Indianapolis Colts (10-6) at Houston Texans (11-5) Line: Texans by 2. Total: 48. Walt's Projected Line: Texans -2.
Saturday, Jan. 5, 4:35 ET
The Game. Edge: Colts.
WEEK 17 RECAP: The final week of the regular season went well. Unfortunately, it could've been a four-figure day. One of my top plays, Giants -6, was a loser because I assumed the Cowboys would sit their starters. That was the right thing to do, of course. Instead, they played everyone but Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin the entire game. Leighton Vander Esch even grabbed at his knee in pain at one point, yet Jason Garrett kept him out there, determined to beat the Giants for no reason. Despite this, the Giants almost covered. They were up seven before Prescott threw up a prayer into the end zone on a late fourth-and-15, and Cole Beasley got one knee down on the ground before falling out of play. Four-unit loss. Instead of going 10-5-1, +$1,670, I finished 9-6-1 +$790 because of Garrett's utter stupidity and a miraculous catch.
I feel like I've handicapped the NFL extremely well the past few weeks. We've had some terrible luck in a few games, so I'm optimistic about this transitioning into 2019.
But first, the playoffs. My Week 18 NFL Picks will be posted all day Tuesday. Follow @walterfootball for updates.
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!
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: The strength of the Houston roster is obviously the defensive line, as J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney have made life miserable for teams with poor offensive lines and horrible and/or inexperienced quarterbacks. Of the Texans' convincing victories this year - Jaguars twice, Dolphins, Titans, Browns - they managed to battle opponents that had bad blocking and awful and/or inexperienced signal-callers starting for them.
The Colts don't have either of those two items. Andrew Luck has improved as the season has progressed, and he's protected by one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. The front kept Luck clean in the previous matchup against the Texans, and he was able to shred the opposing defense with ease. He went 27-of-41 for 399 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in that game.
I believe Luck could have a similar stat line versus the Texans in the rubber match. Houston's defense struggles to defend speedy receivers and tight ends, and Luck's top two weapons happen to play those positions. Luck will connect early and often with T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. He won't have much help from the running game, as the Texans are stellar versus the rush, but Marlon Mack barely did anything in the previous matchup, and yet Indianapolis still won convincingly.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: I've called the Texans overrated all year. It saddens me, as I have a 22/1 ticket on them to win the Super Bowl, but I believe I'll be able to light that on fire after this game. The reason for my pessimism, as I've said countless times, is Houston's offensive line.
The Texans cannot block. Period. Of the 12 teams to make the playoffs, they easily have the worst offensive line. Even the Seahawks, whose blocking unit has been widely criticized, can protect much better than Houston can. Making matters worse, Deshaun Watson holds the ball too long and takes unnecessary sacks. I imagine that'll happen in this game. I'll be surprised if Watson isn't sacked at least five times.
Houston would be able to relieve some pressure from Watson with a strong running attack, but Lamar Miller won't find any lanes. The Colts actually have one of the top ground defenses in the NFL. Thus, it'll just be Watson to DeAndre Hopkins, which will produce some points, but probably not nearly enough.
RECAP: The Colts dominated the Texans in Houston Week 14, and I imagine that'll happen again. The score was just 24-21, but only because the Colts made some sloppy mistakes early and allowed a late score. Indianapolis outgained Houston, 436-315 and averaged two more yards per play. The Colts simply match up extremely well against the Texans.
