Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 4 NFL Predictions: The Pick Six Player Props of the Week Part I

Last week's props didn't do too well, but this is why I would not wager more than a half unit on any of these.  At the end of the day they are just game props and are more intended for some extra fun for those that like a little bit extra on the games.  With that said, let's take a look at the game props I like for week 4.   They can all be found at Bodog.com.


Vick vs Mcnabb - More Passing Yards: Vick

This is a no-brainer on paper.   Vick has a ton of more weapons than Mcnabb does and PHI have a much better secondary/defense than WSH at the moment.

Vick vs Mcnabb - Rushing Yards: Vick -21.5

While Vick might be making more of a conscious effort to pass from the pocket, make no mistake about it - he will continue to use his legs.   Reid has already stated that he does not want to limit Vick from running the ball and encourages him to take what the defense give him.   This is a huge game and Vick will be more prone to trust his instincts to run the ball if a play breaks down or if he sees an ocean of green in front of him.   Mcnabb will be facing a much faster defense and will be lucky to pile up yards on the ground.  

Mcnabb Sacked 3 Times: OVER

WSH have offensive line problems.  They might be without their left tackle, Mcnabb is learning a new system, and his receivers will not be as open as he'd like them to be.   PHI knows him well and will be overloading the blitz from everyone angle all day long.

Moss vs Jackson Receiving Yards: Jackson -17.5

Ever since Vick has been installed as the full-time starter, D-Jax has tore up the stat sheet.  You might have the fastest WR and QB playing on the same team and even if a play breaks down these two will turn a big play out of nothing.   WSH has been horrendous against the pass this year so he should outperform Moss with relative ease.

Number of times Kolb will be shown on TV: OVER 3.5

Much like the Archie Manning prop, this bet is EASY $$.   I bet more than half a unit on this one because they are going to pan to Kolb ALL DAY LONG.   Every time they discuss the PHI QB situation, they will show Kolb.  Every time they discuss the reason why Mcnabb was traded, they will show Kolb.    And every time either QB makes a big play/mistake, they will show Kolb.   I imagine this prop will be taken down soon.

Number of times Mcnabb's parents will be on TV: OVER 1.5

When Mcnabb's parents have been in attendance in the past, they are usually shown on TV at least once.  FOX loves controversy and have no qualms about pouring fuel on a fire.  You can bet that they will show his parents at least twice in this game.  They will be shown early in the game as they set the scene of Donovan's homecoming.   They will also be shown later in the game to show their reaction to a WSH win or loss.   There is also the opportunity to show them if anything important happens during the game (Mcnabb injury, interception, touchdown pass, etc).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 4 NFL Predictions: October 03, 2010

UPDATE #2: PHI has dropped to -6 and IND is back down to -7.5.   Check here for the latest odds.  

Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns: CIN -3

For the 2nd straight week CIN is a 3 point favorite on the road.  They are also undervalued for the 2nd straight week.  After adjusting for home field advantage, they should be closer to a touchdown favorite instead of a field goal. They beat CAR fairly easily because the Panthers are so bad, but they didn't make life easy on themselves.  The Bengals won ugly and won't get away with those kind of performances many times this season.

However, they remain my pick to win the AFC North and I like them to keep the winning trend alive vs a CLE team that plays hard, but can't pull out the wins. The Browns will once again have a hard time passing on a good CIN defense.  Neither team is very good on 3rd down this season, but CIN have enough weapons to overcome this while the Browns do not.   Both quarterbacks should have time to pass the ball in this game, but CLE can't sustain drives, turn the ball over, and continue to lose the ball possession battle.  Their only real advantage this week will be on kick coverage.   At the end of the day, CIN is proving they know how to win in this league.   The defense is carrying them while the offense plays catchup, but expect Palmer and company to improve as the year goes on.   CIN swept the 'battle of Ohio' last year and it won't be much different this season.  Prediction: Bank CIN.


San Francisco 49ers vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -6.5

Most people were high on the 49ers coming into the season and after their performance on Monday night against the Saints, things were looking like they would eventually turn around.  But after getting completely owned in KC, there is no doubt that SF has dropped down everybody's power rankings.  I skipped this game because I expected them to have a tough time playing in a hostile environment and coming off a short week, but I also didn't anticipate them getting blown out. 

Now SF is in serious trouble.  This time they don't have the benefit of playing at home under the lights after a bad loss like they did against the Saints.  Now they must travel to ATL and I don't expect this game to be close.   They will have virtually no edge in any of the matchups on the field.   SF can't sustain drives, their running game is letting them down, they can't control the clock, they can't get to the passer, there are coaching/player issues, and there are turnovers galore.  QB Alex Smith on what went wrong against the Chiefs: "They made it tough for us to run the ball and overloaded the box. And once it got to a two- or three-score game, it became one-dimensional, and they got to pin their ears back."   Smith isn't helping anything because 3 of his 5 interceptions have come on 3rd down.  Expect more of the same against a red-hot ATL team that knows how to stop the run.

In stark contrast, about everything that could go right has for ATL.   They finally took the next step and won a huge game by taking out the Saints in OT.   The truth is, they should have won the game in regulation because they dominated play on both sides of the ball.   They are near the top of the league in several important categories and look for more long drives and ball possession on Sunday.   ATL is taking care of the football and Ryan should have plenty of time to find his receivers vs SF.   There is the danger of the team coming out flat after such a big win on the road, but SF isn't a team that can take advantage of that early.   When all is said and done ATL should win this game by double digits.  Prediction: Bank ATL.


Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles: PHI -6.5 
 
All week people will be focusing on Mcnabb vs Vick.  This is a great storyline that will sell a lot of papers and receive a lot of hits, but a closer look at this game reveals quite a few mismatches in PHI's favor.   Perhaps the most important will be the PHI passing game against the WSH passing defense.   A lot more was expected out of this defense this season, but so far they haven't shown up to play very often.   There is still time to turn it around, but losing to a rebuilding STL team on the road is embarrassing.  

Now WSH have the reward of going into a hostile environment and slowing down one of the NFL's hottest offenses.   They will have to pick their poison because if they want to load up on DB's in coverage, Vick and McCoy will shread them up the lanes.   Spying Vick will leave one on one mismatches elsewhere on the field. WSH should have a special teams advantage in this game, but they lost their punter to injury in STL.   I've already lost 3 picks this season thanks to special team play so I'm not about to overlook this aspect of the game, but WSH don't have the benefit of playing at home.  Any big plays they get in the return/coverage game won't give them the kind of momentum it would behind a home crowd.   Instead, WSH should be worrying about sustaining drives and coming away with points.   They are horrendous on 3rd down, can't control the clock, and Portis is going to the ground instead of taking hits to protect his bad hand.  Expect to see more of rookie Ryan Torain.   

Vick may get all the headlines after PHI win this game, but the real story should be their defense.   Mcnabb will be alone on an island trying to exercise his demons.  He'll be playing 11 players that have patiently waited a long time to see him in a game jersey instead of a red practice jersey.  The blitzes will be coming every other play and Mcnabb will wish he had half the escapability that Vick does.  They will also be praying that LT Williams is healthy enough to start.  If not, Mcnabb's blindside will be overloaded all day.   Prediction: Bank PHI.


Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints: UNDER 45

As mentioned in my week 3 review, totals have not been kind to me during the regular season.  Having said that, this does not mean I am about to abandon ship on them.   As most people know, you can be on the right side of a play but it still might not work out.  Week 4 is no exception as I fully expect this game to go under the total.   If you have been watching CAR this year, you will know they have been atrocious on offense.   The sad thing for them is that switching from Moore to Clausen hasn't made much of a difference either way.  The bottom line is they can't get their running game going and now must go on the road to play against the Super Bowl champs.  CAR can't sustain drives, can't put up any points when they do get a chance, and turn the ball over left, right, and center.  There really isn't anything that CAR does well at the moment.   John Fox is a dead-man walking and the players know he's gone after this season.   Smith yelling at Clausen on the sidelines isn't going to help anything either.

