Minnesota Vikings (8-2) at Detroit Lions (6-4) Line: Vikings by 3. Total: 45.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Lions -1.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Lions -1.5.
Thursday, Nov 23, 12:30 PM
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The Game. Edge: Lions.
WEEK 11 RECAP: If you expect me to make excuses for the disastrous Week 11 - I was 3-10-1 (-$1,595) - then you'll sorely be disappointed. I handicapped terribly. No question about it. I think I had the right side of the Denver-Cincinnati game - the Broncos legitimately outgained the Bengals by 151 yards - but the unit count was way too high. I didn't have a problem with Seahawks +1 on Monday night either. However, I had the wrong side of all of my other multi-unit losses (Packers +2, Raiders +7.5, Bills +7). The only good pick I made was Redskins +9.5 over the Saints.
Rather than complaining and whining about luck, I spent hours trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I couldn't get out of my head that my entire Sunday kept going like this: "OK, my team is having a good drive ... interception ... my team is having another good drive ... fumble ... my other team has reached the red zone ... interception." This was the running theme of my losses. As the games were going on, I thought I was victimized by poor variance again, and I prepared my excuses. But after the Sunday action concluded, I thought about it, and I realized the staggering fact that I bet a combined 10 units on the trio of Brett Hundley, Brock Osweiler and Nathan Peterman. Of course there were plenty of interceptions and fumbles!
I literally said to myself, "What the hell am I doing?"
Since the new CBA was installed, teams are practicing less, and that's an even greater disadvantage to crappy quarterbacks. So, why the f**k am I betting on them?
I created a quick quarterback rankings list Sunday night and looked at the bottom five starters right now:
Yes, those numbers to the right are how they've performed against the spread. Throw in Peterman, and the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL this year have gone 5-20 against the spread. Thus, betting against them would've given you a 20-5 record!
I'm not saying that you should automatically bet against these bums, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to avoid wagering on them and other terrible quarterbacks. They're at such a disadvantage with the lack of practice, and I don't think the sportsbooks have adjusted the number against them enough. And I definitely haven't either. I'm going to make an anti-awful quarterback tax in my ratings from now on, so hopefully things improve.
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: If you listen to any ESPN or NFL Network show, you'll hear that Case Keenum is now way more than a game-manager. I suppose that'll happen when a quarterback throws for at least 280 yards in a three-game stretch in which he compiles a 7:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Keenum has been great, no doubt about it, but it needs to be pointed out that Keenum has feasted on three very flawed opponents during that stretch. The first two were the Browns and Redskins, two poor defensive teams. The third was the Rams, and it may seem odd to group them with Cleveland and Washington, but Los Angeles lost talented cornerback Kayvon Webster to injury, and that's when Keenum went berserk. Without Webster, the Rams had no one to cover Adam Thielen.
The Lions will have a solid plan for Thielen and Stefon Diggs, as they have a couple of skilled cornerbacks in Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay. A'Shawn Robinson should be able to put some pressure on Keenum, which could hurry some of his throws. Now that Keenum is being told he's more than a game-manager, he could be more aggressive, and thus prone to more mistakes.
That said, the Vikings could limit Keenum from making too many errors by establishing the run. The Lions have been porous versus the rush lately, surrendering a combined 313 yards on the ground the past two weeks. Neither Latavius Murray nor Jerick McKinnon is very good, but both should have their way with the Lions' front.
DETROIT OFFENSE: Matthew Stafford has beaten the Vikings in three consecutive meetings, as it seems as though he just has an answer for Mike Zimmer's defense. I think this makes sense because most of Stafford's throws are short tosses to his running backs, tight ends and Golden Tate. The Vikings have a great defense, but their one weakness is that they have just one linebacker who is great in coverage.
Anthony Barr won't be able to do everything, so all of Detroit's slip screens and crossing routes should once again give Zimmer a headache. Stafford scored just 14 points in the first meeting, but keep in mind that his offensive line was in shambles in that matchup. He didn't have his left tackle, and both center Travis Swanson and right guard T.J. Lang were very beat up (they were both questionable heading into the contest, but played through injuries). Stafford's offensive line is healthy now, so they should be able to do a better job versus Minnesota's ferocious defensive front.
Giving Stafford time is extremely dangerous. We've seen what Stafford can do behind horrible offensive lines. He can still be effective because of his ability to release the ball very quickly. Stafford with better protection is extremely difficult to stop.
RECAP: It's not often that the vastly superior quarterback in a matchup is an underdog of three or more; let alone a home dog of a field goal! The only time this occurred in the previous two weeks was when Philip Rivers was getting four in Jacksonville, and that was my Pick of the Month. This is not a Pick of the Month, but I like the Lions quite a bit.
Detroit wasn't even an underdog a week ago. The Lions were -1.5 on the advance line, which I thought was a reasonable spread (and thus my current number.) However, the line moved 4.5 points because the Vikings beat the Rams, a game that could've gone differently had A) Cooper Kupp not fumbled at the 1-yard line, and B) Webster not gotten injured. This is a major overreaction, so let's take advantage of it.
I'm on the Lions for four units. They match up well with the Vikings, and in a near-worst-case scenario, Stafford can engineer a comeback to perhaps either cover or push. The Lions seldom get blown out, so I generally love them getting a field goal or more unless they're severely outmatched, and I don't think that's the case in this scenario.
I'm actually going to lock this in at +3 -105 at Bovada. I don't see this spread going to 3.5 because that would set up a huge middle at three.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The public bet the Vikings to -3. The sharps jumped on the Lions at +3, which is why the spread has fallen to +2.5. I still love the Lions, and I actually submitted my Supercontest entry early for the first time all year because I wanted them on my card. I love getting Matthew Stafford as a field-goal underdog. It feels like the worst-case scenario, barring crazy injuries or turnovers, is Detroit losing by four or so. I think there's a very good chance the Lions cover +3. At +2.5, however, I'm not nearly as confident. You can still get +3 at Bovada.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
Everyone's betting on the Vikings.
Percentage of money on Minnesota: 67% (41,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Vikings.
History: Lions have won the last 3 meetings.
Mike Zimmer is 39-17 ATS as head coach of the Vikings.
Lions are 5-8 ATS as a Thanksgiving host since 2002.
Matthew Stafford is 8-11 ATS as a favorite following 2+ wins.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) at Dallas Cowboys (5-5) Line: Chargers by 1.5. Total: 47. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Cowboys -4.
Walt's Calculated Line: Chargers -1.5.
Thursday, Nov 23, 4:30 PM
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The Game. Edge: TBA.
My overrated-underrated feature will continue in this spot, and I'm going to emphasize injuries (particularly those on the offensive line)...
Underrated NFL Teams:
Buffalo Bills: The Bills suffered blowout defeats against the Jets, Saints and Bills, transitioning them from overrated to underrated territory. I think they would've been competitive with the Chargers had they started Tyrod Taylor. Nathan Peterman gave them no shot, but the Bills could bounce back if Taylor is re-inserted into the lineup.
