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NFL Weekly Predictions
Week 13, 2007



There are some weekends where everything seems to go your way. There are others, where all the breaks fall to the other teams. I experienced the latter on Sunday, going 6-10, my worst handicapping day in any sport this year. This is the biggest cliche ever, but the only thing I can is just go back to the drawing board. I've also issued a Public Service Announcement that I want you to check out at the bottom of the page, right above my records. If you don't quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my Sports Betting FAQ.



Green Bay Packers (10-1) at Dallas Cowboys (10-1)
Line: Cowboys by 7. Total: 51.5.

Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Cowboys -4.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Cowboys -4.5.
Thursday, 8:15 ET - Buy Tickets

The Game. Edge: None.
Injuries: PACKERS: OUT: RB DeShawn Wynn, S Nick Collins. COWBOYS: OUT: WR Terry Glenn, NT Jason Ferguson.

Let's take a look at how the books fared this past weekend. First of all, Thanksgiving was a bloodbath for Vegas, as all three highly backed favorites (Green Bay, Dallas and Indianapolis) all covered. USC also hit the number. I was shocked by this. Why didn't the books make a higher line on the Packers and Colts? The former being favored by three over the Lions made no sense to me. The bloodbath ensued in the early Sunday games. Jacksonville, Cleveland, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Seattle all covering killed Vegas. The casinos won with Minnesota, Cincinnati and Oakland, but going 3-5 won't make anyone cash. The afternoon games were about even, but the books cleaned up with the Eagles and Dolphins, recouping most of the money they lost. This was a losing weekend for Vegas, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been had the Patriots covered.

When I found out I didn't have the NFL Network, I called Comcast and started complaining that I needed it for work. I didn't yell; I simply stated that I was frustrated that I had to pay for a channel I once had for free. So, they offered me the NFL Network and a slew of sports channels for $1.99 per month. I told them the price was fair, but I still thought it was wrong for people to have to pay for it, and that some of my co-workers were switching to DirecTV. The woman on the phone dropped my monthly bill by $20, and gave me HBO for free. You may want to try this if you don't have the NFL Network.

It's a shame that nine out of 10 football fans won't be able to watch this game. The winner obviously takes control of the NFC and all but secures home-field advantage until the Super Bowl. As the total indicates, there's going to be tons of scoring in this contest, despite the fact that both Green Bay and Dallas have solid defenses. The Cowboys and Packers average a combined 59 points per game, and it's not hard to see why. Tony Romo has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and has the luxury of tossing it up to Terrell Owens and Jason Witten. Although Green Bay has two solid cornerbacks, it is ranked just 18th against the pass. I don't trust its young safeties to be able to cover some of the best targets the conference has to offer, while having to worry about Marion Barber and Julius Jones running out of the backfield. The Packers need to get pressure on Romo, which is a tall task because Dallas has yielded only 16 sacks this year.

If the Cowboys have a weakness, it's their secondary, which is 21st versus the pass. The corners have been banged up this year, while Roy Williams is abysmal in coverage. That doesn't bode well for obvious reasons. Brett Favre, who is having perhaps the best season of his illustrious career, will air it out all evening for his improving receiving corps. Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Donald Lee will prove to be too much for Dallas to handle. It really helps the Packers that they are actually running the ball well right now. Dallas won't be able to completely focus on the aerial attack because of Ryan Grant.

I have no idea why this line is seven. I thought it would be closer to four, given that these teams seem evenly matched. So, is the high number a trap? I don't think so, based on the fact that the public is still on the Cowboys. Thus, there is great value with the Packers, who are 9-1-1 against the spread. They've been beating the number all year because the oddsmaker has continuously underrated them. I think this is another case where the books and the public just aren't aware of how good the Packers are.

Random Note: I received an e-mail from Pete who said that we can watch NFL Network and ESPN college games for free on: http://www.channelsurfing.net/.


The Psychology. Edge: None.
This game decides home-field advantage in the NFC. Both teams will be pumped.


The Vegas. Edge: None.
This line is sort of high, and seems to want to induce action on the Packers.
  • Percentage of money on Green Bay: 56% (120,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Packers.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss (Mike McCarthy 1-0).
  • Tony Romo is 13-7 ATS as a starter.
  • Opening Line: Cowboys -6.5.
  • Opening Total: 51.5.
  • Weather: Clear, 50 degrees. Light wind.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Brett Favre, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Donald Lee, Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Jason Witten.
  • Sit Em: Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Packers 27, Cowboys 24
    Packers +7 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 51.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Cowboys 37, Packers 27.



    Buffalo Bills (5-6) at Washington Redskins (5-6)
    Line: Redskins by 6. Total: 37.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Redskins -4.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Redskins -5.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Redskins.
    Injuries: BILLS: OUT: WR Peerless Price, TE Kevin Everett, DE Ryan Denney, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Jason Webster. REDSKINS: OUT: OT Jon Jansen.

    Now that we've taken care of the Thursday game and how Vegas did last weekend, let's get to the most sobering news out the NFL since Marquis Hill's accident. Sean Taylor was killed one day after being shot in his own home by a burglar, who thought he was cool by a wielding a gun. Taylor sustained major blood loss and died at the hospital. He was only 24. Let's hope that the perpetrator gets what's coming to him, and receives either a life sentence or the death penalty for ending a father's life at least 50 years too soon. I know some people will disagree with me, and that's fair because everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but I feel as though this is yet another argument for guns to be taken off the streets. The right to bear arms was written in because of the militias in the 1700s - not for lunatics to have easy access to guns.

    When Taylor's status was unknown, I would have said that this eerily reminds me of the Bills-Steelers matchup in Week 2. No one knew of Kevin Everett's condition, and there were reports that the Buffalo tight end could die. The players were obviously distracted by everything and had no energy. They were consequently squashed by the Steelers, 26-3. However, things are different in the wake of Taylor's death. We've seen time and again that teams play their hearts out for a fallen comrade, coach or beloved owner. New York's obliteration of Washington a few years ago following owner Wellington Mara's death is one instance. Northwestern and Indiana both covered after their respective coaches passed on. The Miami Hurricanes played the game of their lives after a teammate died last season. There are dozens more instances like this.

    I sort of liked the Bills prior to the Taylor death for two reasons. First, they aren't as bad as people think they are. They were down only eight with the ball on Jacksonville's 25, when Losman threw a pick and set up two BS Jaguars touchdowns. They played well last week, which wasn't indicative of the score. And second, the Redskins suck as a favorite because their offense is unreliable. Sure, Campbell's improving, but I don't trust Al Saunders, one of the worst coordinators in the NFL.

    That said, Buffalo is standing in front of a freight train. There's no such thing as a lock, but taking the Redskins is as close as you're going to get. They're going to play their hearts out in Taylor's memory. I think the Bills may understand what Washington is going through, and may not play as intensely as their opponent. If you want another reason to take the Redskins, the line movement is matching the money.


    The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
    Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives, but the Redskins will also be playing for Sean Taylor.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
    The Bills have been blown out two weeks in a row, so you could see action on Washington.
  • Percentage of money on Washington: 87% (75,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Bills.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss (Dick Jauron 4-7).
  • Bills are 13-7 ATS as a dog under Dick Jauron.
  • Redskins are 1-4 ATS as a favorite in 2007.
  • Opening Line: Redskins -5.
  • Opening Total: 37.5.
  • Weather: Showers, 47 degrees. Light wind.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Jason Campbell, Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Redskins Defense.
  • Sit Em: Bills Offense and Defense.


