Washington Redskins (7-7) at Tennessee Titans (8-6) Line: Titans by 11.5. Total: 38. Westgate Advance Point Spread: No Line (Redskins QB).
Walt's Calculated Line: Titans -11.
Saturday, Dec 22, 4:30 PM
The Game. Edge: Titans.
WEEK 15 RECAP: Wow, what terrible luck in Week 15. I finished 8-7-1, -$1,005, but I was a couple of decisions away from having a winning week. One, I waited on the Ravens line to hopefully hit -7. It was -7.5 forever. However, it rose to -9 by Sunday morning. As a result, I lost four units on Baltimore because of the line move. Two, Tommy Lee Lewis fumbled out of the back of the end zone Monday night, costing me another four units. Had the Saints just taken the field goal there and pushed, I would've finished the week 9-5-2, +$215 with Baltimore -7.5. Bad beats.
That said, I made some poor picks, including the Cardinals (3 units). I apologize for that. The Jets (1 unit) should have covered, but their idiot kicker missed two extra points, so the game pushed instead. The Patriots loss (4 units) was just very disappointing. The Broncos loss (3 units) was confusing, as I'm still befuddled as to why Denver couldn't establish the run with Phillip Lindsay versus one of the NFL's worst ground defenses.
My Week 16 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Also, please note that I am unsure of my Week 17 schedule because Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year. Week 17 might be a Wednesday picking week, depending on what my wife has planned. As of right now, it sounds like I'll be starting the Week 17 picks Tuesday afternoon. Follow @walterfootball for updates.
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: The Redskins, if you couldn't tell by this spread, don't have a good matchup against the Titans. They do one thing well offensively, which is run the ball with Adrian Peterson. Tennessee's defense, however, thrives on shutting down the run. The Titans just put the clamps on Saquon Barkley last week, and Peterson is not nearly the sort of player Barkley is right now at this stage of their careers.
If the Redskins had a viable quarterback, they could take advantage of the weaknesses the Titans have defensively. That would be against the pass. They're 22nd in DVOA in that regard, and they'll get worse in the wake of the injury to Logan Ryan. The team's second-best cornerback, Ryan is out for the year, which will hurt against the Colts for sure, as Andrew Luck will take advantage of Tennessee's inability to cover the slot.
The Redskins? Not so much. Josh Johnson is better than Mark Sanchez, but that's not saying much, if anything at all. Johnson doesn't have a big arm and struggles with accuracy, but he's smart and mobile. He'll be able to connect with Jamison Crowder some more, and he'll avoid mistakes for the most part, but he's too limited to keep up with the Titans if they put a healthy number of points on the board.
TENNESSEE OFFENSE: So, the question is if the Titans can score frequently. If Derrick Henry can continue to run effectively, they should be able to. The Redskins are at their weakest at stopping the run, which is obviously far from ideal entering this contest, given that Henry is on a roll.
Henry's great play has seemingly come from nowhere. He told the media that during the bye week, he looked at his film and noticed that he was always trying to hit a home run. Henry has adjusted his running style and it has paid huge dividends. He's extremely difficult to tackle, so much so that the Giants gave up last week. It'll be interesting to see if Washington's poor defense has a similar attitude.
The Redskins are better against the pass, but they'll also have to worry about Marcus Mariota's mobility. Their linebackers aren't very fast and could struggle to deal with Mariota when he scrambles.
RECAP: So, yes, the Titans should score frequently. "Should" being the key word in that sentence. Because I don't know if they will.
This appears to be a look-ahead spot. The Titans are huge favorites over some guy named Josh Johnson, and they have a battle coming up against the Colts, whom Mariota has never beaten with Andrew Luck under center.
That said, the Titans are playing against some guy named Josh Johnson. Even if the Titans are somewhat flat, I'm not sure the Redskins will be able to be competitive. The Titans typically lose to teams that can expose their secondary, and Washington can't do that.
This is a tough call. I'm on Tennessee, but the poor spot dictates that I should not bet this game.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Jurrell Casey hadn't practiced at all this week prior to Thursday, but he was back on the field today. That's good news, as I would've considered a potential switch to the Redskins. Still, I'm not betting this game.
SATURDAY NOTES: If you want a good laugh (or a good cry if you're a Redskins fan), check out Washington's injury report. It's so sad that it's funny. I'm sticking with the Titans. Some sharp money is coming in on Tennessee.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sharps continue to bet the Titans, who are now up to -11.5. Tennessee has a great matchup edge in this game, but it could overlook the Redskins. Still, Washington is so bad that the Titans could still cover despite not bringing their "A" game.
The Psychology. Edge: Redskins.
The Titans are big favorites, so they may overlook the Redskins with Indianapolis coming up.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Washington: 54% (12,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Titans.
Redskins are 11-30 ATS after a road win since 2000.
Jay Gruden is 1-5 ATS in his second consecutive road game.
Titans are 24-14 ATS in non-conference home games.
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) Line: Chargers by 4.5. Total: 42.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: No Line (Flacco & Jackson).
Walt's Calculated Line: Chargers -4.5.
Saturday, Dec 22, 8:20 PM
The Game. Edge: Ravens.
My overrated-underrated feature was posted in this spot the past couple of years. I thought it would be better if there was less clutter on this page, so I set up a new NFL Overrated and Underrated Teams page that will be updated every Monday. I have three overrated and underrated teams listed there, and some may shock you!
SAN ANGELES OFFENSE: The Chargers have plenty of injury question marks on offense entering this game. Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen all have to be considered questionable entering this week. Adam Schefter said that all three have a "legitimate chance" to play, but it remains to be seen if they'll be able to suit up. Of the three, I'd guess Allen is least likely to play because of a hip pointer, while Gordon seems to have a good shot, given that he practiced Monday, albeit on a limited basis.
The Chargers will need all hands on deck for the Ravens because it'll be much difficult for Philip Rivers to engineer some needed scoring drives in the fourth quarter against Baltimore's defense. This sort of matchup will be a far cry from what the Chargers encountered last Thursday night. The Ravens have the top defense in the AFC, ranking sixth and fourth against the run and the pass, respectively.
It's obviously extremely difficult to do much against the Ravens, but if Baltimore has a weakness, it's against tight ends and pass-catching running backs. The linebackers aren't very fast, so having Gordon and/or Ekeler on the field will be very imperative. Then, there's the possibility of having Hunter Henry playing. Henry has been cleared for action. It remains to be seen if he'll do anything in his first game back, but he could be a surprise factor.
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: The Chargers have a top-10 NFL defense, thanks to their dual Pro Bowl edge rushers (Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram), Casey Hayward, Desmond King and Derwin James. All of these players are why the Chargers are so great against the pass, as they have a top-10 aerial defense as far as DVOA is concerned. It's no surprise that they were able to limit Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to just 5.5 yards per play last Thursday.
