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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 9 Picks

Week 8 is wrapped up and favorites led the way so far going 8-7 ATS. They now go up 61-57-2 on the season.

It sounds like a broken record, but Football Outsiders still hasn't turned things around as they go 7-8 ATS, and now sit 49-67-5 on the year.

The Las Vegas SuperContest top 5 consensus picks went 3-2, and have a pretty good record on the year at 23-17.

Joe Fornegay's "pros" went 2-4 ATS (18-25-1 YTD), and the "joes" finished 3-5 (26-24-2 YTD).  It was a similiar story for Todd Furhman's "pros" as they finished 3-4 ATS (24-23-2 YTD), and the "joes" went 2-2 ATS (19-19-2 YTD).

I didn't escape the weekend either, finishing up a putrid 1-4 ATS. Detroit didn't get to London until halftime, Flacco is who I thought he was, Big Ben had a career day, and Rodgers' pulled a hamstring. All I can do is wave the white flag because I felt good about all of those picks.

We are officially at the midway point and Week 9 lines are up. There are very few secrets heading into these games now. We know what the numbers say, what the situations are, and what teams the books will inflate. The second half of the season should be a time where the stat guys and sharps pull away from the pack, but we'll see if it plays out that way this year.

Check back throughout the week for updates.

Survivor Pick

Of the seven options in poll last week, six of them came out with a win. The only one to lose? Yep, the most popular pick of the week, the Cowboys. An NFC East upset rarely surprises me, but I didn't see a Colt McCoy victory comin' in that spot...

Week 9: Bengals

Week 8: Cowboys
Week 7: Patriots
Week 6: Broncos
Week 5: Saints
Week 4: Chargers
Week 3Colts
Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 9: Ravens Vs. Steelers

Baltimore Ravens Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: BAL PK (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

In Week 8 I was on the Colts -3 and felt really good about it. I clearly wasn't the only one because money poured in on them all week up until kickoff, and the line finally closed at -4.5. That line move wasn't just an endorsement of Indy, but it was just as much a disrespectful fade of the Steelers.

So now that Big Ben put up one of the best games in recent memory, has the general consensus shifted on Pittsburgh?

Not if you look at the early line movement for Week 9. In the look-ahead the Steelers were listed as -1 point favorites for this matchup. After Week 8 action it reopened at -1.5. Within 24 hours it has been bet down to a 'pick em'.  This, despite 57% of the bets that are coming in on the home team.

Bottom Line

I need to see more out of Pittsburgh before I change my mind about them, but they should be more competitive in this game than they were when the two met earlier this season. It also helps a lot that Jimmy Smith will be out for this game. As good as the Ravens defense has been, they've given up a lot of big plays in the air. At the same time, Big Ben is 0 for 7 on passes that have gone 40+ yards this year. You have to think that something has to give in that area one way or another.

On the flip side, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for Pittsburgh's defense despite their big win. It was nice of their offense to carry the day, but they had to put up an enormous amount of points to secure the win. They still put a defense on the field that is poor against the pass and equally bad sacking the quarterback. That's a terrible combination if you hope to win on a consistent basis in this league.

My primary concern with Baltimore is still Joe Flacco. Can he take advantage of the mismatches in this one? He's been more good than bad this year, but you never really know what you're going to get from him in any given game.

That said, at the end of the day, this Ravens team is still the more well-rounded of the two, and there's no reason to believe they can't walk away from this game with a win. I wouldn't blame anyone for taking a pass on this one, but I'm rolling with what I've seen all year instead of what I saw last week.


Read moreWeek 9 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 9: Broncos Vs. Patriots

Denver Broncos Vs. New England Patriots: DEN -3 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

There's not much to report for this spread. It was -3 in the look-ahead line, it reopened at the same number after Week 8, and it still sits there now as I'm writing this. In my opinion, I think this line needs to be -3.5 or higher, but given how big this game is I'm not surprised it's at the current number. Betting is pretty much split with 51% of the early wagers coming in on Denver.

Bottom Line

This is clearly the biggest matchup of the week, and there is going to be more analysis and talk about it than I care to get into here.  The primary reason why I like the Broncos is the same thing I've been repeating all year - their defense.

Peyton Manning gets all the headlines, but their defense really needs to get more attention. They have several key players back from injury that they didn't have in the Super Bowl, and they added some quality pieces as well. When you throw in the fact that they usually get to play with a lead, there's plenty of reasons to declare this team as the best in football - and by a fair margin.

This unit ranks in the top 10 versus the run, the pass, in adjusted sack rate, disrupted drive success, and the red zone. That's a much different animal that Tom Brady will be facing compared to the woeful Bears defense.

Do I think this game has the potential to be close? Sure. The Patriots are playing a lot better now than they were earlier in the year. The better question is whether or not it will be enough.

I doubt it.

And this is also a game in which the Chandler Jones injury should be a factor, too. It didn't really matter last week against the Bears, but a glaring weakness is something Peyton knows how to exploit.

NFL Pick: DEN -3.

Read more: Week 9 picks.