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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 10 NFL Predictions: Teasers of the Week

As a rule of thumb it's best to only include teams in teasers that cross the critical numbers and limit them to 2 teams per.  There are always exceptions to the norm, but this method provides the most value. 

Check out the Sportsbook Review Football Teaser Odds Chart to find out what book will offer you the best value.

Since there are a nice collection of teaser options this week, I'm going to give a quick summary of each game and let you ultimately decide which choices you like best.

Oakland Raiders vs San Diego Chargers: Despite making an epic fall in my power rankings I think teasing SD down to what essentially equates to a pick 'em vs OAK is a solid bet.  The biggest advantage they have in this game in through the air on both sides of the ball.  Carson Palmer made a couple nice passes last week vs DEN, but he also looked a lot like the washed up Palmer that CIN had to suffer through last season.  Expecting him to pull out a victory on the road on a short week without a whole lot of practice/playing time is asking a lot.  Even elite athletes have a difficult time coming into this league cold, let alone an out of shape veteran in a new system with sub-par receivers.   OAK also give up the most points from long drives in the entire NFL and this is an area that SD's offense haven't had a problem with.  The other area OAK struggle in is penalties. They rank dead last in the league once again. McFadden is out, but Bush can carry the load.  More of a concern is who they are starting in the secondary.  Rivers will take advantage of that situation.  Do SD have issues?  Absolutely.  If they didn't I would be taking them straight on the point spread.  However, I think they caught a break here and should be able to pull out a win. UPDATE: As we all saw, SD obviously puked all over themselves on Thursday night.  It still allows us to use NE in another teaser, but things have reached an all-time low in SD....further justifying their huge drop in the mid-season power rankings. 

New England Patriots vs New York Jets: NE is another team that has fallen from grace over the past month.  Tom Brady's play doesn't resemble anything we saw earlier in the season.  His season doesn't get any easier as he goes up against the top team in the AFC--according to my power rankings.  I wrote off NY early this season because they were making all the same mistakes they made last year and I didn't see much of a progression from Mark Sanchez.  However, I give them full credit for turning it around and playing great football.  Sanchez is still a giant question mark, but the team around him is masking all his flaws.  Yet despite the power ranking discrepancy, neither team have a huge advantage in any key area.  NY will have opportunities in the passing game, but NE's run defense has improved over recent weeks.  NY's defense stacks up pretty well with NE's offense, but NE have the most points from long drives in the entire NFL.  Both teams have great red zone offenses, but average red zone defenses.  Both O and D-lines are a wash as well.   NE have a top tier 3rd down offense, but NY has a great 3rd down defense.  Both are average in their turnover differential and penalties per game.  Essentially, the books got it right when they made NY the slight favorite.  If you shop around you can find NE at +1.5 which is enough to tease them up over a touchdown.  If not, I suggest you take a pass and watch the line movement throughout the week.  

Baltimore Ravens vs Seattle Seahawks: Once again we have BAL as a heavy favorite on the road against a lesser opponent.  People are no doubt going to remember what happened when they walked into JAX and laid an egg just a few weeks ago.  However, keep in mind that Harbaugh was 15-1 in so-called "let-down" games before that night.  BAL is coming off an emotional prime-time game against PIT, so this is another one of those situations where the intensity won't be at the same level.  Having said that, the mismatches in this game border on the ridiculous.  I'm not going to lay the 7 because the SEA home field advantage is always a wild card, but to say that BAL can't win this game by more than a point is absurd.   The BAL defense could probably win this game all by themselves and I won't be surprised if they in fact outscore SEA's offense.  They hold major advantages in every meaningful category on that side of the ball.  Things get a little more interesting when you matchup BAL's offense against SEA's defense, but it would take a serious implosion on Flacco's part to keep this game in question.  Don't overanalyze this one or overrate SEA's home crowd.  Bank BAL in any teaser you wish.

Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears: For a game that carries a little more risk and intrigue we have DET at CHI.  There's no denying that CHI has proved me wrong over the last month of the season--mainly because they have changed their style of offense.  The old Mike Martz way simply wasn't getting the job done and put their special teams and defense in a tough spot.  Now that they are shortening the drops for Cutler and relying more on max protection and the running game, the team actually has a shot to win a lot more of their games.  For me, the current line sits just where it should.  CHI have a big advantage in the run game on both sides, and DET have the advantage in the air on both sides.  DET still have the edge with their pass rush, but CHI have shortened the gap from earlier in the year.  CHI will continue to gain favorable field position from their special teams, especially with DET having kicker issues this week. At the same time, DET rank #1 in the NFL with their 3rd down defense and near the very top with turnover differential.  Teasing them up over a touchdown is a no-brainer in what should be a game decided in the 4th quarter. 
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