Thursday, November 27, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 13 Picks

After Monday's games underdogs led the way 9-7 ATS for Week 12. Seems like a good result for the books, but the three most popular picks were Seattle, Philadelphia, and New England, and all covered.

Football Outsiders treaded water going 7-7-1. Overall they are 74-95-7.

The Las Vegas Supercontest picks went 3-2, which improved the YTD record to 36-24 ATS. Still rollin' along at 60%.

Joe Kornegay's "pros" went 3-2 (27-37-1 YTD), while the "joes" went 4-4 (38-35-2 YTD).

After avoiding the carnage last week, it caught up with me this week.  I finished 1-3 on picks and 2-2 on teasers.  Atlanta failed to cover and are now 4-0 in divisional play, and 0-7 in non-divisional games. Crazy stat. The Packers covered the teaser, but not the spread. Finally, I don't believe in locks, but fading me when I bet against the Patriots might be as close as you're going to get. I think Stafford sliding on 4th and 10 summed up their day.

Week 13 lines are up on the big board, and there are a whole bunch of coin flip games, so it should be an interesting week.  How much have the openers changed by Week 12 results? Check them versus last week's look-ahead lines.

Survivor Pick

Almost every poll option from Week 12 came through with the exception of the Chiefs. I'm still surprised they lost that game, and I wouldn't have faulted anyone for that pick.  There are less options for this week, but also some easy choices.

Week 13: Dolphins

Week 12: 49ers
Week 11: Steelers
Week 10: Ravens
Week 9: Bengals
Week 8: Cowboys
Week 7: Patriots
Week 6: Broncos
Week 5: Saints
Week 4: Chargers
Week 3Colts
Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 13: Dolphins Vs. Jets

Miami Dolphins Vs. New York Jets: MIA -6 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Based on the line change, the Jets stock fell even further this week (if that's even possible). The look-ahead was only -3.5, but it reopened at -5.5. The line has moved to -6, and some books have gone to -6.5. I won't be shocked if this line hits -7 because not even the "sharps" will take the Jets again, will they?  82% of the bets are on the Dolphins, and I'm surprised it's not more.


Bottom Line

Once again all the "sharp" money was on New York last week and once again they didn't even come close to covering. I'm really at a loss for words why people continue to bet cold cash on this team because they now go to 2-8-1 ATS.

Where do we start with all the reasons to fade New York in this game? Because the turnover machine Geno Smith is starting? Will he even have a chance behind the 28th ranked OL going up against the 4th best defensive front?  Wilkerson was a bright spot on D, but he's dealing with a toe injury and will not play. No matter what category we look at it, it doesn't look good for New York.

I think the only concern for Miami is that their defense isn't doing a good enough job on third down and inside the 20. Usually that would give me reason to pause, but the Jets offense ranks as one of the worst in the NFL.

The Dolphins have a lot to play for, while the Jets season is already officially done. Some will argue that the Jets will play for pride in a national prime-time game, but I don't see how that will be enough given the mismatches on the field.

This line should easily be -7, and probably -7.5, so I like the Fins at anything less than that.  If you think it's too many points to lay, you should be able to safely put them in a teaser.

NFL Pick: MIA -6.

Read more: Week 14 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 13: Teasers (update)

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.


Lions -1 & Dolphins PK

Seahawks have entered the teaser window, so they are a no-brainer add to the card.

Seahawks +7.5 & Dolphins -0.5

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 13: Broncos Vs. Chiefs

Denver Broncos Vs. Kansas City Chiefs: DEN -1.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

This point spread has all the ingredients needed for a good ole tug-o-war.  In the look-ahead line, Westgate listed the Broncos as -2.5 point favorites. After the dust settled on Week 12, it reopened at the same number, but early money quickly came in on the Chiefs. Since then we've seen it go back and forth, and late money has come in on KC, who now sit as the slight favorite. At the counter, 74% of the bets are on the Broncos.

Bottom Line

So what will the "sharps" do for this game? They must be scratching their heads because just two weeks ago they were on Seattle and it backfired on them. Will they jump back on the KC bandwagon, or will they side with the "public" and take Denver?

I don't think there is a wrong answer for this game. A legitimate case could be made for either side.

The last time the Chiefs had a prime-time home game they whipped up on the Patriots. They've been underrated and undervalued for most of the year, and one could say that's the case again this week. They are 4-1 at home, and they've covered every spread in those wins too. In a close game, special teams could be a huge advantage - KC rank 4th by DVOA, Denver rank 29th.  KC's offense have been deadly in the red zone all year and rank 3rd in the league. The Broncos D is only 22nd in that area.

Yet, despite all this, I prefer to go with the Broncos in this spot. The simple explanation is that they are just the better team on both sides of the ball. The offense ranks 1st in the NFL, while the defense ranks 4th. The Chiefs are 9th and 18th respectively. KC thrive on controlling the ball and converting long drives into scores. Well, the Denver D is the best in the league on third down, and they usually get to play with a lead.  When Denver get inside the 20, look for them to pass because nobody has a higher red zone conversion rate in the air than them. Conversely, KC are only 22nd in passing red zone defense.

Normally, I take a pass when a strong argument could be made for both sides, but I think the cream will rise to the top and the Broncos walk away with the win. It won't surprise me if KC win, but they'll need a lot more to go right to pull it off.

NFL Pick: DEN -1.5.

Read moreWeek 13 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 13: Browns Vs. Bills

Cleveland Browns Vs. Buffalo Bills: BUF -2.5 (-120) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

The look-ahead line was Bills -3 (+100). It reopened at -2 after the weekend, and we've seen it inch back closer to -3 early in the week. It's currently -2.5 (-120), but I see no reason why it won't go back to -3. Usually when a spread stays at -2.5, it's because the other team is considered the better of the two. I don't think that's the case here at all. 60% of the bets are on Buffalo thus far.

Bottom Line

Like most of Buffalo's matchups, the defenses are expected to rule the day. The thing about that is it's typically the Bills defense that matches up more favorably, and it's no different again this week.