Chicago Bears: The Bears have dropped two in a row, but they were without Danny Trevathan for both contests. Trevathan is not only the heart and soul of Chicago's defense, but he also happens to be the brains of the operation. The Bears frequently blow coverages with Trevathan being out of the lineup, so their defense will see a huge improvement once the star linebacker returns to the field.
Denver Broncos: The Broncos have played a brutal schedule since they were 3-3. They played at Kansas City, then took on the two best teams in the NFL, the Eagles and Patriots. They lost to the Bengals, but they legitimately outgained Cincinnati by 151 yards, averaging 0.7 more yards per play. The game was decided by two horrible turnovers; otherwise Denver would have prevailed by at least a touchdown. Brock Osweiler sucks, but the Broncos are definitely better than their 3-7 record indicates.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans battled the Steelers closely despite the final score of the game. They were down 16-14 in the third quarter before the Steelers went berserk. I think that was more about Pittsburgh than Tennessee, however, and the Titans could still win a playoff contest. Tennessee just ran into a Steeler buzz saw and couldn't do anything about it.
Washington Redskins: The Redskins have fallen to 4-6, but they have most of their offensive linemen back from injury. They've simply played an absolutely brutal schedule. During the past five weeks, they've battled the Eagles on the road, the Cowboys when they were at full strength, the Seahawks on the road, the now 8-2 Vikings, and the Saints on the road. With an easier slate, Washington could be 6-4 or 7-3 right now.
Overrated NFL Teams:
Baltimore Ravens: How the hell are the Ravens the sixth seed in the AFC? Well, I guess their schedule has been a big factor. Their five wins have come against the Bengals, Browns, Raiders (no Derek Carr), Dolphins and Packers (no Aaron Rodgers). The quarterbacks they've beaten this year have a combined 7-18 record!
Cincinnati Bengals: I hope no one is fooled into the illusion that the Bengals are mediocre following their win in Denver. They had no business winning that game. They were legitimately outgained by 151 yards, and they averaged 0.7 fewer yards per play compared to the Brock Osweiler-led Broncos. If it wasn't for an Osweiler red-zone interception and a C.J. Anderson fumble at midfield, the Bengals may have lost by double digits.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars prevailed over the Chargers because Los Angeles made so many mistakes. Jacksonville had just one legitimate scoring drive in that contest. The team also had a nice win over a lethargic Cincinnati team that couldn't pressure the quarterback or get off the field on third down. Plus, the result would've likely been 16-7 if it weren't for a punt return, which is obviously less impressive than 23-7. Blake Bortles still sucks, his receivers are pedestrian, and his offensive line is not good. The Jaguars are just an average team, and they remind me of the Giants from 2016. They're overachieving, and they're likely going to make the playoffs, but they'll lose in the postseason right away and will win just 3-4 games next year once things stop going their way.
DALLAS OFFENSE: I seldom watch Around the Horn - the senile Woody Paige once called me a "mushroom living in dank darkness" - but I caught it Monday, and I was astonished by how some sportswriters don't get it. Maybe I don't get it either, considering my atrocious record this year, but two of the panelists attributed Dallas' struggles to Ezekiel Elliott's absence. Elliott being out certainly doesn't help, but Alfred Morris nearly rushed for 100 yards against the Eagles. Elliott is third in the pecking order of injuries, way behind both Tyron Smith and Sean Lee.
Smith's absence has been crushing, as Dak Prescott has had no protection from the edge; right tackle La'el Collins has also been struggling. Prescott had enjoyed terrific protection his rookie campaign and above-average blocking for most of the season, but the past two weeks have been a complete 180. Fortunately for the Cowboys, Smith sounds like he'll be back in the lineup. He warmed up last week and told the media that he plans to play on Thanksgiving. While it's very fair to question whether Smith will be 100 percent, or if he'll even be able to last the entire game, his presence will absolutely help Dallas protect against Joey Bosa. This is crucial because Melvin Ingram will be able to do anything he wants to against Collins on the other side.
That said, the Cowboys are still going to have a tough time scoring. Dez Bryant will be locked down by Casey Hayward, while Morris will have trouble finding room against a rush defense that has improved in the wake of Denzel Perryman's return to the lineup. Prescott could still have some success moving the chains, however, particularly on passes to Jason Witten. I don't have faith in the Chargers' linebackers to cover him.
SAN ANGELES OFFENSE: The Chargers have pass protection issues of their own. Their offensive line has improved ever since rookie Dan Feeney was inserted into the lineup at left guard, as he has given the Chargers two viable blockers (Russell Okung.) However, the right side of the front is a mess, and that's where DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford reside.
Lawrence and Crawford should be able to apply lots of pressure on Philip Rivers, who won't exactly have the luxury of Keenan Allen torching the opposing defense again. Allen went nuts against the Bills, but Orlando Scandrick figures to defend him well. Thus, Rivers will have to rely on his other receivers, most of whom have disappointed this year.
However, Rivers will definitely have some success when he gets the ball to Hunter Henry, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. That's because unlike Tyron Smith, Sean Lee is still out. Since Lee's injury, Dallas has had problems defending the run, pass-catching running backs and tight ends. Rivers will be sure to take advantage of this.
RECAP: This is another Thanksgiving game with a major reaction to the advance spread. It was Cowboys -4 prior to Week 11, and I was excited to bet on the Chargers at +4. Unfortunately, this spread is now a pick 'em, which is more difficult to evaluate.
If you were to tell me that Smith would play and be close to 100 percent, I would like the Cowboys. No doubt about it. The Chargers are a very good team, but they have a tendency to choke in close games, and I believe this will be a nail-biter if Smith is fine. Keep in mind that the Chargers lost at Jacksonville, and the Jaguars are definitely worse than the Cowboys if Smith is on the field.
However, it's impossible to know Smith's status. What if he suits up, is completely ineffective, and then leaves the game at the beginning of the second quarter? This would be a crushing blow for the Cowboys. I'm still going to pick Dallas, but I was very close to choosing the Chargers, so I obviously can't bet this game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: So glad I submitted my Supercontest entry early, only to back a team that can't complete simple hand-offs and whose quarterback gets injured amid a comeback attempt. Anyway, I considered switching my pick to the Chargers, but I'm going to stay with Dallas. This is a 50-50 game for me with Tyron Smith back in the lineup. For what it's worth, the sharps bet the Cowboys +2.5. The sharps were wrong on the Lions, and they've been horrible all year, so you may not want to read too much into it.
The Psychology. Edge: Cowboys.
The Cowboys were embarrassed on national TV, while the Chargers just had an all-time scoring performance in a dominating blowout.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 59% (5,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cowboys.
The underdog is 74-48 ATS in Cowboys games since 2010.
Cowboys are 17-10 ATS after playing the Eagles since 2000.
Cowboys are 8-7 ATS as a Thanksgiving host since 2001.
New York Giants (2-8) at Washington Redskins (4-6) Line: Redskins by 7. Total: 45. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Redskins -8.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Redskins -9.
Thursday, Nov 23, 8:30 PM
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The Game. Edge: Redskins.