For the Saints, I expect them to dominate this game, but they won't be putting up 40+ points.   I am very high on this team for obvious reasons, but losing Bush hurts them more than people might think.   He was a player who could be counted on to come up with key first downs or help change field position in a game.  Beyond that, he also helped Brees identify coverages because defenses would have to show their hand depending on where Bush lined up.   Now Thomas is banged up and suddenly the Saints are thin in the backfield.   They also have a kicker issue, which is exactly what you want to hear if you are playing the under.   The Saints also might come out a bit flat after losing a huge game against ATL in week 3.    They will still win the game, but it won't be a shootout.   45 is above the key number of 44 so I feel great about this pick and look forward to getting back on the winning side of totals.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.


Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars: IND -7

This game came out with an overnight line at -7 and quickly moved up to -9 as all the money poured in on IND.   The public love to bet teams like IND, but the sharps also jumped on this spread.   However, most people woke up on Monday to see -8 or -9 so I didn't recommend the pick.   It has come back down to -7.5 though and I bought the half point and took them at -7.   Giving up more than this on the road is risky regardless of the opponent.   Last week was a great example of this because I included both BAL and NE in my teaser, but didn't play either in a straight bet.   As it turned out they both covered for the teaser, but not the vegas spread.   

If you analyze this game based on history there's no way you would lay 7 points on the road.   This has traditionally been a tough matchup for IND because JAX played stingy defense and controlled the clock with the run game.  You can throw all that out the window this year because JAX is scary bad in their secondary and Peyton is off to his best start since his record breaking season.  Garcon did some light practice on Monday so if he returns for this game JAX will have that much more trouble keeping IND off the scoreboard.

The only advantage JAX has on paper is the running game, but even that becomes irrelevant since MJD may not be as healthy as the team would lead you to believe. You won't find MJD on the injury report, but there have been several questions about his knee.  If JAX want to keep this close they will not only need him to be 100%, but they will also need him to be playing out of his mind.  Unfortunately for them MJD hasn't even scored a TD this season.  Garrard is playing well below his standards and if Jack Del Rio had another option at QB he would use it.   Much like John Fox and Tom Coughlin, Del Rio is on the hot seat and is likely coaching his last year in Florida.   Even if Garrard was playing well, he'd be in big trouble this week against Mathis and Freeney.   JAX gave up 6 sacks to PHI and expect more of the same when the Colts come to town.  DE Kampman was in the locker room with a boot on his ankle and the CB they took in the 2nd round has been put on the bench.  IND is hitting their stride and that's horrible news if you are a Jaguars fan.  Prediction: Bank IND.

Week 4 NFL Predictions: Teaser Round Robin

There are a number of games perfectly suited for a teaser this week.  IND is my best choice for the teasers, but all teams could be played in a round robin to minimize the risk. I would play all four of these teams as long as they cross -3.  These are the early lines, but they may be different/changing depending where you look.     Check here for the latest odds.

Atlanta Falcons -.5 & Indianapolis Colts -2













San Diego Chargers -2 & Indianapolis Colts -2













Philadelphia Eagles -.5 & Indianapolis Colts -2

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week 3 Review

Just like week 2, MNF ended with last minute robbery, but GB only have themselves to blame.   The Packers decided to tie a franchise record with 17 penalties and blew what should have been an easy cover.  In fact, if SD and GB could cover kicks this would be a much different review.   PHI, IND, and CIN took care of lesser opponents as expected, but the Redskins proved they might challenge STL for the highest draft pick.   The best cure for bad ARI/OAK offenses were equally bad defenses and CLE miraculously put up 17 points on the BAL defense.

I finished the week 3-3 on sides, but 0-2 on over/unders.   I was 8-1 with totals in the preseason, but off to a slow start at 2-5 to start the regular season.   I also hit both my teasers which keeps me treading water at 5-5 for the week. 

Things were not as good around the league.  The public was 4-10 ATS.  The public is 17-27-2 ATS for the season.  The top 5 consensus picks from the Hilton contest had their first winning week going 3-2 (6-8-1 overall).   Defending champ Fezzik also went 3-2 (7-7-1 overall).   Things have been much more difficult for the sharps and the squares early on in 2010 compared to last season.   However, stats will soon become more useful and there will be more of a divergence between the public and the pros in the coming weeks. 

I already have some early week 4 picks posted and a handful of teasers to choose from.   Check back during the week for more picks and keep an eye on the lines.   I'll have my write-ups posted tomorrow.

Week 3 Update

For the 3rd week in a row I'm treading water as the picture comes into greater focus for 2010.    The good news is there have been no dreadful weeks in this whacky start to the year and I hit on both my teasers going 2-0.   The stats are starting to build up so I expect more of an advantage from here on out. 

The bad news is I sit at 3-4 ATS today, but it was another rough and tumble day for the public as they went 4-9 ATS.  The public is 17-26-2 ATS for the season.  The top 5 consensus picks from the Hilton contest had their first winning week going 3-2 (6-8-1 overall).   Defending champ Fezzik also went 3-2 (7-7-1 overall).   As you can see neither the pros or the public are turning a profit so far this year.  

I don't have a play for tonight because for me it's a coin flip.  If I was forced to take a side I would go with MIA, but I don't feel strongly about it.  However, I'm still feeling good about GB -3 on MNF and I will have some early picks for week 4 later tonight or early Monday. 

Week 3 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears: GB -3

No one really knew what to expect from the Bears this year.   I don't think anybody is about to crown them with anything yet, but two wins out of the gate is a promising start.   Cutler has managed to put up more TDs than INTs and he is spreading the ball around to a lot of receivers.  However, in their defeat over the Cowboys they only managed 38 rushing yards and were 1 for 11 on third down.  The defense is playing well and they are playing at home.  Expect a lot of sharps to fade the public and go with the Bears on MNF, but I picked the Packers to go to the Super Bowl and I don't see any reason to back off of them.  The Packers are not the Lions or the Cowboys.

Rodgers will get all of the national headlines, but the real story after two weeks for the Packers is their defense.  Mathews has been an unstoppable force and is easily among the top 5 ends in the NFL right now.  Back-to-back 3 sack games will get a lot of attention from CHI, but he's not the only one they should be worried about.  A.J. Hawk returned to the field last week and put up a team leading 9 tackles and had two quarterback hits.   LT continues to be a big question mark and they will certainly be giving help to keep Peppers in check.   The Bears have offensive line issues of their own so look for a few passes to be up for grabs as Culter is much more inclined to force some throws than Rodgers.  I expect the Bears to put up a good fight and they appear to be headed in the right direction, but they will realize how much more they need to improve before they can consider themselves serious contenders.   At the end of the day the Packers will prove superior on both sides of the ball and come out with a victory. Prediction: Bank GB -3.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Week 3 Dirty Dozen Player Props of the Week

Here is a little bit of fun for those that like a little bit of extra action on the games.  Last week I went 7-4 with my player props, but I would not wager more than a half unit on any of these.  At the end of the day they are just game props.  With that said, let's take a look at the game props I like for week 3.   They can all be found at Bodog.


Eli Manning 240.5 Passing Yards: UNDER
TEN/NYG is going to be a game that is won on the ground.  TEN's pass defense is underrated and Eli has already started off the season with a number of interceptions.   I also don't see TEN jumping out to a double-digit lead so I don't expect Eli having to throw it every down to get back in the game.  Prediction: Bank UNDER. 


Josh Freeman 185.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

A lot of people are high on Freeman so far, but consider his opponents.   PIT's defense is far and away the best unit in the league right now and they know the onus is on them to hold the fort until Ben returns.   This is going to be an ugly game offensively from both sides.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.


Carson Palmer 230.5 Passing Yards: OVER

Palmer has not been on the same page with all his receivers this season, but they came out flat against the Pats and faced a tough BAL defense in week 2.  Things get a bit easier for them in their game against the Panthers and I expect some big passing numbers from Palmer in this one:  Prediciton: Bank OVER.

Ray Rice 92.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

Ray Rice is a beast.  Coming off of Flacco's 4 INT's in week 2, BAL will grind it out on the ground and look for Rice to post over 100 yards rushing.   They will also milk the clock and use the run to seal the win in the 2nd half.   Prediction: Bank OVER.