Taking on the Ravens will be a different animal. The Chargers' great ability to defend the pass will almost be irrelevant because of how often the Ravens run the ball. They're terrific at establishing the rush, thanks to Lamar Jackson's mobility and Gus Edwards' upgraded presence in the backfield over Alex Collins. They've rammed the ball successfully down every opponent's throat ever since Jackson took over as the starter.
This bodes well for the Ravens in this matchup. While the Chargers are great versus the pass, they're not so good at stopping the run. They've had injuries in the interior of the defensive line and the linebacking corps. We just saw Damien Williams run all over them. Jackson and Edwards will be able to do the same thing.
RECAP: I expect the Ravens to cover this spread and perhaps even win outright. They took the Chiefs to overtime in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago, and I expect them to play similarly against the Chargers.
The Chiefs were a little flat in that game, thanks to an impending matchup against the Chargers. I feel as though San Angeles will have the same emotional state. The Chargers just beat the Chiefs, thanks to a miraculous, last-second drive. I can't imagine them playing with the same intensity, especially at home, where they've struggled. They're 2-4 against the spread as hosts in their little soccer stadium, with their spread victories coming against the Raiders and Cardinals.
The Ravens, who need this game a lot more than the Chargers do, should cover. They match up well against the Chargers, and their greater energy could carry them to an outright win. This is going to be a four-unit wager.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: It's a bummer that both Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen are expected to play in this game. Despite this, the spread is dropping to +4, as there's a good deal of sharp action on Baltimore. By the way, I think it's astonishing how bad the Chargers have been at home this year. Let's take a look at their results as hosts:
Lost to the Chiefs, 38-28. Nothing to be ashamed of with that defeat.
Beat the 49ers, 29-27. They triumphed over C.J. Beathard by just TWO points!
Beat the Raiders, 26-10. The Raiders are terrible.
Lost to the Broncos, 23-22. Not great, Bob.
Beat the Cardinals, 45-10. The Falcons just beat the Cardinals, 40-14. Arizona is the worst team in the NFL.
Beat the Bengals, 26-21. They triumphed over Jeff Driskel by just FIVE points!
The Chargers are a poor home team because they have no fans. Sad, but true. If they could barely beat the 49ers with Beathard and the Bengals with Driskel, why would they be expected to prevail by five or more against a Baltimore squad that will be playing with more energy than them? The Chargers are sub par against the run, so it's not even like they match up well against the Ravens. With sharp money pushing this spread down, I'm going to lock it in now at 5Dimes, which still has +4.5 available.
SATURDAY NOTES: I wrote a ton about this game in my Thursday Thoughts, and I locked this pick in, so I don't really have much more to say at the moment. It's worth noting that this line down to +3.5 at Pinnacle, so it seems to be headed in that direction as the pros pound Baltimore.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The +3.5s are gone. The sharps bet the Ravens at +4.5 and +4, but not at +3.5. Both Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen will play for the Chargers, but there's no guarantee that the latter will be 100 percent. The Ravens still have a nice matchup edge in this game, and this contest means more to them, as they need to keep their season alive. The Chargers have zero home-field advantage - actually, probably a negative one - so Baltimore still seems like a great play.
The Psychology. Edge: Ravens.
The Chargers are coming off a big win against the Chiefs.
The Vegas. Edge: Ravens.
Slight lean on the Chargers.
Percentage of money on San Angeles: 61% (19,000 bets)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-9) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6) Line: Cowboys by 7. Total: 48. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Cowboys -7.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Cowboys -7.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Cowboys.
VEGAS UPDATE: I'll be posting how the Vegas sportsbooks have done the previous week in this spot.
The highest-bet sides were 43-40-4 last season, a year that was pretty painful for the books. Perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way...
Here were the teams getting the most bets last week:
Vegas got slaughtered in Weeks 8 and 9. They finally had their revenge in Week 13, as only two of the six highly bet teams covered. Vegas continued to rake in money in Week 15, with three of the top four public sides all failing to cover.
The overall record of heavily bet teams is now 33-40-3. Here are the teams getting the most bets this week:
DALLAS OFFENSE: The Cowboys were just shut out for the first time in Jason Garrett's tenure as the head coach. They nearly scored on some occasions, but a drop, a fourth-down run stuff and an interception in the red zone ruined things for the Cowboys in what was a flat spot in Indianapolis.
A matchup against the Buccaneers may exactly be what the doctor ordered. The Buccaneers have bottom-five marks against both the run and the pass. That obviously bodes poorly against Ezekiel Elliott, who saw way too many touches last week in a game that wasn't very important. This one seems to hold more significance, as both the Redskins and Eagles won as touchdown-plus underdogs last week, so Elliott will use all of his carries and catches to gash a sorry defense that has been shredded by multi-dimensional backs like him all year. Dak Prescott, meanwhile, will be able to connect with Amari Cooper and his other targets when he's not overthrowing them.
A key component for the Cowboys will be guard Zack Martin's availability. The perennial Pro Bowler was sorely missed against the Buccaneers. The one strength of Tampa's defense is the front line, so Martin's presence will help protect Prescott and open running lanes for Elliott, so the injury report will be imperative.
TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: The Buccaneers were able to have success prior to the New Orleans and Baltimore games because they battled a series of poor defenses. They went up against the Panthers, 49ers, Buccaneers and Redskins in four consecutive weeks. Those teams are 27th, 22nd, 30th and 19th in defensive DVOA. The Saints and Ravens, conversely, are 13th and second, so it's no surprise that Tampa has averaged just 13 points per game in the past two weeks.
The Cowboys are about halfway in between the Saints and Ravens, slotting in seventh. Their defensive strength is shutting down the run, thanks to their great line and Leighton Vander Esch, who needs Defensive Rookie of the Year consideration. The Buccaneers struggle to pound the rock anyway, so Peyton Barber won't be able to do anything anyway.
Dallas isn't as good versus the pass, but is still 12th. Its pass rush is excellent, though it was invisible last week. Andrew Luck is so well protected that this was not an issue for him last week, but the Buccaneers don't block nearly as well. This will be a promise for Jameis Winston, which has been the case in the previous two defeats.
The Cowboys are at their weakest against tight ends, so Winston will at least have success connecting with Cameron Brate. That said, if the Cowboys score easily and consistently, as expected, Winston could be forced into taking ill-advised shots downfield, which will be especially problematic if he looks toward Byron Jones' side of the field too often. I could see Winston imploding and throwing several interceptions.
RECAP: My thoughts on this game will depend on whether or not Martin plays. That's such a huge injury, as Martin is arguably the best guard in the NFL. If Martin isn't available, the Cowboys will have severe problems pass protecting once again, which will allow the Buccaneers to stay within the number. If Martin is on the field, however, Dallas' offense will be much more efficient, which could allow for the home favorite to cover.
