Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 8 Update

UPDATE: A few early week 9 picks are now posted.  I'm waiting on line movement for the rest and my mid-season review will be up soon.

Week 8 is almost in the books with only the Monday night game to go.   The good news about today was that I continued my hot streak on sides and props.  I went 4-1 on sides and 11-2-2 on sides in the last three weeks.  I ended the day 8-5-1 on props and 21-14-1 over the last three weeks.    

The bad news is that both totals fizzled out and are turning out to be a complete crap shoot.  It doesn't seem to matter how much of an edge I have on a total, the results continue to defy logic. Teasers went 1-1 as the Jets got nothing done on offense getting shut out at home after their bye. I wanted to play the TB/ARI under based on the stats, but that game sky-rocketed over the total.  I will post some whacky trends in this area in my first half review.

The public once again had a losing day going 5-7.  We are now 8 weeks into the season and the public has yet to have a winning week. The pros picks aren't done yet, but so far the Hilton consensus picks are 3-1 and defending champ Steve Fezzik is 2-2.  

In my first half season review I'm going to break down how things have gone in all categories - sides, totals, teasers, props. I will break it down how each area did in the first four weeks, and how they've done in the last four weeks.  I'll also outline how the public and pros have done and what trends to look for in the second half of the season. Enough data has accumulated to make the necessary adjustments down the stretch and I'm expecting to finish with my fifth straight profitable NFL season.

My first half season review will be up tomorrow along with some early week 9 picks.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Week 8 NFL Predictions: Player Props of the Week

Player props yielded a nice profit last week going 8-2 so let's keep it going in week 8.  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.  They 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 8.   They can all be found at Bodog.com. 

Javid Best 95.5 Rushing/Receiving Yards: UNDER 


Davone Bess 49.5 Receiving Yards: OVER


Cedric Benson 79.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER


Terrell Owens 79.5 Receiving Yards: OVER


Jamaal Charles 77.5 Rushing Yards: OVER


Troy Smith 200.5 Passing Yards: UNDER


Frank Gore 95.5 Rushing Yards: OVER


Kyle Orton 260.5 Passing Yards: OVER


Marshawn Lynch 64.5 Rushing Yards: OVER


Mike Williams 60.5 Receiving Yards & 5 Receptions: OVER


Darren McFadden 100.5 Rushing & Receiving Yards: OVER

Week 8 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

Chiefs -1.5 & Jets PK
I have already talked about why I love KC this week and touched a little on the GB/NYJ game.  I like GB/NYJ to go over 42, but I expect NY to come out on top of that matchup.  I'm not about to lay the -6 because Rodgers has the ability to keep it close and pick up garbage points in the 4th quarter, but it is going to be very difficult for them to win outright.  They are in the classic letdown spot coming off a big night game win over Grandpa Favre and face a rested NY team coming off a bye.  Even without this factor they do not matchup well.  This game is much like the CIN/ATL game last week where I played both the over and ATL in that too.  NY will dominate the game on the ground, but GB will get some points through the air.  However, GB's offense isn't balanced enough to overcome the pressure that coach Ryan will bring.  If they decide to max protect and run two receivers against double coverage, I like NY in that scenario.  GB will likely try to spread them out and gash them with the short passing game to supplement for the lack of a run game, but they will ultimately come up short with that approach.   Go with both home teams in this teaser.  They are the best teaser candidates on the board.  Prediction: Bank KC -1.5 & NYJ PK.

Chiefs -1.5 & Patriots PK
Including KC in both teasers might be the kiss of death because this season 6 of my 11 teaser losses came from one team tanking it.  The Colts vs the Jaguars and the Saints vs Browns.  However, if anyone thought either team would win outright then they have magical powers that I do not.  I am sticking by the Chiefs this week which is why I combined them with the Patriots as well.  The MIN/NE game has been off the board all week long because of the Favre fiasco, but there isn't much difference between a healthy Jackson and a banged up Favre at this point.  Is there?  Regardless of who starts, I see little reason why NE will lose this game straight up.  MIN has a slight edge through the air on paper, but their QB situation nullifies that.  NE's defense isn't about to morph into the 85' Bears anytime soon, but they are a young group getting coached up and are making strides.  Brady is still dinking and dunking his way down the field without Moss, but they are a well-oiled machine at home.  They are averaging over 17 points from long drives per game which tells you they can score with or without Moss.   Stick a fork in MIN on Sunday because they will be officially done after this one.  Prediction: Bank KC -1.5 & NE PK.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Week 8 NFL Predictions: October 31, 2010

UPDATE #3: I have wanted to add the TB/CAR game to the card all week, but I am leaving it off to see if the OVER trend continues in week 8.  However, that game is screaming for taking the UNDER.  Both teams have abysmal offenses.  Neither team is averaging over a TD from long drives and neither team is even close to the league time of possession average.  I'll leave it as a strong lean and we'll see how it shakes out on Sunday.

The early Halloween Edition picks for next week are posted.   A handful of undervalued favorites are on the card and I bought the half point on KC and SD.    Check here for the latest odds. 

I have done some preliminary research into the trends up to this point in the season which I will talk about in full detail after week 8 in my mid-season review.   The second half of the season is shaping up nicely.

Carolina Panthers vs St Louis Rams: STL -3
I held off on this game all week to see how S-Jax would do with his finger injury.  It turned out to be a minor 20-minute outpatient surgery and he can easily play with the pain.  He didn't practice all week but had this to say to the media, "Absolutely. I will definitely be out there."  The injury is on his left hand, but he usually carries it in his right.  Nothing against Ken Darby, but S-Jax is a premier back and one of the reasons I like STL in this matchup.  He should be able to put up some nice numbers against a susceptible CAR run defense.  STL should also have a nice advantage stopping the run as Williams is out this week.

Neither team will have a big edge passing the ball, but one of the biggest reasons I like STL in this spot is their play on the line of scrimmage.  Matt Moore is going to see some pressure on Sunday, and Bradford should have enough time to make some plays down the field.  Even if CAR do move the ball between the 20s, they have the worst red zone offense in the entire NFL so expect John Casey to score more points than Steve Smith.  Having said that, CAR is horrible on third down and averaging two field goals a game from long drives.  If I was making the line for this game I'd have STL favored by at TD instead of a FG.  They are getting better on both sides of the ball as the season goes along and coach Spags is finally seeing some fruits of his labor.  Prediction: Bank STL -3. 

Washington Redskins vs Detroit Lions: DET -1
WSH are coming off a turnover-filled game to take on DET on Sunday in their second straight game on the road.  They opened as slight underdogs, but as of today most people have DET favored by a field goal.  This was a soft opening line and it should be closer to -5 or -6.   WSH could have some success stopping the run and getting off the field on third down, but these advantages won't be enough to win them the game. 

To beat DET they will need to put up points.  We'll see if DET has improved their back seven on defense because D-Mac might be able to make some plays happen down the field.  He currently leads the league in long passes down the field, but this stat is very misleading.  This offense is god awful on third down, can't produce points from long drives, and have one of the worst red zone offenses in the NFL. Mcnabb will need to overcome these lowly trends facing a stacked defensive line.  He'll wish he had his old legs back after this one.  He will also hope this game doesn't come down to a field goal because their kicker is only 13-18 on the season.

For DET they should be getting franchise quarterback Matt Stafford back from his shoulder injury.  He'll be returning to a high powered offense with a lot of weapons to choose from.  Despite the four interceptions from Hall in week 7, DET should have a big advantage in the air.  They are good in the red zone, efficient on third down, and should get good starting field position from the return game.  One big area they will need to improve is their discipline.  They rank dead last with the Cowgirls in penalties per game.  On the bright side, DET have already played four good teams and haven't been blown out in any of them.  Prediction: Bank DET -1. 

Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs: KC -7, OVER 44
Everyone that thought BUF would take BAL to overtime put up your hands.  This is the reality of the NFL today.  Teams are not separated by as much as some people think.  This is one of the reasons I rarely pick a side based on the names on the jerseys or take a double digit favorite. 

Having said all that I will drop seven points and take KC at home in this matchup.  I loved KC in a teaser last week and in hindsight I should have taken them straight too.  I waited all week to see if I could get them at  -7 but it never happened.  This week we are able to get them at -7 and there are many good reasons to jump on them now.

To start, they are the #1 ranked rushing team in the league.  The worst?  The Buffalo Bills.  I expect KC to control this game from the start and they should be able to put up a nice amount of points.  BUF rank near the bottom in red zone and third down defense.  Matt Cassel will have a lot of time to find his receivers because BUF have problems getting to the QB and KC do a good job with protection schemes.   KC also have one of the most feared return games in the NFL.  It won't matter if they have a short field or long field, KC will be able to have their way on offense.  Another huge edge they will have is home field advantage.  BUF is coming off a tough road loss in overtime against one of the top teams in the AFC.  Their reward?  Travel to KC and play in one of the toughest road stadiums in the league.  Both teams are well coached, disciplined, and average in turnover differential so I'd be surprised if either team beats themselves.  The KC kids are one of the pleasant surprises of the 2010 season and they will continue to roll in week 8.  Prediction: Bank KC -7.

Tennessee Titans vs San Diego Chargers: SD -3
Most people will see this pick and stay as far away as possible.  The Chargers are the AFC version of the Dallas Cowboys.  A team filled with great talent and a PhD in finding ways to lose.  Last week against the Pats they once again shoot themselves in the foot with inexcusable mental errors. 

So what is there to like about them this week against a gritty and talented Titans team?  To begin with, the Titans are not the Patriots.  NE's defense is improving and Belichick and Brady know how to pull out tough wins on the road.  I don't expect TEN to be able to go into SD and pull off the same feat.  PHI was having their way with TEN until they exploded for an improbable 4th quarter comeback.   They will need to pray to the football gods for a repeat of that performance.  SD have an underrated defense and will cause huge problems for the TEN passing game.   Chris Johnson is a threat, but they don't have enough of an edge running the ball to solely rely on him for the win.   They will also have big problems stopping the lethal SD passing attack.

As long as Gates is on the field, healthy or not, he draws a lot of attention to himself.  He is also unstoppable in the red zone.  It doesn't matter who his receivers are because if Rivers has one on one coverage, he will find you.  They still rank high in all the important offensive and defensive categories despite their losses.   They are a much better home team than road team and they are in a must-win situation. Unlike their twin-team Dallas Cowboys, this team has leadership. They are not a team that is going to lay down and quit in a man-up situation.   TEN will put up a good fight, but this is not a favorable spot for them to be in. Prediction: Bank SD -3.

Seattle Seahawks vs Oakland Raiders: OAK -1
In what is probably the biggest surprise of week 7 the Oakland Raiders went into Denver and absolutely destroyed their division foes.  It was the highest score OAK have achieved in franchise history.  However, this is not the reason I'm taking them in week 8.  They have been quietly improving all season long.   The only important category they rank near the bottom in is penalties.  This is a monumental achievement for a perennial laughing stock.  McFadden gives them a dynamic dimension in the backfield and Campbell only needs to play average for them to move the sticks. 

SEA's only advantage in this game will be pressure on the quarterback.  They have done an underrated job disrupting opposing QB's and that should continue on Sunday.  The problem they will have is putting up points.  They are decent driving the ball and converting third downs, but they rank near the bottom in red zone offense and points from long drives.  This tells us that they struggle to make plays when they need them and can't put together any consistency.  Due to this they also have problems winning time of possession and it will start to catch up with them.  They might have gone into Chicago and pulled out a nice road win, but they matched up really well against a QB/offense that liked to hold the ball too long.  Both teams are improving, but in this one the home team holds the edge.  Prediction: Bank OAK -1. 

Green Bay Packers vs New York Jets: OVER 42
Last week was not a good week to play the unders.  This has been a strange year for totals because unders are usually a sharp angle.  Even with all the necessary indicators they are still underperforming.  This is great news for the public because they love to play the over.  As mentioned in my week 7 review, I have begun to do some back-checking into this and have found a few trends unique to 2010.  To give an example, week 7 was the highest weekend average in over 20 years.  The average total per game was 52.6 points.  Based on what I've researched so far, I expect the books to make an adjust for the lines going forward.  

Going with this 2010 trend I've picked out GB vs NY as the best bet for an over in week 8.   It has many of the same variables as the CIN/ATL matchup in week 7.   Both teams have great advantages on offense.  NYJ own an enourmous edge on the ground with one of the best 1-2 punches at RB and running behind one of the best run-blocking lines in the NFL.  Sanchez has continued to develop and is making plays in the passing game.  Holmes should start to become more of the offense as he gets acclimated with Sanchez and this is a team averaging 17 points a game from long drives.  This ranks near the top of the league.  With all the injuries that GB have on defense, they are struggling to get off the field on third down.   

Normally I wouldn't play an over when the NYJ defense is involved, but a closer look reveals that they are having some problems on that side of the ball.   They are surprisingly bad in red zone defense and getting off the field on third down.  They are also giving up a lot of yards in the air.  Granted much of this is because Revis either hasn't been in game shape or hampered with an injury, but even without him this is a defense that should be limiting the pass more than they have.  Rodgers is proving that they can move the ball up and down the field even without Finley in the lineup.  They have been great in the red zone this year and should be able to put points this weekend.  Helping the over is another key factor.  Both teams will have advantages in the return game giving both offenses good field position to work with.  Prediction: Bank O42.
  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 7 Review

Market Watch
Public ATS: 39-60-6
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 14-18-3
Back-to-back Hilton Champ Steve Fezzik: 16-17-2

Another day of NFL football is in the books and it was another eventful day.  There was some good and some bad for me.   NY killed the hapless Cowboys which put me a whopping 5-0 on sides, but things didn't go as well with totals going 1-3 leaving me at 6-3 ATS for the day.  Brees screwed up 3 totals all by himself leaving me 1-3 in that department.  That is the risk we take when we bank one team in multiple teasers/parlays.   Every other team in my 4 teasers either won or pushed so I'm not worried about being on the wrong end of those so far.  By the end of the year they will ultimately turn a profit.  The Monday Night player prop also cashed ending the week 8-2.  

The public have yet to have a winning week as they were 6-8 ATS.  Hilton consensus picks went 2-3 and defending champ Steve Fezzik had his best week of the year going 4-1. 

I went back to see how I've done in different categories up to this point in the season.  I had a tough time in the first four weeks working without my system because there wasn't enough stats to use, but since then I have gone 10-4-1 on sides over the last three weeks.  This is what I expected as my system has consistently turned a profit the last four years.  After killing totals in preseason, I've continued to struggle on those despite being on the right side of many of them.  I went back and evaluated what has been going wrong and I've identified some trends that I'll be adjusting for the rest of the way.  I'll detail this in depth in my mid-season review after week 8.

I have early picks up for next week and I'll be adding the rest after I see what the lines do.   Full write-ups will be up tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 7 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

BONUS PROP: Felix Jones 65.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER
Jones is averaging 48.5 yards per game up to this point in the season.  DAL is 25th rushing the ball and NYG are 7th stopping it.  

New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys: NYG +3.5
The NYG travel to DAL on Monday night for a battle in the NFC East.   NY are currently tied for first place while DAL is in survival mode.  The Cowboys are already the early trendy pick.  Many people still believe they are a top team in the NFL and will eventually turn it around.  They are also playing at home in a desperate situation so I expect even further action on their side as the week plays out.  On many levels I agree with this line of thinking.  DAL rank near the top of the league in many categories and some say they have just been on the negative side of variance so far.  This is where I disagree.  Losing a game or two from a penalty, turnover, or freak play is one thing, but when it happens almost every game it's a trend.  Penalties and turnovers aren't happenstance with them, it's part of who they are.  