Regrettably, I passed on Buffalo last week, but there was just no way to know how they would respond after a chaotic week of preparation and location changes. This week they will be back at the (not-so-cozy) confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium, and I expect that to be a nice advantage after all they've gone through in Buffalo.

Statistically, the Bills defense is simply dominant at the moment. They have far and away the best DL in football, and it will be a polar opposite challenge than the Browns faced in Atlanta. On top of that, the Bills defense is first in the NFL on 3rd/4th downs, while the Browns rank 30th. Overall, the Bills D ranks third as a unit. What it all adds up to is a very long day for Hoyer and company.

It won't be all sunshine and rainbows though. As we know, Buffalo's offense isn't anything to be excited about, and they aren't going to have any advantages on Sunday's unless they face a piss-poor defense.  The Browns are safely a top 15 unit on that side of the ball, but they are nowhere as dominant as Buffalo's.  The good news is all we have to ask for is a safe and steady game-plan that can move the chains, capitalize on field position, and not lose the game. Despite some speed-bumps, that's what Orton usually delivers.

I'll ride the Bills, and I'd still take it if it moved to -3.

NFL Pick: BUF -2.5.

Read moreWeek 13 picks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 13: Seahawks Vs. 49ers

Seattle Seahawks Vs. San Francisco 49ers: SEA +1, Over 39.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Last week the line for this game was set at San Fran -1.5. After Sunday, it reopened at a "pick em", but we've now seen a move back to -1.  I'm not sure I understand the thinking on this line. I know Seattle isn't the team we saw last year, but the same can be said about the 49ers. I think the wrong team is favored in this spot, and so far 58% of the bets are on the Seahawks.




Bottom Line

Let's start with the good things we can say about the 2014 edition of the 49ers. The defense is putting up better underlying numbers than what we seem to see with the "eye test".  They rank in the top 10 overall, based mostly on their efficiency versus the pass and keeping teams out of the end zone. The troubling thing for them is two-fold. One, they have been abysmal on third down. And two, they rank dead last in consistency.  When they are good, they're really good, but mixed in there are some pretty uneven performances.

For Seattle to move the ball and put up points on Thursday, they just have to do the same that they've done all year - rely heavily on Lynch and Wilson's legs. The WR situation is a mess, but they are stuck with what they got for the rest of the season.

The area where I think Seattle have the edge is when the 49ers have the ball. The main weakness for the 'Hawks D is inside their own 20, but San Fran have to get there first, right?  Unless Kaepernick morphs into a good QB overnight, I don't see that happening often enough to win this game.  The offense just doesn't excel at anything in particular, and their OL has been shockingly poor for most of the season. Seattle isn't as dominating up front or in the air like they were last year, but they don't need to be to have success against this offense.

With a favorable point spread, I have no problem taking Seattle. They still qualify as the better team, and when push comes to shove, I trust Wilson in the 4th quarter a lot more than I do Kaep.

I also like this game to go over the low total of "39.5" as well.  Both of these defenses are flawed enough to allow some points to be put on the board, and "overs" are amazingly 28-9 in prime-time games this year. We might even be able to get a better number as it has dropped from the opener of 41, so keep an eye on which direction it goes in the coming days.

NFL picks: SEA +1, Over 39.5.

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 13: Eagles Vs. Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Dallas Cowboys

Market Watch

Nothing that happened in Week 12 did much to change anybody's perceptions. This line was -3 in the look-ahead, and it reopened at the same number after the weekend.  What we have seen is some juice added to Dallas, so if you like the home team in this matchup you're probably better off taking the -3 now in case it moves off the key number.  At this point, 57% of the bets are on the Cowboys.

Bottom Line

Does it get much better than Eagles versus Cowboys on Thanksgiving?  Ok, football-wise it's not the most appealing matchup, but it's going to be tough to beat on the drama side of things.

Statistically speaking, the Eagles are actually the better team between the two. They've managed to sneak into the top 10, despite getting blown out in Green Bay, and even with Sanchez under center.

A closer look reveals that the gap isn't that wide at all though. The primary difference between these two is on special teams, where the Cowboys are a bottom 10 side, while the Eagles are in the top 3.

The Cowboys offense versus the Eagles defense is pretty much a wash. In every critical category, they are within a couple ranking spots of each other.

Things get a lot more interesting on the other side of the ball though. This is where I expect the game to be decided, and it revolves around Shady and Sanchez.  If Chip maintains a heavy run scheme, this offense should be able to move all day. If the game is put in the hands of Sanchez, then all bets are off.

And that would be my main concern if I was backing the Eagles in this spot. If Dallas get a two score lead, does anyone have faith that Sanchez can lead them back?  Can he avoid a bad turnover inside the red zone, or in a pressure situation at the end of the game?

Like the Cowboys-Giants game, I expect this one to be close and come down to the 4th quarter. I would lean Dallas, if only for the fact that I have no trust in Sanchez. In the end, it has to be a pass for me though.

Read moreWeek 13 picks.

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 13: Bears Vs. Lions

Chicago Bears Vs. Detroit Lions

Market Watch

The look-ahead line for this one was Detroit -6.5, but it reopened at -7 after the weekend. That's a bit strange given that the Bears won and the Lions got dominated, but it's surely in anticipation of where the money will come. Sure enough, 63% of the early bets are on the home team.


Bottom Line

In terms of matchups, these two aren't that close.  The Bears offense has been middle of the road all year (at best), while the Lions have shut things down for the most part (last week notwithstanding). With Cutler on a short week and on the road, it could get ugly - especially if they fall behind. I can't see how Chicago's OL can hold up long enough to keep the offense moving.

The head-scratching thing is just how inept this Lions offense has been. They've been one of the best teams on third downs, but beyond that they are a bottom 10 unit. Some of that is due to Megatron's health, but they should still be more productive than they have been. Is this the week they turn things around? The Bears defense has been embarrassingly bad overall.

Ultimately, the only side I can look at here is Detroit. Laying a touchdown is a lot, but if the Lions can build an early lead we could have the makings of a blowout. That is a big "if" though. We have to trust that Stafford and company can get it together. The Bears D should be a cure for that, but I'm not willing to take that leap of faith just yet.