Either way, I'm not betting this game for now, though I might hop on the Buccaneers for a unit or two if Martin is missing. I'll side with the Buccaneers at the moment, but this is a pick I'll have updates for as the week progresses.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Zack Martin will play, which is a bummer because his absence would've created a nice betting opportunity on Tampa. That said, I have a feeling the Buccaneers are somehow going to win this game outright because the Cowboys have a long history of choking these sorts of games away. I might end up putting a small wager on the moneyline. We'll see how the final injury report shakes out.
SATURDAY NOTES: Zack Martin is questionable, but has been limited in practice Thursday and Friday. Again, it's disappointing, but I'm still going to wager a small bit on the Tampa moneyline (see next page.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I feel like this will either be a Dallas blowout or a Tampa upset victory. I don't know if there's any in between. If the Buccaneers play focused football, they should beat the choking Cowboys. However, I always worry if Tampa will show up because they are so poorly coached and quarterbacked. I'm betting $60 on the Tampa moneyline.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
No surprise that the public is on the Cowboys.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 63% (12,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Buccaneers.
The underdog is 83-55 ATS in Cowboys games since 2010.
Road Team is 89-57 ATS in Buccaneers games since 2009.
Cowboys are 20-31 ATS as home favorites in Cowboys Stadium (excluding Thanksgiving).
Buffalo Bills (5-9) at New England Patriots (9-5) Line: Patriots by 14. Total: 45.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Patriots -12.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Patriots -11.5.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Patriots.
HATE MAIL: I will be posting hate mail here. This is a real e-mail from Lester Biggs, who previously made fun of suicide and child abuse in hate mails to me:
Not only is Mo'Lester a creep; he's also an idiot. Yes, the 49ers have an explosive offense. They've scored nine, 16, 20 and 26 points in the previous four games. Soooo explosive!!!!
Here's a whole long thread with someone resorting to childish responses:
So true. When people begin attacking character or something that has nothing to do with the topic in question, you know they've lost the argument and are frustrated that they have nothing smart to say in response.
It boggles my mind that people don't understand what the words "overrated" and "underrated" are. At any rate, let's hope that the Cowboy fans found the emotional support animals they desperately need following that ugly shutout loss at Indianapolis.
NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: The term "fake news" was coined for a reason. We tend to get lots of fake news in sports as well, particularly after each NFL week. The talking heads on TV lie to us, albeit unintentionally. They simply have no idea what they're talking about.
I must have heard "Tom Brady looked old" a dozen times on the various ESPN and NFL Network shows on Monday afternoon. This "old" quarterback is completing 66 percent of his passes on a 7.8 YPA this year. Those numbers, by the way, are better than what Brady produced in every single season, ranging from 2012 to 2015. I seem to recall him winning the Super Bowl in one of those years!
Now, if you were to tell me that Rob Gronkowski looked old, I would agree. Gronkowski can't move laterally anymore, which is a problem because Brady keeps forcing passes to him. Brady, as a consequence, is making lots of mental mistakes in the red zone. Following two consecutive losses, I expect Brady and Bill Belichick to clean that up. The Bills provide a tough matchup for sure, but Brady threw for 324 yards against them back in Week 8 in a covering win. Some of their offensive linemen were banged up in that game, which isn't the case at the moment. They'll shield Brady well, and the future Hall of Fame quarterback should be able to attack the slot with Julian Edelman, as Buffalo struggles to defend that part of the field.
BUFFALO OFFENSE: The Bills are good at one thing offensively at the moment, which is running the ball with their quarterback. Josh Allen has been terrific as a scrambler, even out-rushing Lamar Jackson most weeks. The Patriots happen to struggle against mobile quarterbacks, so defending Allen on the ground could be a problem.
That said, Allen is a rookie, and he'll be playing in Foxboro, where Belichick has an impeccable record against first-year signal-callers. Belichick is a perfect 24-0 against quarterbacks 25 or younger at home. Patrick Mahomes nearly put a one at the end of that record earlier in the year, but Allen is no Mahomes, and it's not like he has anything close to Mahomes' supporting cast at his disposal either.
Allen will have to throw at some point in this game, and that could spell trouble, as Belichick will have some tricks up his sleeve for the inexperienced Wyoming product. Allen's supporting cast will also likely let him down again.
RECAP: It's unusual that we see the Patriots without a major influx of public money. New England, of course, is coming off two consecutive losses, while this spread is rather large, so the public is mostly staying away.
Except, this is usually the correct time to bet on New England. Do you think Brady is pissed from hearing about how he's old and washed up? Brady will be in his classic "F-U mode," while Belichick will coach circles around Buffalo's coaching staff in an attempt to right the ship.
This spread seems high at first glance, sure, but recall what happened the last time the Patriots played at home. They beat the Vikings by 14, and Minnesota is much better than Buffalo. Meanwhile, without looking it up, can you tell me the last time the Bills have played a team that currently has a winning record? The answer is Week 9, which was a 41-9 loss to the Bears. The Bills have played better lately, but only because they've battled poor competition.
I'd argue that this spread is too low. A computer model I subscribe to says the line should be New England -18. Three of the Patriots' previous four home games have been 14-point victories over the Vikings, Packers and Colts, and they beat the Dolphins, a similar caliber opponent to Buffalo, by 31 as hosts in Week 4.
If you couldn't tell, I'm planning on buying low on the Patriots. This will be a three-unit wager.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely by Saudi Arabian dictator/NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. I don't think that'll hurt the Patriots in this game, but it'll definitely affect their chances in the playoffs. That said, I'm going to drop the unit count down to two.
SATURDAY NOTES: I was told that the officiating crew overseeing this game calls tons of penalties, so I'm going to switch to the under. I'm also sticking with two units on the Patriots, which is why of my original wager because of Josh Gordon's silly suspension.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm still on the Patriots for two units, as I imagine we'll see an angry Tom Brady this week. This may sound crazy, but hear me out: I think New England -14 +100 (5Dimes) is better than -13.5 -110. Fourteen is not a key number. If the Patriots blow the Bills out, which I think will happen, the margin will be larger than 14. It's a very slight risk, but I think it's worth it.
The Psychology. Edge: Patriots.
I suspect Tom Brady will be in "F-U mode."
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New England: 58% (11,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
History: Patriots have won 27 of the last 30 meetings.
Bills are 17-25 ATS since November 2011 as a road underdog.
Patriots are 56-40 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
Tom Brady is 231-73 as a starter (172-118 ATS).
Tom Brady is 40-18 ATS off a loss (6-10 ATS as -7 or more).
Tom Brady is 32-14 ATS off a loss since 2003 (6-9 ATS as -7 or more).
Tom Brady is 35-34 ATS as a home favorite of -9 or more (24-27 ATS since November 2007).
Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at Carolina Panthers (6-8) Line: Panthers by 3. Total: 45.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Panthers -6.
Walt's Calculated Line: Panthers -3.5.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Falcons.
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CAROLINA OFFENSE: I still can't believe the Panthers covered the spread Monday night. They lost in every major statistical category, and they didn't score a single offensive point except for that Christian McCaffrey pass on a fourth-down trick play. However, because some idiot named Tommy Lee Lewis thought he could leap over two defenders, the Panthers got within the number, losing by three as six-point dogs.
