Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: September 2, 2010

Odds for these games will change, so be sure to keep checking here.
  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Indianapolis Colts - CIN -6.5
 It’s no secret that the Colts shut things down in the preseason.   The organizational attitude towards winning clearly resonates amongst the players as they are allowing a pathetic 43 points a game.   Fans will see a lot of JT O’Sullivan and Palmer jr in this game and despite their sporadic play, they should have little problem outperforming the likes of Painter and Hiller.   At the moment, the Colts are more concerned with where the game officials are positioned rather than the opposing teams.    CIN need to lay a touchdown to cover, but that won’t be a problem.   Prediction: Bank CIN -6.5

  • New Orleans Saints vs Tennessee Titans - OVER 41
Two contrasting teams meet up on Thursday when the high-flying Saints take on the low-scoring Titans.    Normally, the smart money would be on the Saints in this one, but Fisher has already announced his intentions to play the starters for close to a half (if not longer).    Don’t expect to see Gage or Washington this week as both are still nursing injuries.   There should be a lot of mismatches on the field throughout the game as both teams will be using different schedules for their starters/backups and this should translate into more scoring opportunities. Prediction: Bank OVER 41.

  • Green Bay Packers vs Kansas City Chiefs - GB +5.5
 As everyone knows, Aaron Rodgers has been on fire this preseason.    This has overshadowed the play of Matt Flynn.   Ok so he put up two touchdowns against a disinterested Colts team, but it’s a nice improvement over his first two games of the preseason.   Thankfully for him, he will be playing a lot against a Chiefs team that is putting all their focus on playing the young guys.     It’s possible that Brodie Croyle returns to the lineup in this game, but with so many starters on the sidelines and so much inexperience in the key backup spots, GB should have little trouble keeping things close.    Take the points with confidence.  Prediction: Bank GB +5.5.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Tim Tebow Should Not Change His Delivery

Check out my latest article about the "chosen one" here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: Week 3 Review

After starting off week 3 with a 4-1 record, some preseason players wanted to make a name for themselves for all the wrong reasons.  Finishing up the week with a 6-5 record isn't great, but still qualifies as a winning week which makes it 3 for 3 and a 18-13 overall preseason tally.    Remind me to cross off the following names from my Christmas card list - Dixon, Spiller, Bradford, Anderson, Leinart, and the entire Carolina defense.

Looking ahead to week 4, additional homework will be needed because most of the starters will be on the bench.   Roster depth and coaching philosophies will take center stage.   Due to this, expect some analysis later in the week rather than sooner.  

18 Game Schedule: For NFL Players Is It About Money or Health?

You can check out my latest article on Bleacher Report here.

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 29, 2010

Odds for these games will change, so be sure to keep checking here.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos - PIT -2.5
If you've been following my picks you will realize a clear trend for preseason betting--quarterback depth.  Nothing changes for the Sunday night matchup and that is especially true for the Steelers this week.  Big Ben will play in this game and will start or relieve Dixon.   The bonus feature of this game is that Dixon will get significant reps with the first team offense.   This is important because Leftwich will serve as mop-up duty and he played reasonably well last week bringing PIT back to cover against the Gmen.  For DEN, Orton should be given credit for playing well behind a transitional offensive line and throwing to suspect WRs.   However, behind him is the NFL draft green room superstar Brady Quinn.   Thanks, but no thanks.   With DEN still missing quality at RB and no Dumervil, it's hard to imagine they can hang with PIT for this one.  Prediction: Bank PIT -2.5.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 28, 2010

Odds for these games will change, so be sure to keep checking here.
  • Cleveland Browns vs Detroit Lions - DET -2
Don't look now, but the Detroit Lions have an offense that is coming together nicely.  Stafford has improved his accuracy over the middle this year.   With opposing defenses securing coverage in this area of the field, the rest of the offense should have more opportunities to make plays.  Look for the ground game to alleviate some of the pressure, too.   On defense, Jake Delhomme seems to have shaken off his bad bout of interception-itis, but for how long?  The DET pass rush can get pressure with only rushing four.  Vanden Bosch, Avril, Williams, and Suh are no joke up front.  Both teams are rebuilding, but I believe the Lions are a step ahead at this point.  Jim Brown is reportedly boycotting the Ring of Honor ceremony and I will boycott them in this game.  Prediction: Bank DET -2.

Friday, August 27, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 28, 2010

Odds for these games will change, so be sure to keep checking here.

  • Tennessee Titans vs Carolina Panthers - TIT +3
At this point in time it's uncertain whether or not Steve Smith or Jonathan Stewart will play this weekend, but they have practiced all week.   While those players are definitely difference makers, it won't matter much in this game.   The Panthers have holes and roster battles all over the map.   Clausen is going to be battling a painful toe injury all season which might be a good built-in excuse for his poor play.  For the Titans, things are looking a little bit brighter.  Justin Gage should return from injury this week and Fisher is impressed with his rookie class thus far.  They will likely stay cautious with Chris Johnson, but that won't be a problem.  Look for Collins to get more time behind Young as the TIT get more prepared for the regular season.  Prediction: Bank TEN +3. 

  • New York Giants vs Baltimore Ravens - BAL -0.5
The Ravens have had one of the best defenses over the last decade and so far out of the gates there is nothing to suggest otherwise again this season.   It is only preseason, and they are serious questions in the secondary, but they still have enough pieces in place to make life miserable in the NFL.  That trend will continue when the limping NYG come to town.   Sorgi has already been ruled out and Eli will play, but not the usual workload of a typical third week preseason game.   Good luck to Bomar, he will need it.  On the other side, QB duties are expected to be split with Flacco in the first half and Bulger for most of the second.  Coach Harbaugh emphasized that they have prepared for this game like they would for the regular season.  The G-men will just try to keep it respectable.  Prediction: Bank BAL -0.5. 