That's not the only reason I like NY in this game.  In the categories that DAL is ranked high, NY are equally high on the other side of the ball.  These teams matchup close to each other across the board.   In fact, NY actually come out on top with an edge because they hold a considerable advantage stopping the run.  This will put even more pressure on Romo to step up and win this game.  Let it be known that I'm not a fan of Romo and won't be until he proves he can consistently win when it's all on the line.  His history in clutch situations is well-documented and he always finds a way to beat himself.  Last week against MIN was another perfect example.  His two interceptions led to 10 points for MIN and ultimately cost his team the win in a pressure-packed game.  Now he must put everything behind him and try to come up with a good performance under the lights in prime-time with their season on the line.  I certainly don't like his chances.  If NY have a good start they will take the crowd right out of the game and the fans will get restless with the home team.  This is also a divisional game so there won't be any surprises.  NY will have little trouble getting up for this one because they know the importance of coming away with a victory.  They will be able to play loose care-free ball knowing that DAL is carrying Mt Everest on their backs.  I have this game as a pick em which is why I love the +3.5.  Having the hook in a matchup like this is great value.  Prediction: Bank NYG +3.5.

Week 7 NFL Predictions: Player Props of the Week

Player props yielded a slight profit last week so let's keep it going in week 7.  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.  The 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 7.   They can all be found at Bodog.com. 

Favre vs Rodgers More Passing Yards: Rodgers -29.5

As I said last week I've been fading Favre all year long with great success.  MIN doesn't match up well through the air in this one.  I thought Rodgers would be slowed down last week without his favorite target Finley in the lineup, but I was wrong.  I'll be more than happy to lay the 30 yards and cash on Favre for another week.

Favre vs Rodgers More TD Passes: Rodgers

Favre might have Moss now, but he's still outmatched in this game.  Don't expect a repeat performance from last year in Lambeau field.  GB have a better pass defense at the moment so ride Rodgers in this one too.

Steven Jackson 112.5 Rushing & Receiving Yards: OVER

If you are a fantasy owner you know that S-Jax has a great matchup this week against TB.  He showed us last game that he's completely back from his injury and he's running hard to become the all-time franchise leader in rushing yards.

DeAngelo Williams 70.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

D-Will has gone over 70 yards rushing only once this year.  They are really have problems in the run game with Otah injured.   I think he and Stewart do enough to pull out this win this week, but until D-Will raises his game I'll continue to fade him.

Ray Rice 95.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

It is absurd how many yards the Bills are giving up on the ground this year.   BAL love to run up the score at home and will feed Rice until his legs fall off.  The only way he doesn't hit 100 yards is this game is an injury.

Brent Celek 50.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

TEN has been much worse against the pass than the statistics show.  In this game with D-Jax out Kolb will look for Celek early and often.  I would like this prop even with D-Jax playing, but Celek is primed for a big day without him.


Chris Johnson 115.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

At first glance this doesn't look like a good bet.  CJ is obviously among the best and he could break off long runs at any given time.  However, with Young likely out there won't be the same kind of running lanes that there will be with Collins under center.  PHI has also shutdown Turner and Gore in back-to-back weeks despite losing Bunkley in the middle.


Jamaal Charles 67.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

I had to do a double take when I saw this number.  Charles has been averaging amazing numbers per rush this year and he's still putting up good totals despite being in a time share with Jones.   JAX is going to give up a ton of rushing yards in this game and I expect Charles to go over 100.

Brett Favre 235.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

I should just call this blog entry the Brett Favre props of the week.  As mentioned last week I've faded Favre all year and made a small fortune.  I'm amazed that they keep putting up lines this high.   Last week he didn't even come close.  He's old, banged up, and forcing things.   Just like D-Will, until he proves otherwise I'll continue to bet against him.

Week 7 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

Seahawks PK & Chiefs -2
Last minute addition to the picks.  

Saints -3 & Ravens -3 & Chiefs PK

If anyone watched the Jaguars on Monday night you will be asking how in the world did this team beat the Colts?  David Garrard is out with a concussion, but will it really matter who's at QB?  Trent Edwards is also banged up.  Either way JAX have serious problems at QB and it is likely irrelevant in this matchup anyways.  KC will own a huge edge in the running game with Charles and Jones providing a lethal 1-2 punch.  JAX have also had a terrible time rushing the passer this season despite their offseason acquisitions.  Cassel showed last week that he can throw the ball more than 12 yards down field and should get some opportunities in this game to make more plays.   If KC can keep their third downs to third and four or less in this game they will be driving up and down the field all day long.  JAX's defense haven't found a way to stop drives this season.  They are having just as much trouble sustaining drives of their own, turn the ball over too much, and are traveling to a tough place to play on a short week.  I'm not saying it's impossible for JAX to win this game, but what is one notch below that?

Meanwhile the Ravens have a cupcake matchup against the Bills.   Easy cover right?  Maybe not.  BAL is coming off a tough game against NE in which they lost in OT.  Coming home to play perhaps the worst team in the league doesn't exactly inspire motivation.   This is a classic letdown situation which is why I would stay away from the standard -13 line.  Having said that, I love them at -3.  What they will be motivated to do is win the game.  BAL should put up a lot of points in this one.  McGee is still not practicing and if he's not 100% then they will have trouble stopping BAL in the air.  Even if he does play, BAL can ride Rice to the end zone all afternoon.  This defense is so bad that all the retired analysts on ESPN, FOX, CBS and the NFL Network could probably beat them if they played today.  BUF ranks at the bottom in third down offense and defense, red zone efficiency, and long-drive points.  The only thing going for them is they are a very disciplined team.  Too bad for them they aren't playing the Cowboys this week because discipline won't be enough to top the Ravens.  Prediction: Bank NO -3, BAL -3, KC PK. 

Saints -3 & Ravens -3 & Steelers +7
Last week I correctly picked MIA to cover on the road at GB and I thought they had a good chance to win outright.  However, this week a whole new animal comes to town.  I have this game close to a pick em, but that is not factoring in the return of Big Ben.  He only needs to be average to see PIT's passing attack improve considerably.  After adjusting for that, PIT is justifiably favored in this matchup.  Once known for their running attack, MIA's identity is once again going through a transition.  Brown and Williams are not running as effectively as they did last year which is putting more pressure on Henne to win games.  I'm not a Henne fan yet, but I don't think he's nearly as bad as some of the other young quarterbacks in the league right now.  Having said that it's asking too much for him to lead MIA to a victory in this contest even if he is at home. PIT will have a huge edge stopping the run and I expect to see at least one turnover from Henne, if not more.   

Both teams are good on third down on each side of the ball and MIA is pretty disciplined in the penalty department.  They will need to continue that if they hope to stay in this one because they can't afford to beat themselves against what could be the best team in the NFL right now.   MIA have played four good teams so far this year so they are definitely battle-tested, but they don't have enough troops to win this war.  PIT is too stacked across the board and 80% of the public have already sided with the Steelers.  I'm not so sure PIT -3 is a good play right now because MIA have the capability of keeping it close, but at +7 I feel really strongly about taking them.  MIA will have a hard enough time keeping it close let alone winning by two scores.  Prediction: Bank PIT +7, BAL -3, NO -3.

Saints -3 & Ravens -3 & Giants +13.5
Last week the Saints finally won a game looking like the defending champs they were.  Brees was on point all day and did what good teams should do - bury a lesser division opponent.  I'm not about to sit here and say NO is back and ready to roll because they still have a number of problems that they need to worry about.  They are not getting the turnovers on defense that they got last year.  If any category can mask some deficiencies it's turnovers.  Luckily for them the Browns rank near the bottom in turnover differential so that shouldn't be a concern this week. Losing Bush and Thomas hurt their balance and ability to execute the exotic scheme coach Peyton loves to do, but they finally got some production in the running game from Ivory.  