The primary reason the Panthers had no business covering that spread was because of Cam Newton's injury. I believe I was the first person to mention Newton's injury several weeks ago. I watch every game at least twice, and I saw Newton wincing in pain after he landed on his shoulder at the 5:50 mark in the fourth quarter in Tampa. This prompted me to bet heavily against him against the Browns (win) and Saints (loss). Newton hasn't nearly been the same since. He's failing to complete routine passes. I'm not even sure he should be playing at the moment, but Ron Rivera said he'll keep rolling with Newton because the Panthers aren't eliminated yet.
Newton figures to take a beating in this game. The Falcons' pass rush came alive last week, with Vic Beasley having a big performance. Meanwhile, Atlanta's run defense has improved in the wake of Deion Jones' return to the field. Christian McCaffrey will still have a big game, but Jones' presence will be able to prevent him from completely going off.
ATLANTA OFFENSE: The Falcons only do one thing well offensively, which is pass. They've struggled to run the ball all year, at least until they played the Cardinals last week. Arizona simply gave up once Josh Rosen began committing turnovers on every other drive, prompting Tevin Coleman to have a huge performance.
The Panthers will limit Coleman unless they also quit - Rivera said they're alive for the playoffs, but they need a miracle to get in - but the big problem for them will be defending what Matt Ryan is trying to do. It's no secret that the Panthers struggle mightily against the pass, as their cornerbacks, aside from Donte Jackson, are atrocious. Carolina was able to limit the Saints by bracketing Michael Thomas, but that won't work against the Falcons because Ryan has so many other weapons at his disposal in Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper. I expect Hooper to have a huge game against a Carolina defense that can't stop tight ends.
The one caveat here is Jones. There's some question about his health. Jones suffered a rib injury in the second half of last week's game, so his status is uncertain. Atlanta's offense will obviously be much more limited if Jones weren't able to suit up.
RECAP: We lost some serious line value for this game. The advance spread was Carolina -6! Yes, the Panthers were favored by six a week ago!!! If you're lucky enough to live in Nevada, and you got Atlanta +6, congratulations.
Unfortunately, this line is now below +2.5, which means the Falcons probably have to win outright in Carolina for you to cover this spread. That could certainly happen, but Atlanta is a bad team, and asking a bad team to win outright on the road is a tall order, especially as a public dog.
I love fading public dogs, but doing so here would entail betting on the dead-armed Newton, which is very unappealing. I'm going to pass on this game as a result. I'm taking the Falcons for zero units, but I may re-visit this if Jones is declared out.
WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: After talking this game over with Kenny on the podcast (see the video in the Titans-Redskins pick above), I've decided that betting the Falcons right now is the right move. There's a decent chance Cam Newton misses this game, and if so, Atlanta will be favored by at least three. Thus, Falcons +3 would present tremendous value, and that line is currently available at TopBet at -110. Even +2.5 -105 (5Dimes) would a good number. If Newton plays, and you don't want a ton of exposure on the Falcons, you can just bet the Panthers again and only risk losing the juice, so I think the upside of possibly getting the Falcons at +3 versus Taylor Heinicke is worth it. Thus, I'm betting five units on Atlanta +3 -110 at TopBet right now, and I'll have updates later in the week.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Mission accomplished. We have Atlanta +3 against Taylor Heinicke. Feels pretty good. I'm actually going to hedge this with a small wager on Carolina to potentially middle. I'm hoping for the line to rise to Carolina +4.5 so that we win on the Falcons prevailing by three or four points. The line just went down to Carolina +3, but I have a feeling it will rise back up again.
SATURDAY NOTES: This spread is stuck at Atlanta -3, likely because Julio Jones' status is uncertain. If Jones can play, I imagine this line will rise, so I'll look to potentially middle this Sunday morning.
FINAL THOUGHTS: OK, time to decide if I want to hedge or not. The best line I could find is Atlanta -3 -110 at TopBet. This is absurd. The Falcons should be favored by at least six. Their defense is better with Deion Jones, while Cam Newton is out. Oh, and Kawann Short is out as well. Short is Carolina's best defensive player outside of Luke Kuechly. This spread is such a joke that I don't want to hedge anymore. I'm taking a stand with Atlanta +3 for five units.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Atlanta: 58% (10,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: None.
History: Falcons have won 6 of the last 9 meetings.
Cam Newton is 25-20 ATS off a loss as long as he's not favored by 7+.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-7) Line: Dolphins by 3. Total: 38.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Dolphins -4.
Walt's Calculated Line: Dolphins -6.5.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Dolphins.
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. As you may know, I love to make fun of NFL preseason announcers because they're the biggest homers ever and so they barely have any clue about the other team. This is at least somewhat understandable because they're paid by the team they're announcing for, and not the other one.
With that in mind, I can't excuse the NFL Network broadcasting team during the Saturday Texans-Jets game. Nate Burleson was great, but the other two guys were pretty bad. The play-by-play guy, at one point, screamed, "DeShaun Hopkins catches a pass from DeAndre Watson!"
OK, fine, that's one mistake. At least he didn't offer any bad opinions. The other color analyst, Steve Mariucci, had the following to say:
"Eli McGuire is a great player."
"Trenton Cannon is a great player."
"Alfred Blue is a great player."
"Andre Roberts is a heck of a player."
Everyone is a great player, apparently! Mariucci is like the Oprah Winfrey of NFL announcing. "You're a great player, and you're a great player, and you're a great player! Everyone's a great player!"
Mariucci, if you're somehow reading this, would it kill you to be critical of just one NFL player? Just one? Because if you call crappy backups "great" all the time, you lose all credibility.
2. Something else that the NFL Network play-by-play guy said irked me.
"He had gone six games with a hundred yards receiving."
This is something many NFL analysts say. "Yards receiving." "Yards rushing." "Yards passing."
This is so incredibly frustrating. I just can't take it anymore. I just... I just...
WHY DO NFL ANALYSTS SPEAK LIKE THEY'RE RUSSIANS!? IT'S RECEIVING YARDS! RUSHING YARDS! PASSING YARDS! "HE HAD GONE SIX GAMES WITH A HUNDRED RECEIVING YARDS!" WHY ARE YOU A**HOLES ALWAYS SPEAKING PASSIVELY! STOP SPEAKING F***ING PASSIVELY LIKE YOU LIVE IN THE F***ING USSR!!!
Please, for the love of God, correct someone when they say "He had 150 yards rushing." No. It's "he had 150 rushing yards." Unless they're Russian. Though in Russia, football watches you.
3. It's time for odd quotes from another TV analyst, Troy Aikman! FOX's lead color analyst had this to say during a recent telecast:
"Sean McVay is a great offensive mind."