I am confident Detroit win this game, but I'm not sure by how many. Therefore, the easy solution is to put them in a teaser and bring -7 down to -1.

Read more: Week 13 picks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 12: Jets Vs. Bills

New York Jets Vs. Buffalo Bills

Market Watch

Originally, the Bills were -4.5 point favorites for this game a week ago. It reopened at -4 after Week 11 action, but everything changed once we saw a change in venue.  On Friday the line got put on the board at -2, and it's bounced around between that and -3 all weekend.  At the moment it has settled at -2.5 with a bit of juice, but it could change as we get closer to kickoff.  68% of the bets are on the Bills.

Bottom Line

At first, we were handicapping this game with heavy snow in mind. Now we have to adjust everything to a neutral field. Who does this favor?

It is interesting that Football Outsiders favors the Jets here, and New York is also one of the top 5 Supercontest consensus plays. Despite the ticket count, there seems to be a general idea out there that the situation favors the "road" team here.

I'm not so sure though. I think a neutral field with good conditions provides a slight advantage to the Bills. Both teams should be able to perform to their capabilities (and deficiencies).

The question is whether those "advantages" are enough for a play on Buffalo?  Normally I'd say yes, but how much confidence do we have in the Bills offense?  Orton has been getting increasingly more shaky as the weeks go on, and it's gotten to the point where their offense ranks near the very bottom in all the important areas.  3rd/4th downs, red zone, passing, rushing, you name it.

The other big unknown is how these teams will react to the whacky week of preparation. That's something we just don't know, but you have to think it hurts the home team more given the change in routine. Or will it? Perhaps it brings the team together and they come out with a great effort.

Overall, the Bills are the better team, thanks is most part to a much better pass defense and more consistent play at QB.  Given this, I'd like to make a play on Buffalo at -2.5, but in the end I have to take a pass. With Orton's recent trajectory, combined with the situational variables, I simply can't take their side with very much confidence.

Read more: Week 13 picks.

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 12: Ravens Vs. Saints

Baltimore Ravens Vs. New Orleans Saints

Market Watch

How far have the Saints fallen?  Just a week ago this line as -6 in the look-ahead line. Once the Saints lost at home to the Bengals as touchdown favorites, it reopened at -3.5.  Early money still saw that as value though as it was bet down to -3 not long after.  It's stayed there ever since, but we are now seeing juice added to the Ravens +3. Despite all this, 64% of the tickets are on the home team.

Bottom Line

This is one of the trickier games to handicap for Week 12. The Ravens are the better team overall, but Drew Brees has been a monster at home in prime-time games (40TD 3INT last 11 home prime-time games).

The Saints already have two ugly losses at home this year, and it could be more if Tampa didn't blow their big lead and Rodgers didn't pull a hamstring. That's simply uncharacteristic of the Saints.

There is another interesting factor buried in the matchup data. The Ravens D is on par with the Saints O if we look at the underlying numbers, but how does that change with Jimmy Smith out?  On the flip side the Saints have also lost Brandin Cooks. Is that a wash?

I think the main determining factor for this game will clearly be with the Saints D. They are dead last on 3rd/4th down, 24th in the red zone, and 30th overall as a unit.  Are they capable of a better performance under the bright lights?

And can the Ravens offense take advantage? For the most part they've been a top 10-15 side, but Flacco has a number of duds mixed in there as well. He's never been a QB that I've fully trusted, and I'd be hesitant about him in this game as well.

The final aspect to consider is that the Ravens are the best in the league on special teams going by DVOA. That's something that usually goes overlooked, but it can have a big impact in games that are expected to be close.

Ultimately, I have to take a pass here. The numbers favor Baltimore, but the spot favors New Orleans.

Read more: Week 13 picks.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 12 Picks

The beat rolls on as Week numero 11 is just about wrapped up. After suffering their worst week of the year, sportsbooks got some back this week as underdogs put up a 10-4 ATS record. Overall favorites are up 80-77-3 on the year.

Football Outsiders have finally finished up with a winning record at 9-5 ATS. Overall they are still just 67-88-6 on the season, but we'll see if they can finish strong.

The Las Vegas SuperContest top 5 consensus picks entered the week hitting 60% ATS, and they kept it going with a 3-2 week.  Interestingly, both they and Football Outsiders were on the Patriots on Sunday night.

Who wasn't on them? According to Jay Kornegay, the sharps in Vegas were mostly on Indy, while the public were on the Patriots. That didn't work out too well for the "wiseguys". In the end, Kornegay's pros went 1-5 ATS (24-35-1 YTD), while the joes went 3-3 ATS (34-31-2 YTD).

I had a good week going 3-1 ATS and 2-1 on teasers. The only pick that went wrong was the Lions. I could make a legitimate stink about the punt return that got called back, but those things usually even out by the end of the year so I'm moving on.

Week 12 lines are up and you can see how perceptions have changed from the look-ahead lines that were up last week. My picks for Week 12 action will be up over the next few days so refresh this post for updates.


Survivor Pick

There were 9 options on the poll for Week 11 and it was pretty much a massacre. The Saints lost as touchdown favorites at home, the Broncos laid an egg in St. Louis, and the Redskins lost to a one-win Bucs team. Denver and Washington were the top two picks of the week combining for 44% of the vote.

Week 12: 49ers

Week 11: Steelers
Week 10: Ravens
Week 9: Bengals
Week 8: Cowboys
Week 7: Patriots
Week 6: Broncos
Week 5: Saints
Week 4: Chargers
Week 3Colts
Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 12: Cowboys Vs Giants

Dallas Cowboys Vs. New York Giants: Over 47.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Despite another loss and non-cover in Week 11, the Giants earned a bit of respect for their prime-time matchup with the Cowboys this week. In the look-ahead line, Dallas was -4, but it reopened at -3 with juice after Sunday.

Fair adjustment?  I'd say so. I thought the line was too inflated the first time these teams met this year, and it's no secret where the majority of bets will go in this one.  So far, 3 out of every 4 bets are on Dallas.

Bottom Line

It's cliche` to say "throw the records out" when these two play, but once you look at the underlying numbers, it's more than appropriate for this matchup.