  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Buffalo Bills - CIN -3
Ocho Cinco was fined 25k this week for violating the NFL's social media policy.  Thankfully, he keeps most of his shenanigans off the field because this week he'll need to improve his rapport with Palmer.  With the additions of T.O. and Gresham, there will be mismatches somewhere on the field.  Palmer said teams are still rolling double coverage over to Ocho, so expect more things from T.O. in this game.  Beyond Evans, the Bills are a complete work in progress at receiver.  This is not good news for their QB rotation. There is not a lot to like about the Bills this year and the same can be said for this game.  Prediction: Bank CIN -3.

  • San Francisco 49ers vs Oakland Raiders - SF +1
SF continued their solid run defense against the Vikings, but had trouble getting the running game going for themselves.  That is to be expected with Gore on the bench.  RB Dixon did too much dancing and had difficulties picking up the blitzes.  Look for that to change against a much less formidable OAK team. WR Ginn has looked good in his new uniform so look for him to continue that this week.  For the Raiders, McFadden might return to the lineup to compete with Bush, but they will have trouble vs the 49ers run defense. OAK isn't going to blitz much so Alex Smith should have more opportunities to make plays.  Prediction: Bank SF +1.

  • Arizona Cardinals vs Chicago Bears - CHI -3
Anyone who has watched ARI this preseason know that Leinart is playing on borrowed time.  Anderson has not been much better.  In fact, there is not a lot to get excited about if you are a Cardinals fan.  They have openly admitted that TEN's blitzes game them problems.  The O-line also had problems opening up holes for Hightower and Wells.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball Cutler has not been given as much power to call audibles and that should cut down on the INT totals.   Forte is looking better now that he's healthy.  CHI is having trouble getting off the field on 3rd and longs, but that will change against the lowly Cardinals. UPDATE: Leinart has been benched and will now be the 2nd stringer behind Anderson.  This changes nothing for this bet though.  Carry on as usual.  Prediction: Bank CHI -3.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 27, 2010

Here are my early predictions for week 3 of the NFL preseason.   Check back during the week for the rest.

Odds for these games will change, so be sure to keep checking here.

  • Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs - PHI 
Last week the Eagles laid an egg vs the Bengals, but that should turn around when they play one of the youngest teams in the NFL on Friday.   The biggest problem the Eagles had was on their O-line who gave their QB's next to no time to find their receivers.   That should change this week as they get one of their most consistent guards back - Todd Herremans.  The O-line will also be aided by the fact that KC doesn't have a sack in two games yet.   David Akers bruised his heel, but he will play as well.  The Chiefs lineup right now is a mix-mash of fluctuating talent and most of Cassel's success last week came against 2nd stringers.  Prediction: Bank PHI.

  • Atlanta Falcons vs Miami Dolphins - ATL
It is unlikely that Dunta Robinson will play against MIA, but they will win without him.  The ATL starters are expected to see about 35 snaps this game which is more than enough time to build a lead.  Matt Ryan should have time to make some big plays because MIA has not been able to get to the QB without blitzing and their young corners have struggled.  Brandon Marshall may or may not be injured, but MIA will err on the side of caution if he's nicked up.  Prediction: Bank ATL.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 26, 2010

Odds for these games will change, so be sure to keep checking here.

  • St. Louis Rams vs New England Patriots - NE -7.5
Normally I would stay far away from a favorite laying down 7.5 in a preseason game, but we have found ourselves an exception.  A perfect storm has come together to give us a game that should be laying at least 10 points down.   Belichick and Brady both have solid preseason records in their careers and have come out guns blazing so far this year. Last week Maroney was dancing around too much at the line of scrimmage, but this week he should be dancing straight to the end zone.  Meanwhile for the Rams, things couldn't be worse.  A.J. Feeley is out with an injury which means Bradford will get an early introduction to the NFL by playing in New England in week 3 of the preseason.  The depth behind him is even worse so don't expect an upgrade after he gets put on the bench.    Prediction: Bank NE -7.5. 

  • Indianapolis Colts vs Green Bay Packers - OVER 44.5
I could cut and paste my write up from the Saints/Texans matchup and just switch the names for this game because I expect much of the same here.  Aaron Rodgers has been on fire since he entered the league and his offense is already hitting on all cylinders.  Both teams will play their first team lineup for at least a half and maybe more depending on how the game goes.   That should be more than enough to put up some big points as both teams will air it out.  This should leave an easy job for the backups to cover the OVER in the second half as the third stringers won't see much action at all.  Prediction: Bank the OVER.

Monday, August 23, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: Week 2 Review

Week 2 of the preseason was a roller coaster ride.   The Eagles started it off with a big dud as Vick tried his best to prove he's still the shadow of his former self.   Saturday went as expected going 5-1.   To end off the week most of the world was heading for a push with MIN +3 until QB Webb decided to take a safety on the final play of the game.   Al Michaels got a good laugh out of it, but it wasn't so funny for us.    At 5-4 for week 2 my preseason totals are 12-8 (60%) at the halfway mark of the preseason.   

Looking ahead to week 3, look for more underdog picks as they are almost 60% vs the spread.    Week 3 is also the official dress rehearsal before the season starts so expect a sneak peek of the regular season.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 21, 2010

 Odds for these games change, so be sure to keep checking here!
  • Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers - MIN +3
With the news that Favre will get some reps it would be wise to jump on this line now.   I was already leaning towards the Vikings but I'm guessing the line will change again as we get closer to game time.   With a full quarterback rotation, the Vikings will pose a much different challenge to the 49er defense than the uninpsired Colts did.  Rosenfels and Jackson will get plenty of opportunity to show who should be the backup.   This week Alex Smith and company will face a much different opponent both on defense and offense.  Smith did not play very good vs the Colts while Carr played not bad.   They to be better, but it won't be enough.  Prediction: Bank MIN +3.

Friday, August 20, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 20, 2010

Odds for these games change, so be sure to keep checking here!