That's... umm... weird. I thought Sean McVay was a human being this entire time, but here I am, learning that McVay is actually just a mind. I wonder if McVay is a lot like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Could his coaching of the Rams be just a stepping stone toward world domination? I certainly hope not because I'll be the first to go after calling his team overrated all of these weeks!
MIAMI OFFENSE: As with the Panthers, the Dolphins have an injured quarterback at the helm. Ryan Tannehill hurt his ankle just prior to halftime of the New England victory, and he hasn't been the same since. He floated passes in Minnesota, and as a result, his offense produced just 10 net yards following that long Kalen Ballage touchdown run in the beginning of the third quarter. Tannehill took nine sacks in the process because he couldn't scramble out of trouble.
Tannehill's offensive line was overwhelmed in Minnesota, and the same thing could happen against the Jaguars. Jacksonville's season has been a disaster, but the team can still pressure the quarterback. Tannehill will see more heat, which will force plenty of poor passes once more.
The Dolphins will have to break some big runs to score once again. Ballage is talented, but he'll be battling a defense that is still in the top 10 against the run The Jaguars just put the clamps on Adrian Peterson last week, so I think they'll be able to handle Ballage.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: Despite Tannehill being banged up, the Dolphins' quarterbacking situation is actually better than the Jaguars' at the moment. That's because the inept Cody Kessler is starting for Jacksonville.
I'm not sure Kessler should even be in the NFL; let alone serve as a starter for a team. Kessler couldn't even make the Browns' roster after his coach got tired of him floating 2-yard passes out of bounds. Kessler can scramble a bit, but that's it. There's a reason he's 3-8 against the spread as a starter in his career.
The only hope the Jaguars have of moving the chains is establishing the run with Leonard Fournette. They should be able to do that in theory because the Dolphins happen to be one of the worst teams versus ground attacks. However, Fournette is dealing with an ankle injury. It sounds like he'll be able to play, but it's unclear if he'll get his usual workload. He saw reduced usage this past week, and that could happen again.
RECAP: I wish Tannehill were healthy. If that were the case, I'd bet the Dolphins heavily. Kessler is atrocious and has no business starting in the NFL. Unfortunately, I have no desire to wager on a banged-up quarterback as a favorite. I'm still going to pick Miami, but this is not a good situation for either team.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Ryan Tannehill continues to be limited in practice, which is not a good sign. I'd bet the Dolphins if he were 100 percent, but I don't want to wager on a favorite of four with an injured quarterback.
SATURDAY NOTES: This spread has dropped to Jacksonville +3.5. The sharps are betting the Jaguars. I can't imagine they have any faith in Cody Kessler; rather, it's a fade of an injured Ryan Tannehill, which makes sense. This was one of the toughest games of the week for me to handicap because of Tannehill's injury.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Sharp action continues to pour in on the Jaguars, as Miami is now -3 at CRIS/Bookmaker. I'm definitely staying away from this disaster of a game.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: Jaguars.
Tons of action on the host.
Percentage of money on Miami: 65% (8,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
Underdog is 84-61 ATS in the Dolphins' last 145 games.
Jaguars are 39-73 ATS against non-divisional opponents since 2008.
Dolphins are 8-22 ATS as favorites of 3.5 or more since 2008.
Dolphins are 15-37 ATS at home against teams with losing records since 2003.
Ryan Tannehill is 3-8 ATS as a favorite of 5 or more. ???
1. I hope everyone has enjoyed the bowl games thus far. I have not. I haven't watched a single second of that garbage.
I've always hated bowl games. Prior to the playoffs being established, I had always protested these games. That's because they don't mean anything at all. They're really just postseason exhibition contests, made possible just because of sponsorships. A company will buy the rights to a game, and that's the only reason they're played. All of this seems like a waste of time, especially for the players, who don't see a single dime of this big money coming in, which is why more and more players are sitting out these postseason exhibition contests, and rightfully so. Call me crazy, but if I made someone a crap ton of money, I'd at least want a cut of it!
I'm not saying the NCAA or colleges should pay its players. However, the players should be able to freely make money off their likeness and their name. Someone like Will Grier, who is sitting out his postseason exhibition contest, should be able to sign with a shoe company or energy drink company to earn money via promotions. I don't see what's wrong with that at all.
Anyway, I found it interesting that there was a Cheez-It Bowl. I doubt Cheez-It will see increased sales from sponsoring a meaningless football game. At least, not from me. I do know someone who loves Cheez-Its. In fact, he was staying at someone else's house a few years ago. He asked one of the homeowners if they happened to have Cheez-Its for him to eat, since they usually do, and when he was told that they didn't, he whined and complained about them not having Cheez-Its for him - and yet he was invited there to stay overnight for free!
I wanted to share this story with you during the bowl season. Whether or not you watch these crappy games, don't be a douche like Cheez-It Guy.
2. One of the announcers during a recent game said the following:
"The first college football game was in 1869 with Rutgers playing Princeton. That's yet one more thing you can thank New Jersey for."
Wait, what? What exactly are we thanking the Armpit of America for? The horrible round-abouts? The toxic waste dump shores? The notorious speed-trap roads? The Situation and Snooki? The fat guy who closed down a beach so he could hang out there himself? The people who voted in the guy who traveled overseas to sleep with 10-year-old girls?
Please, someone, help me understand what we need to thank New Jersey for.
3. This happened earlier in the year, but I forgot to post it. For those of you who haven't seen it, enjoy the worst onside kick ever:
NEW YORK OFFENSE: I liked the Giants to cover against the Titans early last week, as I even planned on perhaps betting on New York. That changed once Odell Beckham Jr. was declared out. I was thinking of changing my pick entirely, and I obviously should've pulled the trigger. Tennessee is great versus the run, but struggles against the pass. The Giants couldn't take advantage of that liability without Beckham, as Eli Manning threw helpless passes and made mistakes all afternoon.
Beckham will need to play in this game as well because the Colts have a similar defense. Their front seven is great, as it has been able to shut down the rush with ease. The Colts are fifth in run defense DVOA, so they'll be able to limit Saquon Barkley on the ground, just like the Titans did last week. Barkley could do some damage as a receiver out of the backfield, however, just like Ezekiel Elliott was able to do this past Sunday.
Beckham's presence will be imperative, however. While the Colts are dominant versus the rush, they're below average when it comes to stopping the pass. Beckham would be able to expose that liability. A New York offense without Beckham, however, wouldn't be nearly as successful, though Evan Engram would still have a big game.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: Unlike the Colts, the Giants don't stop the run well at all. They used to, but that's before they traded Snacks Harrison away to the Lions. They now struggle versus the rush, as evidenced by Derrick Henry's big performance against them in Week 15.
The Colts have an inconsistent ground attack, but Marlon Mack looked great last week. Mack should be able to parlay that success into another solid performance against the Giants, who are far worse against the run than the Cowboys are.
The Giants aren't very good at containing aerial assaults either. This is especially true with star safety Landon Collins out for the year. Andrew Luck should have his way with New York's secondary, as he'll be aided by some great protection, thanks to center Ryan Kelly's return from injury.
