I think the Dolphins are going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. I don't trust Trent Green; he looked completely lost after his concussion last year. At age 37, I think he's nothing more than a journeyman at this point in his career. Meanwhile, I can't see Ronnie Brown having a successful campaign; the former Auburn star was never a feature back in his football career prior to his injury-ridden 2006 season. Miami's offensive line just isn't good enough to get him more than 3.6 or 3.7 yards per carry. Washington's defense was horrible last year, but the line is finally healthy, Rocky McIntosh looks like a star and rookie safety LaRon Landry is already making an impact. I don't think Miami will have much luck scoring Sunday afternoon; Brown won't find any running lanes, which will force Green to throw on long-yardage situations. I expect Washington's secondary to come away with a few picks.

    The Dolphins' defense exceled in many categories last season, including stopping the run (4th in the NFL), sacking the quarterback (47 sacks) and defending the pass. Fortunately for Redskins fans, Miami's stop unit may take a step back this year; Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Vonnie Holliday, Keith Traylor and Joey Porter are all past the age of regression. Clinton Portis won't have a huge game, but he'll be somewhat effective on the ground. Santana Moss, meanwhile, should be able to expose the Dolphins' weak cornerbacking corps.

    I think this line is perfect; I could see Washington winning 13-10. This is one of those overrated-underrated situations I described in the Bet-Fade section of my site, so I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't take the Skins.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    No psychological edge found.


    The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
    I had a feeling more people will be inclined to back Trent Green as a dog than Jason Campbell as a favorite. Guess I was wrong.

  • Percentage of money on Washington: 74% (31,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
  • Dolphins are 29-14 SU in September since 1994.
  • Redskins are 2-8 ATS in September home games since 2001.
  • Opening Line: Redskins -3.
  • Opening Total: 36.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 82 degrees. Light wind, 9 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Santana Moss, Redskins Defense.
  • Sit Em: Trent Green, Ronnie Brown.


    Prediction: Redskins 16, Dolphins 10
    Redskins -3 (1 Unit) -- Push; -$10
    Under 34.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Redskins 16, Dolphins 13



    New England Patriots (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
    Line: Patriots by 6. Total: 40.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Patriots -5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: TBA.
    Injuries: PATRIOTS: OUT: WR Troy Brown, DE Richard Seymour, S Rodney Harrison. JETS: QUESTIONABLE: RB Thomas Jones*, G Brandon Moore, CB Andre Dyson, S Eric Smith, KR Justin Miller.

    I know I have some new readers this year, so I'd like to bring back a feature I created toward the end of last season. If you're a fan of 24 (Season 5), you'll appreciate this picture.

    Eric Mangini managed to beat the Patriots last year, but when it mattered most, Tom Brady and company came through, winning 37-16 in the playoffs. Brady exposed New York's secondary, completing 22-of-34 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets were so bad, Jabar Gaffney managed eight rceptions for 104 yards. I know New York drafted Darrelle Revis to counter New England, but it's not like the Patriots haven't improve themselves either. Even if Randy Moss doesn't play, Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker are much better than Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. The Jets won't be able to focus on the pass either, given that they allowed Laurence Maroney and Corey Dillon to total 122 rushing yards on 28 carries in their most recent meeting. Maroney will pummel New York's defensive front on his own. He should be able to reach 125 yards.

    Chad Pennington was 23-of-40 for 300 yards in that matchup, but it should be noted that Rodney Harrison was out. The Patriots acquired Adalius Thomas to further improve their defense. Pennington was horrendous this preseason - he threw two pick-sixes against the Vikings and struggled to complete passes the following week - so I can't be confident that he'll have success versus New England's revamped stop unit. Thomas Jones will help, and may enjoy some success against a front missing Richard Seymour, who is on the PUP list.

    I want to take the Jets. This is a very emotional game for them. This obviously means a lot more to them than it does to New England. But I just can't go against Brady, who makes it a habit to thrash New York at every opportunity (see trends below). If you like the Jets, take the first-half line; I just can't see them hanging with New England for 60 minutes.


    The Psychology. Edge: Jets.
    This is obviously a Revenge Situation for the Jets, who were knocked out of the playoffs by New England last season.


    The Vegas. Edge: Jets.
    New England or nothing for the public. The Patriots are the favorite to win the Super Bowl for a reason. The Jets are not a sexy team in the eye of the average fan, especially considering how much Chad Pennington struggled this preseason.

  • Percentage of money on New England: 73% (72,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
  • History: Patriots have won 8 of the last 9 meetings.
  • Patriots are 20-9 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
  • Tom Brady is 82-25 as a starter (66-39 ATS).
  • Jets are 11-21-3 ATS as an underdog the previous 35 instances (4-4 in 2006).
  • Jets are 3-8 ATS in September home games since 2000.
  • Chad Pennington is 3-6 ATS as a home dog.
  • Opening Line: Patriots -6.5.
  • Opening Total: 41.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 77 degrees. Light wind, 8 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, Wes Welker, Patriots Defense.
  • Sit Em: Chad Pennington, Jets Defense.


    Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 20
    Patriots -6 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 40.5 (.5 Units) -- Correct; +$50
    Patriots 38, Jets 14



    Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-0)
    Line: Eagles by 3. Total: 42.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Eagles -3.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Eagles.
    Injuries: EAGLES: QUESTIONABLE: DE Jevon Kearse. PACKERS: QUESTIONABLE: RB Brandon Jackson*, RB Vernand Morency*, WR Donald Driver*, S Aaron Rouse.

    A word on how much of a scumbag Andy Reid's son, Brittany is. Despite the fat jokes I make about Reid, he's definitely one of the top coaches in the NFL. He works hard, puts in tons of hours studying film and players, and travels a lot. For his effort, he has made at least $30 million in his career. Brittany, as well as his other siblings, will never have to work a day in their lives. Instead of respecting his dad, Brittany decides to get arrested every other week and has the nerve to wave to the camera and say, "Hi mom! Hi dad!" Way to go, you spoiled brat. I hope your cell mate enjoys your first name while you're rotting in prison.

    I took the Jets over the Eagles as my August Pick of the Month because I didn't think Reid would be focused for that contest. That definitely won't happen this week unless Brittany decides to get arrested again or marry K-Fed, or something. With Marty Mornhinweg calling the plays, Philadelphia will run the ball often with Brian Westbrook and Tony Hunt. They'll be successful in doing so, as the Packers were just 14th against ground attacks last year. Green Bay's secondary is either old or unproven, and will not be able to contain the plethora of weapons McNabb has at his disposal. Westbrook alone is often too much for teams to handle.

    It seems as though the Packers have no choice but to go with Brandon Jackson at running back. Jackson is yet another unproven commodity on Green Bay's roster - he wasn't too impressive this preseason - so the Eagles' weak front seven could have a chance at shutting down the run. However, Philadelphia's pass rush pretty much doesn't exist at this point, as Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard are both close to being put out to pasture. Outside linebacker Chris Gocong could be one of the worst starters in the entire league. If Brett Favre has all day to throw, he'll dissect Philadelphia's secondary with ease. The Eagles need to somehow force Favre into a few errant throws, allowing Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown to come away with a few picks. Donald Driver is banged up and James Jones is making his first start, so there's always a chance one of the young receivers makes a mental error instead.

    This line scares me. The public is pounding it at Eagles -3, yet it's not moving. This is a similar situation to the Denver-Buffalo spread. That said, I can't really go against Philadelphia, given that it habitually thrashes the Packers every season. The Vegas money is the only thing keeping me from making this a 4-Unit play.


    The Psychology. Edge: Eagles.
    I mentioned earlier that the Bills have a chip on their shoulder. No one player has more of a chip on his shoulder than Donovan McNabb, who's looking to prove everyone wrong, including his own head coach who chose a quarterback with his first pick in April's draft.


    The Vegas. Edge: Packers.
    The Eagles are a public team. The bettors will be behind them.

  • Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 92% (61,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Eagles.
  • History: Eagles are 5-0 against the Packers since 2003.
  • Eagles are 41-23 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
  • Donovan McNabb is 24-15 ATS on the road since 2001.
  • Packers are 4-9 ATS in September home games since 2000.
  • Brett Favre is 2-6 ATS as a home underdog since 2001.
  • Opening Line: Eagles -3.
  • Opening Total: 43.5.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 69 degrees. Light wind, 10 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Brett Favre.
  • Sit Em: Donald Driver (questionable?), Packers Defense.


    Prediction: Eagles 27, Packers 20
    Eagles -3 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Over 42.5 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Packers 16, Eagles 13





    Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
    Line: Steelers by 4.5. Total: 36.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Steelers -4.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Steelers.
    Injuries: BROWNS: OUT: OT Ryan Tucker, C LeCharles Bentley, LB Willie McGinest. QUESTIONABLE: OT Kevin Shaffer, G Eric Steinbach, DE Orpheus Roye, LB Andra Davis, CB Leigh Bodden, CB Gary Baxter, P Dave Zastudil.

    I'd like to reiterate how dumb the Browns are for not starting Brady Quinn. They're just wasting their time with Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson because neither is their future. Quinn has played well in the preseason, but he needs more experience against starting defenses. And it's not like Frye can take the Browns to the playoffs; they have no shot this season. However, if Quinn gets experience, Cleveland could make a move in 2008. I just don't get it... are the Browns afraid Quinn's going to charge fans (and people in the front office) five grand per autograph if he wins his first game, or something?

    The Browns won't have much success aerially, regardless of who starts at quarterback. Frye is essentially a sacrificial lamb at this point; he'll be throwing in obvious-passing situations because Pittsburgh's defense will put the clamps on Jamal Lewis, who won't find any running room behind Cleveland's weak front. Once that happens, Dick LeBeau will unleash his chaotic blitzing schemes on Frye, which will undoubtedly coax him into fumbling or throwing a few picks.