VEGAS UPDATE: I'll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot. Here were last week's most-bet sides:
The highest-bet sides were 23-24-2 heading into Week 11. The public absolutely destroyed the house this past weekend. The Eagles and Patriots covering crushed the books. The Jaguars beating the spread at the end didn't help matters either. Kansas City losing was the only win for the books. Highest-best sides are now 26-25-3.
Here are the five highest-bet sides, as of Tuesday morning:
This list is predictably packed with nothing but road favorites and large home favorites. I'd criticize the public for not learning anything, but they've been winning recently, so who am I to say anything?
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: It was very nice of the Giants to show up last week. Many of the players quit on Ben McAdoo in prior games, but they actually tried hard versus the Chiefs, who ran a very conservative, ineffective game plan in the Meadowlands winds. It didn't work, as Kansas City, despite being a double-digit favorites, didn't even reach double digits!
Horrible teams like the Giants tend to have trouble matching the same intensity level two weeks in a row, so I don't think they'll be as hyped up for this game. Even still, Kirk Cousins would have a big advantage over their banged-up defense. Now that Cousins' offensive line is mostly healthy, the front will be able to keep the Giants' pass rush at bay. And once that's eliminated, there's nothing much to the Giants' defense, outside of Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins.
The Giants still have atrocious linebackers, and I expect Cousins to attack them heavily with Vernon Davis (or Jordan Reed if he's healthy). Chris Thompson's absence will hurt, as Samaje Perine isn't nearly as potent catching balls out of the backfield, but Perine could have some success on the ground behind his healthy line.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Redskins have some liabilities in their defense, but they tend to have success against teams with weak right tackles because their best player on this side of the ball can almost always take advantage of matchups in his favor. That's the case here, of course, as the Giants' offensive line is a train wreck. This includes the right tackle position with Justin Pugh sidelined. Someone named Chad Wheeler is starting at right tackle, so I fully expect Kerrigan to torture him throughout the night.
Eli Manning will see lots of pressure, which will force lots of quick passes. He could have some success connecting with Evan Engram, as the Redskins have had issues defending tight ends this year.
The Giants could also establish Orleans Darkwa if this game is close. Washington's run defense has taken a hit with some injuries to the front, though Matt Ioannidis' return to the field last week certainly helped matters. That said, if the Redskins jump out early on New York, Darkwa once again won't be able to handle a full workload.
RECAP: As indicated earlier, I don't expect a great effort from the Giants in this game. They just won their "Super Bowl" against the Chiefs, so I can't see them being motivated two weeks in a row. They're a dreadful team with nothing to play for, so some of the veterans, who are secure financially, may not want to tackle or block too hard in a game just four days later. The Redskins, conversely, are in a do-or-die situation. If they lose this game, they stand no chance of making the playoffs.
That said, the Redskins just played an exhausting, overtime game, and now they have to take the field just four days later. Their energy level could be low as a consequence as well.
I like the Redskins to cover, but I'm not going to bet this contest. Teams playing on Thursday coming off overtime affairs have an atrocious track record - 5-23 against the spread all time - and there's not much of a difference between this line (-7 -120) and my projected spread of -9.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought about betting a unit on the Redskins. However, Trent Williams and both centers are out, which is pretty rough. I still like Washington to cover because I don't think the Giants will show up. If they do, they would stand a decent chance of covering, but they've been low-effort all year, and they're coming off an overtime victory. Again, for what it's worth, the sharps bet the Giants down from +7.5, but they haven't taken them at +7.
The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
The Giants just won their Super Bowl, while the Redskins are in a do-or-die game. However, Washington is coming off an exhausting game in overtime.
The Vegas. Edge: Giants.
No surprise that people didn't want to bet the Giants.
Percentage of money on Washington: 73% (3,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: .
History: Giants have won 16 of the last 22 meetings.
Giants are 48-34 ATS on the road since 2006 as long as they're not favored by 3.5 or more.
Eli Manning is 43-34 ATS as an underdog since 2007.
Redskins are 7-23 ATS as home favorites of more than 4 since 2000.
Cleveland Browns (0-10) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-6) Line: Bengals by 7.5. Total: 38. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Bengals -8.
Walt's Calculated Line: Bengals -11.5.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Bengals.
HATE MAIL: My picks were terrible this week, so the hate mail did not disappoint:
How dare this guy criticize my skills at answering these hate mails? Who responds to hate mail better than I do? No one. I may suck at picking, but I certainly excel at this. What's key is not caring about what random people on the Internet think of you. Why people are bothered by this, I have no idea.
Here's someone new:
Maybe I should get it repaired...
Some people don't have a sense of humor:
The one thing I've learned from Donald Trump is that it's best to troll people by doubling down on an unpopular opinion. Except, this isn't that unpopular, since I get lots of feedback from people who like the ESPN bit. Believe it.
Speaking of believing it, I couldn't believe this post, as I was complimented:
Yes, yes, I know I'm not average. I suck. But I'm shocked to see that one person thinks I'm average.
This last one is someone responding to a hate-mailer perfectly:
Seriously, I'm more bothered by bad grammar than hate posts about me. I don't know why. It's just frustrating to see that some people are extremely stupid. How can one say, "your a retard" without meaning to say that someone actually has a retard?
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: The Bengals have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, but the Browns couldn't take advantage of it the first time these teams met. That's because Myles Garrett was still injured. Garrett has been tremendous since his debut the following week. He and Danny Shelton have generated lots of pressure on the quarterback, as they flooded Jacksonville's backfield last week. They should be able to do the same thing this Sunday, taking advantage of Cincinnati's weak blockers.
The Bengals' inability to block usually means that it's difficult for them to sustain drives. They can't run the ball well, and I expect them to struggle in that regard once again versus a Cleveland ground defense that has actually been solid this year. Meanwhile, A.J. Green will have to go up against Jason McCourty, which might sound like a lopsided matchup to some. However, McCourty has been tremendous this year, so he should be able to keep Green in check.
However, the Browns have so many other defensive liabilities. Cincinnati's other targets will be open, especially Tyler Kroft. Andy Dalton may not have much time to throw on most occasions, but when he does get time in the pocket, he'll be able to take advantage of Cleveland's holes.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Hue Jackson compared getting Josh Gordon back to opening a new toy on Christmas. Gordon will return next week, but another Cleveland receiver played for the first time in a while last Sunday. That was Corey Coleman, who finally gave DeShone Kizer a viable downfield target to throw to.
Coleman's presence certainly helps the Browns move the chains, but Kizer's glaring issues still persist. Kizer is woefully inaccurate and has trouble reading defenses. He also holds on to the ball forever, which was bad enough when Joe Thomas was on the field. Thomas is no longer around, so the Bengals have the advantages on the edge in this contest, with Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap going up against pedestrian tackles Spencer Drangon and Shon Coleman. And I haven't even mentioned Geno Atkins yet!
The Bengals can be beaten aerially - Brock Osweiler helped the Broncos generate 340 yards of offense last week - so I expect the Browns to have success moving the chains despite a lacking running game. However, Kizer is bound to have some soul-crushing turnovers, as usual.