RECAP: This spread is way too high. The advance line on this game was Indianapolis -6, yet it's now -9.5. That's a 3.5-point jump because the Giants didn't have Beckham available against the Titans, while the Colts beat up on an unfocused Dallas team.
Call me crazy, but that's too much of an overreaction. The Giants should be able to keep this close against the Colts, who might be the unfocused team this time. Indianapolis is coming off a big win, and now happens to be a huge favorite before taking on Tennessee next week. This is a classic sandwich game.
Meanwhile, Manning has a history of covering large spreads, as he's 19-8 against the number when favored by seven or more. Some of those covers have been recent, by the way, so I wouldn't expect it to change in Manning's advanced age. Manning has been overrated throughout his entire career, but he's always been at his best when no one expects his team to win. The Giants, under Manning, always seem to play up to their competition.
This has the potential to be a five-unit play if Beckham is available. I'd still like the Giants if Beckham is out, but the wager wouldn't be nearly as large. Check back later for an official pick, or follow me @walterfootball for updates.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Odell Beckham Jr. has yet to practice, which is a major bummer because I wanted to bet the Giants heavily. I'm hoping he can make a return to practice Friday, but I have my doubts.
SATURDAY NOTES: Odell Beckham Jr. is confirmed out. That sucks. The Giants won't be able to throw, and the Colts are terrific versus the run, so this is a big advantage for Indianapolis. I'm not going to bet on the Giants without Beckham.
FINAL THOUGHTS: T.Y. Hilton is active, as if that was any sort of question. As mentioned before, I'd be betting the Giants heavily if Odell Beckham Jr. were available. Beckham's absence changes the entire dynamic of this game.
The Psychology. Edge: Giants.
The Colts are big favorites, so they may overlook the Giants with Tennessee coming up.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 51% (13,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Giants.
Eli Manning is 19-8 ATS as an underdog of 7 or more.
Houston Texans (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) Line: Eagles by 2. Total: 46.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Pick.
Walt's Calculated Line: Eagles -1.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: None.
If you've followed this site for a while, you might remember that I like to respond to my spam mails. It all started seven years ago, when a man named Jon Wire from the "United Bank of Africoan" promised me an ATM card of some sort, so I responded as a man named Mister Compassion Chuck Norris, who was raised by wolves. The following season, I received e-mails from Richard Held and Loon Bruce, who told me I won a Facebook Award, which comes with a "lump sum pay out of (750,000.00 GBP)." Pretending to be Matthew Millen Kim, I sent out my application and fake money.
I've been messing around with spammers ever since, pretending to be Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady, Ramsay Bolton and Walter White. I have brand new Spam Mails this year, so check them out if you want to see me screw with spammers. I'll have new ones every week!
PHILADELPHIA OFFENSE: I wrote earlier about how NFL TV analysts unintentionally spread fake news to the masses each Monday afternoon. They also fail to recognize the obvious as well. For instance, when Carson Wentz was struggling, one of the NFL Network anchors literally said this: "Carson Wentz doesn't seem healthy from the knee injury he suffered last year. What's wrong with Carson Wentz right now?" Umm... maybe it's because he wasn't healthy from his knee injury, which is something you just said...? As it turns out, there was more to that, as Wentz was also dealing with a back problem. The Eagles shut Wentz down for the year, opting to go with Nick Foles instead. Foles was excellent against the Rams in his first start since Week 2. He made a couple of mistakes, but otherwise performed well against Los Angeles' reeling defense.
It'll be interesting to see if Foles continues to perform on a high level against the Texans, as this is a tougher matchup for him. Not that Houston's secondary is very good, but Foles will be facing a terrific pass rush from J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. That's problematic, as Philadelphia's offensive line has struggled for most of this season, thanks to Jason Peters and Lane Johnson being banged up. Clowney figures to have a big edge over Peters, which will make life difficult for Foles.
Even worse, the Eagles won't be able to run the ball at all, given that Houston is excellent at defending that aspect. What the Texans don't do well, however, is stop tight ends, so Foles should focus on targeting Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert as much as possible.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: Wentz's injuries were a major reason why the Eagles weren't performing up to expectations. Another was the pass rush. The Eagles had one of the best pass rushes in the NFL last year, but that hasn't been the case this season - at least, not until the Rams game.
Philadelphia's pass rush came alive versus the Rams. The Eagles put heavy amounts of pressure on Jared Goff, forcing him into several turnovers. The thing is, the Rams have a strong offensive line. If the Eagles' defensive front can put forth a similar effort level against the Texans, Deshaun Watson will be in a lot of trouble. Not only is Houston's offensive line poor, but Watson holds on to the ball way too long in the pocket.
Furthermore, some of Watson's play-makers are banged up. Lamar Miller barely played last week, though that just might mean that D'Onta Foreman will be forced into the lineup. The big injury, however, is to DeAndre Hopkins, who had to be helped off the field last week after scoring a game-winning touchdown. I assume Hopkins will play, but I'm not sure if he'll be 100 percent. A completely healthy Hopkins would be able to take advantage of the liabilities in Philadelphia's secondary, but Hopkins, in a limited state, may not be all that productive.
RECAP: The Eagles draw inexplicable energy from Foles and the underdog masks that come with him. That said, I'm not sure if the Eagles can legitimately don their underdog masks this week, given that they're favored by a point-and-a-half.
I imagine Philadelphia may still have an emotional edge because it will be the more desperate team in this matchup. The Texans, conversely, have been overrated for quite a while now. They were trailing the Jets in the fourth quarter last Saturday. Their offensive line is horrible and won't protect Watson well if the Eagles' defensive line shows the same intensity this week. Hopkins' injury is also a concern.
I was hoping to get the Eagles as underdogs. I'm not going to bet them as favorites, but I will still pick them to win to keep their season alive.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This spread moved up to Philadelphia -2.5, but has fallen back to -1.5. This is looking like professional money on both sides to me. I don't feel that strongly about this game to bet it, though perhaps the final injury report will unearth something.
SATURDAY NOTES: The injury report didn't reveal anything interesting. We're still not completely sure if DeAndre Hopkins will play, but I imagine he'll be able to suit up. This will continue to be a zero-unit pick.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There's sharp action coming in on the Eagles. I'm not betting either side on this spread, but Houston is one leg of my teaser (see the next page.)
The Psychology. Edge: Eagles.
The Eagles will be the more desperate team.
The Vegas. Edge: Texans.
Slight lean on the Eagles.
Percentage of money on Philadelphia: 63% (11,000 bets)
Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) at Detroit Lions (5-9) Line: Vikings by 6.5. Total: 43.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Vikings -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Vikings -2.5.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Vikings.
Video of the Week: I've posted prank call videos a couple of times this season. Here's a video where someone pretends to be someone else in real life! (thanks Jason G.):
I was really disappointed the impostor ran off like that. If that were me, I would've stared back at the real guy and replied, "Who the hell are you!? I'm the real Dr. H!"