    Prediction: Redskins 27, Bills 0
    Redskins -6 (8 Units - December Pick of the Month) -- Incorrect; -$880
    Under 37 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Bills 17, Redskins 16.



    Atlanta Falcons (3-8) at St. Louis Rams (2-9)
    Line: Rams by 3. Total: 40.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Rams -6.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Rams -6.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Unknown (Bulger).
    Injuries: FALCONS: OUT: QB Michael Vick. RAMS: OUT: QB Marc Bulger*, OT Orlando Pace, DE Leonard Little, CB Tye Hill.

    Ah... The NFL Network. I forgot what Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth sounded like together. Shall we?

    Bryant Gumbel: Hello, my name is Bryant Gumbel, and I'm glad you could tune in to this fine football match between the Atlanta Hawks and the St. Louis Cardinals. Cris Collinsworth: Behold, for thou art about to witness my ultimate football knowledge! I know more than every single viewer combined! I shall show everyone how much I know. Gumbel: It appears as though the strategy these teams will utilize is scoring more than their opponent. That includes getting the football into the scoring zone, and kicking it through the yellow T. Keith Olbermann: Watching this game is like experiencing Francis beat Brookline in the U.S. Open! Ha! Ha! Ha! Bob Costas: I have no idea what Keith just said, but it was really funny! Ha! Ha! Ha! Collinsworth: Ha! Ha! Ha! Hey, how did you guys get here? Gumbel: I actually get that joke, and it's not funny at all. It's not funny, damn you! OK, these teams are about to kick off to each other now. Once that play is over, the thrower on one team will attempt to toss the ball to a catcher. What an exciting football match!

    A sportsbook has finally become brave enough to post a line for this game. The Rams are favored by 3.5. It's unclear if Marc Bulger will play, but the fact remains that he hasn't practiced yet, as of Wednesday. If it's announced that he's going to start, the spread may shoot up to five or six. If Gus Frerrote's the guy, the line may either remain stagnant, or drop to 2.5 or three.

    I'm going to employ a strategy I utilized a few weeks ago when the Broncos played the Chiefs, and the Jaguars battled the Titans. Jay Cutler and David Garrard were questionable for each respective contest. I stated that their teams had a better shot of winning (and more importantly, covering) with the backup quarterbacks in. My reason was the team would play harder with the reserve, and might take things for granted with the starter. I also suggested that the defenses would do the opposite. Plus, a backup signal caller means a more manageable line.

    For now, I'll take the -3.5 line to indicate that the books don't expect Bulger to play. If that's the case, the Rams could be the right side. If things change, and Bulger is cleared to go for Sunday, I'll modify this selection.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    Both teams are out of it. No psychological edge found.


    The Vegas. Edge: Falcons.
    If Marc Bulger plays, the public will be on the host. If not, expect a low-bet 50-50 game.
  • Percentage of money on St. Louis: 92% (54,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
  • Two Homes (Loss): Scott Linehan is 0-2 ATS at home following a home loss.
  • Opening Line: Rams -3.5.
  • Opening Total: 42.
  • Weather: Dome.


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


    Prediction: Rams 27, Falcons 17
    Rams -3 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 40 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Rams 28, Falcons 16.



    Detroit Lions (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (5-6)
    Line: Vikings by 4. Total: 45.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Lions -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Vikings -2.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Lions.
    Injuries: LIONS: OUT: S Daniel Bullocks.

    A funny sight on Thanksgiving, unless you're a Lions fan, was when Mike Martz consoled Jon Kitna on a third-quarter drive in which he was sacked and hurried like 500 times. Martz put his hand on Kitna's shoulder and said something to him. What could it have been? I have my money on: "Hey, Jon. Thanks for playing for me. I try to let everyone know that I'm an offensive genius, but in reality, I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know when to run the ball or how to devise pass-protection schemes. Oh, and by the way, if your liver or kidney somehow pops out when you get hit, can I sell it on the black market? I'll take your concussion-related silence as a yes! Thanks, Jon!"

    The Lions are an easy team to figure out. They can beat opponents with soft defenses, especially if they're playing at home. But what about the Vikings? How do you from defeating the Chargers one week, to getting blown out, 34-0, at Green Bay, to slaughtering the Giants on the road. Makes no sense. One thing is clear though - they have become the Lions of the 90s. Like that Detroit team, Minnesota has nothing at quarterback or receiver, and relies heavily upon its star running back. Adrian Peterson, who has missed the past two weeks with a minor knee injury, still somehow leads in the NFL in rushing yards. Peterson's return doesn't bode well for the Lions, who are 21st against the run.

    Detroit has dropped three straight and appears to be headed downhill. However, the teams they've lost to - the Cardinals (on the road), Giants and Packers - are all pretty decent. I don't think the Vikings belong in that echelon, despite clobbering the Giants themselves last week. They're still ranked dead last against the pass. Jon Kitna will have his squad more focused than New York was, as his predicted 10-win playoff season is on the line.

    I don't think the Vikings are offensively consistent enough to be favored by more than a field goal over a decent team. Though many may argue - check the Vegas section for this one - that the Lions aren't decent, I already pointed out the tough competition they lost to. I think they rebound and notch their seventh victory.

    Friday Morning Note: I've changed my mind about this game in the wake of the line movement. There's just too much matching movement on Minnesota's side for me to ignore. I have to take the Vikings.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    Another game where both teams are desperate. The Lions are hanging on by a thread, while the Vikings are hot on their tail.


    The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
    The Lions are as cold as ice, and the public knows it. Everyone saw the Vikings destroy the Giants. Plus, Adrian Peterson will be back. Could be tons of cash on Minnesota.
  • Percentage of money on Minnesota: 71% (93,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Vikings.
  • History: Vikings have won 15 of the last 16 meetings.
  • Lions are 4-7 ATS on the road since 2006.
  • Opening Line: Vikings -3.
  • Opening Total: 44.5.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Jon Kitna, Roy Williams, Shaun McDonald, Adrian Peterson, Vikings Defense.
  • Sit Em: Kevin Jones.


    Prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 20
    Vikings -4 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 45.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Vikings 42, Lions 10.



    Houston Texans (5-6) at Tennessee Titans (6-5)
    Line: Titans by 3.5. Total: 41.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Titans -5.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Titans -5.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: TITANS: OUT: WR David Givens, CB Pacman Jones, S Chris Hope. QUESTIONABLE: DT Albert Haynesworth.

    I had an interesting discussion about the NBA over Thanksgiving dinner with my cousin, who was confused as to why I don't like professional basketball as much as I did when I was a kid. Imagine this. You're an employee at a company. You've worked hard, and the higher-ups have decided to give you $50 million over six years. You obviously can't take the money and quit, but you quickly realize that they still owe you all that money even if you get fired. So, after a few weeks of working hard, you start slacking off. It starts with coming in to work late. Then, you forget to do a few things. You stay out at lunch for two hours instead of one. Eventually, you miss work all together. You become fat and happy, and gain about 50 pounds over a few months. After about a year and a half, you start cursing off your co-workers and talking back to your bosses. So, they finally get so frustrated that they tell you to stay home and collect your paychecks. This is your typical NBA player. This is why I don't like the NBA anymore. They need to get rid of guaranteed contracts immediately.