RECAP: Eight seems like a very high number for a team that can't block. The Bengals' victories this season have been by three, one, four and 24. However, that 24-point margin was against the Browns. Granted, Cleveland didn't have Garrett or Coleman in that contest, so the team will be better this time around. However, the Browns can't be trusted at all. They'll look like they're going to cover, and then Kizer will absolutely murder his team and its bettors with a horrible interception or lost fumble.
I would strongly recommend not betting the Browns. I'm telling you, they'll be in position to cover this spread, but they'll screw it up somehow. They always do. There's a reason Kizer is 2-7 against the spread.
I'm actually going to be on the Bengals here, as I've seen enough from the Browns that I don't want to pick them again; at least not until they play Brett Hundley in Week 14.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm considering a small bet on the Bengals as a fade of DeShone Kizer if this line moves down a bit. It's -7.5 at CRIS, which indicates that the spread could be dropping.
SATURDAY NOTES: There's some sharp action coming in on the Browns. This is not a surprise. The sharps have been betting the Browns all year, and they keep losing with them. I get the feeling that Cleveland will find some way to blow this game. I'm not going to bet this nonsense unless a -7 shows up.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps bet the Browns at +8, but not at +7.5. At least not yet. We're not seeing any +7s, but I'm going to continue to monitor any sort of line movement. I'd like Bengals -7 for a small wager.
LINE UPDATE: The Bengals are -7.5 +100 at 5Dimes. It's not -7, but it's still better than -7 -110.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
Slight lean on the Bengals.
Percentage of money on Cincinnati: 60% (6,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Bengals have won 20 of the last 26 meetings.
Bengals are 21-14 ATS at home since 2013.
Marvin Lewis is 7-10 ATS as a favorite coming off a SU win as an underdog.
Chicago Bears (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) Line: Eagles by 14. Total: 43.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Eagles -11.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Eagles -14.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Eagles.
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PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: The Eagles were my Super Bowl sleeper team this year, as I had them going 12-4. The Bears, meanwhile, could very well be my pick for 2018, as long as they get a good head coach. Part of the reason is their tremendous defense. However, their defense could also be the reason they struggle immensely in this contest. I'll explain.
The Bears have struggled on this side of the ball the past two weeks, and that's because Danny Trevathan has been out. I've called Trevathan the heart, soul and brains of Chicago's defense, as the team blows lots of coverages when he isn't on the field. It's unclear if Trevathan will play in this game - I'll be monitoring the injury reports closely - but if he's out, Carson Wentz won't have any issues dissecting Chicago's stop unit. The Bears couldn't even stop Brett Hundley without Trevathan, so what are they going to do against Wentz?
Stopping the run has also been an issue for the Bears with Trevathan out of the lineup. The Packers generated 136 rushing yards against them a couple of weeks ago. The Eagles will break free for some long runs if Trevathan is out, but Chicago will do a solid job of bottling up Jay Ajayi and the rest of the Philadelphia runners if Trevathan will be able to play. Either way, however, keeping Wentz from lighting up the scoreboard will be difficult.
CHICAGO OFFENSE: The Eagles have been able to take advantage of some poor offensive lines in their recent games. The Cowboys, Broncos and 49ers (with Joe Staley injured) couldn't block at all. That's not the case for the Bears, who have a decent front. When all of the blockers have been on the field, they've done a solid job of protecting Mitchell Trubisky.
That said, the Eagles have one of the top defensive fronts in the NFL, and I still like some of the matchups they have. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox going up against Bobby Massie and Kyle Long, who isn't 100 percent, seems like something Philadelphia should be able to take major advantage of. With less time to throw than usual, Trubisky could be forced into some mistakes against a secondary that has improved markedly since Ronald Darby returned from injury.
The Bears, of course, will attempt to establish the run, just as they did last week when Jordan Howard eclipsed the century mark. That won't work, however, if the Eagles are way out in front. That's one of the reasons why Philadelphia has surrendered just one 100-yard rushing performance this year.
RECAP: It seems like the oddsmakers have finally made the appropriate adjustments to Philadelphia. I've picked the Eagles every single week this year because I've always felt like their spreads have been way off. This seems about what it should be, as Philadelphia being favored by two touchdowns over Chicago is fair.
This is a horrible spot for the Eagles. They just beat arch-rival Dallas, and they have two tough battles after this game, as they'll be visiting the Seahawks and Rams. Big favorites in this spot could be tripped up in most circumstances, but I think the Eagles are an exception. They're the best team in the NFL. They have a top-five defense, but the important thing is Wentz's high football IQ and work ethic. I believe Wentz is going to be the best quarterback in the NFL one day, so much like Tom Brady, he'll be less prone to flat spots like this one.
I'm picking the Eagles, but this is a non-bet for me. This spread is just too high, especially if Trevathan plays. Big lines like this are often perilous because the opposing quarterback could easily throw a back-door score at the very end. That said, I will note that I'll be on the over if Trevathan sits this one out.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Danny Trevathan didn't practice yet, and neither did Akiem Hicks. The Bears are going to have a very difficult time covering if they're out of the lineup.
SATURDAY NOTES: Akiem Hicks may not play for the Bears after taking part in just one practice this week, and he was limited for that. However, if I were rooting for Chicago, I would be more concerned about Danny Trevathan. He's listed as doubtful after not practicing all week. Trevathan is the heart, soul and brain of Chicago's defense, and his absence made Brett Hundley look great two weeks ago. Imagine what Carson Wentz is going to do. I'm going to put two units on the Eagles and wager a small amount on the over. By the way, if you think -14 is too high, you might find it interesting that home favorites of exactly 14 are 33-26 against the spread since 1989 (8-5 ATS this decade). That's obviously not a reason to bet blindly on this game, but it just goes to show that laying two touchdowns isn't very perilous.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There was a sharp bet on the Bears made at the Westgate at 10 of noon. It'll be interesting to see if this line falls to -13.5 elsewhere. If you like the Eagles, I would wait until right before kickoff to bet them. If you like Chicago, bet them ASAP. Given that Danny Trevathan (and Bryce Callahan) happens to be out, I can't see the Bears competing without him.
LINE UPDATE: The Eagles are -13.5 -108 at 5Dimes, so I'm going to lock them in for two units.
The Psychology. Edge: Bears.
This is not a good spot for the Eagles; they're coming off a big win over arch-rival Dallas, and after this easy game, they have to play the Seahawks and Rams.
The Vegas. Edge: Bears.
Everyone is betting the Eagles.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 77% (22,000 bets)
Miami Dolphins (4-6) at New England Patriots (8-2) Line: Patriots by 17. Total: 49. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Patriots -14.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Patriots -15.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Patriots.
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:
Everyone knows that NFL TV ratings are down, but what about pre-game show ratings? Awful Announcing posted this tweet Friday about that matter:
Man, I hate downtown. It's crowded with loser hippies and bums, it smells, and there's hardly any parking. Driving down there is imposs...
Wait, what? They meant downturn instead of downtown? Oh, I guess that makes more sense.
