Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers: ARI +3

The biggest reason that I was reluctant to pick this game is because now I will be forced to watch some of it.  Otherwise I wouldn't even be interested in the highlights of this battle of the cellar-dwellers.  However, when I see a clear edge in the betting odds I am not about to pass it up.  Frankly, I was a little surprised that CAR was favored  in this game.  I'm still trying to figure out why this is the case.  Matchup-wise, ARI have the edge in most of the important categories and CAR is 3-10 against the spread this year.

Perhaps it is because they are playing at home?  Home field advantage is usually worth extra during the final month of the season, but if you saw any of the ATL/CAR game last week you'll know that no one is really interested in watching this team play anymore.  I think MIN might have had a more supportive crowd last Monday night and they were playing on a neutral field.  Perhaps it is because ARI is starting their third string quarterback?  I'm not sure this is a valid argument either because most fans off the street could be as effective as Derek Anderson or Max Hall.  At least John Skelton might have some upside and he didn't embarrass himself during spot duty last week.

My system has this game as a pick em and this is including some points for home field advantage.  Needless to say I like ARI here with whatever points Vegas wants to give me.  They may not be very good either, but their running game should have a little success against a porous CAR run defense and ARI have done a very underrated job keeping people out of their end zone this year.  That isn't good news for CAR because they are only averaging two field goals per game from sustained drives in 2010.  Although that stat shouldn't surprise anyone when you consider that Clausen hasn't thrown a TD pass since week 4.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that Jay Feely scored more points last week than CAR has in any game this season.   I'm rolling with the road team in what could be the most boring game of the season.  Prediction: Bank ARI +3.

Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks: ATL -6

If you have followed this blog for more than a couple weeks you will notice that ATL is routinely on my card.  I am not an ATL fan nor am I declaring blind faith in them this year.  This week they are included again because Vegas continue to undervalue this team.  I'm still a little confused why they aren't getting the respect they deserve with these odds, but it could have something to do with public perception.  ATL isn't a team that blows people out and they don't have a lot of flashy headline players.  I got into a debate of sorts with someone who has routinely picked against them over the last month and their reasoning was that ATL was due for a letdown or a reality check.  If this was a fair point I would agree, but the stats don't back this up.  They have been the most consistent overall team in the entire NFL this year and when you do that week in and week out the chances of negative variance go down.

Last season ATL was just as good, but they had trouble executing when the game was on the line and they were not as healthy.  They should be able to demonstrate this once again in week 15 as they take on SEA.  Look for more of Turner and White on the scoresheet and I don't expect Ryan's jersey to get that dirty either.  ATL have been dominating teams with long drives all year and this is how this game will be decided.  I expect them to own the clock and wear down an uninspired SEA defense.  In fact, there are only two advantages that SEA will have in this one.  Home field and special teams.  I'm not that concerned about the crowd because ATL should have the lead by halftime.  As for the special teams advantage, if this is a team's only favorable matchup in a game I will be fade them 9 times out of 10.   Last week ATL gave up a ton of yards on the ground, but John Abraham has already admitted that the team got a little complacent after dominating CAR in the first two quarters.  If they are looking to play like they can for an entire 60 minutes that is not good for SEA.  They have 7 losses on the season and every one of them have been by 15 or more points.  Prediction: Bank ATL -6.

New Orleans Saints vs Baltimore Ravens: NO +1.5
I waited to get a better idea of what the weather would be like in this game, and from all reports it seems like it's going to be a clear, crisp day for football.  I think this drastically favors Brees and the passing game so I have added them to the card.  I already had them in a teaser so check that post for the rest of the write-up.



Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys: DAL -7
I already gave my thoughts on this game in the teaser write-up, but I am adding it as a standard play with the news that Rex Grossman will be starting at QB instead of Donovan Mcnabb.  The line has only moved 1 point with this announcement so I see a lot of value with -7.  I already had DAL favored by more than a TD myself, so this news clinches it for me.  Mcnabb might have been having a down year, but he was still a popular locker room guy and can't be worse than Grossman....can he?  I'm sorry but I've seen a lot of both guys over the years and I'm not rolling with Rex Grossman behind a shoddy offensive line and suspect wide receivers under any circumstances. Prediction: Bank DAL -7.

Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants: UNDER 46

Full disclosure.  If you are new to this blog proceed with caution. Totals have been the one area that I have struggled in this year.  However, despite the unprecedented number of overs this year, I am rolling with an under this week.  I don't expect this game to be a shootout at all.  There is too much on the line to play care-free football and I fully expect a knock-down-drag-em-out game. The NFC East crown is at stake and when this has been the case in the recent past a defensive battle ensued.  Both teams matchup very well against each other so I don't think there will be any glaring mismatch on either side of the ball.  Weather is also likely to be a factor.  Take early forecasts with a grain of salt, but as of now they are calling for snow and gusty winds.  Anything that limits the ability to air it out or kick a field goal is good for an under.  Prediction: Bank UNDER 46.