    I had trouble figuring out whom I was going to side with in this equal-action contest until I realized something. With Albert Haynesworth in limbo, it's unlikely Tennessee will cover.

    If Haynesworth sits out again and collects another paycheck by just standing on the sidelines (sound familiar?), the Titans will have problems stopping the Texans. Houston didn't put up many points at Cleveland last week, but lost in the Browns' seventh victory was the fact that the Texans fumbled twice inside the opposing 25. Owen Daniels also dropped an easy pass on Cleveland's 5-yard line. Without Haynesworth clogging the middle, the Titans will have to bring an eighth man into the box, which spells trouble with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels fully capable of torching a banged-up secondary.

    If Haynesworth finally makes it back, there's a chance the Titans may not play as hard because of the relief of having their best defensive player on the field. And it's not like the Texans don't want this game more; the city of Houston despises Tennessee for moving away more than a decade ago. Plus, I find it difficult to lay more than a field goal with a squad that has no offensive weapons whatsoever. The Titans will move the chains because Houston is 24th versus the run, but without a potent aerial attack, Tennessee will be forced to punt more often than it should.

    I think the Titans will win this game, but I'm not taking them to cover the 3.5. This is a good spot for the Texans, given the Haynesworth situation. Gary Kubiak is also flawless in a visiting role immediately following a road loss. Plus, despite the defeat at the Browns, I still feel as though Houston is one of the most underrated teams in the NFL.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    I don't think the Titans will be looking ahead to the Chargers, given that they were just blown out by the Bengals.


    The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
    This spread seems low to me. The Titans could see a good amount of action.
  • Percentage of money on Tennessee: 60% (63,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Texans.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss (Gary Kubiak 4-0).
  • History: Titans have won 9 of the 11 meetings.
  • Vince Young is 13-9 as a starter (14-8 ATS).
  • Opening Line: Titans -3.5.
  • Opening Total: 43.
  • Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 67 degrees. Mild wind, 14 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, LenDale White.
  • Sit Em: Ahman Green.


    Prediction: Titans 17, Texans 16
    Texans +3.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 41.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Titans 28, Texans 20.



    New York Jets (2-9) at Miami Dolphins (0-11)
    Line: Dolphins by 1.5. Total: 37.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Jets -2.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Dolphins -1.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: .
    Injuries: JETS: OUT: WR Laveranues Coles, LB Jonathan Vilma. DOLPHINS: OUT: QB Trent Green, S Yeremiah Bell.

    OK, I talked about how it is being an NBA player. How about an NHL athlete? I actually like hockey, but the league's in a sad state of affairs. Imagine you're a worker who's asked to prepare reports. You slave over compiling these reports while getting into fist fights with your co-workers. Eventually, you finish, only to realize no one's going to read your reports. So, instead of sitting around the office and doing nothing, or skipping out to lunch early, you monotonously start on a brand new report that no one will ever read. I don't get why more people don't like hockey, but the fact remains that half the arenas are empty every night.

    This is a huge slap in the face for the Jets. How are they underdogs to an 0-11 team? They're two weeks removed from beating the Steelers (whom the Dolphins lost to, by the way), and three weeks removed from taking the Redskins to overtime. Plus, they already beat Miami. If we learned one thing from the Eagles-Patriots thriller, it's that players look at the spread. How angry are the Jets right now?

    I'm not really sure what happened to New York on Thanksgiving. It seems as though offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was too busy buying Thanksgiving groceries for his wife because his gameplan for the Cowboys was horrific. How do you run the ball 11 out of 14 first downs in the opening three quarters against a stout front seven? He put Kellen Clemens in second-and-long almost every single possession. The good news for the Jets is that if Schottenheimer continues to employ this tactic, they may score; the Dolphins are 22nd against the run. Miami's pass rush is also non-existent, so Clemens will have much more time to throw than he did at Dallas.

    I take back what I said about John Beck last week. He looks like the real deal. It's just a shame he has no talent around him, minus the inexperienced Ted Ginn, of course. The Jets have a horrendous defense, as getting to the quarterback, and defending the run and the pass are major problems for them, but what exactly do that have to worry about here? No player on the Dolphins, except for Ginn catching balls out of the backfield would really scare me if I were a defensive coordinator.

    As I wrote above, the Jets will be highly motivated by being underdogs to an 0-11 squad. Besides, they always beat the Dolphins. I don't think that changes.


    The Psychology. Edge: Jets.
    The Dolphins are still desperate for a win. They're playing hard. But how disrespected do the Jets feel right now? They're underdogs to an 0-11 team!


    The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
    Everyone watched the Jets get blown out at Dallas, and the Dolphins nearly knock off the Steelers on the road. There will be money on the Dolphins, even though they're favorites.
  • Percentage of money on New York: 58% (51,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss.
  • History: Jets have won 15 of the last 19 meetings.
  • Zero Trend: 0-9 (or worse) teams are 8-1 ATS since 2000.
  • Jets are 14-26-3 ATS as an underdog the previous 43 instances (7-9 under Eric Mangini).
  • Opening Line: Dolphins -1.
  • Opening Total: 38.5.
  • Weather: Sunny, 81 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Thomas Jones, Jerricho Cotchery.
  • Sit Em: Both Defenses.


    Prediction: Jets 20, Dolphins 17
    Jets +1.5 (4 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Correct; +$400
    Under 37.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Jets 40, Dolphins 13.



    Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3) at Indianapolis Colts (9-2)
    Line: Colts by 6.5. Total: 45.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Colts -7.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Colts -6.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Jaguars.
    Injuries: JAGUARS: OUT: DT Marcus Stroud, K Josh Scobee. COLTS: OUT: WR Marvin Harrison, DE Dwight Freeney, DT Anthony McFarland, OLB Rob Morris. DOUBTFUL: OT Tony Ugoh.

    So, how's it like being a baseball player? Well, you're at your desk, doing what you usually do. You're a hard-worker. You show up on time every day, and do everything asked of you. Suddenly, you overhear your bosses saying that they're going to have to fire you because everyone else in the office is accomplishing 50 times more than what you're getting done on a daily basis. So, you snoop around and realize that everyone in the building is taking illegal substances. You decide to try them out. At first, everything's great. Eventually, however, your heart starts racing, your "manhood" shrinks and you lash out at your wife. Just when you think things can't get worse, you're asked to urinate in a cup. Now, you're about to go to jail just because you wanted to keep your job. And that's not even the worst part - when the stereotypical 400-pound prison rapist sees you with a small "manhood," he may think you're a woman. If I go any further, I'll be banned from Google.

    I was completely wrong about the first Jaguars-Colts matchup. I stated that the Monday night tilt meant more to Jacksonville. However, Indianapolis matched the intensity because it needed to validate its defense after the Jaguars ran all over them late in the 2006 season. The Colts were triumphant, 29-7, though people seem to forget that David Garrard had to leave the game with an injury when it was 7-0 with Jacksonville at midfield.