As it turns out, there's a 20-percent decrease in viewership of NFL pre-game shows. I think there are several reasons for this. NFL TV ratings have decreased, so it only makes sense for pre-game viewership to be worse as well. However, it's more than that. A big factor is that people no longer have to tune into pre-game shows to get all of the news. In the past, people interested in betting and setting their fantasy lineups would wait eagerly to hear what Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, Jay Glazer, etc. said about injuries. Now, all of those reporters tweet the news before they come on the air. Why wait for Mortensen, Schefter and Glazer to make an appearance on TV when we can just follow them on Twitter?
NFL pre-game shows have become stagnant as well. Prior to this season, it would be enjoyable to see Chris Berman and Tom Jackson on ESPN, but both have retired. They've been replaced by Sam Ponder, a sideline reporter, and Rex Ryan, whom I hear is very bland. I haven't watched more than a minute of ESPN's pre-game coverage this season because of Berman's retirement, but I've seen nothing but poor reviews for Ryan. I've been tuning into NFL Network instead because Rich Eisen is the best anchor on any of the shows. The NFL Network has its flaws, however, as Steve Mariucci frequently gives out incorrect information, while Michael Irvin doesn't appear to be sober most of the time.
However, there is a way to fix this, and I have the perfect solution!
Here's what the networks are going to do, and it's not going to work: They're going to let go some of their worst analysts - Ryan, Irvin, Phil Simms, etc. - and find new, hip, former athletes and coaches to replace them. That may temporarily increase viewership, but it will fail in the long run.
As described, the problem with pre-game shows is that they are outdated. The news can be found on Twitter, and sure, the football discussions can be interesting, but there are countless football Web sites and blogs out there like this one that people can peruse during the week. By Sunday morning, people have heard everything about all of the impending games. They can just stay connected to Twitter for any adjustments they need to make for their fantasy lineups and wagers.
Here's what the networks should do, and it would absolutely work: They need to give the audience something they can't obtain elsewhere. Something the audience absolutely wants. Something that die-hard fantasy players and bettors would tune in for.
The pre-game shows should be based on picking games against the spread and creating FanDuel lineups, and former players shouldn't be there to give out this information. I don't mind one or two former players/coaches, but the networks need to hire multiple betting and FanDuel specialists. If I were ESPN, for example, I would first of all cut the political bulls**t that is capsizing my company. But then I would hire some of the prior winners of the Westgate SuperContest or professional bettors and some of the most successful FanDuel players, and I would have them run the pre-game show with an entertaining anchor - I'd throw all my money at Eisen when his contract is up - and perhaps one or two former players who understand betting and fantasy dynamics. Tim Hasselbeck, for example, would be good, but I'd want someone with a bit more pizzazz.
I would use all 90 minutes of my pre-game show - anything more would be overkill - to have these experts create numerous FanDuel lineups and pick games against the spread with detailed analysis. I will abolish that "I gotta pick my former team!" nonsense that happens now. Seriously, why do we care if Irvin has to pick the Cowboys, or if Charles Woodson has to pick the Packers? This is extremely uninteresting. As someone who loves football betting, I would love to hear breakdowns from the top handicappers in the country. I would also love insight on the best stacks in FanDuel. Why is this stuff not available anywhere on TV?
I think the one conflict the NFL would initially have is that this stuff is associated with gambling. To that, I say, who the f*** cares? Doesn't the league know who its primary audience is? Bettors and fantasy players are the driving force behind the NFL, whether Roger Goodell likes it or not. It makes absolutely no sense for the networks not to cater to its best customers.
Anyway, that's my take. I'm sure ESPN and the other networks will just hire other former players and coaches, failing to learn anything from its prior mistakes. And I'll just keep ranting about it.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: I can't wait to see how masterfully Tom Brady dissects Miami's defense. Brady had a field day against the Raiders, but that was a neutral-site game. Brady will be at home versus a Miami defense that is just as flawed, if not more so. The Dolphins have some talented defensive linemen and two quality safeties in Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald, but that's about it.
The Dolphins' greatest weaknesses on this side of the ball are at cornerback and linebacker. The latter group is especially atrocious. Kiko Alonso is one of the worst starting linebackers in the NFL. He couldn't cover a plastic bag blowing around in the wind, so Brady will fully exploit him, as all quarterbacks have done this year. He can do this with his plethora of running backs or Rob Gronkowski. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks figures to have another huge outing, as no one on Miami will be able to cover him.
MIAMI OFFENSE: It's not yet known which quarterback the Dolphins will start in this game. Jay Cutler is in concussion protocol, though based on how he's played for most of the year, it's fair to wonder if Cutler has had a concussion this entire time.
Cutler was awful against the Buccaneers, throwing a terrible interception across his body. DeVante Parker was even worse, as he was responsible for two picks, but it didn't appear as though Miami was going to be successful with Cutler regardless. The Dolphins did much better with Matt Moore, coming back from a 20-3 deficit, but it's not like Moore is the solution either. We saw what happened when he was given a chance to start, as the Ravens shut out the Dolphins, 40-0, on a Thursday night. The Patriots are obviously much better than Baltimore, and they have figured things out defensively, so I don't see Miami having any success offensively in this contest, no matter who starts.
The big problem for the Dolphins goes beyond the signal-caller situation. Their offensive line is just anemic, and it has gotten worse since Ja'Wuan James suffered a season-ending injury. I'd say Miami has the third-worst offensive line in the NFL, which gives them almost no chance to stay competitive in this game.
RECAP: This is an extremely high number, and you generally don't want to bet those. Favorites of 16.5 or more are 19-33 against the spread since 1989. The Patriots have been better than most teams, yet are still under .500 in those games, owning a 4-5 ATS record.
Having said that, I'm picking the Patriots. The Dolphins are a fundamentally flawed team because of their horrific offensive line, and I can't see them playing very hard in a cold-weather game that means nothing to them. I have a feeling they're going to mail this one in.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Matvei pointed out to me that the Patriots have the worst record of any team as double-digit favorites over the past 10 years. That makes me want to switch the pick to the Dolphins, but I'm not convinced Miami will show up for this game, especially if Jay Cutler starts.
SATURDAY NOTES: Jay Cutler is not going to play, so I think the Dolphins might have a better chance with Matt Moore - especially with the Patriots missing two offensive linemen (center David Andrews, right tackle Marcus Cannon) again. Then again, I don't want to pick against Tom Brady, plus the Dolphins could quit if they go down 14-0 early on, so I'll remain zero on New England.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Sharp bettors usually like massive underdogs - but not this one. They haven't rouched this game, which is why the public was able to take this up to -17. I would still go with New England if I had to.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Dolphins.
A decent lean on the Patriots.
Percentage of money on New England: 65% (22,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
History: Patriots have won 14 of the last 20 meetings (Home Team has won 9 of the last 11 meetings).
Underdog is 78-48 ATS in the Dolphins' last 126 games.
Dolphins are 22-9 ATS as a road underdog of less than 5 since 2008.
Patriots are 49-38 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
Tom Brady is 215-67 as a starter (158-111 ATS).
