I was pretty happy with the way Week 3 went for me. After struggling with my picks in Week 1, I’ve rebounded nicely in the past couple of weeks going 16-10-2 ATS and getting my recommended bets over the .500 mark.
Week 4 has a lot of tough games on the board. At first glance, there was no single game that stood out to me as a strong play, but as the week has gone on; I feel that there is good value in a number of plays. This week didn’t start out on the best note with my loss with the Ravens -12 on Thursday Night Football, so hopefully that isn’t a sign of things to come.
Patriots @ Bills: If I hear someone tell me that the Patriots CAN’T lose three games in a row one more time, I’m probably going to punch them in the face. This is the NFL—any team can lose three games in a row! The Patriots have lost back-to-back games that came down to the wire, and even though the Bills are a division rival, it’s very conceivable that New England could come out flat for this game. Aside from the psychological aspect of this game, the Bills have some clear cut advantages. Buffalo spent a lot of money this offseason to shore up their defensive line, and it has proved to be money well spent thus far as the Bills have registered 9 sacks in their first 3 games. Their pass rush should be able to dominate a New England front that has given up 7 sacks and 15 quarterback hits already this season. This is a huge mismatch. Meanwhile, the Bills offensive line has been able to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick upright all season as the former Harvard product has been sacked just once. This is particularly important because the Patriots are 24th in the league in pass defence. Fitzpatrick hasn’t turned the ball over in the past couple of weeks, and if he can continue playing mistake free football, I like the Bills’ defense to generate more stops that the Patriots’ defence. New England starts the season 1-3. Bills 27, Patriots 24
Vikings @ Lions: The Lions came into this season as arguably the most overrated team in football, but after an underwhelming start to the season, they actually may be a little underrated. In December of last season, the Lions were a 10-point favorite at home against the Vikings, but after three weeks of the 2012 season, they’re only favored by 4.5-points. Not a lot has changed with these two teams. The Vikings are fresh off of a huge upset win over the 49ers, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it was only two weeks ago that they lost outright to the Colts. Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder has yet to throw an interception, but he only threw 13 picks all of last season, so this shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. Minnesota should be able to score some points on offense, but their defense is going to have their hands full with the Lions’ aerial attack. The Vikings will be starting Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford at safety this week, and trust me; they stand absolutely no chance against Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew down the field. The Vikings have feasted on the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck, and Alex Smith to start the season, but they’re in for a world of hurt against Matt Stafford. Now that Detroit has finally found a legitimate running back in Mikel Leshoure to compliment their passing game, they should be able to move the ball at will against a pedestrian defense. Lions 31, Vikings 20
Panthers @ Falcons: This is a very dangerous spot for the Falcons. I know how good Atlanta is within the confines of the Georgia Dome, but they have to be really careful coming off of a blowout win, with their opponent coming off of a blowout loss. Carolina was absolutely embarrassed by the Giants on Thursday Night Football last week and you can bet they’ve been salivating all week at the potential of knocking off one of the best teams in football. While I really like the Falcons this season, eventually the absence of cornerback Brent Grimes is going to prove to be costly. Atlanta has survived with the combination of Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson so far this season, but I’m not sure how much longer that can last, especially with their nickel and dime corners being so weak. This would be the ideal game for Cam Newton to mend his relationship with Steve Smith. The return of running back Jonathan Stewart will also be a huge boost for the Panthers as Atlanta ranks 30th in the league in rush defence, surrendering an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Defensively, Carolina will be in tough against Matt Ryan, who is slowly becoming one of the league’s elite quarterbacks, but the Panthers have only given up three touchdowns through the air this season against the likes of Josh Freeman, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning. There’s just something about this game that reeks of upset. I’m going with Carolina. Panthers 24, Falcons 23
