New York Jets (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1) Line: Jets by 1. Total: 41. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Bills -3.
Walt's Calculated Line: Bills -1.5.
Thursday, Sept. 15, 8:25 PM
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The Game. Edge: Bills.
WEEK 1 RECAP: Wow. I've never had such a great Sunday. Heading into Monday night, I was 13-1, +$2,285, which includes winning my pick of the month, as the Chargers covered seven points despite blowing a 24-3 lead. My only loss was Bears +6 at Texans, and I feel like they could've covered or at least pushed; they had a 14-10 lead in the third quarter and tied the Texans in terms of yards per play.
Unfortunately, it wasn't my best week ever, as I also lost with the Redskins +3 for five units. Still, I finished 13-3, +$1,735, which I will consider a victory. Hopefully, my Week 1 is a good omen for the rest of this season.
I really have to apologize for four of the past five years. I was being lazy in my handicapping, thinking I could just pick games well based on trends. I've come to learn what numerous e-mailers told me over the years: Most things that happen in the past have no bearing on what will transpire in the future. Not all trends are useless, as some are reflections on how good players are (i.e. Philip Rivers being 11-3 ATS as an underdog of seven or more makes sense because he should never be getting so many points), but most trends are meaningless, and I will be ignoring them for the most part going forward.
I'm glad I've finally stopped being stubborn in terms of trends, but I feel horrible for wasting four of these past five years. I don't know why I fell in love with trends, but it just seemed so easy. It actually wasn't though. I'd spend countless hours checking trends each Tuesday night - hence, why my picks moved to Wednesday - and it was difficult keeping track of everything. I became so overwhelmed by trends that I even refused to have any sort of opinion on a game until I checked trends for each team. It was horrible.
I'll vow no longer to be lazy in my handicapping. I've learned my lesson. I can't guarantee that every week will be in the black, but I'll try my hardest from now on without being stupid.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: Everyone refers to the injuries and suspensions the Bills have in their defensive front seven, but two key banged-up players on offense are having a greater impact. Everyone knows about Sammy Watkins' bum foot by now. There was talk that Watkins would miss this game, but he's apparently going to suit up, as he said he got his foot checked out and he was "fine." He may not be 100 percent, but he probably doesn't need to be against Darrelle Revis, who looks done. Revis struggled at times last season, but now it's apparent that he has completely regressed. I'm not sure he could cover Watkins at 75 percent.
The other major injury is Cordy Glenn's ankle, which knocked him out of the season opener. Glenn's absence was huge, as the Ravens' edge rushers teed off on Tyrod Taylor with him gone. The difference in this matchup is that the Jets' best pass-rushers are in the interior, where the Bills are stronger up front, thanks to Eric Wood and Richie Incognito. The Jets, for whatever reason, always ignore the outside linebacker position in the draft, and their lacking talent there will help Buffalo if Glenn is out or hobbled again.
This is obviously important, as I don't like LeSean McCoy's chances of doing much on the ground. The Jets stopped the run very well against the Bengals, so McCoy will have to do his damage as a receiver out of the backfield.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Jets were sharp early on offensively against the Bengals, but Ryan Fitzpatrick sputtered after halftime. In a sense, it epitomized his 2015 campaign; he had the Jets doing well early, but some late-season collapses, including the dreadful Week 17 showing in Buffalo, ultimately capsized the Jets.
Can Fitzpatrick exorcise the demons and redeem himself by winning at Buffalo this year? Sure, but it'll be difficult despite all the players the Bills have missing in their front seven. Buffalo still has a stellar secondary that limited the Ravens to 13 points. Also, I'm not convinced that Brandon Marshall is 100 percent. Marshall was bothered by a hip injury prior to Week 1, and he ended up catching just three of his eight targets versus Cincinnati, which included a drop. With only three days off, it'll be difficult for Marshall to heal up enough to put together a better performance.
Something Fitzpatrick did not possess in that fateful Week 17 loss was a strong rushing attack. Matt Forte surprised me in the opener, so perhaps he'll pick up the slack here against a skeleton-crew front seven. The Bills did limit the Ravens to 3.8 yards per carry, but I'm not convinced they'll be able to stop the run well.
RECAP: When this spread was +3, I was thinking about taking the Jets. Everyone had the same thought process, apparently, as this line has plummeted to pick, thanks to an insane amount of money on New York.
Now, I think there's some value with the Bills. They seem to match up well with the Jets, especially if I'm right in terms of Marshall not being completely healthy. That's just speculation, however, as it's conceivable that Marshall could go off. I think it's also possible that Watkins could be too hurt to be effective. There seem to be too many ifs for my liking here - enough to keep me from wagering on this game. That said, the Bills seem like the right side at the current spread.
I'll be posting NFL Picks all day Tuesday. Follow me at @walterfootball for updates.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm sorry, I just can't find an edge in this game. Two-thirds action in Vegas has shifted this from Bills -2.5 to Jets -1. It's now Bills -1 in most places, but still available at +1 at Bovada. We're getting 3.5 points of value, but -2.5 to +1 is not anything exciting because we're not going through any key numbers. There's just not any sort of good value here, and it's telling that the sharps haven't touched this contest. These are two bet-against teams for me, but I'll still stick with the Bills because of the line shift - but I'm not excited about it. This is a non-bet for me.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
The Jets have revenge, but the Bills are 0-1 and won't roll over.
The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
This line has dropped considerably because of all the action on the Jets.
Percentage of money on New York: 67% (53,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bills.
History: Bills have won the last 5 meetings (home team has won 6 of the last 8).
True home teams are 29-15 ATS in the last 44 Bills games.
Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Detroit Lions (1-0) Line: Lions by 6.5. Total: 48. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Lions -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Lions -5.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Lions.
I posted betting trends and such in this spot over the past couple of years, but I won't be doing that as much because I'll be moving away from trends. Instead, I'll list some underrated observations that the media either isn't discussing or is misinforming the public about. I think I'll do this in conjunction with overrated and underrated teams, which I should definitely put more effort into...
Underrated NFL Teams:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I gushed about the Buccaneers prior to Week 1, citing that they had outgained 13 of their 16 opponents last year in terms of yards per play. I was confident they'd win in Atlanta, but I did not expect them to lead 31-13 prior to garbage time. With Jameis Winston now having experience, and Mike Evans being more focused, the sky is the limit for the Buccaneers, whom I will actually project to win the NFC South.