Ray Rice .5 TD: OVER

I would be shocked if Rice doesn't get in the end zone at least once.  He is a dual threat on the ground or in the air.   Prediction: Bank OVER.

Matt Cassel 190.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

Matt Cassel has looked absolutely atrocious this year.   This shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.   Now he must face a desperate SF defense.   I expect him to be under pressure all day long and he'll be rushing some passes and throwing off balance a number of times.   Prediction: Bank UNDER. 

Brett Favre 245.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

Grandpa Favre has also been horrendous through the air this year.   He missed more practice time this week so he could rest his old limbs and this isn't good news for the passing game.  He's still not on the same page with his receivers, yet most people expect him to return to form against a below-average DET secondary.   Don't fall for the trap.   Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Donovan Mcnabb 247.5 Passing Yards: OVER

Ron Jaworski has seen every single one of Mcnabb's games going back to Syracuse.   This week he said his performance against HOU in week 2 was his best passing game of his career.  That is quite the compliment given who he has to throw to.   WSH have a clear advantage in the air and expect at least 250 passing yards from D-Mac.  Prediction: OVER.

LeSean McCoy 70.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

I have been high on McCoy ever since he entered the league and now all the stars have aligned for him to thrive.  Last week he easily hit the over and while the line is a bit higher this year, expect more of the same against JAX.   With Weaver on IR and Vick keeping defenses honest, running lanes will be there for the taking.   Prediction: Bank OVER.


Reggie Wayne 82.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

Reggie Wayne may challenge AJ for the most receiving yards this year.  Normally I would stay away from this prop because of Champ Bailey, but the pro-bowl CB has been battling an injury all week and is listed as questionable.  I still expect him to play, but Wayne only needs a half-step to put up some big plays.   Prediction: Bank OVER.


Mark Sanchez 190.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

Mark San-chise is going to have to play more than one good game to prove to me that he's ready to take that next step.  MIA won't do him any favors and will make things tough on the young NY QB.   He'll need to earn every yard he gets and I expect this to be a dog-fight defensive battle.   Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Greene 50.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Everyone in the football world was sky high on this kid entering the season and he's been nothing short of a disappointment thus far.  He's even lost significant playing time to LT.  His coach worries about his ball security and now he must face a staunch MIA defense.   Last week I cashed an easy prop of LT +10.5 yards over Greene and I'll be looking to cash against him again this week.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 3 NFL Predictions: Teaser of the Week Part II

Detroit Lions +18 & Indianapolis Colts PK

I already had a strong lean on DET +12, but teasing it up to +18 is like printing money.   I love them in the underdog role this week for many reasons.   Favre is obviously not on the same page with his receivers, he's forcing throws again, and he just might get knocked out of this game.  DET's pass rush is lethal at the moment and Favre will have to do a lot of three-step drops and hand-offs to AP to stay alive.   Vanden Bosche is leading the league with 17 solo tackles and is the heartbeat of that defense.  They might have a horrible back seven, but it will get a little better when Levy returns at MLB.   Even if MIN get a two or three score lead in this game, I like DET to cover in the 4th quarter because they are a young and hungry team who think they are competitive.  They are looking to get better and they can move the ball in garbage time.  If the NFL had a better rule for what is a catch in this league, they would be 1-1 and be taken a whole lot more seriously.  DET has also been better than MIN at sustaining long drives and getting points off of them.   MIN failed to get Vincent Jackson and settled for career journeyman Hank Baskett instead. All of this and I haven't even mentioned the league's standout rookie Best.  See my write-up on the IND/DEN game for more on this pick, but Moreno has been ruled out, their secondary is banged up, and they can't rush the passer.  Prediction: Bank DET +18 & IND PK.

Week 3 NFL Predictions: September 26, 2010

Two totals plays added to the list.  Check here for the latest odds.

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens: UNDER 37

This game has many of the factors I like when playing an under.  Both offenses have been bad so far this year.  BAL has played two good defenses, but something isn't right when Flacco is throwing 4 INTs in a game.  He isn't entirely on the same page with his receivers yet.  The offense has been able to put together some nice drives this year, but have not come away with enough points from them.  They should have an easier time against CLE, but I expect them to dominate the game and use the run a lot once they get the lead.   That should keep the clock moving and keep the points down.

I also like the fact that CLE could get shut out this game.  They have only managed 14 points a game against bad teams.  Now they must travel on the road against an angry BAL defense.   The only thing they have going for them is that it's a divisional game.   Wallace will be starting and he does not have the kind of chemistry with his teammates that he would like.  It's still early in the year and they will struggle to put up points.   I like the total at the critical number 37 and would have reservations playing it at anything lower.   Weather could also be a factor in this game.  Prediction: Bank UNDER 37.


Oakland Raiders vs Arizona Cardinals: UNDER 39.5

The beauty of this game is that both teams have defenses that are worse against the run than the pass.   Who knows if that's how it will play out as the year goes on, but for this game look for each team to keep it on the ground.   This is great news because it not only keeps the clock moving, but it will result in long drives that should stall more times than not.  Both of these offenses are very bad.   OAK has changed QB's very early in the season and heres a newsflash - Gradkowski is not Peyton Manning.   He's looked ok at times under center, but he's not a big play guy that will be throwing it down the field every other play.  

ARI's QB situation is just as bad, if not worse.  They had no long drives against ATL and did nothing but 1 long play in garbage time.   They had 4 turnovers against a crappy STL team and still only managed 17 points.  Fitzgerald has big play capability, but Anderson cannot find him down the field.  The chances that at least one of these offenses sputters on Sunday is high.  Will the other offense be able to pick up their slack and put this game over 39.5 points?  That's asking a lot.  Prediction: Bank UNDER 39.5. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week 3 Teaser of the Week Part I

Patriots -3, Ravens -.5, Bengals +7

Many professionals handicappers will tell you to NEVER cross 0 when playing a teaser.  If you do, you will immediately lose EV+ value.   For the most part I agree with this logic because you never want to throw away value for nothing in return, but there are always exceptions to the rule.   If there is an early line that comes out soft and teasing it up or down crosses critical numbers, the value will still be there.

In this 3 team 10 point teaser, CIN crosses 0 to bring the line up to +7 which is more than enough points to cover against a lowly CAR team starting a rookie QB.   NE may or may not drop to -12.5 during the week, but given the heavy action on NE I doubt you will see -12.5 unless there is some reverse line movement.   Either way, anyone who believes NE won't win by at least 4 points is not paying attention to what's going on.  BUF made a change at QB, but this will make next to no difference in how good their offense is.  NE might have questions with CB depth and their pass rush, but playing the worst offense in the NFL will nullify that. Both BAL and NE are coming off tough road losses they believe they should have won.  If either team would have come away with a victory there would have been the chance that they came home feeling good about themselves and taken CLE and BUF a little bit more lightly.  I love the bounce back factor for both teams playing at home against horrific teams.  Prediction: Bank NE -3, BAL -.5, CIN +7.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 3 NFL Predictions: September 26, 27, 2010

Here are my early overnight picks for week 3.  Check here for the latest lines.

UPDATE #3: There is some reverse line movement with PHI at -2.5 and SD at -5.   I wouldn't read too much into this yet, but I would jump on PHI at -2.5 now and keep an eye on the SD line over the next day to see if you can get it at -4.5.

 Philadelphia Eagles vs Jacksonville Jaguars: PHI -3

Last week Vick got his 1st official start since his days in Atlanta.  I played the under for his passing yards prop and he surpassed it with ease.  He has clearly shown that his development as a quarterback in the NFL is far from complete.  I don't think even Reid expected Vick to be this far along this early in the season.  After reviewing the tape, Reid likely came to the conclusion that Vick gives this team their best chance to win for the immediate future.  When the Eagles signed him two summers ago, they knew they could coach him up and teach him how to become more of a pocket passer and stick with more than one or two progressions.   Now that he has a lot of his speed and quickness back, he is dangerously close to becoming a legitimate threat on a weekly basis.  I think a significant part of the decision to name Vick the starter has to do with the questions on the offensive line.  With Kolb coming off a concussion, they could be playing with fire exposing him to more big-time hits.