Against the Browns, expect a big advantage in the air on both sides of the ball.  That might not be the most insightful analysis of the year, but if anyone wants to go into NO and have a hope in hell of winning they'll need to either slow down Brees or match his production.  CLE will also have big problems getting consistent pressure on Brees which will only make for a longer afternoon in the dome.  Adding insult to injury is CLE's third down defense.  They've had a horrible time getting off the field all season long and they are equally inefficient sustaining drives of their own.  Give CLE credit for keeping many games closer than they should have been this season, but at the end of the day they are still a far way away from winning on this level.  
Prediction: Bank NO-3, BAL -3, NYG +13.5.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 7 NFL Predictions: October 24, 2010

Check here for the latest odds

San Francisco 49ers vs Carolina Panthers: CAR +3

As I write this the public are currently 71% on SF.  There are many logical reasons for this.  SF finally got their first win last week.  The public believe this is still a decent team and those stubborn beliefs are hard to change even with a mountain of counter-evidence.  And CAR is still winless with big problems at QB.  End of analysis, put it in the books, and enjoy the win?  Not from where I'm standing.  All those things might be true, but a closer look reveals a different picture.  Since CAR gave up three TD's to Nicks in weeks one, they have only allowed two TD's in the air after that.  Steve Smith returns to action this week with Matt Moore back at QB.  Moore has been bad this season, but is he worse than Clausen?  I don't think that is possible at this point.  At least Moore has had marginal success at times in the NFL and the same can't be said for the rookie.  SF might have won last week, but it was a close one against a lowly OAK team.  It wasn't until later in the game that Gore broke off a few big runs to clinch it.   Neither team have been very good at sustaining drives or red zone efficiency.  SF has also been one of the least disciplined teams in the NFL.  If you don't think that's a category that matters much, go ask the Cowboys.  Lastly, SF is a west coast team traveling three time zones to the east coast playing the 1PM game.  A lot of people are noting that NE is doing the same in SD, but going west has proved much more difficult than vice versa.  CAR is coming off a bye so they hold an extra edge there.  There aren't many home underdogs this week, but this is one of them.  Prediction: Bank CAR +3.
 

Philadelphia Eagles vs Tennessee Titans: UNDER 43
With Vince Young doubtful, it looks like Kerry Collins will get the start at QB this week when the Titans take on the Eagles.  Given the developments over the past week, this game shapes up to be a defensive and hard fought affair.  PHI will be without their two fastest and most elusive offensive weapons in Michael Vick and Desean Jackson.   They could use players like that in a game like this because TEN's defense will come to fight.  Kolb could find himself in the kind of danger most expected he would be in last week vs the Falcons.  He is nowhere near as mobile as Vick and if it wasn't for a great offensive game plan to keep ATL off-balance, he wouldn't have had near the amount of time that he should have got.  His offensive line is still in flux with a number of players doing spot-duty for injured starters. Kolb really hasn't faced a tough D this year so it will be interesting to see how he does in a hostile environment. He could become check-down Charlie again.

Collins could have just as many problems as Kolb.  He is nowhere near as mobile as Young to avoid the aggressive PHI pass rush.  With Collins under center it will also allow PHI to stack up against the run MUCH easier. With Young in there the ends and edge rushers would have had to stay much more disciplined in case he scrambled which in turn opens up much better running lanes for CJ.  Go back and look at CJ's rushing stats with Collins at QB and with Young at QB.  He is not nearly as effective.   PHI will use a lot of slide play on the line and zone blitzes to attack CJ so he will need to look for the cutback lanes as much as possible.  I don't see either team running away with this one and it could come down to the most reliable kicker.  Prediction: Bank U43.

Cleveland Browns vs New Orleans Saints: UNDER 43.5
This will be the third week in a row that I have played the under for the Saints.  Two weeks ago Brees threw a pick six on the last play of the game to put the game over.  Anyone who watched that game knows that the under was all but a lock until that unlikely play happened.  I stuck to my belief that the Saints continue to be given an unjustified inflated total and played the under again last week, but this time the game didn't even sniff the over.  I expect more of the same in week 7 when the Browns travel to New Orleans.

Colt McCoy will get his second straight start and he will be rewarded with a myriad of blitzes from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.   The worse news for Colt is that they will not have any advantage in special teams this week.  This means he will need to drive the ball 60+ yards to yield some points.   Up to this point, the Browns offense is only averaging nine points per game from long drives.  This will not be enough to put this game over unless they get four or five pass interference calls.   On the other side of the ball, Brees finally had the kind of game most fantasy owners expected out of him last week in Tampa Bay, but it still wasn't enough to put the game over the total.   He could have another good outing on Sunday, but CLE have fought hard this year.  They have already played three playoff-caliber teams so don't expect them to be star-struck and wide-eyed in this one.   CLE haven't been shutout this year, but it's going to happen sooner or later.   Prediction: Bank U43.5.   


Oakland Raiders vs Denver Broncos: UNDER 42.5
Last week I played the under in the OAK/SF game and won it pretty easily.  OAK was in a classic letdown spot after upsetting the Chargers and Jason Campbell proved once again that he's nothing more than a service-able backup.  I will fade them once again this week as they take another divisional foe in the Broncos.  There are a few reasons I like this play.  First of all OAK is the only team with a clear-cut offensive edge.  They should be able to run the ball successfully against DEN, but it's anything but a sure thing.  DEN played better against the run last week vs one of the best in the Jets.  McFadden might return, but he's still limited in practice with a hamstring problem.  OAK is also pretty decent against the pass.  Asomugha will take away half of the field so look for Orton to be limited in his options.  Without any huge mismatches on either side of the ball and the fact that this is a divisional game, I expect OAK to give a better effort than last year and scoring won't be out of control.   Even if DEN dominate play it's unlikely they put enough points up to go over the line.  Look for a lower scoring affair with a lot of stalled drives.  Prediction: Bank U42.5.

Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks: SEA -4.5
The Seahawks make their first appearance on my weekly predictions this year.  Coming into the season not a lot was expected of this bunch.  They had the most roster turnover of any team in the NFL, a college head coach, and big questions at key positions.  All that hasn't stopped them from putting up some surprising wins.  Last week my system tagged them as a play, but I didn't trust them on the road so I took a pass.  Now that they are at home against a bottom-feeder and a soft line, it's time to jump on their bandwagon even if it's only for one week.
In this matchup SEA's defense will keep ARI's running attack under control which will put the game in the hands of Max Hall.  He might have inspired his teammates with his bonehead dive for the end zone in their upset win over the Saints, but make no mistake about it - he is not the next coming of Kurt Warner.   He will be under pressure for most of the day as SEA will dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.   SEA might only be averaging 10 points a game from long drives, but they won't need to do a lot of that because of their advantage in the return game.   Hasselbeck shouldn't have too much trouble putting up points since ARI have one of the worst third down defenses in the league.   The opposite can be expected when ARI is on offense.  They can't sustain drives, score points, or take care of the football.  A division matchup and a bye week will help ARI in this game, but SEA is a tough place to play.  I expect SEA to win by at least 10 ponits.  Prediction: Bank SEA -4.5.

St. Louis Rams vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: STL +3
At first glance this pick looks like a square play.  STL upset SD and TB got blown out by NO.  However, a closer look reveals that STL is better than a lot of people thought they were.  They might be 0-2 on the road, but this is a team that is improving as the season goes along.  Bradford has made a nice transition into the NFL and he is showing he can get it done regardless of his receiving options.  He was without his top two targets last week and still managed to pull out a win.  Steven Jackson appears a lot healthier coming off a 100 yard rushing performance and that is where I expect this game to be won and lost.  S-Jax should be able to have his way on Sunday while TB's running attack will be non-existent.  Cadillac Williams is averaging a dismal 2.5 YPC.  STL are averaging twice as many long-drive points per game than TB which translates into a lot more time of possession.   Coach Spags has done a good job with this defense as they rank near the top on third down and do a great job disrupting the quarterback.  TB will have their hands full with protection calls as they continue to play without their starting center.   Teams are also blitzing Freeman more as the season goes on. 