Furthermore, Watson is one of three quarterbacks making his first playoff start this week. That's not a good thing. Here's a list of quarterbacks making their first playoff start since 2002 (unless playing another quarterback making his first start):
Chad Pennington (-6), NYJ, 2002: Win ATS, Win SU
Marc Bulger (-7), STL, 2003: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Trent Green (-3.5), KC, 2003: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Drew Brees (-5.5), SD, 2004: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Ben Roethlisberger (-8.5), PIT, 2004: Loss ATS, Win SU
Chris Simms (-2.5), TB, 2005: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Eli Manning (-3), NYG, 2005: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Rex Grossman (-3), CHI, 2005: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Philip Rivers (-4.5), SD, 2006: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Jay Cutler (-10), CHI, 2010: Win ATS, Win SU
Matt Schaub (-4.5), HOU, 2012: Win ATS, Win SU
Colin Kaepernick (-3), SF, 2012: Win ATS, Win SU
Nick Foles (-3), PHI, 2013: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Dak Prescott (-5), DAL, 2016: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Jared Goff (-6), LAR, 2017: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Blake Bortles (-8), JAX, 2017: Loss ATS, Win SU
Case Keenum (-5.5), MIN, 2017: Loss ATS, Win SU
Anthony Wright (+1), BAL, 2003: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Carson Palmer/Jon Kitna (+3), CIN, 2005: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Tarvaris Jackson (+3), MIN, 2008: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Matt Cassel (+3), KC, 2010: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Tim Tebow (+8.5), DEN, 2011: Win ATS, Win SU
Alex Smith (+3.5), SF, 2011: Win ATS, Win SU
Cam Newton (+2), CAR, 2013: Loss ATS, Loss SU
David Garrard (-2), JAX, 2007: Push ATS, Win SU
Matt Ryan (-1), ATL, 2008: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Joe Flacco (-3.5), BAL, 2008: Win ATS, Win SU
Aaron Rodgers (-1), GB, 2009: Loss ATS, Loss SU
QB Falcons No. 7 (+6.5), ATL, 2002: Win ATS, Win SU
Matt Hasselbeck (+7), SEA, 2003: Win ATS, Loss SU
Byron Leftwich (+8), JAX, 2005: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Tony Romo (+2), DAL, 2006: Win ATS, Loss SU
Todd Collins (+4), WAS, 2007: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Vince Young (+10), TEN, 2007: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Mark Sanchez (+2.5), NYJ, 2009: Win ATS, Win SU
Matthew Stafford (+10.5), DET, 2011: Loss ATS Loss SU
Joe Webb (+10), MIN, 2012: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Andrew Luck (+7), IND, 2012: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Ryan Lindley (+6.5), ARZ, 2014: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Matt Moore (+11), MIA,2016: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Connor Cook (+4), OAK, 2016: Loss ATS, Loss SU
Marcus Mariota (+8), TEN, 2017: Win ATS, Win SU
Tyrod Taylor (+8), BUF, 2017: Win ATS, Loss SU
To sum it up:
Home favorites: 4-13 ATS, 7-10 SU
Home underdogs: 2-5 ATS, 2-5 SU
Road favorites: 1-2-1 ATS, 2-2 SU
Road underdogs: 6-9 ATS, 3-12 SU
Combined Record: 13-29-1 ATS, 14-29 SU
That's pretty terrible, and it makes sense. First-time playoff quarterbacks tend to choke, especially when favored, as Watson is in this game.
Given the Colts' superior offensive line and great matchup edges, as well as Houston's inexperienced quarterback, I love the visitor. Indianapolis is my top play this week. This is a five-unit selection.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: There was some question about the status of center Ryan Kelly, who missed Week 17. Kelly has practiced all week, however, so he's good to go. This is huge for Indinaapolis' chances of pulling off the upset.
SATURDAY NOTES: The Colts are still my top play. The best line I see is +2 -105 at Bookmaker. I'm going to hold off and hope for a reasonable +3 to emerge.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Some sharp money has come in on the Colts, pushing this line down a bit. Unfortunately, +2 -105 is no longer available. You can get +2 -110 at BetUS or +1 +100 at 5Dimes, which seems better to me. Hopefully the Texans don't win by two, but that's a result that doesn't happen very often. Even if it does, the math says that taking +1 +100 is correct.
The Psychology. Edge: Colts.
Deshaun Watson is making his first playoff start.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 53% (48,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Colts.
History: Colts have won 26 of the 34 meetings.
Andrew Luck is 19-9 ATS against divisional opponents.
Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at Dallas Cowboys (10-6) Line: Cowboys by 3. Total: 43.5. Walt's Projected Line: Pick.
Saturday, Jan. 5, 8:15 ET
The Game. Edge: Seahawks.
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 has had an up year, but it ended on a bad note, as three of the four heavily bet teams covered.
The overall record of heavily bet teams is now 38-43-4. Here are the teams getting the most bets this week:
HATE MAIL: I will be posting hate mail here. This is from someone saying I'm biased against the Cowboys for some reason:
I've been saying that the Cowboys aren't good all year. Does that make me biased against them, or am I just giving my honest analysis? Honestly, if I were blatantly biased against them, people like this guy wouldn't accuse me of it, as he would just brush it aside as nonsense analysis.
These next two are from idiots who have no grasp of what luck is:
And then there's this...
WaLt LoStEd HiS pIcK sO hE oBvIoUsLy Is SuX aT hAnDcAPpInG aNd He SaYs He HaS bAd LuCk WhEn He JuSt Is SuX lOlOlOlO.
Derp dee doo.
This is perhaps the dumbest post of all:
When have I followed the sharps? All I do is post whom they're picking. I don't follow it. Did it ever occur to you that I might just post information because people might find it interesting? Or is that too far of a reach for you to grasp mentally?