Chicago Bears: I listed the Bears as an underrated team last week, and I'll stand by that. They battled the Texans very closely and even had a 14-10 lead at halftime. They ultimately lost by nine, but they were even with Houston in terms of yards per play (4.8). There were a number of small things in that game that could've allowed it to be much closer. The Bears have issues at tackle - seriously, why did they pass on Laremy Tunsil? - but their defense is terrific, and Jay Cutler is not nearly as bad as people want to make him out to be.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I have the Packers No. 1 in my power rankings, and yet the Jaguars fought tooth and nail with them. They had a chance to win at the very end, and perhaps they would've done so had Allen Robinson gotten some calls throughout the game. Jacksonville actually outgained the Packers in total yardage and yards per play, and its defense, now armed with actual talent, did a decent job of containing Aaron Rodgers. The Packers averaged 4.9 yards per play, which is impressive for Jacksonville considering that Green Bay was limited to fewer than five YPP just six out of 18 times last year, and that was without Jordy Nelson. Blake Bortles, meanwhile, played well despite battling a top-level defense.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins nearly won in Seattle, holding a 10-6 lead late in the fourth quarter. Now, the Seahawks are overrated, and Russell Wilson was injured, but I feel like no one gave this Miami squad any sort of chance heading into the season. The defensive line is amazing and will keep the Dolphins in most games. Ryan Tannehill, meanwhile, seems to really have taken to Adam Gase's system. It's hard to trust Tannehill, but he nearly posted a great stat line in Seattle, but Kenny Stills dropped a 71-yard touchdown. If you're thinking back to how bad the Dolphins were at the end of last year, remember, they had some momentum in the middle of the season before Cameron Wake and numerous offensive linemen went down with injuries. We're now seeing the Dolphins team that thrived in October last year, only with better coaching.
Overrated NFL Teams:
New York Giants: All I heard on TV after the Sunday action was how the Giants were overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East. Why is that? Because they beat the Cowboys and their rookie backfield and skeleton-crew front seven? Dallas dropped so many passes in the sunlight during the opener, and it could have won the game. The Giants were the better team on the field, and I love their defense - no one is going to run against them this year - but their offensive line is still a mess. It gave Eli Manning plenty of protection against Dallas, but all of the Cowboys' top pass-rushers weren't available because of drug suspensions. I don't think this was an adequate test for New York. I think the Giants could win the division, but they are definitely not overwhelming favorites to do so.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders had a supposedly incredible win in New Orleans, but I honestly wasn't very impressed. The Saints are one of the worst teams in the NFL; they own a dreadful defense, while their offensive line isn't very good. The Raiders trailed by 14 at one point, failing to put any pressure on Drew Brees and struggling to maintain some drives. They finally caught fire late, but needed help via a horrible pass interference call to prevail. Moving forward, I'm concerned with two things. The first is the tackle situation, as the two right tackles got hurt at New Orleans, forcing Donald Penn to move to that side and Kelechi Osemele to shift to left tackle. The second is the cornerback spot, as Sean Smith was so bad that he was benched. The Saints averaged more yards per play than the Raiders in their matchup, which is a bad omen.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have some major offensive line issues. In fact, they might just possess the worst blocking unit in the league. This is a major problem, and it's something barely anyone is talking about. They were double-digit favorites against the Dolphins, for crying out loud. How can a team that can't block whatsoever be favored by 10 over any competent opponent? Now, Russell Wilson is banged up and no longer has his mobility. The defense will still put the Seahawks in position to win some games, but they're going to struggle.
Arizona Cardinals: I was down on the Cardinals entering the season, so this is not an overreaction to their Week 1 loss to the Patriots. Something wasn't quite right about Carson Palmer in the preseason, and so I wasn't surprised that he struggled at times Sunday night. Palmer's stat line wasn't bad, but he could've easily thrown four interceptions; three were dropped, while another was just barely out of bounds. Meanwhile, Arizona's defense isn't all its cracked up to be. There have some stellar players, but the Cardinals possess the worst starting cornerback in the NFL in third-round rookie Brandon Williams. Oh, and the offensive line has to be considered a problem as well if Evan Mathis isn't healthy.
Here are a couple of interesting notes:
Teams that won despite being outgained in terms of yards per play: Eagles (5.8-5.5), Raiders (7.8-7.6), Packers (5.1-4.9), Patriots (5.8-5.5).
Teams that outgained the opposition by the greatest disparity in terms of yards per play: Bengals (6.8-5.2), Giants (5.9-4.4), Ravens (4.7-3.3).
Some key injuries that no one is talking about: Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn left the game early and the Bills had trouble blocking afterward ... the Raiders lost both of their right tackles and had to move a guard to the blind side ... Saints saw top cornerback Delvin Breaux get hurt.
DETROIT OFFENSE: These are two teams that easily could've made the underrated list, but the Lions are six-point favorites coming off a win. Still, they are frequently lumped in as one of the worst teams in the NFL along with the Browns and 49ers, which is something I don't understand. Is it because Calvin Johnson is no longer on the team? Johnson quietly had a very mediocre season in 2015, and his absence isn't hurting the Lions one bit. In fact, it's allowing Matthew Stafford to spread the ball around effectively, and he has lots of solid weapons at his disposal.
It's difficult to envision the Titans slowing Ser Stafford down. They have some major problems in their secondary that Shaun Hill wasn't able to expose. Stafford will surely do so, especially if Derrick Morgan, one of the few quality players Tennessee has on its stop unit, is out with an injury. Morgan hurt his hamstring in Week 1 and is considered questionable.
The one area where the Titans will have success is stopping the run. The Lions wore down the Colts and their slow linebackers with a heavy dosage of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Tennessee just put the clamps on Adrian Peterson, albeit with the luxury of playing closer to the line of scrimmage because it didn't respect Hill. Battling Stafford will be much different, and I expect Abdullah and Riddick to do major damage as receivers out of the backfield again.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: While the Lions' scoring unit was spectacular in the opener, I was disappointed in their pass rush, which didn't get any sort of pressure on Andrew Luck. The Colts don't have a good offensive line, so this doesn't bode well for this matchup. The Titans have some liabilities up front, but they figure to block better than Indianapolis.
What's different here is that the Lions won't have to worry about dynamic weapons like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. The Titans have one quality wideout, and that would be rookie Tajae Sharpe. Delanie Walker is also a dynamic weapon for Marcus Mariota, but it's safe to say that Tennessee's offensive arsenal is much weaker than Indianapolis'. The Lions have some terrific players in their back seven, so that'll help against Mariota. That said, I think Mariota could still have a decent performance, as he showed well versus Minnesota's stout defense until the two turnovers in the second half.