•    Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Giants - PIT -4, UNDER 36

Tomlin wants to take a nice long look at his backup QB’s.   NYG had big plays  last week, but hardly any sustained drives.   This will be worse without Eli and Sorgi.    PIT still have problems on O-line and corner, but should be enough to overcome the depleted NYG.   The only way this game goes OVER is if PIT blow them out.  Lay the points with confidence.    Prediction: Bank PIT -4 and UNDER.

•    Baltimore Ravens vs Washington Redskins - BAL +3

On the surface this looks like a bad matchup for the Ravens.  Shanahan is traditionally very good vs the spread, McNabb has something to prove, and they romped the Bills in week 1.  However, the Ravens are not the Bills and look for BAL to put up a much better fight.   Bulger should get into a better groove this time around as he gets more familiar with his new team.  Underdogs also do well in week 2.   Prediction: Bank BAL +3.

•    New York Jets vs Carolina Panthers - NYJ -1.5

In perhaps my favorite matchup of the week the HBO Hard Knocks wonders take on the Panthers.  The Jets wanted to win week 1, but couldn't pull it off due to some big plays from Peyton's protege Jim Sorgi.  Who knew?  Clemens is publicly on the trading block so look for him to get more extended time in this game.   He will be squaring off with the new kid on the block, Jimmy Klausen.   Also look for Sanchez to get more going with his new toys on offense while Moore tries to figure out if he's actually a starter in this league.   CAR lack depth and have key injuries once again this week, meanwhile the Jets should be able to put up more points with the loaded roster they have.  Prediction: Bank NYJ -1.5.

•    Miami Dolphins vs Jacksonville Jaguars - MIA +2

MIA started the preseason with a flop of a performance, but they almost covered the spread anyways only missing it by 1 point.  Look for that to change this week as they play the lowly Jaguars.   Last week versus PHI they relied entirely on turnovers and big plays.   Don't expect lightning to strike twice.  Coach Sparano likes to win in the preseason and this game will follow that trend, too.   Stick with the road dog in this one.    Prediction: Bank MIA +2.

•    Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints - OVER 40.5

Both of these teams love to air it out.   It is their identity and it should be another preseason shootout.   Scoring naturally goes up as the preseason rolls along and when you have two teams looking to do what they do best, it's a recipe for scoring success.  The total is usually set higher for these clubs and with good reason because they usually go OVER.   Expect more of the same in this one.  Prediction: Bank OVER.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 20, 2010

Odds for this game are changing a lot, so be sure to keep checking here!
  • Philadelphia Eagles vs Cincinnati Bengals - PHI +3, OVER (37)
I missed on the PHI/JAX game last week but not because the game did not go as predicted.  A couple big plays made the game look a lot closer than it really was.   PHI had no trouble marching down the field and it should not be any different in this game.   Look for Vick to continue his improved play and he should take care of the ball better than he did in week 1.   CIN's offense will continue to gel as the preseason rolls along so I expect some points in this one.   Underdogs traditionally do well in this game and I think this game will be no exception.    Prediction: Bank PHI +3 and OVER.

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 19, 2010

August 19, 2010

No picks for Thursday as I don't like either matchup.   Check back later today for my Eagles/Cincinnati prediction. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: Week 1 Review

A 7-4 record for week 1 of the preseason was good, but it could have been better with a little luck.   Three of those losses came from six points combined.  Ouch. 

Coming up for week 2 I will be playing extra attention to underdogs that lost in week 1 and especially if they face a team that won in week 1.    Underdogs +3.5 win at close to 60% against the spread.

I will be updating picks throughout the week.
Check here for the latest numbers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

Odds for this game are changing a lot, so be sure to keep checking here!
  • New York Giants vs New York Jets - NYJ - 1.5
Nothing like a preseason game to open up a new stadium.  The NYG have some battles going on with WR and the defensive line, but much of that will be moot once the backup quarterbacks come in.  Neither coach has a significant preseason record one way or the other. Brunell is no spring chicken, but he along with Clemens should be able to outplay Jim "I only backup the Mannings" Sorgi and Rhett Bomar.    Prediction: Bank NYJ -1.5.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 15, 2010

August 15, 2010

Odds change, so be sure to keep checking here or miss out!

  • San Francisco 49ers vs Indianapolis Colts - SF -3
Mike Singletary and his feisty persona were 3-1 in the preseason last year while his counterpart Caldwell was 1-3.    Caldwell has already come out and said his starters will see less starting time than normal and there is not a lot to get excited about after Peyton leaves the field.   Coffee might have taken a hike, but that won't matter because the Colts won't play Freeney, and maybe Mathis and Sanders.   I'm not crazy about Carr as the 49er's backup, but can you name who backs up Manning?   Exactly.   Prediction: Bank SF -3.

Friday, August 13, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

Odds change, so be sure to keep checking here or miss out!

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Miami Dolphins - MIA -3.5
 TB is a young and hungry team.   They are another team wanting to change their culture of losing.   MIA have some injuries on the offensive line.  This is not good news when depth is the name of the game.    However, Sparano has a solid record in the preseason and they have more depth at QB.   Lay the extra point with confidence. Prediction: Bank MIA -3.5.

  • Houston Texans vs Arizona Cardinals - ARI +1.5
HOU are banged up and missing notable players.  Adding insult to injury is the lack of a quality backup behind Schaub.  Coach Wisenhunt is traditionally bad in preseason with a pathetic 2-10 record, but good handicapping is knowing when to ride a trend and when not to.  Things are not the status quo in ARI with a lot of major changes.   Quality starters are gone and this will be the first building block towards what they hope is a successful year.  Anderson may not be a starter, but he's a capable backup.  Fly with the Cardinals in this one.     Prediction: Bank ARI +1.5.