    I'm convinced now that this is the Jaguars' Super Bowl. Everything they've done over the past few years, through free agency and the draft, has been to knock off Indianapolis. Well, the Colts are now laden with injuries, and like a predator, the Jaguars smell blood. Dennis Field, who runs the Picking Forum, had something interesting to say that I completely agreed with. If Peyton Manning were ever to get hurt, this is the game. His offensive line has been pedestrian ever since Tony Ugoh suffered an injury. If Ugoh plays, he won't be 100 percent. Plus, with Marvin Harrison sidelined, the Jaguars won't have to be as worried about Manning flinging it downfield. It's no coincidence Manning had six interceptions at San Diego, and less yards than Brodie Croyle (16-of-32, 163 yards, INT) the following week. If the mediocre Chiefs and Chargers can contain him without his best weapon and left tackle, what is Jacksonville going to do to him?

    Jack Del Rio had an interesting gameplan when the two teams clashed earlier this season. Instead of ramming the ball down Indianapolis' throat, as he's done for years, he elected to air it out on nearly play. Although the Jaguars scored only seven points, the strategy seemed effective; when Garrard was under center, Jacksonville moved the chains, but stalled on a pair of fourth-and-ones. Unless Garrard gets knocked out again, I can't see the Jaguars not scoring, especially with Dwight Freeney out. The Colts had severe problems keeping the Falcons and Chiefs from moving the chains.

    I love Jacksonville in this spot. We're getting a very live dog playing its Super Bowl with a touchdown, in a rivalry that's seldom decided by more than eight points. I don't think the public realizes how much the Colts have been affected by their injuries. I'm calling for the upset.


    The Psychology. Edge: Jaguars.
    This is probably the biggest game of Jacksonville's season. I expect them to come out fired up.


    The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
    Even though the Jaguars are hot, the Colts are a public team.
  • Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 73% (110,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
  • History: Nine of the last 11 meetings decided by 8 points or less (Colts 8-3).
  • Divisional Dog of Seven: Current coaches are 47-36 ATS as divisional dogs of 7+ since 2002 (Jack Del Rio 4-1).
  • Jaguars are 7-3 ATS as an underdog since 2006.
  • Opening Line: Colts -7.
  • Opening Total: 44.5.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars Defense, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark.
  • Sit Em: Joseph Addai, Marvin Harrison.


    Prediction: Jaguars 24, Colts 20
    Jaguars +6.5 (4 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Correct; +$400
    Under 45 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Colts 28, Jaguars 25.



    San Diego Chargers (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-7)
    Line: Chargers by 6. Total: 36.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Chargers -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Chargers -3.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Chargers.
    Injuries: CHIEFS: OUT: RB Larry Johnson*.

    Last week, Lou Holtz answered the question, "Where do you put Pat White in the Heisman race?" with, "Absolutely." This week, on ESPN's college football post-game show, Holtz argued with Mark "I'm right about everything and I'll let you know about it every day" May about the Heisman, stating that Chase Daniel should win the award. About two minutes later, Holtz went on a rampage about how Tim Tebow should be crowned Heisman winner. It's bad enough that no one can understand the 160-year-old man; it's another that he forgets what he argues about and flip-flops his opinion every few minutes. He did have a funny quote, however, when he incoherently yelled, "Mark can't change my opinion! Only my wife can do that!"

    I bring up Holtz because I am also a flip-flopper. I was ready to pick the Chiefs in this game. In fact, if I hadn't waited until midnight on Wednesday morning to compile this write-up, I might have gone with the host. Kansas City is known for being strong at Arrowhead. Plus, despite losing to the Raiders last week, the team nearly knocked off the Colts in Indianapolis two Sundays ago. Kolby Smith, who came out of nowhere to garner 150 yards on 31 carries against Oakland, could give the Chargers' 27th-ranked ground defense some problems. Plus, just look at all the action on the visitor. Taking a home dog with the public going the other way is usually a smart bet.

    However, I want you to take a glance at the line movement. The Chargers opened up as 4-point favorites, but the spread moved to 5.5 by Wednesday morning. It appears as though the oddsmaker is panicking and attempting to entice the public into betting on Kansas City. Why is this? Doesn't San Diego secretly suck? I mean, beating Baltimore isn't anything special.

    Well, I would say the Chargers are vastly overrated, but that doesn't mean that they're not better than the Chiefs. And if you want to talk about overrated, what happened to Kansas City's Arrowhead advantage? The team is 1-4-1 against the spread at home, losing to Oakland, getting blown out by Denver and barely beating Minnesota. The host has historically thrived in this rivalry, but it appears as though Herm Edwards has single-handedly destroyed the Arrowhead mystique. The way I look at it, all the Chargers need to do is stuff Smith in the backfield. Everything else should take care of itself; I haven't seen signs of greatness out of Brodie Croyle yet.

    Going with the road favorite here for a unit. The line movement is key, as the oddsmaker is almost dictating where he thinks this contest will go. If he were confident in San Diego's ability to cover, he would have kept this line pretty stagnant.


    The Psychology. Edge: Chiefs.
    Revenge Situation for San Diego's loss earlier in the year. The Chargers don't really need to win this game though; they're a game ahead of the Broncos and currently own the tie-breaker. Kansas City needs a victory to survive.


    The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
    The Chargers are hot again. People will bet them to cover.
  • Percentage of money on San Diego: 92% (100,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Chiefs.
  • History: Home Team has won 15 of the last 19 meetings.
  • Two Homes (Loss): Herm Edwards is 4-1 ATS at home following a home loss.
  • Chiefs are 12-4 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Chargers -4.
  • Opening Total: 38.
  • Weather: Sunny, 39 degrees. Mild wind, 14 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Chargers Defense, Tony Gonzalez.
  • Sit Em: Kolby Smith, Chiefs Defense.


    Prediction: Chargers 23, Chiefs 13
    Chargers -6 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Under 36.5 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
    Chargers 24, Chiefs 10.



    Seattle Seahawks (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
    Line: Eagles by 3. Total: 40.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Eagles -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Eagles -4.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Unknown (Feeley/McNabb).
    Injuries: SEAHAWKS: OUT: WR Deion Branch, DT Marcus Tubbs.

    Eagles fans were wondering why the booth didn't challenge the Jabar Gaffney touchdown at the end of the first half. Some people speculated that Robert Kraft paid off the replay officials. That's definitely not it, and the answer's extremely obvious. The cameras those officials were using belonged to Bill Belichick, and he didn't want anyone watching his footage. Yeah, it's just that simple.

    I'm having trouble deciding where I want to go with this game. On one hand, I want to take the Eagles. It turns out that Andy Reid's a pretty good coach when his sons aren't getting arrested for pedaling drugs in between playing rounds of golf and tennis at the suburban country club. The key stat for Seattle is the 1-8 spread mark Mike Holmgren has playing 1 p.m. games on the Atlantic Coast. The Seahawks suck on the road anyway, so the trend actually makes sense. On the other hand, Seattle seems like the right side because the Eagles exerted so much energy in their 31-28 loss to the Patriots.

    Ultimately, I think this comes down to who starts at quarterback for Philadelphia. If it's Donovan McNabb, the Eagles have a very slim chance of winning. If it's Adam Joshua Feeley, they'll prevail. Anyone who thinks McNabb gives this team a better chance of winning can't do anything but rattle off McNabb's past accomplishments. Newsflash: He's hurt. He's old. He's past his prime. He's immobile. He's inaccurate. He holds on to the ball too long. He's not a good leader. He's not a good fit for the West Coast Offense.