It'll be important for the Titans to establish the run. They couldn't do this against the Vikings, who limited them to 2.5 yards per carry. The Lions aren't as strong in the interior, but they do have Haloti Ngata to help put the clamps on DeMarco Murray.
RECAP: I consider these to be two bet-on teams in the near future, so it's a bummer that they're playing each other this week. That said, I like Detroit better than Tennessee. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe the Lions are a playoff contender, and their superior talent should be able to win out here, hopefully allowing them to cover.
Unfortunately, all of our value is gone. This line was -3.5 a week ago. Now, it's -6. This is opening up a wider and wider back-door cover for Mariota, and Detroit's defense could easily accomodate this. That's going to keep me off betting the Lions. Hopefully we'll get better value with them in future weeks.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This line has risen to -6 after all. I wish we were still getting the value with the advanced line of -3.5. Alas, that is no longer he case. I still like the Lions, but the possibility of a Marcus Mariota back-door touchdown is greater with this spread.
SATURDAY NOTES: Pick change! Considering this was for zero units, it's not a huge deal, but I'm switching over to the Titans. With DeAndre Levy out for the Lions, Marcus Mariota will have an even better chance to secure a back-door cover. Levy missing is absolutely huge, as he is one of the better linebackers in the NFL. It's also worth noting that the sharps have been betting the Titans pretty heavily throughout Saturday.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Lions have risen to -6.5 at BetUS and Bovada, so if you like th Lions, bet them there. I'll be surprised if this line moves to -7, as there's a bit of professional action on Tennessee.
The Psychology. Edge: Titans.
After a dramatic, last-minute win, the Lions have the Titans in this easy game prior to playing the Packers and Bears, two divisional rivals.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Detroit: 55% (18,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Titans.
Lions are 19-32 ATS against losing teams the previous 51 instances.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Houston Texans (1-0) Line: Chiefs by 1. Total: 42.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Texans -1.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Texans -3.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Texans.
VEGAS UPDATE: I'll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot in coming weeks. Here were the six highest-bet sides, as of Tuesday morning last week:
Those teams went 2-4 ATS at those numbers, but the Packers and Bengals went down to -3.5 and PK, giving them covers at those spreads. Overall, it was a middling Week 1 for the books. It seemed great until the Steelers cost them a lot of money Monday night.
Here are the four highest-bet teams this week, as of Tuesday morning:
Only four this week because they're the only highly bet teams, as everything else is pretty close to being even. I will mention though that I just saw the Titans get bet pretty heavily at +6, prompting a drop to +5.5. Some pros were waiting on +6, apparently.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: What a crazy comeback by the Chiefs. They were completely defunct offensively in the first two-and-a-half quarters, but they managed to put together a ferocious surge in the final 20 or so minutes, completely erasing a 24-3 deficit and winning in overtime.
The Chiefs' scoring unit looked unstoppable in the second half, but before anyone gets too excited, remember that they were battling the inept Chargers, who have problems all over their defense. It also helped Kansas City's cause that San Diego could no longer maintain drives in the wake of Keenan Allen's injury. I'll get to the Texans' offense in a bit, but Houston's stop unit will present major problems for the Chiefs. Edge rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus will harass Alex Smith, just as San Diego did in the first half this past week, and they'll have more success in doing so that the Charger outside linebackers. They're more talented, giving them a bigger mismatch here.
Oh, and by the way, the Texans have someone named J.J. Watt. I actually don't think Watt performed all that well in the opener, but he can only get better, and he has a better matchup this week. The Bears have a solid interior front, while Kansas City's is pretty lackluster. Thus, I think it'll be more difficult for the Chiefs to get Spencer Ware established, though I do think that he'll have some solid gains.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: The Chiefs don't have the same defense they possessed in 2015. That much is clear, as they would've surrendered 30-plus points to the Chargers had Allen not been knocked out with a torn ACL. Justin Houston being out of the lineup is a huge factor, as the pass rush is mostly non-existent. It also hurts that Eric Berry is clearly not 100 percent, and I was also surprised by how slow Derrick Johnson looked after a solid preseason.
The Texans have way more weapons on this side of the ball than the Chargers, so they won't have to rely on one dynamic receiver. Of course, they do possess one in DeAndre Hopkins, but Will Fuller also stepped up last week, putting together a very impressive debut. If Berry continues to struggle, it could be a long day for Kansas City's defensive backfield.
Houston also should be able to establish Lamar Miller. The Chargers ran the ball very well with Melvin Gordon until Mike McCoy foolishly forgot to give Gordon any sort of carries in the second half - a strange tactic, especially with Allen out of the lineup. The Texans have made it clear that they will feed the ball frequently to Lamar Miller, and I expect him to have a strong performance.
RECAP: The Chiefs demolished the Texans twice last year, but I doubt that will be the case this time. In fact, I like the Texans to avenge their shutout playoff loss with a victory of their own.
I could go into Houston desperately wanting playoff revenge. I could point out that the Chiefs have to be exhausted following such a grueling comeback. I mean, I guess I did just mention those two items, but the key factor here is that the Texans are the better team now. They've made upgrades at the three major positions on offense, while Kansas City's defense is not nearly what it was nine months ago. I don't think the public has quite caught on to that.
With that in mind, I like the Texans for a couple of units. This line should be -3 or maybe even a bit higher, so we're getting value with a spread of less than a field goal.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm thinking about moving this up to three units. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Kansas City's comeback versus San Diego was complete BS. The Texans are the healthier team now, and it sounds like the Chiefs could be missing a couple of starting offensive linemen.
SATURDAY NOTES: I'm not sure why this spread has dropped a point, considering that there's a bit of sharp money on the Texans. Yet, Pinnacle is listing this at -1, which is puzzling. The Chiefs are going to be missing their two starting guards, which is not good news considering that J.J. Watt is on the other side of the ball, and he'll be getting healthier each week. I'm still considering adding a third unit, which I might do Sunday morning.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Wow! The Texans are now home underdogs at Pinnacle and BetUS, and pick elsewhere. Some sharp action has been responsible for that, which is a reversal from what we saw earlier in the week.
The Psychology. Edge: Texans.
Houston has playoff revenge on its side. I feel like the Texans had this game circled when the schedule came out. The Chiefs, meanwhile, exerted a lot of energy in their comeback.