Despite what the standings say, not much separates these teams. The Cowboys have an edge on the Giants defense, especially on the ground, but the Gmen have been better inside the 20 on both sides of the ball.

Beyond that, everything else pretty much comes out even, including metrics like third down, special teams, and passing.  The one problem Dallas continue to struggle with is rushing the passer, which leaves a window of opportunity open for Eli Manning.

I expect that this line will eventually move to -3.5, which would provide value on New York, but instead, I'm going to ride the trend and take a shot with the "over".  Overs are now 26-8 in prime-time games, and I see no reason why this should be a defensive battle.

NFL Pick: Over 47.5.

Read moreWeek 12 picks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 12: Packers Vs Vikings

Green Bay Packers Vs. Minnesota Vikings: GB -9 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

It was nice to watch the Packers whip up on the Eagles for an easy cover, but the downside of that was a significant line move for this week. Green Bay was only favored by -7 in the look-ahead line for this game, but it reopened at -10 after the weekend. We've seen it dip down under that number since then, but I think it's more likely to go back up than come down much further. Thus far, 87% of all bets are on the Pack.

Bottom Line

I qualify these types of picks everytime by saying it's not too often that I pick such a big favorite, especially on the road.

At the same time, one could make the argument that the Packers are the best team in football right now. The main reason is that there doesn't appear to be any coherent way to slow down Aaron Rodgers at the moment. Ever since he told people to R-E-L-A-X, he's been virtually unstoppable.

The Vikings have a decent pass rush, but is that the answer? Can it make up for how atrocious they've been inside their red zone?  As a whole the defense isn't setup to stop the run or the pass with any consistency. The scheme is good, but they don't have the personnel to implement it yet.

When Minnesota have the ball, will they be able to put up enough points to keep up?  By the numbers, their offense is one of the worst in the NFL, and those numbers get worse when they are forced to become one-dimensional. Yes, the Packers defense isn't great, but they are clearly a lot better when they can play downhill every game.

Until I see someone stop this Packers offense, I won't hesitate to keep rollin' with them. I expect another double digit victory this Sunday.

NFL Pick: GB -9.

Read moreWeek 12 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 12: Lions Vs. Patriots

Detroit Lions Vs. New England Patriots: DET +7.5 (Bovada)

Market Watch

The advanced line had this game at -6.5, and it reopened at that number after Detroit lost in Arizona, but when the Patriots whipped up on Indy, it moved to -7. If you like the dog like I do, there are +7.5's available if you have sportsbook options. Though it might make a full move there anyways since a massive 91% of the bets are on the Patriots so far.


Bottom Line

Before I say anything about this game, full disclosure up front - I don't have a good track record when it comes to Patriots games. They've always been one of the most difficult teams to handicap because they outperform their stats on such a consistent basis.  One could easily lay the -7 on the Patriots and I wouldn't say they were wrong, but there's no question that it's an inflated number based on the matchup data.

In reality, I think this line should be somewhere around -4.5 (if that). The primary reason is I expect the Lions defense to keep them in this one. Even though they lost in Arizona, their defense locked things down after getting beat early. Yes, Tom Brady isn't Drew Stanton, but Arizona isn't an easy place to win games either.

Detroit matchup well with pretty much anyone because they are solid against the pass and the run. They consistently disrupt drives and know how to get off the field on third down.

On the flip side, the Patriots defense hasn't improved to a top 10 unit yet. Perhaps they don't need to be to win games, but it should give the Lions offense a better chance to move the ball and put up points.

Is there a chance the New England keep rolling and finish with a double-digit win?  Sure.

Is there a better chance that a game featuring two top 10 DVOA teams stays within one score? I'm willing to say yes.

And even if the Lions are down two scores in the 4th quarter, I like their odds for a backdoor cover now that Megatron is finally healthy.

It won't be a popular pick this week, but I'm willing to roll the dice.

NFL Pick: DET +7.5.

Read moreWeek 12 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 12: Browns Vs. Falcons

Cleveland Browns Vs. Atlanta Falcons: ATL -3 (-120) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Are people sold on the Falcons?  Sportsbooks didn't take any chances because they reopened this game at -3 with juice after Week 11, and that's where it still is today. In the advanced line last week it was only -1.5. So far 61% of the bets are on Atlanta.




Bottom Line

I don't think very much of Atlanta at all, but here I am taking them for a second week in a row. Why?

Their defense is still bad, they make head-scratching decisions in the 4th quarter, and they remain a terrible team on third down.

Like I wrote last week, there is still hope for this team. Strangely, they sit atop the division with a losing record, and have a chance to retain that with a beatable Browns team coming to town. Matt Ryan also keeps them in most games with the passing game.

The primary reason why I think this pick cashes though is because of the Browns. Nobody can tell me what they excel at, and they've been the benefactor of a healthy turnover differential this season. I think the only thing they can hang their hat on is their defense doesn't fold in crunch time, but is that going to be enough? Josh Gordon returns, but how impactful will he be after missing so much time?

We are also past the halfway mark of the season and the Falcons have only played three games in the dome (2-1).  It's possible that we could see an uptick in their rankings once that home-road split evens out, especially given how much they have to play for.

This is one of those hold-your-breath picks, but I think it could be the right time to get on the Falcons, and we get them at a good price, too. This line should probably be -3.5, and I won't be surprised if it moves there at some point before Sunday.

NFL Pick: ATL -3.

Read moreWeek 12 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 12: 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.

Depending line movement, I may add another before Sunday.

Chiefs -1 & Seahawks -0.5

Chiefs -1 & Broncos -1

Adding

Seahawks -1 & Broncos -1

Seahawks -1 & Packers -2.5

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 12: Chiefs Vs. Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Oakland Raiders

Market Watch

In last week's advanced line at Westgate, the Chiefs were listed at -6.5. Pinny reopened this game at -6 after Week 11, but it was immediately bet up to -7, which is where it stands now. I can't imagine that the Raiders get enough money to keep it there though. 84% of the tickets are being printed for KC, and we've seen them adjust the juice to -115.