    I know new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians plans on throwing more often, but maybe he should stick to the ground attack this week; Cleveland was woefully ranked 28th against the run in 2006. Then again, the Browns had trouble generating sacks (28) as well. Pittsburgh can essentially name the score in this contest. Heck, Ben Roethlisberger can show up drunk and the Steelers would still win.

    Am I concerned that more than 90 percent of the public is betting Pittsburgh? Of course I am. But this is something that I like to call a "Domination Small Line." The Steelers always clobber the Browns (they've won 13 of 14), and the line is small enough where you can take Pittsburgh without worrying too much about a backdoor cover. The only way Cleveland hangs the number is if Tim Donaghy is officiating this game.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    No psychological edge found.


    The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
    No one's going to bet Charlie Frye over Pittsburgh's defense. The Steelers could receive more action than any other team in Week 1.

  • Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 97% (57,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Browns.
  • History: Steelers have won 13 of the last 14 meetings.
  • ESPN Kiss of Death: Teams that receive eight of nine votes from the ESPN Experts were 17-36 ATS in 2006.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is 34-11 as a starter (28-17 ATS).
  • Opening Line: Steelers -4.5.
  • Opening Total: 37.5.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 77 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Steelers Offense and Defense.
  • Sit Em: Browns Offense and Defense.


    Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 7
    Steelers -4.5 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Correct; +$300
    Under 36.5 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Steelers 34, Browns 7



    Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
    Line: Jaguars by 7. Total: 38.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Jaguars -6.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Jaguars.
    Injuries: TITANS: OUT: WR David Givens, CB Pacman Jones. QUESTIONABLE: C Kevin Mawae. JAGUARS: QUESTIONABLE: C Brad Meester, DE Reggie Hayward, DT John Henderson, LB Clint Ingram.

    In the previous game preview, I opined that the Browns needed to go with Brady Quinn. Well, the Jaguars finally decided to start the right signal caller. David Garrard is much better than Byron Leftwich, who is immobile, inaccurate, ineffective, injury-prone and slow. Besides, no NFL team has ever won a Super Bowl with a Fat Albert look-alike at quarterback. Fact.

    Prior to Del Rio's decision to start Garrard, I was completely set on taking the Titans with the points. Garrard gives the Jaguars a better chance to win - and more importantly, cover - this game. His mobility is another factor Tennessee will have to worry about; Garrard motored for 43 rushing yards on just six scrambles the last time these teams met. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor also found running lanes on the ground, pummeling Tennessee's defensive front for 135 yards on just 27 carries. The Titans have done absolutely nothing to improve their run defense. On the bright side, they probably don't have to worry about Jacksonville's horrific receiving corps.

    Despite all of those numbers I threw at you, the Titans won that contest, 24-17. Tennessee improved to 7-7 with that victory, which took place right in the middle of Vince Young's amazing winning streak last season. I would never bet against Young as an underdog; he is just so good at willing his team to victory without having any weapons to work with. Travis Henry is gone, but he wouldn't have found much success against Jacksonville's monstrous defensive front anyway. The weakness of the Jaguars' stop unit, as viewers saw in the third week of the preseason, is the middle of the defense. Donovin Darius is gone, so Brett Favre was able to repeatedly hit Donald Driver, James Jones and Bubba Franks over the middle in that contest. I think Young will be able to do the same with Bo Scaife when he's not scrambling for first downs, of course.

    If this line were three or four, I'd have a much tougher time picking the Titans. However, six points is just too many to pass up. Young is 10-3 against the spread for a reason. I'm not going against that until I have a reason to.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    No psychological edge found.


    The Vegas. Edge: None.
    This game won't get much play. Neither Tennessee nor Jacksonville is a public team. The line seems perfect.

  • Percentage of money on Jacksonville: 56% (53,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • History: Jaguars have won 3 of the last 4 meetings.
  • Vince Young is 8-5 as a starter (10-3 ATS).
  • Vince Young is 5-1 ATS as a road dog.
  • Jaguars are 13-3 ATS in September home games.
  • Jaguars are 9-0 ATS in their last nine season openers.
  • Opening Line: Jaguars -6.5.
  • Opening Total: 37.5.
  • Weather: Sunny, 96 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Vince Young, Bo Scaife, David Garrard, Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew.
  • Sit Em: LenDale "16 Cheeseburger" White, Jaguars Receivers.


    Prediction: Jaguars 24, Titans 20
    Titans +7 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 38 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Titans 13, Jaguars 10



    Chicago Bears (0-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-0)
    Line: Chargers by 6. Total: 42.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Chargers -5.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Chargers.
    Injuries: BEARS: QUESTIONABLE: TE Greg Olsen. CHARGERS: QUESTIONABLE: RB Michael Turner.