DALLAS OFFENSE: Amari Cooper has obviously helped the Cowboys, but Dak Prescott's warts are still prevalent. Prescott misses several passes he should convert each week. He made a great play on a meaningless fourth-and-15 last week to win and help improve the Giants' draft positioning, but he wouldn't have been in that situation had he not missed numerous open receivers throughout the afternoon.
Cooper's presence allows Ezekiel Elliott to have more running room, as teams have to respect a player in the receiving corps for a change. This is a favorable matchup for Elliott, as the Seahawks are 17th in DVOA run defense. We've seen them struggle versus Elliott before, as they surrendered 127 yards on just 16 carries to him back in Week 3.
There are two caveats in this matchup that benefit the Seahawks. One is linebacker K.J. Wright, who wasn't on the field in that first matchup. In fact, Wright has barely played all year. He returned from a lengthy absence in Week 16 to help his team beat the Chiefs. His return to action gives the Seahawks a second viable linebacker, which they didn't have unless Mychal Kendricks was playing. Two, Dallas' offensive line has some problems. This was already the case, but now guard Zack Martin is banged up. I expect Martin to play, but will one of the NFL's top guards be 100 percent? That's unclear. If not, the Cowboys won't have as much success pounding the ball with Elliott.
SEATTLE OFFENSE: Speaking of offensive line issues, Russell Wilson was sacked frequently against the Cardinals. Arizona doesn't even have a good pass rush outside of Chandler Jones, yet it was still able to put heavy heat on Wilson. That certainly doesn't bode well in this matchup, as Wilson will be chased down by DeMarcus Lawrence, who has a great matchup against inept right tackle Germain Ifedi.
That said, this is not an uncommon occurrence for Wilson. He's often under heavy duress, yet gets out of it with his wizardry and is able to find one of his receivers for long gains. The weakness of Dallas' defense is the secondary. Outside of Byron Jones, none of the cornerbacks cover well, so I expect Wilson to create some big plays.
While the Seahawks will have some big plays, their offense likely won't be consistent. They've improved on this side of the ball lately with a better rushing attack, thanks to Chris Carson, but this is a tough matchup for Carson. Dallas has a top-five NFL DVOA rush defense, so Carson won't be very impactful.
SPECIAL TEAMS: I seldom discuss special teams because that aspect of the game is usually chaotic and inconsistent, but it's worth noting that the Seahawks surrendered 18 points on special teams last week, thanks to two blocked punts and a long return. The Cardinals had no business being in that game, yet they were because of special teams. This is one area the Cowboys could dominate.
RECAP: This is the toughest game of the weekend to handicap. The Seahawks are a bit better than the Cowboys, and the spread reflects that. These teams also seem evenly matched, as both defenses will have trouble stopping what the offenses do well.
When it comes down to it, I trust Wilson and Pete Carroll way more than Prescott and Jason Garrett. Wilson and Carroll obviously have an extensive successful track record in the playoffs, while Prescott has never won a playoff game. Garrett, meanwhile, is one of the two worst head coaches in the playoffs (Bill O'Brien). I feel like he'll find some way to lose this game.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: It seems like there's a bit of sharp money coming in on the Cowboys, though not enough to shift this line up to -3. The spread seems like it's moving up, so if you like Seattle, wait on this.
SATURDAY NOTES: As with the previous game, Bookmaker has the best line on the underdog is +2 -105. That number is also available at BetUS. I'm not betting this one, as there's a legitimate chance that corrupt officiating will help Dallas advance to the second round.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Some sharp money is coming in on the Cowboys, but not enough to have this line move to -3 in most books. Fortunately, some books allow you to buy points, and doing so at BetUS allows Seattle +3 -125 (it's -128 at Bookmaker.) That is much better than +2.5 -110. Getting a +3, even at -125, gives us a spread edge in this game. I'm going to put a unit on the Seahawks, as this game should be close.
The Psychology. Edge: None.
No edge found.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Dallas: 54% (44,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Seahawks.
Seahawks are 28-14 ATS in Week 11 or later since 2013.
Russell Wilson is 19-7 ATS as an underdog.
Russell Wilson is 17-6 ATS in night games.
The underdog is 84-55 ATS in Cowboys games since 2010.
Seahawks are 39-50 ATS on the road since 2006 if they're not coming off an away loss.
Cowboys are 20-31 ATS as home favorites in Cowboys Stadium (excluding Thanksgiving).
Cowboys are 17-27 ATS when favored after a win since 2010.
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
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.