    Feeley is a better quarterback for Reid's system because he makes quick reads and has superior accuracy. Sure, he doesn't possess the arm strength McNabb still has, but I'll take his intangibles, leadership and pin-point throws any day. It's no coincidence Feeley wasn't pressured much against the Patriots, whereas the Dolphins managed to get to McNabb on multiple occasions the week before. It's also no fluke that Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis, Greg Lewis and L.J. Smith suddenly became effective with Feeley under center.

    The Eagles played harder for Feeley, just as they put forth more effort when Jeff Garcia was at the helm last year. If Feeley starts, I believe the defense will exert more energy and register a few sacks on Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle's pass-happy offense. If McNabb starts, Hasselbeck will rip them apart. This is pure speculation, because I obviously don't have access to Philadelphia's locker room, but I have to believe that the players either don't like or respect McNabb. Perhaps it's because he's not team-oriented and he's a bit pretentious. Or maybe it's the way he threw his team under the bus after losing to Dallas, or how he handled the Terrell Owens situation. It seems extremely obvious that there's something wrong between him and the rest of the squad.

    So, that's basically the bottom line. I'm going to wait until Reid names his quarterback. He did say that McNabb is the starter if he's healthy, but that conditional statement is a card Reid has up his sleeve. If he chooses to go with Feeley, he can simply state that McNabb isn't healthy, averting a chaotic quarterback controversy. For now, I'm going to have faith that Reid makes the right choice.


    The Psychology. Edge: Seahawks.
    The Eagles played the perfect game against the Patriots. They left everything on the field. How in the world are they going to bounce back against the Seahawks? Still, it should be noted that this contest means more to Philadelphia than Seattle.


    The Vegas. Edge: Seahawks.
    People have fallen in love with the Eagles after watching them come within a field goal of taking down the Patriots.
  • Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 64% (90,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Eagles.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss (Mike Holmgren 4-1).
  • Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 22-31 ATS since 2002 (Mike Holmgren 1-8).
  • Seahawks are 5-9 ATS on the road since 2006.
  • Matt Hasselbeck is 11-17 ATS off back-to-back wins.
  • Eagles are 44-28 ATS vs. NFC opponents since 2001.
  • Opening Line: Eagles -3.
  • Opening Total: 43.
  • Weather: Rain/snow, 43 degrees. Light wind.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: A.J. Feeley (if starting), Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis (if A.J.), Reggie Brown (if A.J.), Greg Lewis (if A.J.), Matt Hasselbeck (if McNabb), Deion Branch, D.J. Hackett.
  • Sit Em: Kevin Curtis (if McNabb), Reggie Brown (if McNabb), Greg Lewis (if McNabb), Shaun Alexander, Maurice Morris.


    Prediction: Eagles 24, Seahawks 13
    Eagles -3 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 40 (3 Units) -- Incorrect; -$330
    Seahawks 28, Eagles 24.



    San Francisco 49ers (3-8) at Carolina Panthers (4-7)
    Line: Panthers by 3. Total: 35.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Panthers -7.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Panthers -4.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: 49ers.
    Injuries: 49ERS: OUT: QB Alex Smith, DE/OLB Manny Lawson. PANTHERS: OUT: QB Jake Delhomme.

    I really don't want to write about this game. In fact, I compiled a list of 10 things I'd rather do than cover this pathetic matchup: 1. Watch grass grow. 2. Have a political debate with William Shatner. 3. Have a political debate with William Shatner while watching grass grow. 4. Get "Sylared." 5. Drill a hammer into the back of my skull. 6. Drill a hammer into the back of my skull while having a political debate with William Shatner and watching grass grow. 7. Date Sally Struthers. 8. Exercise. 9. Have David Carr's haircut and life expectancy (it's gotta be like 35 after all of those sacks, right?) 10. Watch the 49ers battle the Panthers, only on FOX!

    Both of these teams are pure garbage and could very well be the two worst squads in the NFL, even though there are franchises with worse records right now. In fact, I could argue that until Jake Delhomme returns, the Carolina Panthers are the worst team in the league. Fortunately for them, they're battling a coach who has a horrendous history playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1 p.m. Mike Nolan's almost as bad as Mike Holmgren in that regard, which is saying a lot.

    Maybe that's why people are taking the Panthers. As of Wednesday morning, 78 percent of the action is on the host. I have one question: Why? What do people see in Carolina? Laying points with that offense is the last thing I want to do. Vegas apparently shares my sentiment, as the line has dropped from three to 2.5 in some shops. I guess the oddsmakers aren't as scared of Nolan on the East Coast as I am.

    One edge the 49ers do have on the field is Frank Gore, who finally reemerged to gain 200 total yards against the Cardinals last week. Arizona may have been flat - I'll get to that in my next write-up - but the fact remains that the oft-injured back pummeled a unit that stops the run pretty well. Carolina, seventh versus opposing ground attacks, could provide a challenge for Gore. Then again, Arizona was in the top 10 until last week.

    Check this out: The Panthers have neither covered nor won since Week 6. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I just looked that up. I wish I would have known that for last Sunday. Why are people taking a favorite that can neither beat the number, nor get into the win column? And why is the line moving against public action?


    The Psychology. Edge: 49ers.
    The Panthers are actually two games out of a wildcard spot. Still, they're not exactly playing with much vigor right now. The 49ers, meanwhile, are in an Emotional Win Alert.


    The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
    I don't think anyone on this planet wants to bet on Carolina right now.
  • Percentage of money on Carolina: 62% (63,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss.
  • Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 21-30 ATS since 2002 (Mike Nolan 1-5).
  • Panthers are 3-9 ATS as a favorite since 2006.
  • Opening Line: Panthers -3.
  • Opening Total: 35.
  • Weather: Cloudy, 61 degrees. Light wind.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, 49ers Defense.
  • Sit Em: Panthers Offense and Defense.


    Prediction: 49ers 13, Panthers 3
    49ers +3 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 35.5 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Panthers 31, 49ers 14.



    Cleveland Browns (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (5-6)
    Line: Cardinals by 1. Total: 51.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Browns -1.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Browns -3.5.
    Sunday, 4:05 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: BROWNS: OUT: OT Ryan Tucker, C LeCharles Bentley, LB Willie McGinest. CARDINALS: OUT: QB Matt Leinart, OT Oliver Ross.

    I have to talk about a commercial heard on my local sports-talk radio station. The 30-second bit, which advertises Philadelphia Flyers tickets, concludes with something like, "We have tickets and packages for any lifestyle!" Any lifestyle? What does that mean? What is a lifestyle? And how do they have packages for every single lifestyle? Is that possible? What if some sicko has a child-molesting lifestyle? Do they have tickets for him? If so, do they surround him with vulnerable children and computers already connected to teenage chat rooms? Can someone explain what they're talking about by having lifestyle plans for everyone?

    I ran a name-that-line segment on my forums Sunday night, where I asked members to guess the spread on each game. Every single person had the Browns being favored by at least 4.5. I set the line at 3.5. So, I can imagine everyone was shocked to see the Cardinals favored by a point.

    Why did Vegas set a line like this? It's certainly not to induce equal action on both sides, as more than 90 percent of the cash is on the Browns. Plus, the spread hasn't moved at all in Cleveland's favor. Something's fishy, and as you can tell by the way the money is flowing, the betting population doesn't realize it.