    I love it when pundits on Around the Horn and other shows argue that the preseason should be shortened. I think the NFL, a multi-billion-dollar industry, which has existed for many decades, knows what it's doing. Yet, some sports writers want to change everything. Not going to happen. If coaches and owners are worried about their players getting injured, maybe they should follow the Chargers' footsteps and sit their top players. Some athletes, on the other hand, admit that they need the reps. And if you're a fan who's angry about getting charged full price, don't go!

    I'm going to say it right now, so you don't have to wait until the end of this write-up. I love the Chargers in this game. I feel that Chicago's offensive line, which has been extremely solid the past few years, is too old to handle the speed of Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. If San Diego gets to Rex Grossman, he'll get rattled, and we all know what happens when he panics. I'm expecting at least five fumbles and/or interceptions from him. Cedric Benson won't put the Bears in too many third-and-short situations; thanks to nose tackle Jamal Williams, and ends Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky, the Chargers excel against the run.

    Chicago obviously has a stout defense; there's no denying that. However, containing LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson could be too much to ask for any stop unit. The Bears, who lost defensive tackles Ian Scott, Tank Johnson and Alfonso Boone this offseason, could have major problems putting the clamps on Tomlinson via the ground attack. This will open up play-action opportunities for Rivers all afternoon.

    The Chargers are the play. The public is betting them, but it's not as lop-sided as Pittsburgh-Cleveland or Philadelphia-Green Bay. Plus, the line actually moved up, so this doesn't seem like a situation where larceny could take place. I considered San Diego as my Survivor Pick, but I decided to go with another team instead.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    A marquee matchup, so both teams will bring 100-percent intensity and focus.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bears.
    Backing the Super Bowl Bears at 6-point dogs could seem profitable to some bettors. I think the line is telling us something.

  • Percentage of money on San Diego: 74% (64,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Chargers.
  • Super Bowl Loser Syndrome: Super Bowl losers are 3-10 ATS in their first game the following season.
  • Philip Rivers is 14-3 as a starter (9-8 ATS).
  • Opening Line: Chargers -5.5.
  • Opening Total: 43.
  • Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees. Light wind, 9 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Chargers Defense.
  • Sit Em: Rex Grossman, Cedric Benson.


    Prediction: Chargers 38, Bears 17
    Chargers -6 (5 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Correct; +$500
    Over 42.5 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Chargers 14, Bears 3



    Detroit Lions (0-0) at Oakland Raiders (0-0)
    Line: Raiders by 2.5. Total: 39.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Raiders -3.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Raiders.
    Injuries: LIONS: QUESTIONABLE: RB Kevin Jones, DT Shaun Rogers. RAIDERS: OUT: QB JaMarcus Russell, RB Dominic Rhodes, RB Michael Bush.

    One of the most disappointing things to occur this offseason was the firing of Art Shell. When the Raiders were getting thrashed by the Chargers on the first week of Monday Night Football last year, I was laughing so hard I nearly fell off my couch. The Lions were almost as pathetic. Here's a quick recap of the 2006 Raiders and the 2006 Lions.

    I actually think the Raiders could be a surprise team this season. I don't know if they'll make the playoffs, but eight wins could be possible. A lot of that hinges on how well Daunte Culpepper and the offensive line play. If the preseason is any indication, so far so good. Culpepper has looked like his 2004 version, while the front appears to be a billion times better than it was last year, thanks to Lane Kiffin. That spells bad news for the Lions, who managed just 30 sacks in 2006. They signed Dewayne White away from the Buccaneers, but I'm not sure how much of an upgrade he is over James Hall. LaMont Jordan, who also looks revitalized, should be able to run through Detroit's weak defensive front, setting up play-action opportunities for Culpepper, who will have Jerry Porter at his disposal. Remember, the Lions got rid of Dre' Bly this offseason and failed to replace him.

    I love it how people actually think Jon Kitna can throw for 5,000 yards this season. That's not going to happen. In fact, I don't think he even reaches 250 yards in this contest. Oakland has the toughest secondary in the league and will undoubtedly intercept the gun-slinger a few times. I say that because he'll be under intense pressure all afternoon; Derrick Burgess and Warren Sapp will easily blow by one of the worst pass-protection schemes in the NFL. The Raiders' defensive weakness is stopping opposing ground attacks. That won't be a problem in this contest because Mike Martz doesn't believe in running the ball.

    The Lions were 1-7 on the road last year. So, Calvin Johnson is supposed to help them win away from Ford Field right away? I doubt that. I'll take the upstart Raiders as a short favorite.


    The Psychology. Edge: Raiders.
    Too much pressure on Jon Kitna and the Lions to match their outrageous predictions.


    The Vegas. Edge: None.
    Everyone is in love with Detroit's offense, so I feel a lot of people will be backing the Lions.

