Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 13 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

New York Jets vs New England Patriots: NYJ +3.5
After suffering through a pitiful MNF game in week 12, things get a whole lot brighter as NY and NE face off to fight for the division title.  There will be a lot of people who will be reluctant to go with NY in this game because Brady's record at home is no joke.  He loves the spotlight and is Joe Montana-esque in the clutch.  However, before the season I predicted that this would be the year that they fall from their perch and that NY would take the division from them.  Nothing I've seen during the season has changed my mind as Sanchez has spent more time improving his game than eating hot dogs on the sidelines.  Most of their off-season additions have enhanced the depth on this team and Revis will be healthy this time around.  However, instead of worrying about Moss, NY will need to contend with a short passing, ball control offense.  The days of bombing the ball down the field are gone as Brady bleeds defenses to death by sustaining drives.  They average over two TD's a game from long drives and this is reflected in their high red zone/third down offensive stats.  NE is also a team leading the league in turnover differential.  Given all this you might be wondering why I would dare to take NY in this game.  They are in fact 2-6 in their last 8 trips to Gillette Stadium after all.

First off, unlike many other handicappers, I don't put too much weight in trends that go back many years.  There is too much roster and coaching turnover to make any relevant links to these trends and the game itself goes through significant changes too.  I'm more concerned about the current season trends and how specific matchups look.  When you take a closer look at this game NY should have a lot of their own success sustaining drives and getting points from them too.  They also average 2 TD's per game from 60+ yard drives this year and will have a nice advantage on the ground on both sides of the ball.  L.T. doesn't look as fresh as he did earlier in the year which is one of the main reasons why Greene's touches have increased over the past month, but together they form a nice one-two punch.  They get to run behind a stout offensive line and this continues to open up the passing game for Sanchez to find open receivers down the field.  NE's defense continues to struggle mightily on third down and in the red zone.   NY continue to take too many penalties, but they play well enough to overcome this aggressive approach.  This is the style that Rex Ryan accepts and that won't change in their biggest game of the season.  This will be a knock-out, drag em out fight and I'll be enjoying it as a fan.  The line has moved to -3 at many places so if you can still find the hook grab it.  It could prove the difference in a game that could go down to the wire.  Prediction: Bank NYJ +3.5.

Bonus Props:

Greene 55.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

Green-Ellis 58.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER 

Week 13 NFL Predictions: Prime Time Edition

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens: BAL -3
This is a game that I've been keeping an eye on all week.  I wanted to see how Ben did in practice and if his limp is any indication, he's not doing as well as PIT would like.  This game was also briefly taken off the board yesterday as rumors surfaced that his foot might in fact be broken.  Well that rumor turned out to be true and false. Apparently he already broke his foot years ago and he merely reaggravated the injury.  Either way he'll be in the lineup on Sunday night, but he might not be as elusive as he normally is.

This could be a big problem because BAL have a nice advantage rushing against that offensive line.  I can't count how many times a designed PIT play breaks down only to see Ben make something out of nothing.  If Ben isn't able to have that same escapability then PIT is going to be in a world of hurt.  Wallace will need to use every ounce of his 4.2 speed to make sure he's open.  Mendenhall has been good this year, but BAL should matchup equally on the ground.  PIT do have an edge in a few categories however.  They are among the top in red zone defense, turnover differential, and stopping the run.  These alone will make this a knock-out drag em out game.

Unfortunately for PIT this is their second road game in a row and must contend with a BAL team that is going to make it very difficult to come away with a win.  BAL have the edge in the passing game, special teams, and rushing the passer.  This means PIT will need to sustain long drives and come away with touchdowns to win.  Not great news when they are below average in this category and Billy Cundiff leads the league in touchbacks with 31.  PIT also rank in the middle of the pack in time of possession which is surprising given how good they are at stopping the run.  Even with Ben's return there hasn't been a huge spike in the offensive categories.   I don't think it all adds up to a huge advantage for BAL in this game, but it's enough for me to roll with them.  Prediction: Bank BAL -3.

Week 13 NFL Predictions: December 05, 2010

UPDATE: With the news that QB Shaun Hill is probably out this week (and maybe the entire season), I have taken DET off the card and bought back on CHI.  It's better to eat the juice instead of taking DET with Drew Stanton at QB.  Sometimes these things happen when you jump on the opening lines, but the long-term advantages far outweigh these occasional situations.

Check here for the latest odds. 

Washington Redskins vs New York Giants: NYG -7
The NFC East battles continue on Sunday when the Skins take on the G-Men in week 13 action.  I had NY in a couple teasers last week and they made a late comeback to get the cover, but they will need to play much better ball if they hope to contend for the division crown.  Losing two of the better receivers didn't help, but their struggles against JAX extended beyond the passing game as they had trouble getting it going on both sides of the ball.  Despite this lull, I still love them to win by at least a TD this week because they have a number of significant mismatches against a porous WSH team.
Two categories that should allow them to dominate the game is on the ground and on the line of scrimmage.  NY backs might have problems securing the ball, but they should be able to have their way on Sunday.  This will alleviate the pressure off the passing game and allow Eli to pick his spots down the field.  In fact, Eli could have a big game because WSH have been giving up big chunks of yards all season.   WSH can't generate enough pressure on the QB and when you can't stop the run or the pass you usually lose the time of possession battle too.  This is reflected in the stats as WSH only average about 42 completed offensive plays per game.  This ranks near the bottom of the league and puts far too much pressure on the defense.

The story doesn't get any better for the WSH offense.  They only average about 10 points per game from long drives and this is largely due to their league-worst third down percentage.  They simply can't sustain drives on a consistent basis.  I wouldn't be shocked if the NY defensive line win this game all by themselves and McNabb will need to find the fountain of youth quickly if he hopes to stay alive much longer.   The only bright spot for this team will be their return game.  WSH should get some favorable field position throughout the game, but how much will it matter?  When a team can't drive down the field and score points then I'm also less concerned about a late cover with garbage points.   This is a team going nowhere and now they have another handful of injuries to contend with on both sides of the ball.  Prediction: Bank NYG -7.

Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ATL -2.5
I managed to get ATL at -2.5, but I would still take them at -3 without giving it a second thought.  I am a little surprised that ATL is not favored by more, but I'm guessing that it is only 3 because TB played ATL tough the first time around, it's a divisional game, and TB is at home.  These are all good reasons to like TB, but are they really on the same level as ATL?  Josh Freeman will get some time to make some plays in this game because ATL's pass rush isn't anything to get scared about, but TB do not hold many other advantages in this one.  Their record is a mirage because they haven't beat anyone of note yet.  All their losses have come against good teams and after Sunday you can chalk up another one to the list.

I might sound like a broken record when I describe how ATL will cover, but there are always new people reading this for the first time.  In this game ATL will once again dominate the game on the ground and Ryan will have a lot of time to scan the field to make plays.  They are very good in red zone offense and defense and lead the league in many critical categories.  Third down offense, points from long drives, and completed offensive plays per game.  They also rank near the top in turnover differential and least amount of penalties per game.  I'm not sure about you, but when you can do these things on a consistent basis you are going to win most of your games.  Last season ATL lost most of their tough games, but this year they are winning them.  This is a clear sign of a team that has taken that next step.  Even if this game is close, ATL have a QB and a kicker who get it done in the clutch.  Jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride. Prediction: Bank ATL -2.5.

Dallas Cowboys vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -5
At first this was a tricky game to get a good feel for when I did my evaluations.  DAL was terrible in most statistical categories up until a few weeks ago, but they have played hard since Garret was promoted to interim head coach.  After looking at things a little closer I still like how IND match up against them.  Much like Brees on Thanksgiving, I expect Peyton to bounce back in a big way and torch this porous DAL secondary.  A lot of people might be hesitant to do that after he threw 7 INT's in the last 2 games, but we are still talking about the greatest QB to ever put on a uniform in the NFL.  He still has Wayne and Garcon to throw to and Tamme has proven that he's reliable in the passing game.   The blowout to SD was shocking to some, but it's no secret that IND don't match up good against them and there were a number of uncharacteristic dropped passes in that game.  To make matters worse for DAL, they won't be able to generate enough pressure on Peyton to disrupt his rhythm.  With more time in the pocket, Peyton will get things rolling once again.