    The odd spread aside, let's try to build a case for the Cardinals. It's pretty obvious they've fallen out of favor with people because they lost as a publicly backed, double-digit favorite to the offensively inept 49ers last week. But was that a legitimate defeat? I'm not so sure. I think Arizona was looking ahead to battling Cleveland and Seattle. If the team can win those two contests, they're all but assured a playoff spot in an extremely weak conference (excluding Green Bay and Dallas, of course). Thus, winning this game is much more important for the Cardinals than it is for the Browns, who are currently in control of their own destiny.

    Besides, the San Francisco loss may have made people forget what Arizona did prior to Week 12. They won at Cincinnati, beat the Lions at home, and hung tough with Washington and Tampa Bay on the road. Not too shabby. It seems as though people also underrate how difficult it is to travel to the West Coast and battle a solid team. The Cardinals have taken down Pittsburgh, Detroit and Seattle at home this year. After about 500 years, they've finally established a dominant home-field advantage.

    As far as the matchups are concerned, I'm not sure if Arizona can slow down Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, but at least it'll take Jamal Lewis out of the equation, given that the Cardinals, minus their effort against Frank Gore, are pretty stout versus the run. Offensively, Arizona should be able to do whatever it wants to against Cleveland's pedestrian stop unit that can't defend against ground (24th) or aerial attacks (30th).

    I think I've built a solid case for the Cardinals. Even without considering the spread, this seems like a great spot for the host. The shady line makes this play all that much more enticing.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    The Browns have the Jets next week, so no possible look-ahead. And anyway, if they were going to have a flat spot it was going to be against Houston.


    The Vegas. Edge: Cardinals.
    Why are the Cardinals favored over the red-hot Browns? Isn't the entire world going to be pounding Cleveland?
  • Percentage of money on Cleveland: 87% (72,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
  • Cardinals are 10-3 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Cardinals -1.
  • Opening Total: 51.5.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Kurt Warner, Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald.
  • Sit Em: Jamal Lewis.


    Prediction: Cardinals 31, Browns 24
    Cardinals -1 (5 Units - Double Money Pick) -- Correct; +$500
    Over 51.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Cardinals 27, Browns 21.



    Denver Broncos (5-6) at Oakland Raiders (3-8)
    Line: Broncos by 3.5. Total: 42.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Broncos -3.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Broncos -3.5.
    Sunday, 4:05 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Broncos.
    Injuries: BRONCOS: OUT: WR Javon Walker, WR Rod Smith, C Tom Nalen. RAIDERS: OUT: RB Michael Bush.

    Some commercials I really hate are the jewelry genre - especially that new Jared one, where two hookers are receiving text messages from their tramp friend, who happens to be on a date with a guy who has a weird haircut. After learning he gave his date flowers and jewelry from Jared, they ask him if he has brothers. You've all seen it countless times. Why do I hate it? It makes all of us guys look bad! Flowers, dinner at a fancy restaurant and expensive jewelry? Ugh. I'm pretty good for a hand shake, a trip to Taco Bell (she pays) and cheap earrings attainable from some shady character on the corner. Now that's a hot date.

    Let's bring up the name-that-line thread again. Everyone on the forum had the Broncos as a 6- or a 7-point favorite. So, is this another shady line by the oddsmakers? Even though I predicted a line of -3.5, I thought so too, until I thought about it. Denver was a 1.5-point underdog at Chicago. So, the books are basically saying that the Bears are five points better than the Raiders, which makes sense because Chicago was -3.5 at Oakland a few weeks ago. I'm not exactly sure I agree with the thought process, but who am I to question a billion-dollar industry?

    Another good sign if you like the Broncos is the natural line movement, as the spread has risen from three to 3.5 to match all of the cash on Denver. I like the Broncos as a team right now. Since the bye, they're 3-3. They knocked off the Steelers, Titans and Chiefs (on the road), all of which are impressive victories. They lost to Green Bay in overtime, Chicago because of the foolish decision to kick to Devin Hester, and Detroit when Jay Cutler had to leave the game when it was 6-0. The Broncos have somehow improved themselves, stopping the run more effectively than they did prior to their week off. All the Raiders can do is run the ball with Justin Fargas anyway. Denver will take that away, forcing Daunte Culpepper to throw into a secondary comprised of Champ Bailey and Dre Bly.

    Another reason for Denver's resurgence is the rapid maturity of Jay Cutler. Since the bye, Cutler has nine touchdowns, only four picks and three contests in which he threw for more than 245 yards. His specialty is converting third downs, which will be crucial in a divisional battle. The last time the Broncos and Raiders clashed, Cutler tossed two picks in a slim 23-20 victory. I think Denver is much better this time around, while Oakland hasn't done anything to improve itself.

    I questioned if I could really go with the Raiders prior to the line shifting to 3.5. It just seemed really weird at three, so I'm happy the spread is shooting up. Even though they won last week, I wasn't too enthused about the prospect of going with Oakland. Mike Shanahan continues his dominance over Al Davis and makes amends for the Bears game.


    The Psychology. Edge: Raiders.
    No scheduling dynamics, although it should be noted that these teams really hate each other. The Raiders would love to knock the Broncos out of the playoff race.


    The Vegas. Edge: Raiders.
    People hate backing the Raiders. Should be tons of money on Denver.
  • Percentage of money on Denver: 87% (84,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: None.
  • Two Roads (Loss): Current and '06 head coaches are 99-69 ATS on the road following a road loss (Mike Shanahan 6-8).
  • History: Broncos have won 16 of the last 20 meetings (Raiders 3-0 ATS since 2006).
  • Broncos are 4-15 ATS as a favorite since 2006.
  • Raiders are 7-21 ATS vs. teams with losing records since 2001.
  • Raiders are 6-21 ATS at home the previous 27 instances.
  • Opening Line: Broncos -3.
  • Opening Total: 41.5.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees. Light wind.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Jay Cutler, Andre Hall, Brandon Marshall, Broncos Defense.
  • Sit Em: Raiders Passing Attack and Defense.


    Prediction: Broncos 31, Raiders 17
    Broncos -3.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Over 42 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Raiders 34, Broncos 20.



    New York Giants (7-4) at Chicago Bears (5-6)
    Line: Giants by 1.5. Total: 39.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Pick.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Bears -1.5.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: BEARS: OUT: G Ruben Brown, DT Dusty Dvoracek, CB Nathan Vasher, S Mike Brown. QUESTIONABLE: QB Brian Griese.

    I've recently said that Eli Manning sometimes looks as if he would be more content stocking shelves at Wal-Mart than quarterbacking the Giants. Now, I'm convinced Manning has the look of a 13-year-old who's too shy to ask some girl to dance with him at a Bar Mitzvah. He's just appears so goofy and aloof. Check out what he said about his four-interception, three-pick six performance: "We did a good job staying in there and competing." Yeah, great job. Way to stay in there and toss it to the guys in the purple-and-gold jerseys. Look, they're doing the Chicken Dance. If you do that well, maybe they'll let you be a stock boy for a couple of hours.

    I feel almost foolish saying this, but Rex Grossman hasn't played that poorly the past three weeks. Throughout his brief NFL career, Grossman's problems have been turning the ball over, which stemmed from a lack of confidence. It always seemed as if he were afraid of getting benched. Well, he looks different now. He was replaced by Brian Griese, so maybe he realizes that he has nothing to lose right now. Just take a look at the numbers: The first three games of the season, Grossman had only one touchdown, six picks and a fumble. Over the past three contests, Grossman has two touchdowns, just one interception and five fumbles. The fumbles are worrisome, but at least Grossman isn't throwing the ball away like he used to.