  • Percentage of money on Detroit: 52% (33,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • Lions are 7-15 ATS vs. AFC opponents since 2001.
  • Lions were 2-6 ATS on the road in 2006.
  • Raiders are 6-16 ATS at home the previous 22 instances.
  • Opening Line: Raiders by 1.5.
  • Opening Total: 36.5.
  • Weather: Sunny, 72 degrees. Mild wind, 13 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: LaMont Jordan, Jerry Porter, Raiders Defense, Roy Williams.
  • Sit Em: Tatum Bell.


    Prediction: Raiders 20, Lions 10
    Raiders -2.5 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$330
    Under 40 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Lions 36, Raiders 21



    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
    Line: Seahawks by 5.5. Total: 41.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Seahawks -7.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: TBA.
    Injuries: BUCCANEERS: OUT: DE Patrick Chukwurah, CB Torrie Cox. QUESTIONABLE: WR Joey Galloway*, TE Jerramy Stevens.

    I had to go back to my NFL Primetime 2003 tape for this lead. Did you know that the Buccaneers are 4-24 in franchise history on the West coast? Special thanks to Chris Berman and Tom Jackson for that stat. I really hope ESPN finally comes to its senses and airs NFL Primetime with Boomer and T.J. instead of those other dopes. I know they can't show it before midnight on Sunday because of NBC's contract, but what they could do is film it on Sunday and air it on Monday. That would make sense. Unfortunately, it appears the network doesn't really care about its viewers.

    Tampa Bay is going to have trouble scoring consistently this season. That's not a bold thing to say, given that the team struggled to put up points in 2006, but it's the truth. Cadillac Williams is OK; the young offensive has its problems; Joey Galloway is old; Michael Clayton cares more about his hair than winning games; and Jeff Garcia, despite his fantastic finish last year, can still be a bit shaky at times. I don't think Cadillac will have much success running the ball in Seattle, given that the Seahawks will likely place eight men in the box, forcing Garcia, Galloway and Clayton to beat them. I trust Seattle's revamped secondary enough to know that's not going to happen.

    The Buccaneers need a few things to happen if they want to have a solid defense in 2007. Gaines Adams has to get to the quarterback. Either Jovan Haye or Ryan Sims must do a solid job at defensive tackle. And the two corners, Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly, need to play as well as they have the past few seasons, which is more difficult than it sounds, given their age (32 and 31). That's a lot of maybes. Shaun Alexander should be able to find running lanes, especially behind Walter Jones. Utilizing play-action on short-yardage situations, Matt Hasselbeck will have tons of time to throw. I'm not sure if any one Seahawk receiver is going to have a big game, but it could be a big day collectively.

    This is one of my top two choices for my Survivor Pick. I love going against Tampa Bay's horrific record on the Pacific Coast. After thinking this over in my head and even putting Dallas down as my selection Tuesday afternoon, I've decided to take the Seahawks. One poster in my forum, GatorFan, suggested that I should avoid taking divisional matchups. Considering that I lost last year picking Atlanta over Carolina (starting Chris Weinke), I'm going to take his advice.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    I doubt Seattle will look past Tampa Bay to Arizona next week. The Bucs will have the Seahawks' complete attention.


    The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
    I could see this being 50-50. The line may seem a bit high in Seattle's favor. The Buccaneers aren't exactly a public team right now either.

  • Percentage of money on Seattle: 92% (62,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Seahawks.
  • Buccaneers are 4-24 SU on the West coast.
  • Seahawks are 10-2 ATS in September home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Seahawks -6.
  • Opening Total: 41.
  • Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees. Light wind, 7 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander.
  • Sit Em: Jeff Garcia, Cadillac Williams, Michael Clayton.


    Prediction: Seahawks 24, Buccaneers 10
    Seahawks -5.5 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Correct; +$300
    Under 41 (.5 Units) -- Correct; +$50
    Survivor Pick
    Seahawks 20, Buccaneers 6



    New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
    Line: Cowboys by 6. Total: 44.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Cowboys -6.
    Sunday, 8:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: TBA.
    Injuries: GIANTS: QUESTIONABLE: OT Guy Whimper, CB Sam Madison. COWBOYS: OUT: WR Terry Glenn. QUESTIONABLE: LB Greg Ellis, CB Terence Newman.

    I've always thought that the only reason Eli Manning plays football is because he was forced into the family business. He's so expressionless, I don't know how Giants fans don't lose their mind every single week. Eli looks like he'd be more content stocking shelves at a local Wal-Mart. In the wake of his cat fight with Tiki Barber, I may have to change my opinion. When Barber called out Eli, making up a few words in the process, I expected the youngest Manning brother to run home and cry in his father's lap. Instead, Eli retaliated with shots of his own, mumbling in front of a dozen cameras. Good job, Eli. I'm not really sure what you said because you belong in the People Don't Understand What I'm Saying Coalition, but at least you didn't make your dad force Barber out of San Diego.