TB got off to a great start, but they have allowed two superior teams to come into their backyard and smack them around this season.  When a young team plays better on the road than they do at home it's a sign that they are comfortable as the underdog, but aren't yet ready to handle higher expectations.   They are a disciplined bunch and rank near the top in turnover differential, but if you can't sustain drives and put up points those intangibles become a lot less meaningful.  They also have a lot of trouble getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback which helps explain why they can't get off the field.  Much like the Rams they are a nice surprise to start the year, but they will struggle to win by more than a field goal this Sunday.  Prediction: Bank STL +3. 

Cincinnati Bengals vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -3, OVER 42.5
Last week I picked the Falcons to go into the Linc and pull out a victory.  The only loss they had on the season up until that point was a close overtime game in Pittsburgh.  The Eagles deserve credit for how they played as ATL came out flat and never recovered.  However, I still believe this is a good team from top to bottom and a disappointing road loss to a good team doesn't mean I've changed my mind about them.   I expect them to rebound this week against the Bengals because they will own huge advantages in many key categories.  Michael Turner couldn't get going against an speedy and aggressive PHI defense, but look for that to change against a CIN team that has struggled against the run.  This will be key because ATL do a good job at sustaining long drives and coming away with points from them.  In fact they almost double CIN in that category this season.  That trend should continue because ATL owns the edge in the return game on both sides of the ball.   ATL also rank near the top in turnover differential and penalties so CIN will need to earn most of their points on Sunday.  

The only thing going for CIN will be opportunities in the passing game.  Dunta Robinson will likely be out with a concussion and CIN have done a pretty solid job protecting Carson Palmer this year.  When both teams have an offensive edge I like to play the over and I wouldn't be surprised if the number moved up towards 44 by game time.   Unfortunately for CIN, Palmer has been pretty bad this season despite having more receiving options than last year.  They should be able to put up some points through the air, but they won't be able to consistently stay on the field.  I expected better things from the Bengals this year, but they are struggling in too many important areas to be a real contender at this point.  On the bright side, at least Ocho and T.O. have their own TV show.  Prediction: Bank ATL -3, O42.5.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 6 Review

Market Watch
Public ATS: 33-52-6
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 12-15-3
Back-to-back Hilton Champ Steve Fezzik: 12-16-2

Another Sunday is in the books and things got back on track here at Free NFL Predictions.  With the push from the night game and two teaser wins the finally tally was 6-4-2.   Sides finished 3-2-2, totals at 2-1, and teasers 2-2.  The CLE/PIT under looked like a lock all game long until some meaningless touchdowns put the total at one point over the line.  BAL and IND both blew comfortable 4th quarter leads and both ended in a push.  The only bad call of the day was ATL.   A depleted PHI team put up some big numbers and came away with a convincing win.  Coach Reid was clever with his play-calling not giving the ATL pass rush much of a chance to take advantage of the banged up offensive line and ATL never got their running game going.  Other than that everything else went pretty much as expected.

It sounds like a broken record at this point, but the public continued their struggles ATS this season with a 5-6-1 record in week 6.   Hilton champ Steve Fezzik bounced back a bit from his 0-5 last week finishing at 2-2-1 today.  Hilton consensus picks went 1-2-2 and neither current leader were above .500.  

I don't have a pick for tonight because the numbers don't shake out.   TEN has the edge in key categories, but JAX have a slight edge overall.   I stay far away from games like that.

For week 7, I have SEA -4.5 up now and I'll be posting more up soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week 6 NFL Predictions: Baker's Dozen Props of the Week

I didn't have time to post my player props last week, which is why I added an extra prop this week to make up for it.  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.  The 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 6.   They can all be found at Bodog.com.

Aaron Rodgers 250.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

Coming off a concussion against a rested MIA team that is decent against the pass.   He also lost his top target Jermichael Finley.


Brandon Jackson 55.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Don't let last weeks performance fool you.   Jackson has been horrible running the ball this year and GB brought in Julius Jones to split the load.

Philip Rivers 279.5 Passing Yards: OVER

In the off chance you haven't heard, Rivers is on fire this season.  Now he gets to feast on a Rams secondary that is nowhere good enough to slow down this offense.

Malcolm Floyd 69.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

If you play fantasy football you will be quite familiar with this name.  Someone has to catch those deep balls and Floyd is primed for a big day.

Antonio Gates to Score a TD: YES

Gates has been leading all tight ends this season and no one else is even close.   Rivers might throw for 4 TD's this game and you can be sure Gates will be on the receiving end of one of them.


Joe Flacco 245.5 Passing Yards: OVER

This might go against my personal opinion of Flacco because he needs to show me more than he has before I believe in him, but NE have a mediocre pass rush and an even worse secondary.    He should have little trouble putting up big numbers in this tilt.

Sean Hill 225.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

Hill has been great this season and some are even asking if he should give up his job to Stafford when he returns from injury.   I wouldn't go that far and this week I hate his matchup.  NY's defense is terrorizing opposing QB's right now and Hill will likely be without his top wideout Calvin Johnson.


Eli Manning 269.5 Passing Yards and 1.5 TD Passes: OVER

On the flip side, DET's back seven have been non-existent this year.  Eli has been on a roll the past couple weeks and I love his matchup at home.

Hakeem Nicks 80.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

A fantasy stud in the making.  Jump on this low number.

Arian Foster 90.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Like many fantasy owners expected, Foster finally got 'Kubiaked' last week.   Now he's going up against a feisty KC run defense.  I'm a little shocked this number is so high.

Frank Gore 92.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

Gore had a rough week against the Eagles last week, but to help cheer him up he gets one of the worst run defenses in week 6.

Brett Favre 230.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

I've played the under on Favre all season long and made a small fortune on it.  He might have Moss, but how can he throw it to him with a bad elbow?   I'll fade him until I lose.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week 6 NFL Predictions: Totals Edition

New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: UNDER 44
Last week I took the under in the NO/ARI game and Brees threw a pick 6 on the last play putting the total over.  There was little doubt the under was the right play on that one and I'm a little surprised this week's total is hovering around the same number.  NO's offense is clearly not what it was last season.  Without a running game, Brees is forcing throws and is nowhere near as effective.  He has no short outlet like he did when Bush was healthy either.

This game offers no offensive advantage on either side which is great for a play on the under.   TB will have trouble putting up points and will have to do it with Josh Freeman because their running game is very inconsistent.   Neither team have a big special teams advantage either so they will likely need to drive the field to score.  Combined, they are only scoring an average of 18 points from long drives which means they will need to find other ways to reach the over.  Both teams are also playing disciplined ball so there won't be as many easy points from penalties. As predicted, NO continues to have problems at kicker after Carney missed an easy one last week.  They have reinstated Hartley as the starter so trouble in this area is good news for the under.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers: UNDER 37.5

No official announcement has been made regarding the CLE QB situation, but it's safe to assume Colt McCoy will get the start. Welcome to the NFL kid, your reward is PIT's defense on the road. Offensively, CLE will need to hope for some fluke plays in order to find the end zone.  Cribbs should see some wildcat action, but it's nothing PIT's defense haven't seen before.  PIT will dominate them in the air and on the ground.  I will be shocked if they score more than 10 points.   Even if they do put something together they are taking a lot of offensive penalties thus killing their drives.  Both teams combine for 19 points from 60+ drives this year which sits at half the total.   PIT will be able to score on the ground, but Big Ben won't be on his A game to start the year.  He's coming into live action at the quarter-way mark and will need time to get on the same page of his receivers.   Because this is a divisional game, I expect CLE to get up for this one and should do enough to keep this from being a complete blowout.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Oakland Raiders vs San Fransisco 49ers: UNDER 41
The Raiders are going with Gradkowski if he can make it.  If you are an Oakland fan, you might have mixed feelings about this.  Campbell came off the bench and gave them a spark last week.  McFadden should also return to action this week from his hamstring injury.  This might seem like bad news, but it's good for playing the under.  Here we have two teams that rely on the run which means the clock will run all game long.   Neither team have much of an offensive advantage in the air or the ground which should result in a lot of stalled drives.  Expect a lot of mistakes as well as both teams rank near the bottom in penalties, turnovers, and third down play.  This could one of the ugliest games of the week with at least one, if not two scoreless quarters.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week 6 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