It is also no secret that Jon Kitna isn't Tom Brady or Philip Rivers and the IND defense will be able to do enough to limit the DAL passing attack.  The main advantage they will have will be in the return game.  However, as we have seen over the last couple of months, when your only mismatch on the field is on special teams, your chances of winning are dismal at best.  DAL still turn the ball over too much and can't get enough points from long drives.  This is a very bad formula if you are facing the Colts.  If they fall behind like I expect them too, they won't have the home crowd to rally them this time and Kitna could morph into a turnover machine.  DAL can't run the ball either so controlling the clock and limiting Peyton's opportunities isn't much of an option.  The motivation meter in DAL is dropping as that initial surge of change has passed.  Fade the Cowgirls this week with confidence.  Prediction: Bank -IND 5.

St Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals: STL -3
This game just opened on the books a few hours ago and much like the ATL game I was surprised at the line.  It doesn't take a professional handicapper to know that ARI is a horrible team and that was on full display in the MNF game.  I won't be shocked if the line moves at some point during the week because I don't know anyone in their right mind who would back ARI +3.   STL simply have too many advantages on both sides of the ball and in all areas of the game.  Bradford and Jackson should be able to lead a balanced attack down the field a number of times against a disinterested ARI team.  STL is still fighting for the division crown so they have more than enough motivation in this one.

The ARI offense and defense might need to be separated in the locker room and the sidelines because Anderson is doing no favors for his team right now.   Coach Spags will bring the pain on Sunday and force whoever is at QB into some ill-advised passes down the field.  STL should also have little trouble limiting a running game that hasn't had any consistency all year.  The only thing ARI have going for them is the return game and I've already stated what I think about a team in that situation.  I could go into more detail on this one, but I think it would be unnecessary to list all the reasons I like STL to win this game.  STL is 8-3 ATS and ARI is 3-8.  Need I say more?  Prediction: Bank STL -3.

Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs: OVER 48 
Since this game is a total I'm not going to give a full game analysis for it.  With so many games going over the total this year I am limiting my total picks to one or two a week that I think will continue the trend.  48 is a large number and in years past I would normally stay away from picks like this, but this is a new NFL that does everything it can to generate offense.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this game generated over 60 points.  DEN have proved all year that they can put up points in the air.  I'm not sure what supplements Kyle Orton is taking, but whatever it is it's working.  Whether it is early in the game or late, this team puts up points.  On the other side of the ball, Matt Cassel has caught fire over recent weeks and has found a nice chemistry with Dwayne Bowe.  This is likely due to the massive success of the running game and I see the same story playing out on Sunday.  I was high on Jamaal Charles coming into the season and I think he continues to fly under the radar this year.  He should be getting a lot more national attention because he is an electrifying back who can kill you rushing or receiving.   Neither of these defenses is about to pitch a shutout anytime soon and neither defensive line has enough push to stifle the passing attack.  Look for a lot of big plays and back and forth scores in this one.  Prediction: Bank O48.

Week 13 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

UPDATE: With the KC and GB lines dropping today, I've added them as a late teaser.

6 Point Teasers
Eagles -2 & Chiefs -2
If Andre Johnson was suspended for this game I might have consider taking PHI against the normal line, but HOU is a team that can air it out and move the sticks at any time.  I fully expect PHI to dominate this game because HOU's defense will have trouble containing all of the offensive weapons on the other side of the ball.  I expect Vick to have a very big game and he should be able to pick this defense apart.  He will be able to go deep with D-Jax and Maclin or underneath with Celek, Avant, and McCoy.  If HOU somehow morph into the 85 Bears and scheme these guys good, Vick will just tuck it and run for the first down.  I also expect PHI's offense to get back on track in the red zone because HOU have been horrible in this area.  This is a tough spot for HOU.  Traveling to a cold environment on a short week isn't doing them any favors. 

Vegas set a pretty good line on the KC game when it first came out at -8.  If it had fallen to -7 I would have taken it, but it quickly moved northward.  If you can still find the line at -9 I still think it's worth it to add to a teaser because KC should win this game by more than a field goal.  The primary reason?  They should absolutely dominate this game on the ground and the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  Even though Moreno has looked healthier the past few weeks, they still won't be able to control the clock enough to win.  KC have the best running game in the NFL with Charles/Jones and if the coaches stick with it they should have little trouble pounding the rock down DEN's throats.  To add insult to injury DEN don't have a good pass rush.  Cassel and Bowe have been on fire so it could be a case of pick your poison.  The KC o-line does a great job in both pass protection and blowing holes open on the ground.   They are great in the red zone, dominate time of possession, and force teams to drive most of the field.  The only edge DEN will have is in the passing game.  Orton should put up enough points to make this a high scoring affair, but at the end of the day it won't be enough.  They've already proved that their philosophical approach doesn't win games.

Saints -1 & Giants -1
NO travel to CIN to take on a god-forsaken Bengals team on Sunday.  Is there any leadership on this sad-sack team?  The weapons are there.  The same defense is in place.  Yet they are terrible week after week.  I could go into a lot more detail in this one but the bottom line is CIN have had trouble producing consistent pressure on the QB all year and NO do a great job protecting Brees.  Now he has Bush back in the mix which opens up their playbook immensely.  Brees should have little trouble finding mismatches down the field and look for them to sustain a lot of drives and eat up the clock.  CIN will continue to be inconsistent on offense and Palmer might have another multiple turnover game trying to keep up with the SI Sportsman of the Year.  

In the other half of this teaser I got the G-Men taking out the Skins in an NFC East matchup.  Even without Nicks and Smith, I love NY to completely dismantle WSH.   NY have major mismatches all over the field and up and down the roster.  Much like the KC game, this game is going to come down to the running game and the line of scrimmage.  Mcnabb is in for a long day because he'll be a sitting duck behind that embarrassing offensive line.  There is going to be pressure coming off both ends and if they double team Tuck or Umenyiora, there will be overloaded blitzes galore.  Mcnabb is not an accurate passer and they don't have the running game needed to keep the pressure off him.  Meanwhile, Eli should be able to find his receivers down the field off of play action and a balanced attack will eventually wear down this disinterested WSH defense.  

Packers -2 & Chiefs -2


10 Point Teaser
Packers PK & Chargers -3 & Falcons +7
I've already broken down the ATL game so I'll move onto the remaining two.  

The Packers are favored by a full 10 points, but I'm a little surprised it's not a little more.  I love Brian Westbrook and he looked fresh on MNF, but he is not Frank Gore.  The workhorse back of this SF team is out for the year and now they must travel to a cold Lambeau field for a 10 o'clock game.  We all know how these usually turn out when the West travel East. Clay Mathews and company are going to wreak havoc on Smith as it's going to be a long day.  Does this mean I think SF will roll over and die?  No.  But they are going to be in a world of hurt trying to match the offensive production of Rodgers.   GB rank near the very top in red zone offense and score twice as many points as SF from long, sustained drives.  It also doesn't help that SF is traveling on a short week.   Unless Rodgers goes down with an injury, this tease is close to printing money.

In the last matchup, we have the souring Chargers looking to exact some revenge on their division foes.  OAK have fallen back to earth after their little run and it's not a good time to be facing SD.  They annihilated IND on the road and it could get ugly for OAK as well.  McFadden hasn't looked the same the last few weeks after tearing up the league earlier in the season.   Even if OAK was running well, he'd have a heck of a time putting up yards against this defense.  SD do a great job with gap integrity and swarm the ball.   That means they will need to find other ways to keep up with Rivers.  At this point can anyone do that?   SD is averaging a whopping 20 points per game from long drives.  That's tops in the NFL.  They rank near the top in almost every meaningful category and they have shown signs of improvement on special teams.  If SD do happen to stall a few times, they can take heart that OAK will keep most drives alive with penalties.  This has blowout written all over it.

Week 13 NFL Predictions: Player Props of the Week

Here are some more props for Sunday.  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 rest of the game props I like for week 13.   They can all be found at Bodog.com.