    The same can't be said for Manning, who carelessly tossed four picks to the Vikings, three of which were returned for touchdowns. It appears as though the Giants are experiencing their patented late-season swoon. It's hard to blame Manning for everything because New York's defensive line was getting pushed around by Minnesota's massive front, but he needs to establish himself as the leader of the team to stop the bleeding. I don't see that happening; Manning seems way too aloof and childish to ever be someone players love going into battle with.

    Chicago seems to have the momentum and (sadly) the hotter quarterback. I just can't trust Manning at this stage of the season; in his career, he's only 7-15 beyond Week 12. Plus, this could be a game where New York's small defensive front is exposed. Cedric Benson's out for the year, which is great for the Bears because Adrian Peterson is the better running back. It wouldn't surprise me to see Peterson run for 100 yards in this game.

    I've made it seem like I'm favoring the Bears, but I'm not really sure whom to take in this contest. Chicago is coming off a game that it shouldn't have won, and consequently could be flat. That said, if I had to choose, I'd probably side with Chicago, as going against the public and taking a home dog sounds more appealing than picking Manning and the collapsing Giants. Can you tell though that I'm not making this pick with any sort of conviction?


    The Psychology. Edge: Giants.
    The Bears are in an Emotional Win Alert, inexplicably beating the Broncos in overtime. The Giants, meanwhile, could be looking to bounce back off a home blowout. Still, this game means more to Chicago.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bears.
    Interesting that the Giants are favored over the Bears, despite last week's results. I'm not sure how the public will react to New York's loss.
  • Percentage of money on New York: 69% (93,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Bears.
  • Two Homes (Win): Lovie Smith is 4-2 ATS at home following a home win.
  • Opening Line: Giants -1.
  • Opening Total: 43.
  • Weather: Rain, 49 degrees. Mild wind, 13 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey, Adrian Peterson, Both Defenses.
  • Sit Em: Muhsin Muhammad.


    Prediction: Bears 20, Giants 17
    Bears +1.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 41 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
    Giants 21, Bears 16.



    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-6)
    Line: Saints by 3.5. Total: 41.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Saints -2.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Saints -2.
    Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Buccaneers.
    Injuries: BUCCANEERS: OUT: RB Cadillac Williams, RB Michael Pittman, OT Luke Petitgout, DE Patrick Chukwurah, CB Torrie Cox. UNLIKELY TO PLAY: QB Jeff Garcia. SAINTS: OUT: RB Deuce McAllister.

    Before I discuss game, take a look at my Week 13 Look-Alike Pictures featuring Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore.

    The Buccaneers haven't proven themselves on the road yet. They're 2-3 as visitors, losing to Indianapolis (understandable), Seattle (also understandable) and Detroit (WTF?). The only teams they've beaten away from the New Sombrero are the Falcons and Panthers. Whoop dee doo.

    With that in mind, I don't think traveling to New Orleans is all that difficult for the Buccaneers for a number of reasons. First of all, the Saints suck at home; just check out the number in the Trends section. They seldom come out victorious at the Super Dome. Just look at the results this year. They were blown out by the Titans, defeated by the winless Rams and close to getting knocked off by the hapless Panthers and Falcons. Their only legitimate victory as a host came against a flat Jaguars squad that was starting Quinn Gray.

    Another reason why this isn't a tough road game for Tampa Bay is because the visitor always seems to excel in this rivalry. In the past 11 meetings, the host has only won four times. I can't explain this, but it works.

    One occasion when the home team was victories occurred earlier this year. The Buccaneers obliterated the Saints, 31-14, as Jeff Garcia torched New Orleans' anemic secondary. Tampa Bay's defense, meanwhile, confused Drew Brees and limited him to 260 passing yards on 44 attempts. I feel as though the same thing could happen on Sunday, especially now that the Saints don't have a power running back to expose the Buccaneers' small defensive front.

    The Buccaneers seem like a good play because we're following a team dynamic (bet against the Saints at home), rivalry dynamic (take the road team) and fading the public (69 percent on New Orleans, as of Wednesday afternoon). Besides, I feel as though Tampa Bay is the better team.

    Friday Morning Update: Big line movement, as the Saints moved off the field goal. This is because Jeff Garcia is out. I don't trust Bruce Gradkowski on the road.


    The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
    Big game in the NFC South. The Buccaneers can lock up the division with a win. The Saints, however, are fighting for their playoff lives.


    The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
    This line seems pretty high. I thought it would be closer to a Pick. It'll be interesting to see if there's a lot of action on the Buccaneers.
  • Percentage of money on New Orleans: 71% (90,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Saints.
  • History: Road Team has won 7 of the last 11 meetings.
  • Crappy Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski is 1-4 ATS on the road.
  • Buccaneers are 6-18 ATS on the road after a win under Jon Gruden.
  • Buccaneers are 2-9 ATS off back-to-back wins since 2003.
  • Saints are 17-34 ATS at home since 2001.
  • Saints are 10-24 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
  • Saints are 6-16 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Saints -3.
  • Opening Total: 41.5.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, Buccaneers Defense, Drew Brees, Marques Colston.
  • Sit Em: Jeff Garcia, Reggie Bush, Saints Defense.


    Prediction: Saints 17, Buccaneers 10
    Saints -3.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 41.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Buccaneers 27, Saints 23.



    Cincinnati Bengals (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
    Line: Steelers by 7. Total: 40.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Steelers -9.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Steelers -9.
    Sunday, 8:15 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Steelers.
    Injuries: BENGALS: OUT: RB Chris Perry, DE Frostee Rucker, LB Odell Thurman, LB David Pollack, LB Rashad Jeanty. STEELERS: DOUBTFUL: WR Santonio Holmes, S Troy Polamalu.

    It's time for more grammar lessons from from Emmitt Smith! Use these quotes if you want to be hired by ESPN!

    1. "This team have not played confident football in three weeks." (Commentary: I love it how Emmitt refuses to use contractions. Emmitt doesn't cut corners!)
    2. "That can be a swing their way eventually. I just hate to be the team that they winned it against." (Commentary: Let's see... butcher the English language, add an article where you don't need one and make up a word called "winned." Just another day in the life of Emmitt.)
    3. "All your base are belong to us." (Commentary: OK, maybe Emmitt didn't really say that, but I guarantee he was hired to translate for CATS. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, Check this out. Someone really needs to make a mix video of CATS and Emmitt talking to each other.)

    Prior to the spread being released, I was hoping that the Steelers would be 9- or 10-point favorites so I could take the Bengals. My thinking was that Pittsburgh would be looking ahead to battling New England next weekend, and would succumb to a Cincinnati squad that has gained confidence in the wake of its blowout victory over Tennessee. This is also a road-dominated rivalry, and the Bengals want revenge. Unfortunately, the Steelers are favored by just a touchdown. When that line came into light, I figured it was short. I thought I'd just see how the public played it. If Pittsburgh were backed, I'd conclude the Bengals were the right side after all. If the opposite occurred, I'd reason that this happened to be a trap line. Alas, this contest is being bet 50-50. Somebody set up us the bomb, indeed.

    It was shocking to see Cincinnati play with so much energy last week. I don't know where it came from because the team looked as if it were dead for weeks. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of its 35-6 victory was how the defense limited LenDale White and Chris Brown to only 55 rushing yards. I'm not sure if the Bengals can contain Willie Parker on the ground while worrying about Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller downfield. Still, their effort against the Titans is encouraging.