Vick has a ton of weapons at his disposal and look for this offense to continue putting up a lot of points.   McCoy will continue to break out in his 2nd year as defenders will be forced to protect the backside with Vick in the pocket.   What should concern the Eagles more is their defense.   They had trouble containing Best all day and folded like a house of cards in the final five minutes of the game.   It will continue to be a work in progress as the year goes on, but enough pieces are in place to hold Jacksonville in check this week.

The Jaguars will play better at home than they did against the Chargers in week 2.   Everything that could have gone wrong did as they turned the ball over six times in a forgettable game.    MJD will get his yards in this game, but to win the game they will need Garrard to return to the mistake-free football.   They switched QB's vs SD, but McCown suffered an injury and has been put on IR.  Garrard will be the guy whether Del Rio wants him to be or not.  He looked horrible on 2 of his 4 interceptions and was passing into bad coverage on a third.  Their defense is also supposed to be better this year, but everyone is asking, "when?".   They have been dismal against the pass and run this year and now they will be forced to be disciplined and sound fundamentally against a dynamic PHI offense.   That is asking a lot from a team that has an identity crisis.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.


Cincinnati Bengals vs Carolina Panthers: CIN -3

The Bengals came through in a big way against their division foes in week 2.  I picked them to win the division and this was a critical game to win if they are going to make good on that.  Palmer does not have the kind of groove with his wide receivers that he would like to have, but look for improvement in the passing game as this season unfolds.  The defense stepped up and played more to their potential with 4 INT's against Flacco.   They will have a much easier time against Clausen in week 3.  They will key in on the running game and dare the rookie to beat them in the air. Scott will continue to steal touches from Benson and has looked dangerous with the ball in his hands.   A lot of problems on offense can be contributed to pre-snap penalties and holding calls, but these sorts of problems work themselves out as teams get more acclimated with regular game action.   They also need to improve on third down, but give credit to a Ravens defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown in two games.   
 

The Panthers will need all the help they can get from their kick return game because that might be one of the only advantages they have in this game.   Really what more can be said about this team?  Fox is on the hot-seat and has already abandoned the Matt Moore experiment.  I didn't think that would work out before the season started, but I also thought his leash was longer than this.   Clausen will have his hands full against a tough CIN defense and look for them to grind out the clock with their running game to keep this close.  They have started two rookies ahead of WR Jarret and Smith continues to be their only down-field threat.  Even as teams double-team him, his supporting cast cannot capitalize on the favorable matchups.   The team's true bread and butter, the running game, has also been disappointing so far.  It's still early in the season and it's far too early to write anybody off entirely, but this ship has leaks all over the place and everyone is standing around wondering who is going to fix it.   They say they don't miss Peppers, but one sack in two games (from a LB) isn't going to help win many ball games.   I never give more weight to a pick or say a game is a lock, but this game is probably the closest your going to get.  Prediction: Bank CIN -3.


Washington Redskins vs St Louis Rams: WSH-3.5 

Many people are looking at this matchup as a trap game.  Don't buy into it.  Shanahan is not a rookie coach and Mcnabb is focused on making the most out of his new situation.  He turned in an elite performance in week 2 proving that he doesn't need all-star receivers to put up big numbers.  Obviously blowing a big 2nd half lead hurts and isn't about to inspire confidence in anybody, but consider their performances against two very skilled teams.  If it wasn't for a tasteless time-out from Kubiak, this team would be 2-0.  But don't feel bad for Shanahan, because he is one of the first coaches to use this bush-league tactic.  The running game might not be in full gear, but the short passing game to Moss is helping move the chains and sustain drives.   Things won't get any easier if LT Williams can't go.  Luckily for them they get to play a STL team that is still learning how to win games.

Meanwhile the Rams are still posting bulletin board material that emphasizes the silver lining instead of the results.   Bradford might be the QB of the future, but this game is happening now.  S-Jax will always be a supreme threat in the backfield as long as he is healthy, but it's sad to see him stuck on a cellar-dweller year after year.   The Rams continue to be their own worst enemy taking too many personal foul penalties and not finding ways to keep drives alive.   The season is still a lot of 'if this' or 'if that', but they aren't kidding anybody - they are building around what they hope is a franchise quarterback.  Brighter days are ahead, but it won't be on Sunday.  Prediction: Bank WSH -3.5.  

Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos: IND -5

It is no secret that I'm high on the Colts.  Last year they were 70% against the spread and until I come across a team that poses matchup problems for them I'll continue to ride the wave.  Vegas will need to start favoring them by more than a touchdown before I even flinch.  Peyton Manning was clinical in his approach against the G-men on Sunday night and this offense proved that they can move the sticks and put up points regardless of how you attack them.   The Giants put in one linebacker at times and said we dare you to run.  Well we all saw how that approach turned out.  Manning can outsmart 95% of defensive coordinators in this league and Denver is about to get a serious wake up call.    Defensively the Colts proved they are not as bad against the run as they showed in week 1.  Mathis and Freeney continue to wreak havoc for opposing offensive lines and Denver will need to spend a lot of resources getting these guys blocked.

This is a game that Denver wishes they had Elvis Dumervil.  Getting pressure on Manning is critical to success and if they can't get to him consistently it won't matter how good their secondary is.  Now DEN will have to worry about stopping the run and that will create mismatches all over the field for Manning to exploit - especially if they have to commit a linebacker on Clark.  They also better hope that Bailey's foot injury is 100% this week because without him they might as well just forfeit the game entirely.  Moreno is a promising back, but he could be irrelevant by halftime if the Broncos can't keep this within 7 points.   To make matters worse, the organization is dealing with another tragedy as Kenny McKinley was found dead from an apparent suicide.  It's unknown how this will effect the team on Sunday, but it's not exactly a good situation in Mile High.   Orton has looked good so far, but it's asking a lot of him to keep up with the QB on the other side of the field. The win over the Seahawks must be taken with a grain of salt. They didn't run the ball well once again and they won the turnover battle 4-0.  They won't be that fortunate against Peyton.  Prediction: Bank IND -5.

San Diego Chargers vs Seattle Seahawks: SD -5.5

The Chargers shut up a lot of critics with their performance against the Jaguars.   Rivers was firing on all cylinders and the defense caused six turnovers.  SD is definitely a polarizing team with some pundits having them as Super Bowl contenders while other say their holdouts and injuries are too much to overcome.  One thing is certain, they have an easy schedule and cruising through the regular season should not be that much trouble.  There are some concerns about them heading to Seattle and playing against the Seahawks and their 12th man.  Make no mistake, this will not be the same situation that played out in KC two weeks ago.  Everything that needed to go right did for the Chiefs and it was a perfect storm of problems for the Chargers.   This tilt is not a showcase game and the opening day hype that the Seahawks fed off of in week 1 is already a distant memory.   Even if Mathews can't go with an ankle injury, but Tolbert and Sproles just need to be competent enough to keep the defense honest.  The most overlooked part of SD with all the Vincent Jackson rumors swirling is how good this defense is playing.

The Hawks are still licking their wounds after getting man-handled in the Mile High city.   The team came crashing back down to earth after upsetting the 49ers on opening day.  Golden Tate has been placed as the permanent punt returner, but if they can't get Rivers off the field it won't mean much in this game.   Some people are already getting impatient with Hasselbeck so they can start the Charlie Whitehurst experiement, but Pete Carrol is sticking with Matt for now.  Who knows how long that lasts though because Hasselbeck did nothing to prove he's still a bona-fide number one guy on Sunday.   So which SEA team is going to show up in week 3?   Let's not kid ourselves, this team is rebuilding and it will be a while before they are a real threat.  Don't be surprised if the 12th man take their neon signs and try to beat traffic early.  Prediction: Bank SD -5.5.


Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears: GB -3

No one really knew what to expect from the Bears this year.   I don't think anybody is about to crown them with anything yet, but two wins out of the gate is a promising start.   Cutler has managed to put up more TDs than INTs and he is spreading the ball around to a lot of receivers.  However, in their defeat over the Cowboys they only managed 38 rushing yards and were 1 for 11 on third down.  The defense is playing well and they are playing at home.  Expect a lot of sharps to fade the public and go with the Bears on MNF, but I picked the Packers to go to the Super Bowl and I don't see any reason to back off of them.  The Packers are not the Lions or the Cowboys.