Bottom Line

Based on DVOA, this is a matchup of team #1 vs team #30.  I don't think KC is the best in the league, but their numbers say they are better than the perception is. They show up big in all the make-or-break moments, and have really high drive success rates on both sides of the ball. Their defense knows how to sack the QB, and the whole show is supported by one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

It's almost the complete opposite for the Raiders. On top of all the bad rankings, their turnover differential is consistently bad. Clearly, that's not a formula for success.

So isn't this a no-brainer? Lay the -7 and just wait to cash the ticket?

If there is a case to be made for the Raiders on the spread, it's that they are among the league leaders in red zone offense and defense. For as bad as they are, they don't lay down in those crunch time moments. This is probably why they've managed to cover half their games in 2014. That, along with the prime-time spot, home field advantage, and the motivation to break the winless streak might be enough to keep this within one score.

I wouldn't blame anyone for riding the red hot Chiefs, who are now 8-2 ATS, but I think KC are a prime-candidate to put in a teaser for this week, so you just have to ask them to win the game. That shouldn't be too much to ask.

Read more: Week 12 picks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 11: Steelers Vs. Titans

Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Tennessee Titans

Market Watch

This number was -4.5 before both teams lost in Week 10.  Yet, even with a straight up loss to the Jets, the Steelers were still bumped up to -5.5 when the spread reopened.  It bounced back and forth between -5 and -6 all week, but we are now seeing a consensus -7 on the board. Nobody wants to touch the Titans because 87% of the tickets are on Pittsburgh.

Bottom Line

If you are betting on the Steelers, do straight up losses to the Bucs and Jets concern you?  A strong case could be made that the Steelers play up/down to the level of competition this year.  Just when it looked like they turned a corner, they lay a total egg last week in New York.

The primary area where the Steelers rank high in is their QB/passing game ratings. Put in context, they are also one of the most inconsistent offenses in 2014. How much are those numbers inflated by big weeks from Big Ben?  A lot. At the same time there's no one category that we can look at on either side of the ball and say, "they're terrible".

It's a different story for the Titans, who can't do much of anything very well. This offense goes through Mettenberger now, and he is surrounded be mediocrity. The biggest problem this team has had this year is sustaining drives on offense. The Pittsburgh defense isn't great, but they are above average on third down.

The more alarming aspect of Tennessee's season is their record against the spread (2-6-1).  It's one thing to lose games, but it's another not to cover.  Even when this team is given inflated point spreads, it doesn't make much of a difference.

I can't find very many reasons to make a play in this game. The Steelers are the only side I would consider, but not at the current number. Realistically they should be closer to field goal favorites than a full touchdown. Therefore it's a pass for me.

Read more: Week 12 picks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 11 Picks

Week 10 is wrapped up and it's already been declared the worst week for the books yet. Including MNF, 9 of the 13 favorites covered. Overall, favorites are up to 76-67-3, which is an even higher win rate than last year (52.2%). There's still time for things to balance out, but I have my doubts. I think the new NFL is here to stay.



Football Outsiders went 4-9 ATS this week, and it brings their total to 58-83-6. Shockingly bad.

It wasn't any better for the "sharps" in Vegas. Joe Kornegay's "pros" went 2-4 ATS (23-30-1 YTD), and the "joes" finished 3-2 (31-28-2 YTD). Todd Furhman's "pros" finished 1-4 ATS (28-29-2 YTD), and the "joes" went 2-1 ATS (22-22-2 YTD).  Noticing a trend yet?

Who did have a good week? The Las Vegas SuperContest top 5 consensus picks ... again. They finished 4-1 ATS, bringing their total to 30-20 on the year.

My picks also finished in the red going 1-3 ATS and 1-1 on teasers. The Jets had 3 takeaways all year, but came up with 3 in the first half vs Pittsburgh. Despite the win, I'm still shocked sharps stuck with NY for another week. The other loss on Sunday was the Saints - who was played by everyone across the board. They had the win-cover taken off the board with a borderline OPI call. It was probably the right call by the letter of the law, but Perrish Cox deserves an Oscar nomination for his flop. The final loss came at the hands of Andy Dalton. He wasn't just bad on Thursday, it was historically bad. I should've known better than to trust him in a prime-time spot, and I absolutely deserved to lose that one. I can live with losses, but that was just a terrible pick.

Week 11 lines are on the board and there has already been a bit of line movement from the openers. The look-ahead lines can be found here. Lots of favorites have been inflated as the books continue to adjust.


Survivor Pick

The Bengals, Saints, and Steelers all lost, eliminating roughly another 25% of voters.  Options are growing slim as we get into the second half of the year, but you can probably survive a while longer fading the Raiders or Jaguars every week.

Week 11: Steelers

Week 10: Ravens
Week 9: Bengals
Week 8: Cowboys
Week 7: Patriots
Week 6: Broncos
Week 5: Saints
Week 4: Chargers
Week 3Colts
Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 11: Patriots Vs. Colts

New England Patriots Vs. Indianapolis Colts

Market Watch

Westgate put up Colts -2.5 last week in the look-ahead line, and it reopened at the same number since neither of these teams played in Week 10. It moved to -2.5 (-120) until Tuesday, but we've seen a full move to -3 on Wednesday, where it currently sits now. I'd say -3 is a fair line, but I wouldn't necessarily agree that there was value at -2.5 either. So far a whopping 75% of the bets are on the Patriots, but should they be?

Bottom Line

This shapes up to be a great game, but what's the right side?  You're always playing with fire fading the Patriots. Even when they appear to be on the downturn or in a bad spot, they find ways to elevate their game more times than not. Having said that, there are some strong indicators that the Colts are primed to win (and cover) this one.

I could understand people taking the Pats at +3. New England have already played a couple high profile games this year and came away with convincing victories (CIN & DEN).  There's also the question of how Indy will get to Brady. Can they? Probably not without blitzing, and I'm not sure they can cover Gronk & Edelman even if they do.  And when we look at the underlying numbers, there isn't a single category that Indy rank much better in than New England.