49ers @ Jets: I don’t know what to do with this game. My immediate reaction after watching last week’s games was that the 49ers were going to dismantle whomever they played in Week 4. I looked at the schedule, and it just so happened to be the Jets, who I believe are one of the most overrated teams in football. But then, the point spread was released and the ‘9ers were only a 4-point favorite, which came as a surprise to me, especially with the Jets missing Darrelle Revis. So, I did some investigative research and went back to look at San Francisco’s road games last season. They went 6-2 straight up but almost every single one of their road games was close, and their offense averaged only 19 points per game. New York has no hope of moving the ball whatsoever—Mark Sanchez is inept, Shonn Greene runs like an 80-year old man, and Tony Sparano is the most predictable play caller in the league. With that being said, the 49ers will probably have trouble moving the ball as well. The Jets have been torched on the ground this season, but Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan is pretty good at putting together defensive gameplans to combat his team’s weaknesses. I’d expect New York to be more aggressive and use a lot zone run blitzes to keep the 49ers’ ground game under control. San Francisco is on the road for a second straight game and will have to travel across the country for an early start. I’ll take the 49ers to cover, but I won’t bet it, and I’ll probably regret that I didn’t at 4:30pm ET on Sunday. 49ers 23, Jets 13
Chargers @ Chiefs: Talk about an overreaction to last week. The Chargers got blown out at home to the Falcons, but that shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone because Atlanta is an elite team. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were pulling off what was considered to be a huge upset of the Saints, but really shouldn’t have surprised anyone because New Orleans is terrible. San Diego should be at least a 3-point road favorite in this game, but because of last week’s outcomes, the Chargers are basically a pick’em in this contest. Kansas City leads the league in rushing yards per game, but it should be noted that their three opponents this season (Buffalo, Atlanta, and New Orleans), give up an average of 4.7 yards per carry. Rushing yardage will be a lot harder to come by against a Chargers’ defense that permits only 3.6 yards per carry and allows an average of only 67.3 rushing yards per game. Kansas City isn’t equipped to win a game unless they can run the ball successfully because their entire passing attack is reliant on play action. The Chiefs’ defense isn’t as bad as their numbers suggest since they were missing cornerback Brandon Flowers and outside linebacker Tamba Hali to start the season, but the Chargers should still be able to move the ball pretty consistently. I don’t think this one will be close. Chargers 31, Chiefs 17
Titans @ Texans: One of my recommended plays last week was on the Titans against the Lions, and I’ll fully admit that I got lucky with that selection. The Titans won that game with smoke and mirrors, and they’ll be in for a world of hurt against arguably the most complete team in football. Tennessee scored a pair of special teams touchdowns last week to keep them in the game, but they can’t rely on special teams to keep them in every game. The only chance that the Titans have to keep this game close is if Jake Locker can go off like he did last week. I doubt it’ll happen though. Chris Johnson is worthless and the Texans only give up 67.7 rushing yards per game, so you can bet that Locker is going to be facing a lot of 3rd-and-long situations all afternoon. That didn’t work out too well for the Titans in their matchup with the Chargers earlier this season. On the other side of the ball, the Texans will be able to move the ball any way that they want to. The Titans are in the bottom half of the league in both pass defense and rush defense, and they’ll probably still be without middle linebacker Colin McCarthy for this week’s game. The Texans beat two bad teams in the Jaguars and Dolphins by 20 points each, so I don’t really see any reason why it won’t happen again. Texans 27, Titans 9
Seahawks @ Rams: The Seahawks are better than the Rams in every aspect of the game, and they beat up on St. Louis twice last year, but there’s no chance in hell I’d bet on Seattle after their controversial win on Monday night. Aside from the fact that the Seahawks are coming off of a huge emotional win, Seattle stinks away from home every year. Until the Seahawks prove that they can win consistently away from CenturyLink Field, I’ll continue fading them. If you’re wondering just how bad the Seahawks are away from home, they’ve won a total of 6 road games in the past 3 seasons, and that includes one season where they made the playoffs. I also think that the Rams have the edge at the quarterback position here. The Russell Wilson shine is quickly starting to fade as it’s become fairly obvious that he can’t make throws from within the pocket. Wilson’s height is listed as a generous 5’11” and he has trouble locating his receivers downfield when he has to look over his massive offensive line. St. Louis boasts a pair of strong defensive ends in Chris Long and Robert Quinn that should do a good job of containing Wilson and keeping him from scrambling to make throws. These teams will meet in Seattle later this season and the Seahawks will probably lay a beatdown on the Rams, but after all that’s transpired for the Seahawks in the last week, I’ll be shocked if they aren’t flat here. Rams 16, Seahawks 12