Steelers -3 & Giants PK & IND +7
Don't think for one second that NY should be favored by 10 in this matchup.  DET have enough youth and firepower to pick up garbage points and cover the number, but with Calvin Johnson hobbled their chances of pulling the outright upset are not very likely.  I have NY capped at -6 which tells me that they should win convincingly, but might not cover.  At -10, they are in the perfect window to tease down to a pick em.   NY will dominate this game on the ground on both sides of the ball and should put up big numbers in the passing game too.  It will be a challenge for Hill to complete passes down the field because NY's pass rush will be in the DET backfield all game long.  If he doesn't have Johnson to bail him out this could get ugly.   Check the other posts for analysis on the other games.  Prediction: Bank NY PK, PIT -3, IND +7. 

Steelers -7 & Chargers -2.5
The Chargers have been their own worst enemy this season. They dominate offensively and rank near the top defensively too.  But if the MIA special teams coach got fired for his debacle against the Patriots then the SD special teams guy should be blacklisted from the NFL.  If S-Jax is healthy he'll have a lot of trouble finding open lanes and Bradford will have it just as rough in the air.  It doesn't help that he lost his go-to receiver for the season.  Rivers is primed for another huge day and I won't be surprised if he puts up another 400 on this pass defense. Given what's happened so far this year it's understandable why a lot of people are hesitant to ask them to win by two scores, but winning by a field goal should be easy enough.  Prediction: Bank PIT -7, SD -2.5.

Ravens +9 & Falcons +9













Steelers PK & NYJ +10 & IND +10 & ATL +16



Week 6 NFL Predictions: October 17, 2010

Picks for week 6.  Check here for the latest odds.

Miami Dolphins vs Green Bay Packers: MIA +3.5
This game has remained off the books all week as people waited to see if Rodgers would get the start.  He has returned to practice and is listed as probable for the game.  This is probably good news for those liking MIA because if Flynn was the starter we would see a much different number posted.  The Packers started the season as my choice for NFC North division winners and Super Bowl finalists.  One thing that can't be accounted for is injuries and GB looks like a mash unit right now.  Rodgers is returning from a concussion and his go-to throwing option Jermichael Finley is likely done for the season.  That should please Gregg Jennings because he threw a hissy fit on the sidelines this past week after his third straight game with only two catches. They already lost Ryan Grant and brought in league journeyman Julius Jones to help a non-existent running game.  GB would have had an edge rushing the passer in this game, but that is out the window now that Clay Mathews is listed as doubtful.  What all this means is that a number of would-be mismatches are suddenly nullified.  Each week GB's third down percentage, drive points, and ball control have gone down and their turnovers and penalties have gone up.

MIA is not about to light the world on fire, but they have a number of things going for them on Sunday.  Unlike GB, they are relatively healthy coming out of a bye week.  Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is anxious to put some pressure on Rodgers and aims for at least three sacks per game.  He loves to disrupt the QB and this is not good news for someone coming off a concussion and no running game to relieve the pressure.  If Channing Crowder returns from a groin injury things will be that much tougher for a struggling GB team.  MIA has been surprisingly good on third down offense and defense this season and remain a disciplined bunch.  I like them to win the game outright, but I love them with the points.  Prediction: Bank MIA +3.5.

Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots: BAL +3
Last week I played MIN +4.5 because of the Randy Moss factor.  I knew he would take pressure off of Peterson and Harvin and keep it a close game, but it was only effective for a half.  Leave it up to Favre to throw a pick 6 on the last drive to blow the cover.  In this matchup I expect Moss to have a similiar effect in for the Patriots offense.  BAL will no longer have to game plan for Moss and they can put more attention on pressuring Brady and wrapping up Welker.  NE have proved in the past that they can still put up points with a no-name receiver corp so I don't expect them to suddenly go in the tank because of the trade, but they won't make a seamless transition.  In fact, what caught my attention this week is the move they made to acquire Branch.  This could mean that they are not as confident in Edelman and Tate as I thought they were.   Regardless, with or without Moss BAL was going to have the advantage in the air this week.  Their no-name secondary has quietly answered all the questions we had entering the season and are playing great ball right now.  Look for NE to give Matt Light some help on Suggs with some double-teams, too.  The only thing NE do have going for them this week is that they are not turning the ball over and remain a well-coached, disciplined team.   Unfortunately that won't be enough to win them this game.   Their blowout win over MIA was thanks entirely to special teams and should have been closer than it was.

Usually I would not take a road team facing NE off of a bye.  The Pats traditionally come out and kill opponents after a week off.   However, that trend doesn't scare me given how BAL is playing this year.   Much like ATL, the Ravens lost a lot of close games in 2009.  I wasn't going to buy into them until they proved to me that they can rise up and win a few of the tough ones.  So far this year they have done that.  They took down a very good Jets team in week one and pulled out a gutsy win against the Steelers on the road.  I don't see many weaknesses on BAL right now.  They will have little trouble putting up points against a defense currently put together with scotch tape.  I'm not a Flacco fan per se, but the Pats will have trouble getting sustained pressure on him and it doesn't matter who you are in this league - if a QB gets time to scan the field against a porous secondary, he will make plays.  They should also dominate possession as they rank near the top of the league in third down offense and defense.  I expect BAL to win this one convincingly, but if it's close I love the underdogs points.  Prediction: Bank BAL +3

Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles: ATL +3
Most of the squares and the sharps were on SF last Sunday night because they expected them to get off the snide against a PHI team with Kevin Kolb at QB.  However, Kolb showed that with a full week of practice he can indeed throw the ball down field and make some plays.  This week things will not be as easy for the Eagles with perhaps the best NFC team coming to town.  PHI is 3-0 on the road, but 0-2 at home.  The chances of Vick playing are a long shot at this point which means Kolb will get his 2nd consecutive start.  There will be opportunities to make plays, but the question is can they sustain enough drives and hold onto the ball long enough?  ATL has a huge edge in those key categories and McCoy will have a much tougher time against a stout ATL run defense than he did in previous weeks.  PHI has been pretty bad on third down offense and defense this year so they need to rely even more on the big play.   PHI also rank near the bottom of the league in penalties which has killed their offensive drives and kept the defense from getting off the field.  They also just lost their pro bowl left tackle Jason Peters to surgery and will be replaced by the hugely inferior King Dunlap.   An offensive line that had major problems just got monumentally worse.

ATL's key to this game will be running the ball.  PHI lost their best run defender last week Broderik Bunkley and he is out of this game.  ATL already had a huge advantage on the ground heading into the game and it just got significantly better.  Their other good run defender Mike Patterson is also dinged up with back problems.   PHI also have big problems covering tight ends which means they will have more trouble with Tony G coming to town.  Samuel should return from a concussion this week, but with all the success the Falcons have running the ball, expect some big plays off of play action in the passing game.   ATL also get WR Michael Jenkins back this week.   There will also be big plays to made for ATL in special teams.  PHI have had trouble with starting field position all year and that won't change on Sunday.   This game might not be as close as people think.  Prediction: Bank ATL +3.