All that said, let's consider this game from a Colts perspective. The numbers might not give Indy any significant advantage, but they aren't at any clear disadvantage either. Both teams have prolific QBs and passing games, and both rank really high on special teams and average starting field position.  On paper the Patriots defense seems to match up better, but stats suggest that both of these defenses are average at best (so far). Additionally, the Colts have been a team that have outperformed their metrics in the Andrew Luck era. This season, they are 7-2 ATS - the best in the league.

As mentioned in another write-up, when two teams with winning records have met this year, the home team's record is 26-11. That seems counterintuitive, but for whatever reason the home field advantage has increased. The Patriots have also had a tough time against winning teams on the road going back to 2009 (3-11).  Favorites are also 19-13 ATS in prime-time games. Finally, it's somewhat interesting that the Colts have come out of their bye weeks incredibly slow the last couple years, only to storm back and win both games. Not a big surprise given Luck's propensity to lead improbable comebacks.

In the end, I'm taking a pass in this one. Given all the data, I don't feel strongly about either side. However, what I do like is the option to put the Patriots in a teaser.  I wouldn't be surprised if they lose this one, but I would be surprised if it was by double digits.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 11: Falcons Vs. Panthers

Atlanta Falcons Vs. Carolina Panthers: ATL +1.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

We've lost a bit of value here as the Panthers were favored by -3 (-120) just a few days ago in the look-ahead line. After their MNF flop, the line reopened at -1.5.  It's also no surprise that two out of every three bets are coming in on the Falcons.





Bottom Line

I rarely like to get involved in games that are this ugly and unpredictable, but there are a couple of clear reasons why I like the Falcons to win this game.

The first of which is because the Panthers are in a complete free-fall. They've now lost 4 straight and must bounce back on a short week after getting humiliated on national TV.  Usually that means that they are in a good spot "situation-wise", but are they really?  Cam Newton isn't playing nearly as well as he was earlier in the year, and he doesn't have a whole lot to work with either.

And the biggest red flag for me is that Carolina rank near the bottom in all the make-or-break situations on both sides of the ball. That's not a sign of a team that's been unlucky, or due to turn it around. It's a clear signal that this team folds when it matters most.

Atlanta isn't a team to get excited about either though. They lost five straight before finally getting a win last week in Tampa Bay. The defense is still horrible, and I'm not expecting much from this unit, but the one category that they don't suck in is red zone defense. It would be foolish to call them a bend-but-don't-break defense, but at least they show up when they're asked to.

We also have the benefit of Matt Ryan. If nothing else, the Falcons passing game will keep them in it to the very end. They also rank near the top of the league inside the 20.  They might not move the ball as easily as they used to, but they do know how to convert their drives into touchdowns when they do.

The Falcons might be a bad team, but I'm pretty sure that they still have hope in this division. I'm not sure I can say the same about their opponent.

NFL Pick: ATL +1.5.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 11: Lions Vs. Cardinals

Detroit Lions Vs. Arizona Cardinals: DET +2 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

This is an easy point spread to decipher since we've had a QB change for this game. In the look-ahead line the Cardinals were listed at -3 (-120). After Palmer got hurt, it reopened at -2.5, went as low as -1, and has now settled at -2. I'd be surprised if it ever sniffs -3 the rest of the week. Betting is almost split with 56% of the action on the Lions.

Bottom Line

Statistically speaking, there isn't much of a dropoff at all when we compare Palmer and Stanton on paper. The problem of course is sample size.  We knew what Palmer brought to this offense, and it was a very good fit. Stanton is a vertical gunslinger, so he'll step right in and be as aggressive as Arians wants him to be, but will the execution be there? Given the scheme and his tendencies, it could mean he'll be holding the ball a lot, which would allow the Lions DL to get a fair number of sacks/hits/hurries/knockdowns. Even if the Cards wanted to run the ball more, the Lions D is setup to handle that, too. No matter what way you look at it, this matchup favors Detroit.

Arizona's D is also equipped to give the Lions problems. They rank high against both the run and the pass. The problem? They haven't sacked the QB much this year. Of course sacks aren't everything, but if you are going to be as aggressive as the Cards are, you better be careful what's going on behind you.  And that's exactly where I expect Detroit to do some damage. Now that Megatron is back, they feature a formidable one-two punch in the air with CJ and Tate. Both should be able to win one on one battles with Peterson and Cromartie, and put up enough points to win this game.

The only hesitation I have about this pick is the proverbial dud that the Lions like to put up every now and then. The good news is it hasn't happened much at all this year. They are 7-2 and hold quality mismatches on both sides of the ball in this game.

I respect what the Cards have going, but I feel good about Detroit in this spot.

NFL Pick: DET +2.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 11: 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 -1 & Patriots +9

Lions +8 & Patriots +9

Lions +8 & Falcons +7.5


NFL Predictions 2014 Week 11: Seahawks Vs. Chiefs

Seattle Seahawks Vs. Kansas City Chiefs: KC -1.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Want an interesting point spread? Look no further than this game. In the look-ahead line, Seattle were favored by -2.5. It reopened at -1 after Week 10, but we've now seen a flip of favorites as the Chiefs are now listed at -1.5. All this despite the fact that 73% of the bets are on the Seahawks. It's quite clear that the respected money is on the home team.


Bottom Line

When I first looked at this game I figured I'd have a play on Seattle too. They are still one of the best teams in football, right?

Well, they are, and they aren't.

As we dig deeper and look at the underlying numbers for Seattle, some red flags pop up. We already knew that they entered the season with less depth on the DL, but they've now lost Mebane for the season. A below average DL just got worse. They've also faced a fairly easy schedule of defenses this year, but have failed to put up impressive numbers in any category.  The exception is their run stats of course, but that's a given considering Wilson's abilities. The other surprising thing is they've been a below average team in the red zone on both sides of the ball all year.  Not good.

In contrast, it doesn't look like the Chiefs are getting enough credit yet. They are now 7-2 ATS and rank near the top in all the make-or-break situations on both sides of the ball (third down/red zone). Incredibly, they are trending up in all 4 categories in recent weeks as well.  As a whole, there isn't a single category across the board that they rank below average in.

All this and they have home field advantage.