Dolphins @ Cardinals: Dating back to last year, the Cardinals are 10-2 in their last 12 games, but it’s important to note that Arizona has been an underdog in most of those games. Arizona thrives in the underdog role, but I’m not so confident that they’re a team that’s ready to take on the role of a favorite. This looks like a terrible spot for them. Miami transitioned from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense this season, and while I thought it might take a while for them to get acclimated to this new style, they’ve really looked formidable in the last couple of weeks. The Dolphins have already proven that they can shut down a team with one big play threat as they limited Darren McFadden to 41 total yards in Week 2, so I expect them to have a good game plan to prevent Larry Fitzgerald from going off. The Dolphins are one of a handful of teams in the league that are able to generate pressure consistently by rushing only four defenders. Miami can drop seven defenders into coverage on passing downs and should be able to force Kevin Kolb into making the mistakes that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the past season. The Dolphins will have trouble moving the ball themselves, especially with Reggie Bush expected to miss the game due to injury, but sadly I trust their quarterback more than Arizona’s right now. With a Thursday nighter on deck for the Cardinals next week, it’ll be easy for them to overlook the Dolphins. Dolphins 17, Cardinals 16
Raiders @ Broncos: Let me get this straight—The Broncos have lost back-to-back games to the Falcons and Texans, both of whom are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and all of a sudden people are starting to question whether the Broncos are actually a playoff calibre team. I’ll tell you who isn’t a playoff calibre team—the Raiders. Oakland sits 26th in the NFL in pass defense, mainly because of poor cornerback play. The Raiders’ current starting cornerback Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson would be nickel corners on most teams in the NFL, but a couple of injuries have thrust them into starting roles. If there were any doubts about Peyton Manning, they’ll be squashed when he picks apart the Raiders’ secondary this week. Defensively, the Broncos will focus their efforts on containing Darren McFadden just like the Dolphins did en route to a 35-13 victory in Week 2. Denver is holding opponents to just 2.63 yards per carry, fourth lowest in the NFL, and 71 yards per game, seventh lowest. With McFadden under wraps, the Broncos will force Carson Palmer to win this game with his arm, and he’ll definitely have limited options without the services of his favorite receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Wide receiver Denarius Moore is back for the Raiders but the combination of Moore and fellow wideout Rod Streater don’t exactly pose the biggest matchup problems for Denver’s top corners Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter. I think the Broncos make a statement here. Broncos 31, Raiders 21
Bengals @ Jaguars: Are the Jaguars a playoff team this season? Nope. The Bengals regularly beat non-playoff teams and regular lose to playoff teams, so all signs are pointing to a Cincinnati win this week. The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to stopping the run, as evidenced by the 213 rushing yards that they gave up to the Redskins last week. The good news is that this week, the Bengals can stack the box to stop the run, and force Blaine Gabbert to try to beat them with his arm. Gabbert is a complete scrub who’s unable to make plays down the field, so that’s unlikely to happen. Ultimately, I just can’t see the Jaguars’ defense shutting down the Bengals’ offense. I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Dalton, but he’s got a bunch of playmakers at his disposal and Jacksonville has no one to cover them. The Jaguars are dead last in the NFL when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback as they’ve registered just two sacks through three games. Jacksonville doesn’t blitz frequently and tends to drop a lot of defenders into coverage, but eventually receivers become open down the field when the Jaguars’ base front four is unable to generate any pressure. The Bengals have a bunch of playmakers on both sides of the ball, while the Jaguars have one playmaker on their entire roster. Bengals 30, Jaguars 20