Rodgers will get all of the national headlines, but the real story after two weeks for the Packers is their defense.  Mathews has been an unstoppable force and is easily among the top 5 ends in the NFL right now.  Back-to-back 3 sack games will get a lot of attention from CHI, but he's not the only one they should be worried about.  A.J. Hawk returned to the field last week and put up a team leading 9 tackles and had two quarterback hits.   LT continues to be a big question mark and they will certainly be giving help to keep Peppers in check.   The Bears have offensive line issues of their own so look for a few passes to be up for grabs as Culter is much more inclined to force some throws than Rodgers.  I expect the Bears to put up a good fight and they appear to be headed in the right direction, but they will realize how much more they need to improve before they can consider themselves serious contenders.   At the end of the day the Packers will prove superior on both sides of the ball and come out with a victory. Prediction: Bank GB -3.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week 2 Review

Market Watch: 
The public went 6-10 ATS.
Favorites were 6-10 ATS (5-6 at home, 1-4 on road).
5 underdogs won SU on the road (PIT, MIA, KC, CHI, TB).

Week in Review

At Free NFL Predictions the Saints blew what should have been a 5th winning week on the 2010 season.  Week 2 ended with a 4-5-1 record, 1-0 on teasers, and 7-4 on player props.   However, it was even worse for the public and the handicappers in week 2.  To give you an idea of how tough things were, the top 5 consensus picks in the famous Hilton contest in Vegas went 1-4 ATS in week 2 and are 3-6-1 ATS for the year.  Back-to-back Hilton handicapping champion Steve Fezzik is 4-5-1 ATS for the season.  ESPN Gambling Insider Chad Millman is 3-5-2. 

Looking at some of the losses, Mark Sanchez decided to show the football world he isn't a bust yet and the Eagles blew an 18 point lead with under 5 minutes to go in the game against the pesky Lions.  Brett Favre looks like he's still retired, but give MIA's defense credit for that win.  ARI's offense was predictably bad, but ATL pounded them all day and scored one meaningless TD too many to lose the OVER.  Mcnabb spoiled the party in D.C. and turned what should have been a low-scoring affair into a shootout.  

I've already posted 5 early picks I'm on for week 3.   All are undervalued favorites on the road.  This is the time of the season where the men start to separate from the boys and these low spreads will continue to rise in the coming weeks.  I should have a couple more picks during the week, a teaser or two, and some player props.   Analysis and write-ups for the early week 3 picks will be up later tonight or early tomorrow.

Week 2 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers: NO -4.5
 
This game has been a see-saw so far.   Heavy public action came in on the Saints and the sharps are going with the 49ers.   All the indicators are telling me I should take SF.  An underrated team bouncing back in a night game playing at home.  Emotions and motivations will be sky high.   I could grab them right now at +6 and in any other circumstance I would say this is a strong play.   However, the Super Bowl champs are coming to town.

Mike Singletary went on KPIX-TV and had this to say, "We will not try to stop Drew Brees. We will stop Drew Brees."  The good news for SF is their defense should be better in week 2.   Things fell apart for them in Seattle, but this group has been together for 4 years now and will play much better this season.  The bad news is the Saints offense will also be better than they were in week 1.   After factoring in home field advantage, Vegas have SF close to a full TD underdog.   Look for them to get back to what they do best, running the ball and playing solid defense.  The only problem is they will fall behind at some point in this game and be forced to throw.   That will take them out of their game plan and we all saw what happens when SF need to put the game in Alex Smith’s hands last week.   They also lost their center, which is a big problem.  Their RT is the youngest tackle in the NFL,  and they are starting a rookie at LG.  The blocking was not good in week one.  The chances are also high that they are playing from behind in this game.  This is not a formula for success if you are a Frank Gore fan.   I like Gore UNDER 77.5 rushing yards as a prop for Monday night. 

The NO defense is also better than some people think with Greg Williams calling the shots.   They have tremendous pressure packages and elaborate zone coverages.   Vilma, Ellis, Greer and Porter are difference makers.  The Saints can throw it all over the field or choose to pound the rock.  They forced MIN to earn their yards and took away the big play.  They will use a similar strategy against a SF team that will need to keep it close to have a chance.  Tedd Ginn was injured against SEA and will not suit up on Monday night.   They are already fighting an uphill battle and they will lose another weapon on special teams with his absence.  SF play much better at home than they do on the road, but they are relative newcomers to the bright lights of MNF.  After getting drubbed by their division foes, they will have extra pressure on them to pull out a result because the next two are on the road.  This is not how SF scripted the start of the season.  Prediction: Bank NO -4.5.

Week 2 Update

Week 2 of the NFL proved to be just as whacky as week 1, but there's a good chance it will still be a winning week at Free NFL Predictions.   The day's action brought my picks to 4-4-1 with Monday night to go.  Many handicappers and the public got hammered today, but I'll have the full week in review a little later.   The teaser cashed in fairly easily, and the game props went 7-4.

I already have a few picks ready to go for week 3 and I'm only waiting for one more game line.   I might have been one of the very few who got a push on the Eagles game because I grabbed the overnight line at -3, proving that it's better to get it early rather than waiting until later in the week on games that you know the public will jump on.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 2 NFL Predictions: The Pick 6 Player Props of the Week Part II

Here is a little bit of fun for those that like a little bit of extra action on the games.  I would not wager more than a half unit on any of these because at the end of the day they are just game props.  With that said, let's take a look at the rest of the game props I like for week 2.




Jamaal Charles 75.5 - OVER

In case people don't know about this kid yet, he's good.  Real good.  I should just copy and paste my write up for him for last week because he cashed the over in 1 play.   He has that type of explosive ability and should only get more carries as the year goes on.  Until someone can come along and stop him, I'll be playing the over.  Prediction: Bank OVER.

LeSean McCoy 57.5 Rushing Yards - OVER

McCoy is no Charles, but he is a good young RB with a bright future.  He ran well last week against a pretty good GB defense.  With Weaver out and Vick starting, expect a lot more carries for McCoy.   He'll make the most of them and should cover this number with ease..   Prediction: Bank OVER.


Jermichael Finley 52.5 Receiving Yards - OVER

Finley is going to dominate the TE position this year.  He almost hit this number last week in what was a down game for Rodgers and company.  BUF have an underrated pass defense, but they will be vulnerable over the middle and Finley will cause matchup problems for teams all year.   He's too big for a safety and too fast for a linebacker.   Prediction: Bank OVER.


Philip Rivers 265.5 Passing Yards - OVER

Rivers had major problems in week 1 with horrible weather and a hostile environment.  He's also without his number one receiver.  Yet he still managed to put up 298 yards on the KC kids.  At home in much more ideal conditions, look for Rivers to match this total again against an average JAX team.  This total is almost a no-brainer.  Prediction: Bank OVER.


Pierre Garcon 52.5 Receiving Yards - OVER

It's amazing that Garcon is still not getting the attention he deserves.  He emerged on the scene last year to secure the #2 receiver spot.  This year Gonzalez returned, but he still couldn't threaten Garcon's starting job.  In week 1, Garcon had 43 yards but should have had closer to 80 if he didn't drop 3 passes.  The good news about this is that Peyton went back to Garcon the very next play after he had his first drop.  This shows confidence in the youngster and you should too.  Expect this number to go up as the weeks go by.   Prediction: Bank OVER.

Brett Favre 235.5 Passing Yards - UNDER

No one should be surprised that Favre had a subpar performance in week 1.  He started slow in the first two weeks last year too.   He is simply too old to be able to just jump head first into live NFL game action and expect to put up great numbers.  Harvin is questionable with a hip injury, Rice is out, and the Vikings will rely heavily on the TE and running game.  Favre should still be competent, but he's not going to have that fire lit in time for this game.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Week 2 NFL Predictions: September 19, 2010

New England Patriots vs New York Jets: NE -2.5

Revis may or may not have a hamstring injury, but it wouldn’t survive anyone if he’s less than 100% after missing so much time in the preseason and training camp.   NY better hope that he’s bluffing because he’ll need his speed to shut down Moss once again.   A lot of pride is on the line over the ‘slouch’ comment and Moss will want retribution after what transpired last year.   They survived without Jenkins last year, but this injury will still hurt.  He takes up a lot of space in the middle and was an emotional leader for that defense.   Sanchez still hasn’t shown that his eyesight is capable of seeing 20 yards down field.  If the Pats get a two score lead in this game, the Jets will have a tough time climbing back.    That’s a tough task to ask of your defense.    The Jets might even need to pitch in defensively on the score sheet to take this game.   The pressure is really on as they are in danger of going 0-2, both at home, and a loss against their division nemesis.   