 

Jackson 72.5 Receiving Yards: OVER
McCoy 35.5 Receiving Yards: OVER
Vick 279.5 Passing Yards: OVER

McNabb 9.5 Rushing Yards: OVER
Moreno 57.5 Rushing Yards:UNDER
Charles 77.5 Rushing Yards: OVER
Smith 200.5 Passing Yards: UNDER
CLE QBs 185.5 Passing Yards: UNDER
Morris 65.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

S Jackson 85.5 Rushing Yards: OVER
Wells 60.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER
Wayne 6 Receptions: UNDER
Garcon 65.5 Receiving Yards: OVER 


Week 12 Review

Market Watch
Season overall records to date:
Public Consensus Picks: 72-93-8 (43.6%)
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 28-31-2 (47.6)

It was another big day of profit as sides went 3-2-1, totals went 1-0, and teasers 3-0.  We are almost at the three-quarter mark of the season and things are looking very good so far.  My system has been an unstoppable force since I began to use it in week 5.  I haven't had a losing day since week 4 and I'm close to 80% on sides and teasers over the last couple of months.  I still don't expect to continue at this rest for the final leg of the season, but it would take a monumental collapse to finish the year in the red. 

The public fell flat on their face yesterday after killing the books in week 11.  The final tally was 5-10 ATS with the MNF game pending.  This isn't a surprise because the public love to bet the favorite.  Once they have a big week they are going to jump on the favorites the following week even more.  This is the time of season when we have a pretty solid grip on who is good and who is not so it sets the perfect trap for the average better.  The more serious betters in the Hilton contest went 3-2 with their consensus picks this week.  It was interesting that the GB/ATL game was the most heavily picked game with almost half on each side. 

After skipping totals in week 11 I picked the best candidate for an over yesterday and it cashed with ease.  The traditional strategies of picking unders hasn't worked this season and if you look at the lines the last few weeks you'll realize that the books have made significant adjustments this season.  The average totals in years past were 37, 41, and 44 depending on the matchup and from what I can see those have all been bumped up 3 points, if not more.  

Next week I will have my three-quarter way review posted to see how things are going in all areas and what to expect in the final month of the season.  My current win streak is at 7 weeks so hopefully I can keep that going. 

I don't have a play for tonight because the line seems to be pretty accurate.  Best of luck to everyone who has tailed and thanks for the emails.  I try to reply to all of them as soon as I can. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week 12 Update

UPDATE #4: Some early picks are up for week 13.   If you can't find ATL -2.5 I still would take them at -3.  Try to get the PHI/KC teaser before either line goes to -9.   There are 2 more picks I need to add, but I'm watching the early line movement before I post them.

UPDATE #3: After hitting nearly 80% over the last couple months it was difficult accepting a couple of losses today, but with the teaser sweep it still turned out to be a great week.  PHI let me down as they looked one step behind all game and losing Samuel late in the week hurt their coverages a lot more than I thought it would.  I also expected a lot more from OAK at home, but they couldn't get McFadden going for the second straight week and Gradkowski threw up all over himself.

On the bright side, ATL took care of business against GB, STL survived DEN's comeback, SD pounded IND, and all 3 teasers cashed.  The final tally for the week including Thanksgiving Day games is 4-2-1 ATS and 3-0 on teasers.   Another big week of profit as the money train continues to roll on.

The public bet heavy on PIT and NY on the standard spread and it cost them.  This is why I love to tease down heavy favorites.  After demolishing the books last week, the public fell back to earth and they fell hard.  Hilton picks had another average day and I'll have a full review of the marketplace tomorrow.

I'll have early week 13 picks up tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Week 12 NFL Predictions: Prime Time Edition

San Diego Chargers vs Indianapolis Colts: SD +3
By picking SD this week it will mean that I have picked against both of my Super Bowl teams.  I still think IND and GB have as good a chance as any to make it to the end, but they both have unfavorable matchups in week 12.  SD is coming off a short week, must travel to IND, and face one of the best offenses in the NFL, but when you focus the lens on this game it becomes clear that SD is the team that should be favored.  That might seem a little far-fetched given the situation, but SD's defense match up pretty well against Peyton and company.  They are good against the pass and run and rank in the top half of the league in red zone/third down defense.  Peyton will need to have one of his best games of the year to pull this one out.  

On the other side of the equation, SD have a nice edge in a category that IND usually dominates - points per game from long drives. I mention this stat a lot in my write-ups because it is one of the most underrated factors in winning and losing.  The teams that consistently come away with points from sustained drives usually win.  It also means that they dominate the time of possession and wear down the defense.  Of course this isn't rocket science, but it's not a traditional stat you see on most sites.  Another big advantage SD will have in this game is on the ground.  IND will have a hard time producing running yardage and an even tougher time stopping the SD running game.  Given how hot Rivers is playing right now, that's a dangerous problem to have.  SD could have their way with this defense and keep Peyton off the field for long stretches of time like they have done in the past.  SD isn't a team that IND likes to face and it should follow a similar script on Sunday night.  If IND want to win this game they will need to get the early lead and let Freeney/Mathis tee off on Rivers.  Even if this does happen I'm not sure it's enough to keep SD down all game.   The scariest thing for upcoming opponents of SD is that their offense hasn't peaked yet.  They will be adding Mathews, Jackson, and Gates back into the lineup soon.  It will be great theater to watch, but it's not a good time to be facing the Chargers.  Prediction: Bank SD +3.

Bonus Props:

Rivers 285.5 Passing Yards: OVER
Rivers 2 TD Passes: OVER
Brown 60.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER
V Jacksons vs P Garcon Receiving Yards: Jackson +6.5

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week 12 NFL Predictions: November 28, 2010

Early picks for week 12.  Check here for the latest odds.

Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -2
When GB face off against ATL on Sunday it will be one of the few times I've bet against them.  I picked them to make it to the Super Bowl and they have continued to look great despite devastating injuries.  However, even if they were healthy I'd have a hard time picking them in this spot.  I've been very high on ATL this year and it's tough to bet against them at home regardless of who the opponent is.  However, I like ATL this week for a few reasons.

First of all, they should be able to continue doing what they've been doing all year - sustain drives, dominate the clock, and control the run game.  They rank number one in the league on third down offense and near the top in points from long drives and time of possession.   When you throw in the fact that they are also at the top in turnover differential and least amount of penalties per game it's not hard to understand why they are on such a roll this year.   Ryan to White is a dynamic duo even if they aren't near the best at their respective positions and they will also get to play a banged up secondary.  No one can look at their schedule and say they've had it easy either.  ATL put up solid wins against solid teams.   GB will make this one of the best games of the week because Rodgers is no joke.  They are strong on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and rank high in most offensive categories.  However, when all is said and done, ATL should prove that they have more advantages in the categories that mean the most.  Prediction: Bank ATL -2.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Chicago Bears: PHI -3
In Chicago, the red hot Eagles fly to town in a battle of 7-3 teams.  Common sense might say to take the home dog in this one because some have said that this could be a let down week for PHI.  They pulled out a big win against IND, smashed WSH on MNF, and came out on top in a tough divisional prime time game. However, let's take a closer look at this matchup and I'll tell you why I like PHI to continue their run.

First of all, can you name two good teams GB have beat this year?  GB qualifies as one, but let's remember that was the game where GB took 18 penalties and turned the ball over on what would have been the game winning drive.  A win is still a win, but let's be real here.  CHI is overrated.  They also have a significant weakness - protecting Jay Cutler.  They have made some improvement in this area, but good pass rushing teams significantly slow down this offense.  This is not good news for CHI because they are facing one of the most aggressive defensive teams in the NFL.  I give defensive coordinator big props for putting together solid game plans to slow down Peyton and the NY offense over these past few weeks.  That is no small feat.  PHI still have problems in red zone defense, but they have a clear edge on the ground, in the air, on third down, and on the line of scrimmage in this one.  PHI is also number one in the league in turnover differential.  It all translates to a long, long day for Cutler and company.  The only advantage CHI has is in the return game and home field advantage.  I'm sorry, but this usually doesn't translate into wins in the NFL.