Saints @ Packers: This game has blowout written all over it. The Saints are dreadful, and that’s not an exaggeration. Their defence could be the worst in the NFL history, and their offense is nowhere near what it’s been in recent years, mostly due to some horrible play calling. New Orleans is a complete mess without their coaching staff and I wouldn’t expect anything to change in the near future. I’m aware of how poorly the Packers’ offense has played this season, but after watching the Redskins, Panthers, and Chiefs completely dismantle the Saints’ defence, I can’t envision the Packers scoring less than four touchdowns in this game. The only concern I have for the Packers this week is how they’ll cope with the screwjob that they endured at the end of Monday Night Football. Green Bay is a veteran team that has some excellent coaching, so I think they’re more likely to be in “F-U mode” than to lay an egg. Meanwhile, the Saints’ offense isn’t going to move the ball with ease against a Packers’ team that has shut down the Bears and Seahawks in back-to-back weeks. Marques Colston clearly isn’t himself as he continues to deal with a nagging foot issue and it’s clearly affected Drew Brees’ ability to move the chains in the first three weeks of the season. This is the week the Packers get back on track and people finally realize how horrible the Saints really are. Packers 38, Saints 17
Redskins @ Buccaneers: This game is a tough one because I really don’t want to bet on either team. Washington had the potential to be a playoff contender this season until Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo were placed on injured reserve. The injuries have really devastated the Redskins’ pass rush, and subsequently, the Redskins’ secondary hasn’t been able to hold up against opposing aerial attacks. Washington has given up 99 points already this season, mainly due to the 337 yards per game that they give up through the air. Luckily for the Redskins, their main defensive weakness is also the biggest offensive weakness of the Bucs. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams should, on paper, form daunting matchup problems for opposing defences, but the truth is that Tampa’s starting quarterback Josh Freeman is hopeless. Since Freeman’s breakout season in 2010, he’s thrown 25 interceptions to only 20 touchdowns. The Buccaneers’ offense is one of the least productive in the NFL, averaging a paltry 243 yards per game. While Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III is still a rookie quarterback, I trust him much more than I do Freeman. The Bucs are last in the league at defending the pass, giving up 353 yards per game through the air, and I’m expecting RGIII to take full advantage. If Pierre Garcon is able to play for Washington this week, I don’t see the Bucs outscoring the ‘Skins. Even with Garcon out of the lineup, I expect the Redskins to do just enough to squeak out a road victory. Redskins 23, Buccaneers 17
Giants @ Eagles: The Las Vegas Hilton advanced point spread in this game was Eagles -3.5, but after the Giants’ beat down of the Panthers on national TV and the Eagles’ gutless performance against the Cardinals, we get the Eagles as a 1-point favorite. I love Philadelphia here. The Giants have become a high-octane offense in the last couple of weeks, but be weary that their offensive explosions came against the Panthers and Buccaneers, who rank 24th and 26th in total defense respectively. In Week 1 against the Cowboys, the Giants looked lost. The Eagles’ defense is among the top five in almost every statistical category, so New York will be in for a true test here. The Giants have fallen in love with the passing game in the past couple of weeks and that’s a recipe for disaster against the Eagles, as they led the league in sacks last year with 50. The key for Philadelphia in this matchup is to protect the ball. The Eagles are already -6 in turnover margin this season, and it’s mainly been due to careless play from quarterback Michael Vick. If there was ever a time that I’d expect Andy Reid to run the ball a little more, it would be here. Aside from the turnovers in the passing game, LeSean McCoy ate up the Giants’ defense last season, rushing for 241 yards on 47 carries in two games. The fact that the Eagles are 2-1 right now despite having played so poorly is a testament to how talented this team really is. Eventually Philadelphia is going to get their act together, and I feel that a lot of signs are pointing to this game being their coming out party. Eagles 27, Giants 20
I lost my survivor pick when New England pissed themselves at home in Week 2, but I’ll continue providing my insight on a week-to-week basis. Last week, I went with the Cowboys over the Bucs, and although it wasn’t the highest scoring game, I felt pretty comfortable for the majority of it. The Bears probably ended up being a safer choice, but a win is a win either way.
Although I’m already out of my survivor pool, I’d like to point out that I suggested avoiding the Saints, 49ers, and Steelers last week, all of whom lost outright and were popular selections in most pools.