    The Giants are the third overrated team - Kansas City and Miami - that I expect to fail to meet expectations and finish in the league's cellar. Barber was such a huge part of New York's offense, I'm not sure how they're going to survive. Plus, you have general manager Jerry Reese stating that the left tackle position is overrated. What a mess. Let's see how overrated that position is when Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware are drilling Manning into the ground. Brandon Jacobs won't get going against the NFL's sixth-ranked run defense of a year ago. Manning will have to throw on obvious-passing situations amid mediocre protection. Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey are his only valuable weapons, so Dallas' secondary shouldn't have too much trouble in that department.

    During Tony Romo's alleged cold streak in December last season, the Cowboys' star quarterback was 20-of-34 for 257 yards and two interceptions at the Meadowlands. Despite the pair of picks, Dallas still won, 23-20. Terrell Owens was open all evening, finishing with eight receptions for 84 yards. Jason Witten chipped in with 73 yards. That's not shocking, given how atrocious the Giants' secondary is. New York hasn't done much to improve that unit - first-round rookie Aaron Ross has yet to crack the starting lineup - so look for Romo, Owens and Witten to once again put up solid numbers. Meanwhile, Marion Barber and Julius Jones combined for 100 yards on 23 carries, thanks to a defensive front incapable of stopping the run or getting to the quarterback (Romo was sacked only once.) As a whole, the Giants managed just 32 sacks in 2006. They haven't done anything to improve that statistic.

    This is my second of the top two choices for my Survivor Pick. I'm taking the Seahawks because this is a divisional matchup.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    Even though I think the Giants will take a step backward this season, the Cowboys will not look past a bitter rival.


    The Vegas. Edge: Giants.
    A very public team on national TV? Whom do you think will receive the attention in the sportsbooks?

  • Percentage of money on Dallas: 63% (63,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • History: Giants have won 9 of the last 14 meetings.
  • Opening Line: Cowboys -4.
  • Opening Total: 44.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 80 degrees. Light wind, 6 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, Cowboys Defense, Jeremy Shockey.
  • Sit Em: Brandon Jacobs, Reuben Droughns, Giants Defense.


    Prediction: Cowboys 24, Giants 14
    Cowboys -6 (5 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Correct; +$500
    Under 44 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Cowboys 45, Giants 35



    Baltimore Ravens (0-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
    Line: Bengals by 2.5. Total: 40.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): Bengals -3.
    Monday, 7:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Bengals.
    Injuries: RAVENS: OUT: LB Dan Cody. BENGALS: OUT: RB Chris Perry, WR Chris Henry, DE Frostee Ruckr, LB Odell Thurman, LB David Pollack, LB Rashad Jeanty. QUESTIONABLE: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh*, OT Willie Anderson, C Eric Ghhiaciuc, CB Jonathan Joseph, CB Leon Hall, K Shayne Graham*.

    I mentioned I was disappointed that Art Shell was fired this offseason. I'm equally distraught that Joe Theismann was let go by ESPN. Don't get me wrong; Theismann was an atrocious color commentator, but he was so easy to make fun of. Actually, let's do that right now. Let's pretend Theismann is in the booth along with Tony Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski...

    Theismann: I talked to Marvin Lewis, the ball boy on the Cincinnati Bengals, and he told me that he expects the Bengals defense to continue to improve and eventually become a great player like Lawrence Taylor or LaDainian Tomlinson. Kornheiser: How did you get here? Weren't you fired? And didn't you say this last year? How can a defense become a great player? Theismann: I talked to Marvin Lewis, the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, and he told me he expects the Bengals defense to continue to improve and eventually become a great player like the 1985 Chicago Bulls or the 2000 Baltimore Colts. Kornheiser: You didn't talk to anyone! Jaws, help me here. Jaworski: I studied 60 hours of game tape on Cincinnati's fifth-string quarterback, and I like his footwork and mechanics. He will be a great star in the NFL!

    It's widely known that the Ravens have a great defense, but something people may not be aware of is how much the stop unit struggles when facing an strong, two-dimensional opponent with an extremely stout passing and rushing attack. Let me explain. Indianapolis beats Baltimore every year because, as good as the Ravens are defensively, they cannot focus on both elements of the Colts' offense. Same thing goes for Cincinnati. Baltimore seldom beats the Bengals (see the stat below under Trends) and when it does, it's usually not the defense that happens to be responsible. Adalius Thomas is gone, so my theory has become even more prevalent this year. I don't see Rudi Johnson having a great game, but I think Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh all put up impressive statistics.

    It's always difficult to determine what happens when a mundane offense battles a defense that can't tackle. The Bengals have one of the worst stop units in the NFL, while the Ravens will undoubtedly have issues scoring on a weekly basis this year. Willis McGahee may have some difficulty finding running lanes behind an offensive front that could be missing Jonathan Ogden. Steve McNair, confronted with long-yardage situations, could be forced into a few turnovers by an opportunistic secondary (19 picks in 2006). Then again, this could be one of those nights where Bengals defenders run into each other or fall flat on their face when attempting to tackle someone in purple and gold.