Indianapolis Colts vs Washington Redskins: IND -3
On the scoresheet, the Redskins may come away from last week's game looking good, but a closer look reveals an ugly situation.  WSH can thank the field goal upright and injuries to Mathews and Finley for their win.  They also got away with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rodgers on the interception in overtime.  Don't expect the same breaks to go their way this week against the Colts.  WSH's biggest liability is against the pass and that isn't good with Peyton Manning up next.  Their defense can stop the run, but will that help them in this matchup?  The other key factor in defeating the Colts is an offensive running game and sustained drives.  Ryan Torian has given them a decent option in the backfield, but they are still near the bottom of the league.  They also rank very low on points off of drives of 60+ yards which is very bad news considering they will not have a special teams advantage in this game either. 

Meanwhile for the Colts, Peyton is coming off his worst statistical game of the year but they still managed to win by 10 points.  It isn't very often that he has two bad games in a row and given how he started the year he should have little trouble getting back on track with a full slate of healthy receiving options.  If they build a lead in the first half Mathis and Freeney will be able to tee off on Mcnabb.  We all saw how Mathews terrorized that offensive line in week 5 and WSH are still having big problems at both tackle spots.  The Colts are also one of the most disciplined teams in the league so they won't be beating themselves.   So far IND have been heavy road favorites all year so to get them at -3 is a steal.  WSH will be a trendy pick among the sharps because they are the home dog in a night game, but I'm not buying in.  Prediction: Bank IND -3.


New York Jets vs Denver Broncos: NYJ -3 
The New York Jets were a sheik pick heading into the season and I was on the bandwagon.  Five weeks into the season it's easy to see what all the hype was about.  I had serious questions about Sanchez after what I saw in the preseason and in the first game against BAL, but since then he's proven that he can make enough plays to put this team in a position to win.  Having said that, he needs to do it for more than a month before I'm a true believer.  Thankfully for him, the team around him play lights out football.   This week they go into Mile High to take on the high flying Kyle Orton.   Who knew he would be putting up the kind of numbers he is without Brandon Marshall?  He will eventually come back down to earth and he struggled last week against a good BAL defense and put up most of his numbers when the game was out of reach.   I expect him to struggle once again against an aggressive NY defense.  They have no running game whatsoever to take any pressure off him, and the defensive backs won't be biting on the play fakes like the Titans did two weeks ago. NY is not playing as well on third down defense as they would like, but without a running game it will be hard for DEN to take advantage.
However, this game will be won and lost on the line of scrimmage.   The Jets own huge advantages on both sides and it will be another big day for the best offensive line in the NFL.   NY will also have favorable field position because they will have a big edge in the return game.  To make matters worse for DEN, the Sanchez should have more than enough time to find his receivers while Orton is scrambling for his livelihood.  This one could get ugly as NY lays a beat-down on the wannabe-contenders in Colorado.  Prediction: Bank NYJ -3.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week 5 Review

Market Watch
Public ATS: 28-46-3
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 11-13-1
Back-to-back Hilton Champ Steve Fezzik: 10-14-1

Chances are if you have consistently wagered ATS this season you will be familiar with the numbers in the market watch.   What looked to be a great week for me turned sour as I lost 4 games on the final play of the game.  Being on the right side of a line seems to mean little this season as variance has reigned king.  Once again things were ugly for the public as they went 4-10 ATS.  Hilton consensus picks went 1-4, and Steve Fezzik went a whopping 0-5. 

Heading into week 6 there will be very few secrets.  The sharps will wisen up and fall more in line with Vegas now that everyone have the same information and people will need to dig a little deeper to find an edge.   My system plays have already began to identify significant discrepancies now that there are 5 weeks of stats in the books.   There are a few factors left to check into, but the early numbers for week 6 show that Vegas is giving a lot of favorites inflated lines.  This is not a surprise, but what is different is how many games and how many points are being inflated.  The public continue to take these favorites despite the adjusted lines and until they begin to go with the underdogs Vegas will have no reason to change things.  

My only early pick for week 6 is IND -3.   I'll have analysis up soon along with some more picks during the week.

Week 5 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

Minnesota Vikings vs New York Jets: MIN +4.5 and MIN +10.5 & OVER 32.5 Teaser

How much is Randy Moss worth?  The public has already overvalued him because the majority of the bets were on NY before the trade.  The Jets have won three in a row and are playing at home.  Now that Moss is a member of the purple and gold the public is split on this one.  The sharps were mostly on MIN +4 even before the trade so we know what they thought of the move.

The biggest benefit of the Moss trade will be Peterson. Those wanting to stack 8 in the box will think twice leaving Moss on an island. It will also benefit Harvin in the same way it benefited Welker. I wouldn't be surprised if he hits some big plays with soft coverage underneath. If Revis covers Moss keep in mind he'll be going up and down the field all night so don't be shocked if Revis comes out of this game due to his hamstring. Also consider that Favre will force throws to Moss a number of times. A team that throws down field a lot creates a lot of completions/interceptions/pass interference outcomes. Both teams are also averaging 29 points combined from drives of 60+ yards which is well above the league average and bodes well for the teased over.  I usually never tease totals due to the variance seen with points, but this game offers an exception.

Matchup-wise, I have the game capped at a PK with the only advantage going to NY for home field advantage.  This was the same situation I had last night for the PHI/SF game and that lean turned out good.   MIN will have a slight advantage with pass defense, but they also haven't been getting to the QB as much as last season.  NY also ranks near the bottom of the league in penalties which is likely due to the aggressive tone set by coach Ryan.  MIN have not been good with turnover differential and that may or may not improve with Moss in the mix.  Favre is likely to be more patient with better receiver options, but he'll also be throwing up 50/50 balls to Moss.  I'm still high on NY for the season, but much like week one I don't think they matchup as favorably in this one.  Predicton: Bank MIN +4.5 and MIN 10.5/OVER 32.5.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 5 Update

The NFL continues to wreak havoc on those looking for an edge ATS.  What looked to be a great week turned sour as I lost 4 games on the final play of the game.  I finished the week at 4-5 after meaningless pick-six cost me the ARI/NO under, two missed FGs cost me the GB game, and SD choked on the road again despite Rivers throwing for 400 yards a game.  At the end of the day it wasn't a disaster, but with a few breaks it could have been a monster day.

However, one look around the capping world and a 4-5 week looks like sunshine by comparison.  The public continues to get crushed this year as they finished the day 4-8 with the night game to go.  Sharps didn't do too good either.  The Hilton consensus picks went 1-3 and defending champ Steve Fezzik went 0-4.  Both have SF -3 tonight, but my system doesn't show an edge for SF.

If anything I'd have a small lean on PHI +3.5 if you can find the hook.  SF will rely almost entirely on Gore and look for Davis over the middle, but they will have to be more disciplined to stay out of their own way.  Currently they are near the bottom of the league in penalties and turnovers.   PHI will rally around Kolb and I expect this to be a close one.

I might have a play for Monday night posted tomorrow.   I'll have a full review of the week and some early week 6 picks posted soon.

UPDATE: IND -3 is on the card for week 6 with analysis and more picks up soon.   This line might come out at -2.5 tomorrow so shop around.   Nice win for the Eagles as SF continued their self-defeating play.  Congrats to all who played the lean.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 5 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

I will be teasing most of my picks in the following two teasers.   I'm waiting for some line movement for a third that I'll add sometime during the week.

IND -2 & SD PK











JAX +10 & ATL +7 & GB +7.5

Week 5 NFL Predictions: October 10, 2010

Here are the early games I like for week 5.  I'll have write-ups posted soon.  Check here for the latest odds.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -7

With IND opening up at a whopping 9 point favorite in week 5 despite getting upset against JAX speaks volumes about what Vegas think of KC's undefeated streak.  Many jumped on the early line and took KC with the points so I've waited for a friendlier number and it finally came down to -7.   I love the Colts at this number.  KC has been a nice story after one month of the season, but put up your hand if you thought KC would be the last undefeated team in the NFL.  