  • Tennessee Titans vs Seattle Seahawks - TEN +3.5
Despite Vince Young's recent idiotic comments, I really like a preseason team with quarterback depth - especially in the first game.   In this sense, Collins has a nice edge over Losman.   Underdogs getting more than 3 points win at a 65+% in week 1, and this is another solid bet.   SEA have a lot of moving parts with a new coach and a new philosophy.   There will be growing pains and they will start on Saturday.   Hasselbeck won't likely play more than a quarter given his injury history, because behind him there isn't a whole lot to write home about.   Prediction: Bank TEN +3.5

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 13, 2010

 August 13, 2010
  • Buffalo Bills vs Washington Redskins - WSH -4
I normally do not take favorites in the preseason who are favored by more than a field goal, but this game is an exception.  There are lots of new faces at major positions in Washington and this team has something to prove this season.   Shanahan has an amazing lifetime record ATS and he will want to make his mark with his new team.   Mcnabb will be wearing a new game jersey for the first time in his pro career.   While Rex Grossman isn't anyone to get excited about, he is better than what Buffalo have to offer.   Haslett will also be the newcomer on the defensive side.   While it may be a new system, defenses are usually further along than the offense during preseason.  Prediction: Bank WSH -4.


  • Jacksonville Jaguars vs Philadelphia Eagles - PHI -3
Many of the trends do not favor PHI in their first game of the preseason.   However, there are good reasons why those trends could be irrelevant this time around.   There are many battles for roster spots at the depth positions - especially at running back (McCoy, Bell, Arrington).   Vick is a year removed from his comeback and will have a much better grasp on things than he did last year.   Some out of camp are saying he wants to prove himself as a legitimate talent in this league.   That is nice to hear on the eve of this game, but I don't believe he will use this game as his reintroduction to the NFL.   I do expect him to be playing with a lot of effort though.   Frankly, he is lucky to even have this chance after the off-season he's had.   Prediction: Bank PHI -3.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NFL Preseason Predictions: August 12, 2010

August 12th, 2010

All of my preseason picks are only two unit plays.   There are good plays to be found, but due to the volatile nature that is the NFL preseason one must tread a bit more carefully.   At the same time, preseason is when there is a lot less action on the games and odds-makers have a much more difficult time finding the right lines. 

A number of key factors come into play such as coaching philosophy, depth and competition at those spots, quality of the backup quarterbacks, up-to-the-minute game news, statistical trends, etc.

  • New Orleans Saints vs New England Patriots - NO +1.5
Belichick is not interested in preseason results and it shows as they have not done well versus the spread early in the preseason over the last few years.   Brady won't play much and after him there isn't anything worth mentioning here.  The Super Bowl champs will continue their success - even if it is the preseason.  Prediction: Bank NO +1.5.

  •  Carolina Panthers vs Baltimore Ravens - BAL -3.5 and UNDER (34)
"There are probably 20-something guys I've never seen take a snap in NFL football," Fox said Wednesday.   Indeed, four different quarterbacks will see action vs the Ravens, but at least they'll be facing a depleted secondary.   The panthers also left 11 other players at home including three starters (Gamble, Smith, and Stewart).   The Ravens have traditionally been low-scoring in the preseason, while CAR has been bad against the spread.   I don't see any reason why those trends won't continue now.  Prediction: Bank the UNDER and BAL -3.5



Monday, August 9, 2010

Preseason Predictions

As most people know preseason predictions seem very dicey on the surface.  However, value can be found.  There will be ample opportunities each week to make some plays.  In the coming days I will offer up some predictions for week one.  

NFL Season Win Totals: AFC Teams to Stay Away From...

  • New England Patriots 9.5 Wins

  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 3-3 record
  • 2010 9 tough , 2 challenging 
Normally I would take NE over 9.5 wins.  This is not a normal year for the Patriots.   Brady has suddenly aged over night.   Now approaching his mid-30s and a major knee surgery on his resume,  protecting him becomes even more important.   NE has issues on the offensive line and the surrounding cast are not what they used to be.  Moss is also getting up in age, Welker will not be the same as last year, and the running backs are anonymously by committee.   Adding insult to injury is a supremely difficult schedule and big questions on the defensive side.   I am never in the business of betting against Brady and Belichick, but this year the chips are stacked too high against them.  Prediction: Flip a coin.


  •  Houston Texans 8 Wins
  • 2009 5 tough matchups: 1-4 record
  • 2010 6 tough , 2 challenging
First and foremost, losing Dunta Robinson is not good when you are in a division with Peyton Manning.   First round pick Kareem Jackson will be tested early and often in the opener versus the Colts.   If they cannot stop them, they should be able to score with them.   One of the best passing attacks in the league will have to bring their 'A' game because their schedule is nothing to scoff at.   One of these years HOU will challenge for the division crown, but it won't be in 2010.   They could finish with seven to nine wins depending how a few key games play out in the fourth quarter.   Prediction: Flip a coin.


  • Oakland Raiders 6 Wins
  • 2009 irrelevant
  • 2010 4 tough , challenging - the rest
I could probably just say the name Al Davis and that would be sufficient analysis enough, but the Raiders actually went out and found themselves a quarterback that has proved he can be average in this league.  That is a significant upgrade for this organization.   Having said that, no one on the planet knows if Campbell can make a difference, if they can stop the run, or if Cable will be efficient.   5-11 was probably an over-achievement if you go back and take a closer look at their games.  They do have some pieces in place at running back and on defense to compliment a winnable schedule, but anyone willing to bet either direction of 6 wins is braver than me.   Prediction: Flip a coin.


  • Kansas City Chiefs 6.5 Wins
  • 2009 7 tough matchups: 1-6 record
  • 2010 3 tough , 3 challenging
 The beta version of the New England Patriots have many people optimistic about 7+ wins this year.  Pioli, Crennel, Weis, and Cassel are surely sending royalties to Belichick for their subsequent opportunities.    A relatively soft schedule is a significant factor driving the OVER trend but I do not see enough from this team to warrant a play either way.   For me, Cassel is not going to lead any team anywhere.   He needs a wealth of talent around him and that is something he does not have.  J Charles is a bright spot, there are a lot of touted prospects, but at the end of the day seven wins seems very unlikely.  Prediction: leaning UNDER.