Offensively, PHI don't have many advantages against a very good CHI defense.  This side of the ball will be an interesting matchup, but when you have guys like Vick, Jackson, Maclin, and McCoy I'll take my chances with them when the statistics are even.  PHI score twice as many points from long drives as CHI and win time of possession more often than not too.  I also think PHI will have the benefit of playing with a short field a few times due to turnovers.  Lovie Smith thinks his cover 2 scheme is the ideal defense to stop Vick, but I'm going to continue riding the Vick train at least one more week.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.


St. Louis Rams vs Denver Broncos: STL +4, OVER 44.5
When the Rams travel to Denver on Sunday, they will meet a team going in the opposite direction.  I'm not sure why so many people thought DEN could hang with SD last night, but almost 50% of the public bet on them.  This is a team that can't do much in the running game on either side of the ball.  DEN's defense is pathetic in the red zone and on third down.  When a team can't run the ball, stop the run, or get off the field on third down it means they are going to lose the time of possession most of the time. It didn't help that D.J. Williams suffered a concussion on MNF either. Their defense stays on the field too long and they rely too heavily on Orton to make plays with his arm to win. Give him credit for the numbers he's put up this year, and they have a nice find with Brandon Lloyd, but with a 3-7 record it's clear this formula isn't one designed to go to the playoffs.  Now they must get up for a game against an aggressive STL team that is looking to improve and maybe contend for a division crown.  This won't be easy for a demoralized team coming off a short week.

I expect Jackson to have a nice game on the ground this week and Bradford will continue to make plays to anonymous receivers.  STL do a nice job keeping teams off the field on third downs and they will make life difficult for Orton in this one.  Even if DEN manage to put some drives together, STL is pretty solid in the red zone.  The way I see this game, STL have the perfect game plan to defeat the Broncos philosophy.  Limit Orton's effectiveness and wear down the defense with a balanced attack.  I think STL is playing with a greater sense of urgency and could win this game straight up, but I'll take the points.  Prediction: Bank STL +4. 

Miami Dolphins vs Oakland Raiders: OAK -2
This game has stayed off the board all week, but I was waiting to see what the line would be.  I really like OAK in this spot despite what happened to them last week.  Both of these teams match up pretty well across the board.  Neither should have a big edge in the passing game, but with Marshall out and Asomugha in, I like OAK a bit more.  Henne should get the start, but how effective will he be?  I was never a fan of him before today so I'm not about to change my mind now.  He is going to have a tough time sustaining drives because OAK is pretty good on third down and now they don't have to worry about MIA's biggest weapon.   The only big advantage MIA will have in this game will be penalties.  MIA takes the least and OAK take the most.

For OAK, I love McFadden in this game. OAK should be able to put together enough drives with the running game to get a lead and keep it.  It will also help them win the time of possession and tire out the defense.   Another benefit from the run game will be keeping Cameron Wake at bay.  He has been a monster all year and will be a problem for Campbell at times.  Having said that, MIA will need a lot more production from a lot more guys to pull out this road win and I don't see it happening.  Their loss to CHI last week all but wiped away any chance they had for the playoffs.  OAK have a lot more to play for and it will show on Sunday.  Prediction: Bank OAK -2. 

Week 12 NFL Predictions: Player Props of the Week

Props went 11-4 last week so let's keep the streak going. 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 rest of the game props I like for week 12.   They can all be found at Bodog.com.

Eli Manning 240.5 Passing Yards: OVER
Mario Manningham 72.5 Receiving Yards: OVER
David Garrard 220.5 Passing Yards: UNDER
Mike Wallace 74.5 Receiving Yards: OVER
Rashard Mendenhall 92.5 Rushing Yards: OVER
Rusty Smith (TEN) 195.5 Passing Yards: OVER
Matt Schuab 262.5 Passing Yards: OVER
Matt Cassel 220.5 Passing Yards: OVER
Jamaal Charles 29.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

Week 12 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

Ravens -1.5 & Giants -2
This week BAL faces off against an up and coming TB team.  Up and coming might be a slap in the face to TB fans, but let's get real here.  The Bucs lose to good teams and beat the bad ones.  Unfortunately for them, BAL is a playoff team.  Look for BAL to sustain drives with Rice/McGahee and pick their spots in the air.  TB isn't great at pressuring the QB so Flacco should be able to complete some deep balls.   I just don't see how TB can win this game - even in the so-called 'parity NFL'.  BAL consistently get more points from long drives, take far less penalties per game, and dominate time of possession more often.   TB will have trouble sustaining drives themselves, and even if they do BAL has a stingy red zone defense.   This means TB will need to win the game with field goals.  That's not happening.  BAL has also had a few extra days off after playing on Thursday night  the week before.  

The G-men are coming off a tough divisional game and now must take on the Jekyll and Hyde Jaguars.   This emotional let down will effect NY whether they admit it or not and they also lost Nicks for a few weeks to injury.  He joins third down specialist Steve Smith on the sidelines, but even after accounting for all these factors NY still matchup very favorably against JAX.   Eli will have more than enough time to find the open guy and the running game will once again play a significant role.   JAX is god awful bad in red zone/third down defense and rarely win the turnover battle.  This is not good if you are facing a feisty NY defense.   JAX will need to rely heavily on MJD to sustain drives and put them in scoring position because they are in big trouble in the air.  NY will get a lot of pressure on Garrard and make life miserable for him on third and long.   I can see NY covering the standard spread, but they are in a great spot to tease down.  Prediction: Bank BAL -1.5 & NYG -2.5.

Ravens -1.5 & PIT PK
I have added this as a late teaser.  I really like BAL to win this game by more than 2 points and PIT have a significant matchup advantage over the Bills.  I like PIT in a teaser more than a straight pick because BUF isn't the garbage team that everybody think they are.  They fight hard and play a well-disciplined game.  BUF has been very good in the red zone since Fitzpatrick has taken over and they still do a solid job against the pass.  At the same time, PIT should dominate this game on the ground - like most teams do against BUF.   PIT have steadily improved their offensive categories since Ben has returned and they still lead the league in turnover differential.  Laying 6 points on the road is tough in any situation, but as a pick em I'll buy in.  Prediction: Bank BAL -1.5 & PIT PK.

Week 12 NFL Predictions: Thanksgiving Edition

Let's hope the books are in a giving mood on Thursday.  =)  Check here for the latest odds.

UPDATE: Bonus props

Mark Sanchez 235.5 Passing Yards: OVER

L.T. 62.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys: NO -3
The Saints travel to Dallas this week to compete for the coveted Galloping Gobbler trophy on FOX.  It might be a short week for NO, but after breaking down this matchup it's not something I'm going to be too concerned about.  Also consider that this is a well-coached team with great leadership.

The Cowboys have won two in a row and while it might be a nice story for the back pages in Dallas, there still won't be a Super Bowl parade for Jerry Jones this year.  Jason Garret has brought the tough guy approach to this heartless bunch and so far they have responded.  I wouldn't like many other road teams in this spot because Dallas play hard on Thanksgiving Day.  However, with the defending champs coming to town, playing hard might be their only advantage in this one.  They'll also have a nice edge in the return game, that's not going to be enough to win the game.   All the strengths DAL have are equally matches on the other side of the ball.   NO is good against the pass and red zone/third down defense.  DAL will need to find other ways to make things happen, but that might be asking a lot of journeyman quarterback Jon Kitna.  Felix Jones might be hurting with an injury, but it won't really matter if he was healthy or not - NO don't give up a ton of yards on the ground.

The same can't be said for the Saints.  They will have a significant advantage throwing the ball.  DAL have had problems stopping the pass all year.  A new coaching system and player mindset will do little to stop Brees from having his way on Thursday.   NO do a great job protecting Brees, get a lot of points from long drives, and lead the league in third down conversions.  This isn't a team that commits a lot of penalties/turnovers either. There is a great chance Reggie Bush suits up for this game and he'll help a lot with formations.  Despite the up and down start the champs have had, this is still a well-oiled machine.  The Saints have their swagger back..  Prediction: Bank NO -3.