Tom Brady is 30-34 ATS as a home favorite of -9 or more (19-27 ATS since November 2007).
Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) Line: Chiefs by 10. Total: 47. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Chiefs -9.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Chiefs -3.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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1. Two weeks ago, I talked about the report where Sam Darnold said he would return to USC if the Browns obtain the No. 1 pick. I said that was silly because Lamar Jackson is the favorite to be chosen first overall, as seen in our 2018 NFL Mock Draft. Josh Rosen is also ahead of Darnold, and he could even pass Jackson, based on his performance versus USC.
Facebook friend Sam B. had a question about my post:
If these allegations about Darnold are true, do you blame him? The Browns are the most incompendent franchise in the NFL by far. Why would any top QB want to work for them?
I definitely do not blame him, and it wouldn't be the first time a quarterback refused to go to the team selecting first overall. Most recently, Eli Manning's dad engineered a trade because he didn't want his son playing for the Chargers. John Elway did the same thing because he refused to play for the Baltimore Colts. So, a couple of two-time Super Bowl champion quarterbacks did this, so it's totally fine if Darnold demands now to play for Cleveland. In fact, unless the Browns bring in some smart football people - as opposed to baseball dudes - I fully encourage Darnold to follow Elway and Manning's strategy if he's considered to be the top selection.
However, that's precisely my issue with what Darnold said. I think it makes him look arrogant that he assumes he's going to be the top choice. He still could be with an extremely strong finish to his 2017 campaign, but he has been worse this year than last. Some of that isn't his fault, but there are NFL personnel who believe Jackson or Rosen will be the first-overall selection; not Darnold.
2. Something else from Facebook friend Sam B. regarding my post from last week:
I wanted add something about your tips for improving college football. There are tons of issues with college football now, but the worse problem by far with college football is how awful and backwards thier playoff system is. The playoffs need to be expanded to at least 16 teams and also each conference (including the smaller FBS conferences) need automatic invites. Its stupid how 3/4 of Division I FBS colleges are automatically out of playoff contention just because of thier lack of prestige. I believe fixing the playoff system would get rid of 90 percent of the problems that people mention with college football, including the ones you mentioned.
I completely agree! The college football playoff has been a huge upgrade over the BCS Bowls, but it's not good enough. Eight teams would be better, but 16 teams would be the best. And I'm all for automatic bids for the small conferences as long as the winners of each of those conferences has at least nine victories. That way, we wouldn't have any garbage teams in the playoffs.
I've written about this a while ago, but the 16-team college football playoff would be amazing. It would allow people to fill out brackets, and think of all the mayhem there would be if a No. 16 threatened the top seed in the playoff. Imagine all the office work that wouldn't be accomplished as a result of people tuning into those games!
3. Another area for improvement is ESPN's scoring updates. I swear, I've never seen an update from Cassidy Hubbarth that isn't at least 30 minutes late. I like Cassidy, but her updates are so far behind. For instance, she recently showed a Virginia Tech pick-six to put the Hokies up 22-17, but as we got to see this replay, Georgia Tech was already winning!
This always happens, and I'm sure all of you have noticed this as well. The question is, what the hell is Cassidy doing in the studio to keep her from bringing us fresh updates? Is she just playing Candy Crush on her phone? Is she stuck in a time vortex? Or is she at the mercy of ESPN's lack of funds to produce timely updates? I don't understand why this keeps happening.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: Who was dumber last week, Sean McDermott for benching Tyrod Taylor for no explicable reason, or me for betting on the Bills with Nathan J. Peterman starting for them? The result was predictably disastrous, with Buffalo getting blown out. And I say "predictably" for everyone but myself.
For my prior question, I'd say McDermott is dumber because I at least know I made a stupid decision. McDermott told the media he doesn't regret the choice; only the result. I don't know what that means, but McDermott hasn't even ruled out Peterman from starting. Giving him the nod a second time would possibly make him the worst head coach of all time.
I do think the Bills will start Taylor. They almost have to. Taylor isn't great by any means, but he's solid and steady, and he could have some success against a Kansas City secondary that has some issues. Kansas City's safety and linebacker play is anemic, aside from Derrick Johnson, so Charles Clay could have a solid game, as could LeSean McCoy as a receiver out of the backfield. The Chiefs also struggle versus the run, so McCoy should be dominant on the ground once more.
KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: Alex Smith has reverted to pre-2017 form. He was so aggressive in the early parts of this season that he looked like a completely different quarterback. Well, the Smith we know and love to criticize is back, and the results aren't pretty.
Smith will dink and dunk to his heart's content in this game, and he could definitely perform well doing so. The Bills have a good defense, but their linebackers are incredibly lackluster. They should have trouble covering Travis Kelce. Of course, I said the same thing last week, as the Giants' linebackers didn't stand a chance against Kelce, but it didn't matter.
The Chiefs should be able to run the ball as well. Kareem Hunt has hit a rookie wall, but he could break through it, at least in this game. The Bills have been much worse against the run since their inexplicable trade of Marcell Dareus. I like Kyle Williams' matchup against the Kansas City interior, but Dareus' replacement, Adolphus Washington, has been atrocious. He'll be a big liability in this matchup.
RECAP: I don't understand this spread at all. Let's assume Taylor is starting. If so, this line is 5.5 points off from where it was against the Chargers, as Buffalo was +4.5 last week when it was assumed Taylor would be the quarterback. This is saying that the Chiefs are 5.5 points better than the Chargers, which is simply untrue! Those teams are about even, so by that logic, this line is 5.5 points off from where it should be.
My line is actually closer to Bills +3. The Chiefs don't get three for being hosts because their home-field advantage is not good, despite what the media would have its audience believe (Andy Reid has a sub-.500 spread record at home.) Buffalo and Kansas City are close in my NFL Power Rankings, so I think we are getting unbelievable line value with the visitor.
This is actually my top play of the week, as long as Taylor starts. I love the Bills to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat, while the Chiefs are still being priced as if they're a dominant team. That said, if McDermott continues to be an idiot and chooses Peterman to start again, I'll change my pick.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm going to lock this in at +10. The sharp books have either moved to +9.5 or +10 minus juice, so that's an indication that this line will drop. The sharps have been betting the Bills, which is not a surprise.
SATURDAY NOTES: It's not ideal that Cordy Glenn is going to be out, but I still love the Bills. That's a good thing, since I locked this in at +10! The Chargers just crushed the Cowboys, so I think that has to make the Bills look a bit better for what happened to them against the Chargers in Week 11. There's some sharp money coming in on the Bills, as this line has moved to +9.5.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There's a ton of sharp money coming in on the Bills, as the line has dropped to +9 or +8.5, depending on where you look. I'd still love Buffalo at +10.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Chiefs.
Sharp money on the Bills.
Percentage of money on Buffalo: 65% (16,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
Bills are 12-19 ATS since November 2011 as a road underdog.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) at Atlanta Falcons (6-4) Line: Falcons by 10. Total: 47. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Falcons -9.
Walt's Calculated Line: Falcons -7.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Falcons.