  • Cleveland Browns 5.5 Wins
  • 2009 irrelevant
  • 2010 8 tough , 3 challenging 
 It was a rough summer if you are a Cleveland sports fan, and the start of the NFL season is not going to make things any easier.   The quarterback merry-go-round continued as Delhomme took over the reins for a drowning franchise.  If the Browns lived in a cardboard box, bringing in Jake would be like cutting a hole in the top and calling it a sunroof.  For me he is only a stop-gap measure as they begin their rebuilding plan.  The same can be said for additions such as Fujita and Brown. Harrison and Cribbs are bright lights, but it is pretty dark everywhere else.   If you are a pessimist, do not look at their 2010 schedule either.   Holmgren and Heckart are two solid additions that should give this organization a map, but where it leads to this season is anyone's guess.  Prediction: leaning UNDER.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

NFL Season Win Totals: NFC Teams to Stay Away From

Sometimes the best choices people make are the ones they don't.   That is the prevailing theme in this edition of NFL predictions.   I would stay far away from the following bets unless you happen to work within the organization and know something we don't.  Some I like, but not enough to give a stamp of approval on.   My prediction for these teams would be better expressed with a coin, but that is no fun so I'll give a few reasons why. 

  • Dallas Cowboys 9.5 Wins
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 4-2 record
  • 2010 5 tough , 2 challenging
America's Team of yesterday is a difficult one to get a grasp on.   They took a big step last year by finally winning a playoff game, but failed to carry that momentum any further.   I am not a Tony Romo fan and think he is a regular season quarterback who has yet to prove he can consistently win when it counts.   Wade Philips is probably in his last year as head coach unless they can reach the NFC Championship game.  I fail to see any clear-cut leadership on this team, too.  They have one of the toughest schedules in the league, but 10 wins is not out of the question due to the talent level.   Prediction: Flip a coin.


  • Washington Redskins 7.5 Wins
  • 2009 7 tough matchups: 0-7 record
  • 2010 6 tough , 4 challenging
WSH brought in new running backs, quarterbacks, and coaches.   So what's new.   The only constant in this organization is change and 2010 is no different.   They had a horrible year last year, but that is business as usual for Snyder and company.  Haynseworth finally passed his eighth conditioning test as I write this so WSH fans can finally stop worrying about him.  Or not.  Shanahan and McNabb have impressive resumes, but no one knows how this new sideshow will pan out.   They could crash and burn with six or seven wins, or put it all together and win the division.    I have my doubts whether McNabb will stay healthy for a whole year.  Prediction: Flip a coin.


  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5.5 Wins
  • 2009 Irrelevant
  • 2010 tough - many, challenging - the rest
Not much to say here.   They did not get considerably better or worse in the offseason.  I like to see some statistical evidence or positive developments somewhere on this team to be optimistic.  I see neither.  Five or six wins sounds about right.  Prediction: Flip a coin.


  • Seattle Seahawks 7.5 Wins
  • 2009 5 tough matchups: 0-5 record
  • 2010 2 tough , 2 challenging
7.5 is pretty high for a team that lost every tough game they played last season.   Pete Carroll has been out the NFL for a while and it he did well to escape those USC sanctions.   It will be interesting to see how this marriage unfolds.   Hasselbeck is the clear number one from the early reports out of camp, but he has obvious concerns due to multiple injuries over the last couple years.   Julius Jones's job is safer with Lendale White out of the picture, and Leon Washington is coming off a devastating injury.   Playing in one of the easiest divisions with an even easier schedule could allow SEA to creep up to eight wins.   Prediction: leaning UNDER.


  • St Louis Rams 5 Wins
  • 2009 Irrelevant
  • 2010 tough - ALL
Sam Bradford and AJ Feeley are not going to strike fear into any defense, but S Jackson will...if he can stay healthy.   The days of workhorse backs are quickly disappearing as teams want to use the running back by committee (RBBC) approach (and keep contracts down).   Coach 'Spags' has his work cut out for him and he is finding life much different at the bottom of the ocean after sailing on top with the Giants.   Much like TB, I see more growing pains before I see growth.   Prediction: Flip a coin.


  • Detroit Lions 5 Wins
  • 2009 Irrelevant
  • 2010 tough - ALL
DET is perhaps one of the most heavily debated teams in the props bets.  They have a lot of offensive weapons ready to go.    Stafford is entering his second year after showing he can play in this league during 2009.   Burleson, Johnson, Scheffler, and Best are his surrounding cast and should give him the opportunity to make plays.  Vanden Bosch, Williams, and Suh will improve the pass rush, but they are still weak at linebacker and safety.   This organization needs to uproot the culture of losing and start learning how to win games.   Can they win six?  I like what is brewing in Motown, but not enough to bank on it.   Prediction: leaning OVER. 

  • Minnesota Vikings 9.5 Wins
  • 2009 5 tough matchups: 4-1 record
  • 2010 6 tough , 2 challenging
Personally, I want nothing to do with the Brett Favre love affair . Like most people, I was surprised that he played so well last year.  However, I think he overachieved.  If people are expecting the same kind of production and results from him this year - they will have a rude awakening.  He is still better than T Jackson and the Vikes are loaded with talent, but Favre will digress some as he is a year older with a potentially problematic ankle.  If nothing else, the regression to the mean dictates a trend back to the norm.   At the time of this posting, no one even knows who will start week one.   Favre may return sometime in late September/early October.   They have a very difficult schedule and they won't be taking both wins from the Packers this year.   They will take a step back, but below 10 wins?  Tough to say.   Prediction: flip a coin.

  •  Chicago Bears 8 Wins
  • 2009 9 tough matchups: 2-7 record
  • 2010 8 tough , 2 challenging
I will say this about the 2010 Chicago Bears...they are not boring.  Giving Peppers all that money is a big risk.   Many doubt his work ethic and it seems unlikely he will ever live up to that contract.   Look for him to start strong the first half of the year when the spotlight is at its brightest, but he could fade later in the year if the Bears are not in contention.  People are also not sure what to expect from Urlacher.   Time will tell if Cutler has grown up, but more importantly - can he put together some consistency?   Having C Taylor in the backfield might alleviate some pressure.   L Smith is on the hot seat and if they don't challenge for a wild card spot, he could be looking for work.  Oh, and did I mention they have a brutal schedule?   If you want to know how they will do in those big games, do not look at last year's record - it wasn't pretty.   Prediction: leaning UNDER. 