The story might be Revis coming into the game, but the real story should be Wes Welker.   Last year the Jets took the first meeting with Welker on the sidelines and Jenkins in the lineup.   They also saw huge returns by Leon Washington.   Round 2 was a much different story as Welker had over 190 yards and Jenkins and Washington watched from the press box.    The NE defense will still need to prove they got game, but with 8 in the box they should be able to do enough to limit NY.    If this was the first game of the season I might have sided with the Jets, but given how things have played out with injuries and Sanchez I am sticking with the Pats until I see otherwise.  Prediction: Bank NE -2.5.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 2 NFL Predictions: September 19, 2010

 Kansas City Chiefs vs Cleveland Browns: KC +2

The KC Kids opened up at home and took down one of my season opening picks by shocking the heavy division favorites.   Usually, I don't like road teams to perform well on a short week - especially after they are coming off an unexpected win at home.  However,  I waited on this game to see how the CLE QB situation played out.  Now that it looks like Seneca Wallace will be starting I really like this play.  Not like Delhomme was the next coming of Peyton Manning, but he was the established starter in this offense and saw most of the first team reps leading up to week 1.   

I undervalued the Chiefs because there was so much youth on the starting roster and they may not have seasoned experience yet, but the one thing they do have is SPEED.   They have big play ability in McCluster and Arenas in the return game and Charles can take it to the house any given play.   He forms a nice one-two punch with Jones and the interior of that line did a great job opening holes for these guys to run.   Cassel had a palty 68 yards passing on Monday and that is no surprise to me.  I don't think he is the long-term answer in KC, but they don't need him to be great to pull out the win against the Browns.  Crennel is very aware of how many rushing yards CLE racked up against KC last season and with Wallace at QB, he will be able to bring down an extra man in the box.   The coaching staff should be able to keep these kids grounded after their big win and Haley has their confidence where it needs to be.

The Browns will not be putting up 300+ yards on the ground this week which will force Wallace to make a half dozen plays and minimize mistakes.  That's asking a lot for a journeyman backup.  This might be one of the only times CLE is favored all year and they are 1-10 in home openers since 1999.  Mangini is on the hot seat and many are surprised he retained his job.   After they lose this game he might want to begin preparations early on a resignation letter.  Prediction: Bank KC +2.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week 2 NFL Predictions: The Pick 6 Player Props of the Week Part I

Here is a little bit of fun for those that like a little bit of extra action on the games.  I would not wager more than a half unit on any of these because at the end of the day they are just game props.  With that said, let's take a look at the game props I like for week 2.

UPDATE: Some of these props have been taken down.  This is another example of why it pays to get in on the soft lines early.  This applies to props and games.


Sean Hill 195.5 Passing Yards - UNDER

UPDATE: This prop is now 190.5.

In case people haven't heard, PHI has a pretty solid defense.  Last week I played the UNDER for Rodger's passing yards and hit pretty easily.   I might have even taken this prop with Stafford starting, but Hill is a backup quarterback for a reason.   He might have the weapons, but he'll be hard pressed to approach 200 yards against this blitz-happy defense.  He'll also be concerned about Samuel taking a couple of his throws the other way.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Michael Vick 245.5 Passing Yards - UNDER

UPDATE: This prop has been brought down to 220.5 yards.

I'm not sure what the books are seeing in Mike Vick that I do not.  The last time I checked he's still a running quarterback.   Andy Reid will definitely want him to play a bit more in the pocket, but asking him to throw for 250 passing yards is a bit of a reach.   Prediction: Bank UNDER.


Michael Vick 35.5 Rushing Yards - OVER

UPDATE #2: This prop is now 42.5 yards.

With the starting center on injured reserve, Vick will have even more reason to run on Sunday.  He's anxious to show people he's still got game and 35.5 rushing yards is LOW for a prop.   He is also a long ways away from becoming an established pocket passer.   He'll go through one or two reads 90% of the time and if he doesn't like what he sees he'll take off.  Last week he showed that he has recaptured some of the speed from Atlanta and turned the corner a number of times on defenders. This is a very generous number.   Prediction: Bank OVER.


Jimmy Clausen 175.5 Passing Yards - UNDER

UPDATE: Matt Moore is now listed as 'probable' so this prop has been taken off the board.

Did anyone see Clausen in the preseason?  It wasn't a pretty sight.   He didn't lead the Panthers to a single TD drive in any of the game action he saw.  He also has a toe injury that will be nagging him for the entire season.  Matt Moore suffered a "mild" concussion and there's still a chance he plays, but given all the attention that concussions have got in week 1 I'd be a bit surprised if he gets the start.  However, as of right now the Panthers giving everyone the impression he'll play.  As bad as Moore has been, they would rather play him than go with Clausen this early in the season.   Expect a lot of runs and max protection schemes on Sunday - especially since Otah is no closer to returning.   If Clausen does start, he won't feel good about Moore taking some first team reps from him this week either.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.


Times Archie Manning is shown on TV on Sunday night - OVER 1.5

UPDATE: Betting for this prop is also no longer available.  

Ok so this is an ex-player, but make no mistake about it, he will definitely see air-time more than once on Sunday Night Football.  The Eli Bowl is being heavily advertised by NBC and you can count on them cutting to Archie a few times after either brother makes a big play or mistake.   They will also cut to him if the game is still undecided in the 4th quarter.   This is one of the easiest props of the week.   Prediction: Bank OVER 1.5.


L.T. vs Shonn Greene: L.T. +10.5

Greene will get more than the 5 carries he got against the Ravens when they square off with the Patriots on Sunday.  However, Greene will be running with the conscious awareness of holding onto the ball.  If he slips up again he'll be benched for the 2nd game in a row.  It's already been an issue during preseason, too.  L.T. didn't light the world on fire in week 1, but he did run well enough to put up some decent numbers.  He has already been given more trust by coach Ryan and with the bonus 10.5 yards, I don't see any reason to pass on this prop.  I'm rolling with LT until I see a reason to think otherwise.   Prediction: Bank L.T. +10.5

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Week 2 NFL Predictions: Teaser of the Week

Last week the most surprising pick that didn't cash was the IND +3.5 for the teaser.  The points should have covered whatever ammo the Texans brought and Peyton did his best to keep it interesting, but it wasn't enough.

This weeks teaser features a couple of favorites that should cover without any help, but the tease will bring them down past critical numbers.

Green Bay Packers -7 & Atlanta Falcons -0.5

At -13, the Packers are the first team to enter the double digit club of the season.  I came close to layin' the points and going with the heavy favorite, but with Grant out for the year and BUF's underrated pass defense I couldn't pull the trigger.  It has all the makings of a blowout because BUF will have a tough time scoring points all year, let alone on the road against a stingy Packer defense.   Rodgers never really got into rhythm in week 1 because the PHI defense brought enough pressure to make him release the ball much faster than he wanted to.    BUF will not be able to duplicate that and look for Rodgers to get back into his elite-status groove.   Even if the Packers are nursing a comfortable lead in the 4th quarter, don't expect BUF to get it within one score.

Atlanta is already on my card as an official pick, but bringing them down to what is essentially a pick em is golden.  ARI would need career performances by many of their key players to have a chance at pulling off this upset on the road.   Week 1 is rather meaningless in the big picture, but barely squeaking by one of the worst teams in the league is not a good way to start the season.   They would need a lot of fortunate bounces and breaks to go their way in order to even keep this close, let alone win.   Prediction: Bank GB -7 & ATL -0.5.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 2 NFL Predictions: September 19, 2010

It's an interesting week ahead.  A lot of key week 1 injuries have already post-poned many lines and will impact the final numbers all week.   Look for a few contenders to bounce back after less than stellar performances, while pretenders will continue their fade into irrelevance.  