    These teams are about equally matched, as indicated by the spread. I'm going with history and the home crowd.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    These two teams hate each other. No Look-Ahead Alerts.


    The Vegas. Edge: None.
    Two somewhat public teams going head-to-head. There will be tons of action on this game, but it will likely be split down the middle.

  • Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 50% (89,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
  • History: Bengals have won 4 of the last 5 meetings.
  • MNF Home Advantage: Monday Night Football home teams were 11-7 ATS in 2006.
  • Opening Line: Bengals -2.5.
  • Opening Total: 40.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 68 degrees. Light wind, 8 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Todd Heap.
  • Sit Em: Rudi Johnson, Steve McNair, Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Bengals 20, Ravens 16
    Bengals -2.5 (2 Units - Money Pick) -- Correct; +$200
    Under 40 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Bengals 27, Ravens 20



    Arizona Cardinals (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
    Line: 49ers by 3. Total: 45.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (As of Sept. 3): 49ers -6.
    Monday, 10:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: CARDINALS: OUT: DT Ross Kolodziej.

    Another thing that irked me this offseason was Dennis Green's firing. I just want another tirade... or five. And speaking of that tirade, here's an extremely funny YouTube video regarding Green's They Are Who We Thought They Were meltdown.

    Although the Cardinals were horrendous under Green, they managed to do one thing right: They were always successful against the 49ers. Even though San Francisco nearly won the NFC West last year, Arizona still swept them. I'm not sure why; just one of the many things that make the NFL so difficult to figure out for some people. Perhaps the 49ers' inability to get to the quarterback and stop the pass was the reason the high-octane Cardinals (it feels so weird to write that) scored a total of 60 points in the two meetings. I'm not really sure how many more sacks the 49ers will accumulate this season, but their secondary will be a lot better with the additions of Nate Clements and Michael Lewis. Although both defensive backs are Pro Bowl-caliber players, I don't think either can have much luck against Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. In the first half of a Week 3 preseason contest against the Chargers, Matt Leinart completed three passes of 40 or more yards. I'm expecting more fireworks on Monday night.

    While Arizona manged to score tons against San Francisco, the latter was able to do the same to the former. The Cardinals were ranked 19th against the run last year, meaning Frank Gore will undoubtedly eclipse the 100-yard plateau in this contest, setting up play-action opportunities for Alex Smith. Arizona had just 38 sacks in 2006 and didn't do anything to improve that statistic, so Smith should have a clean pocket all evening. The Cardinals improved their secondary with Rod Hood and Terrence Holt, while the 49ers bolstered the receiving corps with Darrell Jackson, so that's a wash.

    These teams are closer than what the media will lead you to believe. So, who wins? The 49ers have high expectations this year. The league even gave them a home game on Monday night against the "pathetic" Cardinals. I feel that San Francisco may choke under that kind of pressure. The team is not a veteran-laden group; Smith, Gore, Vernon Davis, Manny Lawson, Patrick Willis and even Nate Clements have never been to the playoffs.


    The Psychology. Edge: Cardinals.
    Everyone has the 49ers as their sleeper team. Meanwhile, no one's paying attention to the Cardinals, who also had a solid offseason. There could be too much pressure on San Francisco as a favorite and host on Monday night.


    The Vegas. Edge: Cardinals.
    There will be truckloads of Niner money at this juncture. The public's in love with them, based on what they did this offseason. I was expecting a 6- or a 7-point spread. The three seems like a huge trap.

  • Percentage of money on San Francisco: 59% (83,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
  • History: Cardinals have won the last 4 meetings.
  • MNF Home Advantage: Monday Night Football home teams were 11-7 ATS in 2006.
  • ESPN Kiss of Death: Teams that receive eight of nine votes from the ESPN Experts were 17-36 ATS in 2006.
  • Matt Leinart is 7-2 ATS as a starter.
  • Matt Leinart is 3-1 ATS as a road dog.
  • Opening Line: 49ers -3.
  • Opening Total: 45.
  • Weather: Clear, 64 degrees. Mild wind, 14 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Matt Leinart, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Frank Gore.
  • Sit Em: Edgerrin James, Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Cardinals 27, 49ers 24
    Cardinals +3 (1 Unit) -- Push; -$10
    Over 45.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    49ers 20, Cardinals 17


    Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks
    A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week
    (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.