Patriots -1 & Jets -2.5
Revis and Ocho might be laughin it up on the basketball court, but when CIN travel to NY on Thursday the final result won't be laughin matter for the Bengals.  This is not a good spot for them to be in.  When you have to play on a very short week, attention to detail becomes paramount.  CIN don't strike me as a team that is focused and committed to winning right now.  After coming out strong against what should be an inferior BUF team last week, they simply stopped trying and let the game slip away.  There just isn't a lot to like about this matchup for CIN.  Palmer should have a little success in the air because T.O. continues to be a great story this year.  They should be able to slow down Sanchez a bit, but their secondary got decimated last week and who knows how many of them will be good to go on Thursday.   

NY should be able to do what they do to most teams - dominate the game on the ground.  Greene has had fumble issues this year and L.T. looks to be wearing down a bit, but they still run behind a great offensive line and do an equally job stopping the run. They will also have a nice edge in the return game giving them good starting field position and Sanchez should have a clean pocket long enough to find his targets.  

The NE/DET game is a tricky game on the surface.  Most people jumped all over the -7 line when it was posted, but a closer look reveals that DET might matchup better with NE than they think.  Despite the improvement in the secondary this season, NE still have problems stopping the pass, getting off the field on third down, and keeping people out of the end zone.  DET knows how to move the ball and they could put up a nice fight in this one - especially playing on national TV at home.  DET also know how to cover a game late with garbage points as they have proven to be one of the best teams in the league against the spread.   This is not a good formula if you like NE -7.   I feel much better about teasing the Pats down.   At the end of the day we are still talking about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  Even without Moss they have managed to stay near the top of the league in points from long drives.   NE usually win the turnover battle and don't take a lot of penalties.  Prediction: Bank NE -1 & NYJ -2.5.

Week 11 Review

Market Watch
Season overall records to date:
Public Consensus Picks: 67-83-8 (44.7%)
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 23-28-3 (45.1%)

Week 11 is done and it ended on a winning note once again.  With SD winning it brings my teaser record to 3-1 for the week.  I was 5-1 ATS which means I have been hitting at over 80% in the last 6 weeks and haven't had a losing week since week 4.  It is impossible to keep up this pace for the entire season, but I'm confident in my system.  I don't expect to have many losing weeks the rest of the way.  Both MNF props cashed which brings the total to 11-4 this week.

The public had their best week of the season by a country mile as they smashed the books ATS.  The final tally was 11-4-1.  This was bound to happen sooner or later as dogs have been winning big all season. We'll see if they can win back to back weeks for the 1st time all year.  Hilton consensus picks didn't do as well finishing 2-3.

I decided to skip totals altogether this week because the books made big adjustments raising the average total to 44 instead of the usual 40-41. This was reflected in the results as overs hit roughly 50% this week after hitting close to 80% the last few weeks.  Keep in mind that the books don't adjust for weather so if there is significant weather development I will put up a late addition on Saturday night or Sunday morning. 

I have some early week 12 picks and teasers up now and I'll add some more if I see favorable line movement.  I should have write-ups for them posted tomorrow.  Let's keep this winning streak going!  =)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week 11 Update

The NFL season continues to fly by at a rapid pace as week 11 is almost in the books.  With PHI cashing, the blazing hot streak continues with another winning week going 5-1 on sides and 2-1 on teasers.  Give WSH credit for staying with TEN all game and pulling out the OT win, but things swung in their favor once Young left the game.  It was also a winning week for props going 9-4.

The public had their best week of the season as they smashed the books ATS.  Hilton consensus picks didn't do as well.  I'll have a full recap of the marketplace in my weekend review on Monday.

NO and BAL easily covered my last teaser so SD just need to win on Monday night to go 3-1 on teasers.    I'll have my early week 12 picks up early tomorrow.

UPDATE: I have added two player prop for MNF and I have some early week 12 picks up too.  I'll add more when I see some favorable line movement.

Bonus Player Prop

Rivers vs Orton Passing Yards: Rivers -13.5

Knowshon Moreno 67.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 11 NFL Predictions: Prime Time Edition

New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles: PHI -3
This is a game that I have been looking at all week long.  At first I suspected it could be a trap game.  We all know that PHI is not as good as they showed on Monday night and that the G-men are not as bad as they were vs DAL.  It is a divisional game and both sit at 6-3.  The public pounded PHI -3 early in the week and have continued to do so ever since.  PHI is also coming off a short week.  It has all the ingredients for an upset special.  However, after crunching the numbers and reading up on the teams during the week I feel confident to ride the wave and take the home favorites.

A lot of pundits discussed how to stop Mike Vick this week.  The general consensus seems to be to go back to what worked when he was in ATL.  Send pressure up the field in a slow rush to prevent him getting behind you and try to find ways to blitz one guy free.  The only problem with this is that Vick has no problem staying in the pocket and finding the open man.  A spy has proved useless because it takes a guy out of coverage and when Vick does decide to run he walks around the spy as if he were a pylon.  NY have a better defensive line and secondary than WSH, but can anyone stop the dynamic duo of Vick/D-Jax?  They are both freaks of nature athletically and seem to have a nice rapport.  Even if NY does commit their efforts to contain them, they still have to worry about Maclin, Avant, and McCoy.  Celek has been virtually phased out of the passing game because they've kept him in for extra protection, but Reid could activate him down the field at any point as well.  Vick has won all four games that he has completed and has dramatically improved the red zone/third down offense from last season.  Look for PHI to make a switch in the return game as well.  Calvin fumbled twice on Monday and Harrison might be the guy in that spot.

On the other side of the ball, NY's offense will have opportunities to score.  PHI rank dead last in red zone defense and take a lot of penalties.  Does this mean that it will be a shootout at the OK Corral?  That's not what I see happening.  Despite the red zone problems, PHI ranks 1st in the league in turnover differential and near the top in third down defense.  They also have a favorable matchup on the line of scrimmage.  NY have serious problems on the offensive line.  They could go into the game with a backup at the center, left guard, and left tackle position.  This isn't a formula for success going against one of the most aggressive blitzing teams in the NFL.  Sustaining drives could be a problem for NY because they are also without go-to receiver Steve Smith.  NY have an extensive third down package for him and they already rank in the lower half of the league on those critical downs.

I expected PHI to open up at more than -3 due to what the public saw in week 10, but the books have put out a pretty good line to jump on.  There are a couple other key factors when you consider this matchup. NY have been the more consistent team over the course of the season, but keep in mind who they have played.  PHI have much more impressive wins when you look at some of the opponents they have beat.  This team is for real and Andy Reid teams usually hit the accelerator in November/December.  PHI have also won four straight in this rivalry.  I'm guessing the line could go to -3.5 before game time as the public bet heavy on Friday-Sunday so you might have to buy a half point if you wait.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 11 NFL Predictions: Player Props of the Week

Both Thursday Night Football props cashed which is a good way to start the week.  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 rest of the game props I like for week 11.   They can all be found at Bodog.com.

Jamaal Charles 75.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

Brandon Jackson 72.5 Rushing/Receiving Yards: UNDER

Mark Sanchez 235.5 Passing Yards: OVER

Ray Rice 74.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

Steve Smith (CAR) 57.5 Receiving Yards: UNDER

Matt Hasselbeck 210.5 Passing Yards: UNDER

Drew Brees 292.5 Passing Yards: OVER

Peyton Manning 300.5 Passing Yards: OVER

Wes Welker 72.5 Receiving Yards: UNDER

Mike Vick 0.5 INT: OVER

Desean Jackson 4 Receptions: UNDER

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 11 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

Chiefs -1 & Jets -.5
Many people are torn when it comes to the 2010 version of the NYJ.  They are not dominating teams like people expected them to, yet they continue to pull out late victories.  This is the sign of a great team.  Could they have lost to DET and CLE?  Yes.  Should they have lost to both of them? Probably.  Yet they still sit atop the division and now play a demoralized HOU team at home.  They are favored by a touchdown and according to my analysis they should be.  HOU's defense is god awful bad.  NY will be able to drive the ball and score points in the air or on the ground.   NY haven't been great in the red zone this year, but that could change on Sunday going up against one of the worst red zone defenses in the NFL.   NY will also control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.   HOU can put up points, but NY have the ability to slow them down and cause some turnovers.  If the game was only 30 minutes long I'd give HOU a chance to cover, but over the course of the game I don't see how they can win this one outright.  Tease NY down and put away any doubt.  