So why is KC not favored by more? There's no doubt that KC have value at this number.  If we ignore the names of these teams, and just look at them for what they are this year, the Chiefs should be favored by more than a field goal.

I'll ride them for another week.

NFL Pick: KC -1.5.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 11: Eagles Vs. Packers

Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Green Bay Packers: GB -5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

There's nothing quite like a prime-time game to affect perceptions in the NFL. In the look-ahead line the Packers were -6 point favorites for this game. After MNF it reopened at -5.5, and now we're looking at -5. I know the Eagles looked good, but this line should be closer to, if not, -7.  Most bettors seem to agree as 79% of the early bets are on Green Bay.


Bottom Line

Is everybody sold on Mark Sanchez?

I didn't think so.

What people might be sold on is the Chip Kelly offense. With a good scheme, combined with a good OL, there's no doubt that Sanchez is in a position to succeed.  Add in the fact that the Eagles defense is improved, and strong special teams, you have a team that has a chance to win every week.

That is, unless you're traveling to Green Bay and facing the best QB in football.

Chances are high that Sanchez will need to do a lot more this week in order to keep up with Rodgers. If Philly fall behind by two or three scores, can he lead them back?  Will he be driving down the field for a backdoor cover?  I doubt it.

I took a pass on the Packers last week because I didn't want to lay a full touchdown, but that clearly looks like a mistake in hindsight. Granted, the Eagles are not the Bears, but Philly's pass defense and pass rush have only been average this season. They'll need to better than that to stay in this game.

With a perfect 4-0 record at home in 2014, I'll go ahead and say that improves to 5-0, most likely with a double digit win.

NFL Pick: GB -5.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 11: Bills Vs. Dolphins

Buffalo Bills Vs. Miami Dolphins

Market Watch

Did opinions change much on these teams after Week 10? Not really. The look-ahead line was Miami -5.5, and it reopened -5.  What should this number be?  That depends on what factors you consider and how you weight them. By the X's and O's + HFA, this line should be -3, but once you include the trends this line is probably exactly where it should be.  Two out of every three bets are on the home team.

Bottom Line

Normally I'd see a line inflation like this and jump all over the dog. On paper not a whole lot separates these two teams.

Both defenses have clear advantages on the offenses across the board, including defensive lines that can dictate a game. The edge for the Bills DL only goes up with Miami's loss of Albert at LT.

Another advantage for Buffalo that helps even things out is their performance on special teams this year. They rank near the top in that category, as well as average starting field position.  As we saw between the Panthers and Eagles, that's not something that should be easily ignored.

That said, there are three big problems with riding Buffalo in this spot: 1) favorites are covering at a 53.1%  clip this season (even higher than last year). 2) favorites are 18-13 ATS in prime-time games in 2014. 3) in games where both teams have a winning record, the home team is 25-11.

Given all this, a fair case could be made for either side and you wouldn't get any argument from me. Therefore, I'll be taking a pass on this one.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

Monday, November 10, 2014

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 10: Panthers Vs. Eagles

Carolina Panthers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Market Watch

How much do bettors hate the Panthers?  In last week's look-ahead line, the Eagles were only favored by -3.5. When it reopened after Week 9, it was -6.5. By Friday, it had moved to a full touchdown. In total, 64% of the bets are on the home team for this game.




Bottom Line

No matter which way we look at this game, it sets up as an ugly affair.

Cam Newton has had stretches of good play in the first half of the season, but he ranks near the bottom in statistical efficiency. There isn't any category that their offense excels at, and they are woeful once they get inside the red zone. Will they be able to score enough points against Philly?

The Eagles D is in the top 10 in drive disruption and getting off the field on 3rd down. They are also good against the run this year. They aren't a top 10 unit overall, but they might be a bit better than average - which should be more than enough to give Carolina problems.

Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez gets his first start in green tonight. The good news? He should get pretty good protection from his OL, but the bad news is this offense hasn't done anything particularly well this year. Can Sanchez change that? Can any QB thrive in Chip Kelly's offense?  Was Sanchez being held back in NY, or was he a product of a good defense?

I'm not sure we get any real answers to those questions in this game, but he will have the benefit of playing against a Carolina D that struggles vs the run, on third down, and inside their own 20.

On top of all these advantages, the Eagles are one of the best on special teams and average starting field position this year.

Both teams are 5-4 ATS, but the Eagles are 4-0 straight up at home, and the Panthers only have one road win to their name.

Everything points to a convincing Philly win tonight, but with Mark Sanchez at QB I have no choice but to take a pass.  He brings too much uncertainty to make a confident play on the Eagles just yet.

Read more: Week 11 picks.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NFL Betting Preview 2014 Week 10: Bears Vs. Packers [update]

Chicago Bears Vs. Green Bay Packers

Market Watch

Neither of these teams played in Week 9, but we've seen a line move off the -7.5 look-ahead line that was originally up at Westgate. It reopened at -7 last Sunday and we haven't seen a move off of it yet. 76% of the bets are on the Packers, and I'm sure even more money will come in on them as we inch closer to kickoff.



Bottom Line

No matter what anyone says, it would be hard to convince me that the Bears are worth a play in this spot. When you have a terrible (and injured) secondary against Aaron Rodgers, it's a recipe for a long day. That's exactly what we saw when the Packers traveled to Chicago earlier in the year. Rodgers put up crazy numbers, and he had all day to sit back and find the open guy.

That needs to change if the Bears want to stay in this one, but their pass rush has been mediocre all year. In fact, there's nothing they do well on defense.

It gets a little bit better when we look at their offense, but not by a whole lot. The Bears have done a good job moving the ball and converting those drives into touchdowns once they get inside the 20, but they don't do consistently enough. On paper there's no reason why this offense can't be prolific, and they get a Packers defense that struggles on third down or inside their red zone, but Jay Cutler remains ... well, Jay Cutler. If he can put together a relatively mistake-free performance, they have a chance. Realistically, that's usually asking a lot.

The Packers have the biggest mismatch with their passing game, but is it enough to win by more than a TD?

I'm inclined to say yes, but I wouldn't consider it unless the books offered us -6.5. At -7, it's a pass for me. Instead, I'd rather tease them down to -1 and just ask them to win the game straight up.