Remaining AFC teams coming soon..

Hall of Fame Game Prediction

  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Dallas Cowboys - DAL +3
During the past 14 years, underdogs +1 to +3 have a 54.6% winning record ATS.   Week 1 underdogs are 58.1%, while home underdogs are 58.4%.    Jerry Jones has publicly stated he wants to win this game to cap off a celebration weekend for Emmit Smith.   Wade Philips likes to keep everyone happy.    DAL has a better backup with Kitna.   I like the money line when the underdog is +3 or less.   Prediction: Bank DAL +3.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

NFL Season Win Totals: AFC Predictions

  •  Indianapolis Colts 11 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 2 tough matchups: 2-0 record
  • 2010 4 tough (CIN, @NE, SD, DAL), 3 challenging (@HOU, HOU, @PHI)
Peyton Manning could have easily gone for an undefeated season last year with one of the easiest schedules in the league.  This year will be a different story.   The difficulty ramped up a notch as they face a number of teams that could snatch a win from them.  This fact does not seem to scare betters away from playing the OVER on this one and I am in complete agreement.   The Colts have not won 12+ games in six straight years because of a soft schedule.   The only real concern might be on a micro level as Tom Moore has finally moved on and there is a new rule change that might require a strategic change.   The umpires will line up behind the offense this season instead of on the defensive side.  This will make ball placement after a play a little slower as the ref must travel further to retrieve the ball.   This could slow Peyton's hurry up tempo.   However, given Peyton's knowledge of the game, I would not shy away from this one.  Prediction: Bank the OVER.


  • Tennessee Titans 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 0-6 record
  • 2010 4 tough (@DAL, @SD, IND, @IND), 2 challenging (@HOU, HOU)
TEN is perhaps one of the most deceiving teams heading into the 2010 season.   They finished the season strong and might have even made the playoffs if Goodell had his 18 games schedule implemented last year.   Yet, they still could not pull out a single win in any of their tough matchups.  Losing Vanden Bosch was a slight setback for their defense and who knows if C Johnson is happy with his contract.   Fisher still knows how to coach his team up as one of the best in the business, but what can he do with V Young?   The jury is out if he will ever be able to develop into a consistent quarterback.   If they were in a weaker division I would shy away from this one, but they will not reach nine wins on the legs of C Johnson alone. Some might like V Young, but I am not one of them.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.

 
  • Jacksonville Jaguars 7.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 7 tough matchups: 3-4 record
  • 2010 4 tough (@SD, IND, @IND, @DAL), 3 challenging (@HOU, HOU, PHI)
Jack Del Rio joins the list of coaches in the spotlight this season.   He has always climbed an uphill battle playing in the same division as the Colts, but now the Texans and Titans are both good enough that JAX could be sitting in the cellar this year.   MJD is a stud RB but he wore down towards the end of last year.    Health is also a concern as MJD, Garrard, and Sims-Walker all battled injuries in 2009.    However, what is more concerning about this team is whether or not they can stay consistent.  Last season JAX won games they should not have and lost games they should have won.   The division did not get worse in the offseason - and that is bad news for JAX.   Not only for the team, but for the long-term prospects of this franchise.   LA Jaguars anyone?  Prediction: Bank the UNDER.  


  • New York Jets 9.5 Wins - OVER

  • 2009 5 tough matchups: 2-3 record
  • 2010 7 tough (BAL, NE, @NE, MIN, GB, CIN, @PIT), 1 challenging (HOU)
Does any team have more pressure on it heading into the 2010 season? They have a tough hill to climb given their schedule.   Perhaps the more relevant question is do we buy into the hype?   Many do.  SI Writer Don Banks rated them number one in his preseason power rankings.   That is absurd, but this team should perform well.  They ranked near the top of the league in rushing offense, passing/rushing defense, and went out and added more pieces to the puzzle.  For me, LT is done and will only be inserted to spell Greene.   Edwards and Holmes will be nice receiving options for the Entourage stand-in of Vinny - Mark Sanchez.   Revis will eventually be in camp, create a nice tandem with Cromartie, and solidify a formidable defense.  Coach Ryan will be doing his best to redirect the spotlight onto himself rather than his team.   There is little arguing whether or not this team is poised to win the AFC East and make a run at a Super Bowl, but the biggest road block might be Sanchez.   He was a rookie last year and well, played like one.  Will the NYJ win because of him?  Or in spite of him?   I like the former.  Prediction: Bank the OVER.


  • Miami Dolphins 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 11 tough matchups: 3-8 record
  • 2010 8 tough (@MIN, NYJ, @NYJ, NE, @NYJ, @GB, CIN, @BAL), 1 challenging (PIT)
Miami had it bad in 2009.  They did not do well in big games and things do not get any easier in 2010.   The early trends have many people taking the OVER.   They must know something I do not.   The ESPN strength of schedule lists them as having the 16th most difficult schedule.   After my analysis and adjustments, I have them as 27th.   Playing the NYJ and NE twice each is going to be tough.   Henne showed some flashes that he can be a quarterback in the NFL, but MIA is not about to turn into a passing juggernaut anytime soon.  They have a stellar running game and that will continue to be their bread and butter.   Some might say losing Porter and Taylor will not hurt that much, but who will replace them?  Brandon Marshall will help take pressure off Henne and the running game immensely, but to pull out nine wins with that schedule is a daunting task.  I'm not buying into the MIA hype.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER. 