Miami Dolphins (0-1) at New England Patriots (1-0) Line: Patriots by 6. Total: 42. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -5.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Patriots -4.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Dolphins.
HATE MAIL: I will be posting lots of hate mail this season. I didn't get any for my picks, but here's an example of something on the NFL Power Rankings page:
Didn't even have a comeback for that. Nice.
Here's one I didn't even need to respond to...
I think I've been called a fan of every single team in the NFL. I've also been told I hate every single team in the NFL. I take all of this as a compliment because it was my goal to be unbiased when I first created this site 17 years ago.
Speaking of, I've been saying nice things about the Bears for a change, so I'm glad someone has noticed:
Remember this day, always. I hope that in 70 years, this guy is sitting in his rocking chair, telling his grandkids about Sept. 5, 2016.
Update: I didn't think I'd get any hate mail for picks, but turns out I was wrong:
I have to say that I was genuinely excited about this. I was worried I wouldn't get any hate mail from lonely losers living in their mother's basement, but it turns out I was wrong!
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The Patriots won in Arizona as nine-point underdogs, so Bill Belichick can win with anyone! Forget Jimmy Garoppolo, let's see what Belichick can do offensively with your 90-year-old grandma! He'd go 11-5 with her!
OK, that paragraph pretty much epitomized everything I heard on TV in the past 24 hours. The Patriots did have a nice win in Arizona, but people are misreading the Cardinals. They aren't who we think they are (R.I.P., Dennis Green); their defense has some holes, and Carson Palmer is not nearly the same as he was this time last year. The Patriots still have a young quarterback who could be prone to mistakes, and there are still some major liabilities on the offensive line. In fact, that's the one major mismatch in this contest. Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Mario Williams figure to absolutely dominate the Patriots' poor blocking unit, making life a living hell for Garoppolo and LeGarrette Blount.
Belichick will obviously recognize this and have Garoppolo dink and dunk as frequently as possible. This will produce some positive offensive drives, but it'll be an inconsistent source of offense, as the Dolphins' safeties and linebackers are pretty solid.
MIAMI OFFENSE: It's crazy to think the Dolphins probably would've won last week had Kenny Stills not dropped a 71-yard touchdown. Think of all the Survivor Pool entries that would've been ruined. At any rate, factoring in the drop, I thought Ryan Tannehill played very well, considering the circumstances. He was battling arguably the top defense in the NFL in a very hostile environment. It's a small sample size, but he has shown nice growth in Adam Gase's offense.
I expect the Dolphins' offensive line to hold up better versus the Patriots than it did against the Seahawks, given the disparity in talent between the two pass-rushing units. This will open up more opportunities to take some downfield shots to his receivers, so hopefully Stills or whoever doesn't make the same mistake.
Arian Foster, meanwhile, could get going. The Seahawks' stellar defensive line limited the Dolphins to 3.1 yards per carry. New England, meanwhile, surrendered 5.3 to Arizona. Granted, David Johnson is one of the best running backs in the NFL, but Foster still has talent and should be able to produce until he sustains an injury.
RECAP: This spread is way too high, as I think it should be closer to -4. If Tom Brady were playing, and the offensive line were healthy, it would be a different story. However, the Patriots and Dolphins are pretty close right now under current circumstances, and Miami has the edge in the one mismatch in this contest.
This is going to be a big wager for me. I was hoping for Dolphins +7, but perhaps Vegas' unwillingness to move off +6.5 is a good sign. The Patriots easily could've lost Sunday night against an Arizona team that has taken a step backward, and I don't think people have caught on to the fact that the Dolphins are a solid squad; they're picking up where they left off in the middle of last season prior to sustaining numerous injuries. Besides, 6.5 is a pretty high number for a limited offense battling a talented defense, and I'm sure New England has one eye on its upcoming Thursday night affair versus Houston.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: There's no change here; I still love the Dolphins. The sharps haven't really weighed in on this too much, but that is likely to change by Sunday morning.
SATURDAY NOTES: More bad news for the Patriots: Linebacker Dont'a Hightower is listed as doubtful. The Patriots couldn't stop the run when Hightower missed action last year, and that is likely to happen again. The Dolphins definitely seem like the right side to me, so it's strange that the sharps haven't taken a stance on either side. Perhaps they're holding out for a +7 possibility. If it reaches +7, I'll add a fifth unit.
SUNDAY MORNING LOCKED-IN: So much for +7. This spread has fallen to +5.5 in most places, thanks to sharp action, but +6 is still available at Bovada. I'd lock that in if you like the Dolphins.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Nothing has changed in an hour. This line is still +6 in a couple of places, but +5.5 in most others.
The Psychology. Edge: Dolphins.
The Patriots are a big favorite playing in four days against the Texans.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New England: 53% (21,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
History: Patriots have won 13 of the last 18 meetings (Home Team has won 8 of the last 9 meetings).
Underdog is 67-37 ATS in the Dolphins' last 104 games.
Dolphins are 17-11 ATS on the road vs. teams with a winning record since 2007.
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1) Line: Ravens by 7. Total: 42.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Ravens -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Ravens -1.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Ravens.
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CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Raise your hand if you're shocked that Robert Griffin sustained an injury and is now out for eight weeks. Wait, no one is raising their hand? Hmm... I guess that's something all average fans expected, yet the Browns' "brain" trust didn't seem to realize how unreliable Griffin can be. It's utterly shocking that people in positions of power being paid six and seven figures can't seem to quite figure out such logical things.
Griffin's injury is irrelevant, as Josh McCown is the better quarterback anyway. He obviously doesn't have Griffin's deep ball or mobility, but he's smarter and more accurate, and he's better suited to command an offense. Plus, he'll actually get the ball to Gary Barnidge, something Griffin is highly incapable of doing. In addition to Barnidge, the Browns also have Terrelle Pryor (projected to register 1,800 receiving yards by Charles Woodson), first-round rookie Corey Coleman and Duke Johnson capable of catching passes out of the backfield, so it's not like Cleveland is completely devoid of talent on this side of the ball.
Oh, and the Browns also have a stellar tackle-guard combo in Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio. The Ravens were able to win Week 1 by pressuring Tyrod Taylor, who lost Cordy Glenn during the afternoon. Cleveland will do a better job of protecting McCown, who should be able to move the chains efficiently by spreading the ball around to his underrated weapons.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: While I expect the Ravens' pass rush to be more limited this week, the Browns' pass rush will be completely non-existent. I wrote in my NFL Power Rankings that Carson Wentz could've filed a W-4 while standing in the pocket against Cleveland. That's what happens when the three primary pass-rushers - Carl Nassib, Joe Schobert and Emmanuel Ogbah - are all rookies.