Chiefs -1 & Steelers -1.5
I had PIT winning last week against a wounded NE team.  That turned out to be a bad pick and after watching how it unfolded I can't say I'm really surprised.  I knew Brady would attack that defense with the short passing game to compensate for the run, but I didn't anticipate it completely dismantling them.  Thankfully for us, OAK are not built like NE.  They rely heavily on running the ball and throwing bombs in the air.  This is not how you beat the PIT defense.  This is a horrible matchup for OAK and traveling across the country isn't going to help them.  PIT haven't looked great on offense since Ben has returned and if they don't fix it soon it could be time to start questioning their ability to go deep in the playoffs.  For our purposed, we don't need to look that far ahead right now.  They should be able to generate enough points this week to build a safe cushion.  We still don't know how healthy Asomugha will be, but his presence alone won't be enough to stop PIT from winning this game. 

Chiefs -1 & Titans -1
I've already broken down both teams already in my regular picks, but this is my favorite teaser of the week.  I expect both to cover the standard line and love them to win straight up.  You won't find me saying things like "lock of the week" because I don't believe they exist in sports, but if I did this teaser would be the closest I would get.  If WSH or ARI win on Sunday I'll be absolutely shocked.



Ravens PK & Saints -1.5 & Chargers PK
The bad news about heavy home favorites?  Double-digit favorites don't cover as often as you would think.  It's very easy for lesser teams to score garbage points late in the game.  Good teams could take the foot off the gas instead of adding an extra field goal or touchdown.  They also don't get as fired up against teams they are expected to dominate.  The NFL is a league of parity and underdogs can easily cover double-digits spreads on any given Sunday.   For these reasons I love to tease them down under 3 points.  

CAR's defense is actually not all that bad.  They are on the field a lot and can't afford to have breakdowns or they lose.  Despite the stats and the circumstances they have played ok this year.  Having said that, BAL come into this game with huge advantages all over the field.  CAR is averaging a league low 4.5 points a game from long drives.   This is reflected in their red zone and third down stats.  They simply can't score enough to stay in a game.  I could go on about this matchup, but this is enough reason to take BAL in a pick em.

NO is coming off a bye to host the up and down Seahawks.  Hasselbeck says he'll play even with a screwed up wrist on his non-throwing hand, but will it really matter?   NO is going to dominate the game in the air on both sides.  SEA don't have the kind of power running game needed to keep Brees off the field and they can't sustain drives.  Even if SEA gets in the red zone they aren't going to score touchdowns.   NO is slowly starting to get healthy and they are looking more like the defending champs than they did early in the season.  They should have little trouble winning by at least a field goal.

Lastly, I love SD to win straight up at home against DEN.  You might be hesitant about this based on how SD has looked this season and how DEN looked last week, but you can ignore all that.  SD is favored by 10 points with good reason.   They are going to dominate this game on the ground and Rivers was the first half MVP.  He might lose that award if Vick keeps playing the way he is, but Rivers has been on fire game in and game out.  Try to name his receivers over the last few weeks.  Even with no-names he puts up over 300 yards without much trouble.  They haven't been great on the road, but they are not easy to play at home.  SD might not be as healthy this week as they hoped to be coming off a bye, but they hold advantages over DEN across the entire board.  There isn't a single category where DEN matches up better.   Yes, that even includes special teams.  

Week 11 NFL Predictions: November 21, 2010

Early picks for week 11.   If you missed out on KC -7, try to buy the half point if you can.  Check here for the latest odds. 

Arizona Cardinals vs Kansas City Chiefs: KC -7
The Chiefs are one of my favorite picks of the week.  That might be a little surprising since they have lost a couple in a row and got drubbed in Denver.  However, the NFL is all about matchups week to week and thankfully for them they get a lowly ARI team to cure their current skid.  The travel isn't going to help ARI in this one and playing in a tough road stadium makes matters even worse.  There are only a couple things about them that are positive and one of them is their red zone defense.  You wouldn't know it by the scoreboard, but they have done a good job at keeping people out of the end zone once they get inside of the 20.  The other bright spot is their return game.   Unfortunately for ARI, neither will benefit them in this game.  Their red zone success has come mostly against bad teams and KC do a pretty good job at limiting big returns.  In fact, McCluster should return this week from injury so if there are going to be big plays in the return game it could be KC that does the damage on special teams. 

For KC, the advantages might be too long to list them all.  First and foremost they have a monumental advantage on the ground.  Jamaal Charles has been an underrated monster and along with Thomas Jones they have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. They also do a good job against the run on defense.   Another bid edge they will have will be on the line of scrimmage.  KC has protected Cassel pretty good this season and they will also cause fits for the ARI offensive line.  They haven't been great with red zone defense this year, but this will only hurt them against teams that can consistently move the ball.   ARI rank near the bottom on third down offense and only average about a touchdown a game from long drives.   ARI also turn the ball over too much and don't generate enough on the other side of the ball.   Look for KC to bounce back from a horrible loss and get back on track this week.  It would qualify as a great shock if this game is competitive in the 4th quarter.  Prediction: Bank KC -7.

Washington Redskins vs Tennessee Titans: TEN -7
The Redskins got properly smashed on Monday Night Football as Mike Vick put up a performance for the ages.  I don't expect TEN to put up 59 points on WSH this week, but I do expect them to win the game comfortably.  Road teams have not done particularly well coming off a Monday night game and it is asking a lot of WSH to travel to a tough stadium and come out with a win.  I fully expect the WSH defense to be sucking wind once again as Chris Johnson repeatedly blows by them on Sunday.   Vince Young and Randy Moss might not be much to get excited about, but they do warrant attention.  WSH will still stack the box and make Johnson their priority, but Young's mobility will keep that defensive line honest enough to leave gaping holes in the run game.   The other big edge TEN has in this game is the pressure they'll get on Mcnabb.  WSH's offensive line has been a mess all year and now they are rewarded with an aggressive TEN front seven.   Even if WSH manages to protect Mcnabb they won't be scoring a bunch of touchdowns.  TEN rank near the top in red zone offense and defense.   Sit back and relax as TEN score touchdowns while WSH will be kicking field goals.  Just like KC, I see TEN getting back in the win column against a wounded animal in week 11.  

Atlanta Falcons vs St Louis Rams: ATL -3
ATL is coming off a mini-bye week after pulling out a last minute win against BAL last Thursday.  However, don't let that fool you.  ATL clearly dominated that game.  Give BAL credit for fighting back with two late touchdown drives, but ATL is not a team that rolls over and dies. They are making a serious push to supplant the Super Bowl champs in the division.  This isn't to say that they are going to go into St Louis and steamroll the Rams.  STL have played very well this season and will make things tough for ATL.   Bradford and Jackson are the guys that get the headlines, but the true strength of this team this year has been their defense.  They will be able to get some pressure on Ryan in this game and they rank in the top half of the league in red zone defense and on third down.  Will this be enough to pull off the upset?  Against a lot of other teams I would say yes, but ATL is no joke. 

ATL is a team that can beat you a number of different ways.  They will do a good job limiting Jackson in this one and there will be opportunities to make plays in the air.  The Ryan-White duo are proving to be unstoppable this season.  I lost two props last week because I thought White was more injured than he was, but he showed no ill effects of his knee injury and put up gaudy numbers against BAL.  The are a tough team to get off the field.  ATL rank 1st in the league on third down offense and sit in the top third of the league in red zone offense.  They average almost three touchdowns a game from long drives and control the clock more than their opponent in most games.  If things weren't already tough enough for STL, they will also have to earn every yard and point they get.  ATL rank near the very top in turnover differential and penalties.   This is a sign of a well-coached team as they very rarely beat themselves.  The future is bright for the Rams, but the best I see for them in this matchup is a moral victory.  Prediction: Bank ATL -3.

Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings: GB -3
What a difference a year makes huh?  Coming into the season many people had circled this game as a ratings bonanza.  As Lee Corso likes to say - not so fast my friend.  I wrote in my Minnesota Vikings season preview that those expecting a repeat performance from Favre were headed for a rude awakening.  In hindsight, it shouldn't come as a surprise.  The guy had a great year last season playing within the constraints of the play-calling and a healthy lineup.  This year he has said to heck with the plan, I'm going to make things happen like I usually do.  The result?  Typical interceptions and inconsistent play.  He played his last meaningful game of his career last week and now he has to play a rested GB team that is good against the pass.  MIN should rely heavily on Peterson to sustain drives and score points in this one, but Childress loves to ignore the run game for long bouts at a time and I still haven't figured out why.  On defense they aren't getting to the QB like they have in the past and they rank near the bottom in third down and red zone defense.  They only average about 10 points a game from long drives, have a horrible turnover differential, and can't control the clock like they used to.

 Despite the injuries, GB have continued to find ways to win games and a lot of that has to do with two key players - Aaron Rodgers and Clay Mathews.  Both of these guys are difference makers on their respective sides of the ball.  I don't expect it to be any different when they lineup on Sunday.   GB is great offensively once they get inside the 20 and don't have much problem moving the sticks even without a legitimate running game.   They are near the top in turnover differential and score a lot of points from long drives.  MIN might have swept the division series last season, but it will be GB who takes both games in 2010.  Prediction: Bank GB -3.

Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots: IND +4
I waited to see where the line would go with this one, but I can't say that I am surprised that most people are taking the Patriots.  This is usually the case when the public see a team dominate in a night game the week before.  This week everyone is taking NE and PHI.  However, a closer look at the matchup reveals that NE shouldn't be favored by 4 points.  This game is much closer to a pick em and that is only because NE have home field advantage.  

Let's take a look what NE will be able to do on the field.  First off, everyone knows how vulnerable IND is in run defense.  NE have a nice edge here, but is it something that Belichick will exploit?  Traditionally Brady is the one making things happen in this offense and that is no different in this rivalry.  Therefore, this advantage is not as important as it should be.  This doesn't mean that Brady won't make plays.  We all know he will.  But will it be enough?   NE also have a nice edge stopping the run in this matchup.  Unfortunately for the Patriots this isn't a game that is going to be won or lose on the ground.

For me there are four significant mismatches on the field in this game and they all favor IND.  The obvious one is in the air.  Peyton knows how to exploit inferior defensive backs - especially when they are inexperienced.  Road noise is not something that Peyton worries about so the home field advantage is not as relevant as it would be otherwise.   The less obvious advantages IND have is on third down and in the red zone.  IND rank near the top in both categories offensively.   NE are near the bottom on third down defense and dead last in red zone defense.  Lastly, NE have had problems getting to the quarterback all season long, while Peyton is one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the NFL.  These factors will be paramount and should provide Peyton with enough of an edge to keep it within four points - if not win outright.   The Pats might have surprised me last week in PIT, but the Colts have a much better passing game to exploit what Big Ben and company couldn't.  Prediction: Bank IND +4.

Week 10 Review

Market Watch
Season overall records to date:
Public Consensus Picks: 56-79-7 (41.5%)
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 21-25-3 (45.7%)

WoW.  I had a very good feeling PHI would cover the spread, but 59 points?  You can bet the bookmakers are going to inflate PHI next week, but I'll look into that matchup tomorrow.   The win on MNF capped off another great week going 5-2 ATS and 2-0 on teasers.  Both props cashed on MNF which brings it up to 6-6 for the week.  I am now riding a 6 week winning streak and I have no intention on stopping now.  I'll continue to post what I think are the best value plays for the week.  It's easy to get overconfident when things are going good, but it's important to stay disciplined and trust the system.   In order to profit long-term you need to stay on budget and stay away from impulsive wagers.

Looking around the marketplace it wasn't good news for the public consensus picks.  After the MNF game they ended the week 5-8 ATS.   The Hilton Contest consensus picks were 3-2.  I stopped keeping track of back-to-back champion Steve Fezzik's picks because he is clearly out of the contest and I am sure he is changing his strategy to make up ground.  

I have some week 11 picks up already and I'll be adding a few more soon.  It is interesting to see how the books are handling this NFL season.  More games than ever before are hovering within 3 points and big favorites continue to receive inflated lines.   Most of the time I won't play double-digit favorites, but they are great for teasers.  I'll have full write-ups early tomorrow and updates on line movement all week long. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Week 10 NFL Predictions: Player Props of the Week

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 10.   They can all be found at Bodog.com.



Matt Forte 75.5 Rushing & Receiving Yards: UNDER

Ladainian Tomlinson 63.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Terrell Owens 72.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

Peyton Manning 290.5 Passing Yards: OVER

Reggie Wayne 85.5 Receiving Yards: OVER

Arian Foster 90.5 Rushing Yards: OVER

Jamaal Charles 105.5 Rushing & Receiving Yards: OVER

LaGarette  Blount 75.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER


Tim Hightower 70.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Frank Gore 95.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 10 Update

Another great day of football is almost in the books.   This has been another good week as the hot streak has no signs of slowing down.  I finished 4-2 ATS and 2-0 on teasers.  Even the total cashed for a change.  CIN scored a garbage time touchdown thanks to IND playing some soft cover 2 to bleed the clock.  IND won the turnover battle 5-0 but only won by 6?  Go figure.  The PIT pick didn't work out whatsoever as NE came to town and smacked them around. 

Props went 4-6, but that's not where we make our bread and butter so I not going to lose any sleep over that.

Speaking of hitting the skids, I was curious to see if the public could have their second straight winning week but the books cleaned their pockets today.  It wasn't pretty if you followed the herd.  I'll have a full recap of the weekend, including how the public/pros did, posted up after the MNF game.

UPDATE: A few week 11 picks are up and a teaser.  The GB/MIN game is being held off the board until Favre's shoulder is evaluated, but we all know he will play.   I am waiting for some injury news and line movement before I post the rest.  Check here for the latest odds.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Week 10 NFL Predictions: Monday Night Football Edition

Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Redskins: PHI -3
The Donovan Mcnabb Bowl "the rematch" has a much different feel to it than the first time around doesn't it?  The thin-skinned Mcnabb comes into this game with hurt feelings after the debacle that was Shanahan-Gate.  He is a respected leader though and the locker room will still fight hard by his side.  Mcnabb also has a lot of pride so he will want to come out and prove a point.  Will this be enough to win the game?  
 

I'm not buying in.  PHI is the better team at this point and are coming off a big win vs the Colts.   Thankfully, this is a prime time game or I might be concerned about a flat performance, but PHI need to keep pace with NY and will have more than enough motivation to win this game.   On the field, look for PHI to dominate on the ground on both sides of the ball.   They will also have a huge advantage in the air.  Mike Vick 2.0 returned to game action and proved his hot start was not a flash in the pan.  This offense is so much more dynamic with Vick and Jackson in the lineup and there will be more highlight reel plays for Sports Center to lead with on Monday.   WSH will be able to generate some pressure on Vick, but it's nothing compared to what Mcnabb will face.  WSH's offensive line is not getting the job done this year and if it wasn't for Mcnabb's escapability he would have been sacked 10+ times vs DET.   WSH continues to be garbage on third down offense and that is reflected in their 9 points per game on long drives.   They don't control the ball long enough to give their defense a breather and they could be sucking wind a lot in the 4th quarter as they watch Vick and Jackson run by them.   Trouble is on the horizon in the nation's capital.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.

Bonus Props:

Jackson vs Moss Receiving Yards: Jackson -5.5

Ryan Torain 69.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

Brent Celek 39.5 Receiving Yards: UNDER 

Week 10 NFL Predictions: Thursday Night Football Edition

Baltimore Ravens vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -1
Thursday Night Football makes its 2010 debut this week and I think it's safe to say most football fans are happy about that.  We need our fix to make it through the week right?  If you might have noticed I have been high on ATL all year long and that continues this week against BAL.  Having said that I never just take them blindly.  I need to see a clear edge in the game and there are a few in this one.

On paper, both teams matchup pretty close.  ATL will have good opportunities to control the clock with the running game.  The vaunted BAL run defense is a thing of the past.   This isn't to say they are washed up because they are still a solid unit, but the only category they rank high in is red zone defense.  They are average on third down and against the run/pass.  BAL is also average in turnover differential and penalties.  Offensively they aren't great in any one area either.  In fact they are below average in several key categories.   They will be able to make some plays in the air vs ATL, but will it be enough to win the game?  The public think so with 64% on their side at the time I'm writing this.