    If Cincinnati can't stop Pittsburgh from scoring, it will need to keep up with the Steelers. The last time these two squads clashed, the Bengals only put up 13 points. However, there were multiple occasions where drives stalled on fourth-and-ones. Chris Henry could change things this time around. He's one of the elite No. 3 wide outs in the NFL and presents matchup problems for any defense.

    The Steelers should win this contest, but it wouldn't shock me at all if the Bengals came up with the upset. Nevertheless, I think Cincinnati's the right side, as it's clearly looking for revenge against a team that may not be completely focused.


    The Psychology. Edge: Bengals.
    Definite Look-Ahead Alert for the Steelers, who have the Patriots next week. The Bengals would love to claim revenge for their loss to Pittsburgh earlier in the year.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
    The Steelers are a publicly backed team, so look for some money to swing their way. This line seems low to me
  • Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 65% (75,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
  • History: Road Team has won the last 6 meetings.
  • Divisional Dog of Seven: Current coaches are 47-36 ATS as divisional dogs of 7+ since 2002.
  • Bengals are 16-3 ATS against the Steelers if they lost to them previously the same season in the last 19 instances.
  • Steelers are 14-5 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is 42-14 as a starter (34-22 ATS).
  • Opening Line: Steelers -7.5.
  • Opening Total: 48.
  • Weather: Rain, 42 degrees. Mild wind, 11 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Carson Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson, Chris Henry, Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Hines Ward, Heath Miller.
  • Sit Em: Rudi Johnson, Bengals Defense.


    Prediction: Steelers 17, Bengals 13
    Bengals +7 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Under 40 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
    Steelers 24, Bengals 10.



    New England Patriots (11-0) at Baltimore Ravens (4-7)
    Line: Patriots by 18. Total: 48.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 12): Patriots -19.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 12): Patriots -17.5.
    Monday, 8:30 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Patriots.
    Injuries: PATRIOTS: OUT: WR Troy Brown. RAVENS: OUT: QB Steve McNair, LB Dan Cody.

    Before I get to my Monday night dissertation, I want to mention that you can compete against me and others by picking football games at the Picking Forum. You'll be able to pick every game starting Wednesday afternoon, and you can post comments for each contest as well. No prizes, but you do get bragging rights.

    Let's Face It, The Ravens Suck. They don't just suck. They really really really really really suck. OK, fine, you caught me. I wrote the same exact thing about the Dolphins last week. But I'm lazy. And the Ravens do really suck.

    It's hard to believe this team was 13-3 last year. They have absolutely nothing at quarterback. Kyle Boller is the worst, Jerry, the worst! Steve McNair's limbs are about to fall off. And Troy Smith's just rotting on the bench. I have no idea why Brian Billick isn't giving Smith a shot. At least he'll have a quarterback who can scramble. That's obviously a necessity because Baltimore's offensive line can't block; they've already surrendered 27 sacks this season. Willis McGahee's underutilized; Mark Clayton hasn't done anything this year; and Todd Heap has been in and out of the lineup. And that's just the offense.

    Baltimore's defense has clearly lost its dominance. Ray Lewis, Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are just too old. On one play last week, Antonio Gates completely blew by Lewis, embarrassing the future Hall-of-Famer. The Ravens just can't cover anymore, which is why they're 15th against the pass. Doesn't sound too bad, but with the amount of money tied in to their defense, they should be in the top five in every category.

    At Least They're (Not) Competitive! In last week's dissertation, I mentioned that the Dolphins have stayed within three points in five of their 10 losses. You can't really say the same thing about the Ravens, who have been blown out three times in the four games since their bye. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and San Diego combined to defeat them, 91-28. It should have been evident that this was coming, given that they couldn't distance themselves from inferior competition early in the year. They barely beat the Jets, Cardinals and 49ers in September and October.

    The obvious question is, if Baltimore is getting blown out by teams whose combined record is 18-15, how can it possibly have a chance against the 11-0 Patriots?

    Can Billick Copy Andy Reid's Gameplan? Billick and Reid are good friends, who happen to be BYU alumni. So, will Reid simply call Billick and tell him how to come within a field goal of knocking off what could be the greatest team of all time? I wouldn't count against it, but it doesn't matter whatsoever. Billick just doesn't have the horses to execute what the Eagles accomplished last week.

    I found it amusing when the talking heads like Woody Paige were exclaiming that the Eagles found a way to keep Tom Brady off the scoreboard with defensive plays. Newsflash: The reason the Patriots scored only 31 points is because Philadelphia held on to the ball so long and establishing clock-eating drives. A.J. Feeley had the game of his life; Brian Westbrook was the key component in the offense, as usual; and the Eagles' receivers were open for the first time in their careers. But perhaps the most impressive feat Philadelphia accomplished was keeping New England out of the backfield.

    The Ravens can't do that. They have no pass protection. Boller is nowhere near as talented, precise or confident as Feeley. McGahee isn't a downfield target like Westbrook is. The receivers, excluding Mason, haven't been able to get open.

    Meanwhile, I expect the Patriots to shred Baltimore's overrated defense for at least 40 points. I've already stated that the Ravens can't cover. If they had problems containing Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers, how can they possibly put the clamps on Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte' Stallworth?

    Oh Yeah... The Patriots Are Pissed. Bill Belichick's goal this year is to go 19-0 and demolish as many teams as possible along the way. His plan nearly crumbled last week. I would be shocked if he didn't give his entire squad a triple serving of humble pie this week in practice. New England will be focused on the task at hand, which is beating the daylight out of the Ravens on Monday night.

    Crazy Spread. It's not often we see a team favored by double digits. But 20.5? That would have seemed crazy prior to this season, but it makes a lot of sense right now. Still, I don't think I can wager four or five units on a 20.5-point road favorite.

    Monday Morning Note: Does the line drop from -20.5 to -18.5 concern me? Absolutely. However, I think that's more of a byproduct of people being freaked out by the weather. There will be winds of 25 mph or more tonight. That said, I still like New England; I believe the Patriots will utilize more of a ball-control offense and chew up more clock. Baltimore, meanwhile, will be limited to the ground. The high winds also takes Matt Stover out of the game.


    The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
    I think the Patriots will be focused after nearly losing to the Eagles. They'll take it out on Baltimore.


    The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
    They didn't cover last week, but there will still be a crazy amount of dough on the Patriots.
  • Percentage of money on New England: 76% (150,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
  • Tom Brady is 93-25 as a starter (75-41 ATS).
  • Ravens are 9-17 ATS as an underdog the previous 26 instances.
  • Opening Line: Patriots -20.
  • Opening Total: 51.5.
  • Weather: Possible showers, 40 degrees. STRONG WINDS, 25 mph.


    Fantasy Spin.
  • Start Em: Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, Ben Watson, Patriots Defense.
  • Sit Em: Ravens Offense and Defense.


    Prediction: Patriots 35, Ravens 3
    Patriots -18 (3 Units - Money Pick) -- Incorrect; -$330
    Under 48 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Patriots 27, Ravens 24.


    Prop/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.


  • 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.

  • Second-half picks will be listed here.



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

    2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 63-68-6, 48.1% (-$615)
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    2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%)
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    2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%)
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    2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%)
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    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
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    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 |
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