Joe Flacco figures to have plenty of time in the pocket to potentially carve up a secondary that isn't horrible, but lacks a skilled defender beyond Joe Haden. However, Flacco's receiving corps leaves much to be desired. Steve Smith clearly isn't 100 percent; Breshad Perriman isn't ready to be a consistent producer; while Mike Wallace is mistake-prone and will drop some passes.
The one advantage the Browns definitely have on this side of the ball is their run defense against Baltimore's lackluster backs. Nose tackle Danny Shelton and stud linebacker Christian Kirksey should be able to shut down either Justin Forsett or Terrance West.
RECAP: What the hell is this spread? Baltimore by seven? On the road? I understand the Ravens being -7 at home, but having them lay a touchdown as visitors seems pretty stupid. It's definitely a clear overreaction to what we saw in Week 1, as evidenced by the shift from -3.5 to -7 in terms of the advanced line. People witnessed the Eagles beating the Browns by 19 points, but they aren't recognizing two things. First, the game was a tight, 13-10 affair in the third quarter before Griffin got hurt and the wheels fell off for the Browns. Cleveland actually averaged more yards per play than Philadelphia. Second, McCown is better than Griffin, and the Browns stand a better chance of winning now.
I love the Browns in this spot, and I'm willing to bet four units on them. This line is SIX points off where it should be, so let's take advantage of the public's overreaction. In fact, I'm willing to lock in those four units now, as I don't want to risk this line falling to +6.5.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I've had Browns fans begging me not to bet their team heavily. Based on past experience, that's how I know I have the right side. Remember, all Cleveland needs to do is lose by fewer than seven points. Considering how stagnant Baltimore's offense can be, that is likely to happen.
SATURDAY NOTES: Here's a game the sharps have been pounding. The Browns have actually received more professional money this week than any other team. Try to get +6 before the line drops even further. The Browns seem like the obvious right side. This spread is way off, and the Ravens look much worse now, since they barely beat a Buffalo team that was so easily dominated by the Jets on Thursday night.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Hope you got in +7, or at least +6/+6.5! This line has dropped to +4.5. As I noted, there's more sharp money on the Browns than any other side this eek. If you're desperate, Bovada still has +6 -120, which I would prefer over +4.5.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
There's a lot of money on the Browns from the sharps.
Percentage of money on Cleveland: 62% (18,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Browns.
History: Ravens have won 14 of the last 16 meetings (Road Team has covered 10 of the last 12 non-pushes).
Ravens are 11-21 ATS as road favorites since 2005.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) Line: Steelers by 3. Total: 48.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Steelers -4.
Walt's Calculated Line: Steelers -3.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Steelers.
I wouldn't say my weekly random NFL notes cluttered these picks pages, so I'll keep them here. What I'm also going to do is store all of them in a Random NFL Notes section so that you can go back and read previous entries in the future.
Some random NFL notes I can't put anywhere else:
1. I have to discuss a commercial that has been on seemingly every channel. I've seen this like 500 times, and it irritates me more and more each occasion. Let's take a look - actually, you can take a look; I'm not watching again - and discuss why it's so horrible:
Does anyone understand why this commercial makes absolutely no sense? How the hell do you fall asleep right before the first pick is made!? The draft hasn't even begun yet - hence, Antonio Brown being picked as the consensus No. 1 choice - and yet this guy is already asleep? I think this dude has bigger issues than fantasy football if he passes out so quickly. And that's quite evident with him hallucinating and seeing Brown. Can someone take this guy to a hospital? He's in no condition to be doing a fantasy draft!
2. Speaking of fantasy football, I wanted to post this last week. I may get some stuff wrong, but I kicked major a** with this team last year, and I wanted to show it off:
That was my championship last season. I began the year 1-2, and didn't lose again afterward, though I somehow tied. This may have ended up being the best fantasy team I've ever owned. Having those three dominant receivers in a 3-WR competitive league made me feel invulnerable. I honestly would've been utterly shocked if I had lost a single game during the second half of the season.
What's the point of this entry, then? I honestly don't know. I just wanted to share how proud I was of this fantasy team, and honestly, this was not meant as a brag. Seriously, it wasn't! I swear! Not bragging at all! Not a bit!
3. The big news coming out of the Thursday night game was Brandon Marshall kneeling during the national anthem. I posted my Jerk of the Year entry on Colin Kaepernick last week, and I feel the same way about Marshall. My friend Body Burner, whom I was watching the game with, felt even stronger, calling Marshall a "Nazi" and cheering when he sustained an injury. His brother is a police officer, for the record.
I'm bringing up Marshall here because I saw something great. Marshall had an endorsement deal with Ari Academy Federal Credit Union. That's no longer the case.
"Although we have enjoyed Brandon Marshall as our spokesperson over the past five months, Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) has ended our partnership," president Glenn Strebe said. "AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon?s right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors."
This just brightened my day. My only regret is not having endorsement deals with these communists myself that I could terminate. But maybe that's possible... Hey Marshall, Kaepernick and Arian Foster: I'm going to give you 50 cents to talk about my Web site, oh wait, no I'm not, oh snap!
PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: Usually, the losing the team in a playoff rematch is the one seeking revenge, but I'd have to think that Antonio Brown will be extra motivated to battle the Bengals after they knocked him out with a gruesome head injury last season, ruining Pittsburgh's chances in the following round against Denver. It's crazy to think that the Steelers probably would've defeated the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos had Brown been on the field.
Ben Roethlisberger was also roughed up in that contest. He was extremely sharp Monday night, albeit against a team running an extremely stupid defensive scheme. Things will be much more difficult against the Bengals, who have one of the best defenses in the NFL when everyone is in the lineup. That's not the case, however, as Vontaze Burfict is out. Cincinnati was pretty weak to the run against the Jets as a result, and I trust DeAngelo Williams a bit more than Matt Forte at this point in their respective careers.