MINNESOTA OFFENSE: The Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and replaced him with Kevin Stefanski. The early returns have been promising. The Vikings scored 41 points last week in a victory that helped them maintain control of the No. 6 seed for another week.
It's difficult to say how much better Stefanski is for the Vikings than DeFilippo was. One game is not a good sample size, and it's not like the Vikings were battling a tough opponent. They were playing the Dolphins, who have a horrible defense, especially when it comes to stopping the run. Miami was also visibly flat following its miraculous victory over the Patriots the week before. Dalvin Cook ran all over the Vikings, and he won't be able to do that against the Lions. Detroit has been excellent versus the rush since trading for Snacks Harrison.
Kirk Cousins will have to do more in this game. He had an up-and-down performance versus Miami. He began by connecting on his first eight passes before throwing a pick-six and missing Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown. Cousins' best attribute is being able to beat bad teams, so he should be able to take advantage of the matchup Adam Thielen has in this game. Thielen has been cold recently, but he'll win against the Lions' slot cornerback as Stefon Diggs deals with the excellent Darius Slay.
DETROIT OFFENSE: The Vikings dominated the line of scrimmage on this side of the ball the last time they battled the Lions. They sacked Matthew Stafford a whopping 10 times in a 24-9 victory. As it so happens, Minnesota is coming off a victory over the Dolphins in which it sacked Ryan Tannehill on nine occasions, so I'm not sure things will improve for Stafford this time around.
Stafford, by the way, is not 100 percent. He has a back ailment, and he was also limping around in the opening half of the Buffalo game. He hasn't taken many shots downfield in his past two games as a result, though he looked better last week than he did in Arizona. Still, he has a challenging matchup ahead of him. In addition to dealing with Minnesota's pass rush, he'll have to look for targets other than Kenny Golladay, as Xavier Rhodes will be covering the Lions' lone viable receiver.
The Vikings, however, have some weaknesses on this side of the ball. They're just mediocre against the run, as evidenced by Kalen Ballage's big run last week. They also struggle to cover in space. It'll be imperative for Kerryon Johnson to play for that reason. Johnson could have a big game in his return to action. I'd also expect Theo Riddick to shine as a receiver out of the backfield.
RECAP: You guys know my rule for the Lions by now. If they're playing a good team, fade them. If they're playing a bad team, pick them. But what are the Vikings? Are they good or bad? That's not especially clear, as they're 16th in my NFL Power Rankings. However, they're 11th in adjusted DVOA, so perhaps they're more good than bad.
It almost saddens me to do this, but I'm going to deviate from my normal strategy regarding the Lions. I think that can be excused because it's unclear if the Vikings are a good team. So, in addition to that, my decision to change up strategies is two-fold. First of all, this spread makes no sense. The advance line, which I already thought was too high, was Minnesota -3.5. Now, it's -5.5 and trending upward to -6. We're getting a two-point line movement through a third-tier key number of -4 because... the Vikings crushed a bad Miami team that was flat? Really? Meanwhile, my number for this game was Minnesota -2.5, which is higher than what DVOA says the line should be: Minnesota -1.
Second, it's fair to question how focused the Vikings will be. They already crushed the Lions once this year, so what's the motivation for doing so again? If they didn't have anything to look ahead to, that'd be one thing, but the Vikings could be distracted with an impending battle against the Bears in Week 17. Meanwhile, this is Detroit's Super Bowl.
I expect a "C" effort from the Vikings at best. Couple that with this the spread being askew, and I think the Lions are worth betting. It'd be great if Stafford were guaranteed to be 100 percent, but he'll be healthier this week, so I'm going to be brave enough to put three units on the home-dog Lions with the assumption that we're going to see +6 at some point (it's already +6 at Pinnacle.)
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: I'm glad to see this line move to +6. It's worth noting that Minnesota is -6 -110 at Pinnacle (high for them) and -6 -115 at CRIS, so there's a chance this could keep rising. The public is pounding the Vikings, while the sharps have stayed away. Let's see if this can get to +7.
SATURDAY NOTES: Some +6.5 lines have emerged, which is good news. Hopefully we can get a +7 of some sort by kickoff.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The bad news is that we didn't get a reasonable +7 spread. The good news is that there's -105 juice available on the +6.5 line at Bovada. I still like the Lions for three units.
The Psychology. Edge: Lions.
The Vikings are big road favorites, and they already beat Detroit, so they may overlook like the Lions with Chicago coming up. This is Detroit's Super Bowl.
The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
Lots of action on the Vikings.
Percentage of money on Minnesota: 66% (12,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Vikings.
History: Vikings have won the last 2 meetings.
Mike Zimmer is 51-26 ATS as head coach of the Vikings.
Vikings are 9-27 ATS in their road finale since 1980.
Lions are 4-15 ATS as underdogs of 6 or more since 2011.
Matthew Stafford is 14-24 ATS in December and January.
Green Bay Packers (5-8-1) at New York Jets (4-10) Line: Packers by 3. Total: 47.5. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Packers -3.5.
Walt's Calculated Line: Pick.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Jets.
Two years ago, on the Adventures of Tom Brady's Haircuts, Tom Brady was elected as the President of the United States, as it was revealed that he was the only candidate running because both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were figments of his imagination. He followed that up by stopping Vladimir Putin from hacking the NFL. In doing so, however, Tom Brady was stuck in an evil dimension, and his evil counterpart has come into our world. No one is aware that Tom Brady is now Evil Tom Brady, which is great for Evil Tom Brady because he can begin devastating the world...
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: There are a number of injured quarterbacks playing this week, and Aaron Rodgers is obviously one of them. Rodgers, who was already dealing with his balky knee, injured his groin during a Hail Mary attempt right before halftime. Rodgers was clearly hobbled in the second half and wasn't quite himself.
One would think the Packers would shut down Rodgers now that they're officially eliminated from the playoffs. I thought that would be the reason why this line was just a pick 'em, but interim head coach Joe Philbin told the media that Rodgers will play, giving some generic cliche football coach answer about playing football games to win football games. Philbin reminds me of the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, by the way. He looks like he may not have a brain, and that was evident in this press conference.
So, Rodgers will play for some reason against the Jets, who have a solid secondary. Their defensive line will also be able to put some pressure on Rodgers, who figures to be less mobile than usual. It would be a big boost if right tackle Bryan Bulaga were able to play, but his status is unclear. The Packers will definitely be without Aaron Jones, which weakens their ground attack. They could also be missing Randall Cobb (concussion), so Equanimeous St. Brown may have to play more snaps.
NEW YORK OFFENSE: One other injury question mark for the Packers would be to nose tackle Kenny Clark, whose absence was felt last week. One of the best players at his position, Clark wasn't around to stop the Bears' rushing attack, which helped Chicago win that game to clinch the NFC North. The Jets aren't as reliant on the run, but they'll be hoping for Clark to be out of the lineup once again so they can establish the rush with Elijah McGuire.