If you've followed this site for a while, you might remember that I like to respond to my spam mails. It all started six years ago, when a man named Jon Wire from the "United Bank of Africoan" promised me an ATM card of some sort, so I responded as a man named Mister Compassion Chuck Norris, who was raised by wolves. The following season, I received e-mails from Richard Held and Loon Bruce, who told me I won a Facebook Award, which comes with a "lump sum pay out of (750,000.00 GBP)." Pretending to be Matthew Millen Kim, I sent out my application and fake money.
I've been messing around with spammers ever since, pretending to be Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady and Walter White. I'll have new answers to Spam Mails here, so check them out if you want to see me screw with spammers!
ATLANTA OFFENSE: Matt Ryan was terrific Monday night. The Seahawks had no answer for him, especially on third down. He was 9-of-12 in those situations prior to the final couple of drives. If Ryan could dissect the Legion of Boom so easily, how will the Buccaneers possibly stop him?
Well, the Legion of Boom isn't exactly the Legion of Boom anymore. The Seahawks didn't have Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman last week. I thought they might still be OK, but then their other top cornerback, Shaq Griffin, suffered a concussion on the opening drive. Seattle's defense didn't stand much of a chance after that. The Buccaneers might if Vernon Hargreaves suits up. Hargreaves missed last week's game, but is considered questionable for this contest. Hargreaves and Brent Grimes have been on the field for just a handful of games this season, so having them both will give Tampa a chance to force the Falcons into at least some punts.
The Buccaneers have done a solid job of stopping the run recently, and I think they could put some pressure on Ryan as well. They have a huge mismatch with Gerald McCoy going up against inept right guard Wes Schweitzer.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: The Buccaneers have some concerns up front as well. Left tackle Donovan Smith isn't much better than some of Dallas' backup bums, so Adrian Clayborn could have another big game. Meanwhile, Grady Jarrett, a defensive tackle who absolutely needs to be voted into the Pro Bowl, has a lopsided matchup against J.R. Sweezy.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has played relatively well in the past two games, but he hasn't been challenged to participate in a shootout. Given the amount of pressure he'll see, Fitzpatrick could be forced into some turnovers, especially when considering that he won't have support from Doug Martin. The Falcons have Desmond Trufant to cover Mike Evans as well, so Fitzpatrick could force some bad passes to his top wideout.
That said, Fitzpatrick may have some other advantages he could exploit. For example, I don't think the Falcons have anyone to cover DeSean Jackson. Atlanta has also struggled versus tight ends, so Fitzpatrick may have some more long connections with O.J. Howard. It would be nice if the Buccaneers got Cameron Brate involved again, but Fitzpatrick just doesn't like throwing to him, apparently.
RECAP: This line was just posted, but I'll be shocked if the public isn't lining up to bet the Falcons after what they saw from Ryan against the Seahawks. Ryan looked unstoppable. However, everyone has torched Seattle's defense because of all the injuries. Remember what Deshaun Watson did? Kirk Cousins also had a great performance in Seattle. I like both Watson and Cousins, but it just goes to show that what Ryan did wasn't special.
I think this line is too high as a consequence of what happened Monday night. The Falcons could be flat as a result of it as well. They had a big, extremely important victory on the West Coast. Now, they have to fly back across the country to play an early game on a short work week against a suddenly eager Buccaneer squad. Atlanta has to play the Vikings and Saints after this game, so the team will almost certainly be flat.
I like the Buccaneers for a few units. In addition to the poor spot for the Falcons, this spread is off the mark by about three points. I have the Buccaneers at +7, so we're going halfway through two key numbers.
By the way, if you're wondering why I'm betting on Fitzpatrick after talking about how wagering on terrible quarterbacks is a bad idea, to that I'd say that Fitzpatrick isn't terrible. He's below average for sure, but he's not horrible by any means. He's 21-18 against the spread as a starter since 2014, so he's definitely capable of covering games like this.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Robert Ayers isn't practicing for the Buccaneers, which is a huge deal. He's their best edge rusher, by far, so I don't want to bet heavily on a team that won't be able to put pressure on a top quarterback. I may drop this to two units.
SATURDAY NOTES: The Buccaneers won't have their top edge rusher (Robert Ayers) or one of their starting cornerbacks (Vernon Hargreaves) against a suddenly hot Matt Ryan. That's not good. I'm going to cancel my plans to bet this game. I'll still pick Tampa to cover, but the Buccaneers had to be at full strength to have a good shot at staying within single digits. They're banged up, unfortunately, and Atlanta is catching fire, so I'm not excited to bet a team that has quit on multiple occasions this season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Tampa will indeed miss Ayers and Hargreaves, making that side unappealing. The sharps haven't touched the Buccaneers, which is telling because they usually love large dogs (they've been betting the Browns every single week.)
The Psychology. Edge: Buccaneers.
The Falcons just had a huge win Monday night, and after this game, they have to take on the Vikings and Saints.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 58% (15,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Buccaneers.
History: Buccaneers have won 3 of the last 4 meetings.
Road Team is 79-49 ATS in Buccaneers games since 2009.
Favorites after playing the Seahawks are 15-32 ATS.
Carolina Panthers (7-3) at New York Jets (4-6) Line: Panthers by 6. Total: 39.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Panthers -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Panthers -2.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Panthers.
Video of the Week: I wouldn't say this is a funny video by any stretch, but it's an interesting one. Well, interesting if you like watching balls roll around (no, not those balls, Matt Millen.) Thanks to Adam S. for this:
When this video first started, I was like, "What the hell is this crap!?" By the end of it, I was rooting for a particular marble for no explicable reason!
CAROLINA OFFENSE: Things really look like they're coming together for the Panthers. Cam Newton has been healthy for quite a while now, and team will be getting back two key players from injury. Greg Olsen is set to return this week, while center Ryan Kalil has returned to practice. It's amazing that Carolina has been able to accumulate a 7-3 record without Olsen and Kalil.
With the reinforcements helping the Panthers, the Jets will need to have a tremendous effort defensively. They have a stout front that should be able to keep Carolina's running game in check. Muhammad Wilkerson is playing much better this season, and he, Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon should do a good job of limiting Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart as ball-carriers. Meanwhile, the Jets' safeties should do a solid job of limiting some deep passes to Devin Funchess.
However, the Jets have their defensive liabilities. Linebacker Darron Lee can't cover at all, for instance, so Olsen could have a big game if he's in great playing shape. McCaffey will also be a threat as a receiver. Oh, and you can't forget Cam Newton's ability to scramble. Newton won't see much pressure from the edge, which is where his offensive line is at its weakest.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: The Jets have somehow been successful offensively this year despite Josh McCown throwing to pedestrian receivers and being protected by a pedestrian offensive line. I've discussed before that New York has gone against poor defenses, so that definitely has helped.
Carolina's defense is anything but poor with Luke Kuechly on the field. Kuechly will take away the Jets' greatest threat, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and he'll also help shut down the run. The Panthers have been much better versus the rush since Kuechly returned from his concussion.
Meanwhile, the Jets will struggle to protect McCown. Kawann Short is going to dominate the interior, while Mario Addison has a nice matchup against right tackle Brandon Shell.