I also don't think the Bengals' secondary performed all that well against the Jets. Dre Kirkpatrick was burned on occasion, while Reggie Nelson's absence was felt at safety. Ryan Fitzpatrick did a bit too much for my liking until the end of the game, when he predictably choked. Roethlisberger doesn't have limitations, so he could be in for another terrific performance.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: A.J. Green lit up Darrelle Revis last week, which surprised some. Revis has been trending downward, however, so one of the top receivers in the NFL having a great game against an aging veteran shouldn't have been a big shock. Green could have another awesome game, as Pittsburgh's secondary isn't very good, to put it nicely. No one in the defensive backfield performed particularly well against the Redskins, who moved the chains willingly until they self-destructed with crucial errors.
I don't like Andy Dalton very much, but I trust him to take care of the football more than Kirk Cousins. I also think Marvin Lewis' team will be way more disciplined than Jay Gruden's bunch. So, I wouldn't expect all of the holds and false starts that plagued the Redskins and prevented them from posting a high point total Monday night.
One area where Pittsburgh will win on this side of the ball is stopping the run; the Steelers limited Matt Jones pretty well, and they should be able to treat Jeremy Hill similarly. Hill struggled to run on the Jets, and he'll have the same type of lackluster performance in Week 2.
RECAP: This is a battle between the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in my NFL Power Rankings, so I expect a tight affair determined by about a field goal. Unfortunately, that's exactly what this spread is. I anticipated picking the Bengals for a unit or two on the advanced line of +4, but the spread has mysteriously fallen to +3 despite Pittsburgh's blowout Monday night. Isn't that weird?
I'm torn on this game - seriously, I've mentally switched my pick back and forth - so I'm going to take the shady line movement as a sign that the Bengals are the right side. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if I changed my mind later in the week. I can't seem to figure this one out.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm very torn on this game, and it's not a surprise that the sharps haven't touched this. This line is where it should be, and I think the most likely result is Pittsburgh winning by three. There's just no value here.
SATURDAY NOTES: Despite there not being any value on the Bengals, some sharps have been betting them. I wish we were getting a better line. As I've said, the most likely result for this contest seems to be Pittsburgh winning by three. These teams match up pretty evenly.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This line hasn't moved at all. I imagine the books are terrified of moving this to +3.5 because of all the sharp action that would pour in on Cincinnati.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
Both teams want revenge, which is weird.
The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
Some late money on the Steelers.
Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 63% (17,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
History: Steelers have won 15 of the last 20 meetings.
Marvin Lewis is 12-1 ATS in his second-consecutive road game.
Bengals are 32-16 ATS as underdogs since 2009.
Ben Roethlisberger is 42-23 ATS vs. the AFC North.
Mike Tomlin is 5-17 ATS as a favorite after a win of 14+ in the regular season unless a bye is coming up.
Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at Washington Redskins (0-1) Line: Redskins by 3.5. Total: 45. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Redskins -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Redskins -3.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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1. I had some notes I wrote down following a bowl game last year that I planned to use for Week 1 in this section, but completely forgot. Luckily, I saw the notes, so I can share them with you now.
I typed this following Wisconsin's victory over USC. After the Badgers prevailed, some doofus announcer stated the following of Wisconsin: "They proved that they're legitimate."
Oh, wow, by beating USC in a meaningless game? Nice job! Who cares anyway? Will there be a single human being 20 years from now who says, "Man, that 2015 Wisconsin team proved that they were legit when they beat No. 25 USC in the Holiday Bowl; I had my doubts, but those Badgers led by Joel Stave proved me wrong!" Of course not! Look,
2. Speaking of that Wisconsin-USC game, that was a roller-coaster ride for me. The Badgers won, 23-21, and I sulked at losing yet another college bowl pick, thinking I had Wisconsin -3.5. I cried myself to sleep that night. The day after, I scrolled through my College Football Picks page and noticed something out of the corner of my eye. A plus sign at the Wisconsin-USC selection. I had Wisconsin +3.5; not -3.5!
I felt like such an idiot. At the same, though, it was awesome. It was like I found a $20 bill in the pocket of a random pair of jeans. Except I don't wear jeans, but you know what I mean.
3. Much is being made of the controversial Oklahoma State-Central Michigan ending. If you didn't catch what happened somehow, Oklahoma State was whistled for an intentional grounding penalty on what appeared to be the final play in regulation. The MAC officials ruled that there would be one untimed down, which, of course, Central Michigan turned into a touchdown via a 51-yard Hail Mary featuring a hook and ladder.
It was an exciting finish, but it came to light that the play should've never happened. The MAC officials claimed they screwed up, and that Oklahoma State should've won. Despite this, they're not going to change the result of the game.
I have three thoughts on all of this:
1) Why the hell can't the NCAA change the result of the game? What's stopping them? They've admitted that Oklahoma State shouldn't won, so just give Oklahoma State the win. It's pretty dumb to penalize them for incompetence.
2) Incompetence or corruption? Why are MAC officials doing the game anyway? Shouldn't the refs be from some third conference so that they're not unbiased? Doesn't the NCAA understand how bad this looks?
3) I don't understand why the rule is wrong anyway. If the offensive team is called for intentional grounding while trying to run the clock, and they end up turning the ball on downs as a result, there should be one untimed down. Why should one team get to screw up intentionally and then get rewarded for it? It's so counterintuitive.
DALLAS OFFENSE: Dak Prescott certainly wasn't to blame for the Cowboys' Week 1 loss. He played well, but endured countless drops, thanks in part to how poorly designed Jerry Jones' stadium is. The sunlight prevented many of his weapons from catching passes, though it did not affect Dez Bryant on his attempted touchdown grab. Bryant simply screwed up.
Bryant has a very difficult matchup this week against Josh Norman. He'll struggle to... wait... oops, I forgot that the Redskins don't realize that it's possible for a highly priced cornerback to shadow a No. 1 receiver. My bad. Bryant should be able to redeem himself against the woefully inept Bashaud Breeland, leaving Terrance Williams over on Norman's side. The best part about this, from a Dallas perspective, is that with Norman in his face, Williams won't have a chance to screw up this week!
Ezekiel Elliott didn't have a strong debut last week, but this was to be expected. No one is running on the Giants this year as long as their two mammoth defensive tackles are in the lineup. I like Elliott here, as the Redskins showed an inability to tackle DeAngelo Williams on Monday night. Elliott is obviously way more talented than Williams right now, so he'll rebound.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: Kirk Cousins needs to prove that he's worth a big contract, but he's not off to a good start. In fact, at this rate, the Redskins will have to move on rather than pay him anything. Cousins feasted on some horrible opponents last year, and his poor performance against the Steelers, mired by inaccurate passes and sloppy interceptions, won't do anything to dispel the belief that he's overrated.