Odds for these games will change.  Check here for the latest.   I have a couple more plays I like, but I'm waiting on some favorable line movement. 

 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Tennessee Titans: UNDER 37.5


UPDATE: The line has move down a full point to 36.5.   I still feel ok about that number, but feel much better about the early line.

With Big Ben out of the lineup, the Steelers have been forced to return to smash-mouth old-school football.  No one was surprised that they hit on the UNDER in week 1 as that was one of the easier plays of the week.  Things don't change much for week 2.  Dixon is still a project and they will attempt to grind out another tough win on the road against the Titans.  With Polamalu healthy, their D is fiercely confident and will make you earn every yard you get.   Hampton may not go as he left the game on Sunday with a hamstring injury, but they have confidence in Chris Hoke as his replacement.  On the O-line, Adams might replace Starks at LT as they shuffle things around this weekend.   

The Titans have a similar game plan as they will look to play strong defense and rely on the running game to win field position and control the clock.    Their front four did a good job pressuring the QB without blitzing which is not good news for Dixon.   Points will be at a premium and place kickers will take center stage.  The line has already moved down from the opening 38.5, but even at 37.5 it's a strong play.  Prediction: Bank UNDER 37.5.



Arizona Cardinals vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -7, UNDER 43.5

UPDATE #2: The line is moving back to -7 on some books.  If you can still get it at -6.5 I'd suggest to grab it, but you can choose to watch the line over the next couple days if you want to.  Even at -7, it's a soft number.  The UNDER has dropped a half point, too.  

ATL is coming off a very disappointing loss in PIT.  Last season they came up on the wrong side of all the big games, but the good news is they put away most of the teams they should beat.   In 2009 they were 70% ATS and luckily for them they have a chance to rebound at home against an ARI team that will be spinning their wheels all year.   Most of their problems against PIT were fundamental errors rather than a reflection of their talent level.  These are correctable mistakes and look for them to get back to smart, physical football.

Even though they played a conservative PIT offense, they showed some signs that they can rush the passer this year.  Getting Jonathan Babineaux back for week 2 will only help them even more.  Turner will have a more productive day in the dome and White/Ryan will show why they are an underrated duo in this league.   They continue to develop chemistry, especially in the hurry up offense.  


For ARI, Doucet left the game against the Rams after aggravating his groin injury - he could return for week 2.  However, it should not matter given how ugly they played on opening weekend.  They fumbled the ball 4 times and Anderson barely threw over 50%.  This doesn't shock anybody.  They had trouble sacking Bradford and he had 50+ dropbacks.  Not encouraging if you are a Cardinal fan.   There is simply too much  negative roster turnover to expect anything good from this group.   They have good leadership, but it won't matter much if Anderson is your QB.  Prediction: Bank ARI -7 and UNDER 43.5.


Houston Texans vs Washington Redskins: UNDER 44.5 

UPDATE: This line has dropped a full point since I first posted this play.  These drops are good examples as to why it's smart to play the early overnight lines.  If you are on the right side of these, you will usually finish the week with the best number and essentially the best value.   

This game will be an interesting chess match as the Mike Shanahan' son, Kyle, spent the last two seasons in Houston.   He knows their defense very well and it will be an intriguing game of X's and O's on Sunday.  It ws a big psychological win for both teams as they knocked off the division favorites heading into the season.  However, the win was much bigger for the Texans and you can expect an emotional slide in week 2.  They prepared all offseason for the Colts and winning that game at home was like their Super Bowl.   Don't expect the same kind of production on the road against an underrated WSH defense.   At the same time, don't overlook the Texans defense either.  They were controlling the line of scrimmage and limited the high-powered Colts offense until Manning went into hurry-up mode.   They will have a much easier task against the run-orientated WSH attack.

Mcnabb still doesn't have receivers to throw to so look for them to game-plan for another grind-out win at home.  It will take Mcnabb a few more weeks before he finds his groove in this offense and becomes comfortable behind a questionable offensive line.  They still have questions at tackle and were rotating guards against Dallas.  They will continue to rely on cut-back runs and stretching the edges to wear teams down.   The strength of this defense is in the secondary and that is bad news for the Texans.  Schaub and AJ will still get their plays, but don't hold your breath for a shootout.   Weather also won't be a factor.   Prediction: Bank UNDER 44.5


Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lions: PHI -3

UPDATE #4: This line has moved a full 3 points since it opened.  Obviously it is entirely up to you if you play it or not, but hopefully you jumped on the play when it was -4 or lower.  This is a great example of why to bet early in the week on overnight lines.  

It didn't take long for there to be a QB controversy in Philly.  Vick will get the start against the Lions and if most fans had their way, he would be the starter for the rest of the year.  He showed that he has regained some of his speed from his Atlanta days and is a more dedicated student of the west coast offense now.   Having said that, he also played against a GB defense that played soft as they protected the lead.  PHI also lost their center and fullback for the season.  Normally I would fade a team that has an injured center and DET's front four are no joke.  However, the stars have aligned for the Eagles because in this circumstance, Vick is the much better option at QB and backup C McGlynn saw a lot of reps with the first team offense during training camp and preseason.  Vick will be able to use his legs to overcome some of the offensive line difficulties and limit DET's ability to rush the passer.  PHI also lost their starting middle linebacker to a concussion on Sunday, but there were a lot of promising signs on that side of the ball.  Despite the 27 points, the D generated good pressure without the blitz and limited Rodgers to an average day by his standards.

After the football gods denied DET of their 1st win of the season, things don't get any easier in week 2.  They will have their hands full in their home opener and their pass rush will need to stay much more disciplined in their rush up the field and in their gap-control.   It won't be an easy task to keep Vick under control and hold down all the offensive weapons at the same time.  Expect this D to give up some big plays down the field and on the ground with McCoy.   Offensively, it doesn't get much better.   They have their own fair share of weapons to play with, but with Stafford out those toys will be underutilized.  Hill will have trouble with an Eagles D that loves to bring the pressure so expect more passes to the backs and tight ends.   He also has to worry about the CB with the most picks over the last 3 seasons in Samuel.  

The line opened at -3, but has already moved to -4 and might move even more before game-time.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.


Miami Dolphins vs Minnesota Vikings: MIN -5.5 

MIN has had an extra few days off to lick their wounds and get to kick off their home schedule with an offensively struggling MIA team.  Favre isn’t looking great and it took him a few weeks to get into his groove last year too, but he won’t be forced to create something out of nothing against a MIA team that isn’t about to run up the scoreboard.   Expect the ole man to play more down to earth ball as the bright lights of Thursday night are behind him.  Now he can concentrate on winning games rather than exacting revenge on the grand stage.  McKinnie’s finger will also be fine so that will not be a concern heading into this game.  Jared Allen and the rest of the D aren't worried about the wild-cat offense and will have a strong game-plan for this type of attack.   

Dansby made big impact for the MIA defense, but don’t get too excited because it came against a pathetic Bills offense.   Don’t expect MIN to take as many penalties or miss as many blocks.  Peterson will bring a whole new challenge to MIA’s new look defense.  On offense, Henne will need to be much better in a hostile environment.  There are already rumors about dissatisfaction within the organization regarding his development and will need to show he’s ready for prime time sooner than later.  They won’t be able to rely as much on the running game against a stout MIN defense.  They also need to prove their offensive line can hold up.   They gave up 3 sacks to a underwhelming BUF defense and MIN will make sure they are tested.  Coach Sparano has a countdown clock in the locker room for every game, but this week the players will be counting down the minutes it takes to get back to the airport.  Prediction: Bank MIN -5.5.


New York Giants vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -5.5

UPDATE: An interesting situation with this one as there was a .5 reverse line movement down to -5.  Obviously this is one to keep an eye on, but I'm not buying into the sharp action.  IND is still the play here.