UPDATE: We've now seen an expected move off the -7. Most books have it -8.5, but some are keeping it out of the teaser window at -9.

Read moreWeek 10 picks.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014: Week 10 Picks

Week 9 is done and favorites and dogs split the week at 6-6-1 ATS. Favorites have covered 67-63-3 on the season .

Football Outsiders had another woeful week at 5-7-1 ATS, and now sit 54-74-6 on the year. I really expected better from them by now, but in today's NFL I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

The Las Vegas SuperContest top 5 consensus picks went 3-2 again, and continue to build on a solid season at 26-19 against the number. Joe Kornegay's "pros" went 3-1 ATS (21-26-1 YTD), and the "joes" finished 2-2 (28-26-2 YTD). Todd Furhman's "pros" finished 3-2 ATS (27-25-2 YTD), and the "joes" went 1-2 ATS (20-21-2 YTD).

My picks only went 3-3 ATS with losses coming from really poor road performances from San Diego, Denver, and Baltimore.  I wasn't surprised that any of them lost, but it was surprising how they lost. No points for the Chargers, a no-show from the Broncos D, and an old fashion ass-kicking from the Steelers. Ouch.

Week 10 lines are up, but a handful of games are still off the board. You can see how they compare with the look-ahead lines here.

Survivor Pick

Given all the upsets this year, you get major props if you've survived this long. This week there were two more casualties as the Cowboys and 49ers both choked. Combined, they made up 26% of the vote.

Week 10: Ravens

Week 9: Bengals
Week 8: Cowboys
Week 7: Patriots
Week 6: Broncos
Week 5: Saints
Week 4: Chargers
Week 3Colts
Week 2: Packers
Week 1: Bears

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 10: Teasers [update]

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.

Bengals PK & Packers -1

Adding

Seahawks -2 & Packers -1

Read moreWeek 10 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 10: Steelers Vs. Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. New York Jets: PIT -4.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

For some reason the Steelers were only listed as -3.5 point favorites against the Jets in the Westgate look-ahead line. When it reopened it was up to -5.5. I thought that was an appropriate adjustment, but we've seen it bet back down to -4.5.

Why? The only thing I can think of is the "sharps" are remaining stubborn with New York and are still convinced they offer value every week.  Most (sane) people disagree, with 91% of the bets on the Steelers so far.

Bottom Line

I'm not going to delve too much into the X's and O's here because the matchup is pretty simple to handicap. Big Ben is on fire and the Jets are a mess.

Is there anything else we need to know? Ok, the Jets do show some signs of life on defense at times, but when the game is on the line they fail miserably in third down situations and inside their own 20. If they were at least good in those areas, I might have reason to pause.

What is worth mentioning is that the Jets are 1-7-1 ATS this year. This is exactly why I roll my eyes when "sharps" keep telling us that New York is a good play each week. As we can see, it's not working out too well for them.

As far as I'm concerned, the only time to stop fading the Jets is when they actually improve their play on the field, or the books inflate their number so high that's it's no longer logical to bet against it.

I don't think either of those are taking place yet, so I'll be on the fade train for another week.

NFL Pick: PIT -4.5.

Read moreWeek 10 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 10: 49ers Vs. Saints

San Francisco 49ers Vs. New Orleans Saints: NO -4.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

San Fran is 4-4 ATS, 2-2 at home, and 2-2 on the road. The latest blip came last week when they lost straight up to the Rams at home. Before that game the Saints were listed as -3 point favorites for this matchup.

Once the dust settled on Week 9, the line reopened at -4. We've also see money pour in on the Saints as the line has moved to -4.5/-5.  In total, 72% of the bets are on the home team.

Bottom Line

This is the second week in a row that I'm on the Saints, but this pick has just as much to do with the 49ers.

For starters, there is absolutely nothing to like about this San Fran offense. Kaepernick looks like the same one-read and run QB that he's been in previous seasons, he can't get good protection from his OL, and they are among the worst in the red zone. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the 49ers are steadily getting worse in the make-or-break situations. Yes, the Saints D is nothing to write home about, but they've slowly gotten better as the season has gone on.

On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees continues to roll on as one of the best in the game. And it's not just the passing game that's thriving. They rank near the top of the NFL in run efficiency too.

Can the 49ers stop them?  It looks unlikely. They are decent against the pass, but they've been abysmal on third down and even worse keeping offenses out of the end zone (and getting worse).

On top of all that, we all know how good the Saints are at home - especially against the spread.

I agree with the line movement and have no problem laying the points in this spot.

NFL Pick: NO -4.5.

Read moreWeek 10 picks.

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 10: Chiefs Vs. Bills

Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Buffalo Bills: KC -1.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

This game features a bit of an adjustment, but nothing that significant. Last week this matchup was listed as a 'pick em' in the Westgate look-ahead line, but it reopened at -2 after KC put up another win and cover. Most books are sticking with that number, but you can find -1.5 if you have options. Early in the week we are seeing 78% of the wagers on the Chiefs.


Bottom Line

On the surface these two teams look a lot alike. They both have efficient game-managing QBs and top 10 defenses. A closer look reveals some notable differences though.

To start with, the Buffalo offense ranks near the bottom in every single meaningful stat category at the halfway mark. Yes, some of that is due to Manuel, and Orton has improved the numbers, but they are still a unit that won't strike fear into anybody. KC not only have a deadly front that knows how to sack the QB, but they are near the top in drive success rate stops, getting off the field on third down, and keeping teams out of the end zone.

How does KC's offense matchup with Buffalo's defense?  On one hand you could say that the Bills defense has the upper hand. They are good in almost every area too, but the key problem for them has been their red zone defense.  They've been average in that department, and getting worse in recent games. KC's offense not only knows how to sustain drives, they also know how to convert them into TDs.

In fact, KC rank in the top 10 in all the make-or-break categories on both sides of the ball, and continue to rise as the season goes on.

It might be too late to get on the Chiefs bandwagon, but I'll roll the dice with them to cover for at least another week.

NFL Pick: KC -1.5.

Read more: Week 10 picks.