RECAP: The Panthers are the far better team, but as you can see by scrolling down below the comment board, teams with double-star game edges are just 9-13 against the spread this year. That's because there are more to games than just the matchups.
Motivation plays a huge factor, and I question Carolina's in this game. The Panthers just had a huge blowout win on national TV before the bye. They've had two weeks to think about how great they were in that game, even though Miami didn't try at all. Following this non-conference tilt, the Panthers have to take on the rival Saints and 8-2 Vikings. I think there's a good chance the Panthers are unfocused for this game. The Jets, meanwhile, are the complete opposite of the Dolphins. They've tried hard in most of their games this year. Plus, this is a must-win for them. They're still somehow alive for the sixth seed in the AFC, trailing Baltimore by only one game.
Everyone and their evil stepsister - Ivy Belfrey is super hot, by the way - is betting the Panthers, but I don't agree with that. Carolina is in a terrible spot, and this line is too high. The competitive Jets have played well in home games this year, defeating the Jaguars and staying within a touchdown of the Patriots and Falcons. They could surprise the Panthers, who will probably win by a field goal.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm surprised the sharps haven't started betting the Jets yet, but I imagine that they could be waiting for this line to rise to +6. If this spread hits +6, I will lock this pick in.
SATURDAY NOTES: There aren't really any injuries of note here, outside of the fact that Ryan Kalil and Greg Olsen will be returning for the Panthers. There's no guarantee either will be 100 percent, however, so I would wait a week before upgrading Carolina in any sort of power ratings. I still like the Jets a lot, as this spread is too high. Bovada has this listed at +6 -115. If I see +6 -110, I will lock it in, so I'm going to monitor the movement and keep you updated.
SATURDAY NOTES II: I kept my word and monitored the line movement. Jets are now +6 -110 at Bovada, so I'm going to lock this in.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It turns out it was a slight mistake to lock this in. You can now get +6 at 5Dimes and +6 -105 at Bovada. With Ryan Kalil back, there is no sharp action on this game; just tons of public money on Carolina.
The Psychology. Edge: Jets.
The Panthers had a big win on national TV prior to the bye. After this game, they have to take on the Saints and Vikings. Meanwhile, this is a must-win for the Jets.
The Vegas. Edge: Jets.
Everyone is betting the Panthers.
Tennessee Titans (6-4) at Indianapolis Colts (3-7) Line: Titans by 3.5. Total: 46.5. Las Vegas Hilton Advance Point Spread: Titans -6.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Titans -1.
Sunday, Nov 26, 1:00 PM
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The Game. Edge: Titans.
Last year, on the Adventures of Tom Brady's Haircuts, Tom Brady was elected as the President of the United States, as it was revealed that he was the only candidate running because both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were figments of his imagination. In doing so, Tom Brady saved his organization, the Two-Handed Gang, from the Latin Kings. Everything was going swimmingly for Brady while in the White House, until he received a telegram from Bill Belichick, requiring his presence in Foxboro...
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: Many sportsbooks don't have a line posted for this game as of this writing. That's because Jacoby Brissett is in concussion protocol. Chuck Pagano said he expects Brissett to play, but that's far from a guarantee. I can understand why most books wouldn't release a spread, given the disparity between Brissett and Scott Tolzien.
If Brissett plays, the Colts should have plenty of success throwing on a Tennessee defense that was just torched by Ben Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown was unstoppable last Thursday night, so T.Y. Hilton figures to have similar success. Meanwhile, Delanie Walker figures to have a nice performance against a defense that hasn't done well versus tight ends.
I don't expect the Colts to run the ball very well - Tennessee hasn't surrendered 100 yards on the ground since Week 4 - but Brissett could use his legs to move the sticks.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: Speaking of mobile quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota is scrambling around again. Mariota was immobile for several games following his return from his hamstring injury, but that changed in Week 10 against the Bengals. Granted, the Titans haven't been able to convert this into gambling success - 0-2 ATS the past two contests - but it'll help in the long term.
The Titans will need Mariota to pick up first downs with his legs, given that the Colts are very potent against the run. Thanks to Johnathan Hankins' presence, Indianapolis has allowed only three teams to eclipse the century mark on the ground this year. DeMarco Murray is banged up anyway, and Tennessee is not giving Derrick Henry enough of a workload for some reason.
The Colts also have a talented cornerback on their defense, so they'll be able to take away Mariota's top receiving option. However, Indianapolis certainly has its flaws on this side of the ball. Those reside at linebacker, so Mariota should be able to connect with Delanie Walker early and often. Murray could also have a big game as a receiver out of the backfield.
RECAP: It's not yet clear what this line is going to be. Pinnacle and Westgate have the Colts at +3.5 -120, while 5Dimes has posted +3 +100. Those are the only three books I see that have a spread listed for this contest.
I imagine that if Brissett suits up, I'll be on the Colts for two or three units. Indianapolis has been competitive in every single game Brissett has played, save for the shutout loss to Jacksonville. I don't see why that would change. The Colts actually had a lead in Tennessee during the second half of an earlier Monday night affair, so there's no reason to believe that things would be so dramatically different this time.
I'm going to mark this down as a two-unit bet on the Colts for now, but check back later for Brissett updates, or follow me @walterfootball. If Brissett sits, I'll be on Tennessee!
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I was hoping to get Colts +3.5, but I think +3 is fine as well. Tennessee games are generally close, so it's not very likely that they win by more than a field goal.
I'm going with the Colts for two units, as it sounds like Jacoby Brissett will clear protocol.
SATURDAY NOTES: Jacoby Brissett has cleared concussion protocol, so the Colts are safe to bet. Helping them is the fact that Rishard Matthews will be a game-time decision. Matthews hurt his hamstring in Thursday's practice, so he could be out for this game. Matthews is Marcus Mariota's favorite receiver, so his absence will definitely have an impact on the offense.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The choices, if you like the Colts, are +3 +105 (BetUS, 5Dimes) and +3.5 -110 (Bovada). The latter number is better, as three is the most prominent key number.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Colts.
A good lean on the Titans.
Percentage of money on Tennessee: 67% (14,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Colts.
History: Colts have won 24 of the last 29 meetings.
Week 12 NFL Picks - Late Games
Seattle at San Francisco,
New Orleans at LA Rams,
Jacksonville at Arizona,
Denver at Oakland,
Green Bay at Pittsburgh,
Houston at Baltimore
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 21, 2020): 1-0 (+$560)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2020): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2020): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2020): 1-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2020 plus 2020 props): +$4,735
2020 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$665)
2020 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 138-124-7, 52.7% (+$9,350) 2020 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-43-3, 52.2% (-$1,965) 2020 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 37-22-1, 62.7% (+$5,515) 2020 Season Over-Under: 141-122-6, 53.6% ($0) 2020 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$4,975
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: 2,995-2,761-179, 52.0% (+$19,655) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 957-859-49 (52.7%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 452-396-23 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 2,463-2,416-66 (50.5%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 45-29-1 (60.8%)
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.