Peyton vs Eli.   We all know how the Eli Bowl played out in their backyard and nothing will be different when the kid travels to Indianapolis to play his big brother.  Peyton played a phenomenal game against the Texans and their defense gave up 200+ rushing yards.  This is a script that football fans know all too well when it comes to the Colts.  Bob Sanders got injured and HOU ran the ball all day long.   It kept Manning on the bench for long stretches, but he still did major damage when he got his chances.  His pass protection will get better as Saturday and Johnson see more reps in practice.  Both missed significant time nursing injuries leading up to the season. 

Eli did not look good in week 1 with 3 interceptions.  He will need to be much better if he expects to keep pace with his older brother.   The Giants D caused 5 turnovers against the Panthers, but let’s not kid anybody because Matt Moore is still a project.  The G-men turned it over 4 times themselves.   Nothing was really learned about them after week 1 that wasn’t already known.  They will continue to rely on a running game and strong defense to win games and on paper that looks like a favorable matchup against the Colts.  Sanders is out with a biceps injury and sets the stage for a trap game for IND.   However, don’t let the high rushing totals from HOU mislead you.   Half of those yards came when IND was down by multiple scores.  Kevin Boss was injured with a concussion, but he won’t impact things one way or another.   NY will also need to get better special teams play - especially from their punter.  If they hope to stay in this one they can't be giving good field position to Peyton. 

Colts don’t have to worry about resting players or going for an undefeated season at the end of the year now.  They were also 63% ATS in the 2009 and look for them to get back to those winning ways at home on Sunday night.   Prediction: Bank IND -5.5.

Week 1 Review

Market Watch:
The public went 6-6-1 on sides and 5-5-2 on over/unders.
Favorites went 7-7-2 ATS (5-2-1 at home, 2-5-1 on road).
Only 1 road underdog won SU (Baltimore).

Week in Review

After four straight winning weeks in the preseason, the first blip on the radar shows up in week 1 for my first losing week.  Week 1 offered up some huge surprises and it was unlucky to wind up on the wrong side of three of them - SF, IND, and SD.    SF was probably the most unexpected outcome, but IND was a close second.   SD losing in KC isn't entirely a shock because Arrowhead is a place to be reckoned with if their team can give them something to cheer about.   The KC kids stepped up with some big plays and SD never recovered.   

The final tally of the weekend is 3-5, but these sort of weeks happen to everybody.  It's important not to overreact to a down week and a lot of people will be placing bets in week 2 based entirely on what they saw this past weekend.   This will provide a good opportunity to take advantage of some generous lines.  I have 5 early picks up in what will be a bounce back week for many teams.   Check back throughout the week for more selections and analysis.

Week 1 NFL Predictions: Monday Mayhem

Week 1 isn't over yet and many people, including myself, will be looking for redemption on Monday Night Football.  My write-ups for the Ravens/Jets and Chargers/Chiefs games can be found here and here





Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 1 NFL Predictions: Update

After a wild and whacky day of action, many people are still trying to figure out what happened.   My picks went 2-4 and 0-1 on the teaser.  Not a great start, but with two picks for tomorrow I expect to be 4-4 for a .500 weekend.    After looking around at some of the results around the capping world, things could have been much worse.   

Big surprises turned the weekend on its head as Peyton lost only his 2nd game in his last 17 against the Texans and the heavy division favorites SF lost dreadfully to the Pete Carrol Seahawks.   Atlanta lost a close one in OT and the NYG/CAR game was a turnover-fest resulting in a lot of scoring opportunities.

Most people overreact to week 1 results and that is a good opportunity to take advantage of some soft lines.   I should have some early overnight week 2 picks up later tonight or early tomorrow before the public have a chance to move the numbers. 

I don't like the 'Skins or the 'Boys tonight due to the big questions marks heading into the season.   Both teams have problems on the offensive line and the Shanahan/Mcnabb combo remain a complete unknown at this point.   Due to the division rivalry and O-line questions, I'd say the strongest play is the UNDER, but I still won't be playing it.   

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week 1 NFL Predictions: The Dirty Dozen Game Props of the Week

Here is a little bit of fun for those that like a little bit of extra action on the games.  I would not wager more than a half unit on any of these because at the end of the day they are just game props.  With that said, let's take a look at the game props I like for week 1. 






Donovan Mcnabb .5 Interceptions and 7.5 Rushing Yards - OVER

Mcnabb is starting for a new team with suspect wide receivers and he is coming off an injured ankle.   There are also serious questions about his offensive line.   Chances are that he'll be making a few uncomfortable passes.   He'll be amped up as he starts over again and opening at home.   The Cowboys might also pull away from the Skins so Mcnabb might have to force the ball to make something happen.  

For many of the same reasons listed above, Mcnabb will need and want to make things happen in his first start for Washington.   Everytime he has been challenged on or off the field in the pass, he makes it a point to run for a couple first downs to prove that he can still hurt you with the run and that he is healthy.   This guy likes to play with a chip on his shoulder.   Prediction: Bank OVER.

Tony Romo .5 Interceptions - OVER

Romo is usually pretty good in September, but this year is a little bit different.  There are serious problems and concerns on his offensive line and he is opening up against a division rival under the bright lights.   This could be a tight game and he should throw a few ill-advised passes trying to make something happen out of nothing.  Prediction: Bank OVER.

Aaron Rodgers 275.5 Passing Yards - UNDER

This might catch some people off guard.  Rodgers has already been given the full-hype treatment by ESPN and the rest of the world is buying in.  There's no doubt that he's headed for huge things, but a lot of people are underestimating the Eagles defense.  Samuel, Hobbs, and Hansen are a solid group and they will bring the pressure with exotic blitzes.   GB will rely more on a balanced attack to keep the defense honest and will hurt his chances at a high yardage game.  Prediciton: Bank UNDER.

Frank Gore 85.5 Rushing Yards - OVER

It's no secret that Seattle is the heavy underdog in this game.   Alex Smith is not the next coming off Joe Montana and Singletary will continue to pound the rock.   The 49ers should also have a lead heading into the 4th quarter so they will be more than happy to run out the clock.  This is a generous number for this stud RB.  Prediction: Bank OVER.

Steven Jackson 22.5 Receiving Yards - OVER

Sam Bradford makes his 1st start at home and you can bet that he will be looking for his check down receiver every other play.  S-Jax is a tough runner, has excellent catching ability, and will break at least 1 or 2 receptions against the Cardinals.   He is also the only bona fide star they have on offense so they will look to get the ball in his hands every chance they get.  Prediction: Bank OVER. 

Mathew Stafford 210.5 Passing Yards - OVER

Stafford made a concerted effort to improve his completion percentage and it was a main focus of the preseason.   With some more weapons on offense, this kid is ready to turn some heads in his second season.  This game will not be a classic defensive battle designed around the run.   Expect some touchdowns, interceptions, and a whole lot of yards.   Prediction: Bank OVER.

CJ Spiller 52.5 Rushing Yards and .5 Touchdowns - OVER

Spiller has been name the starter in week 1 against the Dolphins and he is one of the only reasons fans will be coming to see the Bills.  Expect a heavy package featuring the rookie who is capable of taking it to the distance at any time.   He should get in the end zone at least once and will easily rush for over 53 yards in his NFL debut.  Prediction: Bank OVER.

Jerome Harrison .5 Touchdowns - OVER

A lot of people are sleeping on the Browns.  Yes, they are the Browns, but they are facing what could be the worst team in the NFL.  Harrison will get the ball a lot on Sunday in what could be the least watched game of the weekend.   Prediction: Bank OVER.

Jake Delhomme 155.5 Passing Yards - OVER

Delhomme is still a suspect quarterback in the NFL, but he was an upgrade over Quinn/Anderson.   He got to wipe the slate clean for a team that believes in him.   He looked solid in preseason and should have little trouble passing this very low prop number.   If he was playing any other defense, I'd give it more thought, but we are talking about Tampa Bay here.  Prediction: Bank OVER.

Terrell Owens 3.5 Receptions - OVER

Carson Palmer has been singing T.O.'s praises all preseason and maintains that coverages are still double teaming Ocho Cinco.   They will also benefit from playing a depleted NE secondary.   Take advantage of yet another low number.   T.O. should be good for at least half a dozen receptions this week.  Prediction: Bank OVER.