  • Buffalo Bills 5.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 Irrelevant
  • 2010 8 tough (@GB, NE, NE, NYJ, @NYJ, @BAL, @CIN, @MIN),challenging - the rest
One could argue that every game on BUF's schedule will be 'tough' or 'challenging', but this division really has it rough.   BUF is a mess and losing T.O. will be a bigger loss than some might think.   He actually played a lot better than his stats suggested.    Almost every aspect of this franchise is a question mark with the exception of passing defense.   CJ Spiller is not going to be Barry Sanders this year.    No one knows who the future quarterback or offensive tackles will be and no one wants to sign there.   They have not sniffed the playoffs in over a decade.  I could go on but I have more interesting things to write about.  Prediciton: Bank the UNDER. 


  • San Diego Chargers 11 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 4-2 record
  • 2010 3 tough (NE, @IND, @CIN), 1 challenging (@HOU)
This team has the easiest schedule in the whole league according to my analysis.   Turner might be nearing the end of the road as head coach of the Chargers if they cannot make a Super Bowl appearance soon, but they will have an excellent chance at home field advantage in 2010.   Rivers has become a top tier quarterback despite his unorthodox delivery and will finally be the undisputed leader of the team now that L.T. is gone.  Keep an eye on Ryan Mathews as the new era of SD running backs begins behind an offensive line that could go above and beyond after the LT comments.   Ignore the holdouts and the loss of Cromartie.   The Chargers won't have to worry about depth until the post-season.   They might win 12 games with this schedule even without the holdouts.   Prediction: Bank the OVER.


  • Denver Broncos 7.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 9 tough matchups: 4-5 record
  • 2010 5 tough (IND, @BAL, NYJ, @SD, SD), 1 challenging (HOU)
Broncos were flat out horrible after their overachieving 6-0 start in 2009.   Then Marshall left town.   Now Dumerville is out for the year.   That blow speaks for itself.   Elite pass rushers are few and far between.  There is not a lot to like about DEN other than their pass defense.   They shipped out JJ Arrington before the recent rash of injuries to Moreno and Buckhalter.   Orton will play his last year before he is a free agent in 2011.    Broncos are in disarray, but at least they will sell a lot of Tim Tebow jerseys.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER. 


  • Baltimore Ravens 10 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 9 tough matchups: 2-7 record
  • 2010 5 tough (@NYJ, @CIN, @NE, NO, CIN), 3 challenging (PIT, @ATL, @HOU)
Ravens are another trendy pick heading into 2010.   However, a closer look reveals a troubling story.   BAL played in a lot of big games last year, but lost most of them.   Then they went out and got Bulger.   Flacco could be an up and coming quarterback, but I have serious doubts about his consistency.    I am not sure if he will become the 'quarterback of the future' - and neither do the Ravens.   Boldin will help a woeful receiving corps (with all due respect to Mason), but most teams around the league were scared to give him serious money with his injury history.   I too would be surprised if he starts 16 games.   Rice is an amazing talent, and he will be the difference in many games, but can their defense keep up?  Stopping the run is not their issue, but they had big problems in the secondary heading into training camp and then lost Foxworth for the year with a torn ACL.   Ed Reed may never be 100% healthy again and the other DB's are returning from major knee surgery.   Their schedule is too difficult with this cast of characters to reach 11 wins.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.


  •  Pittsburgh Steelers 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 7 tough matchups: 3-4 record
  • 2010 7 tough (BAL, @NO, @CIN, NE, @BAL, CIN, NYJ), 1 challenging (ATL)
Will Big Ben's suspension hurt the Steelers?  Absolutely.   They will need to run the ball 75 times a game to overcome the dismal outlook at quarterback over the first 4-6 weeks.   Losing Holmes will not help this situation.  Will Troy Polamalu stay healthy for 16 games?  Doubtful.   They won four of the five games he started last year.   He only knows how to play full tilt and like Bob Sanders, it is catching up to him.   Have they fixed their offensive line problems?  No.  Even when Ben comes back he will need to take a page out of Aaron Rogers playbook and get rid of the ball earlier.  He will be susceptible to injury - especially with a concussion history.  PIT was not great in big games last year with Ben, and have a tougher schedule this year without him. Tomlin promises a return to smash-mouth Steeler football.   He also said they would "bring the pain" against the Raiders last year.  We all know how that turned out.  Prediction: Bank the UNDER. 


  • Cincinnati Bengals 8 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 8 tough matchups: 5-3 record
  • 2010 9 tough (@NE, BAL, @IND, @NYJ, NO, @PIT, PIT, SD, BAL), 1 challenging (@ATL)
The Bengals have one of the toughest schedules in the league.  So why do I like the OVER?  Simply put, this team is better than most people think.   They rose to the occasion in big games in 2009.   Sure there are questions about Palmer's elbow and Bryant's knee,  but they added T.O., a nice rookie tight end in Gresham, and still have a good run defense (vital playing in this division).   A healthy Odom should help their pass rush.   One would think that coach Lewis is nearing the end of the line in his tenure as coach, but another strong year should solidify his job.   Unlike their rivals BAL and PIT, CIN has enough pieces in place to build on their 2009 season.   Even if they stumble, they will still reach nine wins.   All of this and I still didn't mention Ocho Cinco.  He wouldn't like that, but he'd like my prediction: Bank the OVER.


The remaining teams around the league coming soon...

NFL Season Win Totals: NFC Predictions

NFL season win totals is one the best opportunities to make money.   If you can place your bets before the preseason, you can make even more.   There are two primary reasons.

1 - This is when Vegas has the least amount of information to establish their odds.   You will see that as the preseason progresses, the odds will continually change as more information unfolds.   As I write this, I have seen most of the odds on my selections decrease in value.   This is a good sign for me because it tells me my picks were ahead of the curve.

2 - Most odds are adjusted to fall in line with public perception.  Many betters will base their reasoning on last season's results.   For example, if you see a strength of schedule report on ESPN or a handicappers website - IGNORE IT.   If you go back and look at last season's results more closely, you will understand that some teams win-lose records were inflated and vice versa.    After adjusting the 2009 results to reflect how teams really did, the 2010 "strength of schedule" will appear very different.