My general rules of thumb for making survivor picks are:
a) No division games
b) No road teams
c) No underdogs
I should point out that I occasionally stray from these rules if there is one pick that I’m really confident in.
Based on general common sense, there are 6 games to consider this week:
Houston vs. Tennessee
Arizona vs. Miami
Atlanta vs. Carolina
Denver vs. Oakland
Green Bay vs. New Orleans
Detroit vs. Minnesota
I’ve already used Houston against Tennessee but I would definitely take them if I had them available this week. While they may be playing a division game, I feel as though the Texans win this game roughly 90% of the time and my next most confident selection would only win approximately 70-75% of the time.
Arizona will probably be a heavily picked team this week because a lot of people will use this game as an opportunity to pick a “weaker team” that they won’t be able to pick again in the future. I personally think this is a moronic strategy. Pick the best possible option in any given week. Don’t save teams for future use because you probably won’t be around to get to pick those teams.
Anyways, I may be crazy but I have the Cardinals and Falcons losing this week so I’d steer clear of them completely.
I’ll roll with Green Bay over New Orleans. I may be undervaluing the Saints and/or overvaluing the Packers but I think this is a big mismatch. My next two options would be Denver and Detroit, but I’m not a big fan of taking divisional matchups.
Week 1 – Houston Texans – W 30-13
Week 2 –
New England Patriots – L 20-18
Week 3 – Dallas Cowboys – W 16-10
Week 4 – Green Bay Packers –
AGAINST THE SPREADSHEET
Week in and week out, you will get a look at my spreadsheet which shows my confidence in each selection.
The “Strength of Pick” column indicates how confident I am in my selection with 1 being the most confident and 14 being the least confident.
The ‘Initial Reaction’ column indicates my confidence when the game lines were first released late Sunday night/early Monday morning.
The ‘Mid Week’ column indicates my confidence on Wednesday.
The ‘Final Selection’ column indicates my final picks against the spread.
It’s one thing to show you a table indicating who I like in each game, but it’s another thing to actually show you where I’m throwing my money down.
I rate my plays on a scale of 3* to 6* with a 6* play qualifying as my top play. I would estimate that 1 out of every 25 plays earns a 6* distinction, with approximately 50% of my plays earning a 3* distinction.
This is going to be my first, and possibly last, week of the season where I bet on five games. It was really tough for me to eliminate any of these picks since I think that they’re all solid, so I just decided to roll with five.
4* San Diego Chargers pk (-115) – 5Dimes
5Dimes is the only place offering the Chargers at a pick’em right now. Every other spot has the Chargers laying at least 1-point, so jump on it quickly if possible. If you don’t have any money deposited at 5Dimes, jump on Chargers -1 at Bet365 or Pinnacle as soon as possible. The number is more likely to move up towards -3 than it is to move down towards a pick’em.
4* Detroit Lions -4 (-107) – Pinnacle
With Matthew Stafford expected to start on Sunday, this line is a steal. I think that once he’s actually confirmed as starter, this number will rise, so bet it as soon as you can. FYI, in case Stafford suffers a setback and Shaun Hill is forced to start, I still like the Lions in this spot.
4* Philadelphia Eagles -1 (-119) – Pinnacle
The public is backing the Giants heavily but there is a lot of sharp money coming in on the Eagles. Philly is already a 2.5-point favorite in some spots, so this is yet another line that I’d bet now before you lose a point of value.
3* Green Bay Packers -7.5 (+100) – Sportsbook
This one was a tough decision because I could have easily bought a half point to bring this number down to a touchdown, but I’m really pretty comfortable with Green Bay here. I’d rather lay 7.5 at even money than pay 15 cents to get it down to 7-points. New Orleans seems to be a publicly backed underdog so if you want to hold out to grab a 7 at game time, there may be one on the board.
3* Washington Redskins +3 (buy ½ point, -115) – Sportsbook
I’ll err on the side of caution here and buy a half point with the Redskins. This game could easily come down to a field goal and I feel much more comfortable with Washington +3 than Washington +2.5. If I wasn’t going to buy the half point, I would have considered taking the Redskins money line instead of taking the spread.
Here are the results of each individual selection I’ve made this season: