Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 5: Vikings Vs. Packers

Minnesota Vikings Vs. Green Bay Packers

Market Watch

In the Westgate look-ahead line the Packers were -8 point favorites. When it reopened on Sunday night books had raised that to -9.5 and -10. Some of that was due to the Packers offensive explosion, but I'm sure some of it was related to the Bridgewater injury too. It sounds like he could be good to go, and the line has settled back down at -9 (for now). 62% of the bets are coming in on Green Bay.



Bottom Line

Last week the Vikings were without AP and Rudolph, and entered the game with a shaky OL and rookie QB. None of that mattered though because Bridgewater executed a great game plan and McKinnon/Asiata combined for a big day. Part of that is facing off against a subpar Falcons D, but they fully earned their win.

Now they have the luxury of going up against another suspect D. I really thought that the Packers defensive unit would start showing signs of improvement, but that just hasn't happened yet - especially vs the run. The key question will be how healthy is Bridgewater's ankle, and what does he have for an encore? It's one thing to surprise the football world in a home debut, but it could be an entirely different story going to Lambeau on a short week. UPDATE: Bridgewater is "doubtful", which means it's time to Ponder...and it makes me like the Vikings chances even less.

The reason the Packers D didn't matter last week was because Aaron Rodgers made good on his "r-e-l-a-x" statement and came as close as you could to a perfect game. Their run game still sucks as Lacy continues to look indecisive with the ball, but much like the Chargers, it doesn't matter that much when you have an MVP-caliber QB. Zimmer might be able to design a scheme to disrupt Rodgers' rhythm, but the best they can hope for is to contain the damage.

In the end, I'd need to see more before I bought into the Vikings hype, so I'd pass on them in this matchup. I'd consider a play on Green Bay if the line reached -7, but I have no interest in getting involved at the current number. If it drops below -9, I'll most certainly add it to a teaser.

Read more: Week 5 picks

Saturday, September 27, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Patriots Vs. Chiefs

New England Patriots Vs. Kansas City Chiefs: NE -3 (-115) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

In the Westgate look-ahead line, the Patriots were -6.5, but when it re-opened after Week 3, it was only -3.5. We've now seen a move down to -3 (with juice). The question is whether or not this line is an overadjustment or not. I'm willing to say yes, but we'll see how it shakes out at kickoff.  Bets are almost split down the middle with 52% on the Chiefs.




Bottom Line

After a poor New England showing in Miami in Week 1, "sharp" money came in on the Vikings in Week 2. The line got adjusted down from -6 to -3.5 before the AP news, but even after AP was ruled out the line got steamed down again on gameday. Sound familiar?  Once again the Patriots struggled against the Raiders last week and now face more doubters for their Week 4 matchup in KC.  I still think it's too early to write off these Patriots, and we could be getting rare line value on them for the second time this season.

Much like the Packers, all the stories this week are revolving around the struggling Patriots offense. That's fair given how iffy their offensive line is, but let's consider who is missing from the KC defense. D Johnson was a terror at linebacker, but he's out. Berry is the QB in the secondary, but he's fighting a high ankle sprain and likely out, too. The Dolphins couldn't take advantage of that, but I'm willing to bet that New England can. KC will still cause problems with Houston and Hali, but this is also a KC defense that has yet to force a turnover this season.

Also like Green Bay, the real story of this game could be New England's defense. It's still too early to declare them a top 10 group, but they are flying under the radar thus far. Granted, they've put up good games against the lowly Vikings and Raiders, but it's not like the Chiefs are offensive juggernauts either. Charles is on track to play, but like Berry, he's fighting an uphill battle with a high ankle sprain. They'd probably be better off going with K Davis.

Finally, it was thought that KC's special teams would be another big asset this year after dominating this aspect of the game last year, but they've been very average through three weeks of the season.

NFL Pick: NE -3.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Saints Vs. Cowboys

New Orleans Saints Vs. Dallas Cowboys: NO -3 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

The Westgate (LVH) look-ahead line in this game was -3.5 for the Saints. Once Week 3 was done, it re-opened at -3.  I don't agree with this adjustment and think it should have gone even higher in favor of New Orleans. Evidently, the Cowboys are beginning to earn some market respect after posting back-to-back wins. Thus far, 70% of the tickets are on the Saints.




Bottom Line

When the Saints came to Dallas last year, they annihilated them 49-17. I don't expect the same score this time, but I do think the Cowboys defense is in for a world of hurt. Yes, they've won two games in a row on the road, but those wins came against Jake Locker and Austin Davis. It's a whole different story when we're talking about Drew Brees. New Orleans should be able to put up 30+ on this unit.

The one thing the Cowboys do have is a formidable offense. The only problem is they are designed to win a certain way. Romo is far more effective if he's throwing less and doing it on the back of a running game. That formula has worked so far, but how much will Murray be running if the Saints get a two or three score lead? I've seen Romo try to impersonate Brett Favre enough times to know how that ends. Also, even if Murray does stay involved, he's fumbled in each game this season. The Saints defense hasn't performed up to expectations yet, but it's not from injuries or a lack of talent. They should be able to slow Dallas down enough to secure this win.

NFL Pick: NO -3.

Read more:

Patriots Vs. Chiefs

Week 4 picks

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 4 Picks

Is this the "year of the dog"?  Favorites had something to say about that going 9-7 ATS in Week 3. Overall, dogs still hold the lead 26-21-1. Overs came out on top 9-7, but unders are slightly ahead 25-23 for the season.

LVH SuperContest top 5 consensus picks won big, going 5-0 ATS. They improve to 10-5 ATS through three weeks, which is the best start I've seen since I've started this blog. The Football Outsiders picks struggled for the third straight week going 7-8-1 ATS. Overall they are 18-29-1, which is a deep hole to climb out of.

All in all, this probably sums up the weekend for the sportsbooks...

With the Bears cover, I put up a winning week going 5-2 ATS. I had a feeling the Texans were in trouble after the late scratch of Arian Foster, but the big surprise was Aaron Rodgers getting held to 162 passing yards. Green Bay's defense did their part holding Detroit's offense to 10 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win or cover.

Early lines are out for Week 4, and I have a few early picks ready to go. Refresh for all the updates throughout the week.




Survivor Pick

Every option on the Week 3 poll came through, but the Raiders had thousands of survivor pool players shitting their pants.  Patriots were far and away the leader getting 45% of the vote.

Week 4: Chargers

Week 3Colts
Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

Read more:

Stanley Cup Picks

NHL Season Team Props

Friday, September 26, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Packers Vs. Bears

Green Bay Packers Vs. Chicago Bears: GB -1.5 (Bovada)

Market Watch

This is an interesting point spread.  In the Westgate look-ahead line, the Packers were -3 point favorites. Once they lost to Detroit on Sunday, the line re-opened with the Bears as -1 point favorites. Then, after Chicago beat the Jets, Green Bay was once again the favorite at -1.5. The current line has moved to -2, but you can find -1.5 if you have sportsbook options. I think anything under -3 is value though. Right now, 59% of the bets are on the road team.


Bottom Line

With this pick, I'm being somewhat bullish on the Packers, but it's still early in the season and I'm still not ready to bail on them. All week long the talk surrounding the Packers has been about their offense. Aaron Rodgers is telling everyone to relax, and as long as they are healthy, I'm inclined to believe him. They should have every opportunity to get back on track against a Bears defense that is beat up, soft in the middle, and prone to the vertical passing game.

But the bigger reason why I like them in this game is because of the matchup on the other side of the ball. I waited all week to make sure Clay Matthews would be in the lineup, and he is now listed as "probable". The other injury news of note is the questionable status of Brandon Marshall. Without the two big pass catchers healthy on the outside, Cutler might be forced to make more happen, especially if GB's offense begins to click.

What is truly getting lost in this matchup though, is the Packers defense. Very quietly, they've shown signs of improvement on last year. They started off iffy in Week 1, but that was against the best team in the league, in the hardest stadium to play in. Since then they've settled down, and actually held Detroit's offense to 10 points on the road in Week 3. If they put in another solid effort again this week, Rodgers and company should take care of the rest.

One final note: road teams are 28-20-1 ATS this season, so I have no hesitation in adding another to the card this week.

NFL Pick: GB -1.5.

Read moreWeek 4 picks

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Teasers

The best options for teasers are games that either bring a favorite down under -3, or brings a dog up over a touchdown. Ideally, you want to be crossing both the key numbers of 3 & 7 to maximize your value.

Steelers -1.5 & Colts -1.5

Read more: Week 4 picks

Monday, September 22, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Jaguars Vs. Chargers

Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. San Diego Chargers: SD -13.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

In the Westgate (LVH) look-ahead line, the Chargers were listed as -9.5 point favorites for this matchup. After another loss by Jacksonville, and a win by San Diego, this number re-opened at -13.5. The question is how high is too high? At this point there's just no way to know, and I'm going to go ahead and keep fading the Jags until they cover.

So far only 59% of the bets are on the Chargers, which actually surprises me.

Bottom Line

Last year the Jaguars were on pace for a historically bad season, and each week you heard touts say that there was value on them. Really? Well they didn't cover six of the first seven games. The only game they did cover in that span was when they were given +26 points (!) against the Broncos.

Fast forward to this season and it's almost like deja vu. Going into their matchup against the Colts, I heard the same thing all week, "the Jags have value at +7, etc etc".

Equally puzzling, "sharp" money pounded the Bills from PK up to -2.5 in Week 3. Why? Apparently because San Diego was due for a "letdown" after beating the Seahawks, and they were a West coast team traveling East for an early game.

Both are good examples of touts out-thinking themselves.

Now the Jags will try Blake Bortles at QB and live with the mistakes on the fly. Well, all I can say is good luck because it could get ugly. He has the misfortune of playing behind a terrible OL and a non-existent running game. Even worse, their defense is embarrassing bad. A QB like Philip Rivers should tear them apart.

If Jacksonville finish within 20 points I'll be genuinely surprised.

NFL Pick: SD -13.5.

Read more: Week 4 picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Lions Vs. Jets

Detroit Lions Vs. New York Jets: DET PK (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

The Westgate (LVH) look-ahead line actually had the Jets as -1.5 point favorites for this game.  After the Lions took care of the Packers, it re-opened as a pick em.  MNF will determine where this number goes after that, but I wouldn't be surprised if Detroit wind up the favorite on the closing line. I'd feel comfortable taking them at anything less than a field goal. A whopping 87% of bets are on the Lions in this game.



Bottom Line

Regardless of whether the Jets win on MNF or not, I don't like their chances against the Lions. Without good cornerbacks, New York is going to have to be creative against good passing teams. They do know how to shut down the run, but that's not how you stop Detroit.  Much like the Packers did in Week 2, I expect the Lions to attack the Jets vertically and get a lead.

And what happens when the Jets have to play from behind? They have to lean on Geno Smith. To Detroit's credit, they were able to disrupt the Packers offense with a dominant pass rush. That is a huge feat considering the liabilities they have on the back end. I don't think the Lions will get away with that every week, but New York don't have enough weapons to take advantage of aerial mismatches - especially when Smith is so inconsistent.

Finally, it doesn't look like I'll have to sweat another Nate Freese field goal attempt. He missed another one in Week 3, so he's probably gone.  A new kicker should be worth .. what? An extra 3 or 6 points in the game? I'll take it.

NFL Pick: DET PK.

Read more: Week 4 picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 4: Falcons Vs. Vikings

Atlanta Falcons Vs. Minnesota Vikings: ATL -3 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

How much difference does a week make? Westgate (LVH) had the Vikings favored by -1.5 in the look-ahead line, but it re-opened with Atlanta -3 after Week 3 action.

There's no doubt that perceptions changed after the Falcons whooped the Bucs in front of a national audience, but the Vikings didn't do themselves any favors by failing to cover a double-digit spread either. As a result, the bets on Atlanta are up to 88% so far.

Bottom Line

Simply put, the Falcons are different team with a healthy offense. With Roddy White expected to return, Koetter can design schemes the way he wants to. This group even has the potential to be better than they were in 2012 now that they've retooled their OL. The Minny defense will be improved upon last year, but only because of Mike Zimmer. What they don't have is the talent to execute his schemes the way he wants.

On the flip side we have the debut start for Teddy Bridgewater. I like him at QB much better than Matt Cassel, but he's still a raw rookie. Without AP, the Vikes are having problems running the ball. That puts even more pressure on Bridgewater to do more than he's ready to. He's going to make some mistakes, so it's just a matter of the Falcons D taking advantage. Are they equipped to do so?  A lot will depend on the play of their young corners.  If Atlanta can continue playing with leads, Trufant and Alford should be in a position to pick off some balls since they'll be left alone in man coverage.

I like that Minnesota has decided to go with the rookie at QB, and they are a team on the rise, but it's asking a lot of them to stop Matt Ryan and company in this spot without Peterson.

NFL Pick: ATL -3.

Read moreWeek 4 picks

Sunday, September 21, 2014

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 4: Giants Vs. Redskins

New York Giants Vs. Washington Redskins

Market Watch

After Week 3 action, this line opened with the Redskins as -5 point favorites, but in last week's look-ahead line it was only -3.5.  Clearly the market did not agree with the adjustment because -5 quickly got bet down within hours. On Monday, the number went all the way down to -3 before it came back up to -3.5, where it seems to have settled for now. It's hard to get a strong grasp on either of these teams, but I think -3.5 or -4 is where it should be. 63% of the bets are on the Skins.

Bottom Line

So what is the story with Kirk Cousins? The general consensus seems to be that he is better for this offense than RG3, but I'm not sold on his ability just yet. Yeah he can make some nice passes, and at times he looks like he belongs, but he could also turn out to be a flop. As the saying goes, "everyone loves the backup QB, until he becomes the starter".  Against the Eagles he was 5-for-5 on third down to start the game, but went 0-for-7 in those situations the rest of the game.

Washington also have a long list of players banged up, and DeAngelo Hall was lost for the season. And can they fix their special teams? It was epic bad a year ago, and the changes have been underwhelming at best.

On the other side, the Giants finally put together a solid game with a win over the Texans. I wasn't expecting that, and I'm still skeptical about their chances going forward. The interior of their OL scares me, Eli is hit or miss, and their defensive front seven is suspect outside of JPP.

Both offenses should have their fair share of opportunities in this game, but it's anyone's guess as to how it will play out. Road teams have lost by 20+ points in every Thursday game so far this season, which means the Giants are an automatic pass for me. At the same time, I can't confidently back Washington given the litany of question marks in all three phases of their team.

Flip a coin.

Read more: Week 4 picks

Friday, September 19, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Bears Vs. Jets

Chicago Bears Vs. New York Jets: CHI +3 (-120) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Last week the Jets were listed as -1.5 point favorites in the LVH look-ahead line. After Week 2 finished New York had re-opened at -2. Since Monday morning that has gone up to -2.75. If you like the Jets you can get them at -2.5 for -120. Like the Bears? You can get +3 for the same price. Where will this line go? 66% percent of the bets are on Chicago, but so far the line is moving the other way.


Bottom Line

Who was the right side in the Bears-49ers game? You could easily argue either case. The same goes for the Jets-Packers game, which landed as a "push". Both games were whacky affairs, and now we have the pleasure of watching them square off against each other in prime-time.

So what is the team to back?

Cutler is traditionally below-average in national TV games, but he did just fine last Sunday night (even tho the 49ers gave him a lot of help). They are banged up on the OL, but still have receivers who can win jump balls at any moment - and Forte can take over a game if defenses leave 7 man fronts. On paper, the Jets should be in big trouble given the state of their secondary. It's just that much harder to implement Ryan's scheme without reliable starters on the back end.

On the flip side it's sad to see Tillman go down, but they could be alright if Fuller continues to shine. They are still poor at LB, but can a team like the Jets take advantage? G Smith might be better than last year, but he's still really erratic. Now his favorite target, Decker, is iffy to play - and even if he does, how effective can he be with a hamstring injury?

Chicago have the advantage in the air and face off against a raw, inconsistent QB who lacks weapons at the skill positions. Theoretically, the Bears should be able to win this game straight up, and if books want to give us the option of +3, I'm happy to take it.

NFL Pick: CHI +3.

Read more: Week 4 picks

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 3: Steelers Vs. Panthers

Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Carolina Panthers

Market Watch

In the LVH look-ahead line the Panthers were favored by -3. When it was re-opened after Week 2 it had moved to -3.25.  If you like Carolina in the game, you should probably grab -3 at -120 now. If you want the Steelers, you can grab +3.5 for the same price. Where should this line be? I agree with the markets and think it should be slightly more than -3, although I'm not at all sold on the Panthers just yet. 81% of the early bets are fading Pittsburgh.

Bottom Line

Last Thursday I wrote that the Ravens should be able to take advantage of a meh Steelers defense, but it was hard to tell how the team would react to the Ray Rice saga - not to mention that both teams could be Jekyll or Hyde any given Sunday.

It could be the same story again in Week 3. Cam has very little to work with at his skill positions, but perhaps Benjamin and Olsen can be enough? It's not like the Steelers D has been able to stop anybody the last couple years. People are even questioning whether or not Lebeau's scheme is still effective in today's NFL. I wouldn't go that far, but they do have an embarrassing take-away rate and seem just as susceptible to the pass as the run.

It could be bad news for Steeler-Nation that this game is on national TV since they are 1-6 in their last 7 road prime-time games. Can Big Ben turn that around? As long as he has Brown and Bell healthy, he should have a shot. The big question I have is what to make of the Panthers secondary. On paper they are all borderline NFL players, but through two weeks they've executed the scheme really well. If they keep it up, Pittsburgh's offense could be in trouble.

I'm not getting involved in this one, but I'd only consider the Panthers in this spot. They have home-field, more talent, and better results early in the season.

Read more:

Bears Vs. Jets

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 3: Broncos Vs. Seahawks

Denver Broncos Vs. Seattle Seahawks

Market Watch

When these teams met in the Super Bowl I thought the wrong team was favored, and I got to sit back and watch Seattle cash my ticket with ease. This time around, deciding which side has value is a whole lot trickier. The LVH had the Seahawks favored by -4.5 in the look-ahead line, and it re-opened at the same number after Week 2. It's moved up to -5, but -4.5's are still out there. So far, 57% of the bets are on the Broncos.



Bottom Line

The biggest reason I liked the Seahawks in the Super Bowl was because the Broncos defense was outmatched and undermanned. They didn't have Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, Rahim Moore, or Chris Harris. All those guys are back for this game, plus DeMarcus Ware. That is going to present Seattle's offense with a different set of challenges on Sunday. The good news for Seattle is they are at home, and they have a healthy Percy Harvin. They'll put up points, but they might have to work harder for them this time.

The bigger question might be whether or not Manning can figure out this Seahawks defense? He's had a lot of time to break down film. He also has Ryan Clady protecting him - something he didn't have in the Super Bowl. That, combined with the losses on Seattle's DL in the offseason, should provide their offense with a fighting chance in this rematch. The one x-factor in this equation is the 12th man though, which could nullify whatever advantage Denver think they have.

When we add it all up, I think there is some value on Denver here, but we also have to be realistic about fading Seattle at home. I already tried that in Week 1 with the Packers and it didn't turn out so well. In the Pete Carroll era they've covered 25 of 36 games at home, by an average of six points.

Ultimately, a real fair case could be made for either side, which means I'll be taking a pass.

Read more: Week 3 picks

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 3 Picks

Week 2 is done and it was much more of a mixed bag than Week 1. Dogs narrowly came out on top 8-7-1 ATS. Unders went 9-7 ... and it's interesting that unders are leading the way through two weeks of the season (18-14). It took a while for the books to truly adjust to all the scoring the last couple of years, but they've finally found their rhythm.

Week 2 is probably the trickiest week of the season since we don't know exactly how much of what we saw in Week 1 was real. Football Outsiders picks went 4-12 ATS this week! I can understand struggling early in the season, but that's shocking. The top 5 consensus picks at the LVH SuperContest fared much better by going 3-2 against the number.

The Bucs and Broncos were letdowns, and credit to the Eagles for taking advantage of poor officiating (don't get me started on the state of the NFL), but my only regret of the weekend was not fading the Raiders and the Jaguars - both are beyond terrible.

I already have a few early picks up for Week 3. Refresh for updates throughout the rest of the week.



Survivor Pick

The Packers and Broncos were the big survivor picks in Week 2 and both barely scraped by. The Saints weren't as lucky and were the main flop of the week.

Week 3: Colts

Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

Read more:

Stanley Cup Picks

NHL Season Team Props

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Titans Vs. Bengals

Tennessee Titans Vs. Cincinnati Bengals: CIN -6.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

They are who we thought they were? Last week this line was -6.5 in the LVH look-ahead, and it re-opened at the same number after Week 2 action. With the A.J. Green news, some shops have moved this to -7, but you can find -6.5 if you have sportsbook options. 73% of the bets are on the home team.






Bottom Line

Is this one pick too many this week? Perhaps, but I waited all week to see what A.J. Green's status would be. I thought he would be listed as "questionable", but he was upgraded to "probable" after practicing full on Friday. The game plan will still center around Bernard, but they have so many more options with their schemes and matchups with Green on the field. The Titans already lost Verner in the offseason, and now their best secondary player, McCourty, is "questionable" with a groin issue. There's no obvious point of strength on this Titans D, and there are a lot more questions than answers after getting owned by the Cowboys at home.

I wasn't sure what the Bengals would look like this season after losing both coordinators on both sides of the ball, but so far they seem even more aggressive on defense - which is saying something since Guenther is replacing Zimmer. Many of the core concepts are in place, and they dismantled the Falcons in Week 2. There is pretty great continuity with their starters, and they should have a fun day going up against the erratic Jake Locker. If the Titans can't even be competent against the Cowboys defense, I don't give them much hope against Cincy's.

With last week's win and cover, the Bengals are now 9-0 ATS at home going back to last year. Very quietly, they have become one of the best teams on home turf, and I expect that to continue on Sunday. If you're uneasy laying the points, they are also a great teaser option for Week 3.

NFL Pick: CIN -6.5.

Read more: Week 3 picks

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Packers Vs. Lions

Green Bay Packers Vs. Detroit Lions: GB +3 (-123) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Are the Lions getting a lot of respect or is the market down on the Packers?  It's probably a combination of both, but I still have Green Bay rated higher until I see otherwise. The LVH look-ahead line had the Packers -1. After Week 2 action, it re-opened at Lions -2.5. It's moved back and forth a bit, but right now we can get Green Bay +3 for -120ish depending on where you shop. Usually the Packers are -3 (or more) when they travel to Detroit in the Stafford era. So far 63% of the tickets are on the road team.

Bottom Line

Last week I actually liked the Lions in their matchup in Carolina. They outplayed the Panthers for much of the day, but turnovers and missed field goals did them in. Now they have the unfortunate task to pick up the pieces and beat Green Bay.

The good news for Detroit is they are fairly healthy on offense, so they should be able to put up points. The question is whether or not they can put up enough. This is going to be a good test for the Packers defense. A lot of people are down on this unit, but I'm reserving judgment until I see more. I like what they have on paper, so I'm willing to roll the dice on them here.

The bad news for the Lions is their secondary is about to get exposed. I think the last thing they want to see right now is a duo like Rodgers and Nelson. Slay has played ok, but that was against the Giants and Panthers so let's not get carried away just yet. Mathis is starting opposite of him, who is old and a zone-based, not man-to-man. They ignored this unit in the offseason, lost Bentley to injury (who was equally bad anyways) and the time has come to pay the price for that.

And if this game is close in the 4th quarter? Well, the Lions are giving rookie kicker Nate Freese one more chance. But don't worry kid, it's only a huge divisional game in front of your home fans with your job on the line - no pressure.

NFL Pick: GB +3.

Read more: Week 3 picks

Monday, September 15, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Teasers (update #2)

The best options for teasers are games that either bring a favorite down under -3, or brings a dog up over a touchdown. Ideally, you want to be crossing both the key numbers of 3 & 7 to maximize your value.

Colts -.5 & Falcons -.5

Colts -.5 & Chargers +8.5

Adding

Colts -.5 & Packers +8.5

Adding

Bengals -.5 & Packers +8.5


Sunday, September 14, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Texans Vs. Giants

Houston Texans Vs. New York Giants: HOU -2.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Even after the Giants looked abysmal against the Lions, Vegas still had them as -3 point favorites in this game in the look-ahead line. Now that they've laid an egg two weeks in a row, they've become the dog. The line for this one re-opened with the Texans as -2.5 point favorites, but I don't think that's enough of an adjustment. 70% of the early bets are on Houston.


Bottom Line

After missing out on the Lions in Week 1 and Texans in Week 2, it only makes sense to make up for it by riding Houston in this one. Their defense looks rejuvenated and they shouldn't have too many issues facing another subpar offense.

It's ugly betting on a guy like Fitzpatrick, but with a solid defense and a good running game they should be able to get by against inferior teams. The Giants pass rush showed some signs of life versus Arizona, but the Texans OL still hasn't given up a sack this year. The Gmen also lost a couple more starters on that side of the ball (Beason, Thurmond), and their availability is sketchy at best.

I might have to sweat this one out, but the Giants are a big mess. They continue to make mistakes in all three phases of the game, and the talent just isn't there this year. I'd be surprised if they figured it out by next week.

NFL Pick: HOU -2.5.

Read more: Week 3 picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Colts Vs. Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: IND -6.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

The look-ahead line for this game was -6.5 and nothing has changed after another terrible performance by the Jags in Washington. When the Colts went to Jacksonville last year in Week 4 they closed as -9 point favorites, and won the game by 34. How much has changed between these teams since last year?  The Jags were supposed to show signs of improvement this year, but until I see it I'll go ahead and fade them.



Bottom Line

The Colts D is not the same without Mathis, but they don't have to be very good to disrupt this Jaguars offense. How many times did Henne get sacked by the Redskins? 10?!? Last time I checked the Washington D wasn't renowned for their pass-rushing ability. It would go a long way if they could run the ball, but they can't even do that well.

And how about that Jags D? They missed 14 tackles against the Eagles and just as many against Washington. The young players in the secondary have potential, but it's not coming together yet. It also doesn't matter how much raw talent they have if they can't win the line of scrimmage up front. Good luck trying to slow down Andrew Luck and his wealth of receiving options.

NFL Pick: IND -6.5.

Read more: Week 3 picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Chargers Vs. Bills

San Diego Chargers Vs. Buffalo Bills: SD +1 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

This is a curious point spread. The Chargers were -2.5 point favorites a week ago in the look-ahead line, but it re-opened with the Bills as -1 point favorites after Week 2 action. It's clearly a sign of respect for Buffalo after back-to-back wins against superior competition. 57% of the early bets are on the Chargers.





Bottom Line

I was really tempted to take the Chargers as +6 point dogs in Week 2, but I took a pass because I wasn't in the mood to fade Seattle in back-to-back weeks. I wasn't surprised San Diego won, but I was surprised how they won. Which was more impressive? The defense .. which ranked at the bottom of the barrel last year? Or the offense .. which controlled the clock for 42 minutes? Either way, I'm still high on this team until I see otherwise.

Buffalo will be tough at home and they are playing with house money now that they are at the top of the division. Watkins looks great, EJ Manual is managing the game as required, and the defense hasn't slipped as much as people expected.  Will it all translate into a 3-0 start to the season? I'm willing to bet against it. This will be their toughest test yet.

NFL Pick: SD +1.

Read more: Week 3 picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 3: Buccaneers Vs. Falcons

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vs. Atlanta Falcons: ATL -6.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

The look-ahead line for this one was Falcons -5.5, but it re-opened at -6.5 after the dust settled in Week 2. Since Atlanta got owned in Cincinnati, this move is a clear sign of market disrespect for the Bucs - who somehow found a way to lose to a backup QB for the second week in a row. If you want +7, there are a few of them available if you shop around. So far 77% of the early bets are on the home team.

Bottom Line

Nobody went to Cincy and covered a point spread last year, so I'm not holding that against the Falcons. They have enough advantages to win this game by at least a TD, so it's just a matter of taking care of business.

The Bucs defense looked fantastic on paper heading into the season, but it hasn't exactly gone according to script yet. Now they have to travel to Atlanta on a short week to try and shut down Matt Ryan with an undermanned unit. Foster is doubtful, Bowers and M Johnson are banged up, and G McCoy has a broken hand. If this DL can't get pressure, I expect Koetter to have a field day building schemes through the air - especially if they get rookie Jake Matthews back at LT (which is looking likely).

On the flip side, I should be able to just say Josh McCown and leave it at that, but it's not all bad for the TB offense. Rainey was a beast against the Rams and it makes you wonder how Martin's role will be affected if he's healthy enough to play. They also go up against an Atlanta defense that can't rush the passer without bringing extra guys. I expect the Falcons to let Alford and Trufant man up while they try exotic looks up front, but I don't know how effective that will be. They should be ok if they can work with a lead, but this is the NFL ... so I'm not exactly holding my breath.

NFL Pick: ATL -6.5.

Read more: Week 3 picks

Saturday, September 13, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 2: Eagles Vs. Colts

Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Indianapolis Colts: IND -3 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

LVH set the look-ahead line for this game at Colts -2.5.  It re-opened at -3, but it could have been even more than that if the Eagles didn't stage a massive 2nd half comeback versus the Jaguars.

Some shops have added a bit of juice to Indy's side, and 81% of the early wagers are on the home team. I'm not saying this is going to move off the -3, but I'd rather lock in this pick now rather than waiting.

Bottom Line

I was skeptical about Philly heading into last season, and I'm not exactly sold on them this year either. There's a lot to like about their offense, and Chip Kelly is going to remain schematically aggressive, but there are already some red flags this year. Part of what made them so effective in 2013 was a superb OL that stayed healthy the entire year. They entered this season with L Johnson on the sideline due to suspension, and now they will be without his replacement Barbre. Even worse, E Mathis was lost at guard in Week 1. Cluster injuries are never good, especially up front.

Luckily for Philly there is no R Mathis to worry about, and I expect them to attack Indy's D up the middle of the field, but it should still come down to Foles. I still need to see him do better in pressure situations and I don't think a game-manager-type game will be enough to beat the Colts.

The Colts offense have enough options to keep Philly's D off-balance due to their receiving options and the skill of Luck...and if this one is close late in the 4th quarter, which QB do you want on your side? Give me the home team in prime-time.

NFL Pick: IND -3.

Read more: Week 2 Picks

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 2: Bears Vs. 49ers

Chicago Bears Vs. San Francisco 49ers

Market Watch

Before Week 1 the look-ahead line for this prime-time game had the 49ers favored by -6.5. So it's no surprise that it re-opened at -7 after what we saw last weekend. It hasn't moved off that key number all week, but you do have to lay a bit of extra juice if you like the Bears to cover. If you haven't got involved in this game yet, the question is where will this line go?  It should just stay at -7, but since it's the Sunday Night game, it could move to -7.5. So far 68% of the bets are on the 49ers.

Bottom Line

The 49ers are going to be more of a passing team in 2014, and they should have an advantage this week going up against a questionable Bears secondary. Chicago's run D seems improved, but is that saying much given how bad they were last year? There should be enough options for Kaepernick to keep them off balance either way.

The Bears offense has even more concerns. It's never good to be down two offensive linemen after the first week, but it's especially bad if one of them is your center. Jeffery is expected to play, but even if he does, how effective will he be? Hamstring injuries are the kind that linger. If they get down in this game, do you want Cutler going into gun-slinger mode in a nationally televised game? Their one saving grace might be the fact that the 49ers secondary is also beat up, and this is a D that was already missing Bowman and A Smith.

This line is too high for me to confidently back San Fran, but I never like the idea of Cutler in a prime-time game either. The best value I see is teasing the 49ers down.

Read more: Eagles Vs. Colts

Friday, September 12, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 2 Picks

Week 1 action is in the books and underdogs were the big winners going 11-5 ATS. 7 of those dogs won the game straight up. Unders were uneventfully 9-7.

The top 5 LVH SuperContest consensus picks went 2-3 ATS. Overall the consensus plays went 6-10.

In fact, according to some it was one of the best weeks sportsbooks have ever had in the NFL...


That day only got better when the Colts overcame a big deficit to get a backdoor cover on the Broncos.

Some more highlights of the chaos include ... Brady had the worst game in his career (with at least 45 attempts), while Matt Ryan had the best game of his career. The Jags were up 17 at halftime as +10.5 dogs, but couldn't even cover. The Steelers had a 24 point lead at halftime, but they shit the bed too. Cincy had to come from behind late to preserve their win, Buffalo blew up thousands of teasers, Oakland put up a backdoor cover on the Jets, and the left-for-dead Panthers won on the road with no Cam Newton. I think people broke their kids' piggy banks to get money down on the Bucs because that spread went from -2.5 all the way up to -5.5 at Pinny. If you came away unscathed from all of this, hats off to you.

Last week I half-jokingly tweeted that we should probably sit out September to let the dust settle. It's probably something I should take more seriously because in the last 5 years, I've only had one winning Week 1. My only consolation prizes were riding the Chargers, and fading the Cowboys (who are as bad as we thought they were).

Attention turns to Week 2 where the big question will be which teams merit overreaction. I'll be posting picks and previews for the prime-time games here, so refresh for updates.

Survivor Pick

I avoided the most popular pick on the board in Week 1 and it backfired. I thought Eagles backers would be joining me, but they escaped the scare and took care of business.

Week 2: Green Bay Packers

Week 1: Chicago Bears

Read more:

Stanley Cup Picks

NHL Season Team Props

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 2: Lions Vs. Panthers

Detroit Lions Vs. Carolina Panthers: DET +3 (-125) (Bovada)

Market Watch

Last week the LVH had the Panthers as -2.5 point favorites. It re-opened at -3, but it got promptly bet down to -2.5 after the nation got a look at the Lions in prime-time. Today, some shops are offering Detroit +3 with some extra juice, so make sure you line shop if you want the best number.

71% of bets are on Detroit, which is no surprise after they looked so good in a prime-time game.

Bottom Line

The funny thing about this match-up is that neither of these teams were expected to be that good this year. That still might turn out to be the case, but they looked really impressive to start the year.

The Panthers open at home and get Cam Newton back, but I don't think that's gonna be enough to win. Who does Cam have to throw to? The Lions secondary is terrible, but everything the Panthers do well on offense stems from a strong ground attack. That just so happens to be what the Lions D is structured to stop. They also know how to rush the passer with the best of them. Will Cam be rusty? Is he able to lead a comeback in the 4th quarter? There are lots of questions on that side of the ball.

Things are even more problematic for the Carolina D. They got a lot of praise for going into Tampa Bay and shutting them down, but the Lions don't have a scrub at QB. They also have to figure out a way to cover Megatron. Yeaaa ... that's not happening. Can they stop Tate with single coverage? Unlikely. The best chance they have is to win the line of scrimmage, but the Detroit OL has steadily improved over the last 12 months. I also like the prospect of a Lions comeback through the air if it comes down to that with 5 minutes to go.

NFL Pick: DET +3.

Read more: Week 2 picks

NFL Prediction 2014 Week 2: Cardinals Vs. Giants

Arizona Cardinals Vs. New York Giants: ARI -1 (-120) (5Dimes)

Market Watch

The point spread for this one has seen a flip of the favorite since last week. In the LVH look-ahead the Giants were -2.5 point favorites. On Tuesday morning, that had gone down to -1, and all week the line has moved in favor of the Cardinals. Right now it's Arizona -2 at a lot of places, but 5Dimes is offering -1 at -120. Will go all the way down to PK? It might, but I'm fine taking it at this number.  74% of the bets are on the road team.


Bottom Line

This pick is mostly a fade of the Giants. They might be as bad as we saw against the Lions, but chances are they are better than that. How much better? I expect this game to be competitive, but I don't think New York win. They just don't match up that well on either side of the ball.

Arizona is already undermanned up front, but they are good enough to give the Giants problems. They'll attack up the middle with aggressive blitzes and leave both corners one-on-one - which is exactly where the Giants OL are weakest. If they had better tight ends or slot receivers, they could make Arizona pay, but they aren't strong in those areas either.

I never feel great about backing Carson Palmer, especially if he's banged up a bit, but they have enough around him to put up some points against an iffy defense.

NFL Pick: ARI -1.

Read more: Week 2 Picks

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 2: Patriots Vs. Vikings

New England Patriots Vs. Minnesota Vikings: NE -2.5 (-120) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

There hasn't been as much of an overreaction in the markets for Week 2 as I expected, but when I look at this game I scratch my head. The LVH had the Pats as -6 point favorites a week ago, but it re-opened at -3 with juice on Sunday night/Monday morning. Since then we've seen juice switch to the Vikings and we can now grab -2.5 at an affordable price.  Despite what we saw from both teams last week, I think New England should be -3.5 (if not higher). 78% of the tickets are on the Patriots.

Bottom Line

Our lasting image of Tom Brady is one that went 2 for 18 on passes that went 15+ yards last week. He rushed throws and never looked comfortable behind that OL in the 2nd half in Miami. Is that cause for concern? Sure. Without a competent OL, it doesn't matter who is lining up at the skill positions. The Pats will also have to contend with deafening noise in Minnesota, especially if the Vikes grab a lead.

But we're still talking about the Vikings here. Zimmer is going to get the most out of his guys, but he doesn't have the same talent that he did in Cincinnati. The Patriots won't get shut down by this group of defenders.

We also have M Cassel on the field. Theoretically, he should thrive with the likes of AP and Patterson, but he's still gonna have to make plays to win this game. I have faith that this New England defense is going to be good this year, especially if their secondary remains healthy.

It may be more competitive than it looked like it would be a week ago, but I'll be surprised if the Patriots start the season 0-2. Until then, let's hold off on the panic button.

NFL Pick: NE -2.5.

Read more: Week 2 Picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 2: Rams Vs. Bucs

St. Louis Rams Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TB -6 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

How much do the markets hate the Rams? A week ago this line was -2.5 in the LVH look-ahead line. After they got smoked at home this line got re-opened at -3.5, quickly went to -4, and jumped up to -5.5 not long after.  62% of the bets are on the Bucs so far, and the line sits at -6 at the time of this write-up. I usually pass on a line that has already moved this much, but I think this number should be at -7 at minimum, and I'm expecting the Bucs to win by double digits.

Bottom Line

There is no clear QB for the Rams yet, but it's unlikely that we'll see S Hill play. That leaves us with A Davis in his first career start against a really stout defense on the road. He's a short-to-intermediate passer who lacks arm strength to hit targets accurately downfield. Even if Hill did somehow get the start, would it matter? I have no idea what the Rams do with their play-calling, but they don't seem to have a clue how to use Tavon Austin yet, and when you lack play-makers, that's a problem. TB's defense should feast on Sunday.

The play-calling is even stranger on the other side of the ball. Why is G Williams blitzing so much when he has one of the best front four pass rushes in the NFL?  My only reservation about this pick is the fact that J McCown is at QB, but he is at least "average", which should be better than anything the Rams can offer.

NFL Pick: TB -6.

Read moreWeek 2 Picks

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 2: Teasers

The best options for teasers are games that either bring a favorite down under -3, or brings a dog up over a touchdown. Ideally, you want to be crossing both the key numbers of 3 & 7 to maximize your value.

Saints -0.5 & Packers -2

49ers -1 & Packers -2

Monday, September 8, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 2: Chiefs Vs. Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Denver Broncos: DEN -13 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

In the LVH look-ahead line, they had the Broncos as -10.5 point favorites. Once KC puked all over themselves in Week 1, books re-opened this line at -12 on Sunday, and it's been bet up to -13 on Monday.

Is this a typical overreaction to Week 1 action? I'm inclined to say no. Not only because KC flopped at home, but also because of some key injuries on defense. 86% of the bets are on Denver, and I won't be shocked if this hits -14 by kickoff.

Bottom Line

Over the course of an NFL season I usually lay double-digits points once a year. I have to see a monumental mismatch with low chances of a backdoor cover - and that's what should transpire on Sunday when these teams take the field. Consider for a moment that the Broncos won all 9 games last year against non-playoff teams by an average of 18.5 points. The only team that came close were the Cowboys, who lost by 3 points at home. Among the other 8, no one came closer than 16 points.

In Week 1 I assumed that KC would take care of the Titans with solid defense and an offense built around Charles. Neither of those things happened, and now KC enter this one without D Johnson and DeVito - two starters they couldn't afford to lose on D. The depth on this roster just isn't there, and now they face a Broncos team that is better (on paper) than last year.

The best chance KC have at staying within two TDs is if their special teams comes up with huge plays, the defense creates turnovers that lead to points, and Charles/Smith have an A+ game on offense. In reality, the Broncos should win this one comfortably.

NFL Pick: DEN -13.

Read more: Week 2 Picks

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 2: Steelers Vs. Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Baltimore Ravens

Market Watch

The look-ahead line for this divisional matchup had the Ravens as -3 point favorites. That will surprise nobody since these teams usually have the obligatory 3 point spread assigned to the home team. When the line re-opened on Sunday/Monday, Baltimore were still listed as -3 point favs.

Early money has come in on the Steelers though and we are seeing a move off the key number of 3. Baltimore can now be had for -2.5 if you like them. Thus far, 64% of all tickets are on Pittsburgh.

Bottom Line

The big news for this game was the Ray Rice story. He was appropriately cut from the team after video emerged of his domestic violence. He wasn't going to play in this game anyways, but a potentially huge distraction is put to rest. The team will still have to answer questions about it during the week, but it would have been exponentially worse if he was still on the roster.

The same issues that we've come to expect face the Steelers. Will Haley help or hurt this offense? He got far too conservative last week in the third quarter. And can the young guys on D master this scheme early enough to make a difference? They are just ok in the secondary and not getting any younger.

Baltimore have been really great at home ATS under Harbaugh, but that didn't matter in Week 1. They allowed Dalton to get his first win on their turf since he came in the league, and now face 0-2 if they can't come up with something better versus Pittsburgh. On paper, they should be able to take advantage of the Steelers D.

At -2.5, I'd say there is some value on Baltimore, but these teams are far too close (and flawed) to get involved. I'll be taking a pass.

Read more: Week 2 Picks

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 1 Picks

As you might have noticed I took a pass on the preseason this year. The NFLX has enough variance to it as is, but the flag-happy experimentation was too much for me to get involved.  Since it involves twice as much time to handicap due to the expanded rosters and coaching motivations, it was better off to focus on the regular season.

Week 1 is always the most interesting week for bettors since the lines have been out for months and most of the value has already been sucked out ... or has it? There is always under/overreaction to what takes place in the exhibition games and everyone has slightly different power rankings to start off.  The sharps will also be waiting to fade the bigger line moves leading up to gameday.


I'll be adding picks early next week as we inch closer to the official kickoff, so refresh for all the updates.



Survivor Pick

Week 1: Chicago Bears

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 1: Chargers Vs. Cardinals

San Diego Chargers Vs. Arizona Cardinals: SD +3.5 (-125) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Way back in May the LVH opened this line at -3.5, but by the preseason extra juice was attached to San Diego's side. You can still pay a little extra and the hook at books like Pinny, but many have made the full move to 3.  I would still go ahead and play this at +3, but I usually take the hook if it's available at this price.

Have the "public" bought into the Cardinals after they were "the best team not to make the playoffs" in 2013? Time will tell, but so far 67% of the bets are on the dog.

Bottom Line

The Cards' OL should be better and Ellington is a nice addition in the backfield, but what about the D? They got worse in the most important position on this side of the ball - up the middle...and they were already iffy on the outside.

For the Chargers, I like their continuity with their offensive starters, and it will be virtually impossible to be worse on D. They made upgrades to this unit and they get key guys back from injury. Pagano can actually use the secondary to scheme against opponents instead of finding ways to hide them. They won't suddenly become a top 10 group, but average should be good enough to give Palmer and company enough problems to cover (and likely win) this game.

NFL Pick: SD +3.5.

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 1: Giants Vs. Lions

New York Giants Vs. Detroit Lions

Market Watch

In May we saw Vegas set this line at -4, but ever since there has been constant support for Detroit...or has it been a fade of the G-men?  I think it may have more to do with the latter than the former given the general consensus that the Lions won't be all that great this year.  The current line is -5.5, but some places have moved it up as high as -6.  This isn't surprising since 69% of the tickets are on the home team. That number could rise once the dust settles on Sunday action and people look to double up (or recover losses) on Monday. What should the fair line be?  Your guess is as good as mine because these are two teams that underwent some significant changes in the offseason and feature two erratic quarterbacks.

Bottom Line

On paper there should be a lot to like about Detroit. Stafford has a ton of raw talent and has the best WR to pass to. Their OL took a big step last year and they were excellent in make-or-break situations (3rd down & red zone).  They have a potentially really scary DL, which could be enough to mask some of their issues on the back end.

But ... they are all under a new regime with complex schemes being installed on both sides of the ball. How will Stafford handle that? Do they have the personnel to mix things up on defense? The secondary looks like a nightmare on paper.

The Giants were pretty terrible last season and they did a complete roster turnover. How will Eli and company do in a "West Coast Spread"? The OL won't have to be great, but can they even be average? Will their pass rush be among the top 15? It might be a few weeks before our picture of the Giants comes into focus, and it's best to just sit this one out and see what unfolds.

This game might not be pretty, but it has the chance to be really entertaining..