The following are my best early predictions for NFL season win totals in the NFC.   I will update this list throughout the preseason for the remaining teams.

  • New Orleans Saints 10.5 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 5 tough matchups: 4-1 record
  • 2010 4 tough (MIN, @DAL, @CIN, @BAL), 4 challenging (ATL, @ATL, @SF, @PIT)

 The defending Super Bowl champs had an easy schedule in 2009 with only five tough games and they won four of them.   Their schedule is a little tougher this year and without a doubt every team will want to knock of the champs.  NO will not be going for an undefeated season this year, but they should still win 11+ games.   They didn't lose any core players in the offseason and the returning cast is healthy and confident.   The NFL is a quarterback-centered league and NO have one of the best with Brees.   They have a favorable schedule and they know how to win the big games.  Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • Atlanta Falcons 9 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 1-5 record
  • 2010 6 tough (@NO, NO, @PHI, CIN, BAL, GB ), 1 challenging (SF)

 A detailed analysis would put this bet into serious question.   After a breakout rookie season with Matt Ryan in 2008, ATL took a small step back last year.  They did not do well in the big games.   However, there is an important factor about this team - they have a lot of key players entering their third year.  Many players take that next big step and really start to come into their own.  They plucked Dunta Robinson from the Texans and he will help considerably against Brees and company.   Given how the rest of the NFC looks, they might miss the playoffs even with 10 wins, but this team is on the rise and could be a dark horse this season.   Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • Carolina Panthers 7.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 8 tough matchups: 2-6 record
  • 2010 4 tough (@NO, NO, CIN, BAL), 4 challenging (SF, ATL, @ATL, PIT)
Despite ranking near the top of the league in rushing offense and defense last season, CAR could not produce wins.  They rightly shipped out their longtime quarterback Delhomme and decided to go with Moore.   Many "experts" are liking this move because of his late season play.   However, late season streaks are relatively meaningless the following year (hello CLE Browns).  Moore is still a project at best.  Losing Peppers may or may not hurt depending on who you ask because he did not exactly play inspiring football last year.   He routinely took plays off and is questionable versus the run.   Head coach John Fox is under the gun and although he is a quality coach, he can only work with what he has.   They will fall victim to inconsistency at QB, a tough division, and a difficult schedule.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.  

  • Philadelphia Eagles 8.5 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 4 tough matchups: 1-3 record
  • 2010 5 tough (GB, IND, DAL, @DAL, MIN), 5 challenging (@WSH, SF, ATL, @TEN, HOU)

The early trends have betters taking the UNDER for PHI.   Many base this on one look at their schedule and who is under center at quarterback.   However, Kolb will suit Andy Reid's west coast offense better than McNabb.   He is a traditional three-step drop passer and his biggest asset is his accuracy.  This team will score.  Kolb will not suffer the same kind of growing pains as Bradford, Stafford, etc.   He knows the system and will be ready for the challenge.  Getting Bradley back at middle linebacker is a huge boost for the defense.   The stability in this organization is on par with the likes of PIT and NE.   The core is young and on the rise.   Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • New York Giants 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 8 tough matchups: 3-5 record
  • 2010 5 tough (@GB, @IND, DAL, @DAL, @MIN), 2 challenging (@HOU, @PHI)

 The G-Men might have won the biggest game in football a few years ago, but they could not recapture that magic last year.   Picking up Rolle will help their secondary, but not enough to stop the daunting opponents they face this year.  Justin Tuck will need to expand his leadership role, but one has to wonder if it will matter.  Like John Fox in CAR, coach Coughlin is on the hot seat and players are questioning if they were better off with his old-school military coaching style.   The NFC East has one of the toughest schedules and Peyton's little brother has not proven he can be a difference-maker on a consistent basis despite winning a ring.  Given the inevitable ups and downs seen from Eli, it would be a miracle if they can win nine games.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.

  • San Fransisco 49ers 8.5 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 0-6 record
  • 2010 5 tough (NO, @ATL, PHI, @GB, @SD)

A lot of people are betting the OVER on SF and with good reason.   They play in arguably the worst division in the NFL and only have five difficult games on the 2010 schedule.    However, as they proved last year, this is not a team that is ready for prime time - yet.   They did not defeat one good team in 2009, but still managed to pull out eight wins.   Look for them to pull out one or two of those this season as they look to capture the division title.   They will build on a great run defense and need only adequate play from Alex Smith to win with this schedule.   Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • Arizona Cardinals 7.5 Wins -UNDER
  • 2009 4 tough matchups: 1-3 record
  • 2010 5 tough (@ATL, @SD, NO, @MIN, DAL), 2 challenging games (SF, @SF)

No Kurt Warner.  No Anquan Boldin. They also lost three starters on defense.  This is a team going in the wrong direction. They do not have the worst schedule in the league, but they might have one of the worst quarterbacks.   Leinart must start from scratch and prove to the league (and more importantly to his own team) that he can win some games.   If not, this team is headed for a high draft pick in 2011.   Most think this team will win at least eight games because of who is in their division, but if you want to place hard-earned money on Leinart - good luck to you.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.

  • Green Bay Packers 9.5 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 2-4 record
  • 2010 6 tough (@PHI, MIN, @NYJ, DAL, @MIN, @NE), 2 challenging (@ATL, SF)

 GB is one the sheik picks of the 2010 NFL season.  It is not hard to understand why after watching Rogers develop into a bonafide stud last year.   As his O-line adjusted and he began to get the ball out quicker, it was no surprise to see him go toe-to-toe with Warner in the post-season.   Their defense eventually let them down after ranking near the top in both rushing and passing defense.  Losing Kampman to JAX did not help either.    Having said that, they have enough pieces in place to make another strong run this year.   Whether the self-obsessed Favre returns or not will make little difference in the Packers rise to the top of the NFC North.   Jump on the bandwagon - it will be a fun ride for the Cheeseheads.   Prediction: Bank the OVER.

Tomorrow I will breakdown the AFC...