Meanwhile, Sam Darnold has performed much better since returning to action from his injury. He did a great job of converting third downs against the Texans, and he figures to have an even easier time doing so against the Packers, who have some major issues in their secondary.
I talked about injuries the Packers have, but what about the Jets? They suffered a major one to their offensive line, as right tackle Brandon Shell was carted off with a knee injury on Saturday. Replacement Brent Qvale stinks, and he'll be a big liability in trying to block the Green Bay edge rushers.
RECAP: Talk about crazy line movement! The advance spread on this game was Green Bay -3.5, yet it's now a pick 'em. Again, I assume this is because people are thinking Rodgers isn't going to play.
I suppose that could still happen. Philbin said Rodgers will suit up, but the men behind the curtain could overrule him. Rodgers could even choose to sit himself. I'd like to bet the Packers at this reduced price, but I can't until I know for a fact that Rodgers will play in this game. Stay tuned for updates!
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: It turns out the line was pick 'em because Vegas was hedging on Aaron Rodgers not playing. In that case, why post a line at all? I don't get it. At any rate, I love the Jets at +3. The Packers are 0-7 on the road, yet they're favored by three as visitors? That makes no sense. The Packers are missing a slew of players. Multiple receivers are out, while their entire starting defensive line is absent, now that Kenny Clark has been placed on injured reserve. Furthermore, the Jets figure to treat this like their Super Bowl, as beating the great Aaron Rodgers at home would give them a nice victory to build momentum for next year. Rodgers, who is hobbling around, should be shut down. It makes zero sense to keep playing him, yet head coach Scarecrow doesn't have the brain to sit his quarterback. I'm going to bet the Jets for three or four units depending on how the final injury report looks.
SATURDAY NOTES: Bryan Bulaga will return this week, but the bigger issue is that the Packers will be without two of their top three receivers and their entire defensive line. The Jets seem like a nice play, but I can't find any favorable +3 lines at the moment. I'll keep looking.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Randall Cobb is indeed out, so the Packers have a decimated receiving corps and defensive line. The Packers just lost their chances of making the playoffs, while the Jets are playing with some great energy. Even better, there are reasonable +3 lines available. Jets +3 -105 is available at both Bookmaker and Bovada. I'm going to put four units on the Jets.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on New York: 57% (6,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Packers.
Aaron Rodgers is 86-60 ATS since 2009.
Aaron Rodgers is 26-15 ATS after a loss (11-7 ATS as a favorite of 7.5+).
Jets are 19-6 ATS at home following a home loss in the last 25 instances.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-8) at Cleveland Browns (6-7-1) Line: Browns by 7. Total: 44. Westgate Advance Point Spread: Browns -7.
Walt's Calculated Line: Browns -10.
Sunday, Dec 23, 1:00 PM
The Game. Edge: Browns.
If you're unaware of this, you can publish your own articles on this Web site and have them promoted via Twitter, Facebook and this page! Check out our Open Rant feature, where articles get promoted all the time. Some readers' articles have gotten more than 3,000 views, so if you want to get your opinion heard, here's a great way for you to do so!
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: The Browns moved the chains with ease against the Bengals the last time they played them, and I don't see why that would change. Baker Mayfield continues to improve in his rookie campaign, and he should be able to at least match what he did to this miserable Cincinnati secondary back in Week 12 when he went 19-of-26 for 258 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bengals have severe problems in their secondary and linebacking corps and can't cover as a result. Derek Carr even had some deep connections to Jordy Nelson last week. Had the Raiders not been incredibly flat following their "Super Bowl" victory over the Steelers, Oakland may have stolen that game.
I expect Mayfield to thrive, but Nick Chubb could be even better. Chubb has a very favorable matchup against a Cincinnati defense that hasn't been able to stop the run for quite some time. Vontaze Burfict's absence has been huge. There's an outside chance Burfict will be able to suit up in this game, but it's doubtful that he'll be 100 percent.
CINCINNATI OFFENSE: The Browns crushed the Bengals the last time these teams played, 35-20. Yet, Andy Dalton started that game rather than Jeff Driskel. Dalton actually got hurt in that contest, going down in the third quarter.
Driskel won't have any success against the Browns' elite pass defense, which figures to welcome back Denzel Ward back from injury. The Bengals lost Tyler Boyd to injury last week, so that means they'll now be without their top three downfield play-makers, missing A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Boyd. With Boyd out, it's unclear whom Driskel will throw to, and it's not like Driskel could do much anyway. Driskel sailed horrible passes against the Raiders, but wasn't punished for it. The Browns' superior secondary will take advantage of these mistakes.
The one favorable matchup the Bengals have on paper is Joe Mixon versus the Browns' 23rd-ranked run defense. However, Cleveland just put the clamps on Phillip Lindsay last Saturday night, so perhaps it'll do the same to Mixon. Also, the Bengals won't be able to use Mixon very much if they're way behind, which is a very realistic possibility.
RECAP: I love the Browns. I'm locking them in for five units. This spread is still -7 in some places, yet it's risen to -7.5 in many books. I learned my lesson from Ravens-Buccaneers last week. I'm putting this bet in now.
The Browns seem like such an obvious side to me. They're a young, enthusiastic team that is hungry for wins, and they hate Hue Jackson. They want to thoroughly embarrass him. They're a far better team than the banged-up Bengals. Driskel is a train wreck, and he has no viable receivers to throw to outside of the inconsistent John Ross. Cleveland's defense will dominate this game, while the offense should score rather easily. This will be a blowout, and this spread is way too short. The sharps have recognized this, which is why they've bet Cleveland up to -7.5 in many places.
Bovada still has Cleveland -7 -120 available. Bookmaker has -7 -125 listed. If you love the Browns as much as I do this week, make sure you bet them now because the -7s will almost certainly be gone soon.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: This line has hit Cleveland -9, so I'm glad we got this in at -7. I still like the Browns at -9 for 3-4 units.
SATURDAY NOTES: Vontaze Burfict practiced fully Friday, so it sounds like he'll be back from his absence. Cincinnati's defense should be a bit better in this game, but the offense will look completely lost because of the status of the receiving corps. The sharps have been pounding Cleveland, and this line is now -10 as a result.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Cleveland is up to -10, as the sharps continue to pound the host. I would've bet five units on the Browns at -10, but they'd still be worth a two- or three-unit wager. This should be an easy victory.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Cleveland: 51% (11,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
History: Bengals have won 21 of the last 28 meetings.
Bengals are 44-27 ATS as underdogs since 2009.
Marvin Lewis is 16-9 ATS in same-season revenge games.
Marvin Lewis is 16-6 ATS in his second consecutive road game.
Week 16 NFL Picks - Late Games
LA Rams at Arizona,
Baltimore at LA Chargers,
Chicago at San Francisco,
Pittsburgh at New Orleans,
Kansas City at Seattle,
Denver at Oakland
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.