I'm in the minority in this game for a few key reasons.  Matt Ryan has only lost one game in his career at home.  They consistently dominate time of possession and are among the league leaders in points from long-drives.  ATL rank near the top in turnover differential, penalties, and third down conversions.  They are also near the top in red zone defense and offense.   Home field advantage in a prime time game is also a big plus.  When you look at this team as a whole they are playing a well-rounded and disciplined game.  I expected ATL to open up at least field goal favorites - if not a bit more.  Prediction: Bank ATL -1.

Bonus Props:

Michael Turner 75.5 Rushing Yards: OVER
The BAL run defense is not what is once was.  ATL have a nice edge here and should run turner 20+ times.

Roddy White 85.5 Receiving Yards: UNDER
I'm a huge fan of White, but he is a little banged up with a knee and BAL's pass defense matchup ok with ATL here. 

Anquan Boldin vs Roddy White Receiving Yards: Boldin +12.5
BAL has a much better edge in the passing game than ATL in this one.   I'm a little surprised at these odds, but I'm not complaining. 

Week 10 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

Colts -1 & Cowboys +20
If you look at who the public are betting on in the DAL/NYG game you might be asking why in the world I am including the hapless and heartless Cowgirls in a teaser?  I don't have a big explanation involving the X's and O's because DAL should easily keep this game within 20 points based on their talent.  However, without any motivation all that talent means nothing - as we've seen in the previous weeks.  I like DAL in this spot because the hammer finally fell when Wade was handed his walking papers.  When he was given a vote of confidence from Jerry after the JAX blowout we all saw how the players responded in GB.  I'm not saying they are in love with Garrett because I have heard the players don't like him either, but now the players don't have the convenient excuse that the problem is the coach.   Everyone in Dallas got their wish and they fired the coach.  Now the spotlight is full and center on the players.  I don't expect them to win this game because NY have significant advantages on both sides of the ball, but if they can't keep the score within 20 points they should forfeit the rest of their games.  I'm going against the tide and rolling with them for one week. 

Colts -1 & Buccaneers -.5
I have write-ups for both of these teams in my other posts.  I love teasing down home favorites when they have a significant edge and that is the case for both of these games.  They are essentially pick em' games and if I like them to cover the spread, then I love them to win straight up.

Week 10 NFL Predictions: November 14, 2010

Check here for the latest odds. 

Cincinnati Bengals vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -7
CIN is coming off a heart-breaking loss to PIT this week and now get to travel to IND as their reward.  If you listened to the players before the game they were all in agreement that the PIT game was do or die to save their season.  They will head to IND emotionally deflated and this isn't a team that I see coming back strong.  T.O. and Ocho can now turn more of their attention to reality television and padding stats.  The only advantage they will have in this game is running the ball.  Yet Benson doesn't look like the same player we saw a year ago.  They aren't as committed to the run game as a team either.  CIN might try to do so to keep Peyton off the field, but once they fall behind that game plan will go out the window.

IND is also coming off a tough loss to PHI.  However, their season is far from over and they will be fighting hard to keep pace in the division.   Peyton should have a LOT of time to throw because CIN's pass rush has been terrible this year.  I expect a huge game from the league's best QB and Tamme has filled in nicely for Clark.  Peyton loves to use the tight end so this has been a significant sigh of relief for the Colts.   IND also rank near the top in red zone/third down offense and points from long drives.   Even without a real running game they manage to control the ball more than the opponent.   IND is very tough to beat at home and it doesn't help CIN that they must travel on a short week.  Look for Peyton and company to get back to their winning ways in a smackdown.  Prediction: Bank IND -7.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Denver Broncos: OVER 42
In my weekly total sure to go wrong I like this AFC West game to go over 42.   Both teams have monumental advantages on offense in this game.  KC's run game is going against one of the league's worst run defenses.   DEN's high flying passing attack will have a big edge against a below-average KC pass defense.  DEN have trouble getting consistent pressure on the QB which should give Matt Cassel enough time to move the chains when necessary.  Both teams are also scoring more than the league average from long drives.  Both also rank near the bottom in red zone defense.  If these factors aren't enough to play an over, I'm not sure what is.  Logic hasn't seemed to help much when it comes to totals this year, so if they don't start turning around soon I might just have to start picking them with darts.  Prediction: Bank OVER 42.

Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TB -6.5

Last week I was on the fence about the NO/CAR game.  CAR played them tough earlier in the season and they were playing at home.  None of that seemed to matter as they got blown out and put three different QB's on the field.  I won't be passing on them again this week.  TB showed that they are indeed improved this year and came away with a moral victory in ATL.  When they kick off this game at home on Sunday they will have the benefit of hot cheerleaders to distract a disinterested CAR team.

Between the lines, the only chance CAR have in this game is on special teams.  They should be able to get some nice starting field position, but they have a league worst 5 points per game from 60+ yard drives.  Given their problems at QB and RB I have no idea how they will generate offense.   They do matchup ok on defense, but TB is an ascending team.  Freeman and Blount should be able to do enough to get a lead and I'd be shocked if they ever look back.  TB is in the middle of the road in key categories while CAR sit near the bottom.   The last thing I have to say about CAR is.....with the 1st pick in the 2011 draft.....  Prediction: Bank TB -6.5.

St. Louis Rams vs San Francisco 49ers: STL +6
This NFC West matchup features two teams coming off a bye.  The 49ers have been a mess all season so I have no reason to believe they are about to turn the corner anytime soon.  That ship sailed a long time ago and many people drowned on that journey.  In stark contrast, I really like the direction STL are going this season.  Bradford is playing a lot better than I thought he would and coach Spags finally has that defense playing better.  

Both teams will want to establish the run and whoever has more success will likely win the game.  Thankfully for STL they have the edge in this category.  Both running backs are elite studs, but STL have had better success stopping the run this year.  This could leave the game up to the quarterbacks.  Niether passing game have a clear advantage, but who would you have more faith in?  Alex Smith is still nursing a shoulder injury and I'd be surprised if he played. Right now he seems more concerned about his differences with coach Singletary.  Troy Smith has never thrown for more than 200 yards in a game.  Do I need to say more?   The only advantage SF will have in this game is home field.  That isn't enough for me to take them at -6.  I'm rolling with the road team who should keep it close, if not win it outright.  Prediction: Bank STL +6. 

New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers: PIT -4.5
I waited on this game to see how significant the injuries would be and also to see which direction the line moved.   It opened at -4 for PIT so there hasn't been that much movement.  Right now 60% of the public is on NE, but sharps took the early line on PIT.  I tend to agree with the sharps on this game.  There are a number of reasons I like PIT to cover.

First of all is how the Pats have looked since shipping Moss out of town.  I'm not saying Moss is the same dynamic playmaker he was in years past, but this current group of receivers are not striking fear into anybody.   They should have an advantage in the air vs an overrated PIT pass defense, but I think most of the damage will be done in the short-passing game.  NE have little chance to have success on the ground so I expect a lot of spread sets with Brady in the shotgun. Unfortunately for NE they will need to have a lot of long drives because they do not have an edge in the return game.  They have been good in the red zone and third down %, but so is PIT's defense.  The main problem for NE will be can they keep up with PIT's offense for the entire game?

Things will not be easy for PIT either.  They lost key guys on the offensive line last week and this unit wasn't exactly playing great before that.   Normally this would make me nervous, but NE do not have a pass rusher that scares anyone.  They will need to generate a pass rush with a collective effort, but PIT will be able to counter this with a strong running advantage and Ben's escapability.   NE's defense is improving, but they still remain god awful in red zone defense and on third down.  CLE drove the field on them 6 or 7 times.  I don't expect a repeat of that game, but PIT will have enough success to establish a healthy lead.  Another problem for NE is that PIT is number one in the league in turnover differential.  PIT have also stayed disciplined this season. What it all means is that NE will have to earn all of their points.  There won't be many gifts handed to them.   If the NFL only had two quarters I'd give NE a chance to cover, but I don't see them hanging around for a full game.  Prediction: Bank PIT -4.5.