Cousins has an easy matchup here, however, as the Cowboys feature a skeleton-crew front seven where all of the talented players are serving drug suspensions. Like Eli Manning last week, Cousins will have no pressure in his face. He'll be able to carve up a Dallas secondary that also happens to be pretty weak.
The question, however, is if Cousins will be able to lead his team to touchdowns and avoid screwing up again. Then again, Cousins may not have the chance to do so if the Redskins feed the ball to Matt Jones more than seven times this week. Jones has a stellar matchup, as the Cowboys' suspension-ravaged front seven couldn't contain Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen this past Sunday.
RECAP: I was hoping this spread would remain Cowboys +3.5, but the advanced line didn't hold. It's now on the opposite side of three in the wake of Washington's abysmal showing on Monday night.
I ordinarily would go with this sort of line value, but I think there might be something seriously wrong with the Redskins. The way they were so undisciplined was disturbing, and then Norman called out the coaching staff afterward. Maybe I'm just overthinking things, but it just doesn't seem right. I feel more comfortable picking the Cowboys, though they're missing so much personnel that I can't make it for any sort of financial wager.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I think the line is right where it should be here, too, but the difference is that the sharps have been betting the Redskins, pushing this spread up from -2.5 to -3. I assume they're banking on a public overreaction Washington crapping the bed - the Redskins were -4 on the advanced line - and they see some value as a result. They could definitely be right.
SATURDAY NOTES: I don't think there's enough information to bet this game. Are the Redskins a bad team? Or are they a solid squad that just had some bad luck (and bad coaching) on Monday night? I'd like to find out first. The sharps clearly think it's the latter because they've been betting the Redskins. I'm not nearly as confident. In fact, I'm sticking with the Cowboys for no units. I could see this game going either way, though.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This line has moved to +3.5 at some books. The pros have been betting the Redskins. I still have no opinion on this game, as I think we still have a lot to learn about the Redskins.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Cowboys.
The pros are betting a lot on the Redskins.
Percentage of money on Washington: 62% (14,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cowboys.
History: Underdog has covered 11 of the previous 16 meetings.
The underdog is 61-35 ATS in Cowboys games since 2010.
Cowboys are 28-20 ATS as an underdog since 2009.
Redskins are 8-17 ATS in September home games since 2001.
New Orleans Saints (0-1) at New York Giants (1-0) Line: Giants by 4. Total: 54. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Giants -4.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Giants -4.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Giants.
If you've followed this site for a while, you might remember that I like to respond to my spam mails. Five years ago, a man named Jon Wire from the "United Bank of Africoan" promised me an ATM card of some sort, so I responded as a man named Mister Compassion Chuck Norris, who was raised by wolves. The following season, I received e-mails from Richard Held and Loon Bruce, who told me I won a Facebook Award, which comes with a "lump sum pay out of (750,000.00 GBP)." Pretending to be Matthew Millen Kim, I sent out my application and fake money.
Last year, Tom Brady and his deflated footballs were involved. You can see those Spam Mails here with my responses to avoid clutter. I'll have brand new spam mail responses next week!
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: The Saints tallied 500-plus net yards against the Raiders last week, but I don't think they'll be able to repeat that in this matchup. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, New Orleans isn't nearly as effective outside the Superdome. More importantly, however, the Giants possess a better defense, and none of their cornerbacks are bad enough to get benched like Sean Smith was last week.
New York's stop unit is actually very good. While the secondary is talented, it starts up front, where the Giants have two excellent pass-rushers in Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, and two behemoth defensive tackles, Johnathan Hankins and Snacks Harrison, who can collapse the interior of the pocket. The Saints' offensive line held up well last week, but I don't expect that to be the case again. The guards suck, while left tackle Terron Armstead is not himself, so the Giants will be able to take advantage of this.
I still expect Drew Brees to engineer some touchdown drives, but the Giants have two excellent cornerbacks, a promising nickel and decent safety play. Brees won't be the unstoppable force we saw in Week 1, though I still wouldn't expect him to perform poorly.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: Much like the Saints, the Giants possess a shaky offensive line that showed well in Week 1. However, as with New Orleans' front, I don't expect that to last. The Giants had the luxury of battling Dallas' suspension-ravaged front seven. The Saints don't have much talent there either, but there's one clear mismatch, which is Cameron Jordan going up against woeful right tackle Marshall Newhouse. I expect Jordan to win that battle easily and harass Eli Manning all afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Saints, they don't have much else on defense. Nick Fairley and Kenny Vaccaro had nice games last week, but pretty much everyone else performed poorly. Manning will face some pressure, but he'll be able to connect with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz quite consistently, especially with top cornerback Delvin Breaux out of the lineup.
The Giants had major success running the ball last week, and that should once again be the case against the Saints. New Orleans has one of the worst starting defensive tackles in the NFL in Tyeler Davison, while James Laurinaitis was predictably horrible. The Saints surrendered a league-worst 6.3 yards per carry in Week 1 - no one else was worse than 5.4 - so I'd expect big games from Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen again.
RECAP: I'm not sure what to make of this game. The Giants seem like they might be the right side, but I'm concerned about their offensive line actually getting exposed this week. They also have to battle the Redskins, Vikings and Packers following this game, so they could be distracted. The Saints, on the other hand, are worse, and they also have some glaring issues. However, they have Brees, and I think there's a decent chance that he provides a back-door cover in this contest. Giving Brees more than a field goal to work with doesn't provide much room for error, though I wouldn't bet on it.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: There's some sharp money on the Saints. Not a lot, though. I'm considering a unit on New Orleans myself. This line a bit too high, and I don't understand why the Giants are getting so much hype. They just beat a Dallas team that was missing most of its front seven, starting a rookie quarterback in his first game, and dropping countless passes. And despite all that, had Terrance Williams stayed inbounds, the Cowboys may have won! Seriously, why is everyone going crazy about the Giants?
SATURDAY NOTES: There's still sharp money on the visitor. I thought about placing a unit on the Saints, but I think the line is right where it should be, and I don't think we're getting enough value with the Saints, especially considering that their top cornerback is out with an injury.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This line has dropped to +3.5 in most places, save for Bovada, which still has +4 -115. I'm regretting not placing a unit on +4.5, but whatever. It's not a huge deal. There's definitely no value at +4 -115.
The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
Will the Giants be focused? They just beat Dallas, and after this "easy" game, they take on the Redskins, Vikings and Packers.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New Orleans: 57% (20,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Saints.