  • Anti-Public Parlay: Bills +3 (+105), Browns +6 (-120), Panthers +2, Falcons +3, NY Jets +6.5 (-115), Tampa Bay +6 (-105) (.05 Units to win 2.45). -- Incorrect; -$5
  • Teaser: Chargers -0.5 & Cowboys PK - Both teams should win. (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
  • Live Dog: Bills +155 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100
  • Live Dog: Titans +260 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$260
  • Live Dog: Falcons +145 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marshawn Lynch +500 - Lynch will be the opening-day starter for the Bills and will have the luxury of running behind a huge offensive line. Running backs make the quickest transition into the NFL, and Lynch is the only rookie who's guaranteed a starting gig. (1 Unit)
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Field +700 - James Jones? Jacoby Jones? Who knows, Marques Colston came out of nowhere last year. (1 Unit)
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jamaal Anderson +1400 - Unlike Gaines Adams, Jamaal Anderson will be starting on Day 1. With teams concerned about John Abraham, Anderson seems like he could be poised for a double digit-sack campaign. (1 Unit)
  • Odds to Win Super Bowl: Patriots 5/2 - Not great odds, but they'll get the job done. (1 Unit)
  • Odds to Win Super Bowl: Steelers 22/1 - Getting a great deal here. (.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Chiefs Under 7.5 -155 - Larry Johnson will get hurt, the defense will suck and Herm Edwards will lose his mind. (1.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Dolphins Under 7 -125 - I've talked about the Dolphins plenty of times already. (1.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Steelers Over 9 -105 - The Steelers went 8-8 with a damaged Ben Roethlisberger. No way they win less than 10 this season. (1.5 Units)
  • Regular Season Wins: Giants Under 8 -165 - No way they get to 8-8 this year. (1.5 Units)
  • Player Prop: Larry Johnson Under 1,700 Total Rushing Yards - Since Eric Dickerson, no running back who has carried the ball 385 or more times has finished in the top 10 in rushing. Johnson had 416 carries, the most in the history of the NFL. (2 Units)
  • Player Prop: Wes Welker Over 675 Total Receiving Yards - Wes Welker has been Tom Brady's new go-to-guy in training camp and preseason. I'm expecting a big year from him. (2 Units)
  • More prop picks will be listed here.



    Second-Half Bets
    Check back at halftime to see if I have any plays posted.

  • Bills +3 +100 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
  • Lions +3 -130 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
  • Chargers/Bears Over 21 +120 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100
  • Lions/Raiders Over 19.5 +100 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
  • Bengals/Ravens Over 20 +100 (.5 Units) -- Correct; +$50
  • Cardinals/49ers Over 23.5 +100 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$100



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    Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 8, 2014): 4-11 (+$320)
    Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 8, 2014): 2-2 (+$80)
    Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 8, 2014): 0-1 (-$440)
    Last Week Over-Under (Week 8, 2014): 9-6 ($0)
    Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 8, 2014): $0

    2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 1-1, 50.0% (+$370)

    2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 63-68-6, 48.1% (-$615)
    2014 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 25-20, 55.6% (+$850)
    2014 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 3-7-1, 30.0% (-$1,770)
    2014 Season Over-Under: 68-51-1, 57.1% ($0)
    2014 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$690

    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)

    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)

    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)

    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)

    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

    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)

    Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,077-1,912-116, 52.1% (+$11,800)
    Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 669-603-31 (52.6%)
    Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 279-241-11 (53.7%)
    Career Over-Under: 1,609-1,588-47 (50.3%)
    Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-14-1 (61.1%)
    Career NFL Picks of the Month: 30-16 (65.2%)



    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.

    Cowboys: 3-5
    Bears: 3-5
    Bucs: 5-2
    49ers: 3-3
    Eagles: 4-3
    Lions: 2-5
    Falcons: 3-5
    Cardinals: 3-4
    Giants: 2-5
    Packers: 5-2
    Panthers: 2-6
    Rams: 3-4
    Redskins: 5-3
    Vikings: 6-2
    Saints: 3-3
    Seahawks: 3-4
    Bills: 3-5
    Bengals: 2-6
    Colts: 4-4
    Broncos: 4-3
    Dolphins: 5-1
    Browns: 3-2
    Jaguars: 3-5
    Chargers: 2-6
    Jets: 4-4
    Ravens: 2-5
    Texans: 5-3
    Chiefs: 4-2
    Patriots: 4-4
    Steelers: 3-5
    Titans: 4-3
    Raiders: 3-4
    Divisional: 13-18 (2011-13: 141-137)
    2x Game Edge: 7-9 (2011-13: 55-62)
    2x Psych Edge: 7-12 (2011-13: 92-80)
    2x Vegas Edge: 18-16 (2011-13: 129-142)
    2x Trend Edge: 13-8 (2011-13: 72-78)
    Double Edge: 4-5 (2011-13: 27-33)
    Triple Edge: 0-0 (2011-13: 2-1)
    Quad Edge: 0-0 (2011-13: 0-0)

    2003 Preseason: 3 | 4 | 5
    2003 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 20 | XXXVIII
    2004 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2004 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XXXIX
    2005 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2005 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XL
    2006 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2006 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLI
    2007 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    2007 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLII |
    2008 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
    2008 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLIII |
    2009 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLIV |
    2010 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
    2010 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLV |
    2011 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
    2011 Season: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | XLVI |
    2012 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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    Super Bowl XLVIII NFL Pick 2014 Preseason: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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