No one has any illusions about how these teams matchup.  With a dynamic run game, KC will try to pound the ball and keep Peyton off the field.  They will have a big advantage here, but will it be enough?  How are they going to keep up after Manning puts up three TDs in the first half?  The problem for KC is their secondary can't hang with the force that is the IND passing game.  So far KC is near the top of the league in 3rd down defense, but IND ranks just as high for 3rd down offense.  Up until this point KC has relied mostly on good coaching, inspired defense, and big plays.  This is reflected in their inability to come away with sustained drives or drive points.  They also have a horrible 3rd down offense.   How will they control the clock if they can't stay on the field?  The bye came at the worst possible time for the Chiefs and that warm and fuzzy feeling from September disappears after Sunday afternoon.  Prediction: Bank IND -7.


Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills: JAX PK

I like the Jags this week despite the fact that they are coming off a huge divisional upset over the Colts.  I expect them to be flat to start the game, but JAX have enough of an advantage to come away with a win.  At this point in the season, mismatches are much easier to identify and MJD will cause huge problems for the BUF run D.  If you have MJD on your fantasy team you are in for a big day.  JAX will have trouble in the air against an underrated pass D, but their number one corner McGee is out this week.  Thus far, JAX has been average in most categories with the exception of drive points.  That should continue to improve against the Bills.  

 BUF has been pathetic on third down on both sides of the ball this year and there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.   They started the year without T.O., have traded their starting QB, and now shipped Lynch off to the Seahawks.  The players must be thinking who is next.  Morale is low as this organization lacks direction on almost every level.   No one wants to sign with, coach, or watch this club.   They rank near the bottom of the league in almost every important statistical category.   This is not to say that JAX will blow them out because they haven't been world-beaters either, but they have enough pieces in place to be a mediocre team.   On Sunday, that will be more than enough to beat what could be the worst team in the NFL.   Prediction: Bank JAX.


 Green Bay Packers vs Washington Redskins: GB -2.5

Full disclosure. The Packers are my pick to go to the Super Bowl.   However, they have not lived up to the hype after four weeks of the 2010 season.   It seems like they are lacking focus at the moment.  They can move the ball at will and when the defense needs a play they step up more times than not.  They are near the top of the league in 3rd down offense and defense, but penalties and turnovers are killing them.  Right now they are their own worst enemies, but it's only cost them one game to the point. This week they will be playing a WSH team that could be flat coming off a very emotional division win against the Eagles.

WSH's win has masked a number of problems with this team.  Portis isn't healthy so they are turning to an unknown in Torain.  He has ran the ball well, but he's not reliable in blitz pickup so they take him out on most third downs.   Their pass defense has been horrendous so far and that is not good news with Rodgers coming to town.   The strength of the D is stopping the run, but that won't help them against the Pack.   To hang with GB they will need to do a lot better on third down.   Most drives are stalling and they have just as much trouble getting off the field defensively.   The smoke and mirrors are useful against mediocre teams, but GB is not one of them.   Prediction: Bank GB -2.5


Atlanta Falcons vs Cleveland Browns: ATL -3

I was high on ATL coming into the season and picked them to win over the 9.5 games Vegas had set for them.  So far they haven't disappointed.  I was waiting for them to win a big game because they lost 6 out of 8 of them in 2009.   Things looked like they might be more of the same after a tough OT loss to PIT to start the year, but prevailing over the defending champs was a huge psychological boost for this organization.   They dominated play the last two weeks, but barely squeaked out wins in both outings.   Having said this, the most important thing is they are winning and coming up with big plays in the clutch.

ATL will enter CLE with huge advantage on the ground and the air.  It's not that the Browns have been that bad this year, it's that ATL has been that good.   They will continue to sustain drives and shouldn't have too much trouble keeping CLE's offense on the sidelines.   ATL ranks near the top of the league in drive points, the rule of 50 category (completions/rush attempts), turnover differential, and penalties.   Both sides of the ball are playing sound, fundamental, and disciplined ball.  Whitherspoon is on track to return this week which will only bolster an already stout defense.

Things are not as peachy for the Browns.  They pulled off the upset against state-rivals CIN, but they were fortunate to come away with a win after letting Palmer put up great numbers all afternoon long.   There is not a lot to like about CLE other than their effort level.   They might have found a RB in Hillis, but he will come back down to earth this week against ATL.   If Delhomme plays, it won't make much of a difference.  It could even be a liability after missing so much time.  Jake isn't exactly known as the most consistent of QB's in the league.   I'll be surprised if this game stays within one score.  Prediction: Bank ATL -3.


San Diego Chargers vs Oakland Raiders: SD -6

The Chargers completely annihilated the Cardinals last week as expected.  A lot of people have backed off SD after their disappointing losses on the road, but a closer look reveals just how good this team is.  Rivers is playing out of his mind this year and they have a full compliment of capable running backs to keep defenses off balance.   Mathews could finally have the breakout game that he's been waiting for.   The special teams showed dramatic improvement against one the leagues best return-man. 

This week OAK is in serious trouble because they don't have a hope in hell in stopping the run and won't be able to pass effectively if they get down 10 points.  McFadden's hamstring has tightened up so they will likely be without one of their only bright spots of the season.   OAK continue to lead the NFL in penalties which should come as a surprise to no one.  They are having trouble sustaining drives which means their defense is getting left out on the field too long.   They had big problems with HOU's offense last week and that was without Andre Johnson.   SD have had very few problems coming out with wins when they travel to OAK and that trend will continue on Sunday.  In fact, they haven't even defeated SD since 2002.   Prediction: Bank SD -6.


New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals: UNDER 45.5

Last week I got back on track with my over/unders by hitting on the NO/CAR game.  The Saints games continue to have high totals, but their offense hasn't been what it was last season.   Losing Bush really hurt their schemes and having Thomas banged up did nothing to help matters.  Ivory got the call last week, but the coaches are concerned with his fumbling.   This week they travel to ARI to take on one of the worst teams in the league.  Brees is still nursing an MCL sprain on his knee, but the team is maintaining that his brace is only 'precautionary'.   They continue to have big questions at kicker which only helps those playing the under.

ARI might be starting an undrafted rookie at QB, but will it really make any difference for the offense?  QB is not the only position the coaches are considering changing because the team is in complete disarray.   ARI will be lucky to score 10 points in this game and there is a strong possibility of getting shutout.   They are bottom-feeders in every statistical category.   Drive points, 3rd down conversions, penalties, turnovers, and ball possession.   The Saints will score some points, but they will need to suddenly become the high-flying Saints of yester-year to go over the 45.5.  Prediction: Bank UNDER.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts: OVER 44

The Indianapolis Colts are the other team I expect to see in the Super Bowl this season.   After four weeks into the season, my opinion hasn't changed.  The defensive woes might be getting all the headlines, but Peyton Manning is actually getting better as a QB.  He has been flat-out unstoppable this year which means the defense only needs to marginally improve for them to go deep into the playoffs.  They will get back to their winning ways when the Chiefs come to town on Sunday.   Peyton will have a huge advantage in the air which translates into a lot of points.   He will face a young secondary that is still finding their way.   Peyton has made a career on exposing young players and he could put up four touchdowns in the air this week.   The Colts are averaging 18 points per game on drives of 60 yards or more.   Throw in some big plays and IND should put up 30+ points against KC.   IND has gone over the total in 8 of their last 11 games, 6 of their last 8 at home, and 3 of their 4 games this season.  

The Chiefs are downplaying the timing of their bye week, but for a team that was off to a hot start I think the bye came at the worst possible time.   It will be hard to build on their early season momentum when they travel to IND to play the high-flying Colts.   However, I do like them to put up some points on a defense that is susceptible to the run.  Charles and Jones are a dynamic one-two punch and I expect their strong coaching staff to put them in a position to break off some big runs.   I also expect them to have great field position all day with McCluster and Arenas returning kicks.   Even if they struggle on offense early in the game, they will get some easy garbage points as the defense will go soft if IND is up big.  Prediction: Bank OVER.