Sean Payton is 16-11 ATS after losing as a favorite.
Drew Brees is 41-28 ATS as an underdog.
Drew Brees is 34-23 ATS after a loss with the Saints (11-5 ATS as an underdog).
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-1) Line: Panthers by 11.5. Total: 44.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Panthers -13.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Panthers -13.5.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Panthers.
Video of the Week: You'll enjoy this if you're a heterosexual male, but you may want to wear headphones if you're at work (thanks, Clinton S):
Totally agree. Worst f***ing invention ever. Why do women want to rob us of staring at cleavage? Why!?!?!
CAROLINA OFFENSE: Cam Newton has had nine days to recover from the crushing hits he took from the Broncos. It wasn't a surprise that Newton lost once againt to Denver, as the Broncos match up extremely well with the Panthers, given that their pass-rushers can easily expose Carolina's weak tackles. That happened in the second half of the Thursday night affair, prompting Newton to get rocked.
This matchup will be much easier. The 49ers don't have quality edge rushers, so Newton will have much more time in the pocket. He'll be battling a San Francisco defensive backfield that didn't allow any points, but it wasn't exactly tested by the woefully inept Case Keenum and a group of receivers who can't get open. Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen are all better than anyone the Rams have, so I expect Newton to move the chains quite easily.
Given that the 49ers will have to pay much more attention to the aerial attack in this contest, they won't have as much success containing the run. Plus, Newton is a threat to scramble himself, and he's very difficult to contain once he takes off.
SAN FRANCISCO OFFENSE: The Panthers are definitely not the same defensively this year. Josh Norman's absence is absolutely huge, as replacement James Bradberry was putrid as a replacement. However, in this game, Norman's absence won't matter at all.
The reason? Blaine Gabbert sucks. Sure, he made a couple of nifty throws Monday night, but he was battling a Los Angeles defense that was sleepwalking. Gabbert tossed many checkdowns and errant passes, and that won't work against the Panthers, especially if Carolina establishes a quick lead, which is a very strong possibility.
The 49ers' primary source of offense Monday night was Carlos Hyde pounding the ball effectively, but he won't be able to do this if the Panthers, as expected, go up big early. Besides, despite what C.J. Anderson did in the opener, I still like Carolina's run defense to limit Hyde.
RECAP: We saw this game last year. The 49ers won a late Monday night affair, then traveled across the country on a short work week to play a 1 p.m. Eastern game against a good team coming off a Week 1 loss. The Steelers throttled the 49ers, 43-18.
This is a very similar situation. The 49ers are awful, but they caught the Rams sleepwalking much like the Vikings did last year. Traveling across the country on limited rest and playing a far superior opponent in an early start time is not a recipe for success. Unfortunately, this line is way too high! The Steelers were -6 last year versus San Francisco, while the Panthers are laying almost two touchdowns!
As a general rule, I'm not going to bet a 13.5-point favorite - teams favored by 13.5 or more have covered only 45.9 percent of the time since 1989 - but I will at least pick Carolina for office-pool purposes.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I wish we had better value here like we did with the Steelers against the 49ers in Week 2 last year. Oh well. The sharps haven't taken the 49ers, by the way.
SATURDAY NOTES: Professional bettors will seldom wager on a double-digit favorite in the NFL, so it's telling that they haven't grabbed the points with the 49ers. Carolina should be able to run away with this victory, but the line is too high for my liking.
FINAL THOUGHTS: So much for there not being any sharp action! They've hit the 49ers so hard Sunday morning that this line dropped to +11.5 at some books. I have the urge to take Carolina for a unit, but there might just be something the pros know that the rest of us don't.
The Psychology. Edge: Panthers.
Late Monday night game, short work week, cross-country road trip, early Sunday start. The 49ers did this last year and got demolished at Pittsburgh.
The Vegas. Edge: 49ers.
Slight lean on the Panthers.
Percentage of money on Carolina: 62% (14,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
49ers are 6-14 in 1 p.m. East Coast games without Jim Harbaugh since 2003.
Week 2 NFL Picks - Late Games
Seattle at Los Angeles,
Tampa Bay at Arizona,
Atlanta at Oakland,
Jacksonville at San Diego,
Indianapolis at Denver,
Green Bay at Minnesota,
Philadelphia at Chicago
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenever winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 18, 2020): 1-5 (-$1,430)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 18, 2020): 0-2 (-$575)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 18, 2020): 0-2 (-$855)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 18, 2020): 2-3-1 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 18, 2020): $0
2020 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-2, 50.0% (-$135)
2020 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 132-123-6, 52.6% (+$3,280) 2020 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 43-42-3, 50.6% (-$2,650) 2020 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 37-22-1, 62.7% (+$5,515) 2020 Season Over-Under: 137-119-6, 53.5% ($0) 2020 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$375
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% (+$3,585) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$6,105) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$4,235) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,880) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,335) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$7,445) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$7,825) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$3,215) 2016 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-127-10, 53.8% (+$780) 2017 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-140-8, 49.5% (-$4,300) 2018 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 140-134-14, 51.3% (+$845) 2019 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 149-128-9, 53.6% (+$1,200)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2016 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 42-35-3, 54.5% (+$475) 2017 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 32-40-3, 43.8% (-$2,395) 2018 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-41-2, 55.9% (+$2,670) 2019 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-36-2, 55.0% (+$655)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2016 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-22-5, 48.8% (-$1,465) 2017 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 20-22-1, 47.6% (-$1,595) 2018 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 27-32-1, 45.8% (-$4,735) 2019 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 37-27-2, 57.8% (+$2,185)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2016 Season Over-Under: 123-141-1, 46.6% (+$95) 2017 Season Over-Under: 136-139-2, 49.5% (+$640) 2018 Season Over-Under: 118-128-3, 48.0% (-$225) 2019 Season Over-Under: 126-133-4, 48.6% (-$50)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855 2016 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$275 2017 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$510 2018 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,495 2019 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,715
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100) 2016 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-1, 83.3% (+$2,780) 2017 NFL Picks of the Month: 4-2, 66.7% (+$1,040) 2018 NFL Picks of the Month: 4-3, 57.1% (-$640) 2019 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3-1, 50.0% (-$625)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,989-2,760-179, 52.0% (+$13,585) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 953-858-49 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 452-396-23 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 2,459-2,413-66 (50.5%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 44-29-1 (60.3%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.